Category Archives: Day to Day

2018

For those who have been keeping up with us, you’ll remember that my goal for 2018 was to keep going.

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One of my biggest efforts in the new year was to keep getting out of bed before the kids, to sit in my blue chair to think and pray. This didn’t happen every day in 2018, but it happened more consistently than it has in years.

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In those times I saw many beautiful sunrises. Some days I saw darkness and just the faint hint of the lines of the mountains in the distance. Sometimes the sunrises reflected my mood or circumstances. Sometimes it provided hope in sadness or a reminder of the darkness that is still with us even when we feel light and free. I did meet the Lord in my blue chair times, and for that I am so grateful.

In 2018, I also wanted to keep going in my effort to build more empathy into our family interactions. Although we are far from perfect, I do think my own self-awareness and attempts at acknowledgement and compassion, are creating a ripple effect among these people I love so much. I look forward to seeing this continue in 2019.

On a practical level, my role in the last year has mainly been a supportive one–to help Jason and the kids keep going as they go out into the world. I’ve planned and packed for trips, thought ahead for activities in the afternoons and on weekends, organized play dates, and made many meals. I’ve organized for holidays and celebrations. And I’ve tried to make our home a warm place to come home to.

One of the very best parts of all this busy work is the fact that I felt more healthy and energized in 2018 than I have in years. I could not only keep up with our goings on, but be intentional about what we are doing and why we’re doing it. This profound change is thanks to my sleep apnea diagnosis and CPAP therapy. At first I felt a bit sheepish about being in my 30s going to bed with a mask and tubing on my face every night. That embarrassment went away pretty fast when I felt ten years younger!

For the kids, keeping going has meant Ian continued on at Ridgecrest Elementary this year. Imogen joined him as a first grader and Beatrice started Pre-K at Westgate Chapel. Ian was not excited about the lack of change, Imogen was excitedly curious, and Bebo just sucked her thumb a lot which kept her from telling us how she felt about preschool. Just as you would with the last born, we are assuming she’s fine with it.

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Many of you know it has been hard for me to see my people head out the door, and all at once. I do miss homeschooling, and the kids being around more. I have cried many tears this year about the change, and wondered if we made the “right” choice. Jason has had to tell me “Let’s just keep going with this and see where it leads.” This has been difficult and comforting to hear, all at the same time.

Jason kept going on his journey through a Masters in Finance at Seattle University. Wait, what am I saying, we kept going, because getting a graduate degree is truly a family affair! He has been gone many evenings and sometimes I forget that the kids haven’t seen him for two or three days straight. They have all been troopers, and all things considered, the program has actually turned out to be less rigorous than we expected.

Jason continued his job at McMillen-Jacobs, moving from a contract to full-time position in May. The job is a great fit, a mix of building massive spreadsheets while managing and working with great people. He feels valued and valuable to the company. If you have known Jason and our family for any length of time, right now your heart is burning with an enthusiastic AMEN to all of this. It has been a long, difficult (and sometimes dramatic) journey to this point in Jason’s career. We all want it to keep going!

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All set up to commute to work in Seattle rain

Of course we kept our epic summer vacation adventures going this year. Jason and Ian did a road trip that included Crater Lake, horseback riding in southern Idaho, and visiting the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. At the same time Imogen and I went to Minnesota again, Beatrice went to Grandma T’s, and we all met up near Glacier for a Kiemele family reunion.

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I’m so glad Jason didn’t get mauled by a bear, despite his efforts to get as close as possible to one.

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Immy and I’s Minnesota adventures

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Reunited as a fam in Whitefish and Glacier National Park

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Summer 2018 also included some glorious bike rides. Jason and I both got new bikes in the spring and by July I found myself riding the Grand Rounds in Minneapolis, country roads around Whitefish Lake, and of course the Centennial Trail in Coeur d’Alene. In those moments keeping going literally meant keeping the wheels turning over the next hill or on to the next viewpoint.

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Jason kept up his culinary adventures this year, focusing mainly on cooking meat and making cocktails (I haven’t minded either endeavor!). He added a sous vide, a smoker, and a sizeable bar setup to his collection of cooking paraphernalia. By the end of the year I was getting kind of tired of perfectly cooked ribs, which goes to show how much of a luxurious culinary lifestyle I live.

I think both Jason and I would agree we worked at keeping going together in 2018. We spent some lovely Sunday afternoons at Ridgecrest Pub, planning our budget, dreaming about future travels, catching each other up on our internal worlds. We rode our new bikes together and went on weekend walks with and without the kids.

Together we made some big, important decisions for our family in 2018, and I couldn’t be prouder of how we have worked as a team–with prayer and intention. It has been a hard road for us the last few years, but I can see how God has used our individual strengths and our uniqueness as a couple. It makes me want to keep going.

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We ended our year with an exciting addition to our family–an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie named Ruby.

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If you’ve never surprised children with a puppy, you really should.

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Keeping going with Ruby has meant taking her out to go potty again and again, even if it’s dark and rainy, it’s 7am, and I’m in my bathrobe. But she’s so stinkin’ cute the inconvenience is worth it.

As for 2019, the theme for this year is this:

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As we walked through Advent in December the word “waiting” came up again and again. Initially I was hesitant to put the words “Just Wait” on my wall, where I walk by it again and again every day. Patience–ugh!

But I am trying to remember it is a hopeful cause, filled with expectation. It is an invitation to trust God in the places that feel unfinished and unknown. It is a reminder to be patient with others and with myself, knowing that God is up to something in our hearts, and we will see glimpses of His orchestration and movement as time goes on.

On a practical level, I am waiting for graduate school to be complete (March 2020!) and for more family time together. Every day I’m preparing for Jason and the kids to come home. I’m waiting to see what we decide about the kids’ education next year, and wondering what my role will look like in our home and in the world. We are waiting to see if maybe this is the year we move on remodeling our house.

God’s gentle whisper says, “Just Wait.” I think it is coupled with a playful wink.

Here’s to waiting–and a whole lot of keeping going while we wait–in 2019!

*Beautiful handwritten lettering by my dear friend Lauren, of Ink and Eben.

2017

I don’t usually set resolutions for the new year, but as 2016 moved toward 2017 I kept hearing this word come up in a variety of situations, conversations and readings.

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To abide, to stay with, to be present, was my aim for 2017. I wanted to get better at abiding with God of course, and I thought a lot about 1 John 4 over the summer months. I spent time sitting with God, offering nothing, just trying to be with Him. It’s not an easy thing to do.

What I didn’t anticipate in 2017 was how much I would learn about abiding with others, particularly Jason and the kids.

I feel good about the figurative (and sometimes literal) blood, sweat and tears, I put into loving God and loving others in 2017. I also feel humbled and blessed by the work God did in me and in those around me.

Related or unrelated, here are some other things I accomplished, experienced, was blessed by, learned, received, saw God do, got wrapped up in, yada yada yada, in 2017.

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I finally completed a two-year project, a collection of photos that displays our Haggard-ness. It was a lot of work sorting through images, printing, organizing, matting, framing and hanging. I am a perfectionist, but Jason obliged and did lots of precise measuring and grunt work.

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I started going to bed at a reasonable hour. I have battled with trying to get on a better schedule for years, and it’s been a source of tension between Jason and I. Now I go to bed around 10:30pm most nights, and am working on moving that up even earlier to have some quiet time before the kids get up. A book that helped me with this was Laying Down the Rails for Yourself.

I hosted an incredible outdoor dinner party. Jason made the food I requested–soft pretzels, waldorf salad, smoked salmon, lots of dipping sauces, Kentucky mules and flourless chocolate cake. The people were the best part. The ambience was pretty great, too.

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I started kindergarten with Imogen.

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We put Ian into traditional school in October. That was hard, and it was something I would never have anticipated doing at the turn of 2017. It was totally the right thing to do, for a myriad of reasons which I could go on ad nauseam about, but I won’t right now.

I identified some people I really want to develop deeper connections with in 2018. I wish I could teleport AND clone myself because some of these people live across the country!

I ate one of the best, happiest meals of my life. The food was amazing (poke, lau lau, wasabi chicken), but so were the location (Kauai) and the company (Jason).

With Jason’s support and the encouragement of my in-laws, I created an Airbnb space in our MIL apartment. A few months later we had to put it on long-term hold when other things came up, but it was an interesting and fun experience.

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I filled up another journal. I asked a lot of questions, made observations, wrote prayers and processed in my private writing.

I read aloud to my kids, which I love to do. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Hinds Feet in High Places, A Cricket in Times Square, Twenty-One Balloons and a gazillion picture books and bible stories.

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Jason and I completed the Love & Logic parenting course, with Josh and Sheree as our coaches. It was really helpful in practical ways, but it also served as a springboard for lots of thoughts and prayers and experiments in what it means to abide with my children.  There’s that word again.

Imogen and I went on our first mother-daughter trip. It was delightful to travel to Minnesota with her, to sleep in a bed next to her, and to see her so excited to be with family. She finally got to play in Nana’s Cupcake Cottage. And I learned more about her in those few days than I had in a year!

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I shed a lot of tears, but then again, I am a cryer. Each drop was purposeful.

I rode my bike up and down, on urban trails and country roads, through a coulee, past wineries, alongside mountain lakes and the Mississippi River. Sometimes it was in solitude, other times with Jason.

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I hiked the rocks and cliffs on the southeast side of Kauai. That was a glorious day.

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I had more heartfelt, intimate, encouraging, and earnest conversations with great people than I can count or remember in detail. This is the milk and honey of life!

I bought a Roomba, which has totally changed my life. Jason named him Bubba, but because he’s like another member of the family to me I get confused and call him Bubbo on a regular basis (a melding of Bebo and Bubba). I find that amusing since Beatrice barely does any chores (we’re working on that).

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I went grain-free and mostly sugar-free with Jason for a couple months, and it has overall changed my eating habits and outlook on care for my body.

I bought an incredible faux fur coat that looks like I skinned a snow leopard (I didn’t–snow leopards are one of my fav wild animals). Ironically, I purchased it at Goodwill for $20, but I feel (and look) way more luxurious than Macklemore did in his music video.

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I listened to my dad talk about his childhood and share stories I had not heard before. It was delightful. It was not planned, or I would’ve recorded it.

I slept in a yurt complete with a croaking frog outside, a gazillion stars overhead, and a vineyard out my door.

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I celebrated ten years of marriage to Jason and 11 years of knowing him. One small little line of words written out, yet so much encapsulated in all that time.

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I said an emphatic “yes” to Jason starting grad school in 2018.

I listened to lots of Sandra McCracken, NeedtoBreathe, and Nathan Partain‘s A Lovely Wait. The latter had a profound effect on my abiding with the Lord.

One of the greatest epiphanies I had this year was realizing that laughter in the midst of sadness is not an offense to pain, but it’s friend, ready to bless and comfort.

I showed my kids Montana. There’s so much more to see, but we’ll do that Summer 2018.

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I watched Jason walk through one of the hardest years of his life. I fumbled as I was given opportunities to abide with Jason, but I saw God help me many times along the way. I suppose time will tell where the fruit grows. I’m grateful there is grace to fill in the gaps.

What’s next in 2018? I don’t know, but this is my theme:

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Beautiful lettering done by my friend, Lauren of Ink & Eben.

 

Ten weeks into home school

We have just completed our tenth week of our new and improved home school.

The best way to describe what we’ve been up to is to share some thoughts about how each one of us has fared through the last weeks–from my perspective. So, here goes.

Things I am learning about Ian

  • He really likes “couch time.” This is together time, where we sit down and do our main Sonlight stuff–Bible, World History, Geography and reading novels. He especially likes the Usborne Time Traveler and World History books we go through, which are packed with lots of great illustrations and encyclopedic information.
  • The boy needs structure and consistency. It has been helpful for him to see a list each day on the fridge that tells him what will be expected of him in both school and family life. His fits and whining have dramatically decreased.
  • He has a knack for a lot of things–things that surprised me. He has pretty quickly picked up novice piano reading and playing skills, and I didn’t realize he could spell as well as he does. His ability to communicate in writing has improved, too. I think it’s all the reading he’s doing, and the varied subjects that the Sonlight Readers give him.
  • Despite his bad attitude about going to church, he enjoys reading the Bible with me, listening to me explain meaning behind stories, and engaging in conversation. I think he thinks about these things later, at least I know he remembers them. Maybe this is a better way for him to do it than Awana, which we discontinued after last year.

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We’ve been spending many mornings doing couch time in front of a fire. Our woodpile may not last us through the winter.

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Portraying desk work worse than it actually is.

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Piano practice.

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Archeological dig.

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Smaller, indoor archeological dig that ended up bearing more fruit than its outdoor counterpart.

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Ian’s budding rock and treasure collection.

Things I’m learning about Imogen

  • She’s picking up a lot of what Ian is learning–the things that pique her interest. She likes the Bible memory verse songs and the Geography songs. She likes to move to them as she learns.
  • She LOVES Aesop’s Fables. Honestly, many of them can be perplexing and the lessons can be difficult to explain to children. She loves the animals, the older, unique writing style, and the pictures. So we’re going with it.
  • She is excited about learning and I don’t want to dismiss that because I’m busy doing stuff with Ian. She wants to be read to and to have her own library books to look at. She often says, “When I read I’m going to . . .” She’s memorized a Sandra Boynton book she reads to Beatrice.
  • She loves art. Love, love, loves it. I have a love/hate relationship with her doing it because it’s messy. But she feels so loved and inspired when we engage in art activities. I’m excited for her to enroll in the Art class at the HEE next year. I’m ordering her some drawing books to work on for now.
  • She plays well with Beatrice when I’m teaching Ian things she’s not interested in. I am very thankful for that.
  • She loves swimming, and I’m so glad we got her into lessons. She gets to shine, doing her own thing.
  • She’s still doing ballet, but I’m not sure that will be a long-run activity.
  • Doing Pre-K was a good choice for her. I don’t hear her talk a lot about it, but I also don’t hear her complain about going. I think she feels confident in her class. She gets some one-on-one time with her teacher developing skills as one of the oldest in her class.

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We found a great toy store called Toys that Teach. They have a fantastic book collection that clearly Imogen was intrigued by (not to mention I drooled over so many good titles). I’m thinking I may need to create her a quiet corner with a comfy chair.

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Things I’m learning about Beatrice

  • She’s definitely moved into that 2.5-3.5 year-old difficult phase. Hitting, calling names, yelling, throwing fits, being sassy. It’s not so bad yet, but as the youngest she is definitely getting away with more.
  • She talks like she’s a ten-year-old sometimes, complete with attitude and hand gestures. We think it’s cute, but I’m not sure we should encourage it all that much.
  • She really likes being at the HEE. She’s found a favorite toy (a pull along puppy) that she drags all over the place. Don’t tell her, but she’s getting one for Christmas.
  • She doesn’t put caps on markers and it drives me CRAZY.
  • She has picked up French words with more enthusiasm and ease than the other two.
  • She has memorized the Middle East geography song we worked on in our first weeks, and can sing the Alphabet. It’s amazing what little ones can learn through song and the influence of their siblings.
  • She can start doing more household chores, I just need to make an effort to include her and hold her accountable.
  • She was a fantastic potty trainer!

Things I’m learning in this process

  • This gig is like a job. No, it is a job. Depending upon how much one invests in it, it can be part-time or full-time. I like it, but I didn’t think about how it would change my schedule and my relationships with others. I am missing some of my friends and fun activities, and need to consider how to fit those things into our lifestyle.
  • I really love learning, particularly when it comes to history and literature. This isn’t a revelation, but a rediscovery. There’s a reason I got a liberal arts degree in English Literature (I also strongly considered History). Ten years after leaving formal education I am seeing it bear fruit in the parenting and education of my kids. I know this is not for everyone, but I am having fun right now. You can ask me later how I feel when higher-level math and science come onto the scene.
  • I can see that this current endeavor could equip me for something else down the line, though I have no idea what. I like sharing what I know and engaging kids in good conversations. I can ask good questions appropriate to their level and then listen for their answers and personal views. I don’t think is just my kids; this has come naturally to me in nannying and other teaching scenarios.
  • I really love reading out loud. The more I do it, the better I get at it, and the more fun it is for all of us. It’s a bit of acting, of finessing words, and of creating the atmosphere I think the author is intending.
  • I can become a slave to the schedule and the checklist. I’m starting to feel that pressure to keep us on track with what is assigned each day and week. It’s wearing on me. Other Sonlight parents in the Facebook group I’m in warned of this. It is certainly not the intent of the Instructor’s Guide to encourage this. It’s just us Type A types.
  • In light of this, I am going to pick up Teaching from Rest, which has been sitting at my nightstand, waiting for me to come around to it. I’m interested to learn more about schole, the intentional slowing down of learning. This will be a challenge for me, but I think it will prove beneficial to my kids in the long run.
  • I can see myself living vicariously through my kids. Biggest example: I want to teach Ian Grammar (probably too early) because I learned very little when I was a kid. I turned out to be a good writer anyway, but I wonder if it hindered my foreign language learning. I am insecure about it. On the other hand, I don’t want to focus too much focus on Grammar in a way that hinders him from writing freely and outside of the box. Yes, these are the things that home school moms stress about and that I used to roll my eyes at.
  • I am tempted to choose the school stuff over the character building and discipline work. It’s just easier, folks. I’m trying to switch priorities.
  • I’m still hesitant to pick up French because I don’t have a set curriculum or lesson plan. I obviously don’t have the immersion option. With Ian going to Botswana in July it is more motivation to move forward, but this will be a real challenge for my personality. I’m hoping to focus on teaching him essential phrases for his travel experience and not venture too far out from that for now.
  • I’m still a homebody. Getting my kids outside for play is another weak point for me. I am glad they have the HEE and preschool two days a week.

Other things I’m excited about

  • Ian’s piano lessons with Miss Jane. I am thoroughly impressed with her skill and her thoughtfulness in considering the interests and needs of her student. Ian respects her tight ship. At the same time, he’s impressed when he requests songs like the Imperial March and Miss Jane practices it to perform for him at their next lesson. Sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall when they work together.
  • Usborne books. I’m not a fan of buying anything at full price, but I’ve gotten sucked into these fantastic materials. I’m particularly excited about some of the books I’ve ordered for Imogen that will help her transition into and get started in Kindergarten. (Side note: I have a book lady named Jessie, if you are interested in Usborne, and she did help me get some good deals.) I’ve also gotten a lot of used encyclopedic books from Goodwill I plan to dole out. I will be cracking them open myself in my *mass* of free time.
  • Putting together a centrally located bookshelf of good stuff that the kids will visit regularly (the one in their basement bedroom doesn’t get frequented).
  • How fun the HEE community continues to be, and how helpful and kind the staff is there.
  • Setting goals. I usually hate doing that. It’s like creating a mission statement–you forget it, move on and then feel guilty about how much you clearly didn’t care that much about it in the first place. That being said, the curriculum specialist at the HEE encouraged me to come up with some benchmarks for the school year. That way, I can put possible new endeavors through the checklist and see if they fit into what we are trying to achieve with our kids. This includes not just formal education, but also character traits we want to encourage, and our kids assimilation into being contributing members of our household and society. I really did feel relieved after putting my thoughts on paper, and I look forward to getting Jason’s feedback, so we can hone in on what we’re doing with these kiddos.

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Archeological dig in the backyard.

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First day in our new workspace. It was clean then, but now it’s a mess of scribbled scrap paper, uncapped markers and really dirty carpet. But, we’re making our way through that shelf of books!

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Members of the HEE family (at our new location). These three aren’t official students yet, but they enjoy the space, the people, the regular refills of popcorn, and the lollipops that are given out by the generous Ms. Trudi.

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Weekly preschool carpool with this bunch

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Preschool pumpkin patch visit

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Trick-or-treaters who mean business

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Future homeschooler? Yet to be seen.

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On a sunny day at the HEE, watching the big kids with their remote-controlled truck.

*For those who are interested in the details of our curriculum and materials, Ian is using Sonlight’s Core B&C World History curriculum, Math Mammoth, and Spelling Power. I can’t seem to commit to more Language Arts materials, but we have been trying out Shurley English and Winning with Writing. I’m thinking about starting Rosetta Stone for French.

Imogen is a part of our Sonlight Bible, History and Reading time when she wants to be, she’s doing a few pages a week of a Scholastic Pre-K workbook I got at Costco, and I’m trying to get her books at the library that interest her. She attends Westgate Preschool two days a week and does ballet.

I suppose I’ve got to start somewhere so I’ll start with today

First I was going to write about our amazing summer. Then time passed and it was going to be about Ian turning seven.  Then a recap of our happy and full 2015. And Beatrice’s birthday passed over a month ago, and still nothing.

Ugh. I’m not sure if my writing muscles are just really atrophied or I’ve got complete a block.  Or I’m just busier or happier doing other things.  Or I’m stumped creatively. Or maybe it’s all of those things.  I don’t know.

I do know writing has always been a part of my life in some form or fashion and that I will regret not having documented memories in this season (especially when it is such a good one!).

So, I’m just going to get going with something simple.  Here’s some random smatterings of what we did today, mostly unedited and unfiltered.

For starters, I stayed in bed way too late and even coaxed my children into snuggling in bed with me. This was possible because yesterday they spilled water all over the TV and it’s accoutrements and I unplugged everything so TV was not an option.

I always end up frustrated with their bounty of energy, but I still invite them to snuggle anyway. Why can’t they just CHILL OUT and relax after they’ve clocked a good eleven hours of sleep in their own beds??? I expect the older two to be able to, since Beatrice can and she’s two years old. She parks herself right on top of me and plugs her mouth with her thumb. Then she proceeds to listen to me kick the the other two kids out of the bed for fighting or kicking me in the face, or something else equally as annoying. And then she’s got me all to herself!

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Us snuggling (but some other morning).

I made up for the lazy mom start to the day by making a fabulous green smoothie with all kinds of goodies in it. The kids sucked it down and Beatrice, the pickiest eater that ever was, even asked for seconds. And this time I snuck in liquid whey and they didn’t even notice. Boo yah!

Afterward Ian sat at the kitchen table and wrote in his journal and did his math without whining (another score!). I’ve been working this week on consistency in our school work time, especially because he doesn’t have HEE classes for mid-winter break. We are on day four (of five) and I’m seeing progress with the ‘tude. Of course next week everything will change when our schedule fills again, but at least for a couple days I can feel like an effective homeschool teacher.

While Ian did his school work Imogen folded her clothes in a reasonable amount of time and with no whining. And then she put her clothes away in her dresser. This is MIRACLE upon MIRACLE. As the Bible says, “Train up the child in the way he should go, and later he will not depart from it . . . ”

Speaking of teaching your children to be successful and productive citizens, I am very haphazardly potty training Beatrice.  I don’t even really want to put that statement out there because it sounds like I’m somewhat committed, which I’m really not.  I asked her if she wanted to go pee in the potty (since she conveniently had taken her diaper off and was running around) and she said “Why yes, of course, I thought you’d never ask!” and then sat down to pee.  That was Wednesday.  She’s gone in the potty four times since then. At any given time of the day she may or may not be running around naked, “potty training.” This is not-so-serious business.

I have to laugh at myself because I very distinctly remember the night before we started potty training Ian.  I was a nervous wreck. We had this huge plan to NEVER go back to diapers. Hah! Potty training that kid was the WORST. I thought it would never end and I cared way too much.

After school and chore stuff I got dressed at the early hour of 10:45am so we could go to the chiropractor. I woke up this morning with practically a lion’s mane going on which, after a few hours, had tamed down to a nice bushy wave. You can’t plan perfect bedhead.  It’s something that just comes down like manna from heaven–except it only comes down once in a great while. And then at least one part of my appearance was awesome for a day, and with no effort on my part!

We had some sun this afternoon, and so I went outside (it’s rare, I honestly don’t go outside as much as I should). I’ve been trying to make an attempt to say yes to the kids when they ask for individual play time, so I joined Imogen in the play structure and we played house. Toward the end I was getting tired and the sun felt so warm and nice, so I pretended to be sick so I could lay down.  Imogen got out her doctor’s kit and saved my life. Then I played the doctor and saved hers. That was a nice little happy ending.

I never could get the TV plugged back in so I put the kids in front of the computer and suggested they watch something new. Ian got all whiny about it. I’ve decided Garfield is lazy and a glutton, and I’m tired of him. So, they ended up watching a new version of Inspector Gadget, which I suggested. Whine, whine, whine. I told Ian I liked it as a kid, maybe he would, too.

I went into the bedroom to work on my bible study and it didn’t take but a minute and Ian and Imogen’s laughter was echoing through the whole house. Apparently they liked it. I keep thinking of Steve Carell’s face as Inspector Gadget. I haven’t seen the movie but I have a feeling he uses his pronounced nose and goofy glare to really play up the character. Wait–maybe he didn’t even play Inspector Gadget? I really don’t know. These are just things I think about.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to pass the time, knowing that Jason wasn’t going to be home until after the kids were in bed. Some days it goes by faster than others.  I really wanted this week to be a slow one where we could bum around the house and not be anywhere special, but after a few days I suppose it’s making us all a bit restless. The minutes ticked by.

Eventually I threw plate of taco chips covered in BBQ pulled pork and shredded cheese (aka “fancy” nachos) down on the table for the kids and then fed them ice cream. Actually, the box said it was a frozen dairy dessert.  It is a bit concerning that a product can’t officially call itself ice cream, but not concerning enough for me to not give it to my kids. I have very little parenting shame these days.

Lately Beatrice has been saying “Daddy, wrestle!”, even when Jason’s not around, and the other two were asking to play their favorite roughhousing game with me tonight, so I obliged.  The game is entitled Meaty Thighs.  I’ve been playing it with Ian since he was pretty little. I pretend to be the Meaty Thigh Monster, and I go to sleep.  All the sudden I get hungry for, well, meaty thighs and attack them for my routine meal.

They all think this is an AMAZING game. I like it’s predictability and that I’m particularly good at being a monster. Unfortunately Ian is getting tall and wirey and his thighs aren’t so meaty anymore. It’s like they need to be put in the slow cooker for a very long time. Beatrice, on the other hand, is a smorgasbord of thick and marbled meat!

The game eventually turned into a pillow fight of which I lost and fell dead in the hallway.  Ian believed himself to be victorious and didn’t even seem phased when I later told him I faked it and let him win.

Now the kids are supposed to be in bed and of course they are up here in my face at 9 0’clock.  Ian says, “I have a cool animal fact. Did you know that baby koalas are the size of a jelly bean when they are born? They are that small. That’s even smaller than Bebo. It’s like you could eat them.”

The kitchen sink is empty, the table is mostly cleaned off, and I *think* the kids are finally asleep.  I’ve ironed and picked out Jason’s clothes for tomorrow and all I have to do is make his lunch.  Geesh, I sound like his housekeeper and his valet (but not as emotionally erratic as Mr. Bates . . . okay, maybe I am). Bates aside, I refuse to get up at 5:30am and dress Jason.  That’s where I draw the line.

Oh yeah, and I’m his parent, too, since I guess I’m waiting up for him. He’s out way past curfew!

It’s nice to write, however much of a rambling it is, and it’s also nice to realize that today was a pretty great day. I am thankful this is like many other days we have had in the last year–which I hope I eventually get around to sharing about.

 

 

 

Summer 2014

I know it’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything and summer is starting to slow down and come to an end.  We’ve managed to stay pretty entertained;  here’s a bit (or maybe a lot more) on our happenings.

In June we said goodbye to the Tarters, as they packed up their car and drove back to Michigan.  We miss their fellowship and I know the kids miss Josiah.  We were really blessed to have them in our home for the nine months they were here.

With the changing of tenants, we (Jason) worked on some projects in the MIL unit that we’ve been meaning to get completed.  My favorite update is the new exterior door that is now installed and painted.  I never knew door installation was so much work, but Jason did a great job.  Here is the finished product.

Our new helper, Laurel, moved in mid-June.  She describes herself as a “nester” so it was fun to be able to get the space in a bit better shape and to see her move in and make the place her own.  She is doing a great job with the kids and helping me around the house, and for those things I am very thankful.  And we will welcome her fiance, Jason, into our house come November when they tie the knot.

Next up, we celebrated the 4th of July here at home with the Richards.  I suppose celebrating  holidays with their clan has become a ritual now that we’ve got at least two Christmases under our belt.  Mom was with us, too, and we had a lovely time.  Here’s some great photos I got of our little fireworks show.

I love these people!

In mid-July Jason, Beatrice, and I took our long-anticipated trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, for Jason’s 20-year high school reunion.  I was apprehensive about this trip mainly due to how hot I hear it is in Florida in the summer.  I was also a bit nervous about how I would handle sleep with the three-hour time difference.

The trip turned out to be very lovely and exceeded all my expectations. God answered my prayer for nice weather (hot, but not humid), we had a great hotel right on the beach, and we all slept well and did fine with the time change.  We even had a nonstop, first class flight on the way there (and on airline miles, too)!

Right off the bat (actually, on the flight), Jason was reading and thinking and had some significant revelations. This seems to be a theme for us– apparently there’s nothing like getting away from the daily grind to start thinking big picture.

First, he decided to resign from his current job and start studying full-time to take the CPA exams.  When he told me he wanted to do this my first response was “Absolutely, of course.”  I really think it’s the right time.  We’re both excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for his career.

Second, Jason told me he wants to climb Mt. Rainier.  I was a bit surprised by that one.  He said it was mainly because he happened to look out the window of the airplane and see it sitting there so majestically and thought “I’ve always wanted to do that!”  I think that will probably be for next year . . . Also, we talked about the potential of him going back to school to get a combined masters in business/engineering, but that’s down the road a ways.

Since all that big life stuff happened on the first day of our trip, the rest of the time we felt a bit relieved and really able to relax. And the whole point of the trip–the reunion–went great. Jason organized it from afar, but it came together very easily and there was a great turnout.  He loved gabbing with everybody (of course) and was able to slip in a round of golf with an old buddy and high school teacher.

Spruce Creek High School IB Class of ’94

And, of course we had beach time.  It was truly glorious.

We came back rested and returned to Mother T and the kiddos in generally good spirits!

In other things . . .

With Jason’s freed up schedule we decided to go to Mom’s house for a week.  I didn’t take any photos, but we got lots of sun time — playing in the backyard, going to Joy’s pool, hanging at the beach and splash pad.  It was nice to have Jason there with us for so long.

Also, about a month ago I went down to the Shoreline library and got myself a King County library card, which I’ve been meaning to do for over a year.  Vacation put a jump start on my reading plans and I’m very pleased with how much I’ve accomplished (and how much time I’m not in front of a screen).

So far I’ve read a mixture of fiction and self-help: Paris in Love, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Who Moved My Cheese?, QBQ, and Boundaries.  I’m also working my way through John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (which has been fascinating and very helpful).  I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything on this list.

Next up is The Book Thief and Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed. Jason & I are also going to listen to the audio version of Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat (we feel so lost now that we’ve finished all six seasons of Parks and Rec).

In other healthy life changes, just this last week I went down to our local YMCA and got our family a membership. I am not a gym person, but so many people have raved about our local Y and both of our doctors have told Jason & I we need to incorporate more exercise into our lives (something about stress management . . . ).

Jason’s hoping to do more swimming and I’d like to start taking yoga and go (slowly) from there.  And of course the kids are super excited about the pool and the fun kids area.  The nice lady who helped me enroll gave us a tour of the facility and I just kept thinking “I feel so blessed, this is amazing.”  One more reason why moving up here to Shoreline in this season has been a gift from God to us.

Next up we start homeschooling.  I’ve been a bit in denial about that, but there’s nothing like shopping aisles of school supplies to get me motivated (for anything, really).  BSF will start back up again in a few weeks, too, and both Ian and Imogen are going to try Awana this year at a nearby church.  We’re also excited about a new family Sunday school program starting up at our church come September.

That’s about it, folks.  I hope someone enjoyed this very long recap!

Here’s more photos from June and July.

 

 

My variegated camellia

I know it’s been a while, and that’s to be expected since we’ve been busy since Beatrice was born.  I do have a couple blog posts half-written (one being her birth story) but for now I wanted to share something shorter.

Wait, what am I kidding; I don’t do short.

With what I’m about to share I don’t intend to portray myself as especially godly.  In fact, I feel the opposite;  I am in a season of spiritual dryness.  I remember experiencing this after Imogen was born, too.  I feel tapped out mentally and emotionally.  I’m barely doing my daily BSF homework and my prayers feel like they are words spoken distantly and with little intention.

When the end of the day comes I just want to sit down on the couch and watch Parks & Rec on Netflix.  In the moments where I have some quiet while breastfeeding I sit and watch clips of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  I tell myself I need light and superficial, that I can’t handle much more.

Despite this desert, there is a little sprout.

We have a big picture window in front of our kitchen sink.  On the other side of the glass sits a camellia bush (more like a tree in our case).  We moved in July so we didn’t see it bloom last spring. Actually it was only recently that I even looked closely enough to recognize that it was a camellia.

And then, this last week, right in the center of the window, this happened.

A lone bloom.  And a pretty spectacular one at that.

I was very pleasantly surprised.  I have never seen a camellia bloom with stripes before.  I posted a photo on Facebook and was told it’s called a variegated camellia.

I have been walking by this window or standing in front of it doing dishes and thinking. Not too deep, mind you, but at least it’s a start.

It’s a little gift to me.

My mom gave me a devotional for Christmas called God Calling.  If you’ve read any of the Jesus Calling devotionals, it is similar in style but a bit more obtuse and written in more complex, older English (which I like).  In fact, it is the book that inspired Sarah Young to write her books.  If you’re not familiar with these devotionals, they are written in the first person, as if Jesus were talking directly to the reader.

This last week I was flipping back through a few day’s worth of devotionals that I’d missed and I came across March 11th, entitled “Seek Beauty.”  This stuck out at me:

“I am with you. When I wanted to express a beautiful thought, I made a lovely flower.

When I want to express to man what I am–what my Father is–I strive to make a very beautiful character.”

There you have it; that’s what my variegated camellia bloom is–a beautiful thought from God.

I gave up Facebook for Lent.  Well, I sort of did.  I’ve been back on a few times but it’s been quick and usually to post a picture.  I have not been trolling it like I ashamedly have spent a lot of my spare time doing in the last few months (years?).

It was–it does–pretty much eat away at my soul.  I’ve tricked myself into feeling, with every “like” I get on my status update, that things are better, that I’m better, that life is better, heck, even that I’m better than others.

I hoped that during this time of Lent I could empty that part of my mental and emotional space and fill it with whatever the Lord wanted to put there.

Emptying hasn’t actually been that hard, but filling back up with the worthwhile has proven much more difficult.  Yes, I troll more on Pinterest now.  And I’ve been obsessing about how my sweet little baby girl is overtired and won’t nap.  I’ve been looking in the mirror at my soft, lumpy body, discouraged. I’ve been imagining how I’m going to organize my laundry room.  Everything will be neat and organized and in control–it will all be wonderful!

I am encouraged that somehow, in the midst of all my chaos (let’s just call it what it is–idolatry) something of the goodness and purpose of Lent has gotten through, all because of that variegated camellia.

I look at it, again and again, by the mere fact that my daily routines center around that window.  It takes me away from Facebook and Pinterest, away from the way things should be, according to me or to the world, to actual reality, where God resides (which is much better).

He makes beautiful things and He’s making me beautiful.  The former is evident, the latter I ask for faith to remember and believe in.

_____

Also, along similar lines, I have appreciated what Amy Lepine has been writing about Lent and also her post entitled “The Long, Hard Winter, Right?” at Making All Things New.

And here’s some photos from February and March.

I am thankful

. . . that I was able to take my kids to the pumpkin patch yesterday.  I had the energy to do it on my own and we had such a sweet, enjoyable time together.

Don’t they look so grown up?

I am thankful that my midwife’s office called today and told me all my labs were very normal (and my iron was even exceptionally good).  The numbers on paper just further confirm how I feel physically on most days.

I am thankful to be so excited to meet this new baby.  I see little ones and I feel like I can’t wait to hold mine! When I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t have imagined feeling this way at six months. I am also excited to give birth again.

I am thankful and so very, very pleased at how Ian is growing up.  I am glad God has given me more energy, courage, direction, and conviction to be consistent with him, and how that is helping him to blossom.  This is truly answered prayer, as so many times I feel insecure about my ability to parent. Yesterday Ian told me I was the best mom ever, and I told him I was so glad I get to be his mom.

I am thankful for the Tarters.

I am thankful that Jason & I planned a trip to Monterey for this coming weekend and this won’t be one of those times (they have been frequent in the last few years), where I have to cancel because I just don’t have it in me to travel.

I am thankful that with help from Sarah (who gives me time to sleep), I am able to handle our regular load of preschool, BSF, parish group, church, and other special activities that come up.  Right now I am even able to volunteer to help sometimes.

I am thankful for sleep!  Yes, it is still assisted by certain pharmaceuticals, but I am amazed at how much my health and mood has improved with more rest.  I am also better able to discern when I need to slow down and rest more, and then actually do it without guilt (but not always without some grumpiness and a few tears).

I am thankful that even though I am feeling better, God is still putting me in positions where I have to ask for help, which makes me very uncomfortable.  I can’t say I am seizing all the opportunities that come to me, but I am thankful for the chances.

I am thankful that Seattle Children’s Hospital is so generously covering the cost of Ian’s very expensive hospital visit. Actually, I am in awe and humbled by it.

I am thankful for Lizzie, who waits patiently every afternoon to take a nap with me.  But I hate that she almost always wants to sleep right on my belly, but not before obsessively kneading it with her paws.

I am thankful for my mom and how I see God working in her life.

I am thankful for how handy Jason is and all the home improvement projects he’s completed, and the ones he has in the works.

Jason is thankful that I cook dinner, clean up the kitchen afterward, and make his lunch.  He used to do that most every night.

He’s also thankful his wife is less crazy.   He will tell you that is much more exhausting to deal with than dirty dishes.

Life is not perfect — I don’t mean to portray it that way.  I do wonder what the future holds and how we’ll fare as my pregnancy progresses and the baby comes.

But I am thankful for these things.

Big news for the Haggards

Since I last blogged in May, a lot has happened.  I may as well just dive right in with it.

1) We bought a house

and . . .

2) We’re pregnant.

Yes, I know.  When it rains, it pours.  And even if what’s falling out of the sky are good things, I’m going to be honest and say I still feel at many times that I need to run and duck for cover.

And I mean, didn’t you expect this from the Haggards (even if we don’t even expect it from ourselves)?  Have we ever failed to shock or entertain you?  (Dear God, may we please fail you someday, for my own personal sanity and my husband’s well-being.)

Many of you know either by direct conversation or in some roundabout way about either one or both of these things.  If you didn’t, well I suppose now you do because it’s on the internet.

As far as the home-buying is concerned, some of you will find it ironic that Jason got himself into the real estate market.  That is because you’ve heard him go on and on about how buying a house in Seattle is ludicrous because the market is so overpriced and yada yada yada.  I have liked renting for its security; if anything unfortunate were to happen financially we could be out of our house immediately.

But, at the beginning of May we started thinking about a house.  This was propagated by the fact that Jason’s parents were in Seattle and we were discussing the possibility of finding a home with a MIL unit that they could live in while they were helping us.  In future seasons we could use the unit to host friends and family and for our family as it grows.

We weren’t thinking all that seriously.  In fact we told our new realtor, “You know, we just want to warn you – this could be a year or two from now . . . or maybe never.” Ha.   She was probably smirking on the inside.

But despite our hesitations, some big things needed to get resolved for us in the month of May, and where we would live was one of them.  The other two were as follows:

1) Will my in-laws stay in Seattle or move on?  They weren’t having much luck finding permanent housing and figured they should make a decision by June.

2) Am I pregnant?  Yes, a little off topic.  But I knew there was a slim possibility.  Because it was so slim, I was not thinking much about it, but because God designed nature as it is, I would eventually (as in a month) find out if I was or wasn’t.

I remember very distinctly my prayers about these things.  I prayed with hopeful expectancy, which is very unlike me.

The first answer we received was that I was in fact pregnant.  I must have, deep in my subconscious, dismissed this as a real possibility because I was completely shocked.  And sort of freaked out.  I am a crazy lady and now I’m a crazy lady having another baby What, people, could possibly be next for the Haggards?!

[I will interject to say that I am pro-having babies and I am pro-having this baby.  But I was shocked nonetheless.]

Jason was also surprised but of course supportive, and he’s a flexible person to begin with. He jokes that he got what he wanted with the time frame moved up, which is fine by him.  If we found out we were having twins he would consider it an absolutely perfect situation.  Maybe, that is, until the twins actually came out of the womb and I handed them over to him.

Now that we had to factor into our living situation another human being, we knew we were going to have to move in the next nine months – whether Jason’s parents stayed or not.  Hmmm.

We had looked at one house at the beginning of May (minus a few at-home Redfin stalkings I did on my own). Amazingly it had fit all of our requirements.  It already had a MIL unit, the layout was great, it was in a pleasant neighborhood, had a backyard, was close to friends, there was easy access to the freeway, and it was not a complete dump.  If you live in Seattle, you know this is a gem.

But we both decided it was just okay.  We didn’t get any major impressions when we walked in or afterward when we talked it over.  We dismissed it because at that point we thought we only had two children.  And we moved on for another week or so, waiting for answers.

But now that I was pregnant that house was looking better and better to me.  And not even in a desperate sort of way.  I started to be excited about its possibilities and the space it did afford.  I started to feel like I could see us living there.

In a totally random sort of way we put an offer in on the house.  It had sat on the market another week and our realtor thought we could offer what we wanted to, which was significantly less than the asking price.

And that began a journey that only included a few brief conversations between Jason and I on the couch and the conclusion that we’d take one step forward, and then another, and we’d see what would happen.

And now we live in this house.  And it has been truly, truly a blessing.

In the end, our in-laws decided to move back east.  This was really hard for us. But, it has brought about a great God story.  As of a few weeks ago we have a couple living in our MIL unit, JT and Sarah, and their 10-month-old son, Josiah.  In exchange for the living space, Sarah takes care of Ian and Imogen during the weekdays so I can rest.

I cannot tell you how truly great this has been, in numerous ways.  It is helping me get better and it is a comfort to know there will be extra help when the baby comes.  And we really like JT and Sarah, and we are glad our families can mutually bless each other.  They moved out here from Michigan and were looking for housing when they saw a post I put on the Mars Hill’s website.  And now they are here with us.

[This is where I was going to post a picture of our new friends, but I figured I didn’t want to totally creep them out if they ended up reading this.]

JT is looking into church-planting and Sarah has plans to finish a nursing degree and become a midwife.  How perfect to have a future midwife in our house!  Sarah and I have had some good conversations on the subject.

Jason and I took possession of the house at the beginning of July and for that month Jason worked away, getting some things remodeled, re-plumbed, etc.  Thank you to friends and family who also helped, you are very much appreciated.  You worked so that I didn’t have to.

The kids and I came back from Mother T’s at the beginning of August and JT
& Sarah moved in shortly after that. And now we are that couple who works on the house after the kids go to bed.  We’ve spent more money at The Home Depot than I care to think about.  I’m hanging pictures on the walls, Jason’s out gabbing with the neighbors, and the kids are scratching the newly refinished hardwood floors.  I guess that means we’re making it home.

Not many have actually seen the house, so I will give a few glimpses.  I preface this with the fact that you will be disappointed with these photos – they are few and not all that exciting.

Here’s the white trash side of our house.  Note the appliances and furniture in the driveway, and I left the garage door open for the full effect.  I would personally apologize to the neighbors, but I’m too much of an introvert at the moment to do so.

This is the other side of the front.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it’s beautifully landscaped (not by us).

Ian requested I take a picture of him, of course.

Here’s the first room we finished.  Yes, it is light pistachio, and no, Jason does not like it.  But, he loves his wife so that’s the way it is.

These are photos of the MIL unit. Technically this was the first area we finished, as we wanted it ready for JT & Sarah.  We mainly painted, cleaned the carpets, replaced some appliances and did some plumbing. (“We” means Jason).

I promise to take more photos.  I really wish I had taken some befores, but that didn’t happen.  But, here’s more general photos from July and August.

So, in the end, I still ask myself “How did we get here?!  What is going on?  Am I still having this baby and do we really live in Shoreline?”

I know I’ve fully explained it, but I still wonder sometimes. Jason and I are amazed at God’s impeccable timing and His provision.  And how simply it came together.  I mean, as simple as buying a home and being pregnant can be.

The last time I posted was over two months ago.  I was, of course, thinking about all the what-ifs, and I did imply that some in my writing.  But I was also stuck on this: “Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor 7:17).

How fitting that was when I found out I was pregnant – it was assigned.  And so was the house.  And our new tenants.  And even my struggles with depression and anxiety, as I work to overcome them.

There is peace in knowing that God’s will happens.  It is happening for us Haggards.

It goes both ways

Some good things, in no particular order.

  1. Though sleep has been difficult the last two weeks, it didn’t slow me down today; I played hide and seek with my kids in the woods.  And trust me, two hours a night is a lot worse than the status quo.
  2. I didn’t yell at my husband when he wandered off in Costco yesterday.  Now I did yell at him when we were trying to order photos, but I still consider this an accomplishment.
  3. My wonderful, dear children.
  4. My in-laws, who I really like and who have been an immense help to me and good company many days as Jason works long hours.
  5. A restful Mother’s Day. Jason served us an amazing meal which he mostly prepared the day before so he wasn’t hermiting in the kitchen all afternoon (this was upon my request).
  6. I’m making jewelry, which I haven’t done since childhood.  I like giving it away and I have really enjoyed Jessica and I’s evening jewelry-making sessions.  My mom, Becky, and Linda have given me lots of old jewelry to work with but of course that doesn’t keep me from building my own collection of material to work with.
  7. I’m taking more photos and enjoying my camera, which was a wonderful gift from my dad a few years ago.
  8. Hanging out with other ladies at Jane’s clothing swap and finding some great things to take home.
  9. Finding a Vietnam-era military locker at Value Village.  Becky says her kids used Bill’s dad’s locker as a toy box when they were young. I like having meaningful things around my home, things with stories attached to them.
  10. Having some other creative projects I’m inspired to do.  In fact, being inspired is something I’ve needed for a long time and it’s coming back to me.
  11. Meeka’s post.
  12. The mornings are sometimes hard, but things usually get better as the day goes on.
  13. My psychiatric NP said I’m doing a lot better and when I actually thought about it, I agreed with her.
  14. I’m celebrating six years of writing on this blog.  For me, doing anything for six years is pretty amazing.
  15. Goodwill Hunting and Silver Lining Playbook.
  16. Reading a book on Bonhoeffer and how it has given me insight into my family’s German Lutheran heritage.  I want to learn more.
  17. The trail gator we just got for Ian.  More family bike rides are in our future.
  18. Ian’s preschool Mother’s Day party and how he showed me his classroom and told me I’m the best mom.
  19. The bags of girls clothes Adelle sent home with me and the box with filled with goodies from my Mom.  It felt like Christmas!
  20. Ecclesiastes.

Some hard things.

  1. The sleep thing.  I laid awake for two hours last night, filled with anxiety. When will this end?  What will it take?
  2. There’s a good chance Bill & Becky will leave in June.  Their renters in Georgia fell through and we don’t have a place for them to live here long-term.  Like I said, I really like them.  Even if I didn’t have the struggles I have at the moment, I would still be sad to see them go.
  3. Struggling with the idea of living elsewhere (in the Seattle area, not out-of-state).  I am intrigued by this and yet the uncertainty, the cost and the stress of moving makes me anxious.  I keep coming back to the fact that I love living where we are and that is a blessing.  And Jason and I are working pretty well together as we talk through this topic (maybe he would disagree on that?).
  4. I think you’re sensing a theme here — anxiety.
  5. A day last week when I felt discouraged and didn’t want to get out of bed.  The dark cloud was hanging, but I just had to sit up and put my feet on the floor.
  6. I’m having trouble eating regularly and being interested in eating in general.  Food is a passion for me so it’s hard, but I did get two enjoyable meals in with Dad & Linda at Ballard Pizza Co. and The Whale Wins.  If you go to Ballard Pizza Co., which you should, get The Big Moses.
  7. My children are watching way too much TV and I’m not really monitoring the content they are absorbing.  Don’t worry, it’s all of the kid persuasion, but still.
  8. The temptation to lean on other things, which is strong. But, God brings me back when I wander.
  9. I felt convicted the other day that I frequently call myself a depressed person.  But, I’m not depressed a lot of the time.  Besides, that is not who I am.
  10. I’m sad BSF is ending.  I really enjoyed my small group and I will miss our stimulating conversations.  This has been one of the most impressionable years of BSF for me.
  11. The fights I pick with Jason.
  12. My efforts to try impress people; I want them to notice me (how does this work, since I’m an introvert?). It’s tiring, and really a person struggling with mental illness doesn’t need the pressure.
  13. Jason’s working and he can’t help but keep his mind on that a lot.  But, at least he has a job.

I feel like ending with my hard things obliges me to say I’m not hanging off a cliff here and I’m not trying to be hard on myself. I just can’t help being an honest person.  I think that’s a good thing.

In fact, I am glad God uses me to say things others can’t or won’t.  I know some can relate in some way.

“Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor 7:17).

Somebody else’s poop

The last few weeks have been a bit out of routine for the Haggard family.  Rebecca, my mother-in-law, had plans to visit her mom and sister in California mid-March and since I still need a babysitter for both myself and my children I decided to take the kids to my mom’s.  Jason would stay at home and decompress and then we would return and he and Ian would head off to New York to see the Franci.

I was on an upward swing mood and energy-wise, and so I felt pretty confident I could handle the day’s drive to my mom’s alone with the kids and the preparation it would take to pull it off.  Rebecca would be around to help me and watch the kids so I could pack the day before.

And really, once you’ve got the car packed and the children restrained, they can’t do much damage.  I can deal with intermittent crying.  And, as my friend endearingly calls all minivans “rolling studio apartments,” I would be driving in relative ease, with cruise control.

For merely my own entertainment, I would like to go off on a rabbit trail to explain how I view “drives.” There is the leisurely Sunday afternoon scenic type.  There’s the epic road trip, the usual high school “I’m bored, let’s just go drive around” and the unfortunate ambulatory type.  There’s the classic “let’s just keep driving until we resolve this fight and then we’ll go to our scheduled social function” kind.  I understand that all these kinds of “drives” can be necessary for both sound mind and/or body.

But, if you’re driving across the state of Washington, you just want to get there.  Let me rephrase that–I just want to get there.  That’s the “drive” you’re taking (with me). I’m with children, people.  This could take all day (and in my mind it should not).  We must NOT stop unless absolutely necessary.

Yes, I have strong opinions about this.  Ask my mom, who drove back to Seattle with me and made the mistake of having both a coffee and a Coke which caused her to have to pee more frequently that I thought a human being ought to.

(Note: Nursing or potty training children also throws this expectation all off for me.  I know they have to eat and pee, but in my opinion you might as well just not leave your house at all, which is what I, and some other moms tend to do.  Heck, if people love you enough they’ll come visit you.)

Anyway, back to the start of our trip.  Packing went very smoothly the day before.  I got to bed early, and loading the van in the morning by myself was a cinch (I prefer to do this alone anyway, because I am very particular about how it’s done–I think you see the theme that’s developing here).  We were out of our driveway at 9am (that’s a PR for me) and heading out toward 1-90.

We breezed past the outlet mall in North Bend (stopping there is one hypocritical exception I will make, but I figured we’d go there on our way back to Seattle).  We then reached Ellensburg, and then the halfway mark at the Gorge.  This was major progress!

Somewhere past George I started talking to Elysia. Our conversation lasted about an hour and as we got to the end of it, I was hearing Imogen moaning in the back.  We were close to Moses Lake and I had promised Ian we would stop there for lunch.  We pulled up to a Subway/gas station combo and I said goodbye to Elysia.

Feeling extremely good about how things were going and that it was only around noon, I opened up the van doors to free my children.  Unfortunately, what I found was Imogen covered in wet, runny poo.  It had soaked through her clothes and down into the car seat.

This incident only slightly threw me off.  Moms, we’ve been here before; it’s known territory.  You just go with the “flow” so to speak and pun intended.  I got Imogen out, wiped her and her seat down with a million wipes, did my best to contain the poo in all the places it had ended up while keeping her from wiggling out of the van, put fresh clothes on her, and put the changing pad in the car seat to cover the wet areas.

This was, I might add, witnessed by everyone walking in and out of the store since I had parked right in front of the door (for our convenience, of course).

I was hand-sanitized and with children, onto the next potty stop for Ian and myself.  I decided to take with me only what was absolutely necessary, which was my keys and the little wallet that is attached to my key chain which contains my credit cards and driver’s license.

The gas station bathroom was very tolerable and included a handicap stall, which is a must for not only the handicapped, but also those of us with munchkins.

When we entered the stall, it was hard not to notice there were quite large skid marks in the toilet (I warned you with my title this post was going to contain foreign poop, so don’t blame me now for your own imagination).  The term skid marks almost seems to understate the amount of poop that was actually in the toilet, but that is indeed what was in there.

I flushed the toilet, but it was to no avail. We would deal with it–I was not giving up the space this handicap stall afforded me.

Now I will say I also get kinda OCD about public restrooms.  My basic motto with my kids is “Put your hands in your pockets and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!”  I have developed a system with Ian where he can pee and still obey this rule.

With Imogen, I’m just going to have to discuss this with my counselor.  I don’t know how I will emotionally manage seeing her bottom and hands on a public toilet seat.  Shall we move on, please?

Ian had peed, Imogen was remaining mainly in one location and keeping her hands to herself, and so I took a very quick moment to go pee myself.

I completed my deed, thankful the children were not moving from their locations.  But as I pulled my pants up I heard a dreaded “Ker plunk!”

I knew what it was before I turned around–my keys and key chain wallet were in the toilet–WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S POOP.  I had stuck them in my back pocket since I didn’t have my coat on.

In moments like this you do not think; instead you act (I reached in and grabbed my keys)–and, admittedly, you say a cuss word or two.  At least this is what I do.

But once that’s over, and this is really only a matter of seconds, you start thinking–there’s a small pause–you say another cuss word just to set in stone how you’re feeling in the moment, and then you assess.  You wonder what you should do with the keys dangling from your finger and dripping onto the floor and the poop you can see on the side of your wallet.

And what about the children?!  My solution was to just start yelling “Nobody move! NOBODY MOVE!”

And I still hadn’t pulled my pants up all the way.  Agghh.

With a bit more yelling and frantic toilet paper grabbing I managed to set the keys down on a wad of TP (why I thought I needed to keep them “clean” from the floor germs I do not know).  I tried not to think about how much my nasty hands were touching my undies and pants as I pulled them up.  Any time the kids moved anywhere near the toilet I yelled “DON’T GO OVER THERE! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!”

Did I mention there was someone in the stall next to us?  I bet if she had a button in her purse that said “Mom of the Year” she would have handed it over the stall wall and I would’ve proudly pinned it to the front of my shirt.  But how I would have done this with poop germs on my hands I do not know.

We got ourselves out of the stall and I started frantically dousing the keys, wallet and everything in my wallet with water and soap, while trying to keep one eye on my children, particularly the smaller one who would want to wander back into a stall. My other child was just giving me the evil eye for yelling at him and all kinds of back talk was flying back and forth between he and I.

At a certain point I realized that dousing my key fab in water was probably not a good idea so I stopped that.  And then the lady in the stall came out and I sheepishly looked at her and said “Why don’t you go ahead, we’re going to be a while.”

She turned out to be really nice and told me this long story about how she dropped her iPhone in the toilet once and how she was able to save it.  She didn’t mention any poop was involved.  And then she left.  Sadly, no button, but also no condemnation.

At that point I decided we just needed to get out of Dodge.  We were in a serious danger zone of germs and at least I could take the nasty germs I had with me, leave the rest in there, go out to the van, put a haz mat suit on, and get down to business.

“NO, we will not be stopping for a sandwich at this moment, Ian,” I said as we walked by a wide array of tempting Subway toppings.  The response: more evil eye.

I put the kids in the back of the van and went to work.  No, I didn’t really have a haz mat suit, but now I’m seriously considering getting one.  What I did have were lots of baby wipes, Clorox disinfecting wipes and antibacterial hand stuff, all within hand’s reach.  These are the kind of moments when having OCD tendencies comes quite in handy.

All my cards and wallet (still trying not to think about that wallet) ended up Cloroxed.  My keys were scrubbed down as well and I doused myself and the kids with antibacterial rub.

And now we were going to go back in the store and eat?  Yuck. But, I had promised Ian Subway, which is his all-time favorite.  Plus, it is kinda negligent to not feed your children if they are hungry and if you have the ability to do so.  So, we went inside and got our food to go.  We were getting out of Dodge, remember?

As we got down the road Ian happily sat in the back and ate an entire 6-inch.  I forced myself to eat because I figured part of my emotional state was because I was hangry in the first place.  Imogen was just happy to not be sitting in her own poop.

It took me about ten miles or so down the road to stop being angry.  And then I felt relieved it was over and all I could do was laugh at how disgusting it all was. I figured it was a milestone for me; there would’ve been times in the past where I would’ve stayed mad a lot longer and in the moment of drama acted a lot worse to my children or those around me.

I will say, I was glad Jason was not there.  I don’t think I’m mature enough at this point to not have thrown my wrath on him, for no unexplainable reason or fault of his own.

I will confess that the first thing I did when I got to my mom’s house was to gruffly say to her “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” wipe down the car with more Clorox wipes, put my children in the bath, wash my clothes, and take a shower.

I threw the wallet away.  No amount of soaking it in bleach would erase the memory of seeing someone else’s poop on it.  And it was a nice wallet, too, and kind of sentimental to me.  But now I use my cheap Fred Meyer one because why have nice things if they’re just going to end up in the toilet?  (I acknowledge the irony and/or hypocrisy of this statement since I had left my new iPhone in the van before entering this traumatic scene).

There’s really no good way to end this story except to say that though awful, I’m growing up a bit.  Even in the craziness that is my current emotional troubles, on a good day, we did okay with something unexpected.  I did not curl up into a ball, burst into tears and let my children wander aimlessly through a gas station convenience store (or play in a public toilet).  In fact, everything else about the drive was enjoyable both before and after the incident–and we made record time, too!

This just proves in a small way that God gives you what you need exactly when you need it. For me right now this isn’t a picture perfect response in a troubling situation.  I’m just asking for a sound mind–and that’s what He gave me.