Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 3 update

This week started in disaster. Monday morning came and I was an exhausted, raging, hormonal Momzilla with tired sulky kids. 

And then my mom came.

And I just want to sit on the floor and cry at God's goodness to me. 

That he would remind me to ask for help, several weeks ago before Daniel had even left for his first night, and that we would plan for her to come right when I needed her most, without even knowing it. It's such a small thing. Such a small thing for God to care about or even notice. But such a huge reminder to me of God's compassion for His children.

My mom was a such a help to me. She was that extra set of hands to help, and extra set of ears to listen, that extra word that was needed. She played endless games of "deep in the middle of the dark dark wood" (aka hide & seek under a blanket) with Eli. She listened to Josiah read his book from school. Sat with Emma and helped her finish her entire weeks worth of math homework in about twenty minutes. 

We sat in the sunshine together. Drank iced coffee together. Laughed at Eli and reveled in the wonderful thing that is a laughing toddler. Went to the mall and wandered around William Sonoma together, like kids in a candy store. And the words "you're doing a good job" as she left meant more than I could ever say.

Her presence this week has been a reminder of the reality behind this verse:

"...God will never let you down. He'll never let you be pushed past your limit. He'll always be there to help you come through." (1 Corinthians 10:13MSG)

Sometimes He does this by giving me more strength, more grace, more patience, more peace. Sometimes He does it by giving me help just when I didn't think I could go on.

Eli has been totally adorable this week. He pretended to be a dinosaur. He pretended to be a pirate. He pretended to be a super hero. He pretended to turn me into the Ghost of Captin RedBoots. Once he tried turning me into a baby. He loved that.

Playing with his play sand. Which he also calls his "dirt" it always makes a huge mess but he loves it and it keeps him contained. 

After my mom left I was back to excruciating exhaustion. Grasping for gentleness like my life depended on it.  Clinging to the glimpses of perspective I found when my mom was here. Constantly reminding myself that God is working something beautiful in my season of brokenness.

Thursday felt somewhat like taking a step across a line in the sand. I cried a lot. I talked to my best friend. I listened to the radio and took the long way home from small group and cried some more. But I found my peace in God's provision for me, in everything. It is always Him, always. So why should I be anxious now?  

This weekend we took another trip to Phinizy Swamp. It was the perfect weather for it! Sunny but not too hot, with a cool breeze coming off the pond. 
My family in front of the silohs at the swamp.

Which provide amazing shadows for smart lighting.
#selfie #photobomb
We packed a lunch including "big red ripe strawberries" which Eli insisted we save from the big hungry bear.

On the other side if this fence was the biggest alligator I've ever seen up-close. It was an amazing thing to see it swim toward us. That was all my littles wanted to do.
This was totally staged.
Heading home.
It went better than the last time. There was still plenty of complaining etc. but this time there were no major blisters or tears.  

This weekend we also went to the mall. Where I got a perfect iced coffee from Starbucks, and some scented tea lights from The Yankee Co. 
Next week is our spring break! (We have a slightly different spring break schedule here because of the Masters golf tournament taking over the city.) I'm looking forward to turning off all of the alarms on my phone, staying up late watching movies with my girls, going to see my sister and just generally loving on and enjoying my kids as much as I possibly can.

My goal next week is simply to let
Let this season continue to have God's way in my heart
Let it go when thing's don't go how I think they ought to go.
Let it be whatever this season needs to be, even if that means cereal on the sofa watching Dancing with the Stars. (Yes, that has been us. We are totally hooked) It's okay. It's not the end of the world. It's not going to be perfect. It will get better.
Let myself feel the heartache of living without my husband Monday-Friday, let myself feel exhausted, overwhelmed and loosing. my. mind - then let that bring me to Jesus. When I am weak He is strong. I don't need to buck-up. I don't need to be hard. I can weep forward. I can trust in Him even when I don't understand what He is doing right now.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week 2 is over

In some ways I am getting used to Daniel being gone. I locked up the house and climbed into bed without him again tonight but I do it with less of the force of trying not to forget and with more heaviness because I miss my husband.

This is only the second week that Daniel has been out of town working at his new job. How can this be? It doesn't feel like it. It feels like this has been ages and this is not getting easier. 

I wrote last week that I thought it was important to document this journey so here I go...

Last week I wrote that I was trying to keep the TV off.
This week was a massive fail in the TV department. Every night after dinner we watched a bit of Dancing with the Stars. But they all looked forward to it while they finished up homework and they all sat so quietly while it was on. This afternoon I let them watch as much Cutthroat Kitchen and Beat Bobby Flay as they wanted too. For better or worse, the TV was on this week.

This week we had major sleep issues with Eli. At least they felt like major ones to me. One night he positioned himself perfectly to elbow me in my eye all night long. Another night he didn't go to sleep until 11pm(ish) and this began a perfect storm of exhaustion on both of our parts. We would be so tired we would both nap in the afternoon and then couldn't sleep at night so we'd stay up together too late and then not sleep. Today I tried to keep him up so that he didn't nap but he fell asleep while I was getting everyone ready to go to the park (around 5pm) and was up again at 8pm. Oh the joy.

This is Josiah after church today.

This week I spent one entire day in my pajamas.
I watched the entire 2009 mini-series of Jane Austen's Emma (in less than 24 hours).
One night we ate hardboiled eggs for dinner.

This week I have worked hard to give gentler disciplines - as in, not screaming or yelling - but trying to make sure that they were effective - as in having to go to bed while the rest of the family is watching TV.  If I have done one thing well this week it has been that I haven't yelled at my kids.

This week I did not do a good job with my eating. I was feeling depressed and uninspired. I am feeling hormonal and craving cheeseburgers and fries and carbs. I never got a cheeseburger or fries because I'm too cheap to get Sonic for myself and the McDonalds by my house is super-gross. But I've eaten lots of carbs, which is terrible for my mood. I've also been drinking tons of coffee. Also not fantastic for my mood either. There's nothing quite like having a couple cups of coffee after dinner and then laying awake listening to the wind rattle the windows. It's a whole new level of crazy.

This week I practiced my yoga. I did a short practice twice this week. Definitely something I want to keep working on!

This week I did not clean my house it was kind of annoying because I wanted to, I just didn't have the energy, whatsoever. I did a general tidy on the kids rooms because my mom is coming over for a couple days and it was wall-to-wall mess. Last werk's cleaning frenzy did make this week easier. I was just frustrated with myself that I didn't do anything more.

This week I have tried to shift my focus. I have tried to remind myself that this season is for my good. Even though I feel like I'm ready for this to be over already, even thought I still have a looooong way to go. Even though this feels just too hard I just have to trust that something good is coming out of it and doing something good inside me.

This week I felt God remind me that he doesn't want me to stay in the same place, even if that place is a good place. He wants me to keep growing, keep moving. Even though that feels hard and it feels painful - it is good.

This weekend I felt more than ever gratitude for my husband's physical presence in our home. Even if he was in the office doing paperwork. Even if he was outside washing his truck. Even if he was on the couch catching up on American Idol with our girls. Even if he was asleep in our bed. I wanted to hold him and never let him go.  I was a little worried, when he first left, that we would get on each other's nerves on the weekends after spending the week without each other. So far this separation has only has made us more aware of our love for each other and has turned us back into the massive snuggle-bugs we were when we were dating.

This weekend it was threatening to rain all weekend so we didn't really go anywhere or do anything. We ate dinner out at Pablano's which is something we used to do fairly often before Daniel got his new job. It went really well... but I didn't take any pictures.

This weekend Eli discovered the little guitar that was my brother's that my mom gave to me. He wanted to play it all weekend! So cute :)

This coming week:
Do a better job with what I eat.
Less coffee. More tea.
Yoga 3-4 times this week.
Get some ideas for what to do over the weekend.
Maybe clean out the garage?

This coming week my mom is coming to visit me for a couple of days!! I'm looking forward to the break in our routine, she always motivates me to get stuff done around the house, since we do it together and get it done twice as fast! I'm sure I'll enjoy the company. 

My verse for the week comes from the sermon at my church, which was from James on Patience.

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11 (ESV)

I am believing that this season is blessing me with steadfastness (aka patience and endurance) and is for my good. Even though I have felt myself teetering at the edge of I can't do this!!! This is too hard!!! I am believing that I can get through this, and not only get through this but get through this well. I don't really have a choice in all of this. I have to make it work. But I can choose my attitude towards this. I am believing that God is compassionate towards me. That he has prepared me and will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I'm able to bear. Even though there have been moments when it has felt like more than I can bear, those are the moments when I feel like I hear God the clearest and feel him the closest. I am believing that God will bless me, like how he blessed Job after he endured his trial. It was greater than anything Job could have ever imagined. I am believing that for this season of my life.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What I've Learned: March Edition

1: I am not as strong as I think I am. Last month I said "I'm strong" but this month I have to say "I'm weak". I have missed my husband with every fiber if my being. When my kids aren't around to see I cry because I miss him so much. I don't text him throughout the day because I know he misses us too. But I'm discovering an entirely new facet of how much I love Daniel. I just can't believe we are only finishing up week 2 of a four month season. This is hard. But in my weakness God is showing himself strong.

2: This month I have learned that God does not want me to stay in the same place. He might not  necessarily call everyone to physically move but spiritually move? Yes. No matter how good "here" is or how happy I am with it. He calls me to move forward. To go deeper. And my happiness is not the main goal here. This stuff is painful and hard, y'all! It is heartbreakingly painful but this stuff forms my character so my heart's desire is that I would let this season have it's full effect. 

3: The BBC 2009 adaptation of "Emma" is epic.

4: This month I realized why I don't read much fiction anymore. And it has nothing to do with how much I love reading it - and everything to do with how that is all I want to do when I'm reading an interesting novel. I read Divergent this month and neglected all else, including my husband and children, in order to read it. I'm glad I didn't let my girls (ages 12 & 10 but very mature readers) read the book or watch the movie, but I enjoyed both. No I have Insurgence and I have promised myself not to start it till after the weekend.

5. I gave in and created a fan board on Pinterest for the hilarious BBC Sherlock/Benedict Cumbercatch memes.

6. I learned that I need to use extreme caution when clicking on links to YouTube because I got "lost" in there twice this week!! I laughed, I cried. I watched some Frozen spoofs, got lost in Jennifer Lawrence "best of" moments and Benedict Cumberbatch interviews and then I found this. It is epic:

AFTER you have watched the above, you have really got to watch the one below too:

and since we're somewhere in the vicinity of PTX why not throw this one out there too?
 If you start to get bored start this at 6:20 - that was my favorite part. If you're a fan of PTX then you'll love this. If you are like PTX wha? Then whatever. Don't even try. Yes. Obviously I've been watching too many Jennifer Lawrence interviews on YouTube and also laughing hysterically at The Neighbors ads.

Okay... as this month's "what I've learned" post is rapidly spiraling out of control... time to go finish my pre-weekend cleaning.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The end of week one

Here I am at the end of my first week single-parenting it while Daniel works out of town. The weekend went by altogether too fast and so here I sit, wishing he was home.  

I feel like I need to document this season so I can look back at how I've grown as a parent, what I've learned through this journey and what it has been like as a family. 

This week I worked extra hard to keep the TV off. I recently read that it is now scientifically provable that people who watch less television are overall happier - so it has been really important to me to try to keep the TV off as much as possible. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and I noticed that we are more prepared for the next day when we don't spend the night before on the couch. Funny enough though I have still managed to stay up too late nearly every night this week. Usually eleven o'clock just catching up on Instagram & Pinterest. This week's goal: spend night time on editing photos and going to bed early.

What we have done a lot of this week: painting 
and we watched Frozen again.

I wrote earlier that this week dragged on and on and on. It was rainy and cold. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted and I felt no need, whatsoever, to sugar coat it. This week I have not tried to find a silver lining neither have I looked on the bright side. I have looked head on at this week and said: This. Is. Hard. Whenever someone asked me how I'm doing I've said "I'm overwhelmed. I'm exhausted. This is hard. But we're going to get through this." I felt like it was important for me to be honest. To not put on the "Everything is fine" smile and pretend that this isn't a hugely difficult transition for our family and that I have an exhausting-in-every-way road ahead of me. 

But then Daniel finally came home. 
The weather turned bright and sunny. 
And all was right in my world. 

We spent the weekend bouncing between  doing stuff as a family and getting some down time for these two exhausted parents.  We watched Saving Mr. Banks - totally understand now why it is rated PG-13 - so emotionally exhausting/intense and the end was a major sob-fest. This will most definitely be my go-to movie when I need to cry. So like, tonight. Yeah, I might be watching it again tonight. Except that all I want to do right now is slide into bed and get some sleep. 

We went to a beautiful nature reserve called Phinizy Swamp. We went there awhile ago and it was nice to visit again. It is one of the most beautiful places around here. It's not anywhere near as busy or developed as the Savannah Rapids. It's just developed enough though. There are boardwalks and walking trails and it's just lovely. We saw trees that the beavers had felled, which is actually quite a remarkable thing to see in-person. We some some "actual duck-dynasty ducks!!!" aka Mallard Ducks.  We spotted a few long legged birds that I'm guessing were a white heron and a great blue heron. Awesome stuff.

The sun was shining and there was a great breeze blowing!

Some other random thoughts about this week: I've been a bit of a momzilla. I've been stressed out, tired, overwhelmed and when the kids have been difficult or had an attitude I have found it hard to be compassionate. I have been thinking about this a lot this weekend and I don't want to let my kids make me act like someone that I don't want to be. I want to be a gentle and compassionate person and so I am going to find a way to be a gentle & compassionate parent too. Obviously there has got to be discipline but it doesn't have to be hard and loud to be effective. Right? Somebody, please tell me I'm right. 

I am trying to do better at taking care of myself. Since it's just me all week loooong I have had to take care of myself, nobody is going to do it for me.  I have tried to do a good job with what I'm eating. If I can exercise self-control at the grocery store then I'm good. Otherwise it's doughnuts, ice cream and coffee all the way, and surviving the day on the leftover scraps of the kids sandwiches until I'm so hungry I could eat a pint of ice cream by myself. I know you know what I mean. I bought a huge jug of green monster juice since I haven't done a good job of making green smoothies lately, and calling it better-than-nothing. If I need a nap, I take it. Or at least snuggle with Eli as he's laying down for his. I'm reminding myself that I have to eat. I spent time this weekend to go out to a movie with a friend. I'm remembering that my kids need me to take care of myself so that I can do a good job of taking care of them. 

I've been trying to keep a mental list with one thing I want to do each day and a running list of what I'm not going to worry about. Like today I'm going to clean my bathroom but I'm not going to worry about the kitchen or the kid's rooms. It was the one that was making me seriously wince. Once I got the bathroom cleaned I was free to clean the kitchen. I had a mental list of things I was going to try to do this week and things I was going to do next week and things that could wait till the week after that. Having the house cleaner than normal has been nice but I don't expect that I'll be able to keep it up. I think I clean when I'm stressed, or something. Because my house is super clean. And I feel super-stressed. 

This coming week I want to shift my focus. I have reminded my kids to be grateful that we at least get to see Daniel on the weekends - more than lots of families get. Time to remind myself. 

Daniel and I were talking this weekend and we realized that we probably wouldn't be seeing each other much even if his office were five minutes away, just because he has been so busy with his new job.  While we talked I realized that this separation is also a forced compartmentalization for Daniel. While he is in Atlanta he can focus 100% on work without the tug of needing to be home for dinner but he is forced to block out two days to come back home and while he is home he can focus more on just being at home with his family without the temptation of running out to do a quick quote or inspection. It's not even an option. So that part is good. I'm grateful for that. 

This coming week I want to do more yoga (2 - 3 times this week is my goal) and be more intentional with my time (especially my nights). Spend more time at the park with my IRL friends and less time on my phone. (Even though I'm doing better about not checking Instagram and Facebook all day long I could do better.) I have a couple things I'd like to wrap up this week and I'd like to start gearing up for another in-person photography class. I want to be intentional with what music I'm listening to - not the same worship playlist on repeat - some instrumental hymns would be awesome too! I want to clean out my kids rooms this week too and take advantage of this nervous energy while I've got it.  

Something I'm not worrying about: cooking every night. We haven't relied on fast food but we've been living in the cereal & sandwiches zone 24/7 lately. Eggs and toast tonight. Probably spaghetti tomorrow night. With a nicer meal here or there. If I plan ahead enough. Those are awesome too - just not super high on the priority list right now.  

My verse for this week is James 1:4 (italicized below) here it is in context:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  (when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. NLT) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.     If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (ESV)
This week my overarching goal is to let this trial have its full effect and to let this season do it's work in me. It might be painful, it might feel stressful. Somehow this season is here For     My    Good.  I'm going to believe it. I'm going to live like I believe it. That internal shift is going to make a big difference in how I handle that panicky feeling I get when I miss Daniel with every fiber of my being. And when the kids are driving me so crazy I really truly want to (and sometimes do) scream.

I told a friend recently that the pressure of this week has felt similar to the pressure after I had my third child. It was intense. I felt like I was going to collapse under it but ultimately it made me a stronger, more confident mother. That's happened in other seasons too and in other way. It was the pressure that produced character. I believe that something beautiful can be birthed within me out of this season if I let it have it's full effect.  

So here I go - heading into week 2. 
I'll let you know how it goes. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The week so far

Daniel left on Sunday afternoon to start his new job in ATL. Every day since then has felt like a week. Thankfully we will get to see him every weekend cause I can not wait for him to be back home. I am physically and emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed - and it's only Wednesday!

The days are hard - and that has been a surprise because not much has changed about our days, Daniel is usually gone - but there is something hard about not being able to look forward to seeing him at the end of the day, not having the chance to grab a quick lunch or maybe seeing him in his work truck as we pass each other near his office, or when he stops by the house to drop something off or pick something up. These little things make my heart so heavy.

The nights are, of course, the hardest. We have been able to use Facetime to see Daniel each night. Last night Daniel comforted Eli and pretended to kiss his boo-boo. So sweet!! Eli felt so much better. I'm so thankful for technology like this, but in some ways it only makes me miss him more.

It is amazing to me how just his presence in the next room makes me feel stronger. How just that one word to the boys or laugh with the girls makes the biggest difference.

Night time is when I tend to loose my cool - and I hate that, because I'd been doing better about being gentle. Right now I don't feel like I have the strength to be gentle. It's easier to be angry when my kids don't listen. It's easier to explode when things start to snag.

Whatever little piece of me that was looking forward to having Daniel gone so I could get random projects done - gone. I only want him back home with me.

My friend (who is in a similar situation) told me that the first week was one of the hardest for her. I hope so. I still have not hit my stride. This still feels excruciating. It feel like so much pressure! But I know, deep down, that this is the kind of pressure that forms character. So I'll take a deep breath and hope this gets easier, or at least that I get better at it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

sunshine in my back yard

Every day that brings warmth and sunshine is welcomed with wide open arms, open windows and sometimes - with my camera. You can see some darker images from this shoot here.

Today it is insufferably rainy. Today Daniel left for Atlanta. Saying goodbye was emotional for all of us. Now we are snuggled on the couch watching Frozen - again.


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