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Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Forced Slow-Down

The first snowfall
 Just a few minutes ago I received the notification on my phone that our schools are cancelled tomorrow.  It has now been two weeks since our five children have attended school!  I don't remember ever being out this long, even when growing up in the much-more-wintry upper Midwest.

At first it is fun and novel.  However, our particular storms brought sheets of ice which limited our level of outdoor fun.  So we stayed active indoors where we were grateful to maintain our power and internet service.  When at last we attempted to head out on Sunday, our car wound up in our woods.  The sight of us climbing, slipping, sliding and grasping back up the hill in our Sunday finest could have made us a finalist in America's Funniest Home Videos.

Things started to thaw a bit at the beginning of the week, and then we received several inches of
I don't even want to talk about it.
snow. My youngest child had a birthday on Wednesday and I hadn't been able to get out for gifts, so I thought I would sneak out late Tuesday afternoon before the sun went down to grab a new movie and game at Walmart.   I didn't make it a mile up our road before I lost control on the ice and ended up in the ditch, too!  I was just sick to my stomach to call Mr. Wonderful and tell him what happened.  Two cars in two ditches within three days.

On Wednesday, we received five more inches of snow.

The mail has been delayed.

Our garbage hasn't been picked up in two weeks.

We missed the last high school musical of our daughter's senior year.

A birthday party, basketball awards and a daddy-daughter event have been delayed.

We haven't been able to go to church, boy scouts or gymnastics.

Obviously, things haven't been normal around our place for a while.

I keep telling my husband that "We're never having a normal day again!"  It feels like the "Groundhog Day" movie and by the middle of this week, I was struggling to maintain my normally optimistic attitude.

Extra care on the waffles because we have extra time on our hands.
The thing I love about a typical snow day is that it creates mandatory togetherness and abandoning our standard busy schedule.  We have open hours to bake, create, play, read and explore outdoors.  We did all these things and enjoyed it fully.  The children have genuinely behaved so well and gotten along for the most part.  They joined forces to create townships made of Lincoln Logs and other sculptures of Legos.  Even the youngest eagerly anticipated our readings from the "Little House" series which was my go-to method of distraction when we just needed some calm.


Each of these moments I have loved and I believe the winter snows of 2015 will be folklore in our family's history.  But I am very much craving normal.  I am desperate for sunshine.  I miss the freedom of coming and going and the predictability of routine.  I'm taking a deep breath, I'm looking ahead to a forecast of a warmer, albeit damp, week.

Spring is a crazy-making busy time of year for us all.  I know I will long for a day of no schedule and I will crave a moment to slow down.  Our vehicles will be repaired and the pantry will be restocked.  I would never choose to be this unproductive for two weeks, but I will treasure the memories (and madness) and trust that the sun will blaze once more.  Instead of being all together with cozy covers and carefree days, we will rush individually from one demand to the next.

The ice and snow will thaw and this moment that seems frozen will melt into reality that is speeding by too quickly.

Has your life been altered by things you can't control?  Is anyone else enjoying/enduring and endless snow day?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"The Rush Hour of Life" - On Being Forty

That's me now, spending my day at the office.
Recently, I've read about the, "Rush hour of life,” when career and child-rearing peaks collide.  Most people in this age category are still reasonably young, but many things are on the decline: health, fertility, those travel plans you were certain would happen by now or the certainty of a bank account that hasn't quite accumulated the anticipated goal.

Most days I'm grateful for the chance to live and arrive at this place, but I don't love everything about being forty.  I do not like the way my skin heals more slowly and my feet are angry that I've been wearing heels for more than twenty years.  I don't love my wider waist or more bountiful bottom.  I find I have less tolerance for complainers and dismiss those who aren't willing to work hard for what they want.  

There are things I know about myself now that I consider to be the greatest gifts of middle age:
  • Managing my sleep is the best way to ready for whatever life presents.  It's the best way to serve my family because only when adequately sleeping can I manage the surprise challenges each day presents.  Eight hours of continuous sleep is one of life's great pleasures.
  • Everyone facing a new opportunity is winging it and only by moving forward will I gain confidence.  
  • When someone is extremely charming, I am not dazzled.  I am cautious.  
  • My mother taught me so much more than I realized about practical, daily living - thank you!
  • Peer pressure never really ends, but it's so much easier to stand alone and find the ones who like me just the way I am.  
  • Family really is the best.
  • Soul mates are made over time by investing in a relationship daily (and nightly!).
  • When I don't know what to wear, choose something black.  Add red lipstick.
  • Laughter is the quickest way to heal friction in a relationship, but taking time to work through the deeper issues is worth it. 
  • Taking care of myself makes it possible to care for others well.  
  • Good health doesn't happen on accident and I am the only one responsible for this body.  I wish this wasn't true, but it helps me to realize steps needed to feel well.
  • Kindness covers a multitude of wrongs.
That's me 40+ years ago ...
I wish the chunky thighs were still cute!
There are still so many things I want to accomplish in life and there is a growing sense of the need to get going if it's going to happen!  Dreams are wonderful and inspiring, but they become disappointments without a plan of action.

I think "Rush Hour" is a term that rightly describes the way I feel most days.  With children at home from grade 1 through 12, with the duties and responsibilities they bring, plus working, managing a home and building a marriage...well, somedays I feel there just isn't enough time.  But I don't want to rush through this season.  So many treasures are found in the moments ticking by everyday.

Birthdays always make me ponder the state of my life, much like the New Year but with even more personal introspection.   Happy birthday to me and may you enjoy a great day, too!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Saving My Life Right Now

Many times we grumble about what isn't working, what is frustrating us and what might be driving me nuts!  But today I joining in a challenge to share what IS working for me - What is saving my life right now:

image via: pinterest 
1. Meal Planning - it might sound like a chore, but having the weekly menu on the fridge saves my sanity.  I resent hearing "What's for dinner?" from the crowd at my house for whom that seems to be the question of the day.  Somehow, being asked that as if I exist only to cater to each individual appetite, but when the menu is posted, the question stops.  I begin the week knowing I'm armed with all the ingredients needed and no last minute trips to the store will be necessary.  I feel on top of it!

Via: Glamour
2. The glammed up ponytail - sleek and simple,but most of all QUICK. Giving myself permission to embrace a simple pulled back style has been lifesaving.  Learning to bump the front and style it with a bit of sass has been mood boosting.  The fact that my husband loves it - bonus!  I

3.  Getting outdoors - The winter season inhibits my sunshine and affects my mood way more than I realized in the past.  On days that the sun is shining, I make it a point to get outside for at least a half hour and I always notice a bump in mood and energy.  Now, we just need fewer gray days!

4. Black, white and a closet cleanup - I get fatigued by making decisions every moment of the day and getting dressed is an area in which I can simplify the choices.  Over the past year my husband spoiled me with a few trips to "The Market" and my wardrobe is much more streamlined.  I've eliminated most of what I do not love and doesn't feel great from my closet (shoes included) and I'm looking forward to another purge in April.

5. Asking for Help - I've been more proactive about requiring help in the kitchen, around the house and with things that benefit the whole family.  I'm not sure the rest of the crew shares my relief, but expressing that I'm weary and letting the process go to the teens or even the little ones has been a big relief.  Thank you, family, for stepping up even when it's not always fun.

I won't even begin talk about what isn't working: bedtime, the scale, laundry routine?  Today is for acknowledging what going right!  What's saving your life right now?