Life here is slowly returning to a more normal pace. Lentando.
The kids and I fell asleep on our couch last night. We read Llama Llama Red Pajama. That Llama sounds an awful lot like my 6yr old.
We prayed together. Each of us took turns praising for something we are thankful for and praying for someone who might be sick, sad, hungry or mad. May our eyes be opened and our hands ready to humbly serve those around us.
I woke an hour later and carried my children to their beds. I’m still able to lug my 75 pounder, but I’m not sure how much longer. I’ve got him by about 60 pounds and 12 inches. He’ll outgrow me in the coming 5 years.
Two hours later my husband walked in, finally home from a work trip. Sleepily I told him how nice it was to have him home. I don’t communicate exceptionally well at midnight.
Today will bring about the hustle and bustle of shuttling between swim lessons, basketball camp, a trip to the dentist and work responsibilities. Even this isn’t consistent with our lives 6 weeks ago, but we are getting closer.
Our cadence is slowing from affrettando. Too vigorous. Too chaotic. Like that flurry in the middle of a song, we are over the peak of summer.
We are falling into a new, more comfortable rhythm.
June is over. At the end of every month I think to myself “Wow, now I can take a breath.” All the while, we are living our ups and downs, celebrating and mourning, thriving and struggling thru weeks, months, days, and moments.
June was full of all of the above descriptions. Big commitments included baseball for both kids, wheat harvest, baling straw, and (as always) work. The smaller moments category encompassed watching the sunsets and stars, sighting lightning bugs, digging our first couple hills of new potatoes, and putting together puzzles. Sprinkled in between are cousin-exchange days, quick trips to the pool and lake, church activities and way more fast-food than we should have consumed in a 30 day period.
It was a whirlwind. I must say though… I don’t think I have any moments (except that one complete mommy meltdown) that I regret spending my time on.
All this twirling and whirling causes me to be introspective. What is the actual value of my time? Is it monetary? Is it emotional? Is it in physical toll?
Truly, I’ve been mulling this over for quite awhile. I have friends that will drive a hour one way (60+miles) to go to a discount grocery store and suggest that I do the same. “Oh the savings are HUGE! I bought eggs for $0.39! Then we grabbed a meal (or shopped elsewhere) and drove home.”
This frustrates me.
Upon suggesting I do the same, I let them know politely that I do not have 3 hours in my daily, weekly, or monthly schedule to dedicate to groceries. I’d rather use my coupon app at our local grocery store, shop my list and the markdowns, and get it done in the 15 minutes I have before I pick my kids up from daycare after a day of work. #shoplocal
(Honestly, I’m not sure how much you’re really saving by the time you add in 120+ miles of gas and wear on your vehicle and a meal at a restaurant. But hey, if that’s how you roll – good for you!)
The way I look at it, I’ve just banked 2hrs and 45 minutes to spend doing things like riding bikes, gardening, or hosting a playdate.
It’s taken effort to place a value on time. I’ve said “no” or “today is not the day” to more things than I thought I would this summer. Furthermore, I’ve cleared an entire week in July and said we are scheduling NOTHING during those 7 days.
The value isn’t just monetary. It is physical and emotional. Running in a thousand different directions to shuttle this child to this event and to make sure I’ve picked that item up from that location is exhausting. It makes my whole body weary. My mind gets foggy. Anxiety grips my heart. Emotionally I’m a bear. Instead of easily seeing the joy, I have to remind myself it’s okay to smile and laugh. Overall, it’s daunting when there is no value placed on time.
This must be fate that I am writing this today. I saw a quote from Handmade by Heroes just before I attempted to finish this entry. “Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice because that flow has passed and will never pass again.”
I don’t want to miss moments like this because I’ve undervalued my time.
Unplanned. Unscheduled. These moments are full of worth to me.
Many moms out there were being showered with lavish gifts. Quite a few, I imagine, received no recognition at all for the day. Others were somewhere in between.
I was an ‘in-between-er’ at the low end of the spectrum. No gifts, but they did make construction paper cards. It was another day where my kids bickered, my extremely tired 5yr old melted down and crashed for 3hrs (when is school done?!), and at one point I threatened to get out of the car and let my husband proceed with the kids to our destination without me.
So yeah, basically just another day of motherhood.
Isn’t that what the day is about though? Are we supposed to be put on a pedestal on Mother’s Day or should we move our focus to the little things that are to be appreciated?
I’m not one to worship my children. They aren’t always correct. They aren’t always even pleasant to be around. And yes, I’ve told them to leave me alone or not talk.
However, I am thankful for these little people in my tribe. I love them unconditionally- always and everywhere. I learn new things about them and myself in abundance when we are together. At times, they swell my heart with gladness. While at others, they throw me into the pit and leave me questioning what I did to make this little monster.
At church, our pastor recognized the mothers and made that the focus of his message. He spoke of the need to lift up and support all the moms- the young and old, married, single, widowed, biological, adoptive and foster, those who have lost, and the grandmothers raising their grandchildren.
It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It’s effective in the little things- offering childcare for any length of time, helping load or unload bags of groceries, passing her your $10 when she’s checking out at the store, welcoming a family with children instead of frowning at their noise.
The church needs to acknowledge the shift of stay-at-home to working mothers. It’s a change that has been decades in the making. The faith community needs to embrace these weary, hard working women.
He spoke about Hagar in Genesis. She didn’t willingly become a mother. Mothers who weren’t excited to become moms need to be cared for. They are treading water. Don’t let them go under.
When Abraham (man) gave her limited water and sent her away, God (the Creator) showed her a well. Think on that comparison for a moment…
He specifically recognized all of us who have locked ourselves in a room and cried- overwhelmed by life and questioning if we are making the right choices.
Motherhood has deepened my faith exponentially. All the trials, tribulations, meltdowns and months years without solid sleep have given me a glimpse of what love without strings looks like. Love that can’t be earned. Love that just IS.
That love is what I’m celebrating on Mother’s Day.
We knew it likely would be. While the spring has so far been quiet, the bulls-eye for severe weather was directly on us yesterday.
The clouds fired up, as predicted, around 3pm. We scurried to get vehicles and lawn items put away and outdoor projects wrapped up. The bus dropped the kids off as the clouds began to darken.
We sporadically checked the weather radar to see where the most severe parts of the coming storm were located. What trajectory did the strongest part of the clouds have? Is it necessary to go to the basement?
To the north, there were 80mph winds and large hail.
To the south, wall clouds, tornadoes, heavy rain and hail.
Our wheat fields down by my parent’s house had enough hail to change the ground from green to white. An already delayed harvest due to the drought and cold was just stripped by hail…
Fortunately at our home, we had only a brief few minutes of pea-sized hail and a couple of inches of much needed rain. For as rough as the night was around us, our end result was positive due to the drought-ending moisture.
My children observed all the weather with their faces glued to the south windows wearing only their pajamas and underwear. Obviously we weren’t too worked up about the direction the tornadic parts were moving. It was all at least 15 minutes- as the crow flies- from where we live. My 8yr old and I broke up the weather excitement by trading readings from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.
I wouldn’t say that I have a fear of severe storms anymore. As a child, I’d hyperventilate when we had to go to the cellar in the middle of the night. Now. Meh. I’ve seen tornadoes in person. They’ve been close. Mercifully and miraculously, most tornadoes on track to hit us have pulled back up into the clouds. Churning and twisting above us, we’ve never lost more than the chimney cap and some trees.
I have respect for Mother Nature and her fury.
When we are in the direct path, we take the proper precautions and hit the basement cement shelter, fully dressed, with a flashlight until the all clear is given. We don’t stand outside and watch when it’s go time. That’s just plain ridiculous. Homes were hit and destroyed, but I’m relieved to say that there were no injuries or fatalities due to these storms last night. Likely because they were ridden out in storm shelters and basements like they should be. (I’m looking at you crazy storm chaser tourist people! Yes, it’s a real thing.)
As for that, as a trained weather spotter was giving their news report from the safety of their vehicle, we watched a couple of stupid silly people standing out next to a road sign taking pictures of the storm. Not in their car. Not in a building. Out in the open. Basically wearing a sign that says “Strike me dead. I’m the tallest thing out here.” Take it from a person who’s lived in Tornado Alley her whole life: that’s a great way to get hit by lightning.
One thing is for certain. We have broken the seal on severe weather season for 2018. Game on.
A podcast I listen to starts out with a few questions from one host to another. They call it a “heart check.”
What’s in your ear?
What’s pulling at your heart?
What book is in your hand?
I’ll also add for this post (because I like food)…
What’s in your mouth?
So, Jen, what’s in your ear lately?
–Yesterday, it was my Pandora thumbprint station. I was solo in the office for most of the day, thus almost a completely uninterrupted soundtrack for the day. Eclectic, as is my taste in music, songs range from the last 6 decades and a wide variety of genres. A personal favorite is Ashokan Farewell, but that might be followed up by Rump Shaker (Wreckx’n’Effect), a song from Ray LaMontagne, the Avett Brothers, Meghan Trainor, Amos Lee, Lee Brice, George Strait, or Casting Crowns (among many, many others).
What’s pulling at your heart?
–Of course my kids and family. Anxiety. Worldwide events that are completely beyond my realm of physical connection. How can I contribute to those around me? How can I be a more patient mother, wife, and friend? After a meeting last night…. when will I ever stop being socially awkward?!!!! 30 years of socializing hasn’t made me a social butterfly. Still inept at the art of surface-style conversation.
What book is in your hand?
–I truly love my 5:30am quiet reading time. I am awake to see the sun rise quietly and peacefully. The past month, I’ve reread three Anne of Green Gables books: 1, 3, & 4. Apparently somewhere in the last 25 years, book #2 disappeared. My devotions in my study Bible are out of Psalms. This morning, I finished “365 Thank You’s” by John Kralik. Focusing on gratitude, he turned his life around one thank you note at a time. Inspiring!
What’s in your mouth?
–Like all people vainly trying to shed the winter carb-fest padding, focusing on better food choices, I’ve been packing a bountiful amount of fruits and veggies in my daily lunches at the office. Due to my MS med, I have to hit the carbs first thing in the morning to settle my stomach. Therefore, I make my lunch vegetable based instead of building it up from bread or pasta. Almost all my veggie-based meals feature the previous night’s protein choice, aka leftovers. Makes for a lot of variety! Yesterday’s masterpiece:
Mixed baby greens (thank you husband for buying a super large container of these at an amazing discounted price!)
Leftover BBQ Chicken
A handful of French fried onions (the ones without whey)
Balsamic Viniagrette (I only use vinaigrettes, no dairy! But if you go this route, be sure to make your own or read the labels.)
I wash and re-use this Subway salad container daily. It’s the perfect size for my lunch bag.
That sums up my Thursday morning heart check. What does your heart check look like today?
If you took a peek into life at my house this morning, you’d see a woman who got a good, long, hot shower. It was almost completely uninterrupted minus a few moments of being a dripping judge and jury from behind the shower curtain to settle a battle over custody of the remote.
Mentally, I was planning my next blog post. Maybe some pictures and stories from our trip to Key West? Or perhaps the wisdom I picked up finishing our Sacred Marriage Bible Study? Spoilers for both of those- 1) Key West is a grandiose time of naps, drinking, sight seeing and water; and 2) Everyone is fighting some sort of battle within their marriage whether it’s subconsciously or up front- apathy, keeping it fresh, temptations, respect…
After my life-renewing shower and application of sweatshirt and yoga pants, I was trying to drain the water off those water absorbing orbs my kids received in their stockings for Christmas. Supposedly, these orbs can absorb 1000# their weight in water and should never be eaten or put down the drain. About a dozen slipped over my fingers and down the drain of the bathroom sink.
Add to my resume: plumber. I’ve had to be a plumber way too much lately. I’m fairly handy with tools and a plunger.. and I don’t say that with pride, but rather out of necessity. Our lift pump in the basement has had issues. My son clogged the toilet at the office. My daughter clogged one at the house. The drain trap dried out and was wafting sewer gas… you get the picture.
My plan for the morning involved prepping backpacks, making my to-do list for the last day of Easter break, and attacking the dishes from yesterday’s meals. It didn’t involve plumbing. However, making lemonade from lemons, I now have an exceptionally clean bathroom sink drain pipe.