20 Bricks


You know that feeling when you lay a bunch more bricks for your patio and think “Wow! I did a lot there!” And then you count up how many you laid and realize it was 20?

Wah wah.

But…it was 20 more than were laid this morning, so that’s good.

In other news, I’ve been thinking that we’re getting something wrong in our life.  We lead a pretty regular life.  We have our struggles and stresses no doubt, but we’re pretty regular.  How come we constantly feel like we’re on the brink of…um…total implosion?  I ask Tahd this regularly. “We’re doing something wrong,” I tell him.  “What is it? What are we missing?”

Today, out of nowhere, an answer came to me.  In words. Which usually seems to mean God is directly telling me something. I’m guessing if I looked back on the handful of those occasions in my life, I’d find those “answer in words” moments were preceded by a long string of helpful whispers my direction which I didn’t notice.  Apparently I’m not fluent in subtleties?

Anyway, the answer was, “Gratitude.” So simple! It was like an immediate “everything clicking.”  Doh! Of course! How did I forget about gratitude???

It’s not that I’m ungrateful so much as it is I haven’t been choosing gratitude. I am thankful in a general sense, but perhaps the antidote to soul-crushing overwhelmedness over trivialities is purposeful gratitude, not just gratitude by happenstance.

So, starting now…I’m thankful I laid 20 bricks. I’m thankful I even had 20 bricks to lay. I’m thankful my children didn’t climb on, knock over, or throw the bricks. I’m thankful that one day–even if it’s a very, very long day off– we’ll have a patio, an entirely unnecessary but lovely thing for a human being to have.

Wrapping Up Loose Ends – Day Six


Speaking of finishing things and wrapping up loose ends, I bought a nursing bra today, which might not seem like much of a loose end, except I’d put good odds that it’ll be the last nursing bra I ever buy.  After Isla was born, I stumbled onto a style I loved, and since then I’ve accumulated a grand total of 3 of them. They’re expensive, which makes buying a good stock of them gulp-worthy, so I started with one and rotated in others I liked less, and later I bought a second.  After Jude was born and when the first one had wire poking out the corner of one of the cups, I got a third, and I’ve been babying those 3 along ever since.  Two years later, and it’s time for a new one!

If you’ve followed our story for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve been very conflicted about how many babies I wanted to have.  I mean, I guess I’m not actually conflicted about how many I want.  I want four. Rather, I’m conflicted about how many pregnancies I’m willing to have.  My current count is 6, and I have 3 kids.  Those odds alone aren’t great, especially given the fact that I’m 37.  But then the last pregnancy was so difficult–exhausting in an other-worldly manner, then uncomfortable, and finally scary when it culminated in preeclampsia and a slightly premature birth occurring through emergency c-section since we had prolonged heart decelerations.

When I think about having another baby, I think first about Jude’s colic and how I’d rather live naked under a rock than endure that again.  But sometimes, especially when reading or watching others’ baby stories or when looking back at newborn pictures, I think “Screw it! I’ll take the colic risk if it lets me have another baby!”

And just about the time I’m ready to tell Tahd I want to go for it, I remember the blood pressure and the threat of seizures and the magnesium sulfate and the arguing and advocating with doctors and all the fear and crying.  I remember the two stories I’ve read online of mamas who seized or stroked around the time of their births and are no longer able to care for their babies.  And that? That is a risk I’m not sure I’ll ever feel okay taking.

I don’t close the door completely.  My doctors did not discourage me, and really, the statistics are good with more than 90% of people going on to have an unaffected pregnancy following a preeclamptic one.  But odds are Jude is my last baby and today’s purchase was my last nursing bra.

In other news, I forgot that I took care of scheduling the first round of doctor’s appointments a few days ago, and this evening I hung things on the wall in the nursery and put things on the overhead shelf. I should take pictures of this, but it was dark by the time I actually did it.  I’ll try to do those tomorrow and update this post.

Also, I’m not fond of the way it looks. It’s a giant, cluttered mess. BUT…I did it, and I can’t figure out how to adjust things so I’d like it better, so I’m calling it done. Maybe in a year or four I’ll change it up.  Maybe…

Day Five – The Teeniest, Tiniest Bit of Progress


I had an epiphany this weekend.  I realized I’m trying to do two things–keep up with everything in the “Standard American Dream” as well as carve a simpler, more purposeful path.  This was a total face/palm moment.  I mean, what the heck?  How can one person subscribe to two entirely divergent philosophies at the same time?

I’ll tell you how…anxiety! 😉  Trying to do two opposing things at the same time is a perfect recipe for anxiety.  It’s also a perfect recipe for getting nothing done, since when I’m anxious I become inert.

Take Saturday night, for instance.  What I really wanted to do was hang out on the couch with Tahd and either read or watch a movie.  What did we do instead?  Spun my wheels, got anxious about the passing of time, accomplished dribs and drabs of small portions of little tasks, and felt irritated that I never get a chance to relax.  Martyr much?

I don’t relax much.  This is, perhaps, a valid problem.  I go from taking care of the kids all day to dinner chaos to bedtimes, at which point I spend the rest of 50% of my evenings working at an actual job. The other evenings, I try to get caught up on writing and random other projects.  A night of movie watching occasionally wouldn’t be unreasonable. Probably should have just shut off the computer and gave in to the urge!

I have gotten a bit done.  From my master list:

  • Picked out all the gallery photos, uploaded them to Shutterfly.  Will place the order later tonight or tomorrow.
  • Took down the old decor in the living room so I can paint and then decide what to hang instead.
  • Ordered photos for my nephew’s happy mail package

Nothing new on the patio, which was my big hope for the weekend.  I should take pictures of these things so I can document the progress.

Recipe for this week:

  1. not have crazy opposing expectations
  2. actually do something on the patio

    and maybe…

  3. quick finish off everything else…

Day Three – Did I Complete Anything At All?


You know that list I made yesterday? That mondo, epic, ridiculous list of all the things we’ve started but haven’t finished? Yeah, I laughed while I made it, but only because…holy love! That is a lot of stuff!  What was I thinking???

I decided I wanted to make a list of things I’d actually completed this year, mostly to remind myself that I am, in fact, capable of getting things done.  Except when I sat down to write it, I couldn’t think of anything.




Apparently the thing I completed this year was starting things.  Does that count?  Doesn’t someone famous say getting started is half the battle? Could we up that percentage to around 80%?

Anyway, after a few moments of discouragement over my complete and utter lack of completion, a few meager ideas did, in fact, roll in.  So here’s my Master List of Completed Tasks. Hopefully I’ll be moving some from the former list to this list.

  1.  Getting rid of the old piano
  2. Get off blood pressure medication
  3. Making the wooden growth chart ruler
  4. Having a yard sale
  5. Making raspberry jam for the year
  6. 20 books read (and counting!)

So.  Six things.  Although the 6th on the list is reasonably good for 9 months.  But I really hope to see a lot of progress in the coming weeks.  Update tomorrow on what I’ve accomplished so far.

Day Two – Getting Things Done – The Master List


I wrote most of this post and decided I had to come back to start with a disclaimer.  If you are a highly organized, efficient person, I’m sorry.  This post is probably going to make you alternately anxious and nauseous.  You might tremble.  Also, do you tutor?  It seems like I could possibly use some lessons…

I’ve learned I’m more of a starter, not so much a finisher.  By the time you finish this post, you’ll realize what an understatement that is.  This has both pros and cons, but lately the drawbacks–namely the zillion incomplete projects laying around my house–have been driving me insane.

At the outset, I’m going to acknowledge that a little grace is in order.  My time isn’t super predictable right now, so it can be challenging to plan projects or make headway.  Take yesterday, for instance.  I can typically count on 10-15 minutes to put Jude down for his nap, and he usually sleeps between 45 minutes and 2.5 hours. It’s a range, but it’s something.  But yesterday, it took 80 minutes to get him to sleep and he napped for a sorely disappointing 25 minutes.  Boo.  A horrible return on investment!  It’s not always naps, but it’s always something!

Also, it’s next to impossible to plan large chunks of time to complete bigger projects.  This means large jobs have to get done in smaller chunks, and I find the lack of obvious progress to be discouraging.  Again, this is mostly a function of our life stage.  While I could decide to forego lunch because I’m engrossed in something on which I’m working, my children…not so much.  They need things like regular food, clean diapers, naps, bedtime, school dropoffs/pickups every single, freaking day!  Gah!

And then there’s the bickering, entertainment, mischief, and the like that keeps things interesting.  Larger chunks of time are rare and precious and often utilized for going on dates or epic laundry.  I’ll let you guess which one’s my favorite.  Hint: it’s not the one that happens more often…

But still, I could make a better effort to tie up loose ends, and that’s what Tahd and I are focusing on this month.  So, to kick off, these are the incomplete projects weighing on my mind.  I’ll probably edit this list throughout the month, and I don’t expect to get everything done in 31 days.  There are probably things on this list that need to be 86’d.  But hopefully in 31 days things will be substantially better than they are now.

  1. Fireplace paint needs finishing
  2. Living room paint needs finishing
  3. Nursery paint needs finishing
  4. Second coat of paint in Gabe’s room (alternately, maybe we should be calling this project The Month of Painting Everything…)
  5. Kitchen trim
  6. Hem Gabe’s curtains
  7. Purchase & hang second set of living room curtains
  8. General decluttering
  9. Week in the Life album
  10. Project Life update
  11. Update gallery photos
  12. Hang new pictures/decor in living room
  13. Word wall
  14. Hang nursery art
  15. Nursery shelf
  16. Paint bedroom shelf
  17. Hang play tent in nursery
  18. Paint toy kitchen
  19. Finish laying patio
  20. Arrange living room workspace
  21. Car brakes
  22. Fix spot in roof that leaks in winter
  23. Get thyroid blood work done before orders expire
  24. Finish the happy mail package for my nephew
  25. Knit 3 hats
  26. Start knitting Christmas blanket
  27. Get a haircut (this hasn’t been done by a professional since before I was pregnant with Jude; ack! I did trim it myself – does that count?)
  28. Finish calm down basket for little kids
  29. Hang ladder in our room
  30. Paint the piano (good grief – more paint!)
  31. Nursery floor
  32. Blackout curtain in nursery
  33. Fix cafe lights in dining room
  34. Finish editing posed photos
  35. Get ball rolling on school meeting
  36. Clean up basement
  37. Life Plan class
  38. Listen to 3 Influence classes
  39. Photography modules
  40. Pick up glasses

There are some things needing to be done that are somewhat time sensitive. They’re not so much undone as just extras or seasonal items I want to tack on so I don’t lose track of them.  Truthfully, I mostly want to be able to cross them off the list, and if you want to cross something off a list, you have to put it on first…

  1. Order Halloween costumes EARLY
  2. Schedule doctor appointments for everyone
  3. Schedule eye doctor appointments for everyone
  4. Start planning Gabe’s and Jude’s November birthday parties
  5. Take fall family photos
  6. Create and send out all the gift lists (this is a major task I never anticipated, made worse by the fact that all 3 children have birthdays within 6 weeks of Christmas; if I don’t get it going in October, I’ll never make the November birthday deadlines) 😉

Word of advice – don’t have all your children around Christmas.  We start at Halloween and have new festivities every few weeks – Jude’s birthday, Gabe’s birthday, Thanksgiving, big Christmas party, Christmas, New Year’s, our anniversary, Isla’s birthday, my birthday, and Valentine’s Day.  This is a bad plan.  Take my word for it.  You’re welcome.

And then there are the books I’ve started reading and haven’t finished.  I like having a collection of books going at once, but my in-progress collection is currently out of control.  I’d like to finish a few this month, if possible…

  1. Food and Wine
  2. First Mitford book
  3. The Gift of an Ordinary Day
  4. Charlotte Mason’s Home Education
  5. Emotional Intelligence 2.0
  6. Better Than Before
  7. Hold on to Your Kids
  8. Playing Big
  9. Project-Based Homeschooling
  10. Habit Stacking
  11. Smart but Scattered
  12. On Writing
  13. I Love You Rituals
  14. Remember the Sweet Things
  15. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
  16. Writing Down Your Soul
  17. Design Mom
  18. Rising Strong
  19. Simplify (ha!!)

This does not count the list of books I’m waiting to start.  Yes, I’m actually waiting to start a whole bunch of bookish goodness.  At least this many again.  Maybe even double…You guys!!!!! The books!!!  They are a sickness!!!

Off to work…Care to share any part of your list?

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