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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Remember the Sabbath and Keep It... Sleepy?

Between us there are four jobs, two houses and cars, and one toddler.   We are freaking exhausted.

Perseverance, patience, and strength carry us a long way through the week, but so does something else.  Our little secret to sanity is The Sunday Afternoon Nap.





I didn't realize how important this was for Herb (and obviously Levi) until a few months ago.  We all really need that down time on Sundays to recharge and refocus for the coming week.  I'm not typically a nap taker, but I usually join in the napping fun about every other week, and when I do, it's a BIG one. Otherwise, I take the time to read, craft, or catch up on my Netflix.

Unless it's a holiday or very special occasion, at all costs, we avoid making plans on a Sunday afternoon. We would not be good company anyway - we're all tired!

It's not even an all day Sunday event - Herb does the DJ thing from 6-10pm on Sunday nights (you can listen online!) , and of course we have church in the morning.  But those few hours of nothingness are sometimes our saving grace.  It is definitely our Sabbath.

A few years ago, I would have fought this little trick tooth and nail.  I hated to say no to social invitations and loved to fill our calendar with fun things and wonderful people.  But this is just one sacrifice we have to make to keep our heads above water.

And I love it.

I might be biased though - I just woke up from a three hour nap and my busy toddler is rounding out hour four.

In the words of Yo Gabba Gabba, "Try it, you'll like it!!"

Friday, May 25, 2012

When Both Shoes Drop, You Put Them Back On

Levi is obsessed with shoes.  His first real word was shoe.  He loved to get our shoes (we keep them in a basket by the front door) and bring them to us in the living room.  He loves to sit on the bottom step to get his shoes put on and taken off.

Sometimes, if I'm not paying attention to him, he'll bring me two or three shoes and sit at my feet, waiting for me to move my foot into just the right position, and then his slides them over my toes.  "Shoe!" he squeals in a delighted voice.  Then he repeats on the other foot.

Last week, I wrote about both shoes dropping - our car, our house - I was a wreck.

Here we are, 10 days later, with both shoes picked up and slipped on our feet.

The car situation has been rectified (mostly. . . if you know anyone who wants a broken 2005 Ford Escape, holler).

The mess that was our house is now clean enough to have the carpets washed (and they washed almost spotlessly clean).

Our neighbor, Joe, has been a lifesaver by being our resident handy man, trash man, lawn man, and honorary property manager.

We've had help from various family members hauling trash, moving furniture, and fixing big projects.

The scavenger neighbors have taken all the random furniture I set out on the porch.

And finally...

Tonight we signed a one  year lease with new, amazing, friendly, trustworthy tenants!!

I think it was completely the hand of God that orchestrated their family and ours crossing paths.  She is the cousin of a friend of a friend who's husband had to relocate to Pennsylvania from several states away for work, leaving them with only 2 weeks to find a house and move.  Truly, timing could not have worked out any better for either party.

And remember that black and white nursery I poured my heart into?  Well, wouldn't you know, they have some little boys who love race cars and the black and white stripped wall and paint fits in just perfectly with the other decor they already have.

My heart is happy.

It's so good to know that when both shoes drop, there is Someone there to catch them and help me get them back on.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Levi's New Car

Last night, we bought a car.  We signed several dotted lines and pulled out of the dealership deeper in debt than I'd like to be, but in a vehicle promising not to cost too much in fuel or repairs over the next several years.


Rewind a few hours to me stressing out over this large purchase.  I called my little sister Wendi to vent.  Sometimes the fact that we don't see each other and live far apart totally sucks. But what's nice is that I know I can count on her straight forward, unbiased opinion, and trust that she knows me pretty stinking well, so she knows the right things to say.

As I go over the pros and cons of the purchase, Wendi gently says,

"Michelle, it sounds like you really want the car and it's a good choice, too."

"Yeah, it is."

"And think of it this way - you are probably buying what will be Levi's first car someday."



That sealed the deal.

(I mean, we had already decided to buy the car, but this conversation gave me some strange kind of peace about it.)

As an added bonus, the fire engine redness of our new car reminds me of Levi's nursery. Is it a normal mom thing to find sentiment in the strangest places?



So, bring on the car payments.

Also, bring on the new tenants.  I'm working my butt of cleaning and now we need someone to love our old house as much as we do!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When Both Shoes Drop

Except for the so-fun weekend, last week royally sucked.

First, on Tuesday, we had to evict our tenants.  Not only do I feel like a big jerk for evicting a single mom with a bunch of kids, but I am ticked because of the mess they left behind.  Such conflicting emotions.


The pictures don't really do it justice, but there is trash, dirt, grime, junk they left behind everywhere.  The silver lining is that nothing really needs repairs - just lots of cleaning.  Which is not my idea of a good time.


Wednesday, Levi and I worked our tails off cleaning up the mess at the house.

Thursday, I went to my car, arms loaded with Mother's Day gifts to ship, and when I turned the car on, it made a sound like nuts and bolts in a blender.  Not good.  My friend Lynne was watching Levi, so I borrowed her car, stopped at the post office, and went to buy oil for my car.  When I got home and checked the oil, it was perfectly full, and yet the blender sounds were still happening.

I tried to drive the car from one parking spot to another, and in that short distance all the power and brakes basically gave out.

Not good.

We were thinking worse-case scenario some belt but have broke and now we'll have like (gasp) a $500 repair, which would be awful because we shelled out $1,000 recently to have the car inspected and serviced.

When the service man called, he sounded like he was choking back the tears and giving me a terminal prognosis.  He used words like explosion, catastrophic, and I'm so sorry.  Repairs, which included a new engine, would ring in around $5,500.


Oh my.  This was our "good car."  The one we (responsibly) bought used with low mileage after hours of research.  We paid for it mostly in cash and had the balance paid off about a year later.

And of course, between the bum tenants and the recent car repair bill, we had NO money saved for a new car.  Eeek.

I know in the grand scheme of life, a messed up house and a dead car are not major things, but it sure felt like my world was crashing around me last week. So today I am going to work more on cleaning up the mess that used to be called our house, and tonight we are buying a car.  We're going to have financed our first car, which I never wanted to do, but here we are.

If you have a chance, would you say a prayer for my stress level today?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I Love the Number 12: May

You know how when you have a blog, sometimes you set up all these rules and expectations for yourself, and then get frustrated when you don't follow through, but then your realize your mom and her sister are the only ones reading your blog anyway?  Well, that's how this number 12 "series" has been for me.  I'm thinking, "What I am really trying to accomplish or prove with this series?"

Well, while there are no magical powers in the number 12, once a month, on the 12th, I am taking a hot second to reflect on someone or something important and special in my life.

So on to this month.  Today is May 12.

In America, today is the day before Mother's Day.  Go buy the cards, take your mom out for dinner, prepare your house for a picnic tomorrow, you know, the norm.  But in a small group of America called "The Adoption World," today is Birth Mother's Day.


I don't necessarily need a special day to remember how amazing and special Levi's birth mother is; I think about this every time I hear Levi's voice say "Mommy," and feel those little hands grasp the back o my neck in a tight hug.

But sometimes I do need a reminder to TELL Jen how loved and treasured she is.

Last Mother's Day I mourned for her more than I rejoiced in my first Mother's Day.  Time has healed many wounds and in the last year we have grown much closer, which is wonderful for everyone involved.  We had so much fun having dinner together and watching the kids play (and fight, ha ha!) together last night in celebration of this very special weekend.

There is no framework for the way this relationship should go.  How will this all unfold, what does it look like fiver years down the road?  None of these questions I can answer.  All I can do is be grateful.  Grateful to be able to give Levi his past, and grateful that Levi's past will be part of his future.  Grateful  that my son has so many people who love him so much it hurts.

I found a poem this week that describes Jen perfectly...


Almost crumbling to the ground, she stopped.
Looking at how far she had traveled and all it had taken to get her there,
She recognized her strength.
The strengths she had inside of her,
The strength she had gained along the way.
And so, she stood up.
Standing tall, she faced forward and continued on.

If this doesn't describe the wonderfulness that is Jen, I don't know what does. Don't worry, I did tell her, too.  Actually, I told her with modge podge and scrapbook paper (if you get my drift).  


Happy Mother's Day!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Levi Sings, Part 2


I thought the whole video posted last time, but it didn't quite work...  Here is part one, where Levi sings do re mi and stuff like that.

Recently, Herb and I had some fun catching Levi singing his newest favorite song - maybe this is his 1st favorite song?

I'm not going to tell you what it is (you'll have to watch the video), but I'll give you clue.  He'd more likely be a contestant on the Sing Off than the Voice.

Levi's First Song

Recently, Levi has found his voice.  He's getting pretty good at echoing and pitch matching simple patterns, but never on camera, and rarely on cue.

 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Honor...Me?

I remember learning the 10 commandment at Vacation Bible School when I was a kid.  When we learned each commandment, we talked in depth about it, and what it meant in our lives.  


Don't use God's name like a swear word, and let him be your only God.  Go to church on Sundays, don't kill, steal, lie or be jealous of what the other kids have.   I remember not knowing exactly what "adultery" meant, but knowing better than to ask more details. 


When we discussed "honoring your father and mother,"  I knew this was a fairly easy one for me.  


I had parents who cared deeply, loved unconditionally, and provided faithfully.  I couldn't help but ask the teacher what to do if your parents wanted you to break one of the other commandments.  You know, if obeying your parents made you sin in another way.  


She told me, at that point, you need to pray and ask God what to do, but you should not break any of the commandments.


Something a few days ago made me remember that story and I recounted the story of my worried little heart to Herb.


Then today I read Ephesians 6:1-3 and thought of the whole honoring your parents concept in a whole new way.  


Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—  “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”


The tables have been turned.  I am the parent now.  I am the one that someone else  is being commanded to obey.


Wow.


Am I living my life honorably in a way that will cause Levi to make good choices, too?  It's such a huge task.    I don't take it lightly.  What kind of path are we leading Levi on?




I want to live a life worthy of the calling I have received.  


I'm so grateful I don't have to do it alone.  I am grateful for a husband who is obedient to God's calling and open to talk about parenting and faith.  I'm so grateful for a God who is full of grace and guidance.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Who is Your Person?

On one of my favorite shows, the two lead characters, best friends, call each other their "person."  You know, the one who you go to with all your joys and sorrows, the one who will be there for you indefinitely.

For about the last ten years (a little less if I'm honest), my person has been Herb.  Pretty convenient that he's my roommate, my business partner, my co-parenter, and the love of my life.  Don't get me wrong, I have definitely had (and still do) my share of amazing friends who are incredible blessings, that I would even call "best friends," but when it comes right down to it, Herb is my person.

Friendship is one of the most sure-fire ways to have a successful marriage, according to Mark and Grace Driscoll.  Mark is the lead pastor at Mars Hill in Seattle, and Herb and I have been enjoying his podcasted sermons for a few years now.  When I saw that Mark and his wife Grace would be giving a marriage conference, I jumped at the chance to buy tickets.  They just wrote a book called "Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together."  It is most certainly the most heartfelt and practical marriage book I have ever read.

(source)
And guess what, in case you don't want to read the book or didn't go to the conference, Pastor Mark preached on this subject for a few weeks, and you can see the videos (or read the transcripts) right here.

The first session on Friday night was about friendship - in fact - they called it "Friends with Benefits," which was pretty entertaining.  So basically, you have three kinds of marriage:

1. Back to back - husband and wife are co-existing but living separate lives

2. Shoulder to shoulder - husband and wife are basically glorified business partners.  Taking the kids where they need to go, working all the time to make sure the bills get paid, etc.  I gotta say, it's easy to slip in to this phase of marriage, but there is certainly a huge disconnect when you're there.

3.  Face to face - husband and wife are taking time to intentionally spend time together.  They pray, talk and fight face to face.  Face to face bring better communication, and therefore, a better marriage.

Unflattering picture, huh?  At the conf.
Logistically, we realized that we DON'T spend much time face to face.  In fact, when we eat (in our tiny kitchen that seats three), we sit side by side and spend the whole time looking at Levi.  So step one was to switch the placement of Levi's high chair so that now Herb and I face each other and Levi is on our sides.  In just a week, this has made a HUGE difference in our dinner conversation (which is sometimes all we've got on a busy day).

We are also making it a point to spend more time together with TVs and computers turned off.  For example, last night when I got home from work, we spent 30 minutes outside on our patio just chatting about the day.  Previously, this conversation would have happened during commercials or just before we fell asleep.

The other thing we suck at is praying together outside of before dinner.  For some reason, it feels a little out of our comfort zone to pray together and for each other, but it is rewarding on so many levels when we do it.

Okay, this post is getting long, so I'm going to come back with part two - what being friends with your spouse should look like.