Feeling stronger

It’s been a while since I’ve posted!  

It’s been almost three months since I took that first exercise class at our YMCA.  It took a while, but lately I really am feeling stronger, more energetic, and more motivated.  I look so very much forward to my workouts because after one my muscles are so charged, making everything else I do in my day feel better–plus all those great endorphins (happy exercise hormones) are flowing!

It’s a nice community feeling we have in our class.  I’m guessing that’s probably the case for most exercise classes.  I’m starting to learn more names and am recognizing most of the people in the class.  We’re always excited to welcome a new person.  It’s motivating to see ourselves be able to push through something with more strength than the last time.  I just love it!  

The class is also offered on Fridays (for a fee), so I’ve been attending that the past few weeks, too.  On my own during the week I’ve drastically upped the intensity and duration of my own workouts.  Did I already mention that I just love it?  I rarely feel like I need to nap anymore.  Most of the time I’m making smarter food choices (who wants to blow all that hard work, anyway?).  I realize that not everyone in the world has the time flexibility that I have to dedicate approximately an hour a day just to exercise, but I highly recommend trying to find as much time as possible and REALLY pushing one’s self.  It may not feel wonderful in the middle of it, but I think that very soon you’ll be feeling stronger and glad that you took the time and made the effort!  I, too, have to prioritize and make choices, and while my choices might seem strange to some (like letting the breakfast dishes wait if NOW is the right to fit in that workout), they’re working out fairly well so far.  Chad likes to imitate my moves sometimes and is pretty happy to play around me the rest of the time.  Occasionally he even provides some extra resistance when I’m doing floor work.

It’s amazing to me that this school year is wrapping up!  These last couple weeks will be busy and filled with field trips, concerts, graduation, extra services, and last piano lessons.  Then summer piano lessons will get started, and summer band lessons, and Olivia will start learning the clarinet!  It isn’t that I’m not excited for summer, but I haven’t thought too much about it because I take one day at a time, for the most part.  What am I looking forward to for tomorrow? An early morning organ practice, my exercise class, spending time with Chad afterward and then with JJ while Chad naps, doing chores, giving a piano lesson while the kids putter quietly about the house, and then family time around the dinner table with devotion, snuggles and rest to follow.  I feel blessed–VERY blessed.  In many ways it’s a relatively simple life, but very “rich” and full.  Thank you, God!  

 

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Trapped

Yesterday Chad’s screams of distress hastily called my attention.  I found him trapped by his own doing.  He had found an electronic toy map of the U.S. that you could press buttons and learn info about the various states.  One foot had gotten underneath the toy, but when he leaned forward to press the buttons he was squishing his toes.  In his pain, he couldn’t figure out that if he just stopped pushing on the game that he’d stop squishing his toes!

It got me thinking about other facets of life.  How often do we “trap” ourselves and inadvertently cause ourselves pain?  We’re too wrapped up in our misery to recognize that if we would just let go (or stop pushing forward in one direction) that the pain would let up.

I know that I foolishly and stubbornly do this too often.  Lately my self-inflicted pain has come from the topic of teaching.

I’ve been happy as a clam at home, raising my little Chad and taking care of the home front (or at least unsuccessfully trying to).  All of a sudden, however, our 5th grade teacher announced that she would be moving and teaching in Florida next year.  Being that her current position was basically what I had done when I taught at our school (except that I taught third grade, not fifth), immediately the thought of teaching again popped in my head–out of left field.  Suddenly I couldn’t STOP thinking about it–and it didn’t help when I would hear that someone else had thought of me stepping in to be 5th grade teacher, school accompanist, and organist.

Then Chad adopted a screaming phase, which began to really get on my nerves.  The daily emptying of the cupboards really started to make my blood simmer.  I became pretty unhappy “just being mom” as I daydreamed about how we could build Chad a bedroom with my income if I got to teach, and how much I loved to teach, and how I had wanted to teach longer and do so much more in the classroom, but then was expecting Olivia.

Now, I recognize that just a couple years back I WAS teaching.  And, there were really good things about my part-time piano teaching position.  The truth is that I don’t love teaching piano the way I love teaching reading and writing.  I feel so ALIVE in the classroom, teaching those subjects.  And Word of God!  That’s the best!

Sometimes at home it is so easy to feel unimportant.  I clean up after Chad countless times a day, but the end of the day comes and I have nothing to show for it.  The house is messy (again).  Toddlers can be little tornadoes of destruction!  At such times, it is easy to feel defeated.  I try to do things that fail miserably because he threw a tantrum or followed me around, crying to be held, or because he is working at his coordination and is clumsy and is forever hurting himself and NEEDS comforting.  I like to be productive, and there certainly are moments when the fact that I am so infrequently very productive just starts to really upset me.  What good is it?  I wonder.

In my heart, I know that the moments when I hear Chad finally say the new word we have been working on, or feel him pat my back when I pick him up for a hug, or see that smile when I come to get him after his nap makes it all worth it…but sometimes those moments are few and far between the screaming, crying, and mess, and it gets tricky to hang on.

That’s where a servant’s heart comes into the picture.  Why AM I here at home?  Where is my “self” in the grand scheme of things?

Besides, I realize that even IF I taught and we had enough money to do something about Chad not having a bedroom that new problems would come into the picture.  Such is the way of life on this sinful planet with us sinful, selfish people.  We are ever-seeking, not often satisfied.

When I try to shut off all these ponderings, evaluations, and just tell myself that I don’t know God’s plans for me, to quit meddling, to stop trying to understand, and just let it all unfold…well, being an imperfect human the “best” way I can do that is often to just go a bit numb.  My personality goes flat.  I’m matter-of-fact.  Maybe I lack empathy.

But God doesn’t tell us in His Word how He’s going to work things out for us, and what’s the best route for our earthly lives.  We DO have to use the minds he’s given us to make decisions.  I told myself that if my place was in the classroom that people from the congregation would inquire about me.  And, my name did get brought up, but it didn’t go very far.  I appreciate that I was thought of.  Serving God in the classroom setting WOULD be great….but not any more noble than serving God here at home being Chad’s mommy.  Being Chad’s mom doesn’t make me any money, but “money isn’t everything”.  Money can complicate life, too.  In truth, there probably IS no “right” or “wrong”.  I could serve God in either capacity, and I could also fail in either.  What probably matters is wanting to be (and working at being) faithful in my current capacity.  What comfort it is to know that He will bless my feeble efforts for my eternal good!  May that truth truly motivate me and uphold me (as Chad screams and dumps things and chases after me)!

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The good parts

As much as I can complain about the mess and the chaos around here, there are some pretty good parts that keep me smiling quite often.  One of my favorite things is the big boys’ temporary bedroom.  I wanted them to still feel like they had a space they could go to that was just their’s, and out of the way–more or less.  Olivia graciously offered to share her room, and while it would only be a return of the favor they gave her for two weeks over Christmas vacation, I wasn’t exceptionally excited about her room getting any more full than it already is (it’s still needing some organizing and help post Christmas-time construction on HER closet).

So, I decided to try something that initially did make me a little nervous.  I set up sleeping pads on the floor of our “secret playroom”, which is a nook of one side of our attic crawlspace that I had turned into a play area years ago.  I brought a FEW of the boys’ favorite things (Kre-o’s, stuffed animals, aquatic night light) upstairs as well as the plastic drawers that I had moved some of their clothes into.  It’s worked out really great.  They’re sleeping well in there and they don’t seem to be disturbing Chad if they need to go in and out while he’s sleeping.  I love stepping from my bedroom and ducking under the slope of the roof to see my “big” boys fast asleep so near to me.

The other good part is thanks to my great friend, Kris, who is out of town with her family this week during our school’s spring break.  She left us a house key, and since we were asked to go and put the mail in each day, I’ve been letting the kids come with me and spend some time “away” from the construction mess and chaos.  This was HER idea.  Can you believe she would just hand the key over and let us invade?  Well, I’m giving her major kudos, anyway.  As a thank you for opening her home to us, I’ve been having fun doing some projects over there.  During construction projects, I tend to get so overwhelmed about the mess and my lack of ability to do anything truly productive about it–so I’ve had FUN taking my vacuum and steam cleaner over there to bless their home a bit to thank them for their hospitality.  I wonder what their neighbors think?  Another friend teased  me that the next time she goes away she’s going to make sure to leave me a key (wink, wink)!

The project truly does continue to come along.  Today the dry wall is going up.  I don’t know if any mud will get on yet today, so it’s not like the end is in sight…but now we can really start to “see” what the final product should be like.  And, I just must say that my husband continues to amaze me.  Truly!  I can’t believe (even though I’m seeing it with my own eyes) what he is capable of…and yet I can.  He is VERY capable and smart–a great teacher, who can even teach himself!  I love it (and him)!

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layers of mess

The closet project is coming along!

Each new phase brings along with it a new layer of “mess”!  

I wish it weren’t true, but I realize that when there is mess and chaos around me, I feel overwhelmed to the point of being a bit panicky.  I want desperately to fix the mess and chaos, and if I can’t, my helplessness gets the better of me.  To counteract these feelings, I try to shut my feelings off and jump off the other end of numbness or mini-depression.  I keep praying.  I keep reminding myself that someday things will be clean[er?] again, and that in the end this will all be worth it (I hope).  

If the house weren’t a big enough mess, add in the fact that I’m a physical mess, too.  The viral bronchitis of last week is still lingering, but now we’ve added stomach flu to the mix.  Who will be next?  I’m thankful to have found someone to lead tonight’s Women Serving Christ meeting for me.  Although I did wake up feeling better this morning than I did through the night, I don’t want to push it OR pass my germies along to our dear friends in attendance.

So–here’s where we stand with the project.  New framing is going up.  We still have some old dry wall to take down (one of the messier steps of the project), but I’m working up the strength to empty out that last space so that we can access the inner wall.  That means moving towels, bedding, and 4 huge drawers filled with tools, wrapping paper, cloth diapers, and disposable diapers.  

Chad’s finishing up an early lunch and then I am hoping to rest when he does.  If I wake up feeling stronger from nap time, I’ll see about moving that stuff this afternoon.

Regardless of my layers of mess and complaints, I’m thankful, too.  God is with me–I know it, I feel it…and He’s not going to be buried underneath the layers.  Thank you, Lord!

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rejoicing in the unknowns

In some respects, my sweet little almost-16-month old is sleeping better than he has his whole life.  I can pretty consistently count on being able to get him down for one nap of about 2-hours mid-day.  He’s going to bed before 9:00, if not more like 8:00 most of the time.  There’s still a LOT of room for improvement, but I must recognize the vast improvements we’ve already made.

A disappointing development of late has been his tendency to be awake for about 3-4 hours in the middle of the night.  This happened THREE times in the last week.  Yes, I am typing this without blinking as I stare at one spot in my sleepless haze…

You run through the gamut.  Do his ears hurt?  Is he teething?  Does he have a belly ache?  Is he afraid of the dark?  Did he have a bad dream?  Is he even awake right now or is this a night terror?

When he’s just SCREAMING endlessly, it feels torturous because I am so desperate to help him.  Sometimes, though, he isn’t screaming.  Maybe he whimpers now and then, but he is just plain restless, flopping all around.  That just gets annoying (remember, I am a light sleeper and we share a room).

I become desperate to know why this situation exists so as to prevent it from happening again. I get so wrapped up in the question marks that I neglect to nurture the person–my sweet little son.

I forget sometimes that a proper night’s rest is no given for a parent, despite how much better I might actually do my job when I’m rested.  Therein lies the challenge: what kind of person/parent will I be under less-than-ideal circumstances?

His ears were clear two weeks ago.  I don’t see him tugging on them.  I’ve tried to get a look in his mouth and I don’t see any swollen bumps on his gums.  I don’t know if maybe there’s still some pressure, because I do see him chowing on a finger from time to time, but he doesn’t like teething remedies and I limit giving pain/fever relievers unless I am sure of the need for them.  It could be his belly. He goes on kicks of not being very regular and does seem to relax when I massage around his intestines.

At any rate, I have to accept the fact that these types of unknowns will continue to crop up in life.  There will be many more times as a parent when I have no idea what is going on with my child despite my best efforts to understand.  Thankfully he’ll become increasingly more verbal and able to tell me how he feels…but even older kids can have a hard time expressing themselves, or sometimes the internal issues are such that a child can’t even understand what is going on with their body.  Half the time I’m not even sure what is going on with my OWN body.

Anyway, as the hours dragged on last night and he still was sitting like a zombie with intermittent flopping onto the mattress, I found it hard to keep in mind some important things, like:

I am so blessed to have this child on loan from God.

My life is filled with even more love because I am Chad’s mom.

His smiles light up my days, granting me joy between toddler-sized tantrums attempting to express his growing opinions and seek for independence.

Having all those wonderful things means having all that comes along with it, and giving thanks to God in ALL circumstances.

So if this happens again tonight, will I be saying, “Thank you, Lord, for this night of little and interrupted sleep, not knowing what is going on with my child, since it means another night with sweet Chad in our family!” ????

I hope so!

It may not be easy to praise Him when feeling lost and confused, but the truth is that maybe I shouldn’t be feeling those things anyway.  Chad is God’s child and his life is in HIS hands.  So is mine.

And maybe, just maybe, tonight will be a little better…because it seems someone’s digestion is working better this afternoon!  Time to go address that!

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what a concept…OPEN concept!

Should you come to visit me, you would find an interesting surprise in my living room.  Come on in!  Look left!  Yes, that IS the boys’ bedroom you see through the walls!

Ok, it happened.  We started demolition for the dual closet project!  Saturday the “dry wall” (it’s more of a plaster board) came down on the living room side where the entry closet will be. Kevin used his jig saw and I followed it with the vacuum hose, catching whatever I could (which wasn’t much, based on how much dust I found floating throughout the house.  

Today we emptied out the boys’ closet and this evening we took down the paneling inside their closet, which revealed an interesting surprise: a “buried” doorway!  Yes, that’s right–there USED to be an entry closet!  Oh well.  We like the location where ours will be (NOT behind the front door like that one was).  

Then it was time to take down the plaster board on the inside of the closet where the entry closet will be.  More dust.  More vacuuming.  I had fun taking out my frustration about all the mess kicking out a few sections of plaster board.  🙂

Ah, yes…the mess.  I know that will be all worth it in the end, but there is STUFF everywhere, and on top of that is…inches of dust.  

One day the house will be clean again–or relatively so.

In the meanwhile, we find it interesting trying to find safe places for Chad to play.

Oh, the “joys”.

Now that all the kids are sleeping (three of them in one room, like the old days, since the boys’ room is still quite out of commission), I should really try to find better places for some of these displaced items, and maybe attempt to clean up the dust (again).  It’d be nice if I could uncover the table so we have a place to eat breakfast (unlike supper tonight).

It’s always like opening a can of worms with these projects in these old homes, and we’ve got a couple here that are already making our original plans…interesting.  

And God smiles above, knowing how it will all turn out…

🙂

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soup for supper….or breakfast?

It’s probably all in the mind, but I really feel like soup when you’re sick is helpful.  I’ve not been feeling the best this week (it’s just a cold), and not been getting much sleep (Chad’s cold has been keeping us both up).  It was time to do something about it yesterday.

I was thrilled last week to discover buy-one-get-one turkey portions at the grocery store last week, so I stocked up on turkey tenderloin and ground turkey.  I made my beloved “smiley face casserole” earlier in the week with the ground turkey, but I hadn’t designated the tenderloins for anything yet.

I baked it before my piano lesson and let it “rest” during while a pot of water boiled.  I cooked up a box of Schar’s (gluten-free) Annellinni pasta.  After draining the noodles, I heated up a pot of turkey stock and about 12 cups of water plus celery leaves, chopped carrots, celery, and the diced turkey (plus noodles).  Since I had prepared something else for supper (honey mustard chicken and apples over rice), all that soup was just calling to be eaten, so a big bowl of it fit the bill for breakfast.

We have sooooo many leftovers!  I don’t need to cook for a while! 

And if I get better quickly in the next couple days, I’m giving all the credit to the turkey noodle soup (and God, of course).  

🙂

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