Making Peace with Sunday Dinner

Just shy of a year ago, my feathers got seriously ruffled when someone made a comment to me insinuating that I wasn’t doing enough as a mother by not having a hot meal ready to go the second we walked in the door from church. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about church, you know that it often hits me in all the feels and leaves me sweaty and exhausted by the time service is over because, well, five kids 10 and under makes for a long haul, no matter how welcoming the majority of the environment is to their presence (and thank goodness for all those who are so gracious and accepting of my wiggly, not-so-little herd).

Today at church was the kick-off of Sunday School, which Ben teaches, and the baby no longer naps through, so the whole crew was there bright and early to get all the info and send 4/5 off to their classrooms (actually, the baby tagged along with Daddy and his class because after him heading back to school two weeks ago, she’s not really willing to let him out of her sight if she can help it, come the weekend). And then we stayed for service, as is our tendency during the school year (sorry, summer; you sort of went off the church attendance rails this year).

By some force of magic (and the help of a familiar, friendly face), Wilson went to the nursery during most of the service. That meant I got to hear more than I normally do which is always nice, but we still had Truman (who went on an all-day early-bday extravaganza to Omaha yesterday and is still in fall-out today) and a “How much longer is it???” asking Lincoln from like the first hymn on, and yeah – still sweaty, still tired when it was all said and done.

And you know what?

That’s fine. It’s totally OK for our time in the pew to be a little bit challenging right now (and for the foreseeable future). We’ll get what we get out of it and our kids will hopefully get something out of it too, and someday far from now, we’ll be empty-nesters who can actually pay attention start to finish and that will be a grand adventure, although in a totally different way.

For now, we’re going to let some things go, and by things I really mean Sunday dinner. I didn’t really care too much last year when the flip comment came my way (except for the rudeness of said comment) and now a year later, I am just full-on embracing the fact that our Sunday routine after church is going to be constituted of precisely No Routine.

After my kids have held their sh!t together for 2.5 hours of Sunday School + a full church service, I really don’t care what they do once we get home, short of cleaning their hands and changing out of their church clothes*. I don’t even care if they sit down right away to eat; I mean, why would they want to after being so still for so long leading up to that point?

You want to go play in the dirt? Fine; change your clothes first.

You want to go read a book? Fine; wash your hands first.

You want to eat some left-over pizza or a granola bar and crackers or some watermelon for lunch? FINE. Change your clothes and wash your hands first and have at it!

I just don’t care for formality at this point. What I care about is that my family is here and free to have a little say in how they unwind and process and if we can give them a little more grace and space in the doing so, along with ourselves, then that’s all the better.

*I really wish I had gotten a picture of the little Welschies today before we came home and they changed because how they dress for church is definitely another avenue of Pick Your Battles (and Mama’s not picking this one) in our house. Lincoln was in gym shorts and a t-shirt. Truman, khaki shorts and a t-shirt. Harrison, sweatpants with a “fancy” t-shirt and his dress shoes. Wilson in a cute little dress. Raegan in a fancy fancy dress she got as a hand-me-down from friends. So basically, a giant hodgepodge and again, it all went fine. I might fight this more on days they have to sing/play bells in front of the congregation, but beyond that? Whatever. img_4915I will dress myself up as I like and I remind myself that just like Jesus doesn’t give a flying flip if my kids eat cheese and crackers for lunch after church, he also doesn’t care what their clothes look like, no matter how much society may try to make us think otherwise.

 

 

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Medical Mystery? We’ll See.

Oftentimes I use this space to sort out life as I write. Getting my thoughts down in words has always helped me process which means I don’t always know where I am going to land by the end of a piece when I begin it. Such is life, right?

But today’s post feels even more open-ended than that because I know for certain that when I hit “publish” I am still not going to know any more answers than I do in these opening lines, no matter how large my word count grows.

Long story short, I’ve been dealing with unexplained, persistent, and at times really troubling abdominal pain for much of this summer.

In typical Type-A fashion, I didn’t want to go in to see someone about it at first because I wanted to give it time and figure it out myself. But as the weeks passed and things didn’t improve or show any sign of definite cause, I decided it was time to seek out professional help which I did a week ago.

Thankfully, as of now, nothing is presenting that seems imminently scary and that alone is a huge relief. However, what that leaves us with currently is taking time and space (and a few other measures that I’ll keep private for now) to allow some hopeful healing to take place.

If things improve, awesome; that’s obviously the best outcome possible. If they don’t, we’re back to the drawing board, so to speak, to keep seeking out answers by more extreme means. But there-in lies my writing conundrum in sharing any of this because I really don’t have resolutions to share at this time and that’s hard for me. Waiting and wondering are hard for many of us, I would assume, especially when pain and discomfort are involved. But I’m doing what I can to lighten my load (any time I utter a phrase like that I snort because we all know that is easier said than done, yes?) and make changes to my routines that might help the healing process.

Enter one attempt: the standing desk.

One pattern I have noticed this summer is that sitting tends to aggravate things and that’s how I tend to hold my body when doing all of my online teaching/grading. So after hemming and hawing for a few weeks (another pattern of the summer, unfortunately), I decided to invest in a standing desk from which I can do more or most of my online adjunct work. It is early days in terms of deciding how the standing feels in my body versus sitting, but the colors of it are already making my heart happy, so I figure that’s as good a start as any to improvement.

Where things go from here only time will tell, but in that meantime, I’ll do what I can to aid and assist the process of healing.

Raging Ducking Batch

I’m not the first parent to clarify the difference between vacation and travel when it comes to going places with kids, and this isn’t the first time I’ve written about such on the blog. But today has been an interesting Day of Fallout, post-travel, that is usually reserved for when our kids stay somewhere without us and then come home. Except we all came home yesterday and apparently we all needed to exorcise some Fallout tendencies today.

It doesn’t help that our travel, which was six-ish days long, involved some unexpected high stress of a really sick baby. Thanks to Zorfan and ibuprofen, she bounced back remarkably quickly, but Ben and I had two nights out of five with extremely little sleep and clearly I’m still feeling that lack in the here and now.

It also doesn’t help that my here and now started bright and early this morning with an unnamed child coming in to ask me if it was time to get up yet to watch a show when unnamed child definitely knew that it was not yet time and if unnamed child had just left me the frick alone and gone to watch the show instead of asking to watch the show, unnamed child would have been in far less trouble than waking me up to ask such a ridiculous question in the first place.

Basically, the (mama) bear was poked early today and she was cranky as all get out for most of what followed. That might have been the case either way on our first full day at home, but wow. It was A Day.

To put it another way, I sent one of my Dear Ones a text that said: “Also, holy smokes. After trying to hold everyone’s shit together for six days away from home, I am a raging ducking batch today.”

And then we decided that wins the Best Autocorrect of all time and even though I have a headache from exhaustion, I’m feeling a little less rage-y around my house. A little less ducking batch, too.

So after getting the littlest two to bed, the Big 3 helped clear the yard and then settled down to a living room Reading Party. Even Mr. Lincoln who can’t yet read grabbed a book and a couch cushion and (sort of) quietly looked at pictures without asking (too many) questions.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot prettier than the rest of the day, so we’re going to go ahead and cling to that brighter spot at the end of a long haul and hope that tomorrow goes a little bit smoother and starts a wee bit later than today.

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Every Little Thing

I realize it’s been a few weeks since a house update, but that makes sense because in that time we’ve had passing illness among the females in our house with me getting the worst of it, with sinus junk, a cough, and then a mostly lost voice for days on end. Not the most writing conducive state.

But we’re a week into May which means we’re five months and one week into House Reno and it’s possible that, minus back splash tile that I still have to order, we might have a done kitchen come this weekend.

Yes, you read that correctly.

After what will be 9 weeks by the time we get all the boxes unpacked and loaded into the new cupboards so we can actually focus on learning how to use the new ovens and cooktop and fridge, we will once again be a fully functioning place of storing, making, and eating of the food stuff.

(Side Note: basement still not done. *Ugggggh*)

This is obviously an exciting development. And good timing too because the baby has started climbing on chairs and boxes and couches which means the open pantry concept that we’ve had in our living room with crap just stashed anywhere and everywhere just isn’t going to cut it much longer, you know?

For the most part, I’m pretty happy with the way everything is coming together, but my goodness I feel detailed to death right now and disappointed that every single color and stain and so on isn’t exactly as I envisioned it. This level of planning is hard, and then you add in the provider change and the whole parenting of five small children in the midst of living in the renovations and Lord in Heaven, no wonder I feel like I’m not batting 1,000.

Most likely the imperfections are things just I will notice. And, quite frankly, there have been multiple pieces that have been out of my control along the way, so why feel the pressure to make it all perfect? Do you know how much I remember about the imperfections before all this (besides the glaring need for counter space and a sink by a window that started the ball rolling?)?

Very, very little.

But that too makes sense because I wasn’t responsible for any of that; it’s just how it all came when we bought the house. Were there some old house quirks? You bet. Are we going to chuck all new oddness into the same category? Indeed, we are, because I can’t keep pulling my hair out (or letting it all turn white like my temples) over this stuff, even though I’m currently a little *meh* about some of it and still losing some sleep over other bits.

Overall it is going to be beautiful, and even better, it is going to be so damn functional for our family.

Just freaking wait until you see the whole island, friends. It is AMAZING.

But for now, here’s just a quick peek, a little preview of how things are in fact coming together. I’m sure my sanity will come back together in time, too.

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‘Til Dust Do Us Part

OK, first things first. Not actually using a blog post to bitch about my marriage or signal its demise. Things may not have been pretty here lately, but 1) my husband isn’t to blame for 100% of the crankiness in our house lately because plenty of that is mine, too. And 2) I don’t think any couple goes through a major house renovation and is totally thrilled with their partner the entire time, so even though we haven’t exactly been ourselves lately, I’m pretty sure we’re pretty normal still.

And we’re going to have to keep on keeping on because the end is still not close enough in sight to be reassuring. The kitchen is getting there with floors scheduled to go in tomorrow and cabinets all set and just waiting on pulls and molding. The beam and a door frame need wrapped/stained, and the old trim Ben is refinishing still needs to be done so it, too, can rejoin the kitchen/DR here soon.

What is killing our progress (and my sanity) is that the counter tops are, at best, going in May 3. That’s still almost two full weeks away and a Friday, so even if they go in that day, what are the chances of the plumbers and electrician getting here to get my sink and cook-top up and running? Any why the delay, you ask? I have no idea. We got them in motion weeks ago but apparently didn’t get on the install schedule fast enough because now we’re stuck waiting (and waiting and waiting) and will most likely hit a solid EIGHT WEEKS with no functioning kitchen in our house before we are said and done. Holy. Eff. P.S. “I have lots of swears in my head right now that I would like to say you to” may now be heard on a bit of a loop around here, in case you want another indicator of how we’re holding up.

Of course, nothing else is done either because this whole thing is one giant Rube Goldberg machine where one piece can’t happen until the one that proceeds it is complete. That means the basement laundry and bathroom still need work (bathroom more so with flooring and vanity and fixtures still awaiting install), and the old laundry room that is meant to be the new play room hasn’t even been torn into yet. And did I mention we for sure need a new driveway?

Yep.

What. A. Mess.

Speaking of mess….waiting for me as soon as I have a place to put any of the shit that has been squeezed out of three major parts of my house amidst construction chaos, is my store room.

img_3528You see, my store room resides in the basement right next to all the new construction which meant Round One of work left a shit show of saw dust in there when doors didn’t get closed during work days. SMHx1000.

Then came Round Two with the demo of the lath and plaster of the old kitchen and dining room, which meant actual balls and clumps of debris rolled down the walls and into, you guessed it – my store room.

Then you add in duct work and plumbing that needed to sneak through the store room, as well, and HOLY. EFF. All the dirt. All the dust. All the swears.

So, friends, I ask you here, as we near the end of month five of this insanity…how am I going to do this? I realize it’s probably going to take me most of the summer to unearth img_3529all this grossness which sucks because it is covering all of the kids’ clothes bins and such that we actually need now that the seasons are changing, not to mention all the kitchen stuff and just general life stuff that a storage room holds, but seriously. It needs major cleaning and I am going to have to touch every single item in there to get it done. Do I channel Marie Kondo? Do I organize for a future garage sale? Do I toss a match and just walk away from everything?* For real. Please give me your best cleaning tips. We’re gonna need them.

*like the title of this post, you must realize this, too, is hyperbole. Things aren’t that bad. But we are drowning in dust that buried our sanity long, long ago. So much so that we now mix metaphors and don’t even care. We need ways to fix it!

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Time to Adapt

For the record, we never knew that our house reno would take this long. I mean, once you start, you’re at the mercy of the project and have to ride whatever twists and turns (and over the cliff moments) that come, which is never a known entity for any renovation, but still. There is no way we could have predicted this much time from start to (still not) finish(ed).

The great news is: major progress has been made in the last two weeks. Plumbing that we’ve been waiting on for months got knocked out in three majorly long days for the new plumbing crew, AND the overall wait turned out to be most fortunate because we discovered last week that our new main floor shower was – no freaking joke – leaking. Actually, it wasn’t and then it started and the new crew had to reset the drain put in by the old crew and HOLY HANNAH. I am so glad more progress wasn’t done downstairs so we could see and address that shit as quickly as possible.

We’ve also had drywall happening which in itself is a freaking PROCESS, but we’re getting there. Most of the basement to this point is rocked, and the kitchen got the green light Tuesday afternoon for paint, so that’s what we’ve been doing, with the help of my mom, the last two nights. One more coat to go tonight, but here is the south wall of our new space:

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What you’re seeing is the small door to the hallway/bathroom/etc. and the large opening between the dinning room and living room. And if you’re thinking that that paint color looks awfully familiar, you’d be most correct because it is the exact same as our kitchen was when we bought the house! I have always loved that gray/brown that I didn’t pick, and because the new space is so big, I decided we should just go for it and do the whole darn thing.

After tracking down the old paint cans in our basement and discovering that the paint color is called “Elephant Gray” I had no doubt it was right for us and our sweet Elephant babe, Wilson!

Side note: don’t be freaked out by the different colors on the wall – those are just funny shadows thrown by the temporary lights. And, sorry to say it, but the brick isn’t staying visible. As much as I love it, I need the cupboard space that will go in front of it more than the visual element of it. Darn it.

Second side note: we bought way too much paint because clearly we are not used to painting new, smooth walls! LOL Any ideas for what we can do with the extra cans?

There is some odd, great comfort coming from seeing color on our new walls. For one thing, it means we are so much closer to the being back in our kitchen which will be a Hallelujah moment for sure. But another element is that the use of the familiar color is helping me feel more at ease with this massive change to our house because even though SO much is different, keeping the Elephant gray means not everything is different.

And this leads me back to the (painfully slow) time frame that we’ve had with this entire experience: as much as I wish it has been much smoother process from the start, I have to say that the incremental progress has been good for my brain and heart to go slow and steady with getting used to the new layouts and looks of the house. These are huge changes and adapting to them requires time.

Thankfully the time to see a lot of the rest of it is getting smaller and smaller.

16, I Mean, 37 Candles

A birthday on a Tuesday? How did I not put this together until 14 hours later?! Now it all makes sense.

You see, this morning I was so excited for the kids to get up because it’s My Day. And Mama was ready for some birthday love.

Except then they all got up and started talking about video games and where are my socks and I’m HUNGREEEEEEEEE and not one birthday wish was uttered in my direction. Not even by my husband, which explained why the children had no freaking clue what day it was.

But then my aunt sent me a text and HD was creeping over my shoulder, reading it, and said, “Wait. What? Is today your birthday?” to which I nodded yes and then he told me happy birthday, but still, that was it. No one else heard. So eventually, because I’m mature like that, I had to tell Harrison that I was sad that no one remembered and that he could fix it please and thank you by telling everyone, which he did, and then finally, wishing and singing commenced, and you know – a birthday on a Tuesday was had.

Did I get a fancy birthday dinner? No, it was restuarant night for school, so I got a fast food salad, but I didn’t have to cook and I got to see some dear friends while we were there, so I’ll take it.

Did I get a fancy birthday treat? No, because I have no oven, but a friend dropped off cookies and another one surprised me with more cookies at a meeting we both had to attend (because, Tuesdays), so I am sugared up and happy all the same. And I don’t care what anyone says, Eileen’s ARE fancy to me because they are the best (besides homemade, but again – no oven!).

Did I get a (fancy) hot minute to myself today? No, but that means people were here working on the house and that is always good news at this point, even if my nerves are reno-fried. And actually, I did get 60 minutes for myself because even though I was spent from all the things all day long, I went to a yoga class tonight that felt just right.

img_3308Did I get a fancy birthday card? Well, yes, I did actually from my parents, along with the amazing cuff bracelet you see here (the naughty word is on the inside where no one else can see it and I LOVE it), AND I finally started having the children write in my Mama’s Journal which is an idea I stole from a friend last year where instead of having the kids buy cards (for birthdays and/or Mother’s Day and/or maybe even Christmas), they date a page and write a note, year after year, and I’ll get to keep them all collected forever in the same notebook.

And oh. my. gosh. It’s so good.

LT dictated his note to me and it’s perfectly a 5yo’s bit of randomness.

RL clearly speaks my love language, Words of Affirmation, so so so so so so so soooo well!

And HD is hilariously 85 and British. I mean, really. Hilarious. And British.

(TJ and WA will participate in the future, I promise).

And so, the day may have started off more Tuesday than Birthday, but I’d say it more than made up for itself as it progressed.

Cheers to 37 Years. It may not seem all that glamorous, but it is truly a glorious place to be.