A gentle reminder

Where there are no oxen, the crib is empty: but where there is much corn, there the strength of the ox is manifest.
Proverbs 14:4

My desk is a mess– multiple coffee cups, several salad bowls and water glasses, watercolor stuff, paper work and receipts.
The kids rooms are trashed (although the daily service is working and they are slightly better each day). Books are everywhere though at least now they are in piles, most of the clothes have finally made their way to the laundry–clean and dirty alike, paper and writing utensils are everywhere as are all the little girl trappings– stuffies left from plays and other productions, nail polish and hair things set up like a beauty salon..
In the living room sits a box full of Christmas decorations (I finally took down the last bits), Wii motes and yoga mats, blankets and bean bags left out after movie watching, a laptop sitting on, and papers strewn about the midi keyboard.
Issac’s room there are legos and race tracks covering every inch of the room, mixed with books and boxes (used as needed for every building project under the sun. )
The kitchen is covered in dishes left over from meals, cd’s of audio books, and my paints and paintings in progress.
In the bathroom are the results of Rachel’s latest hand cream/epson salt concoction, some dolls and doll clothes left over from a recent doll resort, hair clippers from a recent trim, plus numerous damp towels and clothes on the hooks– left there just in case I need to go out and hubby is sleeping. The laundry room is overflowing with clean and dirty clothes and the back hall is full of snow things hanging to dry.

It is easy to think of these things as mess and clutter. And yet, I am reminded that these are signs of success, of learning, of activity and thought.
Everything left out in the girls’ room has been recently used and is the result of a project. Rachel’s hammer is sitting out because just a little while ago she used an old Chubs box (those plastic lego brick style diaper wipe boxes), a pen, and bits of paper to make a voting box– which entailed hammering a hole in the box for the votes. Books are piled everywhere because Essie always has a book, or her laptop. Audio books also lie strewn because Rachel is always listening to one. Their floor is always covered in paper and pens and other wiriting utensils because the girls are always drawing, designing, writing, or creating something.

Issac’s room is covered because he is constantly in the process of building or designing something new. Today he designed a war game using the weights to build cannons and gaming dice to figure out who wins each round. Race tracks cover his room surrounded by stuffies, Legos, K’Nex– all built precisely to the enclosed directions, and then adapted and added to, surrounded by books and boxes.

The kitchen is cluttered and not so clean because we ate and ran today as right after lunch we headed to the pond to test out the ice and Rachel’s new ice skates. The food we took along got dumped on the table because we had some other project to do when we got home. The audio books are there because we have been listening to classic books while I work on an acrylic painting and the kids either eat or do projects at the table. There is a blue IKEA bag full of snow things on the floor so we can easily take them to the pond tomorrow. A workbook (Issac’s) sits open where he left off coloring and doing activities (because he wants to, for fun, not because it is a rule.)

The bathroom is less than ideal because today Rachel made a special hand cream using various essential oils and Epsom salts to help our hands with the cold dry weather and aches that accompany the RA. This led to a discussion of books that I own with recipes for such things as well as which herbs work best for what, and future plans for me to teach her how to melt bees wax, olive oil, and coconut butter together for creams. She and Esther also had a beach party for their dolls a few days ago and today she had a spa day for the doll that she took skating (she designed skates and clothes adapted from other dolls for her so she could go along but then dropped her in the snow so she needed a bath).

The laundry in the laundry room is a sign that the girls finally remembered to give me their dirty (and some clean) clothes and that I have finally begun to get caught up on washing.

The living room proves that Rach, Essie, and I watched part of Rozencratz and Gildenstern are Dead this morning, which lead to much commentary on Shakespeare and humor and later watched The Golden Boys (a fun and interesting period piece) (both watched on the living room laptop). Issac also spent some time replaying Mario Sunshine, enjoying that he can finally read a lot of what is on the screen, and this morning Rach finally brought me the other Christmas box so I could take down the rest of the decorations. Oh, and several books are strewn about (because they are being read) and the piano music is out because it is being used.

The hall is evidence that there has been much snow play (and ice skating) as are the rather salty spots on the floor where people keep stepping with wet boots no matter how hard they try to avoid it.

The fact that my desk is cluttered is evidence that I have actually gotten some work done recently.

We may not have an immaculate house- though it is much, much cleaner, and staying cleaner now that we have instituted the 5 minutes upstairs 5 minutes downstairs rule. The kids are actually beginning to enjoy cleaning up and going well beyond the 5 min I require. It is never going to be perfect, or even clean to most people (though I do keep clutter to a minimum so that we don’t have so much to fuss about.) However, the mess is evidence of living and life, of time well-spent, of fun had, and mistakes made. More conversations and time together happen because we aren’t fighting over who is supposed to be doing what job and why isn’t everything perfect. Learning is going on at every turn without coercion and fuss. We all have time to pursue our interests without constant nagging and whining. We are greatly blessed.