Vacation Mode

Vacation Mode: noun. The inability to manage real life after you get back from vacation, aka, you’re surprised that no one is bringing you copious amounts of delicious food any longer and you’re shocked to be hit square in the face with things like alarm clocks and feeding kids and responsibilities.

(photo cred luvinthesun.com)

This is a real thing, friends. We’ve been back for a week now and I’m struggling to figure out where all these children are supposed to go now that school is out and how I’m supposed to do all of my jobs. Things are so out of whack at the Shafer Casa that I started typing this blog post in my car while waiting for Mr. Wonderful to emerge from the trombone repair shop (with three of the four munchkins having some sort of battle raging behind me) and I finished it a mere eighteen hours later.

What is happening?!

I can’t seem to get it together. For real, I am disorganized, disinterested and since I’ve been under the weather for 48 hours, just done. I’m about twenty minutes from a long soak in the tub followed by some binge-watching followed by absolutely nothing.

Has anyone seen my motivation? I must’ve left it around here somewhere….

Life continues to march on despite knowing full well I can’t get out of Vacation Mode. Little Sister lost her very first tooth today! This is always a big milestone since the Tooth Fairy is the second most discussed visitor right behind Santa. 

And Big Brother lined me up next to him again to see if he’s passed me in height yet. It’s like he wants to know the exact moment that it happens so he can put it on his calendar. Baby Houdini was in rare form with his sweetness on overload. Little Brother made us all laugh until milk came out of some of our noses. Mr. Wonderful took me to the gun range for a date day-these are what we call good times around here!

(Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

So maybe for a little while longer I’ll just have one foot in Vacation Mode and one foot in Real Life. Maybe I won’t get to everything on time (or even at all) but my kids will be fed and happy and I’ll make time for more date days with Mr. W. And we’ll enjoy summer and laughing and fireflies and swimming and I guess all those responsible-type things will get done around it all.

This sounds like a plan, friends-

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!­čĺŚÔŁĄ´ŞĆ­čĺŚ

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Schooooool’s Out. For. Summer!

Today is it. 

This is all she wrote, the last day, and by 3:40 this afternoon we’ll have another school year in the books. My kids are delirious and frankly, some of us were done with school weeks ago. Mostly me, but whatever.

(How picture taking really goes at our house. Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)
I’m vowing that this summer is going to be spectacular in its ordinariness. I’m not signing my kids up for origami or making your own goat cheese or finding the artist within. They won’t be learning to build robots or going to space camp.

Nah. We decided long ago that our kids were going to have to figure out their own fun, use their imaginations, go outside and stay there for awhile. There won’t be a lot of technology. The kids will continue to do their chores that help our household run and teach responsibility at the same time. Even the two year old has jobs here. He unloads the clean silverware from the dishwasher (after someone has removed the scary, injury-inducing knives, of course). 

Sometimes he is a go-getter and unloads silverware even before we’ve had a chance to run the dishwasher. I often find our silverware bunched in a pile in the drawer because he can’t see what he’s doing but that’s ok. He’s learning how to be part of our community.

We really only have two rules around here: work hard and be kind. Everything falls under those two rules and it keeps things simple in a fairly complicated house. With the Bigs going to their dad’s house every other week for summer visitation and the Littles just trying to figure out how to wear pants, sometimes it’s crazy up in here. Throw in at least three therapies or doctor’s appointments per week, various work obligations, my new baby speaking and writing career that I’m trying to get off the ground and it can get to be just too much.

So.

Work hard.

Be kind.

Simple rules that everyone can figure out.  What we will be doing this summer? Showing Jesus’ love to everyone we meet, spending copious amounts of time outdoors, running amok in the neighborhood, learning to ride bikes and be potty trained, figuring out how to build forts from blankets and eating sno cones and swimming til our fingers are wrinkly raisins. We’ll be going to church and serving our neighbors and redoing furniture. We will probably hang out with family a lot, take little road trips, make memories that involve juicy moments savored and retold, the memories enhanced and cemented with every telling.

(photo cred zsazsabellagio.blogspot.com)

We will be the Pinterest-fail family this summer. We will relax from the frenetic pace of the school year; unplug, rejoice, enjoy. We are going to have a summer fit for the early 1980s and I can’t wait-

(Photo cred smosh.com)

Blessings, friends!­čĺŚÔŁĄ´ŞĆ­čĺŚ

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Generations

Over spring break we took our Traveling Circus to see my grandma. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer)

This lady is so special. She gets me. She’s the one in my family who understands my artsy fartsy nature and how that means sometimes we color outside the lines because she’s one of us. 

She’s an artist as well. She was a writer and creator of newsletters, newspapers and hand-written letters from back in the day when you used typewriters and correction white out. She didn’t have fancy computer programs to whip up her small town paper–she and a friend produced it themselves and copied it on a thing called a mimeograph. She showed me copies and it was purple ink, people!

She discovered she was also an artist when she was about the age you start drawing social security, and since she had to make up for lost time, she painted probably close to a thousand paintings since then. Several hang proudly in my home, and there are a couple scattered in fairly prestigious places.

Grandma Ginger is funny, smart, witty, and understands that an artist needs a little mess around her to function. She’s not afraid of making mistakes–when I would go paint with her and her girlfriends occasionally at her Tuesday morning Pal-ettes club she would tell me, “Don’t worry, if you don’t like it we’ll just paint over it and start again.”

She taught me about relationships, about telling the truth kindly. She showed me that holding your hands with your spouse after sixty years of marriage was still cool, that it’s never too late to do what you love. She taught me that being artsy and passionate and different was ok. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

I love this lady to pieces and I am so grateful that even my kids–two generations down the line–will know her and recieve the benefits of her knowledge. She has seen large parts of two centuries and the changes within, from horse and buggy to the Great Depression to a world war. 

I so want to be like Grandma Ginger when I grow up–

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Lazy Dayz

I’m enjoying a Saturday with coffee and nowhere to be. I’m loving the roaring fire and the fact that I’m still in my jammies. I am not even going to glance at my To Do list. 

 (Photo cred livelifehappy.com)

We get so busy hurrying and scurrying that we barely make a space in our lives to take a breath sometimes. That kind of pace can’t be sustained, at least not by the likes of me.

I hear my kids jumping around upstairs, I should probably check on the baby as I’ve lost my visual and he’s the kid who does this: 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016.)

Now you see why I have trouble getting anywhere on time and why I buy only washable marker. 

How cute is he even when he’s a mess???

Enjoying some breathing time today, how about you? How can you un-busy your world to enjoy what’s happening right this minute?

Have a blessed Saturday friends!

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Anchoring

This weekend was a good one, despite the fact that school starts tomorrow and no one is back in our routine. Pretty sure tomorrow’s going to be more interesting than usual… 

 (photo cred Meet the Best You)

But this weekend I have had renewal! I have been writing and more importantly, making time for writing. I put it back in my schedule, on my radar. It feels good to be doing that again.

I got to go to church with my family–which is a huge deal. A year ago my husband couldn’t leave the house some days because of PTSD and one of its most delightful side effects: agoraphobia. Every Sunday that we all get to leave the house together and go to church as a family is special to me. This is part of how I keep my sanity and refill my tank, so to speak.

This is a big deal.

And my boys are back from their dad’s, I got to be artsy fartsy and make some curtains, and I found a new coffee shop to do some writing in.

Even though we’re all out of sorts about getting back to the grind tomorrow and I about lost my mind when I saw someone had decorated my wall with marker in multiple areas, this was a good weekend. Even when I ate too much candy in anticipation of the twenty-one day fast from sugar I started today. Even despite looking around my disaster of a house and deciding that instead of cleaning it I was going to binge-watch some Netflix in the Oasis with Mr. Wonderful.

 It’s not a perfect life I’m living. It’s messy and crazed and about the only thing that’s consistent is chaos. But when I stop and look around at the scandalous grace I am afforded every day, I can’t help but offer some to those around me. Which makes life feel a lot better than I’m sure we look on paper.  (photo cred instapray.com)

This weekend anchored me. Grounded me and got me thinking about how I want 2016 to go for us. And though it might go completely differently than I hope or plan for, I am anchoring myself to my faith and my family. I’m being grateful for what’s going right. I’m breathing and hoping and being ridiculously optimistic. 

I’m savoring this season of joy, for however long I get it. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2015)

Sweet (20)16 here we go!

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

10 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer-NOT!

I am a hot mess year-round. This means that even when summer makes its appearance on my doorstep, I don’t suddenly morph into a Pinterest Mom when I’m not paying attention.

The last day of school is upon us:(Which we celebrated by ruining our dinner last night with ice cream and French fries-please don’t judge me!)

There seem to be a lot of Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer Lists blaring at me from every which way. I’m going to be shockingly honest-I won’t do a single one of them. I’m not the mom who will teach her kids how to make the Eiffel Tower out of pipe cleaners. I refuse to create things from kits.

I most likely won’t even plan educational trips to the nearest museum.

Gasp! What kind of mom am I? How dare I deprive my children. They must suffer so!!!

I’m the kind of mom who doesn’t structure every minute of our day.

I’m the Mama-type that actually makes her kids get up at a decent time, even in the summer. I still make my children do their chores. In fact, if they dare utter the words “I’m bored” they know Mama will find something for them to do.  And they probably won’t like it.

My kids get pushed outside a lot. Even if it’s hot. I do slather sunscreen on them and provide water but they’re expected to spend a fair amount of time running and jumping and bike riding and using their imaginations. 

(Mostly) unsupervised.

Our neighborhood is wonderful and safe and we know our neighbors. But even so, we have ground rules, like stick together and never go in someone’s house unless Mama says it’s ok. My oldest three are 11, 7 and 4. They have to roam together or not roam at all. I refuse to run off to the craft store for all of their creative ventures. I’m a firm believer in recycling-use what we have to make something awesome. 

Summer food? What can you make on your own? Reading? We will get books from the library by the truckload.  And video game time? Saved up for rainy days or occasionally weekends/some nights. Every day? Not a chance.

Am I the meanest mom on the block? Are my kids totally deprived?

I don’t think so.

I think I’m teaching my kids about responsibility, that if you want something you’ll need to work for it, and that using your imagination will take you places you never dreamed-until you did. I’m showing my kids that sibling love, aka your best friends, are your playmates for life and the ones you can depend on.

I’m giving them the same kind of summers I had. I don’t think my kids benefit from having everything handed to them on a platter. Thus, they will have to do stuff on their own

They will have Unstructured Time to be a kid.

Maybe you think I’m a little off my rocker. I’ll admit, with four kids underfoot it’s entirely possible.

However. I look back on my summers filled with things like making cities from cardboard boxes, catching lightning bugs in jars, creating perfume from flowers (weeds) and then trying to sell them to neighbors, taking naps under trees and using our front porch as everything from a fort to a dentist office to a school to Spy Headquarters, and I want that for my children. I want them to play until they pass out from sheer exhaustion and joy. I didn’t stop learning in the summer; I learned real and important things that I couldn’t get in school. Playing with my siblings taught me that they were my best friends. Being in charge of them while we were outside taught me responsibility. Creating things from nature or recycling taught me to use my creativity in new ways

So I hope my children will look back on summers someday and wish for their kids to have those same “deprived” summers.

Just like I did.

You can also connect with me at My Pink Champagne Life (Facebook and Instagram) or @MyPinkChampLife on Twitter!

(All photo credit Meredith Shafer 2015) ┬ęMeredith Shafer 2015

Dear Tuesday, Why Do You Feel Like Monday?

Tuesday, why aren’t you more cooperative like your Friday cousin? Why can’t you at least be more like Thursday, the docile one?
Or even like Wednesday, whose claim to fame is being Hump Day?

No, you have to try and be like Monday and frankly, I’ve had it with you! Either shape up, or I’m going to have to see about replacing you. 

Maybe with a Friendsday or a perhaps a Vacationday.

You have til the end of business today to get your act together.

Sincerely,

Meredith

 

(Most accurate selfie ever: me hiding behind a coffee cup while Baby King surveys his kingdom from his perch on high. Once he’s done with his royal breakfast, he loves to watch his loyal subjects hustle and bustle, getting ready for a day in serfdom, uh, school. And I, his humble servant, grab a quick cuppa Joe.)

Happy Tuesday!

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer 2015) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Artsy Fartsy

My mom would hate the title of this post-she thinks fart is the F word. As I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog (in her defense she read my book and is also one busy lady who doesn’t do technology-she’s currently teaching French at the college level and taking German and taking Russian. All in the same semester.) I’m probably safe with the title.

I have always been Arsty Fartsy. Interested in any genre that involved creativity or making something from nothing or disciplines involving glitter, I am at home in the arts. This is where I live. It’s where I feel alive.

The arts bring me joy. And when Mama’s happy, everyone’s happy. My Mr. Wonderful has realized this and being the smart man he is, he has decided to give me (drumroll please) MY OWN SPACE! 

Now with four kids and a dog this is a fairly tall order. So he is carving out a spot that will be all my own under the stairs-yes, I’m going to have a Harry Potter closet!!!

 Yikes!

I’m so excited to have a tiny space that I can decorate with girly things and then shut the door to all the noise and children and write or dream or think or just be.

We’ve started cleaning it out (you were scared by the picture above, weren’t you?) and Mr. Wonderful already built me a platform for laying about. He’s also building me a drop down desk for writing. I’m going to cover the mini-platform bed with frilly pillows and lovely trinkets and then ban my children from ever entering. Not because I don’t love them. But because I do.

I am a better Mama when I have a tiny bit of time to myself. And if I’m going to continue the writing part of being Artsy Fartsy, I need a space at home to do that in. A place untouched by the chaos and clutter of the rest of my house. 

 

Oh, this is happening! Since this is one of my Mother’s Day gifts (I sure hope Mr. Wonderful is reading this so he knows I’m expecting something to open and brunch on Mother’s Day. If you talk to him, let him know for me, would ya?) it’ll be finished very soon.

Can’t wait to show you my little grownup playhouse under the stairs. I’m thinking I should name it. Any suggestions?

(1st Photo credit http://www.tonykriz.com)

Other photo credits Meredith Shafer, ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

A Few Small Things 

Practicing Gratitudinist: noun. One who finds something to be happy about no matter the circumstance. 

After my unraveling yesterday, I decided I better get to gettin’ as my grandpa used to say. That can mean a variety of things in the south. It can mean move along or take care of business or, in my case, stop feeling sorry for yourself.

So I got.

Today I woke up determined. I was going to keep busy and accomplish something until I felt the tide turning. First thing on the list: start cleaning my stanky house. For the uninitiated, stanky is the next level of stink. It’s what happens to your house when you have four kids, leave for a trip, get back, take one look at your house and decide burning it down might be easier.

Sidebar: I wish I had a house cleaner. I’m currently praying for one because that would be awesome!

The three year old and Mr. Wonderful joined in. We managed to clean the bathrooms of our house, get some vacuuming done and even a load of laundry finished. I didn’t say put away, don’t be too impressed. 

We also managed to pick up a nice credenza, eat some delicious food and get in a workout. 

This may not sound like much to some of you ├╝ber-achievers but to me, it was just enough to kick start my creativity, my smile and my good feelings about my life.  And that was what I needed to remind myself how blessed I am.

Here’s my Top 8 Reasons I Love My Life:

-I got to take this week off

-I watched my 16 month old dance as he Frankenstein-walked through the house

-Mr. Wonderful had a good day. A good day. This is a big freakin’ deal.

-Charlie the Service Dog is so smart and is bringing calm to our house.

-My three year old smothered me with kisses.

-I have my first book store book signing event tomorrow (because I wrote a book called My Pink Champagne Life available here!)

-My older two boys, called The Bigs at our house, can dress and feed themselves and are potty trained. Again, this is a big freakin’ deal.

-Today is the first day of Spring. Oh, how I’ve missed you, lovely lady! Come early and stay late, won’t you?

Yep, I’m a practicing Gratitudinist.

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015