Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Power of Space, the Value of Things.

There are too many things in my life. They don’t only clutter up our limited living space, they clutter up my mind and feed the anxiety monster living within me. This monster only comes out to play when I am tired, run down, stressed out or have been cooped up for far too long during a Wisconsin winter. Darn anxiety monster knows when I am weak.

Pregnancy is always a great blessing for me because I have difficult pregnancies, which seem to increase in difficulty with their number. This may sound like a cross, but I can’t view it that way because I get far too much out of the experience to label it anything but positive and fruitful. I have grown (in many ways!) and learned so much about myself and my relationship each time we’ve been blessed with life.

This pregnancy has been hard. Really hard. Although I’m not sick from second pink line to delivering a pink little baby as I have been in the past, I am having many of the issues usually associated with 35 plus weeks pregnant at 26 weeks. I currently have a kidney infection, my blood pressure is up and I’m spilling protein. I’ve taken these things as a reminder to slow down and give myself a break.

When you’re a working mama, “break” is not generally in your vocabulary. There are too many things to take care of, keep up with and clean. Being blessed with the gift of being uncomfortable has given me some time to reflect and discern what our needs as a family really are.

The truth is, many of the things that need to be picked up and cleaned don’t really need to be in our living space at all. The children don’t need bins and bins of toys and I don’t need to keep every book I’ve ever read or every memento I’ve saved throughout my life.

These things aren’t just cluttering up our home. They feed the anxiety monster within me and when they run out of space in our home, they set up camp in my heart – stealing room in my soul that’s intended for honest and true things such as my relationships, dreams and faith.

In other cultures; three generations of a family live in the same amount of space we are currently calling home. It is written on a wife and mother’s heart to make a home for her family in whatever space they are living. It’s a spiritual gift ingrained within every women. Some cook great meals, some have a knack for decorating and the best of us make our homes comfortable for not only our family members, but for any visitor who knocks on the door. We desire for all who enter to feel as if our home is their home and as women we use our individual gifts to do so.

I was allowing things to steal this gift from me and turn me into a crabby mess, complaining about the space itself rather than what I am – or am not – doing with the space. This negativity was robbing me of the joys of family life in my home, and I was allowing it.

Pregnancy brings the gift of life into the heart of a family is so many different ways. For me, it’s complications have blessed me by lifting the fog in my spiritual life and reminding me that God’s granted me with the choice of how I view my life and my vocation. Tough times of stress and uncertainly are difficult when the temperature reads -4, the snow is falling and a family is cooped up in a small space. But isn’t time a beautiful gift! It is my choice, my vocation, to view this time of waiting for the new life of spring and the new life in our family as a period of preparation. We wait in anticipation and with joyful, not cluttered, hearts for the flowers to bloom and for our daughter to be born alongside the rebirth of the season of life.

In order to open our hearts and create the space for this joy, we knew there was only one thing we could do. We purged. We sold fifty percent of our DVD and book collections - only keeping classics appropriate to family life and our beliefs. We donated several bins of children’s toys and clothing and cleared a lot of space in our lives. I don’t miss a thing we banished from our home. Our wallets and our hearts are richer.

Our piles of things we sold to Half-\Price Books. The lady who paid me said she had never done a sale so big!

Tessa is all about babies right now. She has taken to building cribs out of legos for Mary and the Baby Jesus and "tucking them into bed" at night. We packed up the toys and clothing of the girls' to donate while they were sleeping and they have not noticed a thing missing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some Days the Rules are Different

Children need schedules and structure. So say the experts who have time to get their doctorates in child rearing or pop psychology and you know, sit down and write a book.

I bet those people don’t have kids. Or have one, and a live in nanny. They don't have their 3rd daughter in 3 years on the way.

Look, I KNOW kids need to know what to expect. They need to know certain behaviors have direct consequences. I believe this, we parent this way. Almost every day.

some days the rules are different. Because some days the rent needs to be paid. Today is one of those days. Mama and daddy are both working from home today.

The girls are dressed, sort of. Their hair has not been combed and the afternoon snack was indeed rice crispy bars. Said bars were handed out while mama was really busy with an important e-mail. 15 minutes later I retreated to the bedroom to sit on the bed (which has dried pee on it from a three year old’s naptime accident) to make an important phone call. When I came out the girls were once again eating rice crispy bars for a snack.

“I just gave them a snack,” I said to my husband.

“Oh sorry,” he said.

Daddy was busy. He was working on an important e-mail and needed the gals to have a snack. It seems he has the same tricks I do.

So we can’t live like this every day. But, some days the rules are different. Pretzels, yogurt and left over pancakes just have to count as lunch some days.

Locking the girls in their room to play the game “you can knock on the door to be let out after every book and toy has been picked up and put away” must count as the afternoon activity once in a while.

Who’s with me?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Daybook – New Year 2011 Edition

*and an update on baby Rutchik*

Outside My Window ...

It rained and all the snow melted, but it is oh so cold! On the plus side, our dead van has been towed into our garage. Does anyone know what to do with a dead van? We don’t want to put the money into fixing it, but it is a hard call as the week before it broke we put a lot of money into it. Grr.

I am listening to...

Nothing. The gals are sleeping. Joseph is working and I am “working” and enjoying some alone time on the computer.
To Live the Liturgy…

I am really feeling the lack of community I once found at Church. We have not officially joined a parish here. This is due in part to the fact that we are almost sure this is a temporary place for us. Once Joseph is done with school, we could move (again) anytime. Such is the economy! Before I get comments on the importance of joining a parish, I get it. I do. We are introverts and it takes a lot of work for us to build a community. I just don’t see the point when we don’t know where we will go to Church a year from now. But, I am hoping our next location will be permanent. We are leaning towards Catholic schools for our girls and I can’t wait for the community that will bring!

To be Fit and Happy….

Oh boy! I gained 5lbs the week of Christmas! I hadn’t gained any weight in the first half of this pregnancy, but I am making up for it now! I have never felt well enough to get the pregnancy hunger women talk about. I thought it was a myth. It is not, I assure you dear reader!
I am thankful for ...

A dear friend, and our two husbands who took the children last week so we could have a mama/work date at Panera. I am blessed with so many faithful women as friends. However, this friend is the only other writer/mama friend I have who truly feels her family is her first vocation AND feels called to a career in addition to her vocation. This has been a great blessing to me. She is a speaker and writer who recently revamped her blog, Women at the Inkwell. Go check out her New Year’s reflections. I promise you, if you’re a mama you will not be disappointed!
From the kitchen ...

I’m trying to get better about cutting our grocery bill. I’m too ashamed to even share what it has been these past few months. I know it is due to fast runs here and there, and laziness. So, for the first time ever I have planned our meals for the week!

Sunday: Salad and hot sandwiches for the Packer game
Monday: Breakfast for supper – pancakes, eggs and sausages
Tuesday: Roasted Turkey, potatoes, carrots
Wednesday: Turkey and wild rice soup, salad, rolls
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Turkey burgers, Mac and cheese, apples
Saturday: Pizza
I am creating ...

Writing goals for the new year. I am currently only working on one assignment, but there are a few calls out with deadlines in the next month. The above friend and I are also working on a non-fiction book for mama’s.

I am reading….

I have continued my tradition of reading a classic over the Christmas break. I love classics and find myself more and more disappointed with my education in literature as I unlock these treasures I missed as a child! This year’s book is no disappointment! I am currently savoring the last chapter of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Where have I been? This book is amazing, and really messed up. Perfect for me!
Towards a real education ...

Continuing with our “book nerd” theme of life over here!

I made a special request for Christmas that the gift of toys be limited. The gals ended up loving the toys they got and, my dad did a wonderful job shopping for the gals off the list of children’s classics I gave him. Needless to say, we have been reading so many good books for little minds.
For myself, I have been putting a favorite childhood series on my Christmas list each year. Last year I received Anne of Green Gables and this year’s treasure was the complete Little House on the Prairie books.

Although I don’t feel the call to homeschooling, I strongly believe in education in the home and can’t wait to share these books (and some geeky activities to go with them) with my girls.
Bringing beauty to my home ...

Structure, calm voices and enough alone time for all so we can accomplish these things.
I am hoping and praying….

That as Joseph finishes up his thesis everything falls into place. Timing is big here as a baby is coming and this mama is done living in this state. I’m ready for stability. Finishing Joseph’s master’s degree was the right decision for our family, but I am praying the new year allows us to reap the benefits sooner in the year than later.
Around the house ...

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Our tree died while we were away, so Christmas is all put away around here. It feels good.

One of my favorite things ...

The kicks I’m feeling from the baby. This one is a shy baby, but there is really nothing like feeling them kick.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:

Lots of work around the home and my job this week.
New Year’s Resolution/Word of the Year

I tend to keep my resolutions private. However, I am proud to say I met all of my writing goals for 2010! I am still working on praying about what they will be for 2011. The problem I am coming across is that for them to really grow beyond where I currently am, I am going to need time away every week to work. Joseph and I are talking about the possibility of getting a college girl once a week to come stay with the girls so I can go out and work. We’ll see what prayer and discernment bring. I also need to remember we will (God willing) be adding an infant to our home this year.

Baby Rutchik

Well, if by chance you are not on FB (find me if you are), we are expecting baby girl number 3 over here! I just knew it! We could not have avoided finding out if we wanted to. The first image that came up when she began the ultrasound was the “money shot.”

“And that is a baby girl!” I said before she even looked.

“Sure is!” the tech said.

We are really excited to stay “Joseph, Holly and the girls.” We were having a hard time with a name but think we have settled on something. The only issue is the name we picked is a name of many nicknames. Joseph is settled on using the later part of the name and I like a different form. I won’t share as I am sure we will change our minds. But, it has been over a week and I’ve started calling her by name when speaking with my husband. So, if her name is to be something else, it better strike us soon.

Picture Thoughts
I turned 30 over Christmas. Yes, 30. I thought it would be really hard but so far I am doing well. This is what it looks like to be 30 and pregnant with my 3rd daughter - in a bowling alley.

Two of the best blessings in the world on Christmas morning.