Posts by ramaha

recovery…and intentional living…

Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 in faith | 2 comments

Almost one week after our move, there are some signs of normalcy peeking through.

Pulling out the baking sheets to make cookies…(such a strange face, Parker)

Putting some of the kids books on shelves…

Finding the perfect spot for new slippers…

Getting around to doing the laundry…finally…

Preparing for the next family production of Patch the Pirate…supposedly it is happening tonight…

They are all good signs. Signs that we are settling in and getting back to regular life. But even with all that, I think we are still very much in the middle of “recovery”. The kids don’t want to be anywhere but home, everyone has had strange sleeping patterns, I keep getting up in the middle of the night and walking into the bathroom instead of the hallway, and I don’t quite think Fiona “gets” that we’re not going back to the other house again.

Yeah, I would call it “recovery”…regrouping from a big event and figuring out what happens next.  I think about other big events in my life like our wedding and our babies – both had a built-in recovery period. Honeymoons are just as much for recovering from the wedding than they are for…other stuff. Our kids came with their own built-in recovery period – the drastic change in the rhythm of life forced us to slow down, focus on the next feeding, and take time to process what just happened to our lives.

It’s healthy and positive and healing. But honestly, I think it would be easy for me to get stuck in that “recovery” phase, and let the world slip on by outside my door while I sit and stare at the ceiling, wondering what happened to me. It’s just too easy.

But I keep cycling back to something I have been thinking about the last two months. We have been studying the book of Luke in Bible study, and I am constantly struck by the example that Jesus gave us of how He lived His life. Everything had purpose. Everything had intention. Even when he stayed back at the Temple when he was 12 years old, he knew what his purpose was when He told his parents,

“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”(Luke 2:49 ESV)

I want to live like that. I want to be intentional about what I do, what I say, how I live. I want to use the time I have for things that have purpose. Even this in-between time in a house with no pictures on the walls and half our possessions in boxes, I don’t want to just be in a mental holding pattern, but to make sure this time matters. Because our time here…every minute…matters.

on saying goodbye…

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in building our Home, perspective | 3 comments

I’m not very good with goodbyes. Never have been. Never will be. So this “saying goodbye” business to our house has been rather…difficult. It doesn’t help that very well-meaning people in my life keep asking me (in soothing tones) how I’m handling the move. I may say that I’m doing okay, but I’m not. Truth be told, it’s all I can do to choke back the tears so I’m not driving around town with big smears of snot running down my chin and permanent mascara rings around my eyes.

Plus, I don’t really feel like I have had time to process. Between the packing and the exhaustion and the distraction of kiddos, I just had not thought about it much. Until Sunday. I was in our bedroom, wiping down the filthy baseboards when I was almost physically knocked over by wave after wave of nostalgia. It seemed odd that I would have such a visceral reaction to an empty room, but as I ran my fingers along the walls that we painted (multiple times) and walked down the warm wood hallway for the umpteenth time, whispers of the last seven years swirled around in my mind.

Remember all the tea parties in Madi’s little playhouse…remember when Parker smeared all of that red lip stain all over his face…remember all the nights I snuggled up in Fiona’s toddler bed and stared at the flowers on her ceiling…remember when Ben and I would lay in bed at night taking bets on when the kids would wake up…remember when…remember when…

How do I say goodbye to a place where I spent so much time…lived so much life…grew so much as a person…became a mom…

But.

Maybe I can skip right over goodbye and say hello to the new owners instead. Maybe that will bring me some sort of twisted closure. So here goes…

to our dear new homeowners…

Welcome Home! I knew the moment we sat down at the closing that you were moving into the perfect place…as a young couple on the brink of parenthood and looking for a place to put down roots. It is that kind of house, the kind you walk through once and know it is where you want to be. That’s how it was for us when we were looking for a place to grow into a family, and I am so glad that you are starting your adventure at the “blue house” the exact same way. You won’t be disappointed.

I know we gave you some tips at the closing, but I had a few more that I wanted to tell you. I spent a lot of mornings eating pop tarts and putting together puzzles…spent a lot of afternoons playing hide and seek in the backyard…spent a lot of nights rocking babies back to sleep…I feel like an expert that is about to go extinct, so humor me…

Avoid sitting in the living room in the corner between the two windows…I’ll be honest, it can be a little drafty. I would invest in a warm blanket and when possible, get off the couch and snuggle with your kids instead.

Use the dining room…to eat. I have so many memories of time we spent together around the table talking about school, work, and just life. And honestly, the dark wooden floor hides a multitude of PB & J crumbs.

There is a “non-squeaky” path out of the nursery. I promise. It takes some precise leaps and twirls, but it is feasible. Don’t give up!

Try not to accidentally lock your kids in the downstairs bathroom. To get them out, you have to take the door off the hinges, and if you aren’t able to dislodge it before your husband dashes home from work, it will result in piles of tears for your kiddo…and you.

If you occasionally get a whiff of Elmer’s glue and tempera paint in the kitchen, it is leftover from the sky-high pile of art projects that were created in the breakfast nook…our craft area. Sometimes I felt like the smell was here to stay.

You may wish that we didn’t cut down the tree in the backyard. Try to stifle that feeling…not much good came from all those walnuts.

Every time you curse the stairway into the basement, just know that it really was…much worse. I promise.

No matter how dark the night is, there is always the streetlamp shedding a glimmer of light through the cracks in the blinds.

When you are up in the middle of the night with your baby, stop and listen. You might just hear the whispers of the moms who came before you…prayers, cries for help, whispers of “I love you”…listen and draw strength from it – we were there, and we made it too…

Dance. Crank up the music and dance whenever you can. The neighbors won’t care, and it makes everything better somehow.

And speaking of the neighbors, don’t take them for granted. I know we did, and now, I can’t even bring myself to go and say goodbye to the most supportive group of people who look out for each other, support each other, and occasionally crack a few jokes at your expense.

When you are cold in the winter…and hot in the summer…head to the basement room…it is the most well-insulated room in the house…

There will be days where you don’t like the house very much. Tripped circuit breakers and creaky floors and awkward corner cupboards. But even with all that, we always loved it, and I hope you do too.

It’s a special place. Please take care of it…

Love Rachel

Fighting off the hoarder in me…

Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 in memories, perspective | 3 comments

I refuse to watch the A&E show, Hoarders, for two reasons:

1) It’s a little terrifying to see people with all. that. stuff.

2) I’m also slightly terrified that I could be a borderline hoarder.

This was evident to me as we have been getting ready to move this week. You see, packing is sort of like dredging the bottom of a lake. It looks silent and serene until everything gets dug up and piled in a giant heap on the edge of the water. It’s messy and yucky and kind of horrifying.

Last Sunday, Ben and I pulled out all the boxes and bins that were jammed in the crawl space behind Madi’s closet. Along with an assortment of Princess House crystal boxes (solving the mystery of where all the crystal place card holders from our wedding went to) and Ben’s baseball card collection, five bins came out that were labeled “Rachel’s Memories”. This was on top of two more bins that were sitting in the back of our closet, a box that was jumbled in with the five boxes of my Cornerstone class materials in the basement, and one more that I sorted through last week. That made nine boxes…of memory “stuff”? Seriously? It would be one thing if I was super-famous and needed to document every second of my life somehow, but when I popped open the lids this week, I found such important things like:

Old play scripts from college…

My illustrious postcard collection…

My high school sports trophies…

My unicorn music box with the horn broken off…

A tree fungus with my name on it…

Judging sheets from piano competitions…

…and bundles and bundles of cards and letters. In a world where very few people write letters anymore, it seems sacrilegious to simply toss them. But all the birthday cards from when I turned 8 years old? Do I really need those?

The boxes sat in our living room until Thursday, because I just didn’t know what to do. Ben thought I should only keep enough to fit in a shoebox. Another friend I talked to about it was convinced that the letters were “priceless” and I shouldn’t even think of touching them. I just wanted to ignore it and hope it went away by itself.

Instead, I bucked up and dug in. My file folder of World Cup newspaper clippings and Nancy Kerrigan magazines? Pitched. My cards & letters? Slimmed down, but kept intact. My broken knick-knacks? Gone. All my schoolwork? Kept a sampling of my essays – rest in the trash. Graduation hat and gown and puffy sleeves from when I was in Much Ado About Nothing in high school? In the dress-up bin.

After I was done purging, I was left with three boxes/bins. The large cardboard box? Letters and cards. Green bin? Photo albums and other random stuff. White box? Filing.

Maybe in a few more years, I’ll feel better about downsizing again, but for now, I feel pretty darn proud of myself. I guess I don’t need any stinkin’ specialist to tell me how to fix my hoarder attitude…just a little determination and contractor size garbage bags.

One Thousand Gifts…leaving the blue house…good riddance?

Posted by on Jan 25, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 2 comments

As I have been scurrying around trying desperately to jam packing boxes full of kids toys, craft supplies, books, more craft supplies, more books, clothes, more craft supplies, more books…I have been thinking about a few of the gifts we have received over the last 6+ years that we lived here. When we actually leave, I’m sure I will feel much more sappy, but as I clean out cupboards and scrape dried play dough off the floor, I’m feeling a bit more…unsettled about my feelings. You’ll see what I mean…

I’m thankful for the gift of…

#311: A dining room big enough to fit a crowd…if you squeeze…

#312: Living in a bona fide neighborhood where kids ride their bikes down the sidewalks, neighbors share rhubarb and eggs, and just sit in the grass to talk…

#313: Having Madi’s best friend live one street over…within walking distance…

#314: Thousands and thousands of walnuts…to teach me patience…

#315: A living room big enough for dance parties and wrestling matches…

#315: Learning what it meant to be a homeowner, one repair at a time…

#316: The perfect circle to pace with a crying baby in the middle of the night…with just the right amount of light peeking in from the streetlamp outside our front door

#317: Trick or treating with a huge crowd of neighborhood kids…and then caroling with the same enthusiasm…

#318: Learning how to clean out a clogged garbage disposal…to teach me patience once again…

#319: Being able to enjoy a new stove, washer & dryer, and patched ceiling for at least a little while before we moved…oh, how I despised the old stove…

#320: Bedroom dorms the perfect snuggly size to sit and rock babies to sleep

#321: A microwave that would trip the circuit with no discernible reason…to teach me patience AND how to bite my tongue…

#322: Finding out how truly handy your husband is when we gutted the kitchen and bathroom, painted over and over again, drywalled the basement, refinished the garage floor, fixed the furnace, drywalled our closet, maintained…everything, and millions of little things I never even noticed…

#323: Creaky wooden floors that made it impossible to wake up before the kids…so a little extra sleep?

#324: Neighbors who brought over shovels and cat litter to dig out the countless times I got stuck at the end of the driveway…

#325: A house we brought three little babies home to…where they had their first…everything…

Oh dear…now I’m feeling truly nostalgic. I can’t do that yet! Here’s one more to even the score…

#326: Building out the room in the basement…helped us discover and get rid of a gigantic mouse community and seal the room so tight that our radon reading came back too high…

Yep…that balances it out for now. A real goodbye? Next week…

on being in “Survival Mode”…

Posted by on Jan 21, 2012 in perspective | 0 comments

There have been plenty of “survival mode” moments in the last ten years of my life.

Ben studying for the bar during the first months of our marriage and watching a lot of closed caption television.

Selling our condo when we had already bought our house…never again.

Trying to get our house remodeled before we moved in and had our first baby…considering we gutted the kitchen and bathroom…kind of a big deal.

Transitioning to being a parent and figuring out what it actually meant.

Transitioning to being a parent of two…then three kids…and figuring out what that actually meant.

My last semester of teaching, right before Fiona was born. That was extreme survival mode.

Right now. Negotiating the timing of selling a house, solidifying our rental, and beginning the building process while trying to keep up with regular life has been challenging, to say the least.

I was at a pretty low point Saturday morning, waking up stiff from sleeping on the couch with Fiona all night, and feeling the full impact of being in “survival mode”. Parker had woken up at 6:15, and was bouncing up and down on the other couch, trying to wake us up. Fiona opened her eyes, coughed in my face, and started whining for milk, which (of course) we had run out of the night before. Ben had an early meeting at work, Madi’s Nook cord was broken, we had no caffeine in the house…and we had a full day of packing and organizing ahead of us. So, I rolled my grumpy and tired self off the couch, made breakfast, and launched into the day. Let me rephrase…I was very grumpy. Everything was half finished, and in my mind, completely disastrous.

I’m always telling Madi that she can “choose” to not be grumpy, and even though I believe this to be true, it’s a different thing when you have to put it into practice. But then I started thinking about Matt Redman’s song where he sings about God never letting go. I started to feel, in very visible ways, the prayers of people around us. I felt a boost of energy that was definitely not from being well-rested or from caffeine.  I wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I was…better. I even started to see progress in our packing.

Our craft area…mid-afternoon…

And by the end of the night…progress…

It was a great reminder that even though we are in “survival mode”, and will be for the next couple of weeks, that it doesn’t mean I have to act like I’m in the middle of a war zone. I don’t need to hunker down, shut everyone out, and choose to be a “grumpy pants”.

I don’t have to be perfect…just survive better.

And hey, thanks for the prayers…

 

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