To-Do Lists

I was writing last week (over here!) about being overwhelmed – how it feels like there’s way more to do  in what feels like ever shortening amounts of time.  Tahd and I have been talking about this off and on for a few months now, both of us agreeing that we’re getting something wrong about life. I certainly don’t mean to imply that we’re living an awful life; in fact, our life is really, really good.  Hashtag blessed and all, you know?  But we’ve both said we feel like we’re drowning, and that doesn’t seem to be a particularly reasonable or effective long term life strategy. Hence the sense that we must be getting something wrong.  We’re trying to do too much and we recognize that, but we don’t know what or how to eliminate.

I was super lucky ducky to have some solo time away in Houston this past weekend.  I met up with a few girlfriends for a little while and spent the rest of my time writing, reading, and sleeping.  Ah!  I slept until 9AM both Friday and Saturday nights, but this morning I woke up feeling well rested after not quite 8 hours.  Gives me hope that someday I’ll be able to live my life as rested person once again.

Last night over Cracker Barrel’s Country Vegetable platter and a few lonely tears, a question hit me.

What do you KNOW God wants you to do?

Hm…this intrigued me.  My mind meandered over my swollen to-do list, which I’d even brought with me on this getaway.  (Why???) It’s filled with things for my kids, issues related to banking/bills/finances, house projects, appointments to make, people to email, creative endeavors to pursue, errands to run–the usual stuff, right?  None of it’s bad.  Little of it is truly urgent.  Some of it’s fun.

When I got back to the hotel, I sat down in front of a blank screen to make my list.  These are the things I know that I know that I know I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life:

cultivate my relationship with God || be a good wife and mom || take care of my health || steward my finances so I can be generous || write honestly and to encourage || worship with other people || live in and cultivate community || help less fortunate || do something creative to nurture my 

 

 

 

There might be other things God wants me to do, but these were the major and most obvious ones.  When I was done, I made a different list – the things I currently do that don’t make that list.  Here those are:

 

 

 

manage or acquire more stuff || keep a perfect house || get or stay skinny || read all the books || fix up my house || homeschool my kids || build a platform || play piano at church || keep up online || photography || volunteer at MOPS or another women’s group || scrapbook || travel || work at my current job || have big holidays || learn about and implement new things like oils || cook somewhat involved, varied meals

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think things on the second list are inherently bad.  I know I’m not giving up some of them anytime soon.  It was more the very clear realization that they’re trades, that I can’t do everything on both lists, and if I pick some things off the second list, I can’t pick other things.

This whole process has been very insightful for me and I’ve been mulling it over since I’ve come home.  I’m not sure this exercise is going to lead to drastic observable changes in the way I lead my life, but I did sense an internal shift as I made these two lists, and I’m not sure yet what it means.

I do know I need to somehow make this visible in my day-to-day life.  Already, I’ve been tripping over some of the things on that second list, making them bigger than they should be in light of the things on the first list still not handled.  I don’t mean to reverse things – I just find myself easily distracted and somewhat fickle, qualities I’ve learned to enjoy on some levels, but on other levels they really stink it up.  Putting important things in writing is pretty helpful to me.

Have you ever found yourself in a season of priority adjustment?  What surprises did you find along the way?

Healing in the Meantime

I’m not the most coordinated person (Tahd, STOP LAUGHING), so it came as no surprise when, last February, I took a rather awkward tumble down my wooden stairs.  Jude wasn’t much more than a newborn, and the fog of sleeplessness coupled with the haze of colic hung thick around our house, and, quite honestly, I was probably due, not having had a spill in quite some time.  I don’t remember the details.  I just remember crying in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, hoping hard that nothing was broken and trying not to scare my kids.

My left elbow took the brunt of the force, looking like this just a few weeks later…

2014-03-04_1393957895

 

Pretty, right?  My arm worked just fine, though, so I didn’t think it was broken.  And I went about life, because what mother with a newborn and two other kids has the time or energy to deal with appointments and doctors and xrays for a bruise?

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I can’t remember where I was going last week, but on one of our (many!!!) car rides–as I propped my elbow up on the arm rest–I remembered.  Ah, yes, don’t sit like that.  That elbow STILL hurts.  And then I realized that my fall had been more than a year ago and that we might have crossed the point at which this was still considered normal.

It’s funny how days turn to weeks and months and you figure the injury will heal in the meantime.  But it doesn’t always happen that way.

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For Mother’s Day this year, my family gave me a book I’d been wanting and also told me they were sending me on a little weekend getaway.  It’ll be part nose-t0-the-grindstone to get some writing done, and part girls’ weekend with some Texas friends.  So exciting! This is, certainly, one of the biggest benefits of Tahd’s extensive traveling…travel points!  They make trips like this possible.

My weekend is quickly approaching, and as it’s been getting closer, I’ve been feeling more and more anxious.  Not the good kind of anxious, either, where you’re so excited you can hardly stand it.  No, this is the anxiety kind of anxious, the kind that paralyzes and chokes and says, “DON’T DO THIS!!!  THIS IS BAD!!!”

Of course, it’s not bad, but it’s not coming easily to me. Tahd has been reading a book about fear and about listening to your inner cues (probably a gross oversimplification of the book on my part, but anyway…), so we were talking about my fear and trying to tease out its roots.  Finally, it all came tumbling out.

“I don’t want to go,” I told him, “because I’m afraid something will happen to me while I’m gone and my kids will grow up without a mother.”  Classic overreactive imagination on my part, which he gently tried to point out.  But you don’t understand, I thought.  I’m unlucky!

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When I was pregnant with Mara, two friends unexpectedly lost their pregnancies.  One of those women was in her second trimester.  I was so heartbroken over her loss and couldn’t get it out of my mind, and when I told a third friend how I was feeling, she sensed the depths of my anxiety and tried to firmly lead me out of it.  “You’re not Kim. Just because Kim lost her baby doesn’t mean you’re going to lose your baby, too.”  Wise words, and true, too.  But I did.

After the miscarriage, for the longest time I grappled with feeling unlucky.  Who loses a baby who had a heartbeat, who passed all the genetic screens, who was at the beginning of the second trimester?  Who loses a baby on Mother’s Day?  Who experiences a miracle only to lose it in a cruel, strange twist of events? An unlucky person, that’s who.  All I wanted to do was huddle up at home with my boys in an environment I could control, safe from everything out there that could “get” us.  Sticking together was the key.

Over time, the panic of going in separate directions abated, and the sense of unluckiness was gradually replaced with an odd but comforting mixture of grief, chance, and purpose.  But it’s still there, I guess, still lumbering and faltering under the surface, however deep.  This trip triggered it to bubble up.

It’s funny how weeks turn to month and years and you figure the injury will heal in the meantime.  But it doesn’t always happen that way.

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I had a regular checkup at the doctor last week and meant to ask her to xray my elbow, but I forgot.

Likewise, I started getting things ready for my trip at the same time as Jude lost his marbles–the figurative ones, not literal ones–and has, therefore, cried and carried on for hours.  So, I forgot about unluckiness and felt eager instead.

But forgetting doesn’t heal.  The injury is still there, going about its business.

Several friends have suggested my elbow is probably a bone bruise, and apparently bone bruises can take a long time to heal.  So, too, a grieving heart.  But do you know what a bone bruise really is?

Bones are composed of 2 different types of bony tissue, the compact (cortical) bone and the cancellous (spongy) bone.

The compact bone is the outer layer of bone and is highly organized, solid, and extremely strong…The cancellous bone is the innermost layer of bone.  Unlike the outer layer of bone, it is not arranged in concentric layers, but in plates (called trabeculae) which form an irregular meshwork that is neither as organized nor as strong as the outer bone.

The term bone bruise is a misnomer and makes the injury seem less serious than it is.  A so-called bone bruise is actually a fracturing of the inner layer of bone…

…An injury to this area of the bone represents very small fractures to the trabeculae in the meshwork of the bone and may be referred to as a bone bruise.  [source]

Treatment for a bone bruise is mostly rest, but I’m beginning to suspect I might also need a little physical therapy.  Something’s still not quite right in there, and I think it might need a little guided exercise to get it the rest of the way to health.

I think that’s sort of what this weekend is for my heart, too–a stretching, growing exercise to take my heart a few step further down the healing journey.  That–plus a few full nights of sleep and a little time by the pool–will hopefully help.

Musings

You’ve read this, right?

I’m totally feeling it.  We have three and a half days of school left.  (side note – I started writing this over the weekend and am just finishing now, so the numbers and weather aren’t right)  I thought it was four and a half until Gabe informed me of the actual calendar.  This happens all the time to me – he comes home and tells me how happy he is that tomorrow he doesn’t have school and I’m like, “What??!? You don’t have school tomorrow????” And he’ll tell me it’s an inservice or something like that, and the plans for my entire week – maybe even month! – are thrown into utter disarray.  How do I not know the school schedule?  How???

And yet, I don’t.  So.  Three and a half days to go.  And then it’s all summer, all the time, right?

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Unbeknownst to Gabe, I’m repeating last year’s summer plan and calling it Mom’s Summer Institute of Learning.  It’s not so much that I worry about the summer slide.  It’s not that I don’t believe in unstructured free play.  It’s that we’re going to go completely crazy without structure and something to do.  Especially if it’s Gabe who has no structure and nothing to do…

It’s such a weird transition because I go from having a very rigid day that consists of morning routine, an hour of driving, a few hours play, lunch and naps, many hours of driving, supper, night routine to having these big, unscheduled spans of time, which makes me totally anxious.  Eight to five is a loooooonnnnggg time to fill when you’re used to only filling 9:00 to 12:00, you know?  So, summer learning it is.

Mostly, I intend to force us to read books an do art projects, which shouldn’t be too traumatic.  But I have…what, three and a half days to figure it out?

Better get crackin’…

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Apparently the weather did not get the memo about the whole three and a half days until summer thing, because…

temps

 

This.  Specifically, the column of “Feel.”  Wisconsin, I have a lot of “Feels” toward you, and THEY ARE NOT GOOD.

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And a few pictures of life lately…

brothersswing2

 

grandmapaints

 

firstlollipop

beachwdad

beachwmom

beachscreaming

babyinleaves

When Everything Changes (And Why I’m Blogging Less)

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Off they sailed into the wild gray sky, but if shrieks and sobs could have held any power, those balloons certainly would have returned after Isla’s dramatic performance.  Usually my amiable, happy-go-lucky child, I wasn’t quite sure what to do when, at her cousin’s birthday party, she totally lost her mind when the cluster of balloons with which she was playing got swept away in the wind.

Like, totally. Lost her everloving mind. Not an understatement.

She wailed – big, heaving, snotty, red-faced wails – for almost an hour.  And even after that hour had passed, her anguish existed only just under the surface, threatening to erupt at any moment.  I had no idea what to do.  The scene she made was spectacular! I just kept reassuring her that no one was upset with her that the balloons floated away and that we could get more balloons another day and everything was going to be okay.

Times a million.

That was two weeks ago, and it’s been chilly here since then, so it wasn’t until this week that I again braved the great outdoors with the kids.  I’d wanted to strap them into the stroller for a quick run, but since Tahd had the car and I’d forgotten to ask him to take out the stroller before he left, I figured we could just play in the yard.

I was wrong.

“Let’s go inside, Mommy!  I want to go inside!  I want to go inside and be lonely! (i.e. if you’re not going in, at least let me go in by myself!) Can we go inside now, Mommy? Let’s go be warm and cozy inside!  Let’s go in!” Over and over and over again, my girl inexplicably begged to get out of the sun and into the house.

Finally, I overheard her talking to herself about balloons, and the lightbulb clicked.

“Isla,” I asked as it dawned on me, “Are you afraid your something is going to blow away? Like the balloons did at Bentley’s party?”

Yes, oh yes!  She was.  In fact, she wasn’t just afraid something was going to blow away.  She was afraid everything was going to blow away.  She was afraid SHE was going to blow away.  How terrifying!

I hadn’t realized it at the time, but it made so much sense in retrospect.  The balloons’ great escape was so traumatizing not because she lost a fun toy but because she lost the certainty of the natural world.  All of gravity came into question.  The world was no longer a sure thing.  I can see how that’d be a kind of big deal!  Sobbing for an hour seems sensible under those parameters.  I’ve cried over much less!

Seems like there’s probably a lesson in there for grown-ups somewhere, but I’m too tired to dig it out.

So that’s what we’re working on this week – trying to teach a 3-year-old to think logically about gravity and helium. I’m sure you’ll have noticed the several apparent challenges in that sentence, not the least of which is trying to get a 3-year-old to think logically about anything…

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I’ve been blogging her much less frequently over the past several months and am kind of bummed about that.  I started to write as a way to keep track of my family’s stories, and there are already things that have happened that I wish I’d have had time to write down!  The deal is that I have two other projects going on right now.  First is a site I’ve been working on for 7 months now, Loving Motherhood More, and if you haven’t stopped over, I’d love to see you there!

The second is some extended writing.  I’m not totally sure of the format it’s going to take; one part is more of a workbook and then there are two somewhat rambling, more story-ish parts, but I’m deeply (deeply!!!) hoping to have some of it finished in the next 8 weeks.  Initially, I’d hoped to complete it sooner, but I found I was spending all my time writing blog posts, which never got me further on my other projects.  So I decided I’d cut back my blogging to once or twice a week on each site until I’d wrapped up at least one.  Hence the extra quiet.

Just thought I’d let you know. :)

Five

Being 5 is a big deal.

Five would be kindergarten.

Five would be loose teeth and the tooth fairy.

Five might be pierced ears and first sleepovers.

But you’re not five.  Instead, you’re eternal, because you’re not here.  Not with us.  Which is okay and not okay at the same time.  I don’t spend every day wondering what you’d be like or how life would be different if you’d stayed.  But on anniversaries like this, I can’t help but let my mind meander over what I wish had been.

These are the things I wish I could tell you.

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