Category: jen (page 1 of 14)

A slow steady beat.

Life has been busy and good and hard and crazy and boring all at the same time. I think that is what is means to be a mom. Or maybe just what it means to be a human.

Either way, when I sit down to blog it seems like I have nothing to report and everything to report. My life is so busy in the seemingly mundane stuff (homeschool, cook, clean, appointments, repeat) and none of it feels very blog-worthy or exciting. And most days I’m dead tired by 8pm (though not tired enough to go to sleep until 2 am) and I get right up the next day and go about my business and focus on getting through the week.

But, as is typical every New Year, I feel myself being a bit introspective and evaluating what has worked and what hasn’t throughout our last trip around the sun. We’ve successfully sustained 5 kids for the last year so Yay to us for that. And we’ve paid the bills and had some creative time and fostered new friendships.  Our word for 2016 was CREATE. Our family chose that word together so we could focus on creating community, friendships, art, handcrafted goods, opportunities, new skill sets, and whatever else we felt lead to create. It was a good word. It was a good(ish) year. It could stand to be improved upon and I think 2017 is just the year to do it.

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions (or revolutions as Traveler calls them) but I do have some goals for this year. I’m feeling like CHANGE is the word for 2017. Some of the change will be self-directed (healthy lifestyle changes, creating emotional margin) and some will just be inevitable (moving to a new home and all that goes along with that).

One of my big goals is to get out of the “let’s just survive the moment” mentality that I get stuck in. I’m not gonna lie, 75% of my life is chaos that I am just trying to manage. I’m talking about kids, animals, therapies, doctors appointments, fingers stuck in car doors, spilling fake Halloween blood all over the leather seats in my new van kind of chaos. You know, standard stuff. And I just want to survive most days. But I get this sense that by forgetting to be present I am missing out on the really good stuff. The snuggling on the couch at 3:30 in the afternoon just because we can and the siblings making special breakfasts for each other because they’ve been spending their TV time binge watching Master Chef Jr. Those things are ordinary and quiet and good and special.  My biggest struggle is that in my rush to move forward I forget to keep still and see them.

I’m changing that this year. I’m going to change my habit of survival mode mentality. I’m going to be present and love the little things. I’m going to look for them. And I’m going to take a page out of my friend Katie’s book over at Mama The Reader and create a gratitude jar. A place to collect those moments to cherish for later.  A place to collect the good for our whole family. And a place to teach my kids to start looking for those moments early on in life.

We’re on the move a lot in the Loving family and we could stand to keep still for a bit. Ironically, in this year of change with a literal move looming in the Summer months I am vowing to keep a slow steady beat going in the pulse of our family. I am choosing to work toward a slower and happier pace in those moments when it really matters. This season of life is moving at a break-neck speed and I can’t do much about that. But I can work to cherish where it matters. And that is going to be my change for 2017.

 

(Also, this post started out as a simple photo dump of some of the moments from the last few months but then apparently my brain needed to unload as well. Here’s some random moments from the holidays that have been simple but also kind of lovely.)

Delaware trip and visit to DuPont.

Delaware trip and visit to DuPont.

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Visiting an Amish farmhouse in Lancaster.

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My Christmas Eve helper crashed out at the wrapping paper station.

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Lobster from Maine for Christmas dinner.

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“MINE!” (A.K.A. The perfect picture of what it means to live with a two-year-old.)

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Christmas card pic…didn’t get one? That’s because only half of them actually made it into the mail. Oops.

In which I admit to not being Superwoman…

When I started this blog I did it to keep my mother-in-law apprised of  happenings in our world. And also to complain about people who are terrible at parking their cars in the parking lot of Joann’s fabric. You know, for important reasons.

And then it satisfied an itch inside of me. An itch for attention. (Yeah, yeah, I admitted it.) And it scratched my itch to write. And then I met Twitter. And got the chance to review exciting products (Pistachios! Credit Monitoring Services!) And got a little caught up in the mommy blogosphere. I made great online friends who became real life friends. I even went to a conference. And it was all fun.

Until it wasn’t. Because at some point the blogging started to feel a bit arduous. Like I needed to come up with something to blog about even when I didn’t have anything. And I stressed about getting posts finished to the extent that I would frustratingly snap at my kids if they interrupted me. Because, I am a mommy blogger thankyouverymuch. Didn’t they understand how important it was?

But, since I’m not getting paid and I’m not seeking fame it turns out I was basically just putting this virtual world of free pistachios ahead of my kids.

One day, Kai asked me if we were going to Disney World someday soon.  (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t immediately wish I’d get a chance to review that.) I said I hoped so. And she asked if we go could I promise-promise her that I would leave my computer at home. Because, she said, sometimes all I care about is my computer.

And then I felt like whatever the opposite of mom of the year is. Worst mom of the year, I guess.

Say what you will about kids, but they’re smart cookies. They know that the thing you spend the most time with is the most important thing to you. And so they assumed the most important thing in my life was the thing that really meant the least in the long run.

So, all that is just to say that the reason I didn’t blog last week is because I was busy spending the days with my kids. Talking to them. Teaching them. And taking care of the things they needed most. It’ been hard homeschooling, blogging, taking care of a toddler and being the mom my kids need me to be. I’m generally pretty good at multi-tasking but I think I’ve reached my limit.

Does that mean I’m not blogging anymore? Definitely not. Does it mean I’m going to feel less envious when mommy-bloggers I know get more and more amazing opportunities? I wish. But, it does mean that I am planning to blog when I have something fun to say. And review things that I actually care about (be it compensated or not). And that I’m planning to remember that the mommy part of the mommy-blogger title is one I have only because of the three little ones who mean more to me than anything.

It’s hard for a former super competitive, Type-A personality to say they’re dialing it back a bit. It’s hard for me to admit that I’m okay with not conquering the online world by blogging about my adventures with 3 crazy kids and a backyard full of poultry. But I am. Okay with not conquering the world, that is.

So, while I’m still planning to blog and review and enjoy all the fun that social media has to offer, I’m planning to do it when my kids are sleeping or otherwise engaged. I don’t want them to see me grab my laptop every chance I get. I want them to know that I’d rather spend my days with them than with my computer. And I’m planning on not stressing over coming up with a post every day. And if I go another week without posting, well, that will be okay, too…

Give me a break. Pretty please?

Y’all, I am seriously getting tired of this. I was feeling pretty good about things yesterday. Despite the flooding basement. And the carbon monoxide leak. And the need for a new HVAC unit. And the looming septic to sewer conversion. And the mold in our duct work. Oh, yeah, and the newest problem of losing all water pressure inside the house if the hose is running outside. Let’s not forget that one.

But, like I said, I’ve been hopeful. And, no, it’s not because I’ve been drinking. It’s because we are hiring a professional organizer. And we’ve got the 1-800-GOT-JUNK people coming to clean out the basement and get rid of some of the mold. Plus, we had someone who gave us some good (and considerably less expensive) options for temporary fixes for the issues we’re having.

And then…

We found a 6 foot black snake in the chicken house. Say it with me now. OMG! YUCK! GAH! OH NO! And other (more colorful and less family friendly) expletives were uttered.

Guess what it costs to rid your property of a snake? After hours (which is – of course – when we found it) it costs $275. TWO-HUNDRED-AND-SEVENTY-FIVE dollars. During normal business hours? $225. For one snake. And let’s throw in another $500 to remove the luxury snake habitat that was generated by the landscaper from hell’s refusal to remove the debris left behind when he cut down the beautiful Japanese Maple he wasn’t supposed to touch.

Yay! Yard waste and snake removal. Just what I wanted to spend an extra $725 on.

(On the plus side, the Hallmark Movie Channel showed Summer Magic tonight and I caught it on the DVR. I think I’ll go sing along with Haley Mills and pretend all these problems belong to someone else.)

Gone Fishin’

We’re escaping from reality at the moment. It’s been a rough week. I’ll be back to the blog world after this weekend. In the meantime…

Have a wonderful weekend! : )

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In the last week…

(alternately titled: Excuse me a moment while I whine…)

This has been a crappy week. Both literally and figuratively. In the last week we’ve:

– had a beautiful old tree (my daughter’s favorite climbing tree) cut down by landscapers accidentally and discovered it would cost $4000 if we wanted to replace it.

– been informed that we have a bootleg septic tank which is now failing and will ultimately cost us $8000-$10,000 to fix. And it needs to be fixed now since we have a muddy pit of sewage in the backyard.

– blown a tire and had to put 2 new ones on the van.

– had a horrible case of food poisoning (both Thomas & I) from an apparently toxic meal at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants.

-learned through a scary near miss that the brakes on Thomas’ car have to be replaced and since we can’t afford it right now we’re back to being a one car family.

-come home to discover that one of the cats has decided to start using my clothes for a litter box. Despite having a perfectly clean litter box at her disposal.

I’ve always heard that bad things happen in three’s. And, honestly, I wish these things would just happen 3 at a time. I need things to calm down soon so I can come up for air.

I promise to try and see the silver lining tomorrow. Or the next day. In the meantime, I’m taking today to feel sorry for myself and get my Zoloft prescription refilled since it ran out today. Nice timing, huh?

And this is why I’m pretty sure I have have some sort of parasite.

I have this very fond childhood memory. It goes something like this…

My sister and I grew up in the country. We loved to play outside. Since we lived on several acres of land we’d play for hours unsupervised.  It was a great way to grow up.

But, my sister and I were very much like my kids. We could find trouble wherever we went. Not the bad end-up-in-juvenile-detention kind of trouble. More like the play-with-RIT-dye-and-color-yourself-up-to-your-elbows kind of trouble. But that’s a whole other story.

On this one particular summer day we found our way into a kid’s dream come true. One day, like magic, a HUGE mud pit appeared in our backyard. It was easily 10 feet by 8 feet.

And when you’re 10 years old and playing outside unsupervised in the summer what do you do with a huge mud pit? Ummm, you jump in it of course. And we did. We played in that mud pit for what seemed like hours. We threw mud at each other and rolled around in it until we were covered from head to toe in mud.  And afterwards we trudged, giggling, up to the front door of our house and waited for our mom to find us. We thought it was hilarious. And in retrospect it is. But for a whole other reason.

And here is where I put myself in my mom’s shoes. Because if I opened the door and found what she found waiting outside I’m not sure exactly what I would do next. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with mud. I don’t have a problem with kids getting dirty.

But the mud we had been playing in? It wasn’t your ordinary mud pit. It was…our septic leach field. I. kid. you. not. I remember the smell to this day. Apparently as a kid I just though that was what mud was supposed to smell like.

But, no. We had been playing for an hour (or more) in septic sludge and we had no idea. Can you imagine?

I have a feeling my parents would have preferred to find out their septic system was failing some other way than by finding their children waiting on their doorstep covered in household sewage.

And this story right here is why the other day when we realized our own septic tank was failing and creating a small soggy mud pit in the backyard I grabbed my girls, took them over to it and told them EXACTLY what it was. Because the last thing I wanted to do was walk outside to find my kids playing in an E.coli bath.

After all, they are their mother’s daughters…

It finally happened.

Remember this?

I knew it was just a matter of time before I was forced into a horribly awkward situation. And it finally happened.

Because my daughter’s bestest friend in the whole wide world a.k.a. the daughter of my mortal enemy  (pardon the over-dramatization) invited Kai to her birthday party. And so the gauntlet was thrown down. As I saw it I had exactly two options:

a.) Go and fake being an emotionally healthy person so my daughter can go to her BFF’s party.

b.) Be a terribly petty person and not let my daughter go because I can’t deal with confrontation.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t loving my options.

But in a quest to become a healthier, better person I RSVP’d yes to the party and planned to take Kai with a big (fake) smile on my face. At least until the night before the party. At which point, I began to beg Thomas to stay home from work so he could take Kai (it was a weekday party).  He agreed to do it but I’d have practically had to sell my soul to him for it to happen. He was asking for some big compensation. And I considered it. Boy, did I consider it.

But, in the end, I went to the party. Which was either because I’m becoming a spiritual giant or because I didn’t want to “give up the goods” to my husband every single day as many times a day as he requests for 30 days. (Hint: It wasn’t that I was becoming a spiritual giant.) I told you he was asking for a lot. I guess he knew what it would take to get me to be a big girl and take our daughter to the party.

And a crazy thing happened at the party.

I was nice. She was nice. And suddenly the whole situation got much less terrifying.

Don’t get me wrong. I doubt we’ll be spending Girl’s Night Out together painting each other’s toe nails and curling each other’s hair, but we were civil. Actually, we were even better than that. We were tentatively friendly to each other. And that’s a pretty huge step for me.

So, even though we won’t likely be best friends any time soon at least we can be big enough to let our girls be best friends and not let our past get in the way of their future.

Proof of Life.

It’s been quiet around this place for the last week. I keep meaning to blog about Kai’s assertion that the devil is controlling her thoughts (which is NOT as scary or disturbing as it sounds) or how Traveler is on a sleeping strike and refuses to sleep more than 45 minutes at a time unless he is cradled in someone’s (read: my) arms but every time I sit down to write I just…don’t.

I have drafts. Lots and lots and lots of dry, boring, mediocre drafts. But I’m stuck. I’ve got a pretty bad case of writer’s block and I’ve been struggling with it since Thanksgiving. For me, the more I blog the more I have to blog about. However, taking a break for the holidays? It totally messed with my blogging mojo.

So, I’m trying to get back in the swing of things both here and on Twitter. You might have to bear with me as I struggle through a few posts until I get my writing feet back under me.

In the meantime, care to tell me your favorite remedy for writer’s block? I could use all the help I can get!

And that’s how I ended up with a new prescription for Zoloft.

Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to get back on anti-depressants after making the disastrous mistake of self-weaning and you have to call your doctor to prescribe them again after several months off and you wait and wait all day long for her to call you back but you finally have to go to Target on a desperately urgent mission to pick up the leopard print Snuggie you didn’t get for Christmas and your doctor picks exactly that moment to call you while you’re browsing in the greeting card aisle so you have to stand there and describe how all you do is scream at your kids all day and stay asleep until 10 am and the whole time you’re talking you’re being stared at and judged by the woman across the aisle who is so on top of things in her life that she is already browsing for Valentine’s Day cards in January?

And you know she can hear you because you’re having to practically scream to be heard over the roar of your clearly unruly children and so you’re smiling this ridiculous smile so she thinks your totally sane but the smile coupled with your account of how hormones are turning you into the world’s worst mother makes you look a bit maniacal and then you realize she has pushed her cart away as fast as her little feet can carry her and you’re secretly glad that you totally ruined her Valentine’s Day shopping mission because it is January after all and is she in some insane contest to be the first person in the city to buy Valentine’s day greeting cards?

I’m not the only one who has days like this, right?

Because I’m nothing if not obvious.

According to my blogging records, I blogged fewer times this past December than any December in the last 3 years. And if I’m being honest, it was awesome to take a bit of a break. But I missed this place of mine. I missed it a lot.

So, it’s a new year. Which feels like a relief because I was so over 2009. And I think I’d be a bad blogger if I didn’t do some sort of 2009 wrap-up post at some point. I guess it’s kind of required for all bloggers.

2009 was a wild year. But, I could probably say that about every year for the last 4 years. We’ve had a strange run of crazy luck for these past 4 years. I’m hoping that 2010 is the year to give us a little peace. But, I’m not holding my breath.

So, where was I? Oh, right. 2009. Here are my 10 most memorable parts:

1. Traveler Oakes Kekoa Loving. Hands down the best thing to happen to us this year.

2. A surprise pregnancy and a heart-breaking miscarriage both served to remind us that God is with us in everything that happens.

3. We became a two car family again. Thank God.

4. The girls had a totally fun Pow-wow Birthday party with real live ponies!

5. Kai started Kindergarten at the homeschool academy and I began homeschooling for real with her on a daily basis.

6. We took a fun trip to Indiana with my mother where there was plenty of the obligatory Lucy and Ethel style shenanigans.

7. We had our annual Thanksgiving Warm-up with friends. And spent real Thanksgiving at the beach with family.

8. I turned 30. An event I was neither thrilled nor gracious about. (In fact, I didn’t even post anything on it because I was dreading it so much.)

9. I started studying to become a Birth Doula which I am totally thrilled about. (Though I failed to blog about it, too.)

10. We made our first two trips to the ER. Something I’m hoping not to repeat in the near future.

That’s it. Our 2009 in a nut shell. And now I’m looking forward to all the possibilities of 2010.

Happy New Year!

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