Thursday, December 5, 2013

Snow Day

So, as we're sort of getting ready to move once again, I realize I've never even blogged once during this adventure of building our house. The short version is: we started our house in June, I didn't see much of my husband all summer, we made the most of the hot days, fall arrived and school started, my husband finished his bachelors degree while the project continued at full speed, hunting season arrived and my husband (for the first time since I've known him) did not buy a liscence because he has spent every spare moment working on our house, Thanksgiving came and went, and here we are- ready to begin painting tomorrow with hopes of moving in as soon as we possibly can. The long version really isn't that much different. Really.

And, amidst it all, I am sitting here feeling so happy and blessed. Life is so full of good, even when difficulties cloud our ways, even when life gets so busy we wonder what the point of it all really is.

Then little moments happen to remind us.

 I knew the kids would have a snow day today, and I knew I didn't have time for that. With so much to be done in the upcoming weeks, so much packing and things to finish before we can move, I really found myself dreading the closing of school, when normally I welcome snow days. Well, it was a true snow day, too cold to play outside and with the littlest sick with a bad cold and the chicken pox, I felt myself getting more than a little overwhelmed.

So, I decided to bake sugar cut out cookies and let the kids frost them. When you can't beat them, join them.... Or something. So, as we're standing there rolling out the dough and cutting out the cookies my three year old is chatting away and suddenly says, "I love you, Mom." And even though I've been lucky enough to hear those words many times before they never lose their meaning and always soften my heart. So they frosted and decorated and made a large mess of the kitchen, but when I sat down
for a few minutes afterwards I found myself being so thankful for this snow day. We weren't even going to bother doing decorated cookies this year with everything else going on. After seeing how much they enjoyed it, I'm rather glad we did.

Tonight I tucked them in with all four older kids cozied up in one room because the other kid bedroom is just way too cold on nights like tonight. See, in this house the two kid rooms opened up into one, and often they would camp out in the warmer room together. When we move, a couple of the kids will get their own rooms and they will no longer all be sleeping together. I think these months have brought them closer together, and even though they think they're so ready for their own bedrooms, I have a feeling I'll find them camped out on each other's floors more than once in our new house. And that makes me smile. I'm glad they're close.

Life is good. It's always the little things that matter most. Make time for the little things and always the little ones. They are the ones who matter the most, the moments with them are the moments that go by too quickly and cannot be replaced.

And enjoy random snow days even when you don't have time for them. (Now, if tomorrow's a snow day too I could be singing a different tune...) :)

Happy Decmber, everyone! I hope you're staying warm and finding reasons to be happy and joyful this Christmas season!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Moving on out

I am really appreciating this quiet Sunday. The kids had friends over this afternoon and it was exactly what they needed. They've been a little off the wall lately, and for good reason, so it was nice to have friends here so they could stop fighting with each other for a few hours.

We are in the midst of packing up our house for a move across town at the moment. This sort of came out of the blue so we are living in a state of chaos over here... Excited chaos, but crazy too. We had intentions of putting our house for sale this spring so it shouldn't have been too much of a shock, but when a buyer became interested in our house right now, it was. We are so grateful that it sold so fast, though, however crazy it may be to pack up and move in the middle of February after nine and a half years in this house!

This move has been quite the experience for me. I have an issue with hanging on to... Stuff. Perhaps I could use it, or paint it, or turn it into something useful, you know? And actually, I have been excited over the years to find new uses for random things I've held on to. Makes me feel a bit like my dad to repurpose things and be resourceful. But a lot of the stuff I've held on to is exactly that: stuff. Stuff we don't really need, stuff that could serve someone else better, or stuff that is just ready to meet its final rest. Hah! So as I weed through our possessions, it feels really good to part with the things that are not worth the energy of moving twice. It's been a good lesson for this self-proclaimed pack-rat. Be gone with the junk!

Anyways, the boxes and cartons all over the house are starting to make everyone a little anxious. I can see it in the way the kids are behaving and I can feel it in the form of an almost continuous headache in myself. It will be a relief when we finally make the move and get somewhat settled into our temporary rental house. Then starts the other fun project: building a house... But one step at a  time. First, let's get out of this house.

This home holds a lot of memories for us. We signed the mortgage for it on our first wedding anniversary. When we bought it we were almost twenty-one, expecting our first baby, and so excited to be buying a house. It was in rough shape. Think: bright purple railings, dingy dark brown cabinets, lanolium with cigarette burns, stained carpets, horrible wall paper halfway up the living room walls... You get the picture. But we fixed it up: nothing a whole lot of paint, some new floor coverings, and some drywall couldn't fix. And we made this rough house into our home bit by bit, year by year. 

We brought our babies home from the hospital and watched them grow and walk and talk here. We put a fence around the backyard and spent many summer days back there, and lots of summer evenings around a bonfire. Our kids played house in the front porch, spent days in the sandbox making roads and cakes, colored on the window sills, and rollerbladed through the kitchen. When we ran out of room for beds, Ryan built bunks right into the wall of a bedroom and voila- space where there previously was none. And when our family expanded some more, walls came down in the living room to create more space.

When I think of leaving this house, I am excited for the opportunity it presents to us, but I know when we finally walk out of these front doors for the last time I will do so with a lump in my throat too. It's just a place on this earth, but it was our place for all these years and it's so full of memories. If these walls could talk... Good times and difficult, we've watched it all play out.

We celebrated many birthdays around the  kitchen table, watching the little ones grow as the years have passed.Tomorrow, Hannah turns five- and she is so ready. She has her frilly skirt picked out and her crown is "in her purse". She is my girly-girl, never-know-what-she's-going-to-say-next sweetheart. Does not like to sit still but is so eager for kindergarten (ooh, boy), loves her dolls (barbies, magnet dolls, American Girl, any kind) and taught herself how to braid hair recently. She counts down to Friday every week because that is when she goes to gymnastics, and she cannot get enough of it. She is such a joy.

So the next couple of weeks will be busy... Packing the final belongings and getting it out of here.  The mysterious depths of the attic proved entertaining, and finding out what's hidden in those dark corners of the basement should be interesting. Which brings up another thought... I wonder just what is buried beneath the snow in the backyard?! Oh, help.

Monday, January 7, 2013


The first three months after Clara was born were not the easiest I have ever experienced. The poor baby cried. A lot. I tried giving up dairy, I tried swaddling, gripe water, baths, anything at all that might help her, and still I spent every evening walking the floor wondering what else I could do to comfort her. Everything I thought I might know about babies was lost, she defied it all.

Car rides were a disaster. She would scream from the second she was lowered into her car seat until we were finally able to take her out. Nights were impossible. She would sleep little tiny stretches and stay awake for hours crying in between. Sometimes, she would finally settle down just before it was time to wake up with the other kids. I even quit my job (which wasn't entirely because of her, but which was pretty much the best decision I could have made at this point in my life!) It was an entertaining time, that's for sure. Thankfully after raising four other kids the one and only thing I do proclaim to know is that nothing lasts forever. 

Well, eventually two things happened that coincided with her turning a corner. One, I brought her to the chiropractor once or twice a week for several weeks and slowly noted improvements until one day I was able to lay her down on the floor without her screaming, and then one day shortly after that we rode the entire fifteen minutes home from the chiropractor while she slept. And, two, I cut out wheat from my diet (and along with it a lot of sugar).

Now, this is not a post about why you should give up wheat, but I will say as much as pertains to this post. It has made a huge difference in my life. I'm much less anxious than I used to be, I have energy, I feel more calm than I probably ever have, and overall I just feel so much more alive. Of course, I keep going- is it really the wheat or is it just a combination of many different things? I'm not sure. But for now, it works. And I'll take it, because for months I have felt really good. And my baby is a different baby than she was in the first months of her life too. It wasn't until I ate a lot of wheat in one day, however, that I fully realized how much better we both function without it!

Anyways, because the dust is settling (literally and figuratively) I'm finding I might actually be able to get back to doing some of the other things I used to enjoy once upon a foreign time in my life. Not that I don't enjoy cuddling with my baby, but believe it or not I do have other things I would like to do as well.

Around Christmas time, I got together with some friends and one of them said something about my projects. Hah. I quit projects too. Gave them right up along with planning meals, exercising, cleaning house and doing laundry on a regular basis. Apparently with a fussy baby you realize how very minimal you can do and still go on. Just fine, I might add. But, now that she's taking a little longer naps and actually going to bed at a somewhat normal time most evenings, I think I could actually get back some... projects. Or meal plans? Or- I know, I know, this could be a bit of a stretch- workouts. All in due time.

I'm pretty sure Clara's temperament was a very good way for me to examine my life and prioritize the important things. Or to realize how very stressed out I had been feeling for quite some time. It was okay, I realized, to give up some things and not fall completely apart. And it was also all right to admit that everything was starting to feel very much like a constant battle between I need to do this and I have to do that.

Turns out, I'm not as good at balancing everything like I thought I would be, but that is fine. Balance is a tricky word. I used to be always seeking it, but more and more I realize nothing is ever going to be balanced in life. There's always a side that tips a bit to one way or another and that's what keeps it interesting. It prevents us from thinking we have nothing left to learn, keeps us trying new things and exploring different ways of solving the same puzzle.

Sometimes we just have to throw everything back in the hat and then start selecting new priorities. What worked five years ago, probably doesn't work as well now. Life changes constantly and we need to remember to give ourselves a break, sit back, take a breath... catch up. Sometime, that can be hard to see. We run on empty for so long it becomes normal. And, sometimes we just need a reminder... like a sweet little fussy baby... to remind us it's time to rearrange. And that is okay.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year, New Dreams

So I've been thinking long and hard about starting to blog again. Not really. But I'm sitting here reading through other blogs and past posts of mine and realizing- this was a pretty cool way to document our lives, even if the history of my ramblings have been rather sporadic. Maybe I'll start again. Maybe I'll just write all night and make up for my months of silence if I keep chomping on these chocolate covered espresso beans like I currently am.

Christmas was really nice. The kids (and I) slept in nearly every morning (except, of course, December 25th), Ryan was off of work for five days and school for two weeks, everyone stayed healthy, and the ice rink got completed. And, seriously, as I sat by the kitchen window holding Clara the first night the kids got to skate, I got overwhelmed with emotion at how truly blessed we are. Kids learning to skate on a backyard rink with their dad under the moonlight. Yup, that will do it. A perfect moment.

Admittedly after such a decent break from school, I was kind of disappointed they had to go back the day after New Year's Day. I'm actually being serious here. They're growing up. Too fast. I appreciate their humor, their thoughts, their presence around the house in the middle of the day. Yes, I also appreciate the somewhat quieter atmosphere that results when school is back in session too, but if all we ever had were the moments when we are all here in this place together that would be enough. Possessions get lost, broken, neglected and worn out. Family, though? Family weathers storms, helps each other up, defends, protects, accepts, loves, and grows together to form a beautiful strong weaving of memories, traditions, and time.

I tend to get a little reflective at the end of an old year and optimistic as the new one begins. There is something so exciting and beautiful about beginnings. Life is full of tragedy and pain, loss and heartbreak. But we all know it's also filled with amazing beauty, perfect moments, happiness and dreams. It's a package deal, this life. We get it all.

Whew. Didn't quite intend for this post to get so sentimental, but it's a reflection of the way I've been feeling lately. Lucky. Blessed. Happy. This life is good.

I am looking forward to this year. I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead of me right now. It's a good time to initiate new dreams and build upon past hopes.

Meanwhile, it's 11:10 and the exhaustion I felt while the kids were still awake has eluded me now. Ah, the miseries of a night owl- I'm sure I could fall asleep in minutes if I went to bed... But then I would miss out on all this free quiet time.