what do you do to stay sane?

"The daily grind" is something we all face. My grind is diapers and meals and cleaning and pretend and wiping noses and cleaning accidents and "yes-you-have-to-nap"s. Brent's grind is loan review and reading federal regulations and putting the smack down at the bank [or something like that]. It is different for everyone, yes. But we all have one.

And we all need something that is OTHER than the grind; some form of catharsis. Some place to find "SERENITY NOW!" [Please tell me you got that reference.]

Yesterday I popped onto Instagram for a second right when I sat down to blog, and two people had posted pictures about their "sweet escape": one was at her sewing machine [which gives me ANXIETY to even think about, clearly not my happy place], and another was at her table with her crafts and scrapbook supplies [actually it was Project Life which would bring me great joy as well, except I know I would spend our retirement savings and we'd lose the house if I started…]. It was funny to me because I had just sat down to write, and I thought to myself, "Sigh. This is so what I need right now."

google images

For me I write. I blog. I journal.
Or I read. Or I read outside which is even better.
Sometimes cleaning is cathartic.
Sometimes crafting [but not sewing ;)] is what I need.
Sometimes napping is what I do to stay sane. #truth

I want to continue to have hobbies and things I enjoy outside of my children.
However, I don't ever want to feel like I'm owed this time, either.

Yes, sometimes it is best for everyone if I have a second to breathe and get away because, well, emotional explosion everywhere for everyone if not. However, I remember when reading Loving the Little Years [review HERE] the author says, "Your children change you into a different person. If you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast and now you don't recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone. What you need is your people. Look out-- look at the people who made you what you are-- your husband and your children. Study them. They are you. If you want to know yourself, concentrate on them. If you want quality "me time," make a date with your husband. Do something special with your children. These people are you. Your identity is supposed to be intertwined-- that is the way God wrote the story, and it is the way he intends us to read it." 

Who I am now and forevermore will be a wife and mother. What I do to "stay sane" and "escape the daily grind" are not to "find myself" but to recharge the batteries so I can be the best I can be spiritually, emotionally, and physically for them.

And so I pose the question, what do you do to stay sane? 
My husband runs miles upon miles, even though I think that is rather INsane. 

[an end note that has very little to do with this post: When I was reminded of "Loving the Little Years" for this post, I came across this quote from the book:

Jankovic says, "When scripture says to bring [your children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it is not talking about finding the most effective way to organize them. This is a very easy trap to fall in…because cleaning and sorting makes you look and maybe even feel like you have your act together, even if you seriously don't…Christian childrearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge." 

I wanted to add that here as a continuation of my post about organization from last week, as this is something I want to always keep at the forefront of my mind. And also this is why some people kick my rear at being a Godly mother, because they can ignore the mess and be super present. We all have much to learn, don't we? :)]

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music over time

Can we talk about music for a minute? Or, more accurately, how you get music in your ears.

Growing up I'm sure you had a boombox. Something like this:

Eventually it probably transformed into this:

And maybe eventually this:

Then you got an ipod and got this:

And then you got a phone that IS an ipod and just broke down and got this:

 My music journey was similar. I had a boombox. I would stay awake at night and listen to the top 20 countdown and record all my favorites onto a cassette tape. I recorded them onto a cassette tape, of course, so I could listen to them on my Walkman:

And then, for one of my birthdays [I am thinking it was my 12th or 13th], I got an upgrade: a DISCman. With my first ever CD: Savage Gardens. Thank you, very much. [Side story: this is the only present I have every found before having it given to me. I was helping look for my dad's wallet (which happened almost daily ;) ) and was looking in his closet in his office where he kept his uniforms. And there she was in all her plastic packaged glory. I felt terrible. I told Kali. And then I faked surprised on my birthday. Mom, Dad, did you know this?! Other side story: Brent HATES Savage Gardens but they will always hold a special place in my heart as I would pop them into my Discman and play "Pipes Dream" on our super old computer.] 

Do you remember when they came out with the special "skip-protected" version of the Discman and everyone was pumped and yet it SKIPPED ALL THE TIME?

Moving on.

I'm sad to say this is about where my music progression ended. In college a friend gave me her old ipod shuffle. I had no idea how to add music to it, so I just listened to her stuff.

And those earbuds? I have tiny ears [seriously, if you've never looked at my ears you should. They are comically small]. Those suckers HURT in my ears.

 Eventually we got iphones and I kind of figured out how to add music to it. had Brent add music to mine. But I FORGET I have music on my phone. I also forget about Pandora.

If I really love music, I still put it on a CD, and that is how I listen to it. It's so much simpler in my mind that way. If I still had my Discman I'd probably still be bee-boppin down the street with it, pausing occasionally so it could catch back up from skipping. And if I didn't crash immediately upon hitting the pillow, I would probably still stay up and record my favorite songs on cassette.

I know this makes me seem so old fashioned. Yikes. How is this happening? And that Sirius radio? Forget it. I can't even handle that many options or begin to understand it.

But for the love, can someone just teach me how to delete songs off my phone?!

*all images from google images.

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the details

Remember when I used to blog every day? Sigh. Moving on.

There is something you should know about me:
When I was a little girl I hated to clean my room, the bathroom, the living room, the stairs...okay. I hated to clean anything. This is probably true of most children. Yet my mom was persistent and I at least learned how to do the job well, even if I didn't like it. My parents were more lenient on my room [which I wrote a little about here], but every so often I'd get the edict to clean it.

I'm sure my mom was always afraid I would become like the girl that Ross dated on an episode of Friends once. You know, The One With the Dirty Girl? Ross is trying to explain to Joey how dirty this girl's apartment is and says, "You know how you throw your jacket on a chair at the end of the day? Well, like that, only that instead of a chair it's a pile of garbage. And instead of a jacket it's a pile of garbage. And instead of the end of the day it's the end of time, and garbage is all that has survived."

To everyone's surprise though, I've actually become quite the opposite. I like to keep things clean. Truth be told, I even enjoy the therapy of cleaning [I still hate dusting]. But more than that, I like organization: a place for everything and everything in its place. Am I the best at it? By all means no. If I had money to blow though, you better believe I would shop everyday at thecontainerstore.com.

It's just this: towards the end of college, though I was still sleeping with a pile of clothes at the end of my bed, I realized that everyday life was just easier and more enjoyable if I kept things semi-organized. I.E. if I knew where my folder of essays was and didn't have to dig through the coffee cabinet to find them in the five minutes I allowed myself to get ready before heading to class [time management? That's another post for another day… :/] .

When we moved into our house, I knew I wanted to keep things simple and organized. But here is the kicker: we went and had two babies and a system that worked for two adults, just didn't cut it for two kids [and all their crap necessities]. It's been a work in progress, but I feel like I've finally nailed down some "systems" that work for us.

// purge, purge, purge. I routinely get rid of stuff. I try to touch everything in every closet twice a year, which typically results in donating and throwing away a large amount and therefore freeing up space we need, or just freeing up space and helping me breathe a little easier. When there is an extra shelf open in your closet, it just makes you feel better, right? [Is there something wrong with me?]

//contain, contain, contain. I wrote a post awhile ago when I organized my kitchen again. I talked a lot about the need for containers…AND how those containers don't have to designated for JUST ONE PURPOSE. I think a lot of people get overwhelmed with organization because they think they have to have a spice rack for spices, a magazine rack for magazines etc. etc. etc. [Right, Kali?] But really, you just need a container that fits your needs. I have baskets of all shapes and sizes all over my house for a variety of purposes. The key is: they each have a purpose. I only have one that is used as a catch all. When everyone in the family knows that basket's purpose, it's easy to keep the right things in it [and to know where to find them the next time you need them!] Some examples of containers in our house:
\I have two small baskets outside the girls rooms in the hallway. When they are napping or sleeping and I find something that belongs in their room, I put it in their basket. When they are awake, I can easily transfer things from their baskets to their rooms. 
\ I have a basket on the bathroom sink that holds lotion and washcloths and medicine we use frequently. I know if I didn't have this spot then that stuff would just get left all over the counter or thrown in a random drawer. 
a terrible iphone picture of my bathroom. 

\ I have a basket in the living room for Becks and Blythe's books. Otherwise they would get dragged into the living room and find a place somewhere they didn't belong, never to be returned to a bookshelf. 

//pictures and labels. I needed to make things simple enough that a two year old could do it. On all of the baskets that contain Blythe's toys, there are pictures and labels of what goes there. It took about a day of insisting she put things where their picture was…now it's just second nature to her. 

Nothing fancy, but labeled so Blythe can do it

And that's about it. We have found if there is a place for something, we tend to put it there. Of course, every few months there are certain baskets I have to go through [like the bathroom one, or our mail/bills one], but usually they stay pretty organized as is. Also, when it comes to Blythe's toys, I find that organizing them by type not only helps her, but it makes it easy to see when there is too much of something. Before I sorted things this way, I thought she needed more "cookware" and utensils, but now I can see she has a basket full, and that is more than enough. [This is the hardest thing for Blythe to sort and keep organized on her own: plates and pans and forks etc are in one basket, and her food is in a different one. She's catching on though.] 

Beyond organizing things though, it's important to me to keep things picked up and cleaned also. Here is my basic schedule I try and stick to:

Pick up
Clean Kitchen
* I load/unload dishwasher, wash dishes on counter, and wipe up all the counters and table. 

Meal planning 
*A lot of times I touch up bathrooms throughout week, but every Monday I try and deep clean them. 
*I usually meal plan for two or three weeks in advance, so usually this is an every other week item. [This is also something that, if you ask Brent, has been on the back burner since baby #2 until recently. Whew. Took me a bit to get back on this saddle. ]

Clean up Mudroom
*I TRYtryTRY to wash AND fold AND put away on this day, but I loathe folding laundry so much that this often gets pushed back. 

Empty all trashcans 
*I sweep the kitchen and mudroom [mop every other week], and vacuum other rooms. [I sweep around Blythe's spot daily… I should get a dog. And I often vacuum more often because I enjoy it.

*I hate dusting. That is why I leave it as the only thing for this day, thinking I'll actually get it done. 

Budget/Balance Checkbook

Saturday & Sunday:
What needs it
*I try to leave the weekends open to spend time with Brent or work on bigger projects I don't get to during the week

Usually one day I clean out our van too or it just implodes on itself [does anyone else have this problem?]. 

Why do I create a schedule and think organization is important?

Because I think there is freedom in boundaries. I was explaining to Brent the other day that I was so much more relaxed now that I was back on track with my cleaning schedule after softball. If I don't stick to a schedule, I jump from place to place and never fully clean anything and perpetually feel like there is something that has to be done. It stresses me out. The schedule gives me freedom because I know that if I have dusted today, that's all I have to do. I shouldn't feel like I need to clean the bathroom too. I don't need to throw in a load of laundry. Everything has its time.

I wrote in this post that I'm reading "The Shaping of a Christian Family" by Elisabeth Elliot. There is a chapter titled "A Habit of Order." She talks about how, growing up, her home was orderly and how she took for granted "the sense of things being placed." She went on to say "Our little world could be counted on to stay the way it was, safe, structured, and pretty much the same every day." To Elliot, an ordered home meant "not only acceptance of God's arrangement of authority,… but also making sure that there [was] a place for everything. If there [wasn't], it probably [meant] there [were] too many things."

This view of "uncluttered efficiency" struck me, because it wasn't something I had ever really put words to, but once I read her description I thought, Yes! That's it! 

And so, if I come over to your house and you don't live like me, that's totally fine. Seriously. It is. I love you and your dirty microwave. However, for me there is freedom in the schedule and less confusion in the sense of things being placed. So I will cling to my label makers and storage containers; I will cling to my uncluttered efficiency.

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something about sports

Another softball season is in the books.
Year five for me as an assistant coach.
Another group of seniors moving on after I worked with them all four years.

More hot practices.
More dirt-covered cleats.
More sunflower seeds and athletic tape.

A lot more home runs. A lot more.
A lot more losses. A lot more.

We were 9-15 this season. If you don't follow sports, let me break that down for you: It's not too great. We began this season coming off a high that most players and coaches never get to experience-- we were 19-6 last year... and Class 1 State Champions.

State freakin' Champions.

We knew we were losing a few key positions this year, but the majority of our girls had had the experience of playing State Championship quality softball. They wore the rings. They knew what it took.

But if I'm being honest? This year was painful at times. Was it coming off the high that made some of the losses harder? Probably. Is it because it's the first losing record I've ever been a part of? Maybe.

But here is what I know to be true, in spite of, and possibly because of, our record:

These girls will never regret having played softball. These girls, though the would love to have switched those numbers around this year, will be thankful they had softball in high school. It will have given them a sense of purpose. It will have taught them how to win gracefully, and more importantly how to lose gracefully which they will apply more in their adult lives.

These girls will not regret this season because it will have taught them about healthy competition and how to respect talent in others, even when that talent means your defeat. It will have taught them that their character and integrity are not to be compartmentalized, but should be evident on the field, in the dugout, at their school.

These girls will not regret being a part of this team because it will have taught them that most goals are attainable with hard work. It will have taught them that teamwork is foundational to anything they're going to accomplish.

My first year coaching, we were 17-6 and lost with a heartbreaker, 3 extra-inning game at Districts. After that I wrote a post about all that a record encompasses for the members of the team it represents. I think when I wrote that I thought it stood for more because it was a winning season. Now I know that's not true. Now I know that, though those winning seasons are full of hard work and teamwork also, I know that there is a lot more grit and messy and life-forming stuff that happens when those numbers are reversed.

When I wrote that post 5 years ago, I said it is hard to explain to someone who has never played sports or been a part of a team exactly what a record, a season, entails. I thought of this the other day when I was reading an article about the Royals and the writer, a life-time Royals fan, tried to explain that moment of delirious bliss that happens when your team wins. I couldn't finish reading the article without getting teary-eyed because it is so very true. To be a part of that? There is some sort of magic to it.

And that magic underlies the entire season--always bubbling just beneath the surface, ready to burst out in one victorious at bat or double play. This season that magic felt a long ways away at times. It felt like we would have to claw through a lot of dirt to find it, but there were times it still surprised us with its presence. And at those times, while I sat on my bucket in the dugout or stood on the first base line, I had to swallow a lump in my throat because that magic? It is strong.

And so, like I said five years ago, regardless of what the number is on the right vs what the number is on the left, that dash in between the wins and losses is what has made athletes come back to the game since competition was first invented centuries and centuries ago. That dash, not the wins or losses, is what holds the magic that can make grown men cry and dance and act like children; it holds the magic that makes coming back to practice after a tough loss worth it.

And over the last five years I have discovered that that dash, that magic, is the heart of the athlete. Like I previously wrote, it is the practices in the summer, sweat trickling on tanned skin. It is hearing your friends shouting and splashing at the pool across the street while you do one more push up for an overthrown ball. It is weight lifting in a gym with no air conditioning to be half a second faster and capable of throwing the ball harder than your opponent. The dash is staying after school day after day to practice, sometimes wondering what it feels like for your classmates who get to be home before 5:30 or 6 every night. It is setting up the pitching machine, filling up the water jug, and running agilities through the ladder. It is taking a ball to the shin, face, arm, gut, or ankle, and waiting with anticipation for the bruise to show up. It is dirt in your shoes, clothes, hair, fingernails, car and room for four months. It is laughter at practice. It is a joke at the mound to relieve tension. It is 123 bags of sunflower seeds.

The dash is also laughter, frustration and tears with teammates, high fives and pranks. The dash is bus rides and sandwiches and fudge rounds and capri suns and grapes. It is giving up Saturdays for a tournament that requires you to wake up at 6:30. It is scars on your knees when you're in a dress on the homecoming court. It is a prayer before games, hands held in nervous anticipation. It is breaking from a huddle, thundering "ALL HEART!" for the other team to hear. It is lucky underwear and superstitions, and the school song sung off key.

The dash is a community that believes in you and follows your games and cheers you on. It is parents who leave work early, make food, cheer the loudest, and bring you your cleats you left at home. It is a loyal fan who comes to every practice and beats the bus to every game. It is wanting to win a game for your coach who has stuck by your side since t-ball and taught you fundamentals. It is blisters and bruises and smiles and small victories that the crowd doesn't see. It is a crucial steal to second, and a beautiful sacrifice bunt. It is a diving catch, or a routine play at first.

It is the dash that will be remembered well after the wins and losses are forgotten.

Sure, in 10 years these girls may look back on this season and say, "We should have won more games. We could have won more games." 

But there was more to this season than that. 

And soon enough, those should haves and could haves will be drowned out, and all that will be left in their memories will be the magic. That delirious, sweet, sweet, magic. 

 Thanks for making it worth it, ladies. Hold on to that magic. 

And a shout out to Brent and my mom, who spent a lot of time fighting Becks to take a bottle while I was away at games. 
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the accumulation of a life

The other day I was sorting through a closet. Something I do with semi-frequency. And I thought to myself: How does one accumulate so much stuff? 

When we moved from college to Louisville, we already had a cattle trailer full of items, but that was small potatoes compared to what we packed into the back of our moving truck two years later in route for Missouri. And now? NOW?! If we were to move tomorrow I can guarantee we'd have to pack up in an even bigger moving truck than last time.

And then I thought: Stuff is stuff. But what about this LIFE I have accumulated since I first packed my bags and left home?!

Every day that passes, I tuck more and more life inside these walls.

When we moved to Kentucky-- me, kicking and screaming-- I wrote a reflection [here] about unpacking old memories in my apartment: unloading memories of summer trips to the pool and bike rides with my dad and making "recipe soup" onto the shelves of my one bedroom apartment. I talked about how the new apartment could only store so many memories, and that I needed to leave some behind to return to.

And now, in my three bedroom home, I wonder how many memories I have unloaded into these closets and shelves; how many nearly forgotten happinesses lie in these cupboards, just waiting for me to find them.

Perhaps if I pull down the winter clothes from the attic the snow fort I built with my wingmates when I was an RA will tumble down with them? And behind the washing machine could I find some memories of my first dates with Brent? In the hall closet I pull out the feeling of holding my first daughter on my chest, examining her first new breaths. And behind the vacuum I discover I still have the memory of my first successful writing lesson with my students.

And little by little, memory by memory, I am amazed that we can accumulate life so exponentially.

So I throw out the stuff to make room for the life. I want to have space to remember what we lived here. I want to have empty places to fill with big memories.

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five months of Becks

month ONE
month TWO
month THREE
month FOUR

Weight: I have no idea. More than 13 less than 15. Sound good? 

Clothes and Diapers: I finally busted out our fall/winter clothes which are all 6 month, so she's been wearing a lot of those lately, not necessarily because they fit perfectly but because it has cooled off, and that is the size we have in warmer clothes. :) [Otherwise she still fits in some 3 month, and 3-6 month is perfect for her]. Hand me downs will be the story of her life. [Well, they are for Blythe too…. ] We bumped up to size 2 diapers. 

Eating: Usually 5 times a day. She hit a growth spurt at the end of this month and ate 10 times in one day! Whew! However, she hates the bottle. She only takes one when absolutely hungry. I've had a lot of softball this month, and she has just skipped some meals here and there, or Brent brings her to me in between the Varsity and JV games if they are at home, or if she is hungry enough she will finally eat some for him. I had a 14 hour day at a tournament and I think the entire time I was gone she ate less than 7 oz. I fed her when I got home and she still slept well that night so I guess it's not too big of a deal. 

Sleeping: Ugh. This is what has changed a lot since last month. Her naps are super short-- usually between 20-50 minutes. She will be happy when she wakes up, though. Her afternoon nap used to be long! Every once in a while she will surprise me with an hour and a half nap. Suggestions?  At night she goes down around 7/7:30 and wakes around 5, I feed her, and she goes back down until about 8:30. I'd love to cut out that 5 a.m. feed, but since she goes back down for several hours after, I'm okay with it. :) 

I feel like Becks notices and responds to Blythe a lot more now. Which is so awesome. I love their relationship already.  And this picture may be my favorite from this month. 

We dedicated Becks at church this month-- more about this at end of post. 

accomplishments/ Things to note:

\ still isn't super into rolling over. she rolls front to back a lot, but then stays on back unless we REALLY convince her to roll. 
\ her hair is getting super light and falling out. 
\ we had her at a softball game IN THE SHADE and she still sunburnt a little on her face. I'm not used to fair skin-- this could be interesting. 
\ she sits up a little bit on her own. She leans forward a lot, but can balance herself pretty well. 
\ she grabs anything you put in front of her with great concentration. If I hand her her paci, she can now bring it up to her mouth by herself [come oonnnnnnnn, finding-it-by-yourself-in-your-crib]
\ her cry. oh man. I get called to the nursery at church every so often because of it-- she sounds like she is in pain, but it's just her normal cry. It's horrible. It's all or nothing with this child. I kind of like that about her personality. 
\ even though her little power naps are wearing me out, she is really such a good, good baby. Sometimes she likes to be held-- what baby doesn't? And sometimes she wants to eat right when it's least convenient-- what baby doesn't? And she won't take a bottle. BUT?! This baby? She is a good, good baby. This may sound terrible, but I think other mothers will understand: I feel like I've fallen in love with her completely quicker than I did with Blythe. Maybe my mama heart was just better formed this time around? [Shows you how much I knew: I thought it would take longer this time around because of how intense my love for Blythe is now. God knew what he was doing though when he created parenthood and created our hearts to hold the hugeness of it all]. 

\ We dedicated Becks at church this month, promising to raise her in the church and do our best to love her like Jesus and teach her about Him so that she will one day make the decision to follow him. We are still praying for her TRAITS, and we chose her "life verse" as Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." It was a great, simple service and our family and friends surrounded us with prayer at the end. Afterwards Becks said she wanted to go to Olive Garden, of course, so we did. :)

I snapped a few [very] quick pictures before we left for church:

Brent kept stepping in my light to make them smile…which was fine because I'd rather have those beautiful smiles captured in a dark picture than great lighting and no smiles…right? 

It was also neat to share the dedication with our friends, and think that our children will grow up in church together and hopefully become friends as well. 

Becks, you are so sweet. We pray that we can honor our promise we made to raise you in His word and in His ways. I told your dad this month: Blythe made us parents. You made us a family. 

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