Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Unplanned Party

Photo Credit

Today I threw a party.

It wasn't planned.

Actually...I didn't even want to throw it.

This party had zero streamers. No cake. No presents.

It had one attendee.


What kind of lame party is that?

The pitiful kind.


Today...I threw myself a pity party.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has days that make you want to throw up your hands in surrender. To grab any white napkin, tea towel, diaper or white pair of underpants from the laundry basket and wave that thing around.

I just gave up.

It could have been my pre-teen's refusal to follow my instructions for the umpteenth time about going to bed at a decent time and thus falling asleep on the couch at her sister's OT appointment. Which led to her not finishing her work for the day. Which led to her having to do it when we got home. Which led to her being bored and somehow turning, "don't let your backside leave this seat at the table" into "hey...I'll just go and watch this tv show with my brothers for a minute...or thirty.

It could have been that.

Or it could have been my precocious second-born's freak out at the counselor's office today. And while I'm grateful it happened in this safe environment, it left me saddened and mentally and emotionally exhausted.

That could have definitely done it.

Or maybe it was walking out of that office feeling defeated to realize that my third born child, the Rule Keeper, had not kept his word about finishing his math work while I was dealing with the above-mentioned issue.

At that point, I was near tears and had to swallow back that primal scream that we moms know so well, "Why won't ANYONE listen to me?!?!?!?"

As we moved from appointment to appointment and location to location, things went from bad to worse until I felt so out of control, sorts, options and sanity.

I felt very sorry for myself and could have played a party soundtrack of melancholy songs as I fixed something on our church's Facebook page per request by my pastor/father (and thus not even noticing when my eldest backside left her seat to migrate into the tv room), all the while watching the clock and dreading the dinner prep and cooking that was looming ahead of me.

I could have thrown up streamers of frustration as I prepped and cooked said dinner only to have three out of four kids come see what I was making and then sneak off to try to scarf down cereal, fruit snacks, and leftovers because they informed me that they didn't like what I was making (and by the way, not liking tacos is pretty much Un-American in my book).

Cleaning up from the non-desired dinner didn't help my mood. Likewise, working with my procrastinating student on her persuasive essay that is due tomorrow that she did not do when she was snoozing on the couch this afternoon and that she was "not in the mood for" was not my favorite moment.

Even my husband's attempts to have me read our nightly advent reading and put today's Jesse Tree ornament on the tree couldn't break me out of my funk. I took a pass because I couldn't bear to see my four blessings tune out the hope of Christmas and squabble on the rug during the reading and fight over who got to put on the ornament. I just couldn't do it.

So he did it. And they piped down and listened and asked introspective questions and the five of them had a warm fuzzy Christmas moment while I silently fumed and printed out paperwork for our educational coordinator meeting tomorrow.

Foiled again.

And just now, I shut this laptop cover and walked towards my bedroom to call it a day and just crawl into bed to start afresh tomorrow. But then I passed by the laundry room and saw the clothes I had put in the washing machine earlier were done and needed to be put in the dryer. But there was already stuff in the dryer that needed to be taken care of...

And by then...my lip had started to quiver.

It was my pity party and I could cry if I wanted to....

But instead, I pulled clothes out of the dryer and hung them up. And folded pants and put them in laundry baskets. And turned leggings outside in and brushed the clump of autumn leaves off them that went through both washer and dryer.

And I thought about a terrible rotten no good day that didn't offer much in terms of happiness or accomplishment. These days are not my favorite type of days. They are no one's favorite days. They are grey days of blah and blech. There are no surprise gifts or high fives or emails just to say hi and I love you, no greeting cards in the mail, no snuggles from children just because.

These are the days that make me know the depth of my own pitifulness. My self-absorption. My fickle heart.

And these are the days when I remember how much I desperately need a Savior -- someone to save me from my own sadness and wallowing and despair.

This year I'm observing Advent. I'm reading through special readings from my Mosaic Bible and Ann Voskamp's, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift that make me think long and hard about what this season is about. I'm not talking about Christmas. I'm talking about the BEFORE Christmas season of bustle, and rudeness, and people stealing other peoples stuff, and families squabbling, and children lying, and my own sense of failure.

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing or event

The wistful and sometimes mournful Christmas songs we hear serve to drive the point home.

This world is suffering. Dying daily. It is groaning out its need of someone to rescue us from ourselves.

We are waiting. Longing. Hoping.

 And no song expresses this hopeful anguish quite like O Come, O Come Emmanuel. And verse three is especially fitting for a day like today.

O Come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheerour spirits by thine advent heredisperse the gloomy clouds of nightand death's dark shadows put to flightRejoice, Rejoice!  Emmanuel......shall come to thee, O Israel!

I'm a captive of my own hubris. My own lack of planning. My own failed attempts to be and do it all.

O come Emmanuel....

...and ransom captive...Heather Hilscher

And I'm so grateful that in this season of Advent, that the miracle has already come. It's here. And I don't have to wait for December 25th or some magical day for hope to be fulfilled. It's done already.

And so the only thing that is left to do is raise up my trembling hands and mascara-smudged eyes and simply ask for what Emmanuel has given to this world and to me.


I choose to breathe it all in and exhale it out to those around me. I didn't do a good job of it today. But tomorrow is another day to give out what has been so freely lavished upon us.

And if that isn't a good reason for a party, then I don't know what is.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

In Due Time

It's been awhile since I last posted. I have intended to put fingers to keys many times, but honestly there has been so much going on, I haven't had any additional time.

When I last left off, we were sanding, staining and sealing floors like crazy. We finished just in time to let the floors cure for the three days required before we had movers come and help maneuver boxes and furniture from our garages into the house.

That was a week we never want to repeat again. Rylie had to work that week at a summer camp he had signed up for in the Spring before we knew what this summer would entail. Unfortunately, it also happened when we were under the gun to get the floors finished. So, he would come home, eat dinner and then get to work with me trying to stain and seal. Fortunately, I was able to do a lot of the sealing on my own (just me and my paint brush) during the day.

We have the long hallway to finish still. I spilled sealant on the hallway, and even thought I thought I had cleaned it up, you could see it when we applied the stain. So Rylie resanded those places and we will most likely stain the hallway and seal it this week. And then we'll be done with floors...for now. (I'm trying to figure out how to break it to him that I am thinking the carpet in the living room/dining area needs to go.)

But we have time...plenty of time. And that is what I am trying to remember as the list of projects continues to grow. There are not too many things that are mission critical, but there are a lot of aesthetic changes that I would like to make. Unfortunately, you need green rectangles of paper to fund all of these changes and so I have been trying to talk myself down and give myself the freedom and permission to take things slowly...and save for for things.

I am gradually getting organized and ready to live in the house (rather than camp out). Thanks to the dynamic duo of organization, a.k.a. Suzanne and Pam, my pantry is now beautifully organized. It was such a relief to have that all in place.


Well folks, I wrote that in August and had every intent of chronicling the process of moving and settling in....but life happened.

Or, if I'm more honest, I got really, really overwhelmed by it all.

I'm not sure how I missed the fact that moving is a HUGE undertaking when I was doing all this dreaming about expanding our territory. And moving out of a house you've had for 13 years out to the country is not for the faint of heart.

The truth is that it is the beginning of December and we literally just finished staining and sealing the hallway last week -- a mere three months after I was confident it would get done.

Why? There was (and is) always something that needs to be done.

Coupled with visits from out of town relatives, soccer season, school starting for Rylie as a teacher and us as a homeschool family and adding in birthdays and other life events, we've had something every weekend. Several somethings, actually.

Many times, it's felt like two steps forward, one step back. After getting everything in the kitchen put away at the beginning of this month, I had to pull it all out again due to a moth infestation. I won't lie. That was painful. But I was able to purge a bit more and put things back in places that worked a bit better. Silver linings abound.

Such as the two gallon freezer bags filled with shelled walnuts from our walnut tree. That was a little diversion that took several weeks of gathering, cracking, shelling, cleaning and sorting.

Also, a learning curve of not waiting too long to get the nuts into the freezer bags or you have to throw a good amount away due to mold.

As mentioned, some projects in the house (and out) have been put on hold while we have done these other things....like converting an old egg storage building (this was once a chicken farm) into a chicken house and putting five chickens in it...

...then adding in five more from my sister's family and adding a chicken run outside.

We added a dog to our family. Kira is a McNab Shepherd/Border Collie mix.

And we couldn't pass up the opportunity to add goats to the farm. Cashew and Peanut seem to love their new digs and all the yummy leaves.

We finally dug ourselves out of our three-car garage and got some organization going in there. We moved seasonal items down to the cellar. Rylie and the kids worked on pruning citrus trees and removing old fruit.

And yesterday, I made some changes in our Mud Room that will make it easier for me to do laundry and keep that room organized and tidy. Although I had hoped for a custom-built Ana White laundry basket cabinet, I saw the potential in this piece of furniture I bought for the house but haven't been able to find a home for. 

Although the chicken wire doors are super cute, they don't work with the laundry baskets. So, I figured out that they would make great wall decor.

Eventually, we are going to put in a utility sink and add a counter top across the washer and dryer for folding purposes. And I have some clothing bars coming from IKEA that will help give me additional places to hang up clothes out of the dryer (something I found to be important when doing laundry for six).

Rylie also put up the "Fintorp" from IKEA that we used for desk organization in our old house.  We are using it in the kitchen now for cooking utensils and other important cooking items, which has relieved the clutter on the stove and provided more surface space. 

This makes cooking on a stove that is across the room from the sink and counter a lot easier.

I won't lie. There have been days I've lain in bed far longer than I should have paralyzed with the realization of all the things that have needed my attention. There are still more boxes than I would like piled in the enclosed porch room (a.k.a. "Peacock Room). 

Thankfully we hosted Thanksgiving for my family at our house -- which caused a frenzy of getting everything cleaned off and moved elsewhere. It was a dream come true to set the table for all 14 of us and have plenty of room for everyone to do their thing.

The big roll of paper we bought for moving came in handy as a in impromptu tablecloth that I personalized.

The negative part of me keeps pointing out that even with boxes unpacked and places found for items, there is still work to be done patching hairline cracks in the wall (the joys of an old farmhouse) and painting to be done. There is one carpeted area that has been destroyed by moving in, kids who don't like wearing shoes outdoors and pets. That beautiful wainscoting really needs to be cleaned and polished, and on and on.

But I'm trying to let that go with the knowledge that there will always be something else that needs to be done. But I can keep working at it and enjoy how far we have come. 

We just had solar panels put on (and are waiting for the inspection so we can turn them on). And although it pains me to mar our farmhouse aesthetic, our bank account will thank us (did I mention the $650 electric bill we had our first full month here?).

Future plans also call for a horseshoe pit, a tree swing or two and perhaps even a zip line from a tree fort. There is definitely a claw foot installation requiring a slight (okay more than slight) bathroom renovation in our near future. All of it will happen in due time.

Or when it happens...like this little guy who showed up the week of Thanksgiving underneath the trampoline while the kids were bouncing. He had Parvo, but has made a full recovery and a great companion for Kira.

It may not be happening according to "The Plan" or how we think things should happen. Nonetheless, I am enjoying the happy sounds of my children jumping on the trampoline and exploring our 2.3 acres. I smile every time my 9-year-old wakes up and tears out of the house towards the chicken house with great anticipation of finding an egg or two.

And would you believe that that first egg (laid by one of my sister's chickens) was not lovingly put into the egg basket that started this entire Dream Saga Series of posts. There was too much excitement to think of such photo ops. But I did eventually see that basket hanging and felt God remind me of all that He has done to get us to where we are. And eventually it did get used for its intended purpose.

We may not be perfectly settled, but we are here. 

And that is enough.