Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting There...

This morning I woke to the sun and walked out to the kitchen to this:

It's been a long time since I last saw these counters. It's been a long time since my heart has felt any where near this kind of peace ~ the kind that comes when life is organized (and the sun is shining!).

I don't want to say that things haven't been going my way lately ~ because in the scheme of things and what can go wrong, I am beyond blessed.

But in the meantime, I am training for a marathon, going strong when suddenly my family of 6 comes down with the stomach flu. Yes. All 6. And as I tried to gain enough energy back to even get out of bed, let alone run miles in the double digits, our treadmills (new) broke (both of them). Since I refuse to run while pushing a 30 pound kid in a stroller when I have all my energy about me, doing so while recovering from 5 days of eating nothing...well, running took a back seat for too long. Now I'm making up for lost time!

In addition to that, I finally agreed we should move. For years, hubby's been pushing to do so (that one hour commute each way is starting to wear on both of us!). Now I am on board. But we search and search and search. And, really, the perfect house just isn't out there. Since I am of the nature to not really like change unless it's good change, I only want to go where things will be as we want them...not to where we can 'make do.' We've been making do with a small house, four kids, two dogs, and an aging cat for quite a while. I'm not asking for too, too much. But bedrooms that house bunk beds and still give you space to lay on the floor to read a book is a must. And maybe a spot for the shelves that can contain all those books...

In order to move, however, we need to sell this house. And perhaps, aside from the spirit of uncertainty that exists while we search for the place where we will spend the rest of our children's growing years that causes me anguish, the reality that we are (I am) suffocating in this house under the weight of all our stuff overwhelms me, as well. And there's a need to clean it and paint it and make it worthy of someone else to love and want to purchase it. And it has to be done. NOW.

Yesterday, after another little bout of anxiety, I thought about my sacrifice of cleaning. Yes, sacrifice. I made a promise for Lent that I would purge 40 bags of our stuff in 40 days. As usual, God's timing is so good - to set this concept into my lap at such a time as this. The timing was perfect. But accomplishing the task has been a bigger deal than I imagined. Not just the 'get off your booty and accomplish something!' that coincides with this arrangement. Or choosing which area to address today. It's not even 'emotional attachment' to stuff (I don't suffer from that most of the time...although my husband wouldn't agree with me!). It's the overwhelming number of areas that need to be organized. And the massive amount of time that is required to accomplish the task!

At the beginning of the 40 days, I chose drawers. Like my junk drawer that housed about 50 batteries, cookie cutters from all major holidays, and a box of chocolate candy shaped like rocks that had been spilled...plus a LOT of other stuff. It took about 15 minutes to clean the drawer. I organized my sock drawer. Another 15 minutes. Over the weekend, I went through my baking cabinet. About 15 minutes. But Saturday morning, I cleaned out Pookie's closet and under her bed ~ for five hours. And by Sunday night, I hyperventilated when I looked in her room. MESSY! Shoot, I hyperventilated when I walked from her room to the living room where, while she and I busied ourselves with the job of organizing just those two spaces, the other kids were just down the hall reorganizing the living room. And not in a way that brings peace to my heart!

So yesterday I thought about what Jesus did for 40 days as he prepared for this week. And I thought back to my panic and anxiety and worry and frustration of the past 6 weeks. And maybe giving up coffee for 40 days as I have for several years was easier to see as a sacrifice. Maybe it was harder to do on a minute - by - minute basis. But this Lent has been full of sacrifice, too. And not the way I imagined 40 days ago. It's almost been tougher. But, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Are there spaces that remain to be cleaned? Would I love to go through those 7 storage boxes of size 4 girl's clothes (will Sashi even be able to wear half of those in one season, even changing clothes three times a day??) before a move...maybe even before I'm forced to tackle the biggest project ~~~ the toy room (*scream!* HORROR OF HORRORS!). Yes. Yes yes yes. There's so much to do. *wringing hands*

But this morning, I poured a glass of milk, reached up on tippy toes to pull a pouch of powdered coffee from my bare pantry cabinet (all expired cookies/crackers/boxes/sauces purged last night while the kids slept soundly in their beds), pulled a chair up to my sparkling countertop, and inhaled a deep cleansing breath. I have a treadmill that will work 'good enough' to run those 8 miles this afternoon while Sashi naps. I have a perfectly organized kitchen (well, except for those last two cabinets...which I'll get to soon enough). And I realize I'm getting there. And that, too, is good enough. For now.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Flight Plan

(our Science Fair award winners!)

One benefit to desperately trying to ready your house for sale - and ridding your home of 40 bags in 40 days - is the discovery of things in your home long forgotten.

Yesterday, as I faced the task of purging three floor-to-ceiling book shelves of the excess reading material they housed, I came across one book I've always glanced over and never thought twice about reading. Actually, I found many of this type of book. But suddenly, rediscovering them in the scene of eternally purging them from my shelves and my life - never to see them again - it became imperative that I learn their secrets and keep them forever. {{and love them and hug them and...}} I couldn't spare even one.

I determined that I would read every last book from cover to cover. To prove to myself that each was worthy of a potential move to another city - to prove to myself that the dust that covered them was worth the disposable dust rag - I brought one upstairs.

Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, relates that families are off track 90% of the time. The path airplanes take from origination to destination becomes his correlation in the book. He talks about how pilots have a flight plan, yet spend the majority of their air time correcting for wind and turbulence and human error only to eventually land in their designated location.

This concept fascinates me.

Today, I bebopped over to an old post of mine - and laughed at the irony that today I am exactly where I was two years ago --- a potential move, a home in need of tons of cleaning. And I see that in 24 months, I have spent a great bit of time 'off course.' It's reassuring to know that I have the potential to still end up where I hope to.

But I have to initiate a plan. Maybe {{any plan}} is better than no plan. Yesterday, I realized I am not doing the things (again) that I always told myself I would do...rock the baby, read the books, lay down with them when they asked ... even when I poignantly know it is fleeting.

So, I purpose to tear off the paralysis of negative thinking and instead cling to proactivity. I have a flight plan. I will remember to use it.

So, the plane keeps flying. And I adjust. Not to say that I can sit back and let the laundry go and not paint that wall. But to acknowledge that I am headed somewhere important. And I carry precious cargo.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seeing Anew


I seem to be doing that a lot lately.


I'm stuck on an airplane with no destination.
{{a holding pattern}}
I have projects desperately awaiting my capable hands, rendered incapacitated due to my fear to move forward. Fear? In a movement? Or simple immobility due to the staggering enormity of the tasks at hand?

So much to do.

Hubby says, "Make a list."

I say, "It would be too long."

"So make a short list."

"It wouldn't be long enough."

Fortunately, unlike myself and what I would do faced with such staunch lack of action, he does not throw up his hands and walk away.

But I sit. My mind wandering in 18 different directions, gazing at the folded laundry not put away, the boxes of cereal that don't fit into the cabinets, the dirty walls that need to be painted, and I do nothing.

And yet, I am given the chance to see briefly with different eyes. At that moment, I peer out from my stubborn vantage in the chair and witness the blessings of the tasks awaiting me.

Which I'll get to...just as soon as I get up from this chair.

thanks, Emily --- for reminding me to spritz the lens with that special camera cleaner. And to see it all anew. Again.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Making a Wish

Pookie's Wish Granters visited us this week. She put in a request to swim with dolphins in Hawaii. Although there have been a few glitches along the way, it seems the wish is a Go for sometime in the fall.

In the meantime, I'm checking the sky for my own shooting stars. Is it too much to ask to find a unique but charming house large enough to comfortably fit a family of 6 with a flat backyard within our price range and still not be too far out in Timbuktu?

*sigh* I guess there are just a few glitches to get through on the way to finding it.
We continue to search.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Looking for Spring

When I was a kid, my mom would take us out driving in the country at the end of every winter looking for green grass along the roadside. Signs of spring and hope springs eternal, etc., etc. {My mom is a serious warm weather nut.} I look forward to spring nowadays, too.

I haven't experienced much motivation to find spring around me this year, though. Some years, the ducks and the bunnies come out right after February's pinks and reds get packed away. Just not this year. This year ducks and bunnies seem too cutesie - although I think I've done them without being too cutesie in the past. This year, though, I sought something...different.

Layla, from The Lettered Cottage, showed off her inexpensive-yet-beautiful mantel on Monday. It set me in motion. Although I wanted to go out and buy myself some cheapo pitchers and some spray paint, I merely descended the basement stairs and searched my stash (a.k.a. Shopping the House - Nester-style!). Total cost = $0. (Good thing, cuz that dern envelope's empty again until morning...and then PARTAY...but I digress...)

It's not Lettered Cottage good. But it makes me smile. And I guess that's the point.

Thanks, Layla!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Back and The Forth

We're back in The House Hunt again. Maybe we never left?

Funny: Our realtor emailed yesterday and informed us The Money Pit - the house of our future dreams (you know - after you gutted every room and resurfaced the whole exterior --- that far future...) sold for $250 over our August offer - and get this: $10,000 less than what we offered last February. Whatever. I think God sent a pretty clear sign (you know - when they outright rejected our no-contingencies offer back in August...only to accept an offer for $250 more 7 months later). As He always has when it comes to this moving thing. I've long-since moved beyond that house and its awful cigarette smell and constant need for upkeep and its proximity to our Familiar.

Hubby and I go back and forth. So much, it seems like a broken record to me and I hate to even write a post about it, because - aren't we always "looking at a house?"

We walked the neighborhood today - the kids and I - the first time outdoors since the flu took us all by storm over the weekend. I love our neighborhood. It's humble. It's safe. It's quiet. It's comfortable. We have good friends here. And a good school. And an amazing church. It's home.

And then we have this house. Refurbished in every room itself! Cozy. Comfortable. Small. But cozy and humble and safe and quiet and comfortable and close to good friends and close to a good school and to an amazing church. Home.

Then there's the backyard. Which, in the summer is used to its fullest. Swim parties and barbeques with family, and friends, and neighbors. The gammut goes on in the back in the summer. The rest of the year, the kids play indoors. Or - if more than two go out at a time, I let them in the front. Because our backyard is a mighty hill. Good for sledding in the winter. Maybe. If you stop before the fence. Otherwise, you end up a creek. Literally.

Thursday this week we go to see another house. Far away. A different school district - one that goes all year! A different place. Not unfamiliar - I lived near there during grad school. And loved it. But not Familiar anymore. Close to Hubby's work. No more rolling over in the morning to a cold indentation of the pillow where his head once lay. No more reheating dinner while he tucks the kids into bed. Close. And a beautiful house. In pictures, anyway. Lots of trees and a neighborhood pool.

I have already moved there in my head. To get a feel of the place. To see if we would be happy there.

Because I Fear the unknown. I Fear change. I Worry.

I Know there will be no end to The Looking until We Move. For better or worse. I would be happy to live Here. Forever. But what if The Better is out there waiting for me to find it and I'm just happy living Here?

Monday, March 8, 2010

:: Potty Training 101 ::

Some of you already know the struggle we've been through to potty train Sashi. Before I begin, let me backtrack to potty training all the rest of our kids...


"Yes dear?" I would answer.

"I go potty on the pot?"

"Why yes, yes you may," I would reply

And that was how I potty trained 75% of my brood.

{And you think I'm kidding...}

Sashi would not be so easy. After turning 2, I asked her, "Do you want to go potty on the pot today?"

"No sankyou," she would reply.

After she turned 2 1/2, I asked her, "Would you like to try panties today?"

"Notrightnow," she answered.

I tried 3 times to just put panties on her.

She didn't pee all day.

Except that one time when she went behind the Christmas tree for a little too long and suddenly we heard screaming the likes of which reminded me of a poltergeist. And there was potty to clean off the floor.

After that traumatic experience, I couldn't even blurt, "Would you like..." before she would run screaming from the room.

Then last week, my envelope ran out of cash. You know how we follow the Dave Ramsey Plan, right, and for us, that includes using an envelope of cash for all miscellaneous and food purchases. Welp, I dunno how it happens, really, but before payday, that envy tends to run out of cash. It's good at budgeting that way.

{First Step: Denial. Transfer Guilt to Inanimate Object}

So, I had no cash. And I ran out of diapers. "Sash, I have no diapies for you today. You're gonna have to wear panties." She questioned me, but put them on.

Then, as she and her brother poured the dogs' daily meal into their bowls from the garage, suddenly the garage door flung open. Sashi stood in the threshold with a look of terror.

"You say you have no diapies today?!" she squeaked.

"No Honey, I don't." I replied.

"Then I have to go potty!" She ran through the door and into the bathroom.

She's been potty trained ever since.

The End.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Circle of Friends

I went to dinner with my heart friends last night. I sat amongst women as diverse as women can be. And realized - again - that despite our differences, I belong there.

The question exists whether a support group consisting of men and women who parent children with heart defects is beneficial. From the very moment a heart defect is diagnosed, we begin to fear death. Suddenly, this tiny, wriggling, little bundle of adorable has a beginning and the very real possibility of an end. And part of us dies inside. I call it Hope chiseled away.

Once, I sat beside a pregnant employee of my husband's at an after-hours party. She had recently come from her much-anticipated ultrasound appointment, where the baby's gender had been determined, the length of his legs measured, and his major organs assessed. To me, the mother of three at the time, two of which were born with serious heart defects, she breathed, "At least he doesn't have a hole in his heart!"

Maybe she got it. A little. That a hole in your heart - or half a heart - or a mess of a heart - is a big deal. There is relief when your baby is born healthy with 10 finger and 10 toes.

And there is anguish and fear when she is born with 10 fingers and 10 toes and a giant problem in the middle.

But I know for sure she didn't really get it.

We meet for Mom's Night Out because we understand that first piece of Hope being chiseled away by a diagnosis. The first time you begin to fear.

And we understand the next piece of Hope that breaks off when you give your baby to be mended. When you've realized you can't run from the fear of death. And you acknowledge that you can't fix this boo-boo with a kiss and a bandaid. Or the next boo-boo. Or the next. And the next.




Pieces fall off Hope.

We know that mothers fear for their children's safety - keeping them away from bad influences, guiding them toward good choices. Don't talk to strangers. Don't do drugs. Wear a seat belt. And sometimes, mothers fear death. Falling down stairs. Car accidents. Poisonous spiders.

But being the mother of four children - two with healthy hearts, and two with heart defects, I can tell you I do not fear for my red heads the way I fear for the blondes. I do not love one child more than another. I do not hesitate to love and encourage and discipline any given one. I lecture the same values of saving money and attending church and staying away from the bad guys and wearing your seat belt. I worry at times about their futures. But fearing death through a complication with the heart, this worry is constant.

Different women join our group for different reasons. But one stands above the rest. Fear. How to manage and handle the fear of losing that precious baby. And maybe we return to another meeting because mothers of older children - survivors - grace the meetings and we feel the return of a little lost Hope. Look how great she looks! See how they are handling normal issues - middle school drama and choosing college! That can be my baby. My baby can be normal!

And then a child dies. And the tiny flame of Hope rekindled dies with him.




To the outside world, to grieve another person's child the way a heart mom grieves for a heart child is foreign. We are asked if we are over it yet. We are encouraged to move on. "It's like any loss." But, the outside world may not understand that that child was ours. In a way that other friends' children are not. In a way that is not like just any loss. Because that child stood in the center of our Hope. And when God above called that baby home, He allowed another piece of our Hope to fall away.

It feels good to belong. We desire it our whole lives. To find a place to call home. A circle of friends. And though I would not choose to belong for the reasons that each of us do, yet here we are.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Sun Is Shining

One day my husband came home from the airport. It had been cloudy here for what seemed like 3/4 of a year. He sat down at the table to catch up and said, "You know, even when it's cloudy here, the sun is always shining." It was one of the most profound statements I have ever heard.

Indeed. The Son Is Always Shining.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And Heaven's Doors Are Opened Again

Today, God took Home one of Pookie's heart friends.

This is the first child that Pookie personally knew. She played alongside him. She cheered for him to catch a fish. They splashed in the pool. Completely unaware of their own mortality.

Completely unaware.

And now her friend is gone. And we are left to pick up the pieces of these hearts.
And for some reason. For some reason, God decided it would be us. Me. Sarah. Faith. Emily. Roxanne. Darcy. Janet. Tina. Erin. Stacey. Wendy. Robin. Lynn. Ann. Shauntae. Meredith. Michelle. Monica. Susan...

I want it to not be me. I want it to not be me. or sarah. or faith. or emily. or roxanne. or darcy. or janet. or tina. or erin. or stacey. or wendy. or robin. or lynn. or ann. or shauntae. or meredith. or michelle. or monica. or susan.

And yet, it is not our choice to bear this pain. Nor was it Paul's choice to bear the burden he begged God three times to remove. Or even Jesus' own - that which He grew agitated over and sweat drops of blood. He bears my burdens because He has walked this path. Only His path was longer and rockier and ultimately led to my Life.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Favorite Photo

My sweet friend is begging me to post a few pics from this weekend. I love her. So I'll do it.


Mommy's home with two young, young boys, while Daddy's defending our country and our country's ideals in Iraq. They just deserved some extra special shots. Here's my fave:

Makes me all teary. I dunno if it's these two, or the love of a friend who is truly interested in seeing my heart through these photos. Even from miles away.

Love you, N! I'll post a couple more later this week! (Just for you!)


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