DARNDEST DAYS: KATHRYN
Dear Readers, today I'm introducing a new feature that I've given the corniest name ever: Those Darndest Days. My hope is that Those Darndest Days will be interviews of women in different stages of life, while all celebrating one: childhood.
The first interview is from my friend Kathryn of DesigningAround. Kathryn's blog has been one of my favorites for about a year now in part because of her witty writing, surprisingly not all that common in a design blog. This post will probably get you laughing.
Those of you who are not living in the perfect house will enjoy her take on working, or I should say, designing around obstacles.
Please introduce yourself to us!
Hi! I’m Kathryn, a mom to two ridiculously imaginative kids (a 10 year-old daughter with SPD and 6 year-old son, who we homeschool).
I work full time as the Education Director for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (although I’m super lucky to have a flex schedule that allows me to work partly from home). In between everything else I blog about home renovations, furniture rearranging, parenting, homemaking and whatever else strikes my fancy.
I like Cadbury crème eggs (so I’m very happy right now), read voraciously (anything but westerns or horror) and have a serious aversion to clutter. I’d like to be crafty, but am completely lacking in the necessary patience, love gardening in the spring and generally start ignoring it in July and am a pretty good baker.
I have degrees in English Literature and Dance and used to think I’d go back for a Ph.D., but that’s looking less and less appealing.
I read far too many blogs and need to exercise more. And by more I pretty much mean at all.
Goodness, this is getting confessional ...
What is your earliest memory?
I don’t really have any memories that I know are real till I was four or five. I remember coming in for breakfast, with my blankie (which I kept for a long time) and seeing my family already up. I remember laying over the side of the couch, so my head was upside down, staring at the patterns in our orange shag rug (yep) and the light from our front door.
And I remember putting sheets over our backyard swing set and playing gypsy fortune teller with my sister, smashing up sunflower seeds to make pretend food mash for the elves and trying to dig up our dead fish to see how they were decomposing (my mother cleverly moved the grave markers once she caught on to that activity).
What important experiences have you wanted for your children?
We live in a very urban area, very different from where my husband and I grew up (although he spent a lot of time in San Francisco). We try to find ways for them to still have an outdoor childhood, where they ride bikes and run around to everyone else’s house.
I also think that providing space for imaginative play and creativity is very important, so I make sure there aren’t too many scheduled activities and lots of open materials and spaces in the house that they can engage in open-ended imaginative play.
At some point, we’d like to spend time traveling with them, but that budget has been taken up by various therapies and schooling.
What is the best lesson your parents taught you?
My parents were very encouraging, I always felt supported when trying new things. I think it’s one of the reasons we decided to buy this house, despite having very little DIY knowledge.
What is the best lesson your children have taught you?
Ha! Patience. They’re still teaching me that. I’m not very good.
Have you ever worried about having inadequacies as a parent? How have you overcome that?
Every day. Who doesn’t? I worry about managing my daughter’s anxiety and impending teen-dom, raising her to be self-confident, articulate and capable. Having the strength to let her be herself, with all her quirks that make no sense to me.
And I worry about my son, are we doing enough with the homeschooling, what else does he need, does he have enough friends?
What helps you get through hard days?
Alcohol? Seriously though, taking some space. Giving myself permission to hand a child an iPad for a moment or allow myself a time out. Or to go ahead and order dinner even if there’s enough food in the fridge because I’m tired. Venting on facebook.
How do you handle remodeling with kids in the house?
In bits and pieces. My children are older now, so it’s much easier. When we started my daughter was 18 months. We moved in, ripped off all the crumbling plaster and took out the kitchen. Looking back I have no idea how we did it. We were younger.
As your children grow, what do you already miss the most?
I miss the park. Which I never thought I’d say. I miss randomly connecting with other parents, there’s much more pass-by as they get older and you drop them off places instead.
And of course I miss snuggles, when I could pick them up easily. There are still plenty of snuggles, but they’re big and wiggly now.
How do you wish that your kids' childhood was more like yours?
I wish they had more freedom, more wilderness, more exploration. More frogs.
And how do you wish that your childhood had been more like your kids?
We have amazing museums and zoos at our fingertips in Chicago. They are such an everyday part of our lives. There are a lot more kids here too, we had to drive everywhere, there are a good 30 kids within 3 blocks here.
To be themselves, always. To be creative. To value learning. To be kind. To like good food. To seek out new adventures. I’m probably just teaching them sarcasm though.
What do you love most about your kids?
Who they are. They are smart, crazy, creative little creatures who astonish me every day. Although there are certainly days when I like them best asleep.
I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did! Thanks, Kat!
P.S. That's a drill team picture of Kat, NOT marching band. Knowing she worked for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago should've tipped me off ...