When You’re Just Not Feeling It

I’m not feeling it today. I woke up with a headache this morning that didn’t go away till the afternoon. Then starting about four, I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. But I had to, because this night is my husband’s shop night and so I was on my own to get kids to bed. I fell asleep in the two year old’s bed, because he wouldn’t go to sleep and I finally gave up and just laid down on his bed and went to sleep myself. It must have worked because I eventually woke up and he was asleep next to me. I dragged myself downstairs, remembering that I hadn’t finished my blog for the next day. I started one this afternoon. All about perfectionism. And I just reread it and I feel like I’m preaching. And I just don’t feel like preaching today.

I want to write down funny stories about what my kids have done, but my sense of humour has been a bit strained lately. I would like to be poetic or lyrical. Nope. That’s not happening either. Today is just one of those days where you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving.

There were a couple sweet notes in the day. Eating lunch on the deck with my two little boys and my husband who came home from work. Giving my six youngest children the job of moving our humongous trampoline from one corner of the yard to the opposite corner, a journey that was long, and involved getting around a lot of obstacles. Not only did they rise to the challenge, but they managed to work together cheerfully and with lots of enthusiasm. So, now you know, teamwork building project: have your children move a really big trampoline. That cheerfulness even lasted all the way to bedtime, major bonus.

Let’s see. Other good things that happened today…I got to help my eight year old daughter practice a couple songs on the piano and started teaching her a cute little song to sing for our musical evening that’s coming up soon. I got to sit out in the sunshine and fresh air while I watched my little boys playing in the yard. I exercised today, despite my headache.

I thought about some good things. Pondered perfectionism. Questioned the meaning of life. Daydreamed about what my children would be like when they were all grown up. Enjoyed reading a book by Linda Nichols, “In Search of Eden”. I recommend that book and any of her other books. She’s a really good storyteller that mixes gritty, harsh reality with amazing grace.

I will conclude with one little snippet about perfectionism. I am a closet perfectionist. I feel like a good day only happens when my house is spotless; I’m full of energy; my children are all perfectly-behaved, content, and well-adjusted. Today wasn’t really any of those things (aside from the success of children moving a trampoline). But, looking back, I have to say. It was a good day. Full of flaws: headaches and messy houses included, but it’s ok. The day doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. What makes the day good is me being able to stop and notice the goodness tucked away here and there. It’s a good day when I take the time to be thankful for the small things.

I guess it was a pretty good day after all. And the best thing, I can now go to bed. 🙂


Kitchen Pianos and How to Degaje


(edit: I forgot to post the picture! Here it is!)

When I was a kid growing up in Haiti, there was a word that I heard a lot. Degaje. Which means, essentially, make do with what you have. If you have ever repaired anything with duct tape, then you are Degaje-ing. My dad had Degaje down to a science. “Well, the car broke down, and I couldn’t find a part for it, so I took this scrap metal I had and welded my own part..” or “You need bookshelves? Ok, here’s a big stack of milk crates, have fun…” or maybe, my mom, “I made bacon for breakfast…ok, it’s not really bacon, it’s fried spam, but it’s close!” You get the idea.

I have carried the spirit of Degaje into my marriage and family life. It sometimes gets on my husband’s nerves. His motto being, “If you’re going to do a job, do it right”. My motto goes more like, “Do whatever you can with whatever you have and as long as it works, everything is fine.” I will tell my kids that we are going to Degaje and they look at me blankly. What? Speak English mom. I still haven’t got it into their vocabulary.

That brings us to my kitchen piano. My husband knows how to tune and repair pianos. Shhh. It’s a secret. He’s not out for hire. He doesn’t mind keeping our family pianos going, but it’s not his favorite work. No, he really doesn’t want to come tune your piano for you. So, years ago he brought home an old broken down piano. I think someone was giving it away and it was either he take it or it was going to the dump. He took it. I think the idea was that he would fix it up and let it be a piano for the kids. Shortly after that though, he bought me a nice upright piano and of course the kids wanted to play my nice piano instead of the old beat up one that hadn’t been tuned yet. The old piano got relegated to our back room.

The back room is an addition on the back of our house that is very pleasant, full of windows. It has been a multi-functional room since we moved in 12 years ago. It has been a children’s bedroom, a sickroom, a family room, a junk room, a school room, a guest room, and finally it became the parental bedroom. Throughout all these transitions, the piano has remained. When it became my bedroom we used the piano as a kind of bookshelf and shoe rack. It looked ok, but it took up a lot of room. Then, for my 40th birthday, my husband remodeled our bedroom. We got carpet on the floor, fresh peachy paint on the walls, new curtains, new closet system. It’s beautiful, I love it.

When Andy started the bedroom remodel, he moved everything out of the room so he could lay the carpet. I suggested this would be a wonderful time to haul the piano away since we had no use for it. He seemed to agree with me and I was excited. Hurray, the unused, old, forgotten piano will finally go away! He rolled the piano out of our room, down a short hall and into the kitchen. He was focused on our bedroom and he said he would take care of the piano a bit later. The piano was in the middle of my kitchen and getting in the way, so we pushed it against the wall where there was plenty of room.

Now, I have to explain a bit more about our house and kitchen, because I’m sure you’re wondering why my kitchen had plenty of room for a piano…Our house was built in 1909. It is a “project” house. We are in the middle of remodeling it. We’ve been in the middle of remodeling it for 12 years. We have done all the major work like replacing plumbing and wiring and drywall, new bathrooms, new roof, that kind of stuff, but we’ve never quite got to finishing all the trim and painting and maybe fixing the floors…or finishing the kitchen.

My kitchen right now has very little counter space. A round table in the middle of the room, a countertop that holds all the cereal/fruit/bread/vegetables, and a little bit of counter on either side of the sink. That’s it. So, suddenly, I had a piano in my kitchen. I started setting things down on it while I was cooking. Other people started setting things down on it. Slowly the piano began to disappear under a pile of spices, and cooking supplies, and tea pots, and cast iron skillets. My husband raised an eyebrow when he saw the accumulation. “How am I going to get rid of the piano with all this stuff on it?” I assured him that as soon as he was ready to move the piano, I would move the stuff out of the way. Then logic kicked in. Why move the piano when it makes such a great counter space? Degaje at it’s best. And that, my friends, is why I have a piano in my kitchen. In case you were wondering.