My Arch Nemesis: The Moving Box

This week has been a strange mixture of busyness that can only come from being overbooked, and laziness that can only come from being overworked with a side of toddlers to keep the stress flowing. My husband, Aaron, came home from Korea last Saturday night, and our little family of five had a sweet reunion that was a long time coming. I haven’t seen my kids this happy since Christmastime when he was able to visit for a bit. Re-adjusting to a full house and having my husband home has been mostly wonderful, but it also hasn’t been without its growing pains.

Our garage was so full of boxes that we couldn’t even put our car inside. My truck won’t fit even when the garage is empty, but Aaron’s car fits great, so we set to work cleaning out the garage. We took a day and moved about half of the boxes from the garage to the area in the house their contents were labeled for. I can now freely walk around the perimeter of my garage, but now my house is full of boxes. Again. I cannot stand having boxes in my space, something that doesn’t seem to bother my husband. Even looking at the boxes stirs feelings of anxiety, and I find my eyes glazing over and sliding past the boxes in an effort to quell my building frustration with the clutter only a house full of moving boxes can bring.

After we moved, I took two weeks straight and just unpacked every single box that was in the house, including moving some from the garage to my house to get stuff we really needed. For the last month I’ve been box surfing in the garage to find things I still need and I’ve been wearing the same 5 outfits. I will probably have to replace all my exercise pants, they’re so overworn. Thank goodness I didn’t need to go anywhere that required real clothes, because all my nice clothes are still in boxes. Although, progress! Thanks to Aaron those boxes are now at least residing in my closet.

The downside to all that is we suddenly have a house full of boxes, and an organization/unpacking/spring cleaning project that is large and incredibly overwhelming to look at or think about. I manage it well, but lately, my anxiety leaks out at inopportune times, like when I look into my kitchen and realize the boxes have returned, and I experience a rising sense of panic. Or opening my closet door to more boxes, and having boxes in my previously pristine bedroom and office.

I know things need to be unpacked and gone through, etc. But I also hate the mess, and despite being very good at organization, moving boxes fill me with a dread that is difficult to put into words. I think it’s because our last move happened under traumatic circumstances. (Tl;dr: the day we closed on our house, someone tried to break into the house we were moving out of. Twice in one night. I have never packed and move out of a space faster than that house.)

So while we are going to try to tackle some of the boxes this weekend, this coming week will be mostly dedicated to home organization. It’s increasingly important to me that I get rid of as many boxes as humanly possible, so my inner control freak and organizational stickler can stay friends with my inner Buddha. Also because, as my husband pointed out, it would be really nice to use our stuff!

“Home is where the heart is, even if you can’t remember which box you packed it in.” – Author Unknown

Welcome, Introductions, & All That Jazz

If you’ve stumbled upon my site you’ve likely read the “About” section, so you know some basic information about me. I’m a mom, housewife, I like yarn, and blah blah blah. There’s a big picture of me in a crown, too, if you go for that sort of thing. My kids got it for me as a birthday present last year, and I’m really here for it. (That’s lingo for I liked it a lot, in case my slang is out of style. Which it is, according to some of my younger, more “hip” family members. Whatever.)

I recently have come to terms… No, wait, that’s a lie. Recently I made the decision to stay home with my kids rather than finish my education for what seems like the 16th time. It’s really not that many, but I have gone to school and stopped for the kids about 4-5 different times now. It’s not that I’m incapable of finishing, I had a 4.0; I would also say I don’t like to brag but that’s a boldfaced lie. I’m very proud when I accomplish things. Probably because my accomplishments aren’t often celebrated. I can unpack that later for you, though. Back to the main point, I’ve once again put any kind of personal professional development on hold for my tiny humans.

There are a lot of strong, amazing women who are so under-appreciated for their roles. I’m honestly not sure if I fall into that category, but I can say that I didn’t exactly aspire to be one of them. I always envisioned a career when I grew up, preferably one where I was important – I’m drawn to jobs that sound flashy and really exercise my problem-solving skills and need for intense mental stimulation. I have always been ambitious and competitive, and that was a personality trait that was cultivated and praised while I was growing up. As a stay-at-home-mother, I don’t encounter situations where that’s a good trait to have. It’s not good to compare yourself to other moms and you shouldn’t “compete” with them or promote the same comparison among your kids. I struggle as a stay-at-home-mother with no outlet for those very dominant personality traits.

Which brings me back to this blog. I’ve been on-and-off with school for a while, not as a way to keep busy but eventually hoping to have a job and feel fulfilled professionally. No. Dice. See, my husband’s job has crap hours; he is never home, and I find myself always being thrust into the role of primary parent/homemaker. The enormous task of caring for, managing, cleaning-up after, feeding, and – let’s face it – wrangling a family of five is an undertaking that I don’t usually enjoy. In fact, sometimes I resent it. The thing is, I know I’m not the only one out there sharing a lot of these valid feelings. And it’s taken years for me to accept that these feelings are valid, but in the same vein are my responsibility to learn to manage in a healthy, productive way. I’m not perfect, but I’m learning, and I’m trying to set a better example at healthy emotional management for my kids.

Motherhood, and being a stay-at-home-parent, seems as though it’s accepted more today than it was when I was growing up. For me, I’m always told I’m “lucky” that my husband makes enough money so I can stay home. The thing is, I’m an intelligent and driven woman, and my whole life I was taught that I should get a job and not freeload off anyone else. Work ethic was a trait that I had that was encouraged and carefully tended while I matured into a young woman. But for me personally, and this is likely an “unpopular opinion”, staying at home and caring for my family isn’t the same as a job with a paycheck. It’s a thankless, under-praised job where I get walked all over, I’m on call 24/7 with no help, no tangible reward to show for my efforts, and more work at the end of the day than I started with when I awoke that morning. Oftentimes, I find it to be mind-numbing and pull-my-hair-out-of-my-head frustrating in a way that can only be understood if you’ve sat with a toddler or three screaming “MOMMY!!!” in your ear for hours every day.

I’m able to find the blessings and the joys in my life – before the internet springs me with the hate comments about how ungrateful I am. I love my children and my family more dearly than anything in this world. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here writing this blog, surrounded by toddlers yelling “Don’t touch me!” (Oh, a sentiment I feel deep in my bones, #2, as you and your brothers are constantly touching me). But I also feel I was meant for something different. This blog explores the what-ifs, kid activities, projects, and hobbies I’ve engaged in while I am home with my children in the hopes of filling my personal life with joy and accomplishment in the same way I might have done if I’d kept to a professional track and reached my dream of working in the medical field.

This blog will share all my passions, shortcomings, ideas, and hopefully you can follow me on the road to learning to be happy with the life I have instead of what I’d been envisioning when I first got married. Maybe you’ll read this and scoff, thinking how wonderful my life is if only I would see it, or maybe you’ll read this and it will resonate – you had bigger goals for your professional life but saw the same value in raising your children yourself that I ultimately did when I quit school for the 4th or 5th time. You see the potential to teach your children and turn them into competent, independent and compassionate individuals that the world needs more of, and realized it was more important than your original dreams, even if those are sometimes hard to let go of. Whatever you get from this, I hope you find your beacon through the darkness, you come out on the other side doing what needs to be done to choose happiness.

“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave, live.” – Buffy Summers

“What’s on my desk” – A category introduction

I spend more and more time at my desk these days, doing everything from writing the family budget, to working on this blog, to working on my latest writing projects – novels, poetry, short stories, and more. Arguably, I like to change my organization and items I need as little as possible, but realistically, my workspace changes often. I will periodically post photos of my workspace and my planner. Today, my workspace is my couch lying next to one of the dogs while my kids play monster trucks. It’s a loud workspace kind of day.

My current projects are: finalizing the layout of this blog and the outline for a new novel idea that has been tugging on prose in the back of my brain for a while. I keep catching snippets of the main character throughout the day, and her development is exciting to me – which probably sounds weird when I put it like that. I’m excited to put the words on paper, if you will, so I can really see how this character is developing, and what her world is like.

Since we recently moved into a new house, I’m also working on organization! This week I didn’t do much, but next week I’ll have some extra hands on deck, as my husband has just returned from a year-long tour in Korea. We are planning on tackling that monster that all people face at some point in their life – unpacking moving boxes. We will work on cleaning and organizing several rooms this week, including the kitchen, the garage (gotta put that car somewhere!) and our office.

I hope everyone has a good weekend – feel free to share any projects you have in the comments or suggestions for great organizational systems that have worked for you!

“My daily planner” – A category introduction

My planner is from ink+volt. White paper that’s thicker than your average page, soft leather cover, organized by year, month, week, and day. There are sections to record goals, both short and long term, tasks, and there are prompts to help reflect and gain self-awareness. This is my 3rd year using their planner and I absolutely love the setup. I find it’s easiest to plan out my week if I’m regularly working toward goals, and breaking them down into easier, smaller steps that I can reach without difficulty. It really helps with my sense of accomplishment.

In my planner this week, I have my desk projects, which fill in my life goals. Writing, blogging, kid-ventures, organization, etc.. I have appointments and important events, of course, as well. I also like to put my hobbies into my planner. I keep goals best if I make an appointment with myself. It sounds really corny, but the self-help books have it right. It’s basic psychology, if you put it on your calendar and treat it as an important event or appointment with yourself, it tends to get done. It’s how I finish big projects like large, crocheted blankets, or knit sweaters (I’m still working on the wearable factor for those. I’ve yet to make one I’d be proud to be seen in in public! It’s a goal for sure) or even just reading books.

For this week, the big projects in my planner were launching this blog and starting on a section of a knitted block blanket. Next week’s projects will include unpacking rooms of my house, writing outlines, a baby blanket and hat set for a good friend, and a reading list of books I’d like to complete by the end of the summer, both for myself and with my kids. Hello, 6 millionth read-through of the Harry Potter series! My kids love it, and so do I.

I will leave you with a quote, and wishes for a wonderful weekend! “If you think reading is boring, you’re doing it wrong.” – anonymous

“Kid-ventures” – A category introduction

I’m not the world’s best stay-at-home-parent. I’m not patient, I have a short fuse, and I hate cleaning up the same messes over and over and over and over and… I’m sorry I got distracted. The point is, I’m not getting any better at it by wishing I was a better mother. So I decided that I was going to make a point of finding new, fun things to try with my kids. Hopefully they like what we do, and I can learn just as much about being a more mindful parent as I do about my children and their personalities while we go on these adventures together. This weeks’ adventure is building new toys.

When we first moved into our new house, I was a little devastated. I’d always imagined a really large yard that my boys could tumble around in. I have three very, very active and energetic children, all of whom are still very young. I don’t mind screen time, but I don’t want that to be the only thing my kids ever ask for. So I tried to find some other, more stimulating solutions to our small outdoor space issue. It’s good for kids to play, and we have a shit-ton of toys. Yes, that’s an actual standardized measurement – all parents seem to know it. But the problem is that my kids don’t always like to play with those toys. They always like the boxes, though. So I started thinking outside the box.

I bought one of those little tikes houses that I’d seen often in advertisements. It’s been sitting in my living room in its original box for about a month, because I’ve been too busy to build it. My kids keep asking and I kept frustratedly saying “Not now, I’m busy.” But that isn’t really fair, and it’s the opposite of the kind of parent I’m trying to learn to be. So I scheduled time (hopefully enough!) now that my kids’ preschool is out for the summer to put the toy together with their help. (Or probably their hindrance, but I’m trying to stay positive.) Hopefully it’s a good kid-venture for them, and maybe they will appreciate it more since they helped to build it. Plus, it will give them an outlet for their imagination when it’s done, something that’s always been so important to me. Have a wonderful weekend!

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” – Dr. Seuss

“Miscellaneous” – A category introduction

I have a lot going on in my life that can fit into neat categories, and I’ve tried to structure my website and blog to have clear-cut categories. But not everything in my life needs a major category, even if it is a major undertaking. This isn’t a fitness blog, or a food blog, so those don’t need their own categories. But they are major parts of my life. I’m currently on a really difficult adventure to learn to eat more mindfully, and to lose a lot of the weight I gained during my husband’s year-long tour overseas. (Thanks for that, US Army, by the way.) I’m learning to cook with more variety in my food choices, and that means learning and maybe even inventing new recipes. I like to take the dogs for walks and work on their obedience training, and the cats are always doing something either frustrating or funny that I wouldn’t mind sharing. I like sharing pretty things I see on my walks, or even just tips or tricks that I find make my life easier.

I think it’s important to know about someone if you’re reading what they write, but you can’t really know about someone when you only see certain parts of their life. There’s no way for someone reading my blog to really know me, no matter how much I write, unless we’ve met and interacted. But I can do my best by sharing bits and pieces of my life that aren’t just the fun, humorous, or heartwarming moments. Like when my dog got mad that we adopted cats so she peed in my slippers. That was not a funny or heartwarming moment for me (although my parents got a laugh out of it). Or about how much simpler my life became for long driving trips when I realized I could bring a training potty and liners, so I don’t have to bring my toddlers into the gas station to pee while we’re on the road. Added hack, using puppy training pads underneath them in case of accidents while toilet training will save you from having to try to clean out a carseat!

It’s the little things in life that add up to knowing someone, not just defining someone by their parenting choices, political views, or taste in movies and music. “Small details are beautiful, because they are the moments that shape our big picture.” – me. It’s something I tell my children, and something I really appreciate myself.