Pages

Monday, July 28, 2014

So why do we travel so much?

If you've kept up with me at all, you know that we've been on the move A LOT in the last year. We go to Charleston with Mr. Inc just about every month. We did a whole week in Charleston and will do another week soon while he works. We've done more than one trip to see family or to switch kids off so they get time with friends or grandparents in South Carolina.  The kids are used to the drill now. A 4+ hour drive doesn't phase them because they've been doing this kind of thing for their entire lives.  And yes, it's so much fun.  I'm so thankful we get to do all these, but I would be sharing only half the story if all of my friends thought we led this charmed life of traveling to the beach and staying in wonderful hotels every weekend, everything being beauty and light. Because it's soooo not. So here are highs and lows of the weekend.

Highs
  • We went to a 80s themed pool party and saw lots of old friends.
  • We ate at a BBQ restaurant that Mr. Inc loves.
  • We stayed in a really nice, newly built hotel where they clean for me and cook breakfast. All for free.
  • I got to watch The Pioneer Woman and the prom scene of Pretty in Pink (which is really the only part I wanted to see anyway).
  • We went to the park.
  • I finally used up the last of my Starbucks gift card for a Venti Hazelnut Frappuccino. 
  • We spent the weekend together as a family. This is the point anyway since Mr. Inc travels during the week.
Lows
  •  So. many. bathroom. breaks. on the drives.
  • Mr. Inc forgot something that we had to drive back for. This turned our 4-5 hour trip into a solid 7 hour drive.
  • The kids argued more than once about sleeping arrangements. Do you know what it's like to pile 5 people into one hotel room? It's not very fun, my friend. I was simply thankful we were on the first floor. This prevented the usual "It's MY turn to push the elevator button!" "NO, YOU DID IT LAST TIME! IT'S MY TURN!!!!!"
  • One kid threw up at dinner. I don't know why. He's not sick. He was fine before and after. I think they he did it because he knew it was our one nice meal out. You can't throw up the fast food, can you? Nope. It's the sit-down restaurant meal that ends up in the toilet.
  • More fighting over sleeping arrangements.
  • A general lack of sleep because I don't sleep well in hotels.
  • Sunday was hot and we spent two hours of it outside at the park.  Mr. Inc. gets off work early sometimes so we need to be somewhat close to pick him up when he's ready. 
So WHY do we do this every month? I mean, yeah. It's fun in an exhausting kind of way. But we don't do it for the fun. We go because Mr. Inc has to go for work. So we go with him. If we want to see him, we have to follow him. So we follow him. Granted, it's not the worst place to follow him to, but it's still tiring for all of us. It would be easier on him if we didn't go. It would be easier for me if we didn't go. But we didn't choose easy. Easy doesn't last when things get tough. So next week, we'll do the whole ritual all over again.  The pool, the beach, the friends, the "I HAVE TO GO THE BATHROOM RIGHT NOW!" announcements as we're driving past the rest stop (every. single. time). The restless sleep, the arguments over beds/couches/elevator buttons. Mr. Inc will work every day, and we'll get to see him every evening.
 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

6 months and counting...

It's the second half of July. So what have we been up to over the last 4 weeks? We've spent a week in Charleston, a weekend in Greenville, made a few trips to Charlotte to return or retrieve children that have spent their own weeks with friends or grandparents, and been sick. So...that's it. We are back to our normal lives.

Now that we've hit the 6 month mark since moving to the Raleigh area, I can't help but look over the year so far and compare it to what I thought it would have been. First, the most obvious is our apartment. I continue to have a love/hate relationship with the shoebox. Today I'm leaning towards hate. To my credit, I'm feeling love towards our home about 90% of the time. But today, not so much. I have stacks of books in front of, on top of, and beside my packed bookcases. This is no way to live, and NO. I will not get rid of any more books! Most of them are for school anyway, and nobody is asking you to get rid of your work essentials so why should I?  Last night we had friends over for dinner, and our table is ridiculous. I don't even sit at it unless we're all here and have to. The kids eat at the table, and I sit on the couch because it's such a hassle to get up and sit down while trying to acrobatically get into my seat. I just need ONE MORE ROOM. Just one more room. Just 100-200 extra square feet. That's IT. *Sigh* I'll stop complaining now. 

Obviously I don't need another room. It would just be really nice. You know that most of the time I'm all about less of the material side of things. Having less stuff, using less space. But that doesn't mean that I don't occasionally dream of a giant home with a giant yard full of giant trees. A home with a beautiful library with ladders and stained glass. With a kitchen that more than one person can fit into at a time. A master bedroom with an attached bathroom and room for a sitting area. Wouldn't that be nice? I really think it would. A house with a guest suite so friends and family could visit.  Along with this big, beautiful house I'd like a chef, a landscaper, and a housekeeper. That live in the servants quarters. Because my dream house has servants quarters. I'm not sure what that says about me.

Sorry for getting lost in that rant/dream of owning the Downton Abbey house. Where was I? Oh yes, 6 months. So part of the plan for moving here to was be a part of an organization that we really believe in. An organization that was supposed to launch here...over a year ago I think? Maybe longer? But everyone is still waiting. This affects other people much more than us, but it certainly leaves us with that "So...what's going on here?" kind of feeling. When you expect things to go one way, and they go the opposite direction, you can't help but question what you're doing. Did we miss something? Some nugget of information? What is God doing here? Of course we see a fragment of the picture God is painting. Still, I thought we were going in the sunny, yellow patch instead of the grey, uncertain patch.

Finally, the kids are making friends. They're involved in activities. We're back in Classical Conversations (homeschool group) starting up this August, and I will be tutoring one of the classes. We might have found a church...maybe? I'm cautiously optimistic. We are assimilating into normal Raleigh society very well. At least for now. Until they see how absurdly crazy we are. By then I'm sure we'll be ready to move to bigger and better things. Again. Because that seems to be what we do now. =)


Thursday, June 5, 2014

HOMESCHOOL PLANNING WEEKEND 2014!

It used to be spring break, but now it's all about the homeschool planning weekend.  This summer is the 4th year one of my very best friends (from now on referred to as T) and I have tried to plan a trip or homeschool weekend together. Every year something legitimately serious has occurred to either cause us to cancel (Hawaii) or has made us give pause before pushing ahead. This year was no different. For my end, my dear, sweet husband thought he'd lost his driver's license and hinted that I might have to drive him to Charleston this weekend. Not. Happening.  Thankfully, he found his license and the crisis was averted on my end.

I'm truly not a superstitious person. At all. But after last year's week leading up to our weekend I almost called the thing off myself and swore off these weekends forever. In previous years, things like a dead gallbladder, a smashed leg, and other various broken/damaged appendages have made things a little difficult. Still, we're continuing and looking on the bright side. God gives new mercies every morning. And it's THURSDAY MORNING of our HOMESCHOOL PLANNING WEEKEND!

 So here's how this thing happens every year. I hope all of my friends can find a weekend with a best friend to plan/relax/whatever. Homeschooling is optional.

  • Find a date that works for everyone. This is one of the most difficult points. Two family calendars converging with one weekend that neither mother is needed is hard to come by. This year we had exactly one. One weekend where we were both free. Since we're pretending to work on school plans for the fall, we have a smaller window, but still. One? Whatever. We'll take it.
  • Find a place to work. If you're at home with your kids, it's not a vacation. It's trying to read books or have a conversation while being interrupted 536,643,865 times a day. It's neither fun nor productive. This year my local friend is out of town for the weekend so T gets to stay in her beautiful apartment. For free. I have amazing friends. =)
  • Find a babysitter. I alluded to the babysitter in the last point. It's not necessary, but it's VERY helpful! This could be your husband, friend, or traditional babysitter. My friend has teenage daughters that she forces I mean that lovingly volunteer to watch my younger kids.
  • Prep ahead. I have cinnamon rolls in the freezer, ready for breakfasts this weekend. I have all the meals planned out. I'm cooking dinners, and the kids are making sandwiches for lunch. My meals are crockpot friendly so I can start them in the morning, and be done. 
  • Clean up a little. Don't go all crazy and vacuum the baseboards or anything, but you'll be happier if things are at least decent. Little cleaning will be going on during this weekend so at least start with a clean floor. Mostly. 
  • Do all the laundry. This goes with cleaning. Little laundry will be done over the next few days so make sure everyone is stocked with clothes. 
  • The rest is up to you. Read, go to the pool, plan out your year meticulously, or just refocus on what's important for the next year. It all goes. It's all helpful. 
I homeschool so our lives are little more interwoven than most. We don't compartmentalize everything. School flows into hanging out with our friends which flows into conversations about God and the world which flows into dinner and how to cook. It all goes together for us. In previous years, I've poured through books and planned out my school weeks. This year, I don't need to do that since Classical Conversations is mostly doing that for me. The rest is just "do the next thing". Instead, I will be going through some books that will bring my focus back.  Thanks to my mom buying me my book list on Amazon, I can read all my books on church and prayer without anymore interruption. I'll also look at some preschool stuff for the little guy, but this year is more autopilot. And I'll sit by the pool. It's soothing to my soul, and a soothed soul makes for a happier homeschool mom.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday

Oh. My. God. Sometimes being a parent is like Chinese water torture. It's not the big things, it's the drip. drip. drip. That finally makes you seriously consider dropping the kids off somewhere safe and going away for a day. Or 5.  Also, my oldest can be completely responsible for his lunch today. And WHERE is the freaking fettuccine alfredo and brownies when I NEED IT?!?!?!

These are the days when I wish my husband actually enjoyed a 9-5 job. But he doesn't. So we will muddle through on our own today. And we won't even eat out. I might bake cookies.

And don't get all angry and self righteous and tell me to "Enjoy every minute!" or "So many people would love to have your troubles." Yes. I know that. Now shut up and throw me a cookie. Actually, give me a restaurant gift card and a babysitter. For a week.

And this stream of conscious rant is over. Brought to you by the woman that set expectations far too high for the day. Somehow I thought we'd get up, straighten up the apartment, do schoolwork at the park, and have a picnic. Maybe go to the pool later this afternoon. You know, hard stuff that we never do. :/  (By the way, that's sarcasm. We do these things ALL. THE. TIME.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

They drove me to sketch. Sketch!!!

So I'll be real for a moment. I've been told I give off an intimidating super-mommy vibe.  Every time I'm told this, I'm utterly flabbergasted. Do these people know me at all?  I believe my mildly manic ADD is being mistaken for something good. Like consistent excellence. =) No friends, it is not normal for a person to cycle through projects. Yes, I bake for about a month. I'll bake all. the. time. And then I stop. I move onto cooking better meals at home (remember my love for freezer meals?), and then I stop. We do awe inspiring weeks of school, and then we stop. Get the picture?  There's nothing intimidating in that. I've simply chosen to channel my obsessive tendencies into benign projects lasting a few weeks at a time. 

Great, now I sound flaky. I'm not flaky either.

And then we have weeks like this week. It's only Thursday so I'm jumping the gun, but since I only have a day left in this week, I'm calling it. This week SUCKED. So much. So so sooooo much.  Kids #1 and 2 have left me exhausted before my day barely begins. There's been crying. So much crying. A ridiculous amount of crying out of one person. Kid #2 should have suffered from dehydration at some point. No one can cry that many tears without throwing off their electrolytes. There's been crying over the dumbest things (sorry baby girl, but COME ON!).  Crying over earrings, crying over imagined wrongs, crying because a picture fell over, because her glasses got caught on her shirt, somebody breathing too loudly. Crying because she bumped her head on a tree branch and she's afraid the other kids will think she's clumsy. She wasn't hurt. She didn't want people to think she's clumsy. So she cried. Get the picture?

There have been repeated declarations of the unfairness of life. You know, because I took away screen time for ridiculous behavior or called a kid out for being obnoxious to their siblings.  There was even an "I'd leave if I had somewhere else to go!"  To which I immediately replied "Where would you go where they'll give you a room, a bed, all kinds of toys and books, take you around to your activities, and feed you well?!?" To which he replied, "NO WHERE! THAT'S WHY I'M STAYING!"  And then things got really fun. At one point this particular child, Mr. Inc, and I ALL looked at the door and considered making a break for it. But nobody ran. The biggest reason stopping me was the fact that I was furthest from the door and knew I'd lose that race.

Today was my wall. Have you heard of choice fatigue? Where you have so many options that it actually makes you tired to the point you start purchasing all kinds of extras? You're losing the ability to say no because you're choosing between so many brands, prices, items. It was kind of like that. Except it was kid fatigue. After dealing with so many requests, accusations, questions about when and what we're having for lunch, tattle telling, whines, and complaints, my brain said No. Just no. No more. So I hid under my blankets and went back to sleep. Yes, I did. Kid #3 played Super Mario Bros. on the Wii. Honestly, I'm not sure what kids #1 and #2 did, but they were quiet and alone in their rooms. That was all I needed to know.

And now after lunch, they're happily playing together and have been for the last 30 minutes. I told them that I can't manage their feelings, and they have to work everything out because I'm done for the week. DONE. I will pull out schoolwork for them to do. I banned all screen time. I am NOT baking cookies. These kids pushed me past my normal writing for self-expression and into sketching because I couldn't even come up with the words! I'm not a sketcher. Those are dire days indeed when I start drawing.

Overall, I don't take responsibility for the horribleness in this week. I think by the grace of God I made it through pretty well.  Sometimes I can look back on a bad week and see that I'm totally the one to blame, but not this time. Nope. I'm praying the kids have learned something. God, please let them have learned something about grace, love, patience, and boundaries. 

So there's my ugly, non-intimidating, not super anything week. May it be helpful, humorous, or "Thank God that's not MY life" inspiring. =)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting settled with a little George Mueller thrown in for fun.

Here's our latest family update. We are finally settling into our new hometown. I am quickly falling in love with Cary, NC. From the parks to the Barnes and Noble that's less than 10 minutes away, the Aldi that's within walking distance to the awesome movie theater with $5 Tuesdays, I'm hooked. The commute to the airport is ideal (that's an important detail for Mr. Inc). It's pretty much exactly what I've always wanted. It feels small townish with the convenience of the city.  Plus some wonderful museums that are free? This homeschooling mom can't ask for much more.

As for churches, I think we've settled on one. There is no perfect church, and admittedly, the one we've chosen is rather large for my comfort. Still, the kids are comfortable and making friends, it's not too far so we can be involved easily, and they seem to be very motivated for missions. They've got their theology straight. I even registered the kids for VBS, so I guess we're in. =)

Finally, in our class at church on Sunday someone brought up George Mueller. He's a fascinating person if you haven't read about him. The man lived out faith in a way that most people would consider irresponsible. If you don't know who he is, look him up. The part that struck me is how divergent his life was from the norm. We look back on his life, and we can see how God provided for every single need; not only for him, but for the hundreds of orphans he cared for. I wonder what people thought of him at the time. Did they think he had great ideals but carried them out in a terribly irresponsible manner? Because I'm sure that's the best he would get today. More likely he'd be recipient of many eye rolls for being a little too God crazed, yet we look back on his life with admiration.

I've been thinking about George Mueller because I've had a few moments this week of wondering what we're actually doing here. Why in the world did we move our family to North Carolina? Make no mistake, we didn't have to make this move or this job change. We've made life difficult for ourselves by choice. We stepped out on faith, and we think things will work out well. But maybe it won't. God doesn't promise happy endings in this life, certainly not for the short-term. Not that I in any way compare ourselves to George Mueller, but I think that if even I occasionally wonder if we've gone off the deep end, what must everyone else think? 

Then I remember that I don't really care what everyone else thinks so it's alright. We're living our lives, doing our thing, getting to know our new home. Since I am secure in the knowledge that God doesn't make mistakes, I know that we're here on purpose. We're still figuring out that purpose, but my knowledge or lack of knowledge on that note doesn't really have an impact on God's purpose for us. There's freedom in that little truth.

So basically, we love where we've landed, we're getting connected, and the jury's still out on the sanity of it all. =)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

One of those days...

Yesterday was one of those days. I was fed up with my tetris apartment, especially since I'd lost the game of fitting the computer somewhere normal. Like, NOT in a place where we walk. I was tired, defeated, and generally unhappy with my lot in life. In other words, I was acting like a teenage girl. Blech. So of course this morning one of the first things I read is about cities of people living on giant landfills in Honduras. They dig through the trash daily looking for food and plastic. If they find enough plastic (50 lbs), they can sell it. For a DOLLAR. And I was so proud of myself last night for pushing through and not ordering the Papa John's pizza. I'd made out the order and everything. I just had to push "Order" on my phone, and it would have been done. But I didn't. So it was a major victory in my mind at the time.

I don't know why I have days like that. Days where I know that I'm being completely irrational, but I just...can't. Days where suddenly someone else's husband is doing all these great things, and I think "why can't MY husband do that kind of stuff?" Or why won't MY kids stop asking me the same questions five billion and one times a day? Why does MY apartment have to be so annoyingly laid out that even though the space is officially there, it's really not. Why does Angelina Jolie get a personal chef? You know, perfectly rational questions.

Since I must find the purpose in everything, I look for the purpose in those days. And don't even tell me you don't have them too. So on the day after those days, I am reminded that all those yucky, embarrassing to admit thoughts and attitudes are always rumbling around in my heart somewhere. Yes, most days I can tamp them down, choose thankfulness, or at least fake my way through the day so no one else sees it. But it's still there. Deep in my heart, I am jealous. I crave the attention and approval of certain people. I am lazy. I am a list of filthy, disgusting, dirty characteristics.

I am cleaned. I am saved.

Saved from what? Saved from living a life led by jealousy, the search for adoration, laziness, anger, and all the other things I'll never admit to here.

See, I am not really those things. They don't control my days. I let my guard down and think to myself that I've got this whole LIFE thing down. Then God reminds me that I haven't arrived. I'm in the middle of the journey, not the end. I don't know if I'm even far enough to claim the middle. I'm still at the beginning in many ways! But I do not know myself as a jealous, ungrateful, lazy person. I feel those things, but I am not defined by them anymore.

Cleaned and saved are the only ones I'll claim as definition. And they are more powerful than any one of those days.   And now to clean up the disaster left from yesterday. Because those days usually leave piles of laundry, dishes, toys, books, and papers for me.