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!


Every Once in a While.....I Get Out!

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The proof is in the pictures, folks!  Every great once in a while, I manage to break away from my routine of full time work and full time mama.  This particular time I met up with some dear friends to spend an evening downtown right in the midst of the All-Star game preparations.

It is surprisingly difficult for me to say Yes a night out.  For one thing, I am usually just beat by the time the weekend gets here.  Family movie night on the couch is just about my speed. The other reason, which might be a single mom thing or a working mom thing or maybe both, is the guilt attached with leaving behind the kiddos any moment that I don't absolutely have to. 

My life is currently defined by very certain parameters.  Wake up, work, drive home, see kids, start dinner, eat, drive to/from kids' activities, showers, bedtime for kids, clean-up house, do laundry, bedtime for me.  This is a fairly realistic assessment, albeit the order may be changed up bit from night to night.  As routine as this schedule may sound, there is comfort in the predictableness of our life and I am glad for that.  

But I think a night out with the girls every so often is the perfect way to break up the way we normally roll!  It usually takes me about an hour to relax and realize I am having a great time.  It takes me about two hours to feel like I am 23 again without a care in the world. I do believe I'll take that.

I am always glad to return home to my loves and get back into our groove.  But I am learning that every once in a while, getting out does me good and reminds me that there is still a "me" buried deep under the day in and day out.

 

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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.

 

 


How About That?

 

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It was the most beautiful Sunday.  74 and not a cloud in the sky.

Sweaty, happy kids ran about the yard amidst a gaggle of outside lawn toys.  Neighbors appeared everywhere, inching out of the winter woodwork to examine the state of things.  Tired lawnmowers coughed and sputtered up as they geared up for another good season of their work.

All was just about right with the world until......

the toilet overflowed!

And then I spent a good hour mopping the floors.  My parents came over for the occasion and to help plunge and clean...and to be there for moral support as I survived my first solo plumbing disaster.

(But because of that marvelous day outside, I promise that not all was lost!)


Starting Over

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Truth be told, when the bottom dropped out of our world last Spring, I didn't think it would be possible to ever blog again.  In fact, during the first few fuzzy days and weeks, I'm sure I forgot about this space entirely.  Minutes and hours ticked by, and food, occasional baths and sleep for my children were the only things that I had the strength left to do.

But here we are.  Here I am.  It has been ten months since we've moved back to Ohio and I became a single mama quite literally overnight.  Eight months since the kiddos started public school - the first time ever for my oldest girls. Five months since I started working full time, outside of the home, for the first time in 12 years.

It is hard to believe that less than a year ago we were living in New Hampshire as a two-parent family, homeschooling, and getting ready to move onto a working farm. The road we've traveled between then and now has been wild and vast and unknown, winding me around to the strange and terrifying new wilderness of single-parenthood.

Of course, there has been much adjusting and many blurted-out questions to God all while shaking my angry fist.  There has been loads of heartache and sadness for us all. 

But...with almost a year of this new life under our belts.....Spring is coming again. The days are longer and the weather is warmer.  One morning not long ago I woke up and noticed that we, as a family, have begun to share more smiles and less tears.  There is green under the brittle brown stubs of last year's hydrangea bush. And we have a beautiful, bright red cardinal that lives right outside of the kitchen window.

I can feel God's mighty hand at work even though I understand His ways less than I ever have.  

There are still sweet moments.  There is still laughter in this life.  There are still many reasons for me to return to this space.  I am not not sure how and when I'll manage maintaining a blog, and if my postings will be regular, or monthly, or even just a couple times a year.  I am nervous about putting myself "out there" again when I have worked so hard to maintain our privacy over this past year, and wonder if I really even want to dive back into this virtual diary at all.  

But I do know that I have pictures of my four beautiful children celebrating the warmth of the sun on their skin.  And I think I want to put them here, in this digital place that has become a special scrapbook for us and where our memories come alive through the words and photos that have woven together our days.

My hope is that one day, many years from now, my four loves will read these words to their own children and be reminded of just how much their mama loves them and how proud I am of each and every one of them.

These kiddos and me - we have weathered quite a storm together. But the rain doesn't last forever.  And I just know that we are going to be OK.