“I survived the Indiana Snowpocalypse” or “The post about the mother who left and moved to Tahiti” or “We just had our Christmas this week and other reasons I’ve already failed 2014”

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Ok, so maybe that’s a little overdramatic. Snowed in.  Thank the Lord that we have power, heat, and food to eat.  I realize this is a very dangerous time for many folks, so I don’t want to take that lightly. Still…

The week started out with a very “Little House on the Prairie” feel.  I imagined us reading “Anne of Green Gables” by the fireplace, playing the piano and violin – potential virtuosos by week’s end, and cooking doubles and triples of recipes in hopes to have a freezer full of prepared meals.

We did have our moments of glory (talks of giving and receiving and playing Charades, piano, Scrabble, Guess Who,  and snowball fights before the arctic temps, etc.)…

ImageImageImageImageImage

Thankfully, McHusband’s school was cancelled for 5 days straight – something I can never remember happening since we’ve been married.  That, of course, brought out new challenges for the McBabies – ones that mostly revolved around them pitting us against each other.  While McHusband enjoyed the domestic duties that come with the home turf (not that he doesn’t do a ton around here all the time), he began, with this extra time home, to tangent into fantasies of watercress soups, natural yeast extracts, new organization systems, clean closets, and other impossibilities scenarios with which to keep up.  He whistles while he works and says things like “isn’t it so beautiful today?”

By day four though, Martha Stewart (McHusband) was being met with Martha Stewing & Brewing (me).  I was sick of recipes and cleaning up.  That’s my job every other day.  I was having fantasies of crafting, organizing my pictures on my hard drive, and even going to the bathroom alone long hot baths.  While I was feeding the McBabies their second breakfast, McHusband asked what I thought it would be fun to prepare together for dinner.

“Seriously?” I asked.  Then I continued, “We haven’t even mopped up breakfast yet! I’m sick of this.” It could’ve been my tone, it could’ve been the fact that I looked like I hadn’t been out of the house in 4 days (because I hadn’t), or it could’ve been the way I was wiping down the farmhouse table with a belt-sander-like effect, but he responded with “I feel a blog post coming on.”  “Yes”, I continued, “The day I left this family and moved to Tahiti. Alone.”

The truth is that I love my family.

The truth is that I need to get out of this place with them.  Sometimes even without them.

The truth is that “Anne of Green Gables” is one of my favorite stories.

The truth is that McBaby #1 thinks it’s dumb and boring right now.

The truth is that we got out the Chopin and it was beautiful for 4 minutes.

The truth is that we adults are both rusty and added with McBaby #1’s violin, McBaby #2’s drum set, and McBaby #3’s sitting on our lap and banging, it is, well, no longer Chopin.

The truth is that it’s natural to get cabin fever.

The truth is that McBaby #3 actually has a fever.

The truth is that we’re 5 days “ahead” in our homeschool schedule.

The truth is that we were a month “behind” before that.

The truth is that we celebrated Christmas all over this country and loved seeing our extended family.

The truth is that we didn’t have our own Christmas with the 5 of us until this week and that meant explanation on top of explanation of why we weren’t having Christmas yet.

The truth is that we don’t really “believe” in Santa around here.

The truth is that when you want your kids to clean crap up, you throw all convictions out the window (that is, if you could freaking unfreeze it) and tell them “Santa” is watching, won’t come if they don’t get in their beds, and you threaten with the naughty list.

The truth is that I succeeded at many things this week.

The truth is that I failed many others too.

The truth is that we are grateful for all of the beautiful gifts and times together this season.

The truth is that it has taken an entire week to put away the gifts because putting away the gifts means cleaning out the play area shelves which means going through the giveaway pile which means cleaning out the garage which means rearranging the whole house which means cleaning underneath everything which means I need to move to Tahiti. Alone.

If you have survived the IN Snowpocalypse, cheers.  You deserve a strong drink or even a Starbucks.  In 10 years when you’re missing all of the afore-mentioned things, enjoy it.

Thank you Mom & Dad. Reviewing 2013…

One of my best friends in this entire world is hosting a blog link-up about thankfulness.  She invited me to participate and asked the question with regards to 2013 – “what is something for which I’m thankful?”

Oh, there are so many things.  It’s hard to even narrow down by people, places, and things.  Can I not choose a vowel to help answer the question??  That being said, I had to choose a standout!  I have decided to write about my parents.  I consider these to be my parents by blood and by marriage.  They have been an amazing example of being parents to grown children.

As a mother myself now, frankly, it is very bothersome when I hear people say, “well you only have until they are 18” or “you’ll look back and miss these days because they (the kiddos) won’t need you anymore.”  I’ve always felt that something about that was sad, had too much finality, and was just, well, wrong.

I can say with much certainty that I feel as if I’ve needed my parents more than I’ve ever needed them this past year.  I was not a teenager.  I was not a tween.  Not even a toddler or infant.  I was a 34-year old with the great need for those who had traversed ahead of me.  A great need for those who knew me best – the me that I’d grown away from.  A great need for those who knew how to best care for my family when I could not.  I shared a few posts back about the nature of this past year’s struggles.

Our parents sat on our couch when I couldn’t change out of my pajamas.  Our parents washed my dishes when my hands were shaky and my mind would not get me up.  Our parents lovingly took our older McBabies overnight for some relief when my emotional health was getting the best of me.  Our parents knew when to just jump in.

Recently, our pastor did an amazing series on parenting.  He said that it only gets more and more important to parent as your children get older.  To have real and hard conversations.  To lead by example.  To talk about living well and giving well.  While I do not wish any struggles upon my own children, I know that we intend to be with them at every mountain and valley experience. I’m grateful that God designed us to be in long-term relationship with each other as our lives allow.  Yes, at some point, they must learn to tie their own shoes, write their own names, clean their own, ahem, rears, do their own homework, drive their own cars (choke), choose their own homes, spouses (yikes), and follow their own dreams.  I know, also, that if I do my job right, they will still need me to be their parent.  What a joy to have that gift.  I’m thankful to have my own and to be one as well.

“Yeah, we don’t have a Christmas tree this year.”

charlie brown

So… where to start.  Let me start by saying that your response to my last post was humbling, encouraging, and unanticipated.  After I said that to one of our pastors who read it, he asked me what I was expecting to happen afterwards?  I didn’t and don’t know, honestly.  I must say that I wrote that post more for me than any of the others I’ve written.  The fact that it connected me to so many of you in such deep ways was a beautiful surprise.

I literally saw the numbers of readers rise by the thousands daily.  Any savvy business person knows that the best thing to do after a post and response like that is to consider something like (a) posting soon and consistently afterwards, (b) capitalizing on momentum and pushing for subscribers somehow, (c) throw out thoughts of support groups or writing a book.  Did I do any of this?  No.

I, instead, took the last month to respond to every single one of you that messaged me and shared your own story with me.  I appreciate your patience as I read along, wept beside, prayed over, and replied to all of them.  Then, once I finished that, I froze.  What do I write about now?  Anything else seemed too frivolous.  Then, maybe I thought, it should be lighter to balance it out.  Then, I feared, what if people don’t read?  Or scarier, what if they DO and it’s a let down?

So, with questions unanswered and out of an act of discipline (and an unexpected midnight second wind), I’m just going to keep writing.  That’s how this thing started and that’s what I’ll keep doing.

This Christmas will be the 13th Christmas that my McHusband and I have spent as a married couple.  If you’ve followed this blog at all, you surely (“don’t call me Shirley”) picked up on the fact that art, DIY-ing, painting, making music, writing, cooking, sewing and anything-with-which-I-can-get-my-hands-messy are a big part of this blog.  So, it may surprise you that 5 of these Christmases we didn’t even put up a Christmas tree.  Yes, you read that correctly: FIVE! The title of this post has been what I’ve said for over a third of McHusband’s and my Christmas celebrations!

This year, I waffled back and forth on it – and the McBabies didn’t seem to be too vocal about it either way – and I eventually decided to put up a tree.  It’s fake.  And pretty ugly.  It’s shorter than I am.  It has one burlap garland that fits around it only twice.  It has a pipe cleaner wreath that one of my McBabies put on the top.  McHusband put lights on it and I let each McBaby pick one ornament to put on it.

I know, I know.  I sound like a real buzzkill.  The thing is – I know my kids. I know that they would rather play “Guess Who?” or have music time or read stories or bake cookies or paint or make advent calendars or play in the snow or snuggle up to The Polar Express than redecorate the house and honestly, it felt like an either/or this year.  EITHER put up a bunch of stuff and maintain it and keep the smallest McBaby off/out of it OR take it all back out to the shed and simplify so that all of those other things took the forefront.  The other thing is – I know my husband.  He would rather play Scrabble, play music, read/bake/hang/watch a documentary (I know, we are so adventurous) together than spend our time putting up more stuff.

Maybe it’s because I’m doing a Christmas “tour” that both didn’t seem to be a feasible option or maybe it’s because I’m tired or maybe it’s because I’m lazy…  but, I think it’s actually because all we need is the small glow of a Christmas tree – something to hold a few special memories on it of Christmases gone by, the nativity – the reason for the season, and our advent bunting – some acts of kindness that we’ve all been blessed to do daily while counting down to Christmas, and that is more than enough.  There’s already enough clutter around here without adding stuffed snowmen and bowls of ornaments.  There are already enough little hands that don’t need more breakable things or, worse, more rules imposed because of the decor.

I know myself too.  I have visions for dinner parties, showers, luncheons, and other events of this kind.  I like themes, color palettes, one-of-a-kind decorations and I know that if I can’t follow out the whole vision, I’ll either spend all my waking moments alone finishing them or feel saddened by the lack of completion.  There’s no in between.

The motif this year is to keep it simple.  We may not have boughs on the stairwells, lights on the whole exterior of the house, or any stockings hung, but my children will know what Christmas is about.  It’s about Jesus.  It’s also about a family that huddled together in the midst of wonderful and terrible times as they navigated the birth experience.  We will huddle together ourselves, right here.  We will open a few gifts probably (once I buy some…) and we will know that this year has brought our own wonderful and terribly times, and yet we navigate the birth experience of being made new by a baby in the manger yet again.  And we will celebrate, just as that first family Anno Domini did.

Merry Christmas.

Have you ever been on your deathbed… and then lived to tell about it? A story of post-partum depression and recovery.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of my road to recovery.  Oct 28, 2012 was rock bottom and I am now ready to talk about it.  To celebrate coming through it.  To articulate “it”.  To hopefully and potentially spur someone else on in it.  To be honest and let it all out.  This is my story, my song.  

I can vividly remember the intoxicating smell of chlorine, the oppressive heat, and the waves of dizziness that came over me on Friday, Oct 26, 2012 as I stood on the highest water slide platform with McBaby #1 at The Great Wolf Lodge.  We had scheduled this trip long ahead of time and, when it actually came, I thought that perhaps it would be a good distraction from all I was battling – raging hormones, insomnia, panic attacks.  I thought that a getaway would help me regroup.  Looking back, I know the kids had a wonderful time, but it was anything but a getaway for me.  Packing up a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a 2 month old (yes, that was friggin’ crazy), traveling, sleeping all in the same room isn’t exactly a getaway.  And so, while everyone – even my 2 month old – slept a solid 12 hour stretch, I was awake for all of it.  Again.  Every second of every minute of every hour.  This is what made the next day climbing stairs and swimming with the McBabies so overwhelming. 

This was the third day in a row that I’d been wide awake all night.  It was the second month that I’d not slept more than 3 hours on any day.  I came home even more exhausted and wondering if I was every going to kick this cycle.  Lack of sleep (brought on by angel of a newborn) brought on anxiety.  Anxiety brought on insomnia.  Insomnia brought on more anxiety… you get the picture.  My mind was loud, like chaos or white noise, and, at night, it was like things were just falling off shelves inside of my head.  I couldn’t move forward.  I couldn’t accept help – not because I didn’t want to, or because people didn’t offer meals and extra hands, but because I couldn’t sift through the layers of what it was that I needed.  I was already on medication at this time (an anti-depressant) which had helped with my previous postpartum season.  This time, it had been coupled under doctor’s recommendations with all kinds of other sleep aids – none of which worked.  Everything from various over-the-counter meds to Ambiens, Trazodones, and Lunestas.  No matter what, the taking of the sleep aid invoked a panic within me on whether or not it would work, whether or not I could sleep that night, how I would face the next day if I didn’t sleep (AGAIN), and that combined with the actual aid become like an adrenaline fire raging to work against the meds.  Simply put, these aids were making things even worse, it seemed.

I believed God heard me – somewhere out there, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say how abandoned I felt. Where the hell was the God who was with me?  Who had created me for being fruitful and multiplying?  Who created the newborn whom I so badly wanted to cherish without the demons I was facing.   Day after day, I met the challenge of mothering the McBabies somehow.  I don’t even know how.  I think a lot of Dora and cheerios were involved, the loving and gracious help of McHusband and our more-than-words-wonderful parents, but, honestly, I don’t remember much.

Fast forward 2 days.  Sunday, Oct 28, I was at my end.  I had not slept in 5 days straight.  No naps, no nodding off, no sleeping in the night.  McHubz had even stayed awake the entire night before laying on the couch beside me, rubbing my arms and feet, assuring me everything was okay when the chaos in my brain sounded in the darkness.  I’d been in a perpetual anxiety attack for almost a week.  This was after almost 2 months of nearly not sleeping and intermittent anxiety attacks – about nothing.  There wasn’t anything I could pinpoint being anxious about – it was an inexplainable imbalance inside of me.  Then, something snapped.  I could not walk up our stairs on my own that day.  My eyes twitched, my body shook, and my legs would not carry me because of the extreme physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.

I called the doctor on call – unsure of what else to do – and she recommended that it was time to go to the stress center at the hospital.  McHusband called them while I sat on the couch in a nearly numb state and then took me down to the hospital (while my parents had the older kids at this point).  Being that the testing to see if you fit criteria for the stress center takes place in another building, I went through the difficult experience of being patted down, stripped of my belongings, and told that no one was allowed to come back to the room with me to meet with a social worker.  I dragged myself into the room and sat alone looking around at the padded walls and the sparse chairs and the mirrored wall across the hall from me where I knew I could be seen as I saw faint outlines of people on the other side of the mirror.  

I began to weep at the thought of my children knowing someday that it had come to this.  Here I had a precious, beautiful, perfectly healthy newborn baby and I was sitting without her in a sterile, padded room with people with clipboards asking me stuff, stuff, and more stuff. The guilt was overcoming. “Are you suicidal?” they kept asking.  “Well,” I kept replying, “I don’t feel that I would take any decision like that into my own hands, but I would welcome a car crash or some other reason to escape it all.”  I’m pained writing that now, but it is the truth.  I wanted out of myself.

2 social workers and 90 minutes of questioning later, I was left alone again for about 10 minutes.  The latter of the 2 workers came back in and abruptly said “Our psychiatrist says you don’t meet criteria to be admitted to the stress center.  I’m happy to help you with your things and see you out.”  

“What? But I don’t know what to do.”  

“You’ll have to talk to your doctor.”

“I did and she sent me here.”

“I’m sorry.  Let me see you out.”

I came out and that previous feeling of numbness was quickly replaced with a deep and guttural weeping that felt as if someone had died or was dying.  That someone was me.  I was trapped.  I felt beyond repair.  I mean no offense or presumption to someone who has walked with someone on their deathbed, but, I also know that I did not have one more day in me.  I was physically and emotionally as close to the end of myself as I could be.

Oh, the Lord’s timing and kindness intervened though right then.  Our dear, dear friends – one of our pastors and his wife (the A’s) knew what was happening and were praying us through the morning.  I called them to tell them the devastating news that there was no where for me to go to “get fixed.” They begged us to come over and get a hug and a bite to eat before I went home to the same bed and place of fear and discouragement from which I’d come.  Although I said I’d talk to McHusband and call them back, I hung up the phone and said “No, we’re not going.  I don’t want to see anyone like this.  No one understands.  I want to go home.”  And for one of the first times in our marriage that I can remember, my husband assertively said “No. We are going.”  He also added (when I said how terrible I looked to be out anywhere) that it was “believable” that way.  Umm…

In the meantime, I called the postpartum support hotline.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, it turned out that the lady who headed up that area at the hospital was a close college friend of my mom’s.  She recommended that I call a nurse practitioner in town who was an OB for 30 years, but now specialized in postpartum mental care.  I called and left a message that Sunday morning – thinking I’d have to wait at least a day to even hear something back and then schedule an appointment.  The whole thing was too paralyzing to flesh out.  This lady called me back 15 minutes later from the Apple/Mac store and asked if I could be at her home office in 15 minutes.  Yes, I told her.  

I arrived and she assured me that I was not beyond repair.  I did not believe her.  She told me that she’d walked with many, many, many women in my shoes and my situation was not surprising to her nor did she feel perplexed on how to help.  I still didn’t totally believe her.  She right then and there said that no kind or amount of sleep aid was going to help me sleep if the raging anxiety was still so strong, so I was given a low dose of anti-anxiety medicine to take that was safe for nursing.  As safe as a Tylenol, read the go-to book. Nursing was everything to me – my joy, my love, my life.  I believed her a little now.

She sent me on my way with the prescription and said that we’d talk the next day.  DISCLAIMER: I am not pushing meds here or trying to diagnose anyone else!  I am only sharing my story.  My story that I couldn’t out-exercise, out-organic-eat, out-pray, or out-anything-else it to move out of the cycle.  It was time to get medical/hormonal/chemical help, the same way that a diabetic, someone with heart issues, etc. would.  I had to, as my Dad said, find the fight within me and ask God for the courage to do what it took to get better.  I pray that for you sister if you’re in this kind of place!

We left there and did go to our pastor’s and wife’s house.  Thank God.  We went into their family room where they did not tell me one scripture.  They did not tell me it would be okay.  They did not ask me what I was feeling.  They just cried with me.  She played with my hair while I sobbed about my fatigue, my guilt, my failures, my confusion, my fear of not getting better, my fear of fear itself.  Then they fed us warm food.  Then they said to go upstairs to the guest room and lie down.  As I’d said earlier, numbness had given way to weeping.  Weeping now was replaced by anger.  I was pissed, frankly.  Did NO ONE understand that I could not sleep?  They said to go up anyways and just sit in a comfy robe and slippers and do nothing while they held the baby.

The next thing I knew was that I heard a knock at my bedroom door.  My sweet friend said “I hate to wake you, but [McBaby #3] hasn’t eaten in 4 hours.”  I had not slept that long consecutively in weeks and weeks.  I was shocked.  Then she said that in that short window, my husband had taken a leave from work for as long as it would take, my parents had cleared their calendar and were taking the older kids for as long as it would take, and my job was to now stay at their home and sleep.  They had all worked it out.  They had all taken me to the roof on my mat when I was paralyzed by my life and they had dropped me down to Jesus by working out for me all of the help and details that I did not have the capacity to do.

I stayed that week while they loved on me so well.  I slept like I hadn’t slept in years, honestly.  I’d been pregnant or nursing for almost 6 years straight and my body had shutdown.  That week was so restorative.  My community, my harbor, was there when I was sinking, when I was lost at sea.  They (the A’s) made me chocolate chip cookies and shared their Country Living magazines, my favorite things, to make me feel loved – to further assure me that I was not a burden, but a beloved guest, welcome at this home.  They (McHusband and parents) did everything in their power to sacrifice their work and time to take on their roles and mine.  And they did it joyfully.  The kids were loved and happy.

Even though I felt years away from myself, I was, surprisingly, with a solid run of good sleep and the right aids – just days away from a pretty normal version of myself.

I am still on my low dose.  I don’t plan to even adjust a thing until I’m done nursing.  I have fear attached to that (the getting off, it not working at some point, my dependency on it, etc.) which I have to daily surrender to the Lord.  I can’t sum up the year in between then and now, but I can say that it’s been a year of recovery on a path on which I’ve never walked alone.

If you are in this place, do not wait any longer on seeking the help you need.  While I don’t believe it’s about God wanting us to be “happy”, I do believe He wants us to be restored and renewed!

If you are watching someone else in this place, know that most likely, they will not tell you what they need or how you can help – and that is because they do not know nor do they have the capacity to.  Take them food.  A warm meal is ALWAYS a blessing to someone in need.  Send them a card.  Cry when they cry. Tell them you’re showing up at their house.  And, as you can, be available when the time comes that they do know what they need – a listening ear perhaps or your presence.  

I am so grateful.  This has been a year of angels and demons, in a way, and God has brought me through.  He has moved mountains.  Happy anniversary me.

Here we are celebrating this 1-yr anniversary with The A’s… praise God!  And my sweet 1-yr old!Image

Image

xoxo

Sarah

 

Walmart.

This is a fairly short post made while standing on a fairly short soapbox.

There is about a 30 minute window between Tues/Thurs dropoff for McBaby #1 and McBaby #2.  Sometimes that means extra time to sit in the car and chat, listen to music, or accidentally fall asleep in the car line as I did once last week… nothing like being jolted awake by a 3 year old turning the volume up full blast.

Every now and again, I get ambitious and try to run an errand in that time frame with McBaby #2 and McBaby #3.  There is a Walmart across the street from #2′s preschool.

Do I normally shop at Walmart?  No, simply because they don’t have the things/brands I normally shop for.  Yesterday I needed some items for McBaby #2′s class party and I needed them early in the morning.  Walmart was a great, if not one of my only, options for this.  Being there for the first time in awhile,  it hit me what an issue I have with the current generally on-trend attitude about Walmart in my circles and on tons of folks’ FB statuses.  This is an excerpt from Statustop which has collected real FB statuses about Walmart.  Even if these specific ones are made up or embellished, I have seen or heard some close version of nearly every one of these:

- “I wish there was an observation deck at Walmart.”

- “I don’t always feel like I’m at the top of the gene pool, but when I do, I’m at Walmart.”

- “Went to Walmart today in pajamas. Felt overdressed.”

- “I can’t help but feel insulted when that voice on the speaker calls me a Walmart shopper.”

I don’t have a problem with people who shop or work at Walmart.  Are there ethical practices and/or brands supplied there that could be called into question?  Heck yes. You can find out more on about a bazillion blogs, articles, and documentaries. That should go for any of us – ask ourselves hard questions about how we’re running our business/life/home.  I also don’t have a problem with people who don’t support Walmart, don’t shop there, and have their own convictions why. These aren’t my point though.

What I have a problem with is people having a problem with the other people that shop there.  Is it possible that having a problem with someone else’s problem is a plank in my own eye?  Certainly.  Still, I ask this of all of us.

What makes anyone think he/she is better than Walmart?  Better than anyone there who is shopping?  Better than the elderly and special needs employees who typically greet me there?  (For the record, even if it is a greeter/receipt checker, it’s the only place that I’m greeted upon entry about anywhere these days.) Better than the young women who smiled adoringly at my kiddos?  Worthy of a better experience?  A better label? A better building?  A better quality?

The mystery is this:  we are all unique, yet all the same as equals at the foot of the cross.  We are all special do-no-gooders. Saints and sinners – all of us and each of us.  It is by grace and grace alone that we walk this earth, that we have manna, that we are relational beings.  Anything else should be checked at the door.   

“How does she do it?” How do YOU do it? How I do it.

First things first… surely this post’s title makes you think of the song “This is how we do it”… (after you get your groove on, come back…)  We actually sang this song in my high school showchoir.  Cringe.

Second, this post is not about me teaching/clarifying/promising the best way to do family.  This is simply about  (a) things I’m noticing among families, (b) the way that we do things around here, and (c) sincerely asking you to chime in about things that work (or maybe even don’t work) for you/your family.

Third, I have said and thought “how does she do it?”  Comparing?  Guilty.  Asking God to give me peace in my own story and role?  Doing that too.

Fourth, I realize that this post is long and could be like 8 posts.  I want to just cover parts of “My Story, My Song” and see what you chime in on.  We’ll go from there…

I was dropping the McBabies off at the ChildWatch (childcare included in the membership) at the YMCA a few days ago.  We simply needed a break from each other and we all needed to run around and burn some energy up and off.  I signed them up for a 30 minute time there thinking that I could book it down to the pool to swim some laps, shower as quickly as possible, and sprint back in a refreshing half hour.  A friend walked up as I was checking them in.  She saw me filling out the sign-in – McBaby #1 – age 5, McBaby #2 – age 3, McBaby #3 – age 1 and she said “How do you do it?!? I only have ONE!”  While part of me felt victory that someone in this world wonders how I could possibly juggle what I juggle, my answer was simple – and true:  “Just like you do.” My life felt busy with one kid, and then with two, and now with three.  Heck, it felt busy before kids.  She signed her child in for 2 hours (the allowed time).  I erased my 30 min and decided to do 75.  Enough time to shower and check a few emails… and walk, not run, down the hallways.

Image

(McBaby #3 toddling around the Y.)

Exercise is an important part of “how I do it”.  I have sucked at it lately too.  Then again, maybe I should cut myself some grace.  Keeping up with all of the kids, taking them to the pool/zoo/museum/up/down-the-stairs/in/out-of-car/housekeeping/working/traveling/cooking/etc. is a work out in and of itself!  I make time for a “real workout” a couple or few times a week.  It’s maybe a walk, swimming laps, or the elliptical.  I was hardcore into TurboKick and HipHopHustle for awhile – up until I was about 6 months preggers with McBaby #3.  I thought I’d get back into it once we got into the school year/school groove.  So, a month or so ago, I got to the gym in time for a particular class.  Miracle of all miracles.  I was waiting in the parking lot to pull into a spot and someone backed into me.  DOH!  No real car issue thankfully and everyone was fine, it just made me late for class.  I had a vision at that moment… me walking into class, the teacher calling me out on mic (as she infamously does to folks… I know it’s for good reason like people should be there on time to properly warm up… yada yada yada, but still…), and then me walking up to the front, ripping the lav mic off of her head and saying “Listen _____________ (something potentially not nice or pretty),  let me tell you what kind of productions had to take place for me to get here today?”  I decided that I’m not in a “group-class-let’s-be-charged” kinda season right now.  Gotta go to the Lord on this perhaps…  I want to come to the Y (which, again is an AWESOME place), put in my ear buds or hear the sound of underwater loud/silent nothingness and be alone.  So, what about YOU?

When it comes to food, we do a ton of cooking.  Part of that is because the more I’ve read (and watched and tasted), the more we’ve tried to keep a rule of non-processed food.  Real food.  We have Green Bean Delivery for most of our produce and dry goods and it’s awesome for us.  The groceries are literally delivered to our door (based on our order a few days ahead of time) and it is SOOO convenient.  Local, organic, seasonal food is their specialty.  Getting it to my porch is their other specialty.  When we crunch the numbers for what we buy at, say, Whole Foods or Earth Fare, it’s cheaper or comparable.  We don’t eat a lot of meat, but when we do, we get it at those great stores though – or sometimes Kroger has a good organic selection.  I know lots of friends that are a part of CSAs, co-ops, or other groups that allow them to get organic food in bulk and divide it up at good prices.  It’s possible that it could save me a few bucks, but add in gas for pick-ups/monthly drives to farms and being in group emails to sort it all out, I’m all about alleviating the hassle.  Tell them we sent you if you’re interested in trying it out! (I’m not getting paid for this endorsement, I just seriously love it that much!!!)

The other reason I love cooking a lot is because it’s how I connected with my family growing up – especially my grandparents. We put our hands in the same flour, we counted the number of people we’d be feeding and measured accordingly, we created “somethings” out of miscellaneous parts, we dug in and ate together around the table.  It is science, it is math, it is art, it is relationship.  I still love having people over and at my table.  I have a lot to learn in this area.  While you can open my cupboard/fridge and see organic everything, essential oils, bags of cashews, cranberries and homemade granola, almond and/or raw milk, tons of produce, placenta pills (yes, you read that correctly), and plenty of other crunchy-people stuff, I’ve not ventured out into kefir, naets, or homemade cheese, among many, many, many other things. You??? What works for you, what doesn’t?

organic eating

baking

photo_4-12

table

cooking with kids

When it comes to Spiritual things, I am really trying to work on reading God’s Word consistently.  I truly believe that the discipline will be a catalyst for remembering that the Bible is the good news.  Growing up with it, sometimes it seems I need reminding that while I’ve read and/or memorized much of it, it is not sterile, it is still good and while it is familiar, it is always fresh and new.  I’m great at reading books about spiritual matters, books about spiritual people, and books even about the bible, but a friend recently bought me a devotional that is helping me actually read the Bible itself.  I pray that God strengthens my desire for it.  You???

School…  Refer to my caveats above so this isn’t a hot button topic. :)  We started out in public school with Soren – the ice cream social, the girl scout info, the bus, the whole bit.  Awesome school, awesome teacher, awesome principal. 3 weeks later,  my non-traditional schedule (traveling/playing on a lot of weekends), Soren’s love of all things artistic, her need for much more sleep/rest than the average 5-yr-old, and her present capabilities as a quick study made me know in my gut that something needed to change if we were going to have any family time and keep her stimulated in the right ways for her.  God provided the resources, openings, and open-mindedness needed to allow us to try homeschooling this year.  It has been an amazing fit.  I love it.  She loves it.  We are involved with a co-op that makes for the perfect hybrid of what we feel school should look like.  People ask me – had you considered homeschooling before?  Well, kind of… I mean, I’d considered it and consistently come back to one of the following thoughts: (1) “How do they do it with other kids at home? I’d love to be a fly on the wall!” (2) “I’m just not an organized, disciplined person.  Plus, I have a strong noise aversion.  I wouldn’t want to be with my kids ALL the time.” (3) “We are a missional family.  My kids need to be the Light in the world.  How will they socialize properly?” (4) “Homeschool families are weird.  The bun, the skirts… oh wait, that’s my daily outfit… the natural-birthing (oops, me again), strange eating (um… wait…), bible-thumping/right-wing/conservative (so, not really us… I sometimes vote Rep and sometimes Dem in the presidentials – can’t we all just get along?!?)… they’re just weird, right?” (We own that we are weird for a myriad of reasons… #weirdmyriad #almostrhyme)  I thought all of these things down to the week before enrolling McBaby #1 in her 2-full-day co-op.   She is home 3 full weekdays and we go to the zoo, the museum, Conner Prairie, the Y, art studios, train stations, family’s/friends’ homes, church, other towns and states, or just stay home and hang, among other places.  And ALL of those questions/thoughts above have different answers than I thought they would. I don’t know if you eat your words as often as I do, but, blech, they taste like liver and onions.  I hate being wrong when I’ve standing on a soapbox… on top of a pedestal… with a megaphone… through a speaker system.  Year by year is the way we’ll roll.  Right now, this is awesome.  And we have time for extra things – music lessons, sports, etc.  You???

art hsr1 photo_1-18 photo_4-13 photo_4-14 photo_5-6 violin

My husband would cringe that I’m listing keeping house as a category.  I’m listing this because it is not my strong suit.  I’ll spare you any pics.  The downstairs stays pretty picked up, pretty clean… especially considering the trail-leaving minions of destruction that live here.  We stay up on the dishes, the bathrooms, it’s the clothes that are my issue!!!  I’m one of those daily-laundry people.  I don’t know how people do it on one day, I really don’t.  We don’t have a basement or laundry room, just a nice laundry closet.  Well, unless you count our bedroom as the dumping ground for clean clothes as our laundry room. Or the living room where I would dump loads of clean laundry on the couch.  UP UNTIL 4 WEEKS AGO!  You see, first, about 6 months ago, I watched an episode of “Modern Family” where Cam and Mitchell were excited about lining some of their kitchen drawers.  I decided to try that and they are so pretty now that I keep these drawers organized.  (It took organizing them my color instead of function for it to stick…)

drawer

So, McHusband decided to take a ginormous risk and try to help me with cleaning said bedroom.  I was in this terrible new habit (and I mean new as in – since I was about 6 years old) of putting everything from my bedroom that I can (clothes, baskets, other crap) on my bed and thinking I’ll organize it that day and then dumping it all on the floor come evening so that I can sleep in the bed.  Problem #1: no path to the bed on my side. Problem #2: the clean laundry gets mixed in with the dirty laundry everything else. Problem #3: it’s stressful for both of us.  What kind of haven is this?  So, walking on eggshells, like the teeny-tiny-blue-robin’s-egg kind, McHusband remembered those drawers.  He took a day off of school while I was working at a studio.  Only McBaby #3 was home and, while she napped, he reorganized my entire wardrobe.  You’ve heard of wardrobe malfunction?  This was wardrobe dysfunction.  He organized everything the way an “artsy” person would do it.  He brought his “gift of system” to my “gift of ?” and created a masterpiece that has actually worked for almost a month.  This has never happened in our entire marriage – we’re going on 13 years.  Round of applause, please.  In my defense, we have a shboatload of laundry, we use all cloth napkins, no papertowel, cloth diapers, and cloth toilet paper.  Just kidding on that last one.  Ew.  We also use PureWash – an eco-friendly, non-detergent-using, non-hot-water-necessary, fresh-rain smelling laundering system.  It’s nice and simple and, we believe, pays off in the long run for us and for Mother Earth (“parent earth” for the politically correct).  Enough with my defense, he hung an over-the-door-hooky-thingy for belts, a hanger-with-bar-whatchamacallit for skirts, a pull-out-drawer-divider-doodah with bathing suits, an in-closet-canvas-thingamabob-with-compartments for all the “unders”, and a “inside-the-door-fabric-hangy-pocketish-organizer for shoes.  Genius man. Brave man.  My mother said for years “save it to wash the car in” about clothing, so I still have a hard time cleaning out my closet… even though I faithfully go to Mike’s Car Wash… hmm… I gotta go to the Lord on that. Purging hurts.  You???

bed

Church and Sabbath are hard for me, I must admit.  McHusband is a teacher, so weekdays are filled up and we work a lot of Sundays/weekends, so we don’t have a naturally built-in, consistent day where we can put a Sabbath.  Plus, our roles at our church are volunteer.  My role is often about 20+ hours a month and it is both a joy and a sacrifice for our family.  We pay a babysitter for rehearsal times.  We bring the McBabies along on Sundays and it’s a looooong day for them to be there from sometime 7:30am-ish to 1ish.  They skip naps and come home starving.  We haven’t figured out how to do this area very well. We know that we have a village to help us – our family, our church community – and it’s not every weekend, so we have just settled on this good-enough workability.  I honestly don’t know what Sabbath looks like as a family though.  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this.  With children, we still must cook, discipline, clean – all the people with Gramnesia say to forget the housework, they’re only little for a short season.  Well, if they didn’t need to eat, wear clothes, or poop, I totally would.  Think I’m doing this for fun?  I feel like I fall into a forced Sabbath, meaning that we go, go, go until I just get sick and crash and God is telling me that now I’m stuck to do nothing and let go.  So, tell me…Sabbath/church/you???

accordion grace

Sleep is of the essence for us and requires an insane amount of self-control and discipline.  McHusband gets up at 5am and works out faithfully 6 days a week.  He’s missed maybe once this year and that was because he was ill.  I had to convince him to stay in bed.  I am a night owl, but our schedule does not allow for this type of frivolity.  Our household must be on an earlier schedule if we’re going to have any post-kids adult time to hang together.  And this is REALLLLLLY important to us to have 2-of-us-time.  The McBabies get up around 6am.  This makes many of you cringe.  Tonight, though, they were all in bed at about 5:45pm.  And 2 if not all 3 take daily naps.  Nice how that works out, eh? (A small reward for the pain of waking up so darn early.)  They are wonderful night-sleepers and nappers.  It’s worth it, but I HAVE to say “Sarah, stop before your second wind and let your body calm down” while something down deep in me wants to stay up until the wee hours and sew, write, watch funny movies, say hi to Letterman, etc.  I can only get attached to 1 or 2 shows a year so that I’m not even tempted to watch TV.  Without enough sleep, I am a mess of a person.  I’d have to take even more meds to survive… and I want to thrive, not just survive anyways.  Sometimes I go to bed at 8:30 just to stay thriving.  What do you do to try to get enough sleep?  Do you even get enough?  What could you do to change that, if anything?

When it comes to womanhood – things like fashion, shopping, adorning myself – we talk through budget and only spend about $40/month at the most on our whole family’s clothing TOTAL.  We try to repurpose things, mend/patch tears, make things, shop at more inexpensive places, but I lust after awesome clothes.  I try to keep my Anthropologie-drooling in check.  I have more than enough. I have more than enough.  I have more than enough!  I get a haircut about once a year.  About every other year I’ll go to a salon, but, otherwise, I go to a beauty college or a strip mall place.  I did a DIY ombre yesterday.  It’s the first time I’ve tried color in over a decade, probably.  Just not part of our budget – or really a big desire anyways.  I had a pedicure 2 summers ago.  I’d like to go again – that’s actually important, I think?  I had a massage and chiropractic appt today though.  Picking and choosing.  What do you think are have-to’s to maintain your health?  Want-to’s?  Forget-about’s?

ombre real me

(Me #1: the done up version that appears semi-weekly. Me #2: every other day.)

Work… oh a constant juggling act.  Like many of you, my work overlaps my spiritual gift (craftsmanship and creative communication, says the most recent test), I believe.  It overlaps my call, my talents, my hobbies, and my loves.  I’m passionate about what I do.  At the same time, I’ve never followed “the next big thing” craze very well, “keeping the hype up” thing, getting my social media to the “numbers” I’ve been advised, or chasing a dangling carrot. I’ve sat down with record labels, booking agents, and management companies and I’ve walked away stressed more often than not.  There is a business side to what I do.  Period.  There just is.  There is money involved and taxes and other things business-y.  Simultaneously, God has opened doors every step of the way, allowed me to have growing opportunities through the years, and given me time to sit around the table at events and laugh and cry with people over our stories and His hand in them. Somehow I feel that He’s blessed all of that and allow me to keep doing this when I say “no” to things to put my family first the best way I know how.  And that makes things feel less business-y.  Do I wonder if “people” think I’m successful?  If I “made it”?  If I was “close, but never realized the dream?”  Yes, I do.  I have peace most of the time – I think I have the best job in the world to be with my amazing family daily and still be able to do what I love in such great places and have amazing experiences.  But, sometimes, insecurity rears it’s ugly head and I feel irrelevant, unknown, past my prime, and just not good enough.  This, too, must be taken to the Lord.  It’s His call, His work that is most important.  You???

gaithers photo_2-19

This is how I do it (right now, that is.)  Thank you for reading and, hopefully, chiming in!  One more thing… there’s a lot of this going on… xoxo Sarah

photo_1-17 photo_1-19 photo_1-20 photo_1-21 photo_2-20 photo_5-4