Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Move

For the last few years, Andy and I have been committed to two things.

One, that I stay home with our kids.

Two, that he finishes school and can move into full time teaching (his goal is to teach middle school students and coach wrestling).

Those two goals have meant lots of decisions about our time, about our money, about our relationships.

We've gotten pretty good at the routine.

I know that when a new quarter starts at school I'll have a week or two when I'm antsy and irritable, until I get a handle on Andy's new schedule and realize that he will still have time for me.

When someone offers me a job (it has happened more than once) we know that we'll think about it, and dream for a little while about what it would be like to have some extra cash, and we'll always decide that me being home is better.

When someone offers Andy a job (it has also happened a few times) we think about it. Andy looks wistfully in the distance and I know he is thinking that working a real job would be a whole lot more fun that sitting in class and doing homework, but we always come back to the fact that teaching is where he KNOWS God has been propelling him. So he keeps keeping on with school.

When being a one car family gets annoying Andy will wander Craigslist looking for a beater, we'll stare at our bank account, considering the value of the car vs. the value of our tiny emergency fund. And as of yet, each and every time we prefer the security of our little bit of savings over the convenience of another vehicle.

When we drive by houses for sale we sometimes pull over, just to look at the price and to enjoy the moments of dreaming of days ahead. We've kept a tiny apartment since we've been married and have enjoyed being resourceful with closet space and the satisfaction of filling the living room with people, even though we've never had fancy furniture or a table big enough to seat more than four.

But the apartment situation has changed.

We are now in a house!

My in-law's house!

Yes, oh my gosh, it is hard. And a little weird. And, if I let it, a blow to my pride.

But any change is hard. And the more people you have in the house, you realize that you are weird and your husband is weird and your family is weird. Let's all be weird together. And as far as my pride goes, I didn't need it anyway.

Why would I be embarrassed? There is a very strong cultural stigma associated with "living with your parents" but when your parents, or parents-in-law, are really neat people who love Jesus, there is a lot that can work really well.

Andy's folks have known about our two commitments and have been asking how they could help for awhile. When our landlord said that she would have to start charging us rent again, they immediately offered us a home. Their way of cheering on their son and caring for his family.

Thank you Aicheles.

So there is no shame. I could have sought full-time employment and made arrangements for Jack and Joey. Andy could have taken a break from school and found a job that would support us... but we are choosing not to compromise the things we have set out to do.

So, here I am. In one day I went from a tiny little apartment to a huge and beautiful new home with a yard that measures in acres. I don't know quite what to do with myself.

But I do know that I must be thankful.

Without gratitude the endearing quirks of multiple-family life would soon become grating.

Without gratitude I would forget that my two-year old, who is spending more of the day crying than laughing, is a boy with a God-given future.

Without gratitude I would let feelings of entitlement grow in my heart and feel betrayed by the world.

Without gratitude my heart is in danger of becoming hard.

No thank you!

Or rather, "Yes! Thank you Lord for these days."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Status Update

Andy said something humorous the other day and I couldn't stop grinning over it. After less than a minute my cheeks hurt.

That is a bad sign.

Not nearly enough smiling happening in my world lately.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's 10:00 and my baby should be sleeping, but he's not

I started out the day with a colossal meltdown.

The kind where you really hope you don't have to talk to anyone because as soon as you open up your mouth your jaw will flap around like a fish, not making any sound because no words can describe how completely out of control you feel and your eyes will betray you and begin to send streams of tears down your face, and despite your best efforts at maintaining some small measure of dignity you will get all snotty and blubbery and greatly embarrass both you and the unfortunate soul who happened to run into you first.

That is exactly what happened. Only, the person I happened to see first was a sweet friend and she gave me a huge hug while I cried and neither of us were embarrassed.

My giant flood of emotion gave me my very first migraine. I can't say I ever want to have one again.

So I took a long, long nap while Andy played with Jack and Joey slept.

I woke up from that rest feeling much better.

Not quite like all was right with the world, but like it might be after a few more days of balmy weather and maybe a new pair of jeans.

Then I made a simple dinner and did some yoga.

I've finished off my day with a brownie topped with strawberries and whip cream, one step closer to my world being righted.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Things That Don't Go Together

The Flu and parenting two small children.

The Flu and just about anything.

A relapse of The Flu you thought you had just recovered from and parenting two small children.

Parenting two small children and packing for a household move.

Packing for a household move and just about anything.

The Flu (original version or relapse), parenting two small children AND packing for a move.

They most DEFINITELY do not go together.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sick Day

Last night I was sick.

Really Sick.

This evening Andy asked me, "Are you going to tell people about it?" and I emphatically said "No!" I said, "Are YOU going to tell people about it?" He assured me that the details are mine to keep. I figure "it" - believe me, "it" needs the quotation marks! - will become one of those stories a few years down the road that we pull out to demonstrate how our marriage has developed and why we remain so deeply in love. But it really will have to wait a few years.

Moving on...

After two long naps and a glass of apple juice, I was well enough to sit on the couch. But that was about it.

Luckily, Jack was a dream today. It was all I could manage to select a show for him to watch from our DVR. Usually, if I have too many shows on in a day I notice that he gets really feisty and sassy from being too sedentary and having too little of my attention. But today he entertained himself and told me cute stories and at random moments would come kiss my hair or coo at Joey.

When I did turn the tv off he curled up on the couch with me and Joey and played a game he invented which involved him trying to stick a turquoise rock in my belly button. He thought it was hilarious. I usually hate having my belly button (not my belly... my belly button) touched, but I made an exception because he liked it so very much.

I would like you to know
that I almost
wrote a little quip
about expecting his hand
to get lost in the folds of my tummy
but I didn't
it isn't true.
I love this body of mine that has
grown and birthed two sweet boys.
I will continue to love and care for it
regardless of what I want it to be - right now
or what it once was and no longer is.

Despite feeling so yucky, I thought, "This is a sweet life."

In other news:

At six-weeks postpartum, something magical happened. I don't remember such a sudden shift with Jack (I don't remember a lot about those first few months with Jack), but with Joey, the first few weeks I really wondered if I was going to bounce back.

Now, things are still hard. I'm still tired, but life seems manageable. The shift was so dramatic that I wondered if there is some hormone flush that happens at that point, or if that is how long it takes your body to acclimate to a torturous sleep cycle... or if there is some other physiological change that happens exactly at that milestone.

It could be that, or it could just be that I have mastered a few essential life skills with two babies:
  • I can pack the diaper bag, get them out the door and load them into the van all by myself.
  • I can nurse Joey and walk, if needed, to retrieve destructive or noisy toys from Jack.
  • I can bathe both boys at the same time.
  • I can leave the house without my hair fixed and not feel all that bad about it.
  • And I survived Andy being gone for a full four days... joyfully!
In addition to the practical skills, I think I've let go of some pretty harsh expectations I've had for myself (see above, tummy side note). Everyone in my life loves me, regardless of how put together I look when go out, or how much I do or don't get done, or even how much more frequently I struggle to be patient with Jack and fail.

I am loved.

And recognizing that has lifted a load.

I know that there are many good days and many hard days before me. But this evening, I am once again enjoying the journey. God has good things in store for this family and I am so happy to be where I am.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Coming Clean

I have a confession.

I don't always recycle.

Do you hate me?

Sometimes when I'm cooking and using lots of cans, like a soup that uses several cans of beans, I toss them in the sink with the good intention of rinsing them out and popping them in the recycling when I'm done with all my meal making. The problem is, when the sink is also full of dishes and the counters are cluttered, rinsing the cans seems like an avoidable portion of the work. Just toss them in the garbage under the sink and move on.

Surely it cuts a good 1.75 minutes out of my cleaning time!

And other days, Jack finds some jar or jug that I've put in the bin particularly interesting and pulls it out to play with it (which is why I must throughly rinse all containers that will eventually be recycled). After I have tripped over his favored juice bottle or tuna tin about three hundred and sixty two times, I am so tired of seeing it that I hide it from Jack... in the garbage can.

Does that make me a bad person.

Or more specifically, does that mean I have to hide myself in shame from all the faithful recyclers that inhabit the great Northwest?

I hope not.

I have another confession that might get me kicked out of my home state.

I don't really like soy milk.

What is the deal with soy anyway, is it good for you or not? I hear conflicting messages and I am confused.

Same with dairy.

And just about every other food group.

Someone somewhere always has a reason that some food is no good for the human race.


Until I get straight answers I'll just keep eating what I love.

And I'll keep not liking soy milk.

I can handle it on my cereal. But it certainly doesn't cut it in my coffee and please, please don't ask me to drink it straight.

But milk seems to make both of my babies gassy, as well as my darling man...
...who is in Mexico
building a house
and who I was bravely living without
until he called me
and I was reminded of how very much I adore him
and now I keep wishing
he would come home and tuck me in,
but alas
he will not be back in The States
for another two days.

Instead of filling my fridge with multiple milk products I just go with the gang and have soy when I want cereal. But frankly, it isn't really cutting it for me. I am trying to decide if it is worth it to have Joey squirm and fuss after I drink it and therefore he drinks it... and when I think about that, I realize that I'll just have to make do for a while.

Oh the sacrifices we mothers make!

We've tried Almond, Rice and "Grain Drink" in addition to the soy. Not a single one of them are delicious, but because soy is questionable I thought I should at least give them a go. Soy by far is the least objectionable... but seriously... is soy a yey or nay these days?


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's Bigger Than A Baby Step?

Today, my friends, today reminded me what it is like to have order in my life.

Two days ago, after a complete meltdown, I decided that even though everybody says that after a baby you should rest, give up having a routine, and just let things go until you are feeling like getting around to it, that there are a few things that I need to get in place as soon as possible to keep my emotions and a healthy sense of self in a safe place.

That was an incredibly long sentence. I will try and avoid that in the future.

Let me back up a bit.

After Jack (albeit, a year after) I was in the best shape I have ever been. Since having Joey, and assessing the "damage" my body sustained through pregnancy, I have been more self conscious and spiteful toward my body than I have in a very long time.

It got to the point that I actually canceled a few get-togethers and have dreaded social gatherings (usually my lifeblood!) because I haven't wanted to be seen. I fear scrutiny and feel as if I have failed the universe because I am not back in my single-digit size six weeks postpartum.

Besides feeling disappointed in my body, I struggle with disappointment in my parenting. I loose my patience a lot more often. I forget to feed Jack meals and instead let him survive on spoonfuls of peanut butter and pretzels. I criticize myself each time I have to make a choice of which child's needs to attend to first. At several points in each day, somebody just has to cry for a little bit because I can only do so many things at once.

Combine a crushing sense of discouragement when I look in the mirror, with the brutal realization that I am not as "good" at parenting two kids as I imagined I would be. And you have a recipe for disaster.

In a wave of emotion, Andy sat on the bed with me and listened to me lament all the things I disliked about myself in this season. The way I summed up my emotions to him was to say, "I miss feeling like I have it all together." His response was so insightful and honest and wise that it totally redirected those dark emotions. He said, "You never feel like that. You think you did, but let's be honest, you never do."

Deep Breath.


I look back and paint a picture of myself and my life and the timeline of Jack's infancy with bright and cheery colors. I remember the good and even add a little shimmer to make it sound better... but the reality is, there is and always has been something I am adjusting or fearing or looking forward to.

That truth released me from the trap of all the things that I am not, or thought I should be, or thought that I was. It moved me to look at the things that are draining me and decide which of those things are simple realities of this season that I will wait out, and which of those things I can change.

My first step was to get back to the gym.

This morning I took both boys to the gym. I felt so accomplished! After a few hiccups with getting the boys settled, I ran on the treadmill and then did some ab work and lunges and all those work-outy things.

I did it.

I made it to the gym... in the morning even.

And tomorrow I will go again.

And the day after that, I will go again.

Over the past several years I have learned a few things about myself. And one of those things is that my physical health has an enormous impact on my emotional self, and my emotional self has a profound impact on my spiritual health, and then it circles back to my physical self...

So, after a day of working out, I was motivated to try a few other things that I have been trying to figure out how to mange with two kids. Tonight Jack and Joey had their first bath together! It was terrifying and I was afraid Jack was going to dump water all over his wee brother, but he didn't! We made it!

And THEN, after both boys were bathed, they were both IN BED at the same time. Understandably, Joey will wake up in a few hours and need to be fed again, but still, both boys are in bed at the same time!

Each of these moments combine to make me see that yes, indeed, at some point, either three weeks or three months, or three years from now, order will be restored.

And in three weeks or three months or three years, there will be another set of challenges that I am sorting out and fears that I am facing and accomplishments that I am celebrating.

So friends, let me end by encouraging you. Whatever you are trying to sort-out or fix, or are just wallowing in, it will end at some point. Decide what you can do to make it better and recognize what will need to be endured. Take a moment to be real with yourself and make sure you aren't looking behind and painting a picture that is a little more glittery than it was when you were living it. If you are wishing for what was or what should be, stop. Look at and enjoy and live what is right now.

You can do it.

I will celebrate each moment with you!