Graham

How do you say “hello” after months away from blogging? I guess with an excuse- about the time of my last post, I found out I was pregnant, and very shortly thereafter, I was hit with such extreme fatigue that lasted about half my pregnancy, went away for a few weeks, and returned along with a myriad of later pregnancy woes. I guess the fatigue wasn’t quite as debilitating at that point, but all the other aches and pains and complications made up for it. I am quite sure I was not made to have a dozen children!! The only thing I really enjoy about pregnancy is feeling the baby moving.

There were days when I wondered how I would ever make it to October. But here it is, the middle of November, and I survived! The only thing I miss is the “pregnancy glow.” Although I feel better than I did my entire pregnancy, even on my best days I look pale and haggard and sleep deprived!

Graham Matthew was born five weeks ago. He weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 20 inches long. He was my biggest baby, but he went down to 7 pounds, 9 ounces- or that’s the lowest recorded. At his one week appointment, he was still about there, and in the next couple days, he didn’t seem to be gaining, and I was a little worried. But finally around 2 weeks, he took off and got back up to his birth weight, and now he’s close to 10 pounds. He’s grown quite a bit in length, too. He’s outgrown most of his newborn clothes. Sometimes I put clothes on him and think “this is the last time he can wear this” and at least once I put something on and realized that I really needed to take it off because it was just too small.

We are so excited to have a little boy! It’s just so much fun. He isn’t the world’s happiest baby, but I’ve had more difficult ones, so it’s not too bad. He does think he should be held a lot, and unfortunately he doesn’t really like his sisters to hold him much anymore, so it can be a little hard to get things done. He almost does better away from home than at home, which is great when we have a lot going on. This is actually my the first day I don’t have anywhere to go in 10 days. I was more than a little happy about that!

I’ll let the following pictures tell the story of the last few weeks. All the pictures are from the first 2 weeks or so… except the last one, which was from a couple days ago, when Emily turned 4.

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There is so much more I could say. It’s been good, sometimes achingly so, but it’s also been difficult. Emily adores her brother but is so angry about all the time I have to spend taking care of him. It’s hard to homeschool with a newborn. The girls fight so much I sometimes just want to bang their heads together. I hope we settle into a comfortable normal soon!

And I really need to publish this and get on with my day. This short post took way too long to write. I might not be back for another 9 months. I don’t even know if I want to blog again or not, but perhaps I will give it a shot.

Valentine’s Day

I read some things this week here and there online about Valentine’s Day. Some people think it’s overrated. We should love each other every day of the year, right?

If that’s the only day of the year you show love to your spouse, your family, then it reeks of phoniness to profess your love with words flowers and cards and a fancy night out. But if you all express your love in many ways all year long, I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating a little. I look at it the same way as birthdays and Christmas- those are times we often go to a little extra bother to make things special. If we did those special things every day, they wouldn’t be special anymore, now would they?

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That being said, I think it’s an awesome idea to randomly have special days interspersed throughout the year. Why can’t a husband bring his wife flowers in April or August when there is nothing special going on? It’s always fun to give or get a special note or card any time of the year. And why not use your china and have a candlelight supper sometime when there isn’t a special occasion?

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But sometimes life gets crazy and you put off that random special night… and suddenly it’s Valentine’s Day or someone’s birthday. Sometimes it’s the reminder you need to finally add a few special touches to the day.

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(Kierra wanted to use this packing paper I salvaged for them to make a V Day mural of sorts. I was so tickled by the tic-tac-toe games!)

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Last year I did a little decorating and we had a fancy little supper here at home. Kierra was so enthralled that she decided Valentine’s was her favorite time of the year- at least until her birthday and then Christmas rolled around! She had been looking forward to Valentine’s Day for quite awhile.

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That’s what’s so fun about having kids- their enthusiasm for the small things is (sometimes!) contagious. Without two little girls who love pretty things, I would be inclined to keep things simpler.

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And really, we did keep it simple- and cheap, at least on my part. For pretty much the cost of a strawberry cake mix and frosting and some chocolate chips, we had the makings of a special evening that thrilled the girls and made us happy, too.

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(the girls picked out the cake mix, the toppings, the heart-shaped pan)
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Cake. Candles. Hearts. Romantic instrumental music on Pandora. Homemade Sparkling Grape Juice. Goblets and China. What more could anyone want, really?

Well, besides a crazy family, that is!

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And seriously, the flowers Kendall bought for us didn’t hurt, either. I was secretly hoping for flowers- not in a “if you love me, you’ll buy me flowers” way, but in a “it’s been awhile and I’d like some again” kind of way. And he delivered- the roses are for me, the carnations for the girls.

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Gifts aren’t my love language, so I am never offended if Kendall doesn’t go all out- in fact, there are times that I have begged him not to get me anything, including flowers. I would rather he save money on gifts and bring home supper now and then when I just.can’t.do.it.any.more. But that makes these flowers all the more special!

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day to you all, and may you feel loved and blessed every single day of the year!

It Was a Long January

Can we really be 9 days into February? January was SO long, and now I blink and February is almost 1/3 over!

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(cozy fire in the fireplace)

Just a recap of January- we were sick most of the month. We started with the stomach flu which lasted less than 24 hours- but the weakness and tiredness hung on for days. Right on the heels of that came a virus that apparently was the kind that last 2-3 weeks. I can handle a bit of a cold, but having fever day after day is depressing. We barely had a social life for a month because someone was almost always sick. Today was the first all of us went to church together all year!

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(emily and her elizabeth doll in their matching clothes. i know the doll is blurry, but i love emmy’s smile and little braids!)

In the middle of this, I did get a few things done here at home. I knotted and bound a large blanket and got caught up on scrapbooking- I was almost a year behind- and made 3 dresses for a wedding. I guess it was almost 4 if you count a trial one I got mostly made to try a new pattern. So it’s not like nothing got done- there were a some days I felt fine but I was stuck at home with sick children, so what better time to get caught up on projects?

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Kendall’s brother Ryan was getting married in Georgia on February 1. When we first got sick the beginning of January, I was just glad that we’d for sure be in good health by then, but a few days before it was time to leave, I was losing faith in that. Kierra and I still were miserable with fever, and it didn’t seem to be getting better. One night I asked people on Facebook to pray for us- and many people did. The next afternoon, Kierra woke up from her nap saying she felt good- and she truly acted so much better. It took another day until my fever broke, but just in time, I was feeling good again.

I absolutely believe in the power of prayer, especially intercessory prayer. I think it’s important to have your own private prayer life, and there is power in that, but sometimes it seems that no matter how much you pray about something, nothing changes. But something especially divine can happen when you humble yourself, admit that you can’t do it on your own, and ask others to pray with you.

The instance that makes the biggest impression on me is when I was pregnant with Emily. We had lost Lauren to stillbirth at 37 weeks the year before with no warning, no known reason. Of course, it is natural to be apprehensive with subsequent pregnancies, but for the most part, I was dealing okay with it during the day. Nighttime was another story. Night after night I would have bad dreams about losing my baby in one way or the other. These dreams really upset me, but no matter how much I prayed, the nightmares continued and seriously disturbed my peace of heart, not to mention my sleep.

Finally I told a group of ladies in Sunday school what was going on, and asked them to please pray for me. I never had those nightmares again. Without those to plague me, I was able to have a measure of peace. It wasn’t that I never worried again, but it wasn’t consuming me anymore.

Kendall had a similar experience when he asked some men to pray for him a number of months after Lauren’s death when he was stuck in grief and couldn’t seem to get out of the rut he was in. He feels that was a real turning point in the grief process.

And I truly believe without our friends praying for us the other week, we wouldn’t have been feeling well for the wedding. Skeptics can write my experiences off as coincidence or mind over matter, but the fact is, I am a very cynical person by nature. Faith and trust don’t come easily for me. Sometimes I get to thinking too much and my mind gets in the way. I start questioning God and His goodness and power, but in my heart, I know He is who He says He is. There are so many things that I can’t explain, even to my satisfaction, there is so much about Him I do not know or understand. I still struggle with some things, but I know He is God and that some day we will understand Him and what He has allowed into our lives.

Anyhow, we got to the end of January with much better health than we’d had most of the month, and were able to truly enjoy our time away.

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(the crazy ones i love)

Another notable thing about January was that it was CRAZY cold! Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I never knew that schools cancel for the cold in these parts. You always get some snow days every year, but I never heard of canceling for the cold. Some schools around here apparently had quite a few cancellations for extreme temperatures. I do understand it, though. Sure, it wasn’t any colder than it gets in Minnesota or Montana or Alberta, but we just aren’t used to dressing for this kind of weather, for one. I suppose it’s a little like when Atlanta gets a skiff of snow. They aren’t equipped to deal with snow and we’re just not equipped to deal with this sort of cold. I had a very thick winter coat that I bought a number of years ago and wore once or twice. A thin coat has always sufficed. I got rid of it this summer, and guess what- my thin coat isn’t cutting it!! I have wished for that thick coat more than once this winter- the few times that we’ve been well enough to venture out! I keep hoping the cold spell is almost over so I don’t have to break down and buy a thick coat I probably won’t wear for 10 years!

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(snow rollers- Facebook was abuzz about these the other week. we only had a few, but nearby, there were more. some places had larger ones- big snowballs that no person made! http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-snow-rollers-bizzare-winter-storm-20140128,0,238995.story#axzz2ssHc5PSk. sorry about the messy link- i can’t seem to figure out how to do it right, but it’s interesting that it’s rare enough that LA Times has an article on it!)

But… I can’t complain about the cold too much since I got to be inside where it’s warm. After Kendall got some firewood for our woodburner a few weeks ago, I haven’t been cold as long as I stay inside. Also, along with the extreme cold, we’ve had more sunshine than we normally do in the winter. And honestly, that helps my mood- or it does whenever I am not sick! Last year we had rain or snow every day in January, and we rarely saw the sun. So… I guess we can’t have sunshine and warmth in the winter here!

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(one of emily’s favorite things to do is to bring us more coffee. i always hold my breath, but usually she does okay!)

The last day of January found us traveling the many, many hours to warm, sunny Georgia. Well… it wasn’t exactly sunny most of the time, and not as warm as I was hoping, but it was warmER, so that counts! Next time I will tell you a little about the wedding and my impression of Georgia!

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we had a lot of traffic in Atlanta on a Friday afternoon! but hey, at least there was no snow there anymore to cause chaos like earlier in the week!

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i just love city skylines. something about it just speaks to me. they do not call Kendall’s name, though, so we do well to make an occasional venture into a city. like VERY occasional!!

(the pictures are all from Kendall’s phone, hence the quality. my camera took a January break, but it was fun to look back at the pictures on his phone. Even though the quality isn’t the greatest, i look at them and smile because they are so real life!)

How was your January?
Have you experienced the power of people praying for you?

A Simple Christmas

It was one of the best Christmases ever, if not The Best. It wasn’t that anything spectacular happened. It was a relatively low key month. I don’t go crazy with baking cookies and putting up Christmas décor or anything like that because…well, it could drive me crazy! If I know that baking 49 different kinds of cookies is going to end up with me in a bad mood, feeling stressed, and yelling at my girls, then why bother? It’s not like we need more sugar at this time of the year! The same goes for those other things. I considered an advent activity, but after thinking it over, it seemed like something that would end up being overwhelming, so I decided not to. Maybe next year.

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What made this Christmas good was not because of all the amazing, heart-warming things we did, but just a deep sense that life is good, that we are blessed. 2013 brought some difficult decisions and changes, but for some reason, I look back and call it the best year we’ve had in a long time.

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It’s just so good to enjoy the small things of life. After Lauren was stillborn over 4 years ago, it was really rough for awhile. There were months of deep grief. After Emily was born, I thought things would be better, and they were for awhile, but then came months and months of hormonal problems and depression and high stress which was likely exacerbated by Emily being a high maintenance baby and toddler. A lot of the next couple years are a rather dark blur. There were plenty of good times to be sure, but it just felt like I was living under a dark cloud.

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It’s so much better now. Supplements and changing my diet helped a lot, I think. I lost 30 pounds this year, and while I was hoping for more, I am glad for the positive benefits that have accompanied that. I haven’t been exercising faithfully for too long, and I know if I am going to make it through another grey winter, I am going to need to find a way to get motivated. I trained for and ran in a 5k this year, and while I am NOT a fast runner, I found running to be amazing for my mood. It’s hard to do in the winter, though. I don’t have a good place to run right now, but I do miss it. I hope I can get back to it in the spring and maybe make another 5k one of my goals… as well as crushing my previous time!!

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I didn’t set out to write about diet and exercise. Most of the time I don’t even want to think of it! I have gotten so lazy lately and my diet is far from being on track. I have to break my sugar habit again now, because of all the holiday treats! Anyway, my point is that overall, I feel so much better than I did for so long, mentally and physically. I can tell that it’s winter, though. I always feel worse in the winter.

So yes, our simple Christmas was perfect. We got together with Kendall’s family at a cabin in November, and we were at my brother’s place last weekend with my family minus the sister in Belize who we really missed. We opened our gifts on Christmas eve while enjoying the warm fireplace, and then had the ones of Kendall’s family that were around and not working for lunch on Christmas day, which netted a few more presents, much to the delight of our girls. We have one more family gathering next week and that’s it for the holidays.

I am looking forward to the year ahead. I haven’t made any official New Year’s resolutions, at least not yet, but I would like to make a few this year that I can work toward. I don’t make absolutes like “I won’t eat any junk food for a year” or “I will not lose my temper in 2014” but I want to make progress in areas like that. I find that when I make small goals to meet on the way to an ultimate goal (such as weight loss) I feel motivated when I reach the small goal to keep going toward the next one.

I will leave you with a few Christmas pictures.

I bought a gingerbread house kit because there was no way I was gonna make one from scratch. It actually tasted good, but I wasn’t fond of the candy included… or my gingerbread decorating skills. Oh wait! I could just say the girls put it together by themselves, and that’s why it’s not perfect. Yes, that’s the story I will go with! {cough, cough!} Oh well, they were happy!

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These girls are only 3 months apart. They had a lot of fun together. 100_8370

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Christmas eve… I found the camera out in the cold vehicle, so it didn’t cooperate very well for picture taking. Not that it ever cooperates that well. I would buy a new camera if I wasn’t so confused about what to buy for what I want. There are too many options!

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We got a Bible for Emily. She was beyond thrilled. That was easily her favorite gift. The second best was a knock-off Doc McStuffin-ish coloring book!100_8405

Christmas day they got almost more gifts than they did Christmas eve from us. It doesn’t take much to make them happy, so they were thrilled. I think they got way more than enough!!

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And that pretty much wraps up the year for us.  Only 5 more days left until a brand new year. I am looking forward to it!

November

If I had to use one word to describe this week so far, it would be “coughing.” All of us. I was the last to succumb as we’ve canceled activities day after day.

It’s so hard for me to know when to keep children home, but when they are coughing so much they are driving me crazy, I figure at the very least, they’d annoy everyone else, too. So we’ve been pretty much homebound all week. It could be worse. Fortunately, stay at home moms who homeschool have a fair amount of flexibility- at least I find it that way. The world won’t end if Emily misses story time at the library, for example!

Emily had a birthday last week. We’ve made it through 3 crazy years! We just had a quiet celebration at home, and she didn’t seem to mind. Her “real gift” didn’t come until yesterday, so the excitement stretched out a little longer.100_8273

Even when we keep things really simple, or especially when we do, I like to do something special like use the good dishes for a birthday meal. The girls love the goblets, especially, and always make sure they clink the glasses together before drinking.

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Emily especially loved her birthday balloon!

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I was not thrilled with how this “simple” cake turned out, and I couldn’t find smaller gumballs anywhere, but Emily is only 3, and she was perfectly happy with it, so that’s all that matters.

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Earlier this month, we spent a weekend with Kendall’s family at a cabin a couple hours away. It was all fun and games until the girls got sick in the middle of the night. I never heard that anyone else got sick, so I think it was probably eating too much of the wrong things, especially for Emily, who was the sickest.  She doesn’t do good with self-control (in a lot of areas!). If she sees food and no one stops her, she’ll eat it.

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Grandma and the kids made little chocolate mice.

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cute little nephews

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Kendall’s mom brought a cake along for the fall birthdays. Then the grandsons wanted a picture with the cake, too. Dear little Emmy didn’t get her face into the cake on purpose, she really didn’t! But I have a feeling she’ll get herself into lots of things over the next years-that’s just her nature!

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There are 4 grandchildren on this side of the family so far- ages 6, 3, almost 4, and almost 2. There’s another grandchild that should be here any day now- we’re waiting for that phone call!

There will soon be 8 grandchildren on my side of the family. 6 years ago, Kierra was the only grandchild on both sides. A few years make a lot of difference- if we can persuade more of the brothers and sisters to consider marriage and parenthood, there could be a lot, lot more in 6 more years! Ha ha! I have 4 unmarried siblings and Kendall has 7, although there’s a wedding coming up soon there! Our 2 youngest siblings will both be 16 in a couple months. That’s hard to believe. My youngest sister was 4 when I moved away. These little kids are growing up!

I will leave you with a crazy  picture from our recent family photo shoot, one that isn’t going to be on our Christmas cards. This is so typical of Emily- she really does give the best hugs! I find it amusing how Emily makes it look like Kierra isn’t even very close to me, and in fact, she’s snuggled right in there, too!

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I love my girls!

(sorry about the weird spacing- wordpress does that on its own- it looks fine when I draft it. if you know what I am doing wrong, let me know, okay?)

Just Another Day in Paradise!

It’s a rainy day here. I took Emily to the library for story time this morning. She loves it, and it makes her feel like SUCH a big girl to do what she always saw Kierra doing. They are supposed to be 3, and she’s still 2 for a couple of weeks, but they said it was okay. I tried to make sure they know that if she gets to be too much, I will understand and stop bringing her. They say she’s okay- although not as well-behave as Kierra was! Kierra feels a little left out since she is too old, but she is a million times easier to keep happier in that 45-55 minutes than Emily was!

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I was finally able to sit down this afternoon and feel good about it! My house is clean and neat, and there is nothing pressing to be doing. I am sure it won’t last long- in fact, I need to go get supper cooking so we can be ready to leave the house in a couple of hours. But even having 30 minutes when I feel caught up feels great!

We had a long weekend visiting our friends in MO last week. It was so GOOD to see them! Kierra was so happy to be back with her best friend that’s she missed so much, and they played until they were too tired to play anymore- and then they’d soon find more energy to do things together again!

This morning was a BAD morning. By the time I got to the library at 10, I was exhausted. Then when we went to leave, Emily raced out the door ahead of us into a parking lot full of moms ready to leave with th eir kids. I was so scared, mortified, and furious! She knows better! She totally got that I was upset with her, but she seemed to think I was most upset that she ran through a water puddle and got her shoes all wet. She really doesn’t seem to have any impulse control some days.

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Anyway, I remember thinking somewhere in there that SOMEHOW I had to get back control of my day. Kierra hadn’t started school for the day, and I hadn’t accomplished anything. And somehow, we were able to turn the day around and Kierra got her school work done, I got the house all straightened up and cleaned up, and now I just feel better about life. When a day starts out so rough, sometimes it’s easy to give up and let it spiral out of control, and it feels so good to have made the choice to make it a good day in spite of it all and actually succeeded in that. Sometimes I forget that I DO have a say in how my life goes, and there ARE things to do to make us all happier and calmer. Circumstances do not have to dictate my mood!

And that’s all… for today. My break time is over!

Housecleaning… and Parenting

Three long weeks ago I set out on a quest to clean and organize my home from top to bottom. I literally started at the top- in the upstairs, and worked my way down to the basement, which we finished yesterday.

I cleared my social calendar- well, not literally. It was more like I didn’t pursue anything much social in that time. I was hoping it would take me two weeks. It took three. Granted, other than the basement, I pretty much did it on my own, while being a full time mom, so I guess in all, it was okay that it took three  weeks. Some days I didn’t do much cleaning and some days that’s all I did. Kendall worked a lot of long days and overnights in those weeks, so that meant I couldn’t beg him for a lot of help.

I started in the spare bedroom, cleaning and clearing and organizing and rearranging, trying to make room for the crib/toddler bed that I wanted to move Emily out of. I painted the windowsills and fought the urge to paint the entire room. It needs it, but that would be a big project in itself, and my mission was to get things clean and relatively organized, not to fix things.

Our doorways upstairs are super narrow. At my heaviest, I could hardly get through the doorways. Hahaha. No, that’s not true, they aren’t that small or I wasn’t that large. But they are smaller than average, and I couldn’t move the crib from one room to another without disassembling it.

I was so proud of myself that I was able to figure out what tool I needed to take the crib apart, since it doesn’t have  regular screws. I took it apart, moved it to another room, and started putting it back together. I got the middle piece attached to the end pieces in short order, only to discover that I got it upside down when I went to put the drawers back in. So… I wasn’t as good as I thought I was! (read below:IMPORTANT! THIS SIDE UP! the problem is that when it’s upside down, it doesn’t say “IMPORTANT! THIS SIDE DOWN!)

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Meanwhile, I started painting some things for the girls’ room. Last summer we painted it a light gray, and obviously anything brown just doesn’t look good. Painting some of these things has been on my radar for awhile, but I just never got around to it.

The sanding part wasn’t too bad, but then I had to prime them and paint them. There were SO many corners! And I began to realize that I put it off for a year for a reason! I had to do 2-3 coats of paint AFTER the primer, so in the week that I worked on that (while I wasn’t cleaning) I didn’t think I had very much fun.

Here are before and afters of the things I painted.

The little toy box isn’t going into the girls’ room after all, at least not now.

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My Grandpa Eberly needed things to do in his old age,  (he died a few years ago) so he made a box out of scraps and gave this one to me. I just wasn’t sure what to do with it, but Kierra loved it. She wanted it to be painted pink, but I couldn’t find the can of pink, so I painted it white instead. She keeps her “treasures” in there!

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I hang the girl’s extra blankets on this rack.

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I bought this cradle at my Grandma Miller’s auction. I remember playing with it as a child. I really like it, but it needed a little help. This thing was THE hardest thing to paint. Oh my. I want to make some pink bedding for it. My girls are girly girls and really love pink a lot!

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Kendall’s mom gave this to Kierra for Christmas, along with figurines to put in it. I just couldn’t hang it on a gray wall. Actually, it’s still not hanging on the wall- Emily’s sleeping on a crib mattress right now and whenever we get her headboard painted and another twin bed in the room, we will be able to figure out where it should be hung.100_7932  100_7957

It took me almost a week to get the upstairs done, and a little over a week until I finished painting entirely. I only got two rooms cleaned the second week, although the living room did take awhile. I guess it IS the largest room in the house and it’s not an empty room, by any means. There’s a large bookcase and a sewing machine cabinet that’s full of things to be organized (why IS it so fun for kids to rummage through drawers and make a mess of them?!) and a chest of drawers full of fabric… all those things take time to clean and organize.

As I was cleaning, I was contemplating painting the hallway downstairs. It has a dark ceiling, dark knotty-pine walls, and a dark floor. It just struck me a few weeks ago when I walked in from the garage how VERY, VERY gloomy the entrance to our abode is, and how much painting it a light color would make it seem so much more welcoming and less like the entrance to a dungeon. It’s bothered me for a long time, but it bothers me even more now… but in the end, the desire to be done cleaning sooner won out, and we decided to postpone painting- but it’s definitely a project for this winter when there’s not so much going on and Kendall can help me.

One thing we did not postpone any longer was resurfacing our bathtub downstairs. It’s an old porcelain tub that the finish wore off long ago. We don’t have the best water most of the time, so the tub just never looked inviting. There have been times that I have literally scrubbed it for a couple of hours with all the best tub cleaning products out there, and I couldn’t get it to look much better. The picture here was after I scrubbed it for a good 45 minutes. It’s actually really embarrassing to look at this picture, but I promise, it is not dirty! I had checked into doing something about it earlier, and from what I determined, it was a project that would cost $300-500. I suggested getting a new tub, but Kendall said that the tub was built in and getting a new tub would end up being a big project. Recently when I researched our options again, I found this stuff  and we ended up getting it. For under $50 and afternoon of Kendall’s time, our tub looks 1000% better. Of course, we have yet to see how it holds up, but so far, it’s great and turned out better than we expected.

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This past Thursday, I finished cleaning the main floor, ending in the kitchen, my least favorite room. Kendall had been planning to work on Saturday, so I figured I was pretty much on my own with the basement. We do not have a finished basement, and it’s old and a little on the creepy side. It’s definitely home to lots of spiders, which is an annoyance to me, but the fear of encountering mice is what creeps me out a little. I actually go down to the basement regularly since my washer and dryer and freezer and can shelves are down there. It’s been awhile since we cleaned the basement, and it was never quite as clean as I wanted it to be. I just never got around to doing a really good job of it, and this fall I was determined to do a good job.

I went down to the basement on Friday to start, and I was just overwhelmed. There was a lot of junk thrown down there to be dealt with later from other times and places, and this was later. A lot of the things were not mine, so I couldn’t say for sure what to save and what to pitch, so I was glad that Kendall was home early on Friday and didn’t work Saturday. We both worked really hard Friday afternoon and most of the day yesterday, but I think we can safely say that it was never as clean and organized as it is now. It’s not as clean as the rest of the house, because the windows are OLD and the walls are rough and the ceiling is exposed ancient log beam s and there are pipes and wires that go here and there, but I am happy. We were both exhausted by the time we got done, but we got it done!

I don’t mind cleaning most of the time (except in the kitchen- I don’t like that much for some reason) and organizing things makes me really happy. But 3 weeks of it did get to be almost too much. I let certain things go too long. Somehow I need to find a way to stay on top of things a little better! It’s hard to be a good wife and a good mom AND keep the house decently clean and orderly. Unfortunately, as I get older, I am getting more OCD about things. I used to be more comfortable with messes than I am now. As a mom of little kids and hopefully maybe more someday, I should be becoming more relaxed about dirt and chaos!

So now all I really want to do is take a day this week to go over the entire house again. Some of the things aren’t so clean and organized anymore. For some reason, when you have kids, things don’t stay perfectly clean and organized. But it shouldn’t be hard, and it should take one day instead of three weeks. And then I need to spend a day outside weeding the landscape beds and strawberries and getting them ready for winter. And then… the pressure should be off, and I hope to relax, knowing that there aren’t a hundred things I should be doing.

It’s high time, too. My girls need me to spend a little more time with them. I am afraid they have heard “I’m busy” too many times in the past couple months. Going into fall and winter, my goal is to spend more time with them, being proactive in their lives. We have been working on a different discipline approach with Emily that seems to be helping, but I need more free time to implement it a better and I need to find more ways to keep her constructively busy, instead of the destructively busy she gets when I am not supervising.

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And Kierra– she’s about 50 days into first grade, and quickly tells anyone that will listen that she doesn’t like school, and it’s going “not well.” It’s not that she’s not learning… she struggles a little with subtraction, but usually does get the right answer. She’s not reading as fluently as I’d hoped, but she is starting to enjoy it (enjoying it is key, I think), and is trying to read any signs or titles or words that she sees, so I think she’ll be fluent before we know it. She does the Abeka DVD/online program, and it takes longer than kindergarten did, and the teacher doesn’t keep her interest very well. That’s mostly what she complains about- how long it takes- but technically, we are supposed to average about 5 hours a day anyhow, so if I totally took over the teaching, which is what she wants, I am not sure how we’d get enough hours in.

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I do want to spend more time with her, doing flashcards to help with math facts, having her read more, doing more fun, educational projects. She’s stuck with school for the next 10 years, at the least, so I want her to be able to enjoy it. I do think she would love being IN school instead of homeschooling, but for this year, at least, we’ll stick with school at home, and I do want her to enjoy it instead of complaining about it everyday. I would be welcome to suggestions on how to inspire her enthusiasm!

So yes, in the coming months, I want to work extra hard on things with Kierra and Emily, getting them to a better place emotionally. I want to do a little better with sticking to my diet (although I am happy that I’ve gotten as far as I have!) and exercise faithfully instead of such a hit and miss thing like’s it’s been lately (mostly miss). I want to get caught up with scrapbooking and I am looking forward to spending time at the sewing machine making some clothes and blankets and other projects.

An orderly, disciplined life with lots of God’s presence and grace and enjoyment in the small things… that’s what we are striving for!