Wednesday, January 29

Not Living Up to Expectations

The beginning of this year has been rough...and we hadn't even recovered from last year.  Since June of last year we have lost two pregnancies, out cat was hit by a car, we downsized from a 1200sf 3 bedroom/3 bath duplex to a 900sf 2 bd/1ba apartment, and my husband started his masters program (for real...full time).  It's been a lot to handle and I think we've done pretty well (all things considered). 

However, today as I look around at my house I realize how easy it is for me to feel overwhelmed.  We have a lot going on.  Not just in dealing with the last 7 months, but also in looking forward to the future.  I know this is something that many people find overwhelming, which is probably why so many choose to just live today and worry about the future some other time (we were these people when we first got married).  Unfortunately it doesn't get any easier to start really evaluating where your life is going and how you are going to get to the end or do all the things you want to do.  Remember when that movie The Bucket List came out?  And all of a sudden everyone started talking about all the crazy dreams they had for their life...the things they wanted to accomplish before they died?  Maybe it wasn't as wide-spread as it seemed at our little college, but I remember thinking about all the cool things I wanted to do (visit Europe mostly).  But I don't remember spending too much time thinking about how in the world I was going to finance all those cool things or when I would plan on doing them.  As I've gotten older and become responsible for more lives than just mine, I realize that the time spent planning for those things is so incredibly important.  But it's also important to be realistic in that planning.  I can't just decide to go to Europe for 3 months next's not realistic.  For one, my husband doesn't have that kind of time off work, nor would we be able to save up enough money for all of us to head over there next summer even if we could.

This brings me to the title of my post..."not living up to expectations".  While it can be difficult to feel you don't live up to the expectations place on you by society or your parents or your friends or your spouse, that isn't really what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the expectations that we place on ourselves...which can be so much harsher than anything anyone else could put on us--except maybe my kids because they expect me to be a princess and I can think of few ways I will live up to that everyday...pretty harsh stuff :). 

My expectations are pretty high.  Here are a few things on the list:
- keep my house clean
- keep the clothes washed
- don't drown in dirty dishes (and don't resort to environment-killing paper/Styrofoam)
- get my homework done and don't fall behind
- limit my kids screen time
- feed my kids healthy meals 3 times a day plus snacks (most should be homemade)
- cook a nice meal each night for dinner
- cook something decently nice for my husband at lunch
- workout
- do fun things with my kids each day
- read a lot of books to my kids
- do fun projects and crafts with my kids

While those are some of the things I expect from myself I can easily be disappointed.  Here is an example of my day today...a day where I feel VERY disappointed:
- my kids ate peanut butter/cheese crackers and vanilla wafers for breakfast
- we have eaten almost exclusively off paper plates for almost a week
- the paper plates have NOT kept me away from a mountain of dishes that seem to be multiplying in my sink faster than bunnies!
- my kids have spent the majority of the day watching tv or playing on their tablets
- my house is dirty...not just a little unkempt but downright dirty :(
- the craftiest thing I did with my kids today was let them color on their white boards
- my husband got McDonald's for lunch today and we had hamburger helper yesterday
- I have yet to workout again since recovering from my cold two weeks ago
- I almost broke an ankle climbing over hot wheels and tiny trains to turn the light off in my kids room at nap time
- I HAVE managed to get quite a bit of homework done...but the homework time is mostly to blame for the status of the rest of the things on this list

It would easy right now to beat myself up about all the things I did wrong or haven't done at all today.  But is it helpful?  I'm not the kind of person that responds well to "harsh" treatment, so why is my first response to beat myself up?  I know it won't help, it won't make me any more productive and, in fact, just might drive me to finish off the chocolate chips in the pantry.  I have to learn a new way to respond to myself.  I don't think the answer is to have no expectations or even ridiculously low ones, but rather to find peace with the compromises you are making and knowing that they are what is best...trying to see the big picture.

For me, it's being ok with eating off of paper plates.  It's trying to find balance between crafts and books and tv and still finding time for homework.  It's limiting my exposure to things that cause me to compare myself and feel bad about where I am on my journey (I'm looking at you Pinterest and Facebook).  Someone told me last weekend something that has really been a source of comfort and strength for me..."your story isn't the same as anyone else and their story isn't yours".  I have to find ways to remind myself where I am (overwhelmed) and come up with a plan on how to get where I want to be...even prioritizing all the different things I want.  Finishing school is a big motivator for me and my husband.  If that means we eat off paper plates for a while or we eat more fast food than normal then maybe we need to find peace with's not sacrificing one thing for another (health for school) but finding a middle ground that works.

Tuesday, January 7

Faith and Falling

**I'm turning back to writing as a release and way of dealing with feelings I'm having.  I'm not editing or rereading these...just writing.**

Days like today I am reminded of the need to live our religious life on faith not feelings.  It's so easy to make our feelings into a reason to not do something...they become less of an excuse in our minds and a legitimate reason to do or not do something.  I don't feel like God is there for me today.  I don't feel like trusting His be think His plan is bullshit.  I think it sucks.  Today can easily turn in to tomorrow, to next week, or to 6 months from now.  Maybe in 6 months I'll still feel like the plan...the path I'm bullshit.  But that's living based on how I feel.

Faith is something different, isn't it.  Faith is trusting that no matter how I feel, the plan is good.  At least by some measure of the word "good"...even if to me even writing that hurts my heart and breaks it into a million pieces.  After all, how could it be "good"?  For a child to matter how young or inconsequential it may seem to others...a fetus, a grouping of cells, a nothing.  My child wasn't nothing.  My child was perfect...innocent...very much loved and wanted.  Both of my children were.  Yet now when people look at our family they see a family of 4...but I see a family of 6 that has been separated.  A family torn apart, splintered by death.  Parents quietly grieving half of their children.  Living children who won't, for years maybe, understand the other 1/2 of them that is missing.  Living children who still need love, safety, affirmation, and attention.

If I smile while I cry they don't see the pain.  If I smile while I cry, they don't ask questions.  If I smile while I cry I can grieve in the open without my living children seeing how much I am hurting on the inside.  At least for a while.

Faith, like my my family...has been shattered for me.  I feel like I'm falling through the rabbit hole...grasping for anything to keep myself righted...yet finding nothing but blackness and emptiness around me.  I'm just falling.  Some days I fall slower than others, but I don't feel it stopping yet.  I don't know if it ever will.  I hope someday my faith will keep me upright, make the fall slower, or give me a way to not be afraid in the dark.  But that is just wishful thinking today...hope for tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 18

Wood Pallets...Should We Use Them?

There have been TONS of projects that I've seen lately using wood from pallets (those things that companies use for shipping).  I have to say I've even been tempted myself.  But about a  year ago I read an article referencing the dangers and frustrations that can arise from the use of pallets for building projects.  I can't find that article, though I'm still working on tracking it down.  Anyway, here are some articles that I've found addressing some of these concerns.  From bugs to chemical contact, these articles should be taken into consideration before you decide to go forward with this type of material.

Why We Should Not be Using Pallets in our Interiors

Do You Know Where Your Wood Pallet Has Been?

Don't Reuse Wood Pallets

One other concern, which I don't feel is well addressed in these articles, is that these pallets are NOT constructed for the long term.  The nails are not always hammered in straight and it's common for these manufacturers to use spiral nails that are VERY hard to remove.  These boards can splinter easily, contain knots in the wood, and can otherwise be unwieldy to work with.

While you may still decide to use pallets in your construction projects, pleas heed these cautions.  The generally safe way to use pallets would be to use them from a reputable place that doesn't re-use them for shipping purposes, that you inspect them VERY carefully for any signs of infestation (they can easily harbor termites and cockroaches and various other yucky bugs), and to use them for projects that will remain outside (or at least far away from food preparation purposes and bedding).

Sunday, April 1

Journeys in Juicing and Beginner's Recipe

One bigger purchase my husband and I have been discussing for some time was getting a juicer.  We talked about different options (Vitamix-type blender vs traditional juicer), how much produce would cost us, and whether we were really interested in drinking enough to justify the cost.  About 2 weeks ago we took the plunge.  We used some money that we'd been saving and purchased a Juiceman juicer from Target.  We also then purchased a LOT of fruit and veggies to get started.

So with a few recipes printed off, we started.  And we actually did pretty well!  We are only juicing for breakfast and the kids usually end up drinking most of mine, but we've been really good about sticking with it so far!  We have learned a few things from the recipes we've tried and speaking with others.

  1. We don't like the all vegetable juices.  We don't eat a lot of veggies regularly and some of the flavors are just not good to us.  We don't want to have to "choke down" our juice.
  2. Pears and apples will cover the flavors in many we tend to load up on those.
  3. My kids LOVE fresh juice!!!  They loved store-bought juice before so I guess I shouldn't really be surprised, but they often ask for seconds of juices I have trouble getting down.  
  4. There is a steep learning curve to juicing.  We've learned a lot about how to prep veggies and fruit for juicing and what things are just not worth juicing (like grapes...while yummy they produce surprising little juice for the money).
Here is a picture I took tonight of our shopping trip today.
All of this produce was purchased at Aldi's (except for the lemons, I think).  We've found them to have some of the best prices on produce (though there's no organic fruit there, this is the best option for us right now) and it's usually in good condition!

So anyway, that will last us about a week.  Because of the cost, we can't afford to juice all the time, but we are doing what we can and we have noticed a difference when we have to stop for a day or so.  So I'm gonna give you our favorite juice recipe now....enjoy!

Basic Beginner Juice

3 apples (any kind-stem and core removed)
2 pears (remove stem and seeds)
3 carrots (trim off end)
2 large handfuls spinach leaves

This makes about 12-16 ounces of juice and serves one adult (or two children who love juice).  My kids LOVE this as do my husband and I. Hope you do too!