Sunday, August 12, 2012

Growing Pains

It's easy to say one should begin in medias res, but when one is actually in the middle of things, it's hard to know where to start.

In the past couple of months, we have experienced quite a few changes and are expecting more.  My husband's father was diagnosed with lung cancer, and in his tests a brain tumor was found.  My husband was able to travel to Romania to visit with him before and after the surgery.  His father had been doing well, then took a turn for the worse, then is doing a little bit better (unable to move much of his right side, but able to hold a book with his left hand).  Please keep Tudor in your prayers.

We are expecting the birth of our third child in January.  On the eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6), we felt a kick for the first time.

We will be moving from our current parish in Florida.  Whence?  We don't know, except "north," but that hardly narrows things down.  When?  We don't know, but probably in the next two or three months.

Our house went on the market on Thursday.

We've donated 19 boxes and three shelves' worth of books to friends, the library, and the James Joyce Society of Sarasota, and sold six bookcases (just now) via Craigslist.  A carload of miscellaneous things has already been taken to Goodwill.

The feeling of the house has changed, and my feelings towards it have changed, too.  It's much easier to pick up after myself and after the family because having one or two things out of place seems wrong when everything else has such clean (empty) lines.  (I'm sure there's some sort of spiritual lesson to be learned there on further reflection.)

On the other hand, it also feels as though we've been robbed: just a few books are left on the shelves, and much of the detritus has been taken care of, including my desk—which is still messy; we've only been cleaning for about a week.

I've had nightmares about a particular book (or several), and have woken up in the middle of the night, simply wanting those books back.  Getting rid of so many things at once has seemingly also awakened me to the very real idea that all these Things have very definitely attached themselves to me.  I'm not far enough away from them to not miss them yet, but at least I realize that they are not necessary to me, my family, or my happiness.

This blog is one year and two days old.  It started with the story of the young man who already followed the commandments of the Law, and then was told to sell all he had, give to the poor, and follow Christ.  The "selling all" part seems to be the easiest of all of those!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sleeping Room and Play Room

Because Teddy wanted Lucia during naptime or at bedtime, I decided last week that we'd try to rearrange the rooms so that one room (darker, cooler, and quieter) would be for sleeping and the other (brighter and noisier) would be for play.  After advice from several friends on how to help children share a room, and adjusting for Teddy not actually taking a nap, we seem to have reached a nice arrangement.  I am inordinately happy with both of the rooms, especially since no toys are allowed in the sleeping room, and there's still a mattress in the playroom in case parents need to lie down and be played around.

The former nursery, with curtains still drawn up to be away from the baby:
 Still has the changing table and nursing glider:
 And the playroom, with the large bookcase still to sort out, but plenty of bright sunshine to play in.
 Here is an example of the rest of the house, though:
We'll just leave it at that.

In other news, this week I mailed out four packages of things that need to get out of our house, and I'm quite pleased with myself for making the decision and sticking to it and finally getting those packed up and sent!  (Only took four months for the biggest one...)

We have a house inspection tomorrow morning for insurance purposes, so I need to make especially sure that the attic is accessible via the closets, and that I don't have to cry about the rest of the house.  (Not sure I will do or be able to do the second part, but I could at least try.)

I'm transcribing the third in a series of Orthodox Christian parenting lectures and was struck by the analysis of temptation.  I recognized myself when I wake up: I have definitely gotten into the rut of making the bad decision.  So I decided to set my alarm and wake up.  Lo and behold, I've done a load of laundry, prepared banana bread to give away and library books to return, went to library storytime, fed lunch to myself and the kids, and got an oil change for the car.  Not bad for one morning, especially when set against: eat cookie, read books and internet, and glare at children.  Now I'm going to go read TG a book.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Week 6: Kitchen and Dining Room

It is to laugh.  I did not manage things like "organize dishes and pantry" or "vacuum refrigerator coils," but I did manage the dishes, although right now the kitchen is back to its usual mess... and then some, with eight packages of flour next to a cabinet, the honeycomb baking pan (still in its box) for LC's birthday on Thursday in the middle of the floor, and bananas everywhere across the counters.

I forgot the dining room was part of the assignment.

At the end of this week, I was as tired as I remember being at the end of previous Holy Weeks.  So I'm a little worried about this Holy Week, which has just started.  I am attempting the Holy Week boxes for the kids, and will post about that somewhere.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week 5: Children's Rooms and Garage

I'd already gotten rid of the excess baby clothes earlier, thanks to a parish clothing drive.  (Didn't go through any of TG's clothes, alas, then or now.)

Didn't do much of anything, it seems, but I finally managed to finish the NSP newsletter and get it mailed/posted.

I fantasized about how to reorganize part of the garage so that the pool things would have a place to be stored (now that I've kicked them out of the laundry room and the pool, just down the street, is warm enough to be visited daily, at least by everyone else).

There's still enough room to park one car in the two-car garage (better than my childhood memories), but it's getting tricky now that we have large child-related paraphernalia in addition to projects.  Childhood-related: pack-and-play, tricycle, bicycle, small chair; Christmas decoration boxes; failed mushroom-growing project; debris from when my husband sanded and finished our new (from Goodwill) tv stand (mostly sanding belts all over), and pillows and a futon which have sat, sadly acquiring denizens, since we moved in and couldn't think of where to put them on the inside of our house.  Oh, and a giant wardrobe that was supposed to hold either gardening things or tools or something, and large planks of wood to cover the windows in case of hurricane.  I'm sure there are other things I trip over, but I can't think of what.

Maybe I'll make some time during this "kitchen" week to resolve at least a few of the issues.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Week 4: Office and Foyer

I was going to say that this is another week of having crashed and burned, but then I thought of the story about falling and getting up again:
Another brother asked Abba Sisoes, 'I have fallen, Abba; what shall I do?' The old main said to him, 'Get up again.' The brother said, 'I have gotten up again, but again have I fallen.' The old man said, 'Get up again and again.' So the brother asked, 'How many times?' The old man replied, 'Until you are taken up either in virtue or in sin. For a man presents himself to judgment in that state in which he is found.'
 Or, what I wasn't think of but found first:
Do all in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should not fall. But if you do fall, get up again at once and continue the contest. Even if you fall a thousand times because of the withdrawal of God's grace, rise up again each time, and keep on doing this until the day of your death. For it is written, 'If a righteous man falls down seven times'—that is, repeatedly throughout his life—'seven times shall he rise again' [Prov. 24:16]. —John of Karpathos
So I have not so much as filed a single paper this week; in fact, I've added to the in-piles... in how many they are as well as how high they are.

I haven't put pictures on the USB sticks my mother sent me (to send back to her) ... more than a year's worth since I've printed any pictures for her or for me (or at all).

We had to do the tax preparation two weeks ago, so that doesn't really count, even though I put it specifically on the list for this week.

I did contact the post office about the lost boxes of books, and basically nothing can be done.  (My mother asked me to follow up.)

I did manage to get clothing for Pascha and Holy Week ... if not everything I'd wanted to get, at least something possible for myself and the children.  Evidently TG likes vests and ties ... and barrettes.  How come the child I decide to put barrettes on pulls them out and the child I don't think to put barrettes on asks for them?  (Oh, well, at least her hair is growing longer so I can sometimes tuck it behind her ear.)

I figured out what kind of basket to get for TG (red, wheeled, saying "Radio Flyer" on the side, which I haven't gotten yet), and have some LMcQ pool slippers to put in it.  I even found a fun little egg-related craft to surprise my husband with via Pinterest.  No clue what to do about Paschal candles ... again.

What else has happened?  I've aged a year (25 now).

I've still not gotten the NSP newsletter out.  Although it was drafted by the 16th, it's been in the proofreading-and-approval state (and still is), so nothing has been printed, and it's supposed to be received before Pascha.

On Saturday, TG did an amazing job at our Irish dancing performance, dancing better than he's ever done, even though there were people looking at him.

I learned of the cancer and death of my friend's mother, all in one week.  I am grateful that my friend was able to travel from Niger to be with her family before her mother passed away, but hurt and angry at the death of this beautiful lady, who has epitomized and imaged what motherhood is for me from my childhood. Please pray for the repose of the servant of God, Anne.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week 3: Living Room and Sunroom

Haha.  So my specific goals for last week included:

  • sorting books
  • clearing husband's desk
  • donate some lamps 
I sorted through the children's books and culled a few (maybe 20?).  Our parish has a lovely lady who wants us  (as a parish) to be more involved in the community, so she organized a clothing drive and bake-off this past Saturday and Sunday.  I'd told her earlier that I was going to participate in a consignment event with the kids' clothing, and she told me that I should just donate the clothes to the clothing drive.

So I did get an entire trunkful of clothes out of the house, and that's without going through the adult clothes in drawers or any of Teddy's things.  So I have lots and lots of space in our closet (and fewer back-up plans, since I got rid of clothes that fit but I didn't actually like), but that means that I have to actually go and buy something to wear for Pascha, for me as well as for the kidlets.  And there aren't clothes scattered all over LC's floor!  Okay, there are, but those are only socks, shoes, hats, and other accessory-like things, because she took them out of the bag and ... decorated.  Everything else is sorted by size and in bins (too large and too small) and drawers (hooray! clothes that fit her and are seasonal are accessible!)

Today we had a clergy guest, so I basically just grabbed things all over the living room and put them in a couple of bags.  The floor is dirty, but all the things are encapsulated.  Now I just have to sort through them and put them away.  (And I found a box where I'd done that ... a few months ago.)  Oh, and we removed a piece of furniture which used to hold our TV.  (I think it was originally intended to hold a record player and records.)  So now we have to figure out how to get that thing out of the garage (even more in the way than it was in the living room, but we don't have to look at it as much) and over to Goodwill.  I feel really good about the living room.

This past weekend, our air conditioner went out, a little before close of business on Friday, of course.  We did what we could by cooling the house, opening things at night and going out during the late afternoon.  This morning we found out that the coolant is much too low, and a preliminary leak-check didn't provide any information.  *sigh*  We put in a new air conditioner when we moved here.

The NSP newsletter, hopefully my last, is in the proofing stage.  I helped finish folding and stickering the parish newsletter this noon, and I'm hoping that one of the ladies from the mailing committee will help me fold my newsletter, too.  Ancient Faith Radio still has a couple of podcasts that I've been assigned to transcribe, so I'm hoping to squeeze in even a few minutes a day.  I kinda wish I could transcribe all day, but part of the unwritten "lenten cleaning plan" is to be more attentive to the children.

This coming week is an assorted assignment: desk and office kinds of things (send pictures to my mother, make sure I'm registered to vote), the foyer area, and getting clothes and things for Pascha.  And I might try to make a non-dairy cheesecake for my birthday on Wednesday to share after Presanctified.  Or I might chicken out and go with banana bread again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Week 2: Master Bedroom

Well, this past week was mostly a failure.  There was a lot going on with deadlines and services and ubiquitous children.  (I thought there were only two, but how can they be everywhere?)

Nonetheless, I did work on a project that I hadn't started, but meant to, for several years: looking at the 8mm tapes with my father's video camera.  The unlabeled tapes, which might or might not have footage of our wedding.  There were several things in the duffle bag besides the camera and the five 8mm tapes: a wedding favor and program, a sock, camera stuff, three tapes that don't go with this camera (smaller than 8mm: one is an Irish session and the others haven't been opened yet).

One of the tapes was labeled, and has my grandmother talking about some genealogy and family stories.

One of the tapes has some Houston rodeo footage.

One of the tapes has footage of my father going through the house to catalogue things like books and music ... and lots of boxes.  There's even proof of the "great deal" on a cello he bought (broken, and nobody we knew knew how to play).

One of the tapes has my nephew in an elementary-school concert involving recorders.

And one of the tapes has the last part of my wedding reception, the part where my godbrother walked around asking for "advice for the bride and groom."  Some people refused to give advice.  Some people gave advice: "He's always wrong" or "She's always right" (funny, because it's really "He's always right, but it's still his fault" in our house).  Some people gave advice: "Don't take any wooden nickles."

And then my best friend from childhood (now in Niger) walked up to the cameraman and told him to just get footage of people, of the guestbook, of the children running around happily.  After she'd collected her thoughts, she told him she was ready to say something to the camera, and gave a beautiful discourse on how love in marriage should be based on forgiveness.

So even though I didn't get much more done than keeping the bathroom and laundry room mostly clean and attempting to stay on top of the laundry, I did manage to unearth a seven-and-a-half-year-old treasure.

My mother says she probably threw out all the other unlabeled 8mm tapes, and the man who had professionally videotaped our wedding (for free; nephew of the priest) hadn't given us more than a now-broken link to the first half.  What I wish is that I had my father's speech at the beginning of the reception, the one that made me cry so much I couldn't hear most of what he was saying.

I'm trying to let go of these might-have-beens.  I know what he was saying.  I know what his fingers said on his deathbed: I love you.  I just have to remember that I don't need all this junk to tell me that.