Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Drowning in Boxes and Overwhelmed by Blessings: Our 3rd Home in One Year

Where do I begin?!  A year ago, I lived in a trailer in a quiet trailerhood over by the hospital.  We moved into that trailer after being married a little over a year during a Christmas break.  I remember painting without any electricity turned on, and the paint was so thick in the January cold that one coat definitely did the trick!!!  All of the rooms were 12 feet wide, but the trailer was 70 feet long.  I got my exercise for sure walking back and forth from what soon became my daughter's nursery in the back of the house (moved there in January and got pregnant in February), to the laundry room in the middle, and then our bedroom all the way in the front, facing the street.  We took many walks on "the loop" that made our little trailerhood, and we stopped often to chat with neighbors... often being able to wave at each other from our kitchen sink windows since they were about 20 feet apart :)

Then we moved, and not just to anywhere, but back into the house we first lived in when we were married.  We lost a second bathroom and about 100 sq. feet moving back into this house... We moved, went on vacation, came home, started back to school (I was a teacher, and my hubby was a recruiter for a university), and got pregnant with our second baby!  That was all within a 2-month span.

Then when our second child was 4-5 weeks old, we started moving into a home that is twice the sq. feet, but only about 3 blocks away!  Now, our son is almost 8 weeks old, and in that time I have been unloading boxes, organizing bedrooms, setting up the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom.  I have been nursing an infant every 3 hours, and trying to pay attention to my 2 1/2 year old daughter.  I have been going to doctor's appointments, cleaning out my classroom (after 10 years of teaching), and trying to transition myself from a working mom to a stay-at-home mom.  And during this time, I haven't really seen much of my husband because he has been fixing up our old home getting it ready for closing, finishing moving all our stuff, fixing things, roofing the new house, still working full-time (actually, full and a half time because he has a part-time job as well as a college minister), and whatever projects I have needed him to do.  He also has been mowing and hauling off overgrown brush from our fences... all while helping me take pictures as we go!

Since we have moved in we have not had internet this entire time, and as a blogger... that is a little inconvenient!  We didn't have air conditioning for a week and a half.  Our fairly-new garbage disposal was broken because apparently the previous owners liked to put metal down it!  There were leaks in almost every room that had water, except one bathroom!  We had to get a completely new A/C unit and garbage disposal.  We still have a leaky dishwasher, which is supposed to get fixed next week sometime, and we got internet today!!!  Like 2 hours ago!  Woohoo!

And while I know it looks like we go searching for struggle and chaos, we really don't.  I know it looks like we don't like peace or quiet... are you kidding?!  After the last year we have had of craziness, I promise we so cherish those times of sitting on the couch watching a nerdy documentary on Prohibition (no kidding, like a 9-part series) and eating ice cream together seems like a sexy vacation to a remote island!  And for every stresser, there have been multiple moments of grace, blessing, and relief!

Had to grade papers and do parent conferences over the phone while nursing a newborn at home, but I got to miss the last month of school with paid leave, still didn't even use all my paid leave, and got paid for my missed days by short-term disability insurance!

Our new home had a ton of unknown things wrong with it, but since we got buyers' insurance we were only out-of-pocket very little compared to what we would have paid without it!

My husband and I have been working so much and so hard that we actually didn't have the typical post-baby slump in our relationship because we were both very aware we weren't getting to spend a lot of time together, so we fought for the time!  We even stayed home for both Mother's and Father's Day and the annual family reunion so we could catch up on just being us and being a family!

And yes, we moved again, but since uncluttering our previous home for showings, when we moved, we rediscovered a bunch of stuff we can be, and had been, living without... so now we get to sell it and make some money!

See, blessed.

Sure, I am sick of seeing cardboard boxes in every room, and we still have yet to be able to park a car in our new 2-car garage, but we are settling in and enjoying making this house our home!  And starting this weekend, we hope to start making it a home where people are always welcome, ministry happens, and our children grow in their knowledge of our good and loving Lord!  A wise, and what I would consider to be very wealthy, woman recently said to me about her own home that "If I don't use it to bless others, then why have it?"  I want that kind of attitude about everything I ever own... especially since anything we ever own belongs to the Lord.

I am only a steward. A happy steward!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Getting It All Done, Because ALL Isn't Defined By Me or You

Isn't mom guilt the worst?! I am pretty laid-back most of the time in parenting - but every so often I run into the version of me that wants to be like the vision of another mom, and I find myself not measuring up. And then I feel bad and am tempted to hate myself!
I follow mostly money-saving blogs written by moms I don't know and then only 2 others that are written by friends, one is a pregnant first-time mom, and the other is in the exact spot I am in in motherhood... Well, almost... She has been a stay-at-home mom since her first was born, while I am just starting my SHM (is that the right acronym?) journey with my toddler diva daughter and newborn son. So I read a lot of tips, dreams, plans, and reflections of other moms often! I read a lot while I nurse my son every day, so I am pretty well-read online!
The money-saving blogs mostly give tips on how to save money by spending your time - you know, like clipping coupons, shopping around for better deals, cooking from scratch, homemade gifts, DIY stuff, etc!
And each time I read a post, I can feel the guilt rising in me! My thoughts always go in this order in response to their tips and projects:
1) 'How smart! I'll have to try that!'
2) 'But... When will I have two hands to do that?
3) 'It takes me three times longer to do anything when I have half the hands as other people' (I know that math doesn't seem accurate, but it is! If you don't believe me, come spend a day with my almost 6-week old and my toddler).
4) 'Why does it take me so long? Something must be wrong with me!'
5) 'Maybe I could get up earlier in the mornings...'
6) 'Are you kidding me?! I am already getting up 1-3 times a night to nurse Keegan! I would be a zombie if I got up early as well!'
7) 'If this kid would just sleep through the night, I could get up earlier and get something accomplished!'
8) 'This kid is never going to sleep through the night!'
9) 'Why doesn't he sleep longer? He weighs the same his sister did when she slept all night! Am I doing something wrong?'
10) 'Keisha (yes, I am talking to myself), don't compare your children. That isn't good for anybody!'
11) 'I know, I'm sorry! See, I never get anything done but things I shouldn't do!'
You get the idea! It is a slow process that quickly turns into a downward spiral of thinking I do nothing right and never will!
But thankfully my usual laid-back self comes in with some reason -
'Keisha, Keegan is not even 6 weeks old yet! And you had major surgery to get him here! And everyone you've talked to said their son ate at night until about 4 months old! This is normal! Several people have told you they didn't get anything done with a newborn in the house either! Even your midwife said that you would need to let the toddler watch a lot of tv so you could feel like you can get some of life done while recovering, nursing, and figuring having 2 kids out - and you don't even let her watch that much tv in order to get by!'
Then I remember that we also just moved homes only 5 weeks after having a baby, and I congratulate myself for already having my living room, playroom, kitchen, and main bathroom unpacked and organized completely after only being here 4 days! I also have both kids' rooms and ours mostly unpacked and organized! I also remind myself that I painted the rooms (with help) before we even moved in with a 4-week old!
I remind myself that I won't always be spending 20 minutes to look for a pair of pants because I had to check all the boxes and bags for them! I won't always be tired because I was up 3 times last night with a crying infant! I won't always only have one hand available while the other hand holds a baby, burps, pats, cleans noses, dresses little bodies, fixes big curly hair, and picks up a million tiny toys!
It only FEELS like it will be forever!
Then I remember how much I felt like this with one child when Emersyn was born! And I realize how independent and capable she is now - at 2 1/2 years old she is potty-trained, can feed herself, can drink from an open cup, can put on her own slip-on shoes, can speak in full sentences (even if I am the only one who understands them), can work the phone and DVD player on her own, knows words to songs, can count in order to 12, knows all her colors, etc...
And it seems like yesterday I was crying on the couch while she had colicky screaming fits, and I tried everything, but nothing worked to calm her... That wasn't 5 minutes ago?! That was 2 1/2 years ago!
So I need to kill the mom guilt before it even begins! Why do I even feel the need to measure up to these other women?! Just because they have 5 kids under 6, or save $100 on groceries from their all-around town couponing and multiple-stores tour?! That "if they can do it, I should be able to as well" thing?!
I am only me. I am only in my situation. Comparing myself to other moms only makes me less of the mom I already am, just as me, because it makes me tense, depressed, and self-centered!
No, I am not getting done as much each day as I keep hoping I will, but as my daughter says so often "babies grow up". Someday Emersyn and Keegan (and whoever else may join our clan someday) will read, ride bikes, wash dishes (well they better), drive, graduate, and then only visit every once in a while...
And I am going to wish I hadn't spent all my time rocking my sweet baby boy with thoughts like 'When am I going to be able to put him down so I can do another load of laundry?'
God made me a mom to these kids, and it will only be a short time where they depend SO MUCH on me. Who am I to wish they depended upon me less?! God designed humans to start out this needy; who am I to question and complain about His design?!
I should spend my time thinking about how dependent I am upon the Lord, and that His desire is for me to need Him! Perhaps that is why he made babies the way they are - to remind the adults that we are to come to Him "like children". We are helpless spiritually without Him.
Oh how I want to treasure these times, and merely just laugh at myself when I am tempted to think 'I got nothing done today!'
Um, hello! I got to be a mom today! I got to smooch on, hug, read to, sing to/with, play with, feed, clothe, calm and comfort, and protect 2 beautiful children that God gave me!
I got a lot done today! Maybe I got it all done today, because God had a different to-do list than I did.
And His is always the best - much better than any money-saving moms typing their worldly wisdom for me to read.
At the end of the day, if my kids are healthy and loved, and I have tried to point them to Christ with my words and actions... Then the only thought I should have as my head hits the pillow (yes, however many times that is for however short of a time it is) is...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Home At Last - Now Where Are My Pants?!

Ah, it is nap time as I begin typing this! Not for me, of course, but I am enjoying the first mid-day movie I have watched in a long time while Emersyn and Keegan sleep! My feet and back are killing me, and since our air conditioner isn't working I am sweating! My feet and back hurt because of all the moving we have done in the past 3 days - pack it all in a box, move each box, and then unpack all the boxes!

Except not all things are in a box; some are in large black trash bags that are unlabeled! So when I woke up with my plan today to measure all the windows and buy curtain rods while running errands today, that meant I had to have the missing tape measure! It is bright yellow, and no where to be found! And then it was time to get dressed to run the other errands I had to, throwing the curtain rod idea out the window! Then the problem is that I had a baby less than 5 weeks ago, so only one pair of pants fit that aren't sweats or dress slacks! I try not to go out in public in sweats, especially in June when I am already sweating, and I was not about to go to the bank, buy produce, and pay bills in dress slacks!

After 20 minutes, I called my husband and asked him if he knew where the bag was that had my jeans in it... He said no. So by this time, I was at least 30 minutes past "schedule" to leave to run errands! I finally found my jeans in a bag marked "pillows" - in my own handwriting ;/ Oops!

Besides running errands, I also wanted to unpack all of the living room and kitchen today. I had finished the playroom last night, and had started on the living room. Today the living room is pretty much done, and the kitchen is at least halfway... But I lost all motivation when I realized that I could put my feet up and rest my back on the heating pad! I mean, if it was MY goal, but I am miserable, why not rest? My kids don't care if the kitchen boxes are all unpacked as long as they get fed! And I know my sweet hubby would think I was ridiculous if I didn't take a break when ever I needed! My chosen therapy today is the new "Jane Eyre" film, which is my least favorite of the 3 versions I own... But still a classic story that is soothing to the soul!

I am embarrassed, though,  that we went from having less than 900 sq. ft to 1900 sq. ft, and except for an extra couch, all our stuff we owned already fills this new house - how can that be?! We must be very good at packing and storing a bunch of STUFF; how did all of this fit in less than half the space we have now?!

In other news, I also got poop shot out at me mid-diaper change! Keegan had a full diaper already, so I went to change it, and apparently he had a lot more to go! I wish he could have said, "Hey, mom, can you just give me one more minute!" But he felt better, and it all cleans up easily :)

Then the air conditioning guys came and gave us the bad news that we need a new compressor, which will take about a week to get installed... Oh dear! We're living it up retro our first week here! I was concerned that our utility bill will be incredibly more expensive now that we have twice as much house, but this first week will definitely be an economical one! Also, my husband had always had an abnormal amount of box fans, which I have always judged him for until now! I am thankful that his preparedness for every eventuality is keeping me and our babies cool day and night! Also our dear friends brought us a window unit for the upstairs, so we were all comfortable sleeping last night!

I also got to be home with my kiddos all day, and I melted, not from the heat, but the sweetness of watching Emersyn be a big sister! She is very concerned about Keegan when he cries, she asks to hold him, puts his pacifier in his mouth when he spits it out on accident, and has to kiss him before she goes to bed.

Then we went  to dinner at our friends' house and had a great time! They said they had considered eating outside on the deck, but then thought that might be cruel since our AC is out :)

Want to know what the "Stay-at-home Mom 10-minute Freakout Moment" was today (see last post for this seemingly daily occurence)? It was the.moment when I was nursing Keegan on the couch, and the AC guys knocked on the door... At the same moment Keegan spit a mouthful of milk all down my shirt and pants - just in time to answer the door! Keegan-2, Mom-0

I have sat down 3 times to compile this post - finishing up at 9:50pm!