I over-schedule. I want to do everything and be everything when I grow up. I want to grow my own food and bake bread and make my home a haven of educational bliss, moral perfection and impeccable scrabble playing. I want to have it all. So I plan and I scheme and carefully stagger all kinds of activities and then spend my life flying from one thing to the next until the kids beg for mercy in the form of flopping like a dead fish on the floor of the grocery store and alternately laughing and bawling for CANDY FWEEZE!!!!
Every once in a while the elements of my life combine in just the right way to create a perfect storm of domestic insanity. The latest in this series of “WHAT THE SUGAR IS MY PROBLEM?” moments came last Thursday and nobody’s heard a lot from me since.
Thursday is bread making day. I do not plant the wheat but I do buy it in impossibly large white buckets, let it sit in my garage for years, finally learn how to use my wheat grinder, grind it, and make my own bread. It saves money. It tastes scrumptious thanks to Sarah’s recipe. It makes me feel cool when I say, “I make my own bread,” because bread preference comes up so often in conversation.
At this point I make 4 loaves of bread each week, giving one away so that “I make my own bread” can come up in casual conversation and keep the other three so “PEANUT BUTTER SAMMMMMMITCH FWEEZE!!!” will be able to get the response it so richly deserves. All day Thursday, I’m working on the bread.
Well, a woman from church was ordering a bunch of peaches direct from a grower and asked if anyone wanted to buy some at a discount. Eve convinced me that canning peaches would be the Best Thing Ever so I put in my order and we waited. TA-DA! The peaches arrived on Wednesday, with about one day of life left on them before they would need to be canned immediately.
“No problem,” I thought, “I’ll be home all day making bread anyway. I can throw some peaches in that canner thingy while the bread’s rising. It will be perfect. I even have a book that will teach me how. Oh, and I’m also hosting a Mary Kay extravaganza for Stephanie that night so I can work on the hors d’oeuvres and desserts while the peaches are boiling.”
The book was obviously written for someone who is literate and likes to read for hours and hours in ecstatic anticipation while they watch their glorious fruit ripen, not someone who wants a quick how-to she can read while stirring the cheesecake batter as the bread kneads in the Kitchen-Aid. I tried to skim-read and pump Stephanie and Heather for information as I scraped the skin off the peaches and tried to remember what dad-gum-awful peach chores I did with my mom when I was a kid and she asked me to “do this please” and “do that please” as she created blue ribbon peaches fit for the fair.
My peaches would not win any prizes at the fair. They are brownish and sort of hairy and Laylee has sworn never to eat them. I made the last batch into peach “sauce” by taking out my aggression and smashing any peaches that were left in my kitchen to a pulp and throwing them in jars. It’s actually quite lovely.
The bread which I decided to take a risk on and make 100% whole wheat looked good but tasted nasty. The cheesecake took a tumble. The goat cheese frittata triangles were cold by the time we ate them and my stove looks like I covered it with corn syrup and then fire-blasted it with a blowtorch. My makeup, however, looked ultimate and I got a big enough discount to feel justified buying $50 worth of skin care products I probably didn’t need but would certainly enjoy.
I continued to can peaches all day the next day with Eve, went to a couple of doctor’s appointments, cleared junk out of several rooms in my house for the neighborhood garage sale I’d organized for the next day and hopped back and forth on my feet trying to rest them one at a time. Our 5 kids ran crazy like a pack of ravenous attention-starved wolves. My floors became so sticky I couldn’t hop on them anymore.
At about 9pm on Friday night we had finished all the peaches but I hadn’t hung a single sign or priced a single piece of cheap junk for the garage sale the following morning. I had no change to hand to prospective buyers who planned to hand me a $50 bill in exchange for my used toothbrush and $49.87 in change. I had not an ounce of brainpower or bodily energy left so I called off the garage sale.
My neighbor had recently told me she was worried about me. Every time she talks to me I have a new project in the works, a new hobby or responsibility. Every time she looks out her window I’m either leaving, running in the door or stopping home for 30 seconds to change clothes or pick something up on my way to the next thing. She said something that really struck me, “If your life is crammed full of so many things, you won’t have time to enjoy any of them, even if they’re all things you really love doing.”
In the end, I’d rather eat WonderBread and peaches from Costco if I’m gonna drive myself nuts in my need to say, “I MAKE MY OWN DANG STINKIN’ WHEAT BREAD!!!”
She was right. So I stayed home all day Saturday with no garage sale, slept in late, had some special time with Dan and the kids, didn’t work, didn’t clean, hired a babysitter and went on a date. It was fabulous and I felt so renewed. We had friends over for dinner Sunday and then Monday morning I headed down to Boise with the kids to “help” my friend who’s just given birth to twin boys. She already has a 2 and a 4-year-old boy. I love being with her and her totally sweet kids. I just hope I can be more help than trouble.
I thought there was a lot of truth in Jessica’s post the other day, when she talked about how sometimes things run more smoothly without all the help, regardless of how helpful you think it is.
I’m here for a week and I’m helping around the house while taking a mini-vacation and bringing baby hunger to all new levels. Dan is holding down the fort in Washington, working a bazillion hours from home and at the office. Hopefully I’ll be fresher and more Daring when I get back, with an all new minty taste.
Do you need anything from Wal Mart? They have plenty of those here… and cheap produce… and babies.
When you’re as excited about life as you are, it’s hard not to overschedule.
I await your return, sweetheart.
Sure, pick up a baby or two for me while your down there. That would be peachy!
Seriously, simplifying your life is not easy. It’s HARD to cut back to a pace that is reasonable for you and your family. I have to fight over-committing constantly.
I’m a first-time reader and I just wanted to say that I’m glad your neighbor told you about her concerns. It’s no fun always being on the go. I hope this is something you’re able to accomplish. Your blog sounds great and like one I want to continue reading. Thanks.
Rocks in my Dryer says
I’ve been feeling that same pain lately. Don’t know how many times I’ve muttered to Hubs recently, “something’s GOT to give!” Sounds like you’re on the right track.
Don’t mess with YOU… I know I don’t want to be smashed into peach pulp. Ahhh, the overscheduling. It’s what I do best.
I am trying to learn how to say no. It’s really a very simple word. It’s often one that children learn early on in their language development but somehow by the time we are grown we forget how to say it. When I joined the church, I was immediately overwhelmed by all the canning, children raising, bread baking, food storaging, quilting, sewing and the other millions of things that it seemed that all “good Mormon mothers” knew how to do. I have realized somewhat over the last 5 years since that I just can’t do it all (and still have hair left) I pick the things that are most important and go from there. I’m glad you took the day off to rejuvinate.
Is it wrong that this post is prompting me to dig out my bread machine and make some homemade bread? It just sounds so good. 🙂
Cutting down and saying no is probably the hardest thing that mom’s need to learn to do – especially as your kids get older. Our kids aren’t in a sport every season, and they don’t have a different class that they run to for a different night. We’re learning to enjoy this us time while we have it.
Oh, and pick up some TP for me while you’re out; I know a house that is aching to be rolled…
I do not can. For the very reasons you mentioned. All I remember of canning as a child was watching my poor father and mother in August in a 120-degree-covered-in-grapes kitchen at 1am trying desperately to finish in time to collapse in bed and get to a church meeting at 7 the next morning. No thank you, no canning, no canning, no thank you. Costco peaches work fine for me. Grapes from Chile in December from the grocery store work fine for me. My father thinks I’ve failed Pioneer 101, but that’s okay. I would have been a whiny, complainy frizzy-hair-because-they-hadn’t-invented-hair-gel-yet pioneer anyway.
We have cut WAY back on extra activities. I teach my kids piano myself — the mom-kid-parent-student dynamic doesn’t always run perfectly, but it saves driving to ONE MORE THING. My older daughter does karate. My son is adjusting to a new 5 day/week pre-K class — that’s all he needs right now. I have been bugging my middle daughter to pick a sport, so she can be active and make friends. Then I realized — she is active, she has friends and she doesn’t want to be driven to a “sport”. Life is her sport. So we go on a family bike ride a couple times a week and that is her “sport”.
How are the twins!!! Tell our friend I said hello!!! How exciting…and exhausting!!! Tell her she just guaranteed her glory in heaven for having 4 boys under the age of 5. 🙂
You linked to me. I feel like a celebrit just thanked me in their Academy Award speech. Wow.
But yes, I totally understand and agree–at one point this summer I looked at our calendar and realized we had every weekend day and night booked for the next 6 weekends in a row. And they were all “fun” things, but there were so many of them we couldn’t enjoy any one thing. And hubby and I were working full-time, so the weeks were packed too. Its no way to live–because you aren’t really living, at that point you are just hoping to survive.
And again, thanks for linking to me!!!
This post spoke to me on 100 different levels.
I keep telling D. that I can’t seem to carve out enough time for what I need to do…but maybe that’s because I’m spending too much time doing the stuff that, in the end, doesn’t have to be done at all.
Have fun in beautiful Idaho.
Eskinose Kisses says
Ah, that sounds all too familiar. I’m not so much of a running around kind of gal, but more of a project kind of gal. I’ve been canning pickles, pears, grape juice, etc., I just started a neighborhood preschool thing with my 2 year old, and I’ve been doing a yard sale that I told everyone to bring their stuff over for so that I wouldn’t bail out at the last minute. And did I mention that I have a beautiful 4 month old baby who won’t sleep more than two hours at a time? *Sigh*
This post really hits home for me! I’ve been too busy lately and I just wrote a totally incomprehensible post about being too busy. Somehow I need to find a way to slow down…
sarah k. says
Oh Kathryn! I’m sorry the bread didn’t turn out. YOU SHOULDA CALLED ME!!! I could’ve helped with the canning too. I used to do that canning thing, back when there was only one kid/hellion to sabotage the works (please take me literally, here) and I had some kind of new mom energy to do stuff like that. I went around the neighborhood and asked fruit-tree owners if I could have their fruit. They all said yes, since they had all tried to can stuff in their more agressively home-makey pasts, but had kicked the habit when Costco was invented. Anyway, I ended up canning peaches, pears, apples, applesauce, apple syrup (yum!) tomatoes, plums (yuck!) and plum syrup(???). Then I moved on to dehydrating. That’s tons of fun too.
Actually, I want to call you. Do you have your cell phone?
I would like to order a baby please! I have been getting baby hungry myself lately.
I enjoy making my own bread…but I don’t do it all the time. Its more of a treat. I get to feel all domestic that day, and we get something really tasty but still good for us.
Good for you for taking a step back and spending a day relaxing.
I thought canning was a great adventure! I don’t want to be trendy or anything, but when and if I get my farm I don’t want to be wasteful! I would much rather can once a year than bake bread everyweek to be honest.
But I get so PUPPY LOVIN’ mad every time I see canned peaches at the store!!!
Isn’t balance hard? Usually I have to get stinkin sick before I slow down. And even then I’m usually up late working on something…
JP's Mom says
Your neighbor’s words spoke volumes to me.
The real key is do any of us really actually slow down? It seems every year goes faster and faster even if I back fown my commitments.
Do you think it went this fast for our parents when we were our kids ages?
Melissa @ Breath of Life says
I’ve been praying about the answer to time management myself. I think I’ve found it, if I can just be obedient. I posted about it under “Time Management 101”. Hope you’ll stop by & enjoy it.
I’ve never thought of you as mint flavoured. I would’ve guessed green apple. Yumm…
Umm…wait…what were we talking about?
This was exhaustingly funny, thanks for the laughs.
Hello there! I am visiting from Boo Mama’s blog and posted about something similar this week. Overscheduling is a big problem of mine, and I always think I’m picking activities that are good…it’s just that they’re not always BEST. There’s a big difference! Thanks for your thoughtful post. I really enjoyed my visit!
Enjoy your getaway! I am impressed that you can even think about babies after experiencing the birth of the Great Magoo. After Seth, all thoughts of a third child went bye-bye for me.
Not the Queen says
Try freezing your peaches next time. It’s WAY easier!
I think it’s great that you are able to do things like make your own bread for your family. However, many people who wish they could provide similar wholesome food experiences to their family simply don’t have the time. I hope you make your own bread simply to provide that food to your family, and not to feel better about yourself in the eyes of others. Bragging about it may only make those who just don’t have the time to do such a thing since both parents/spouses are working feel guilty when they are doing the best they can, which is buying the healthiest already made bread option in the grocery store.
Can I just say, that yes, you are crazy busy, and yet you inspire me. I really want to make my own bread. And you did look ultimate darling. I have the before and after pics to prove it!
My life is that busy sometimes, but not because I try for it! I love homemade bread, but not enough to even dream about grinding my own wheat, and not enough to make my day stressful making it. I don’t use the kitchen aid, though, I think it is 100 times better hand kneaded! I don’t know why, but I can taste the difference.
Now I’m craving peach cobbler! warm.. with breyers vanilla icecream. OH MY.. Mmmmm
I’m not sure that it doing too much, but rather having unrealistic expectations about the things that you are doing. I used to have a friend like that…she was always running, but really thought that she could meet her Dad for lunch in one part of the state, run to the opposite end to babysit for someone else, and then meet someone for dinner back where she started. She could have managed ONE of those things, not two, and certainly not all three, but she never understood that.
I like to can, but it can only happen when I have help at home and NOTHING else to do that evening or the next morning. It’s a JOB! You will be so grateful come January when you crack open a can of sweet juicy peaches that you made. Mmmm.
sweet mama entropy says
When/if you decide to make bread again, I recommend this recipe http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/recipe.jsp?recipe_id=R428
It makes really delicious, moist whole wheat bread and would be super easy with a Kitchen Aid to do the kneading for you (something I don’t have, sigh).
Good luck down-scheduling 🙂
Gift of Green says
Totally classic post. Love it.
Take a break already!
And taking one look at your stove top and hearing about the sticky floors reminds me why I didn’t make jam this year. Although . . .I bet it would go well with your bread.
Maybe next year!
I learned this lesson last spring while making VBS decorations. My house was a wreck, but the church looked magical – for one week. I looked around and realized I was putting all my efforts into GOOD and FUN things that would not last and I made a commitment to start fresh August 1st putting my effort into my home and family first. I have already reaped incredible benefits and I’m learning daily the rich rewards of slowing down and being fully available to my family. I’m still tempted daily by other good and fun things (school scrapbook!! church garage sale!! women’s tea!!) – but each time I say no I grow a little stronger.
Have you told your neighbor how many families she has richly blessed by her comment? Bless her!
Making bread should be easy. After all we live in the 21st century. If I make bread I first plug in the bread maker, put the box of bread mix close the lid push the button. By doing this I can then push the button on the robot vacume cleaner so the floor gets cleaned. The only thing I know about canning is to accept canned stuff when it’s offered, but never try it at home. From Walmart I need everything for my soon to be born baby.
Never forget to stop and smell the flowers.
That is a great lesson to learn. Unfortunately for me (and for you if it’s genetic) it’s a lesson I have had to learn over and over again in my life. I think I’ve got it down and then something else comes up that “seems like a good idea at the time”. Will I ever finish that degree? Those 7 quilts I’m working on? The 20 years of scrapbooking? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m just trying to take it one day at a time.
My family was super-devout priesthood/Relief Society/food storage/temple Mormons until I was about 12. I can remember my Mom making wheat bread out of wheat berries and a wheat grinder… I was the only little girl at school who was eating a sack lunch containing a three inch sandwich made out of two thick, dusty brown mattresses, uh, whole wheat bread. She used to wrap it in foil because nothing else would hold it together. Ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? I felt just like her and LONGED for a soft, Wonder Bread sandwich in a little baggie…
Lazy Organizer says
Now if you had just consulted with your husband before you planned all that, I’m sure he could have knocked some sense into you. I’m working on that consulting part because I am in need of sense in a bad way.
I so so wanted to do the homemade bread thing. Even requested the bread machine as a wedding gift from my mom’s family in place of the traditional Kitchen Aid. We used it a bunch, but now just once in a while.
In case bread baking is something that you would like to get off of your to-do list, or maybe move it to the occasional column, I found I good bread that is made with whole wheat and has no corn syrup or it’s evil cousin, high fructose corn syrup. And if you are lucky like us and have a Trader Joe’s to shop at you can get it for around $2 instead of $4. It is Milton’s Whole Grain Plus (the red label Milton’s). I found a picture of it on their website if you want to see it. All the other versions of Milton’s that I’ve found in our stores either use enriched flour or and the corn syrup.
That’s “or ADD the corn syrup.” Sheesh.