Tuesday, April 28, 2015

setting records

This is the longest I've been away from here. One whole month! At least I think this is the longest.

Our house is under contract (yay, but still stressful!) so we've been looking to buy. I'm beginning to wonder if our real estate agent may fire us for being picky, and dragging him out to look at houses every other evening at dinner time. We're tired. The kids are tired. At this point a tent seems like it might be fine (kidding).

And we're two and a half weeks away from Charlotte's birthday so it's all the emotions all at once here.

We've been eating terribly and reading too many books. It's not the ideal way to handle stress, but at least the kids see a healthy option alongside a very unhealthy one.

Ainsleigh is a FORCE. Oh my lands, we are in over our heads with that one. She's on the table, and climbing the walls, and stuffing towels down the sink drain, and doing her best to age me ten years in twelve months. She is wearing her hearing aid full time now (I almost can't believe it) and her speech is taking off.

Bennett is ... Bennett. He is busy, and bright, and focused on correctness. The other day my mother-in-law said, "let's put on your shoes, Bennett." He looked at the sandals in her hand and replied, "Actually those are sandals, not shoes." His favorite phrase is: "You were wrong!!" He loves books, music, guns, tanks, running, and jumping. 

This is beginning to feel like a yearly Christmas letter so I'm going to quit before it gets really boring. I'm sad and overwhelmed right now - and Charlotte's birthday is just around the corner - so I doubt I'll be away for a month again. I just wanted to get something down tonight since it's been so long.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"

Our sweet Hazel house goes on the market tomorrow.

I am alternating between - YAY! - and - WAIT!.

The house looks really good, and I am proud of all of us for hanging on through the last couple months. I can't believe J - who works FULL time - knocked out a kitchen remodel in three months. Not to mention all of the other projects we tackled. These last three months we've learned something really important: do projects immediately! Don't wait until you're getting ready to move out!

Even though we are ready to move it is hard to leave. A few days ago I walked down to the Capitol with the kids. I love being able to meander downtown from our house. I will miss my long walks with the kids. Where we are looking to move is further out from the city. More housing developments. Fewer walking opportunities. This evening we went to a nearby restaurant and ran into neighbors. We know a lot of people on our block, and they know us and our kids. We've found a place here, and it's hard to think about giving it up, but when we think about the next five (or even ten years) what we want is elsewhere.

We moved here in 2008. It was our first home. All three of our babies grew in my belly here. They didn't all come home to this house, but there is a connection between them and these walls all the same. It's just hard to go. It's a hard time of year, and it's a hard place to be in: ready for change and yet feeling like so much of my heart is here.

And we're staying in the same town! Can you imagine if we were moving to a different city? Or state? J would have to peel me off the house. Drag me from the state kicking and screaming. I love Oregon something fierce. I would not leave her willingly.

In my state of anxiety I think I've told our real estate agent at least twice - maybe three times - that the rose, the one in the front yard, has to be excluded, it has to come with us, it's the only exclusion, but it must be in the contract, it's IMPORTANT.

I'm not sure how to separate leaving here from leaving Charlotte. The flowers in our yard that remind me of Charlotte and her birth month are already beginning to bloom. It's throwing me off balance. My equilibrium shatters when I look out the front window and see the lilies about to bloom, or when I clip lilacs for the table. I put vases of lilacs all over the house in May. They ease the ache, and they remind me of her. What are they doing blooming at the end of March?!

Setting a jar of lilacs on the table this evening made me want to text our agent with frantic anxiety: I need ALL the flowers that remind me of Charlotte. Every last one. Wait a minute - I need this house. I need the backyard where I labored with her. I need the nursery I decorated for her. I need the memories to come with me, and I am afraid if I leave here I'll lose something. She's not here, there's so little of her left, and if I accidentally lose something I will never be able to recover it. So pack it all up. Every flower. Every blade of grass. Every room. Figure out how to flat pack it, and we'll take it all with us.

But that would be insane, and I'm really trying to present a calm facade through all of this so ... never mind. Never mind. But if you could flat pack every last thing that reminded you of your lost one because doing so would guarantee you would never lose a memory - not even a wisp of one - you know you would do it without hesitation, or even much thought.

This weekend my pastor preached on the concept of two cities: the city of man and the city of God. He talked about being rooted, and how if one is rooted in the city of man life will be disappointing, hope will be hard to find, and perspective all but lost.

During this process I have to stay firmly rooted in the city of God, or else I will lose my focus and forget that all of this is temporary. This house, these walls, the next house, the last place, bricks, and chimneys, and kitchens, and lawns. It. is. all. temporary. I have a forever home.

John 14:3 - And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you will be also.

And in that forever home, Charlotte waits. God waits. LIFE waits - eternal, incredible, beautiful, pain free life.

Isaiah 25:8 - He will swallow up death forever; / and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces / and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, / for the Lord has spoken.

John 16:22 - So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Hope, friends. It's pouring forth from those verses. It's Holy Week. We need hope to carry us through the darkness to the breathtaking Sunday dawn.

Easter is one of my most favorite days because one can run around shouting the spectacular news that Jesus is ALIVE, He is RISEN, and people will accept it without too many sideways glances simply because it's Easter and there's so much joy floating around even the hardest heart jumps a bit in response. And really we should run around like that all day, every day, but sometimes that can be so hard to do.

I think I'm preaching to myself more than you here, but still, listen:

have hope

be brave

focus on the promise of forever

be rooted in the right city

Every little thing is going to be all right.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I just don't have time

For you

Or me 

Or friends 

Or anything beyond THE HOUSE

I am so over this process and we are nowhere near the end of it!

We want this house to be in great shape for the next owners, so we (and our families!) are putting a lot of time and effort into making it nice. For example: J built new garage doors with his dad on Sunday because the old ones weren't built with pressure treated wood and were rotting from the ground up. Could we have left them? Sure. But who wants to move into a house with rotting garage doors? So there's big projects and little projects and in between all of that there is 

illness (so. much. illness)


music class

trying to find a new house

preschool registration (oh my heart, really?)

sleep deprivation (our kids just cannot get the sleep thing down)




I have not seen my best girls in ages and I'm just about going to die from the missing.

I need a pedicure, and a movie night, and at least three consecutive nights where I don't have to wake up AT ALL.

And, of course, buried beneath all the busy is the coming of spring. The weather this year is so unseasonably warm it's like we're getting an extra dose of spring, which is enjoyable because I can take the kids out every day, but it's also absolute torture because the lead in to May is going to feel loooong this year with flowers already blooming and the sun constantly shining. 

It feels awful - really awful - to prepare to leave this house. We've outgrown out, it's definitely not the best fit for us anymore,  but I still love it, and a lot of life happened to us here.

I'm just an emotional mess right now, and I'm stress eating, and stress shopping like you wouldn't believe. I don't know why I'm surprised by the falling apart. I don't cope well with change at all, and this is a big change. The kids aren't coping very well either, which is making a challenging time even more so. Have you ever moved with little ones? What helped them through the process?

I haven't been writing lately because of a lack of time, but also because I feel like I'm stuck on the same subject: the house! the house! 

This is just a season, but it's a really intense one, and I'm already looking forward to the end. The post-Charlotte me just isn't as capable as the pre-Charlotte me, and the last time we moved was long before she joined our family.

I'm falling asleep as I type this, but I wanted to sit down and write something tonight because it's been so long, and I have a lot on my mind.

Send some encouraging words my way, friends. The days have been hard lately.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I need something to grow me

Yesterday afternoon I lifted Bennett onto the counter for a late afternoon snack.

"Would you like just jam on your bread?" I asked him as I opened the fridge.

He was squatting on the edge of the counter, peering into the depths of the fridge.

"No!" he exclaimed. Then he slowly stood up from his crouched position and pointed his finger in the air, "I need something to grow me!"

I laughed. "Yes, you do. I'll put sunflower butter on as well."

Apparantly all of my lectures on eating lots of good food because it will help him grow are making an impact! 

I too need "something to grow me."

We haven't been going to church. The kids have been sick, and on the Saturday evenings they are well we are exhausted and/or working.

I haven't been reading my devotions. I was doing really well with the She Read Truth plans, and then I tried the "Bible in a Year" plan. It was too much too fast, and instead of going back to the easier (for me) plans I gave up. I gave in to reading other things, or doing household tasks during the kids quiet time instead of reading the Bible. I know I need to go back to spending time in the Word daily, but carving that time out is difficult to do because there is always something else that needs to be done - or let's be honest - that I want to do

And I can tell. I see it in my attitude. I see it in my interactions with my family. I see it in my feelings of inadequacy, and the sense that I'm not doing anything meaningful with my days. All of the cooking, cleaning, and picking up after children can easily make life feel like the movie Groundhog Day.

It's hard to find glory in the everyday work of raising children, but trust me friends, it is there. My pastor once said that there will be consequences - that we may even be facing them now - of aborting so many infants, of ending so many lives by choice because God has a plan for every. single. life. It may feel like we are not contributing to this world because we stay home with our children, but we don't know who God has given us to raise. We do not know who they will become or what they will do with their lives. We must grow so they can grow. I must grow so they can grow.

What I need from the Bible is the following reminders:

You are enough.

Do not be afraid.

Both truths are there over and over again, but I have to seek them out every single day so I don't forget. I've been so overwhelmed by life details lately, and I feel a little guilty about that because my hard is so much easier than others, but no matter what feels like too much the Bible promises carrying the burden without help isn't necessary.

It's time to get back in the Word. It's time to go back to the cross. Easter is coming. I need to prepare my heart. And after Easter, Charlotte's season. I want to enter spring with my heart full of reminders that God has a plan, and that He is in control of my life. Starting today I'm going to go back to the Word, back to the cross and put my hands on something that grows me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

tell me again why I married you

If you want to remember why you married a person, fix up an old house. J and I are working non-stop to renovate the kitchen so we can (hopefully) sell the house. The kids and I are really sick, which is making a tough project more difficult, but we're making progress.

While I was priming this morning I thought about how well J and I are getting along right now. (There's nothing to do but think while painting.) Projects are STRESSFUL. Having the contents of my kitchen in the dining room is STRESSFUL. Eating three meals a day in the living room is STRESSFUL (my area rug will never recover). Keeping the kids occupied while we work is STRESSFUL.

Usually all of this stress would make us snip at each other, but we're keeping the sniping at a minimum and I've been reminded that we work well together. We complement each other.

J can do a lot of things I can't - like most of this project - but he is very, very disorganized. I can't do as much as I would like to help, but I can round up the tools every morning and put them in one place so he can find them, and I can chase him around the house every time he comes back from the hardware store until he hands over his receipts. I can keep track of funds, and give him updates on how much we've spent, and remind him twelve times that, "all purchases - even online ones - need to be recorded in the house book!" And I can paint!

Last night J said I'm doing better than expected, or something along those lines. Which means I haven't had a complete meltdown and made everyone question why they were chosen to be my people. I'm staying calm, and I didn't cry on the dining room floor yesterday even though I wanted to, and when the kids don't keep every last bit of food on the sheet I put on the living room floor I clean up without snapping.

Chaos and uncertainty don't sit well with me, but this project is all about both:

When will we finish? When should we list? Will it sell? Will we find a house we like? How long will I be without a dining room? When can I have a fully functional kitchen again ... and on and on. We are moving faster than I thought we would. J works really hard every night, and I do my best to keep other things on track so he can walk in the door and start working.

J says, "good job, team!" often enough that B now refers to us as a team. When we get to the grocery store he says, "let's go team!" and when we do well at a task he says, "good job, team!" And this project has made me see us as a cohesive whole in a way that I haven't in a long while.

Everything was so hard after Charlotte died, and then we had two kids in quick succession after that, and I haven't really stopped to think about how we're in this and we have to work together to keep a strong foundation. It's so easy to just exist, but it's been good to work really hard at a project together and remember how much we can accomplish when we support one another.

And J lets me wear his work jacket when we paint really late at night even though he's the one who has to run down to the freezing cold basement every few minutes to glue trim on cabinets. Now that's love.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

on growing up in gladstone

I drove through my hometown today on the way to a birthday party. Most of my family lives around my hometown, but my parents no longer live in the house I grew up in. I drove by the house, just to see it, just to see if it looked like I remembered. It did, and it didn't. It was both bigger and smaller, if that makes sense.

And what a weird lot we lived on! Front door on one street, garage down a hill on a completely different street. Pizza delivery guys could never find our place. My dad would always send someone down to wait in the freezing cold garage with the pizza money. It was always raining - because Oregon - and you had to be down there for a while just in case the delivery guy arrived early because the doorbell on that side of the house didn't work. I can still feel the cold from the concrete floor seeping through my thin cotton socks.

A lot didn't work, or ceased functioning as it was supposed to,  when I was growing up. That is why I am so amazed when J fixes, designs, and builds things. I'm always like, wait, you can fix things the day they break, or the week they break, we don't have to live like this forever, what?

In my childhood home we turned the shower in the main bath on with a screw driver for a long, long time because the tap broke, and the shower in the master bath never worked. It always leaked into the hall closet. My parents didn't get it fixed until just before they put the house on the market, and then it dawned on me that it's totally not normal to use a master bath shower stall as Christmas gift storage.

But we had a nice house, and a big lot, and there was a little fort my dad worked really hard to build. There was room to roam and a wooden bridge to the front door. I found a locket under that bridge once. An old, rusty, cheap thing, but that one little piece of treasure convinced me there was a trove down there so I spent a long time in the cool dark underneath the weathered wooden planks trying to find money and trinkets.

That bridge! You had to be careful when it rained - again, all the time, because Oregon - because you could easily lose your footing while walking across. It was quite a long bridge, and sometimes it was best to just go slow and edge your way down to the door while holding on to the side. Other days we thundered up and down that bridge so many times it's a wonder we didn't fall straight through. 

One year there was a big storm and a tree fell across the bridge. We had to go out the door, over the tree, and up the stone stairs to get to the car for a few days. I thought it was great, and that maybe we could leave it there, but that was one home improvement project that was swiftly taken care of.

Out front of the house there was a big rock, and I remember my dad telling me stories about people - or something, bugs maybe? that lived under there. I want to say Frick and Frack, but I may be mis-remembering. I got my love of books and stories from my dad. I fell in love with reading in that house with the bookshelves lining the downstairs hall and one long wall in the garage.

The small town library could not carry enough for me to read. I read everything in the age appropriate section and then I began picking out books at random. If it was big, I took it home. That's how I ended up lugging an old, thick, yellow hardcover copy of Gone With the Wind home when I was 8. I loved it. I had no idea there were undertones I didn't understand.

Our church - the one my parents still attend - was a few minutes from our house. We were there often. My father was an elder, my mother began the preschool program and then ran it for a long time.

There were siblings to play with and friends in every other house. We roamed a lot, it was a safe little town. We lived near the middle school so we would wander around that property quite a bit. We were pretty free and no one worried about us too much. It was small town living, but not really, really small town living.

There was one elementary, one middle, and one high school. I was jammed in with my age group, and couldn't get out. I didn't really fit in. Or I never really felt like I fit in, but I had a few good friends at school, and some friends outside of school at church. I still wanted to go to a boarding school thought. I read too much and thought I would fit in better at a boarding school - I guess? I spent most of my time wanting to get away, and thinking that things would be easier elsewhere, but perspective comes with 30, and I can see now that wanting to get away from that upbringing is pretty ridiculous.

I broke a few rules. I did at least one really stupid thing, but my parents found out instantly (small town) and that was the end of any rebellious streak I might have had. I mostly followed the rules, and spent time with people who followed the rules, and looked forward to the future.

I don't know what I expected of my life, but it wasn't this quiet existence. I always thought I was going to change the world, because I was eighteen and that's what all eighteen year old kids think, but this quiet life that has developed is quite nice.

I haven't really kept in contact with anyone from my hometown. There are a couple people on my facebook list, but I don't know much beyond the superficial about their lives. My brother was a year behind me in school, sometimes he knows things, but mostly he doesn't, and I don't, and we're both happy with that. I've never been to a reunion. I'll never go to a reunion.

Back in high school I thought I had to fit in to be someone, but then I learned I can be whoever I want and find my tribe wherever I want. And it's pretty awesome when your tribe is your family plus; when the people you care about extend beyond the immediate and friends work their way so deeply into your life you hope they never feel the need to extricate themselves.

I was lucky. I couldn't see the luck because I was too busy contemplating piercing my eyebrow and dying my hair purple, but I was lucky. I had a smooth ride, my parents stayed together, when money was tight I didn't know about it, and the house I grew up in was safe and charming.

Perspective, friends. Perspective.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I finally understand ...

... my love for Target equals J's love for Home Depot.

J loves to wander around Home Depot. I hate it. I want to get in, find what we need, and get out. I don't want to talk about what pulls we should buy for the kitchen for ten minutes. I don't want to wander from bath to kitchen to paint to flooring then head back to the bath section to check one more thing ... J walks into Home Depot and gets ideas and inspiration, while I feel the need to sit down and have a snack.

However, I love wandering around Target. It calms me down, and makes me happy even when I don't buy anything. I'm pretty sure the zen feeling I get when I walk into Target is the same zen feeling J gets when he walks into Home Depot.

The other night we went to Home Depot with a list of things to buy, but we ended up not buying anything. I was really tired, and a little bit confused as to why we didn't buy anything, and so was B.

"Let's check out!" B said.

"We don't have anything to buy," I told him.

"But why not?" he asked.

"This trip was about gaining knowledge," J told him.

"Knowledge? What's that?" B asked.

And J proceeded to explain what knowledge is to B, which he is so good at. J talks to B like he's 10 and a lot of the time B - surprisingly - understands.

I'm not good at house stuff, and it is becoming very, very apparent. J has ideas, and he color matches, and he knows this flooring will look good with that counter, and I can't imagine how any of it will look when finished.

The other day I told J he is the project manager. I'll just do what he says, and I'll try to do as much as I can so he can focus on the big things only he can do. It's funny, working on this house as much as we are is making me love it even more. It's a sweet little house with so many quirks and charms.

My mom came over today and instantly noticed the dining room looked bigger, though she couldn't say why, so that project was a success! This weekend we have another long to do list to take care of. Every weekend we have a long to do list to take care of. Have you ever sold a house? How long did it take you to get it ready to put on the market?


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