Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back to the Basics

Yesterday we bought a new pencil sharpener. I'd wanted to buy a nice electric one for awhile now, something quick and easy. I had no interest in buying an old fashioned sharpener. Those were far distant memories from my old public school days! Technology has come a long way since then.

But I heard a faint whisper (through my enlightened husband) that encouraged me to go "back to the basics" on this purchase. Our culture today tends to foster an I-want-it-now mentality. We've got fast food and fast internet. We can find the best deal online in a matter of seconds and we can order our pizza to be delivered with a few mouse clicks. I can see my pictures as I take them with my digital camera, and have forgotten the excitement that used to come from picking up my photos from a roll of film. If there's a recipe I want to make, I can likely find hundreds of versions online, including detailed reviews of how it turns out. Click, click, click and my bills are paid. A few back and forth texts on a cell phone and a conversation is done.

But there's just something about sticking that #2 pencil into the metal sharpener, cranking it with your hand, and seeing that sharp tip emerge. Going "back" even further, I love watching my husband sharpen a pencil with a knife. We are forgetting what it's like to use our hands and to slow down our minds. We do whatever we can to make our housework and homework faster and easier. But sometimes we just get that mess which is the eaten up pencil out of the electric sharpener.

I feel like this today. My world is spinning ahead of me quickly and I can't seem to catch up. Whether it's laundry, All Saints' Day costumes, homeschool lessons, or my daughter's recent behavior issues, I feel like I'm left in the dust with not a clue as to where to start solving these problems. I am reminded of baby steps. To go back to the basics. Fold a load of laundry now. Buy the fabric for the costumes. Complete a math lesson. Spend some one-on-one time with my child who needs my attention. But instead I run away to the phone or the computer or the homeschool outing. And it all piles up.

So yesterday I went back to square one. I had my mission. Office Depot and JoAnn's fabrics. A stapler, a pencil sharpener and 3 colors of fabric for costumes. It was all I needed and I had my plan. The kids did well in Office Depot and were patient as I debated stapler options and called Hubby for assistance with the pencil sharpener choice. They even got a "compliment" from the employee who was helping me, "They're really smart for being home schooled!"

But things went downhill at JoAnn's. Fabric was being knocked to the ground and children were hiding under shelving and behind boxes. I had to get out quick, but not without the whines and protests of the kids who wanted their 'wants' now!

Today was even worse. After 2 1/2 hours at the park on a gorgeous afternoon, I decided to brave Wal-Mart with hungry children at 6:00 p.m to find some cheaper fabric. Brilliant. We left the store with one child sobbing about wanting glittered zebra flats, one hysterical about leaving before we bought some snacks, and the last (with unsnapped britches, after getting a diaper change in the cart!) was crying to be held and nursed. I barely made it to the car with all 3 of them. My saving grace was the threat that the security guard was going to come and think they were hurt for screaming and crying so loudly. It was probably my worst store experience ever, but I was actually laughing at how silly we must have looked.

And so my lesson today: Slow down. Simplify. Listen to that sharpener slowly crank those pencils to complete sharpness. These children can't be forced into an electric pencil sharpener. They will come out broken. I need to enjoy them for who they are. Precious children made in God's image and entrusted to slowly sharpen and hone, to love and care for them as God cares for us. To do my best to give them a happy, yet simple life, knowing they are loved and knowing the God who made them.

Tomorrow's goals: Spend time playing with each child. Put away some laundry. Start cutting the fabric. Prepare to donate some extra toys and clothing. Thank my husband for showing me how to love the simple things. Pray.


Melissa said...

Blair, you are so beautiful. I loved this post and needed it so much this morning. Thank you so much for sharing!

Kimberly said...

I really loved what you said today Blair, especially after I posted this AM about all the repairs we've been making lately.

I think this is one of your best yet.

Melissa D. said...

how true. Thanks for sharing.

p.s. The fabric store is difficult with kids, so much to see and touch, and lots of places to hide. We had our own experience recently . . . but, I also remember spending time in the fabric store with my mom when I was younger.

I love that you share and bless us all with your blessings.

Lillian said...

Thank you for this post!!

Stephanie said...

I still have memories of the hand-cranked pencil sharpener installed in the utility room of my grandparent's house. I used to love to use it when she'd be "schooling" me over the summer when I'd stay with them. It's a very fond memory; there is something truly magical about a hand-cranked pencil sharpener. :-)

Elizabeth said...

Nice post, Blair! I have memories of going to Cloth World with my mom and wanting to sit under all the fabric and touch everything!! Made me smile thinking of it. As far as Wal-Mart, we all have or will be there at some point, that is for sure. Some of my most award-winning mommy moments are at Target or the grocery store when you just want to pull your hair out. You are not alone! :-)

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