Have I ever told you how much I love Mondays? I know it may sound like a sickness but I really do. Mondays are like January 1st or the first day of school. They are that fresh start every week. A chance to start over and do it right. This week I will do more, learn, organize, prioritize, and put it all together! This week my life will come together, make sense. I will be a better person, grow and become who God meant me to be. Mondays are full of possibilities as the whole week looms ahead. What wonderful surprises are waiting for me this week?
When I was at home it sort of made sense to love Monday. Everyone goes back to work and I can get the house back in order, run to the mall without the crowds or anything else I wanted to. The week was mine for the taking. I was afraid when I started working I would find myself hating Mondays like everyone else. I mean hating Monday is practically a national past time. But as I am about to start week 4 of working I have to say I am still excited for Monday. Not because I am excited to work but because since I have to work I am excited about the fresh opportunity that Monday brings me.
Weekends are fun and my love for them is renewed as I work. But life happens in the everyday and if I'm not just as enthusiastic about the daily as I am about the fun then I have a long depressing life ahead of me.
Planning summer childcare has been like organizing a 3 ring circus. We ended up with a big wall calendar in Isabelle's room so each night before she goes to bed she can cross of the current day and see who she will be with the next day. It has greatly improved her stress level. I think she was in constant panic of being left alone before the calendar.
Of course you make a plan and immediately your sitters go on vacation. So Jake and my sister-in-law were both gone last week. As I was in search of replacement sitters I was talking with Isabelle's birth mother about when we could see them during their visit since I would be working. On a whim I asked if she wanted to take Isabelle one of the afternoons I needed a sitter for, Isabelle was in VBS in the mornings. She said they could take 2 of the days. We were all very excited and a little nervous but it went great.
It is hard to explain how blessed we feel to have Sam and Lauren as birth parents. They are loving both to Isabelle and to us. We are a team in some ways as Isabelle grows up. We all have shared goals to see her grow up to be a godly woman, to help her understand how blessed she is to have both parents and birth parents who love her and want the very best for her life.
Now they are going to be parents again this fall and we are so excited. We are re-defining family as this child will be a full sister to Isabelle. While technically I will not be related at all you won't be able to stop me and everyone else in my family from loving up this baby as if she was another niece.
Today we broke another barrier in our adoption adventure by attending Lauren's family and friend baby shower. Some family had never seen Isabelle while others hadn't seen her since she was only a few weeks old. They have all followed along with pictures but it isn't the same as a real live visit. The last time we met Lauren's family nobody knew how this was all going to work out but 6 years later we all know this is going to work out just fine. We are all family brought together by Isabelle and for better or worse we are all in it together.
With Lauren's Family
Isabelle showing the gift she chose for her sister.
Do you think working will suck the creative juices out of my brain? I have had no particularly profound thoughts all week. With the initial adjustment period over my brain has moved into some sort of survival mode. I don't think about anything at work and I am too tired or busy to think of anything when I get home.
OK I have had a couple thoughts this week but nothing I have had time to really think about. Just things that pop into my head.
I guess that could be the topic of the day. Normally when a thought pops in my head, like maybe an idea we should buy a farm and become homesteaders, I will immediately change all plans to spend the next day or two researching and obsessing about the topic until I have either decided to do it or decided to abandon it. On Tuesday an idea popped into my head but it wasn't until last night that I was able to do anything about it. I told John about it and he thought the thought was valid but I couldn't pursue beyond that. And even still I didn't have time to be comprehensive last night so it will take time to made a decision about that thought.
So yesterday as I was mulling at work the fact that I could do nothing about this thought I wondered if maybe it would help stem some of my crazier thoughts. I mean when time is limited you can't go off on every wild goose chase. I will be forced in the years to come to really think through my impulses and assess what is a valid idea and what is not worth my time. That could be a good thing.
It is possible that not everything I did when I was at home was necessarily the best or mentally healthiest way to do things. Interesting.
When I first became a homemaker at age19 I have to admit I was pretty bad. Technically I knew how to clean, cook, do laundry, etc but practically I had no idea how to put it all together and maintain a home. So we did the wash when we had no clothes, vacuumed when the floor was covered with visible food and thought that Uncle Ben's Broccoli Rice Au Gratin was a meal not a side dish. 5 years later when I quit working to stay home with Jake I had a little bit of a system but still had a lot to learn. I was still mostly reacting to homemaking and had absolutely no sense of style or decor knowledge. I have always been a minimalist and like rooms picked up and I am organized. That was all I had going for me as a homemaker. Everything else I have picked up along the way over the last 16 years.
Tonight, as I look over my mostly picked up but not particularly clean and slightly chaotic home I realize in some ways I am back at square one of homemaking trying to figure out how to make it all work within the confines of my new normal. I will need to decide what is a priority and what I will let go. I will need new systems for keeping track of tasks, papers, and children.
Before I started I imagined that maybe I would figure out how to justify hiring someone to clean my house once a month. But only 2 weeks in I already know I am going to want that extra money to go to making up meals at Let's Dish or ordering my groceries online. Put side by side I would much rather do my own vacuuming than start dinner at 5:30 after a long work day or worse yet stop by the grocery store on the way home.
I am often complimented for being a good homemaker. I am here to tell you I don't have any special formula or magic potion, I just have a system and I follow it every day. It may take time to create and integrate a new system in my new life but I am confident with the help of my family we can find that new system and be on top of our home once again.
And, I am learning at work that being in the habit of repetitious work it definitely going to be to my advantage. I do the same things every day. Could be boring but I am going with peaceful, relaxing, fulfilling. And if you could remind me of that when I start using the word "boring" I would really appreciate it.
How many posts on the transition to full time work am I allowed? I think I have a few more in me but I will try to spread them out.
This weekend I was in search of a book on working moms. I found one which I ordered from Amazon called, "Moms at Work". I will let you know how it is when I get it. Just reading through the intro and a few little bits online I am pretty sure I am going to love it.
One thing I have been trying to do is keep up my daily time with God and get a little exercise in each morning even if it is just a 15 minute walk around the block. Of course today I am blogging during that time with God so I better write quickly if I am going to stay on track! Anyway, I remembered something I had realized a while ago. When I focus outside myself I enjoy my life more. Basically when I just sit around ruminating about my life, my perceived or real problems and what to do about them it is depressing, overwhelming, all-consuming. When I put God on my problems and spend my time praying for and encouraging others my life somehow seems more doable.
So basically my thought of the week is that I am going to stop dwelling on this change, on the overwhelming magnitude of working full time for the next 6 years and all the ways my life will never be the same and instead focus on others. Which is really what my at home years were all about. Why should that change now?
I remember talking with some friends early in parenthood. They were recalling how they had promised themselves they would not discuss the color of their baby's poop when they became parents. Yet just a few days into parenthood it quickly became their favorite topic.
I recall appologizing to Isabelle's birthmother after sending nothing but emails about Isabelle's pooping and sleeping habits for several months.
Babies don't do much. Their whole life is about pooping, eating and sleeping. What else is there to talk about?
All this comes to my mind as my dad recovers from back surgery. The surgery has greatly improved his problem but I have gotten several emails about the workings of my dad's "plumbing" since the surgery.
And I spent a fair amount of time hearing how Chemo was affecting my father-in-laws "plumbing" one evening. (who was actually a plumber)
Apparently we end talking about the same thing we start with.
I have decided I am on a Stress Elimination Diet. I am eliminating things that cause me stress. Tonight I threw away an entire pile of coupons. While I would like to use them right now they are causing me stress by sitting on my desk not being used. In the very short amount of time I have couponed I learned one thing, there will be another coupon for that in a few weeks. So they are gone until I am ready to coupon again.
There are too many things in life that I "should" be doing. I should coupon, exercise, scrapbook, craft, read, garden, memorize scripture, eat healthy. I am sure you have a list of your own of things you know you should be doing but don't.
Not that I am giving up on my garden already. And I love my exercise routine even if it is hard to prioritize. And if I am going to work full time eating healthy so I feel strong is more important than ever. And certainly my working isn't leading to our not needing to save money anymore so I definitely will still be using coupons. But sometimes the stress of all you should do drives you crazy. And tonight as I was going through my desk those coupons just started making me CRAZY. So I tossed them. And it felt great.
Day 4 of working full time. Really day 2 of working full time since I just did Tuesday and Thursday last week. Let me just say if I was working every other day this full time working really would not be a problem. Getting up 2 days in a row gets a little more tiring. Still for the most part today went smoothly. I am gaining confidence in answering and using their very complicated phone system, I got my own log in and email today and I am slowing starting to feel like this job will work out just fine. Isabelle was happy and content all day and happy and content to see me when I picked her up. She is crashing when she gets home still but I know that will change. And I decided sitters rather than camps were going to be the better option this summer for her transition away from me so she shouldn't be quite as tired once school is out.
I must admit I thought the transition would be harder, and I know after 4 days I have hardly begun to transition, still I feel ready for what lies ahead. I am seeing more and more that God had this job set aside for me. They had lots of applications and had intended on having this position filled a month earlier, in fact 2 others started and quit before I came! I wasn't even entertaining the concept of working full time when they initially wanted this position filled. Just when God had me where he wanted me the job was waiting. Crazy.
Having had 4 work days behind me now I do know one thing. My new goal in life is not to make dinner on a work day for the next 6 years. Maybe put a frozen meal in the oven but not stand and chop veggies or stir a sauce or anything like that. It is going to take a little more planning on both my and John and Jake's part but I think this can be done. I don't mind cleaning. I would be willing to clean a bathroom, do laundry, even the dreaded vacuum or dust in the evening. I just don't like to cook that much even when I am at home.
I did water the garden tonight. Just another new thing in my life. Why stop with one?
Remember last year when I was going to do a weekly update of my garden and then I never did one? Well this year, as I begin working full time, Isabelle and I put in a garden. Clearly this is a cry for help.
As you may recall I had laid a piece of plywood on the grass to kill the grass in the winter and have nice black dirt the following spring. It worked great and here I am 2 years later finally using that black dirt. (OK I think it is actually 3 years)
When we lifted up the plywood we found a whole ecosystem of bugs and worms just under the surface. My kids were entertained for quite a while by it:
Unfortunately you can't photograph the movement of the ants (well I can't, maybe a pro could.) so these pictures really just look like dirt but you can see the holes which were part of the ants tunnels. At one point you could see all the larvae on the dirt but they quickly move all the babies to safer ground. That was interesting to watch.
This is actually the back of the board. Many of those specs of dirt are actually ants.
And right now you are thinking about how mindblowingly fascinating it must be to live in a house where we are all excited to watch ants crawl.
You should hear about the wild nights we spend watching our grass grow.
A few weeks ago we were entertained by 4 deer that decided to have dinner on the grass in the backyard. Who can blame them? It was several inches long as our lawn mower hadn't quite pulled it together for the first mow of the season at that point.
As a result of that viewing we decided we were going to need something to keep more than just a few short rabbits out of the garden. We decided we would need some sort of chicken wire cage and so Jake and I headed to Home Depot for dirt, plants for my usual summer pots and chicken wire. John had a vision and also suggested 3 2x6 boards of treated lumber 8 feet long. We repeated that part many times so we would remember. While there I happened upon a junk pile and found 4 fence posts for $4. I called John to see if he could work them into the plan and we bought them. Then we decided that we didn't need 2x6 boards if we had fence posts and Jake and I promptly forgot we needed 3 of them and so we bought 2 2x4 boards. They were treated and 8 feet long so I feel like we were pretty close. When we got home I didn't really have a vision of what John was planning to build. One of the keys to John and my success is that I am a visual learner and John is artistic so when I don't get it he draws it:
And then he and Jake build it:
And Isabelle and I plant it:
I haven't had time to mark the rows yet so garden tools do the trick.
The chicken wire obviously isn't in yet but since nothing is growing we figure we have a week to finish up that part of the project.
Now we wait and wonder. Can you grow 2 rows of corn, a row of cucumbers, a row of watermelon and 3 rows of lettuce in a 4x6 garden plot? Did I mention a couple sunflowers Isabelle and I hid in there?
It is all about having fun.
And my deep denial of what a working summer will mean for my life.
When my son was about 1 and just beginning to develop the idea of language I remember being outside with him one day when he pointed to a tree. I put my hand on the trunk and told him it was a tree. Then I had second thoughts since I was actually touching the bark. Which was on the trunk of the tree. Which has leaves and roots and grows out of the ground surrounded by grass and uses photosynthesis to produce its own food. And... There are a lot of words associated with a tree!
On top of all the new words my 1 year old was having to learn he was also learning to walk, eat, push buttons, open and close doors and drawers, make his toys light up, obey his parents, don't put fingers in light sockets and on and on. All at the same time! No wonder they are throwing tantrums! It is exhausting taking in and processing all that new information simultaneously.
I should know. I started a new job this week. I have been overwhelmed with new information and I feel like and idiot. I am definitely getting toddlers in a whole new way these days. And, frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if I was having a tantrum by the end of next week.
I do have a few grown up skills to help me better navigate this toddler stage of my life than actual toddlers so hopefully it will go quickly and smoothly.
First day of work yesterday. It was lovely. I got up early, spent some time praying, showered, dressed, had breakfast, grabbed a lunch, woke up Isabelle for several hugs and kisses and was off. I wasn't sure how long it would take with traffic but I arrived about 10 minutes early so I know I don't have to rush out quite as early as I thought. There is certainly a lot to learn on this job but I feel like with time I will be able to avoid hanging up on people when I transfer the calls and will actually learn most of the employees names so I don't have to write everything down. My brother ate lunch with me, I had my new employee orientation and have filled out the forms to get health insurance. I finished the day, drove over to my mom's to get Isabelle and arrived home just before John did with pizza for dinner. I was not overwhelmed with exhaustion like I was when I started with Larry and had a lovely evening.
The others in my family, not so much.
About 10 minutes after I left John started throwing up. Isabelle was having an extra emotional morning because mom left so early so he had to manage her out the door while managing the waves of nausea. Luckily my mom was picking her up after school so he was able to go back to bed and sleep until after lunch and woke up feeling much better.
Isabelle had a lovely afternoon with my mom swimming in her pool despite the fact that it barely reached 70 yesterday. Actually I don't know it even did reach 70 and I heard on the news the wind was around 40 mph in some areas. Still they heat the pool and she would not be deterred. When I arrived to pick her up she did not acknowledge me at all and didn't want to come give me a hug. Once we did get home she would not leave my side, wanted to tell me what to do all evening and when I finally decided it was an early snuggle bedtime she literally cried for about 30 minutes while bemoaning all the injustices she thinks must be befalling her because of my absence.
When mom goes to work she doesn't go alone.
So we begin the transition. We are learning what everyone needs and how we can meet those needs in our new normal life. I am going to be calling Isabelle on my lunch break just to check in. We will definitely need to figure out who makes dinner each night and I can see that I will need a snack for the desk. I wasn't that hungry at Larry's but I was only there 6 hours. With lunch I am gone 9 hours a day. That calls for a little more than one bottle of water and a bowl of rice and beans. And I am certain that while I wasn't wiped out yesterday, I will be feeling the effects next week when I do this every day.
Jake on the other hand seemed totally unphased by this major change in my life. He even managed to get up and leave for school while I was blow drying my hair. And I was looking forward to having interactions with him this last week of school. I guess I will need to be more vigilant on Thursday morning.
And once we get through next week school will be done and it will be a whole new schedule the following week. This is going to take some time.
"It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work."