End of year resolution (of some sort)

10 Dec

Thanksgiving bouquet

I’m either really late for 2008 or somewhat early for 2009 but this week I made my first (I say first because it probably won’t be my only one) resolution…

Okay, so here it is: From this point forward, I resolve to “help cultivate an appreciation for beauty” in our family.

I’m not sure if I’m putting this right but basically, I want us to enjoy the beauty of everyday living more.

A few weeks ago I placed an order on http://www.books.com.tw because my dear friend T agreed to help lug some stuff from Taiwan on her next visit in January. In the busyness of things I had forgotten all about the order until this week when I received an email notice from the retailer saying that they had shipped one of my items, a translated Japanese book about cultivating children’s creativity through their sense of beauty (at least that’s what the Chinese title suggests). To be honest, I didn’t really know too much about the book when I ordered it so I googled the title to remind myself why it was worth importing from Taiwan.

According to this blog post, the book’s main point is that a children’s awareness of beauty and the world around them is heightened when parents (or caretakers) share the experiences with them (i.e. a child will “notice” or remember seeing a sunset when someone sees it with them and/or points it out to them).

Around the same time, I happened to browse this blog which I tagged a long time ago but never really revisited. There I stumbled upon Moline’s photo set (of her home) on flickr. And one thing led to another…until I was left with this tremendous sense of dissatisfaction about the state of our home…

Don’t get me wrong, we have a nice home – it’s spacious, warm (important in the winter time, especially in the Bay Area), and comfortable (babies and dogs can go everywhere) but something was missing. In other words, it’s like the feeling of someone realizing that she’s been eating everyday without ever tasting the food. Horrible, right?

Since I haven’t read Yamamoto’s book yet I don’t know what her recommendation is for improving our senses but I know that I want Noah to grow up more aware of the world around him. And I want Noah to see beauty on a daily basis.

So obviously our home would be the first place to tackle.

But before I can beautify, I must first remove the clutter…this is not easy to do when most nights I just want to put my feet up and rest. But if I work on it a little every day hopefully within a few weeks (crossing my fingers), our house will be tidy so that more of my time would go straight to making the place more appealing to our senses.

I’m still working on defining “beauty” but I know that I don’t want to just end up buying useless decorations that you sometimes see on those design shows. We already have a lot of stuff. My task to bring out the beauty in what we already have, not to collect more. At the same time, it’s sometimes okay to bring into our home objects that might add meaning to our lives.

For example, this week, while decorating our Christmas tree, I decided to start a new tradition of having an annual theme for our ornaments. Last year, rather than buy boxes of shiny balls just to have something on the tree, we decided (since Charlie doesn’t really care about these things, my decision ends up being our family’s decision ^_^) to acquire ornaments one at a time, so that each one would be more meaningful. Needless to say it was pretty easy to execute my chosen theme this year (candy canes symbolizing the Shepherd’s cane and how God has guided us through the year). A few boxes of candy canes tied with some ribbons, and the look is complete.

The end result looks like this:

2008 Shepherd's cane theme

I know, that’s not the most beautiful Christmas tree you’ve ever seen* but I really enjoyed every minute spent decorating it and I know I’ll enjoy telling people about the meaning behind the ornaments (don’t worry, I won’t talk about it unless I’m asked).

Close-up of candy cane*I intentionally kept the tree sparse in case Noah decides to pull on things because this is the first year he’s been able to reach the tree.

In any case, this is going to be a long term project. No one is pressuring me to do anything. There’s no deadline for completion and no one is going to come and give me a critique of our home and my efforts so I’m going to slowly cultivate my own sense of beauty…then hopefully someday Noah’s as well.

Already I feel happier about waking up every morning and the beauty I might find in the day’s activities.

Here’s wishing everyone the time to see a sunset…and a loved one to share the moment.

美感是最好的家教 (Chinese version)

子どものセンスは夕焼けが作る (Japanese version)


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2 Responses to “End of year resolution (of some sort)”

  1. Mary December 12, 2008 at 4:50 pm #

    it is a great resolution! Maybe I ll join you on it =D

    i follow a blog of a mom with 3 boys living in texas. Reading her blog always makes me more appreciative of things around us. I really do aspire to be like her when oneday (maybe never as of now) that I become a mom. ( blueyonder.typepad.com ) This is also the mom that homeschools her 3 boys, with hens in her backyard. hehe. now you can see where all my wish comes from haha.

  2. jenjapan December 13, 2008 at 5:10 am #

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving an encouraging note…Like I said, appreciating beauty shouldn’t cost too much money so hopefully Kevin will let you take on this challenge with me…but boy, he must feel like I’m a bad influence huh?

    Thanks for suggesting BlueYonder – I love reading parenting blogs and can’t wait to read more of her stuff….

    One parenting blog I read a lot is Notes From the Trenches (http://www.notesfromthetrenches.com/). I don’t think she does craft but she has 7 kids (if I recall correctly) and has a lot of precious things to say about her family….Take a look at her blog when you want to cheer up. Her writing always makes me laugh.

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