Wicked Cold Winter Walk

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Until the last couple of years, I have always been intentional about squeezing in some sort of exercise.  Whether it be jogging outside in the nice weather or dragging myself through the doors of the gym during winter for time on the eliptical or a step aerobics class.  (Dating myself here!)  

But these days, I got nothing.  Morning and evening schedules before and after work are just too full!

The best I can do is an occasional 1/2 hour walk at lunchtime.  It's not much, but it helps to get fresh air during the workday and get my blood moving a bit....so I'll take it. 

One rare weekend afternoon, we were all home and contentedly lounging around.  As nice as it was, I had a sudden and strong urge to DO SOMETHING!  I needed to stretch my legs and feel my pulse rise.  I presented it to my lazy gang as a nice winter walk to enjoy the little bit of snow we had gotten up to that point.

This got them for about 20 seconds until they realized it was as cold as nuts outside!

I convinced them to walk a little ways to our favorite community tree.  We stayed for a few freezing minutes until we started to lose the feeling in our fingers and toes.  Then we walked quickly home with watering eyes and stinging cheeks!

Hot chocolate with marshmallows always makes it better, which is exactly what we did next. :)

Stay warm and cozy wherever you are, exercise or no exercise!!!

 


Our Time...Or Lack Thereof

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I was at the dentist yesterday to get some cavities filled. Notice the plural on "cavities." :) This is what happens when you wait too many years to go to the dentist. Ahem.

No matter, I am glad I went. I am not glad that I had to miss a couple hours of work, but this could not wait any longer!

We had a beautiful weekend weather-wise here in southern Ohio, but through it all I could not help but feel a little discouraged and here's why.

All throughout the week, I build up so much creative energy. I have many, many projects I'd like to tackle. I have visions of spending time teaching my children crafts and skills, and learning new ones together.

But when it comes down to the short (but wonderful!) 48 hours we have in a weekend, the reality is that very few of my ideas ever actually come to fruition. This can be really frustrating!

When I stop to reflect, however, on what we did do and get done, I realize that I am doing just what I need to be doing in this season of my life. Really, it is nothing short keeping all of our balls up in the air.....my own and my four kids.

In an attempt to make myself feel better because of my lack of time for creative pursuits, here is what we did do this weekend.

Saturday 
-Slept in! 
-Drank coffee out of a real mug and not a to go one .
-Mowed the lawn
-Watered and weeded the garden
-Laundry from the week
-Went to the pool for 3 hours to soak up the last ray's of this season's sun.
-Had a great conversation with my friend and neighbor we met at the pool.
-Grilled chicken and made spicy vodka pasta sauce. Yum!
-Watched Mockingjay with my two oldest girls in preparation for Part 2 coming this fall.

Sunday
-Went to church...a new one we've been visiting.
-Went to lunch afterward with a lovely family from the church and the kid's school 
-Took my youngest two to a birthday party and met some great new folks - parents of my son's new classmates.
-Hung out with kids and worked on planning his 7th birthday party
-Took him to soccer practice and went grocery shopping with my 10 year old daughter....she is learning how to coupon.
-Packed lunches and prepared for another week....already!

I think we did what we needed, with not an hour to spare. My overarching goal is to NOT be preoccupied by some big project, but to spend time with my kids. Work scattered with bits fun is just about right for us these days. I am adjusting to becoming strictly a creative visionary with lots of ideas that I never do....but that's OK, right?

Hoping you are all off to a great start this week doing what is just right for you!

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In Reality....What Doesn't Get Done

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These once-beautiful tomatoes from our garden have met their demise.  They rotted right on the kitchen counter for several days before they found their final resting place in my trash can.  I had every good intention of canning this first batch over the weekend, but then.....life happened.  And then life happened again and again....and again.

As a single mom of four, I often hear this phrase:

"I don't know how you do it all."

Well, these rotten tomatoes that ended up in my trash is a very good indicator that there are many things around here that don't.get.done.  As much as I was looking forward to canning these tomatoes from my very own garden, it just didn't make the cut this weekend.  On one hand, it kills me to see them go to waste.  But on the other, it is another good lesson learned in being OK with cutting things free from my to do list when I simply cannot squeeze them in.

Truth be told, we had a lovely weekend with friends and swimming and sleepovers and soccer practice and a gourmet meal prepared by my daughter and her friend.  (More on this to come!)   And these tomatoes are just one of many things that did not get done around here this weekend.

But at the end of a day and the end of a weekend, I know there are four healthy children up sleeping in their beds.  We ate, we played, we worshiped, and we had clean clothes to put on.  We spent time together.

I am glad for all we did do this weekend.  And I think that if the tomatoes could talk, they might even be OK with their sacrifice on our behalf. ;)

Happy Monday, Friends!


the Toughest Job Ever

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"From Lena, age 3"

 

Now that I am in the work force again after a 12 year hiatus of birthing and raising babies, I can stake an honest claim to the popular belief that motherhood is the toughest job ever.

By contrast, the more knowledge that I gain from my day job, the more productive and reliable I become.  I like learning new skills and performing to the best of my ability.  I enjoy my co-workers and actually spend a lot of time with them...all day, everyday!  But work, as much as we may enjoy it, is a necessary part of life that most of us create a healthy detachment from.  We can leave on Friday afternoon and come back into the office on Monday fully embracing the weekend respite but ready to jump back into the work week nonetheless. I know there are always exceptions - perhaps a small business owner who works around the clock or farmers or those who work in jobs that have irregular schedules.  But my point is that work is something we all need a break from!

Being a mama, however, is different.  Unlike my day job where I sharpen my skill set everyday, I feel like the longer I've been a mama the less I really know about how to do it! Our children are constantly growing and we struggle to keep up.  We think about their well-being all of the time, yet wonder the best way to meet their changing needs.  There is never a true break from being a mama...never, ever!

I fail miserably each and every day.  I make wrong decisions, I am too strict and I am not strict enough.  I forget to sign permissions slips, I mix up water bottles in backpacks, and I don't have the tie-dye t-shirt clean when it is tie-dye t-shirt day.  They rummage through the dirty laundry to find it...again.

I do not always know how to keep everyone happy with the broad age span of my children. I am definitely not experienced with teenagers (and I have one) and I am very rusty with preschoolers (and I have one!).

I raise my voice more often than I'd like and maybe I get too grumpy and sarcastic.  I routinely lack patience and wish I were gentler.  

These are just to name a few.  But, something a friend said recently to me really struck a positive and encouraging chord.    

I have made many parenting mistakes, she said. But do you know what?  My children love me!

This has to be one of the most brilliant things I have ever heard!

I thought about this statement after a stretch of feeling especially down on my mama self and it makes complete sense to me.  

Being a mama is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done.  But it is also by far the most meaningful.  I get to teach them about Jesus and kindness and things that are far bigger than we are.  I have had the privilege of watching them grow from teeny, tiny babes into the people they are today.  They amaze me and I adore them.

I tucked them into bed last night full knowing that 3 of the 4 are in desperate need of a toenail trim.  But they were tired and I was tired - a dangerous combination for toenail trims.  And as I felt the mama guilt creeping, creeping in the way it so easily does, I reminded myself of this small yet powerful truth.....my children LOVE me!  


Sigh.

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We got some planting done this past weekend and I started digging the grass out from around my raised beds to add the mulch.  I am glad for the project and the long term benefit of not having to weed-eat in between the beds, but boy....my back is killing me!

I suppose I'm in a bit of a rut tonight and feeling like this single mama stuff is for the birds.  I try hard to not complain because it never really makes me feel better, but the fact of the matter is going at this alone is plain exhausting!  To clarify, I am the full custodial parent and do everything.  Everything.  Now, I have some amazing parents who live about 10 minutes away and who are a tremendous help.  (I really could not do it without them.)

The day in and day out of living and breathing work, kids, school, sports, lessons, meals, bedtimes, bills, housekeeping and taxiing all by myself is...well, sometimes it can be a real drag.  Physical tiredness is one thing, but perhaps the thing that is most daunting is mental and emotional challenges of trying to meet the needs of four unique people and all at the same time.  All while staying positive and not grumpy.  (At which I fall miserably short!)

I now see why elderly ladies who live alone can worry themselves into a tizzy. With no one to bounce off one's thoughts and sort through one's day, it is easy for one's mind to run away from them, taking with it the ability to reason and keep a clear, level-headed perspective.

When my own lonely mind races, I mostly pray and practically beg God for wisdom and clarity on what to do next.  The truth is, sometimes I feel like God is my best friend (because He's always there) and my worst enemy (for letting this happen to our family) all at the same time.  

But really, I know in my heart He is so much bigger than all of this and He has it all under control even if it pisses me off.  I suppose He knew I would have this reaction and ultimately allowed this challenge full well knowing it will give me a greater strength and knowledge of who He is.  If there is one thing I know, He is real and present even when I don't want much to do with Him.  And He loves me anyway.   He's given me and my children our very breath and I am so very fickle.

You know what?  The other thing I really miss is riding in the passenger seat of the car.  What I wouldn't do to let someone drive me around for an hour or so while the sun hits my face. With the radio humming in the background, I would fall fast asleep.  For that short time all would be right with the world, I am sure of it.

Ah well.  I sat down to this space tonight planning to write more about my garden beds and this is what you get.  I will be ready for another day tomorrow.  I will remember as soon as I turn out the lights that His mercies are new each morning.

 

 


Baby Steps

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I did it!  I went for a jog!  This is the first time since October.

I truly love to exercise.  But I absolutely cannot figure out how to fit it in.  Life is in a perpetual state of motion between work, school, church, the kids' activities and household chores that a trip to the gym simply does not fit!  So, in an effort to keep my complaining to a  minimum, I have decided instead to gracefully let this one go for a while.

 I recant a bit because I do try to walk regularly on my lunch break at work for about 1/2 an hour.  Hey, it's something!  I often think I should bring my workout clothes and gym shoes to change into and take this time to jog just to get my heart rate up higher.  

It's actually not the sweating mid-workday that bothers me because I don't sweat that much. It's that instead I turn completely beat and tomato red for about an hour afterward, which I think is much worse than being covered with a thin and sheen layer of glistening, productive sweat.  Don't you agree?

My 6-year-old son took these pictures.  We needed to document this occasion for sure!

By the way, this little run of mine took place on Saturday.  It's Tuesday and my legs still ACHE!

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