Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Calgon take me away...

My dishwasher has been broken for about a week.

Now, I realize this is a total first world problem, and for over half of our marriage we did not even have a dishwasher in our house, and for MANY years we didn't even have a garbage disposal. Believe me when I say I do not take this luxury for granted at all! If I ever find myself complaining about loading/unloading our dishwasher, I immediately stop myself and thank God that He's blessed us with a house with one. 

So, like I said, our dishwasher has been broken for about a week, meaning it has significantly increased the amount of time I spend cleaning up the kitchen. I found myself grumbling big time over this task this morning...

Gabriel has also entered this lovely stage where he throws everything on the ground at the dining room table. Today, it was his milk cup, and then his dry cereal. When I got him down to have him clean it up, he stepped on a bunch of the cereal, so you can imagine what my kitchen floor looks like.  I say "looks" in present tense, because while it is almost lunch time, the breakfast mess is still adorning the floor and countertops, because Annie started crying, so washing those dishes and scrubbing that floor obviously hasn't happened yet.

Next up, Annie was still crying, so while trying to rock her to sleep, Gabriel took advantage of mommy being busy and tried to unscrew the knobs off of the dresser drawers and bathroom doors,
pull the sequins off my flip flops,
 and pull the carpet up with his shovel. Then there was a round of dirty diapers, in the midst of the screaming, so I took a moment to exit the room, saying aloud, "Calgon, take me away!" While breathing in a deep breath.

And then I stopped. What does that really mean anyway? 

I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me.

If I weren't here, where would I be?

My mind immediately transported to the call center I worked at after I graduated from college. It was during those days when we were so desperately trying to get pregnant, and I would beg the Lord every day to remove me from a job that I hated. My heart was not in the work field-my heart was at home...and yet, I had no reason to stay at home at that time.

And then the Lord gave us Lucy...
and Gabriel...
and Annie.

And in that brief moment, I stopped myself like I so often do when I'm loading/unloading the dishwasher, and I thanked the Lord for the chaos--the dirty dishes in my sink, that represent a house full of precious people I get to feed; the crying babies I get to hold and soothe and devote my life to right now that represent an abundantly multiplied answer to my prayers...The days may often seem long, but the years are so short, so I refuse to take these long days for granted!

As I entered back into the battlefield (AKA my bedroom full of tears and destruction! Lol), Gabriel ran up to me and gave me a hug, I picked up Annie and placed her on the bed and she stopped crying, Gabriel climbed up next to her, and then I was able to snag these photos... a way to capture these blessings who smile and snuggle and make me smile in the process.

Now, keep in mind, Annie is back to crying again, and Gabriel is back to trying to take apart everything in our bedroom (future engineer??:) but in this moment I will choose joy and contentment and thankfulness...and a grande-decaf-nonfat-no whip-pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (because then I won't have to wash another coffee mug by hand;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Messy beds...

Four glorious years of my childhood were spent living in Southern California amongst beautiful, sandy beaches, gorgeous year-long weather, and the most pituresque snow covered mountains creating a backdrop for our daily commutes.  While we certainly appreciated the beauty of the mountains, we preferred to stay more "grounded" and enjoyed their beauty from afar. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family that loved the outdoors.  In fact, rather than request a typical fancy senior year trip with friends, DH chose to go camping with his family to their favorite spot in Colorado.  His parents are actually there right now, enjoying a much-needed time of rest, relaxation, and reflection, and they've posted some absolutely breathtaking photos of the scenery surrounding them.  However, while I admit that the grassy hills and mountains as far as the eye can see are quite beautiful, I can't help but think one thing every single time a picture pops up on my newsfeed:

Where are the snakes?

You see, I literally am PHOBIC of the horrible creatures, and anytime I see an open field or hiking trail or a small creek, I immediately start freaking out a little bit inside, wondering what slithering creature may decide to make itself known.  It's amazing I enjoy cycling and running outdoors, because this fear of mine is crippling, and it explains why my family (I come from a long line of women with a healthy fear of reptiles) chose to enjoy the view of the mountains, rather than stage our own versiion of the opening scene from "The Sound of Music."  It is true--I love DH so much that I would do anything that he would ask of me; but he also loves ME so much that he would never dream OF asking me to accompany him on an outdoor camping adventure!-)  Surprisingly enough though, I did spent a lot of time "camping" as a child, but just not in the traditional sense of the word...

I'm quite possibly the world's worst bed maker.  No matter how hard I try, I can never get the sheets on straight enough. So, true story, as a child, I would sleep in my sleeping bag on top of my bedspread so that I never had to fix the sheets; all I had to do was roll up my sleeping bag each morning and straighten up the bedspread a bit.  It was GENIUS!  LOL:)  What? That doesn't count as camping?  Keep in mind my opening statement of how I spent four years of my life in California, so my idea of camping was more along the lines of "Troop Beverly Hills."  Regardless of what camping is or is not though, the fact still remains that my inability to make a bed properly has followed me into adulthood, and I'm reminded of this every week when I change out the sheets. 

No, I don't have my kids sleeping in sleeping bags, but I have found a few short cuts to help me along.  For example, my kids only have fitted sheets on their mattresses.  Having three children now, you'd think I would have the hang of changing a crib sheet, but it still sends me into a tizzy every single time! No matter how carefully I attempt to remove the crib mattress, I always get the bedskirt all messed up.  Then, when I put the mattress back in place, I mess the crib skirt up once again.  I often feel like I'm playing one of those rigged carnival games as I try to straegically place the mattress so that I avoid moving anything else around.  However, that silly bedskirt just laughs at my failed attempts.  No life-size stuffed animals for me! Then there's Lucy's bed--which has about 2-3 different blankets on it, 2 different night lights, a stack of books, 4 different pillows, and I've lost count of how many dolls and stuffed animals.  Each item obviously has to be removed before I can change the sheets, and then each item obviously has to be replaced once the bed gets made again.  Her loft style bed is no picnic to change the sheets on either.  You have to climb the small pink, metal ladder to reach over to the far side, and I think I have to place my tongue just right to make the fitted sheet fit over the far edge without removing it from the front edge.  But, with just a fitted sheet, their beds stay fairly neat looking...and then there's my bed...

I'm half-surprised I don't make DH and myself sleep in sleeping bags on our bed, because I couldn't be any worse at making up our bed.  The top sheet always get shoved all the way into the footboard, the fitted sheet starts coming up over the edge, and the pillowcases don't even look right half the time.  (How can you mess a pillowcase up?)  No matter how much I pull and tug, the sheets never look pretty. So, I just do my best and then place my focus on the bed spread and the massive mound of pillows I place on top.  By the time it's all said and done, it looks pretty nice, and you would never know the crazy mess that lies underneath.  And it hit me this week--perhaps my messy bed is a pretty good reflection of my life, too...

You see, try as I may to have it all together, I.just.don't.  I can get the kids all neatly dressed, put some lipstick and some earrings on myself, and slap a smile on my face, but please don't look too closely underneath it all, because what you're sure to find is a far cry from put together. Try as I may to straighten everything out, it seems that lately it all just ends up in a big wad like the sheets at the foot of my bed. As a stay at home mom, it is SO so hard to not beat myself up over this.  You'd think I had all the time in the world to keep up on laundry and dishes, to have a homemade lunch and dinner ready every single day, to always have the pantry stocked with groceries, to have fun and educational actiities planned out for my kids each day, to make phone calls to my friends and family members to check in on them, to get my workout in, to practice my music, to volunteer for multiple activities at the church.  I mean, so and so is doing all of that, so why can't I?  Oh, the war we rage within ourselves when we give in to the enemy of comparison.  It's a dangerous road to set foot upon, and unfortunately once you set foot upon it, it's very difficult to figure out how to get turned back around.  And it may not even be about comparing yourself to someone else--for it seems that lately, I'm having a hard time fighting against comparing myself to the old PB...the PB who only had two kids and was managing to workout 5 times a week, keep a mostly clean and tidy house, go grocery shopping with the kids each week without difficulty, playing piano and rehearsing with the church orchestra, volunteering with the children's ministry, etc. etc. etc...  I have to admit it: I feel like I've failed at life.  I struggle to get in 2-3 runs a week, my house looks like a toy tornado blew threw it most days, I currently have two packets of oatmeal, some frozen burritos, and a tablespoon of jelly left in the fridge, I've yet to make it to one orchestra rehearsal in about 6 months, etc. etc. etc... And on the outside, I'm so desperately trying to act like I've got it all together, but if you take a really good look at me, it's as clear as day: I'm a mess.


I have three amazingly gorgeous, healthy, and HAPPY kids in my house, who happen to love oatmeal, burritos, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  While sometimes I'm grabbing them straight from the laundry basket, they have clean clothes to wear.  And no, it's not a performance fit for the Van Cliburn competition, but our days are filled with music--silly songs and praise songs--and reading books and playing games.  So I really am having to sit back and reevalute what's really important.  Will life always seems this crazy and hectic?  No, I don't think it will.  However, there are always going to be challenges--some of them big, and some of them small, but each one of them will be an opportunity for me to decide whether I will choose to try and survive, or to thrive.  I will admit, many days latlely I feel like I'm in survival mode.  (When the majority of your day is spent nursing a baby and keeping a curious toddler out of harm, it doesn't leave much time for anything else!)  But, I SO want to thrive through every situation life throws our way. My bed may be a mess, but perhaps it is better that way, because when I'm a mess, I realize more and more my need for my creator-God.  

(And since He's so creative, perhaps He applauds the use of sleeping bags for indoor "camp outs"!;-)