Deviation

When I was in college, I spent a semester in Africa traveling and logging many, many miles – from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania all the way to Cape Town, South Africa to be exact. Along that journey, we encountered many literal roadblocks, but one memory that will always stick with me is of coming upon road construction in which the sign read “Deviation” instead of “Detour.” It felt like such an excellent word choice because sometimes when your path goes off the rails against your control, the whole experience does feel a bit deviant.

Case in point? Home reno. We’ve spent this entire summer on a deviation thanks to the driveway and the roof/exterior of the house. In fact, come Tuesday, the roof and metal wrapping and sealing and wood replacement and all that jazz  shit will hit the one month mark on all its own. Like most aspects of life, there are multiple reasons for this, which I’d be more than happy to explain in a private message or in-person conversation, but I’m pretty sure we can all agree that that is just too long, especially when for at least half of that time, a giant trailer has been parked in my driveway and big old machines and tools have been stored in my garage. This means we can’t clean up the yard and just let the kids out to play, must less the sanity-losing that goes into such a drawn out process.

img_5220I was so at the end of my rope with the not-finishing/not-moving of things yesterday that I loaded up the baby in the double jogger stroller and pushed her a mile to the YMCA to pick up Trumy from Prek and then pushed them both the mile back, in a mad dash attempt to walk it out, but even all that in the hot midday sun barely burned off my mad and crazy.

Then, miraculously, enough of the stuff got done by sundown last night that the trailer and the tools disappeared, leaving us with the possibility of starting Operation Garage Clean Up. ‘Cuz, did y’all know that when your structure has three layers of shingles on it, but no plywood under those layers, and all that gets scraped off, it leaves a giant freaking mess all over everything underneath it? Neither did I, but it might just be the worst mess to date of this reno and that is freaking saying something.

So this afternoon, after we survived (and even enjoyed) our first Soccer Saturday with img_5253three kids playing and us coaching two of the teams in a Triple Header Extravaganza, we set to work on getting everything out of the garage (so it all could be cleaned) so we could clean the actual garage (so we could then put everything back in it).

I got out there first and noticed pretty quickly that it wasn’t just shingle and tar-dust coating everything but also like real chunks of splintered wood and even old nails and staples and all kinds of crap. When Ben came out to join me, I warned him and told him I was trying to sweep it all up so we could get rid of it safely because popped tires and poked feet have been my biggest fears for the last four weeks.

And with good reason, because not ten minutes in to my husband helping me, he somehow flipped a nail up with his Keen that caught the back of his heal and, you guessed it, ended up sending him to get a tetanus shot instead of cleaning with me. Ironically, the last one he had was in 2008 when we traveled with a Doane alumni trip to Africa.

img_5257So yes, deviations in many forms continue to crop up in the process, and with one more room left to go in the basement, we’re still not back on the road of just living in our house in peace and quiet (y’all know that it’s rarely quiet here, right? That’s just a metaphor or pipe dream or something.) which after 10 months of this feels like a foreign concept indeed. I know we’ll get back to that path eventually, but after how much more deviation is a big old guessing game.

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The NeverEnding Story

Have you noticed that it has been some time since a reno update has appeared here?

Yeah……that’s because this summer took us down a rabbit hole of sorts and even though we STILL have a room left to finish in the basement before we can put in carpet and finally put all the things away in their proper place, we’ve been dealing with Outside Issues (and yes, they get a proper name with capital letters).

As you may remember, we discovered this spring that before we could finish the basement in good faith, we needed to replace our busted, busted driveway to keep water from leaking into the “new” underground spaces. Thankfully we found a crew that could take on the job and they attacked it, taking out our entire sidewalk, Hastings Classic Driveway (i.e. super long and therefore super expensive to replace), and back patio and replacing it in a two-ish week time span.

During that time we  my husband also expressed interest in replacing gutters which turned into a roof inspection which turned into an adjuster and a claim and yep – plans for a whole new roof thanks to good ole’ NE weather damage.

All of that took place in July. Then we started the Waiting Game, thanks to good ole’ NE weather.

August was bizarrely wet this year and we could not get a stretch of days long enough with a good enough forecast to do all that needed to be done to our would-be-exposed structures.

Finally, last week – the last week of the month – the weather turned and the project got started. I won’t even go in to all the ups and downs of roofing. Nope. It will get cranky and whiney and angsty way too quick. What I will do is document the fact that once again, this renovation has taken us down a path we could have never anticipated.

img_5114In the process of replacing dented metal sheeting around the windows, the discovery of rotten wood along the base of of our sunporch windows was made. Because, sure. Why wouldn’t we want another surprise project that makes everything take twice as long and costs more money? See – cranky, whiney, angsty. It’s just where I am right now.

But seriously. Sept. 1 marked the started of 10 months, which if I’m not mistaken means our reno has now taken just as long as it would have to grow a human. But we’re not even done yet (with the reno; we’re done growing humans)! With this new extended take-the-windows-out-replace-the-wood-put-the-windows-back business now added to the roster, our outdoor chaos continues , much less allows us to get that last room finished and put back together as soon as we’d like (which was like yesterday, or better yet – six months ago).

If this all feels eye-roll-worthy, trust me; I get it. We are privileged to have been able to poke the bear in the first place. At the same time, we never anticipated the major additions to the initial plan and now each and every little extra that pops up feels like a big kick in the pants. And it also feels like this wild ride is never going to end and projects are never going to stop adding themselves to the list.

My advice to people now when they start talking to me about house projects they are thinking of doing? Don’t. Don’t do it. Because if you start, you might just end up growing a house baby that is going to take way more liberty (and space in the budget) than diapers.

Or, at the very least, you’ll lose your marbles a bit and start making house/baby analogies in a desperate attempt to explain your crazy because dang – renos and crazy just go together it seems.

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.

 

 

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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