Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Building Bent #3

So, we passed our last lumber inspection!  It went as great as the last one did, so that's one checkbox we can put a big fat check in.  The foundation work continues, and the basement floor is in the works. Here is Jeff working on bent #3. Bents are like the cross-sections of the house.  Jeff and Randy are assembling each bent, numbering the pieces, taking it apart, and storing the pieces at the property.  Here is a diagram to get a better grasp on what he's working on here.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fall is Coming: Protecting the Mom's Soul

 As the new school year approaches, I am going to make some serious, tangible steps toward a healthier life balance for myself.  I am not superwoman.  I never claimed that I wanted to be.  I read articles about how lonely or isolating being at home can be.... about how most moms feel unable to connect.... about all sorts of things that should make me feel better, just by knowing that I am NOT the only person to feel this way.  Heck, I talk to friends who echo my exact feelings.  It helps.  And, it doesn't.  As I continue the current cycle of this isolated-domestic-depression followed by guilt for not being thankful enough, I am choosing to stop and look at the big picture.
  • Building a house is supposed to be one of the hardest things for a marriage.  I'm sure this observation is not referring to building it by hand, over 3-4x the length of typical time.  If your husband was a conglomeration of everyone that works on that house, only it can only be done after his full-time job, that's a different ballgame.
  • Stay-at-home mom isolation cannot be dismissed.  It happens.  It's real.  The world goes on... and you hold down the fort.  Dinners as a often-solo-adult are the worst.  Not being able to know when relief or companionship will arrive creates a feeling of being "stuck".  There is no way to know if I can plan to run out without the kids at 7:30 on a given night.  It might work out, it might not.  Do I plan to cook and all eat together tonight?  Do I plan to take the kids out and try to distract my need for conversation?  If I do, will I miss that early-night-home?  Do I ask for help for the 7:00 kid drop-off, or do I put on that tough-mask and forge through as if I am fine all alone? 
  • Homeschooling is not for the emotionally needy.  It doesn't take a lot of searching to find tips for the homeschool mom who is struggling with feelings of being overwhelmed, smothered, isolated, depressed, alone, weary.  Now, don't get me wrong.  It is 100% worth living through those things.  The joy that my children have inside them, the self-confidence, the educational freedom, and the positive peer environment are all more than enough to keep me on this path.  But, it is not easy.  Forget the moments when the kids won't listen, or are acting like they are whiny strands of limp pasta, or when you are struggling to get them to understand and are questioning your abilities.  The real struggle is in the heart and the head and the gut.  When I taught in a school setting, there were teachers to talk to.  We met and shot the breeze in the halls.  We vented to each other.  We suffered through pointless bureaucratic meetings together.  We understood, REALLY understood, each others' teaching dilemmas and difficulties.  We talked through things together.  We made eye contact with each other and smiled.  Homeschooling can feel like a lone teacher with a class that is floating way out to sea.  Land, humans, help, is no where in sight.  Even with the awesome online resources and email groups, it is not the same. 
I am, justifiably, in a tough spot right now, and the only one who can change that is me.  Sure, some would argue that I did it to myself.  Why build your own house?  Funny enough, this whole plan came about because I need to try to set up a lifestyle that is NOT so lonely and isolating.  I'd like to see my husband.  I like him.  A lot.  So, a house with no mortgage should help that, right?  (I also knew, as soon as this building technique was discussed, that it lent itself to me being a pseudo-single-parent.  I wondered, out loud, if I could do this for so long after just finishing up two other major house renovations while raising small children. I was not naive.  I knew it would hurt.)  I could go back to work, right?  Honestly, it has crossed my mind to throw in the towel on all of it.... sell all of the animals.... enroll the kids in school.... find a job.  The problem is that I know I would be getting off work to then figure out how to work out extra-curricular activities & domestic duties all on my own.  How does one mow grass, and unclog the drains, and pay the bills, and get the oil changed, discipline kids, help with homework, and actually survive it all after a full day of work?  (As always, my hat is off to all single mommas out there!)  Basically, I need to live my "now" life of raising kids through the building process, stay at home, and educate my children, all while orchestrating a mental/emotional health plan for myself.

So, no more tears.  It is time for brainstorming.

  • My first thought is that I need a sister who lives near me and hangs out talking in my kitchen while we both fix dinner together.  Unfortunately, that isn't going to work out.
  • I could find mom-friends whose husbands are out of town, or work really late, or who are single and invite them over to dinner.  Since I know one-adult-dinners depress me, I could just take a proactive stance and find those adults who need dinner companionship. Okay, so my house is small and usually very messy.  We could go out.  Heck, just to Chick Fil A would work.  
  • I could plan ahead and hire a sitter to provide myself with that extra help.  Systematically release some of the pressure so that it never gets to that heart-explosion point.
  • I will limit my screen time during the day.  It may seem like I am "talking" to grown-ups, but it does not actually help anything.  Those "Facebook use leads to isolation" articles are correct.  It doesn't hold a candle to sitting at the kitchen table with a good friend, or a late night chat in a driveway.  Plus, I am most likely making my kids feel the same way that I feel when someone chooses Facebook over cerebral engagement with me.  Not good.
  • I think I should channel my frustrations into physical activity.  Exercising always feels better.  But, I'll have to come up with a way to do this that does not require childcare.... or money.  Crap.
  • I could rent out my couch to a grad student who likes to cook, chat, play with kids, and can carry 50lb bags of grain for me.  Yeah, probably not realistic.  Plus, my couch is usually covered in laundry.  And, I have no closet space.
  • Keep venting to my mom, who assures me that she understands, has lived through it, and makes me feel better just by her listening. 
  • I need to find a Sunday School class that has a group of women my age, with children of similar ages to mine.  I know what this can be like, and I need it to be in my life. 
  • I need to get in my van and travel to see those precious friends who understand me.  Even if it doesn't make sense.  Even if I have to drag all four kids in tow, and they all have to desperately pee right when we are in Atlanta traffic.
  • Keep counting my blessings, and being thankful.

I have to find a balance.  I have to find a way to take care of myself, to meet my needs, WITHOUT allowing cancerous feelings or hurt or jealousy or loneliness to take root in my gut.   Instead of continuing to try to eliminate my needs, I need to just find alternative ways to meet them.

I guess this is why it is so easy to find a million articles on Mom-Isolation.  Sure, authors.  We aren't alone.  I get it.  Now, why don't you come sit in my kitchen and talk to me about it.  I'll make a casserole.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

At the Cabin with Friends!

Sometimes you just have to pack up wiggly kids, a TON of groceries, scooters, bug nets, beach chairs, and a boat-load of bags stuffed to the brim, just so you can have that good, soul-nourishing time with your friend.  For three solid days, even with 8 people in a one bedroom cabin, I had a partner-in-crime.  Talking.  Not talking.  Packing up lunches for the beach.  Disciplining kids.  Listening.  Sitting on the bank of a creek watching our sweet kids build dams and slip on rocks.  Making dinner.  Understanding.  THIS I have craved and desperately needed and HAD to make happen.  Now, to make sure that I figure out a way to fill those lonely mommy days and nights and weekends with more of this.  With more connection.  With more relationships.  With more time communicating with those beautiful people that feel just as Lost in Space.  Those comfortable, easy, family-friendships do not come along often for me.... and I am immensely thankful to have this friend in my life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

House Progress.....

 And Future Gypsy-Camper-in-the-Woods Progress.....

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The "You Should Write That Down" Catch-Up Post

The meanest cat in the world.

Mike to Jeff: At what temperature does copper melt?
Jeff to Mike: Not sure... (rattles off boring stuff...)
Both of them talk about what you'd have to melt it in, etc.

Ivey: I don't like Copper (our cat), but I don't want to hurt him, just give him away.


"If I had brown skin and no bones I would look like Nutella."


Addison is on stage doing the last practice before tomorrow's recital. I could sense his stress over a song that he is playing along with a different class, without music, playing along by ear. I tried to lighten it up and made a heart with my hands and put it to my chest. In the midst of playing, he mouthed, "wrong side".

That's my kid.


Olive: "Momma, can you come and check our room and see if it looks like a different family that has kids that clean up their room?"


Me: "Addison, look at all these last-day-of-school pictures! Aren't they cute?"
(Shows him newsfeed of 5th grade graduations and the inside of school lobbies bustling with smiling, excited kids)
"Does it look fun? I mean, would you want to just go to school one day?"

Addison: "It doesn't look fun enough to go to school for a whole year just for being that happy at the end."

My kid is wise, and he knows what he wants. :-)


"Uncle Mike gives the best gifts. It's like he doesn't want to spend a lot of time on it and doesn't care if it costs a lot of money."


At the crack of dawn....
"Momma, I accidently ate cookie cake. Sorry."


Addison: "Money doesn't buy happiness, but I don't think poorness buys it either."


"I like your new fish, girls. What is its name?"
"Cool name. How did you pick it?"
"Like in Allison Wonderland."


Me: "Girls, just 5 more minutes and they we need to go in."
Olive: "That's fine. Anything over one minute is long to me."


Olive, yelling across the yard from the bathroom window: "Sorry Mommy! I had to go and my bathing suit came off and then everything just went WRONG in here!


I overheard the girls bickering about having three more minutes to play, and something about that not meaning that they both HAVE to play for three additional minutes.

Olive: "Ivey, do you know what we're doing?"
Ivey: "What?"
Olive: "Disagreeing."

And she turned and walked off.

Ivey: "We need a sign with two sides and one side is for when our friends come over and it will say (insert syrupy-sweet voice) 'Welcome to Our Home', and the other side will be for when there is a spy outside and it will say (insert demon-child voice) 'Come in our home and we'll drill you to pieces.'"


Olive: "Someone at ChickfilA invented the chicken sandwich. So, why haven't you invented anything?"


The girls caught a glimpse of a History Channel show on the tv about some war. It led to a discussion about war and why it happens. Ivey then talks about what SHE would do to fight. Olive then pipes up and says, "I would distract them with my cuteness."


Ivey and Olive were making paper bracelets and decided that they wanted to sell them. Unsatisfied with selling them just to their immediate family, they wanted to stand by the road and peddle their wares to passers-by.
Ivey : "But, Momma, I can stand by the road and yell (cups hands around mouth), 'HI! I'M NOT A VAMPIRE OR ANYTHING, BUT CAN YOU TELL ME YOUR NAME SO I CAN MAKE YOU A BRACELET?!?'"
She's a natural salesperson.


A super sparkly fun day with a new kitten is the perfect time to reflect on your own mortality. If, of course, you are Olive.
Ivey: "Can we really keep him forever and ever?"
Me: "Yes, Ivey, we can!"
Olive: "Well, we can keep him till he dies, Ivey."
Ivey: "Awww!!!"
Olive: "Well, he WILL die one day, Ivey. We will die too, even if we eat all healthy foods everyday and live a long time."


Ivey: "I'm a woodpecker!"
Olive: "What kind of pecker should I be?"


My boys different approaches to fireworks in the driveway:
Asa- Ran around, bounced, loved every minute of lighting things and watching them blow up.
Addison- Sat back and discussed the history of Chinese bomb-making with anyone who would listen. Occasionally voiced concern over something "not being a good idea".