Saturday, June 1, 2019

Darkness There and Nothing More


It was dark. Middle of the night dark.

It was quiet. Everyone sleeping kind of quiet.

I woke up to the sound of little feet tiptoeing across the wood hall floor, and into my room, across the room, and over to my side of the bed. A little hand reached up to find my waiting yet still mostly asleep hand, the body climbed into my bed, and we were both promptly in our dreams once again.

It was dark. Early hours of the morning dark.

It was a comfortable quiet. Everyone sleeping, and sweet gentle breathing sounds coming from Jeffrey and whichever little boy had climbed into my bed an hour or so earlier. 

I was awakened by the sounds of a door opening, little feet running across the wood hall floor, and into my room. Little feet found their way over to my side of the bed, and demanded assistance in climbing in, and then we were all asleep once more, albeit slightly more squished. But I was too tired and too much still asleep to care enough to do anything about it. I fell asleep with two little bodies squished up to me like a human Lycra body suit. 

It was dark. Still too early to be up kind of dark. 4 am kind of dark.

It was quiet and slightly claustrophobic in my bed, in my room.

I was yet again awakened by a ninja little girl, standing next to Jeffrey's side of the bed, demanding entrance. She insisted he scoot over half an inch (as that was all the space available) and let her get in the bed too. 

Jeffrey scoot over and let her in, and then she proceeded to talk to me in an exaggerated stage whisper. She wanted to tell me about her dream. Normally I would encourage her telling me about her dreams, but not when there are two extremely difficult to get back to sleep boys right next to her. Good gravy! Of course, exactly what I was trying to prevent came to pass. Sigh.

Beth continued to use her excellent stage whisper, and then followed a game of human whack a mole. First Vince and then Kip woke up. I tried to keep them asleep, but they sort of didn't listen to me. Jeffrey gave up and went to sleep on the couch because Beth had kept whispering that she was squished and didn't like my idea of going and getting into her bed. The bed that she had all to herself, that she didn't have to share with anyone, that bed, but apparently that suggestion was just ludicrous, in her opinion.  When Jeffrey was gone, Beth immediately scoot over, and sprawled. When I scooched Vince over so that I could move again, she was offended that he was encroaching on her space. As she complained, Vince sat up.

My windows have been open lately. All day long. The temperature has been spectacular lately. I have really enjoyed the cooling evening breeze coming in through my window while I sleep. I personally believe that it enhances my dreams, or makes them sweeter. Since the window was open, Vince sat up, and began gushing about the star he could see through the window.

"Look at that bright star, Mommy! Isn't it so cute?"

He continued on for a while, repeating himself, and being tired, and hyper and super excited all at once. He would lay his head on his pillow for a minute or so, and then pup up again to check on the light.

*** spoiler alert ***
There was no star that he could see through the window. It was actually my neighbor's back porch light. He was too tired to know the difference.

By this time Kip had awakened as well. I mean, he is the lightest sleeper of all my kids, how could he do otherwise? As Vince popped up to check on his star, Kip also sat up and exclaimed over the birdies he could hear outside. Yes, indeed, there were birds and crickets up and chirping.  Because the birds in our yard don't eat worms, they eat the silly crickets that get up with them at 4 crazy 30 in the morning!  I got up and closed the window so that distraction would be gone. I was super sad to no longer have the fresh breeze coming through, but it was worth it. Kip laid down, Vince laid down. Neither could see or hear their distractions. Except Beth...

Through all this time, Beth was learning about friction. She was loudly rubbing her hands together, making noises that got the little boys curious and popping their heads up again. Add to that the fact that somehow the binkis have disappeared! Gasp! So getting them to sleep was really difficult right then. Sigh. And now. Good heavens, nap time and bedtime tonight were difficult as well!


Finally, Finally! I got them all to sleep around 6:30 this morning. I finally got to go to sleep around 6:30. But guess what time Faye woke up? Yep. She woke up at 6:40. She came in and said good morning, and then I didn't see her again until 7:30 when she came in and took Kip from me so that I could sleep still longer. That girl is an absolute angel! I just love her to pieces and would be so lost without her. And oh so tired!


Needless to say, I had a very tired and unproductive day today. But it doesn't matter because it is now Summer time, and Keith and Faye were fantastic helps, and I was able to sleep. Hooray for summer!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

And Into the Forest I Go to Lose My Mind and Find My Soul


It is the end of an era, and I didn't even take any pictures.

Today was the very last day for me to babysit the three kids I have been watching since I was pregnant with Vince. He is now 3. I love those kids dearly, and am really going to miss them. I am also really going to love not worrying about Vince who wanders off (he did it again today, because the neighbor's toys are just so much more fun than ours!), and being able to really focus and help Beth with her reading. I dropped the ball last year and didn't help her as much as I should of, or really needed to. I was over-run with babies and little people, and just trying to survive. It dawned on me the other day, that I have just been in survival mode since I started babysitting. I have been surviving and hanging on as best I can, but I haven't really been living! I was just trying to get from moment to moment, feeling sad that I wasn't cherishing every moment, remembering when life was simpler and I could actually blog (because I really do miss blogging, I just don't have the time for it anymore!), and take my kids to fun places, and just enjoy being their mom!


I am not sure what the future holds, or if I will even be able to do any of that again. Maybe life has chugged along, and I was too busy running as fast as I could to catch up, that I missed the beauty along the track. I am going to be watching another friend's kids. This happened just last week. But it will only be for a few hours, 2 days a week, so I feel like I will still be able to actually focus on my kids, and be their mom. Also, it will only be two kids, instead of the three I have been watching. But again, I really am going to miss those little ones. They could be as sweet as syrup when they wanted to be.


I made cookies today. Both of the chocolate chip and the no bake variety. I also made a delicious roasted carrot soup for dinner. I spent basically the whole afternoon in the kitchen, and it was lovely. Subsequently I have learned that my children prefer the chocolate no bake cookies to any other type. Who knew? Weirdos. It was wonderful having the house full of delicious smells, and talking to Brynlee while I finished up with the grilled cheese sandwiches for our dinner.


Right now is a rare quiet moment, and I am so in love with it! The windows are open, and a spring drizzle just started up outside. The smells, oh the smells! It reminds me very much of autumn and that heavenly earthy spicy smell that intoxicates me and permeates the air. I love hearing the rain falling, too. The staccato on my roof, and the comfort of knowing that it isn't going to leak since we replaced it last October. And then the wind, coming in through my window, and seeming to suck out the old stank air, replacing it with life and living and tranquility. I just have to say, this moment is very nearly perfect! I would call it completely perfect f a little three year old wasn't curled up, one leg draped over my shoulder, and one draped over my lap. The boy just likes to be comfortable, I guess!


I wasn't babysitting every day, and so I was still able to do some fun things, it is true. Last week was the last week of school for my kids. I was going stir crazy, and so I took my kiddos to a lovely nature preserve... 3 days in a row. The workers commented that I must really love dank dreary days, because every day that we went happened to be drizzly and cool. Jacket weather. Which is actually my favorite, so, you can't go wrong there. We got muddy, and the little three loved stomping through the puddles!


I was torn. Should I let them experience the joy of puddle stomping? Or should I let them experience the comfort of having dry feet for our whole walk? We compromised and they stomped through puddles until I caught them and steered them around the puddles... at each and every puddle.



But oh, it was delightful, and I am scheming about taking them tomorrow again. Because it is rainy right now, so why not? But the green of the wild grass and trees is simply breathtaking!


Just a note, all of these pictures are from our excursions last week.






"The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives." ~ Russell M. Nelson

Monday, May 27, 2019

Relocation



Faye and Beth are the sweetest girls ever. They both have very generous and loving personalities, and they care deeply about other people. Except we have learned, they just can't share a room with each other. We have been trying that experiment for nearly a year now, at their request, even! They wanted to share a room in the basement, and so every single night, for nearly a year, bedtime became a nightmare.

Faye has a severe case of mysophonia (where little noises take her from tranquility to charging rhino in 0.5 seconds), and Beth loves to whisper to herself when she is trying to fall asleep, or just make noises with her mouth. They aren't loud noises, but every. single. night. we had to deal with banshee-esq screams and retaliating howls from Beth. Let's not even discuss Keith's need to imagine, and the explosion noises he makes (standard boy package) and how the escape of a single explosion from his lips turns into a full on war in the basement. 

Like I said, bedtime was horrific. For a year. 

Mother's Day weekend I decided I had had enough! After lots of plan making, and weighing all the options, we decided I would give up Arcadia *sniff* and Faye and Kip would move into there, and Beth (who hates to be alone) would move back into the pink room with Vince. And then I would move Arcadia down into the hideous orange room that was previously the girls room. The thing about that room is, it really isn't safe for a bedroom, so it was a good move. The furnace room is in that room. Literally. There is no wall separating the furnace and water heater from the room, and I always worried, if there were an earthquake, that it would kill my girls. Now it is my quiet space, and Jeffrey has plans to build a wall, and I have plans to paint that ugly orange! I am not decided on a color, and that doesn't matter because it is very low on the docket right now. The point is, Arcadia is now orange, and downstairs in the basement. This is a problem because I rarely go down there. I rarely go down there because when I do have a spare moment, I need to be where I can still hear the little ones, and the furthest corner of the house in the basement is not ideal for that. Sigh. What can you do though?

And so, Mother's Day weekend we swapped rooms. I set up Arcadia mostly, but basically threw all of my spare stuff on the bookshelves because I didn't have time to organize. Today was the day of the great organization. I will spare you the details, but I am quite happy with it now! My ministering sisters are coming by tomorrow, and I really wanted to have it clean so we could go down and visit there, instead of in the living room where there is just the one couch. And also, it is so quiet and peaceful down there! Of course, the eye hurting orange really clashes with Grandma's violet red couches, but everything else looks quite nice!


Unfortunately, the rest of the house was neglected while I took care of Arcadia. But it is important to have at least one clean and quiet place to retreat to when things get a bit much, right? When I finished cleaning and organizing I was so happy to plop down on my rug and pull out all of my scripture study materials and go to town prepping for tomorrow's lesson. I love that I have a quiet place to do that in. And I plan to go down and do some yoga before the children are awake tomorrow. Because I now have space to do these things! 


Tomorrow I get to focus on the rest of the house though, before they come. I mean, I need to at least clear a path so we can get to Arcadia. It feels a bit like an epic journey. Maybe I will play some Lord of the Rings music while we are trudging through the Mountains of Mess, and fighting off the little hobbits that reside in my home. They are sweet and innocent enough looking, but they will eat you out of house and home if you let them. And they are terrible house guests! Nearly all of the mess in my house is because of them. 



Silly hobbits!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Missing


Let's just talk about my little boy. Vince has decided that he doesn't need any help from anyone. He can just do everything he needs on his own, thankyouverymuch. He is 3. And by that, I mean he is a new 3 year old. Fresh off the birthday last month. He has taken to wandering the neighborhood, or anywhere he feels like. Between Onyx our dog, and Vince, I think Houdini has come to stay at our house. In spirit anyway. I'll expound on Onyx later, but Vinny, he is the reason I am "greying gracefully" as they say. Although I am not sure how graceful it is due to that little stinker!

Vince and Kip never ask for help. Unless they are stuck somewhere. They never ask for permission to get into things. They just go and take, or go and do. It is not uncommon for me to walk into the kitchen to see Vince or Kip walking across the counter, balancing on the narrow strip of counter next to the sink front, and then over and across the stove (!!!) to get what they want off the top of the refrigerator. Because silly me, I thought it would be safe up there. Both boys just get whatever they want. Did I mention that Kip is 1? He has Vince as an incredible example for him, and together they get into everything, and make the biggest messes known to man, but they are so stinking cute when they do it, it is very difficult to get properly angry with them, enough to really get after them. And so they keep doing what they are good at, and I keep going grey. Meh, what are you going to do?

Vince has been taking the ladder off the trampoline and leaning it up against the chain link fence, and climbing the fence into the neighbor's yard! Or just walking out the front door and roaming the neighborhood. He isn't ever running off to be naughty, he is just being adventurous. One day we found him running down by the train tracks, because he was chasing Faye's balloon that had gotten out. Can I just tell you the truth, Vince is a darling sweet little peace of mind murderer. I have gotten to the point where I have to know where he is at all times! If I don't know where he is, he is either making a mess somewhere (today he dumped a full box of cereal all over my bed), or he is gone. So I watch the trampoline ladder, and the new chain lock on the front to make sure that Vince is at least corralled. Today he put the trampoline up to the other neighbor's fence, the neighbors that we don't know very well, and disappeared into their yard for a while. I mean, really! Keep in mind, most of the time when he wanders off, it is when I am babysitting, and Kip is asleep, so I have the option of waking Kip and throwing everyone in the van to go and find him, or waiting for him to come home... which is less likely.  It is a horrible dilemma, and if anyone has any suggestions on how to keep my independent 3 year old home and to stop him from wandering, I would really appreciate any help!

On the plus side, I don't think a sweeter boy has ever existed. Since his escapeades (See what I did there? :D) he has apologized multiple times, wrapped his outdoors encrusted arms around me, and promised me that he will never run away again. I mean! I'm not sure I was even a solid mass after that; the boy just melted me!

Unfortunately, his three year old promise was broken all ready, but only once, so he is trying!


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Emotions emotions emotions.

Decembers was a month rife with them.

When Jeffrey and I first got married we were Christmas Eve shoppers. I remember our first married Christmas. We were newly weds... with a newborn... yeah, we had a honeymoon baby. It wasn't in our plans, it was God's plan. We adapted. But I remember going out on Christmas Eve to the Walgreens down the street because that was the only place open at 11 the night before. I remember those gifts, too. Jeffrey got me a clapper. As in "Clap on, clap off. Clap on. Clap off. The Clapper." I hatted it. It didn't work for turning the lights on and off with clapping, but every time Keith cried, it would turn those lights on, which would make the baby cry even more. Clap all you wanted, though, and those lights stayed off. Of course, who is going to be clapping to turn lights on and off with a sleeping baby? He thought it was the greatest gift ever! He also got me a foot bath massage thing. As a 25 year old, I thought it was stupid. Now, I would love the crap out of that thing! I was young and naive and only had 1 child and plenty of energy. Oh how times have changed. But my point was, we used to wait until the very last hour to buy Christmas presents.

Now, I am a Black Friday Shopper, baby! Not in the way you might think, though. I stay nice and cozy in my home. I sleep in, stay in my pajamas and slippers, and often times, even shop from the comfort of my bed while watching a movie with my kiddos. But I take advantage of the deals. I get all of the shopping done that weekend. And then when the gifts arrive, I spend a day wrapping and organizing, so that by December first, every gift has been wrapped, and Christmas is wrapped and put away and we have a relatively stress-free month!

That was the plan this year.

That is what I did this year.

I made my in-law gifts, and I just had to finish knitting some hats, but otherwise, it wasn't a big deal.

But then my grandma got sick.

She got sick on the 8th of December.

We had a family party planned for the 22nd.

She got a little worse.

On the 12th we were told to say our goodbyes. I was lucky enough to be able to go and do that.

I was able to go and see her again on the 13th. The difference in just a day was astronomical. She passed away just a little after midnight that night.Since the family party was already planned and people were already flying in from around the country, it was decided that the funeral would be planned for the day of the family party, a week and a half away.

And so Grandma's viewing was the 21st of December, and her funeral was the 22nd of December.

I don't remember a whole lot about that month, honestly. I remember a lot of hustle and bustle. I remember rushing to finish the hats and add a few finishing touches to the Koeslig boxes I made for my inlaws for Christmas (more about that later). I remember that my dear friends from Oklahoma suddenly planned a trip to Utah... for the week of my grandma passing away, and I really wanted to see them, but good heavens, they had the worst timing in all of the cosmos because seriously, I had everything else that was so important happening right that week, and couldn't they come at any other time of the year? Did they have to pick that very week? But I made it happen so that I could see them and meet them in person. Melissa has become one of my best friends. She and I  have never met in person ever, even though we talk almost daily on the phone, and it was important to me that we met in person, so we made arrangements to meet. It was a blessing to meet here, and just crazy and funny how it all happened to be that week.

Grandma's funeral was beautiful. How could it be anything but. She is a beautiful soul, and left behind a legacy that flourishes in her children and grandchildren. I was her favorite grandchild. Everyone said that, but I know that it was really me. I used to ditch school and go visit her instead of go to my classes. Her house was right across from my high school, and I would lay out all of my teen drama, and she would give the best advice, and a listening ear, and we would eat rolos, and fun sized snickers and other candy bars. Seriously, the best grandma in the world! All my cousins said they felt like they were her favorite, too. She had a talent in making everyone feel so loved and special and like they were the most important person in her life. She was spunky and fiery full of life and to the last. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to sit down and write about her, but it has been too hard to have the words come. I haven't struggled with her death. I am so happy for her to be with my grandpa, and with my aunt Florence. She was lonely, and she was so tired of her body aching. She used to say, "Oh my aching back!" when something annoyed her, and I thought it was the funniest thing. But I am happy that she is no longer in pain. But to write about it somehow makes it... final. Real. Permanent. Which is not something I am ready for. I feel like I have a much deeper understand of the Plan of Salvation than I did at the last death I went through. I feel like this time has been even easier, and yet, it is still hard to write about. Usually writing makes it easier but this time around writing is making it a lot harder, which I really don't understand at all. I suppose I have just been running from it, living in denial or something. Anyway, it has especially been hard watching my family go through the loss of my grandmother. Specifically her children. It makes me sad to see how much they have been struggling.

Like I said, emotions!

Christmas came and went. It was lovely.

New Years was much the same.

I started to de-clutter my house in a massive way. Before the Marie Kondo Netflix special, mind you. I just want that to be known. Not that it's important, but it is to me. I have finished the kitchen, the kids bathroom, my bathroom, Arcadia, and the boys room. I am currently working on laundry. I have sent about 6 big bags to the DI and I think I'm about half way finished. Yay! I am looking forward to attacking my room and the family room. Toys will be thinned out drastically and I am so excited!

I also went to the doctor about my migraines again. I went to the neurologist. I didn't like the neurologist. He basically said "lets try all these medicines." I was very disappointed that he didn't even want to attempt to find the problem. I went in to see the allergist last week and he did the poke test and.... I am allergic to nature.

Ahem. Let me rephrase that. I am severely allergic to nature.

Let's let that sink in for a moment.

I don't think I need to go into any detail at all what that means. If you have read this blog for even a little bit, you know how addicted to nature I am. You know that I live and breathe nature, so for me to be severely addicted to nature was quite a blow... except it wasn't.

I sort of shrugged it off when he said that. I just thought, "Hmmm. That's annoying. I guess I need to buy more Clariton when I go into the Mountains." Those were my literal thoughts, friends. You can't scare me out of nature with the threat of severe allergies!

While they were doing the test, though, my head pain increased exponentially, and I wanted to curl up into the fetal position, and I wanted to cry and hold my husband's hand. He of course, wasn't there, and I, of course, couldn't because that would compromise the test. So I lay there in pain, tears running down my face, praying silently into the pillow for the pain to stop, and wanting very much to go home and have a proper cry in my own bed.

The results of the test are as follows:

If it is outside, I am allergic to it. Severely. It will give me hives and probably contributes to my migraines. Also, cats, dogs, horses, and feathers contribute to the pain. Food wise, I am going to starve, and lose a lot of weight. I can no longer have sugar, honey, artificial sweeteners, agave, meat, (I can have eggs and fish), barley, soy, dairy, celery, corn, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, navy beans, cucumbers, ginger, or sesame seeds. I have noticed a huge decrease in migraines by cutting these out.

And then when I went home from the doctor that night, I got the flu (influenza A) and didn't leave my bed for about 4 days, and thought I was going to die. Not literally, but I have never in my life been that sick. It was horrible! I really have never been that bad, to not even be able to get out of bed! I will be getting the flu shot next year. Keith was in bed next to me for half of that. Faye, Kip, and Vince also got it, but theirs was for like a day because they had the flu shot. It was amazing to see the difference in severity. Just yesterday was really the first day I was able to be up and about. Today is Thursday, a week exactly from when I caught it, if that gives any perspective on the matter.

Like I said, it has been a few months of emotions, emotions, emotions. But I think now, we are all caught up.

Except for one thing.

When Grandma passed away, I was given her beautiful couches. As a child, I wasn't allowed to touch her couches. I loved them so much, and always admired them. Now, they are in Arcadia, and they make my heart so happy! They have really changed the whole atmosphere of this room from frumpy and comfortable to sophisticated and classy. And they always make me think of Grandma, every time I come in here. That and the goose that stands guard my armchair. Jeffrey named it Gwendoline. I guess I'll write about Gwendoline and Koselig boxes tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sleep in Heavenly Peace


Last night things got real. I got the kids to bed, the kitchen cleaned up, I straightened up the living room, bathroom, and Arcadia. It was 10:30 and I really needed to go to bed. Especially considering I had been up since 2:30 am with only a small nap (thanks mom for watching my kids so I could sleep!). I really needed sleep. Instead i choose to plan. I love my planner and I love planning out my week. I love being able to glance and see everything that is happening in my week. I stayed up until 1 planning for my week and you know what? It felt really good!

And then, I had the audacity to plead in my prayer last night, for all the children to sleep all night long so that I could get up and have a morning devotional the next morning. I told Heavenly Father that I would get up at 6 so I could pray and have a scripture study, and them I went to bed.

Six o'clock came much earlier than I expected it to, but I managed to pull myself from my bed around 6:30. I went in to Arcadia, got dressed, and knelt down to say my morning prayer. I was so excited and grateful that my kids had all slept all night long and I was about to start a scripture study!
And then Kip woke up.

Typical.

So I went into his room, pulled him out of his crib, and we sat in the story chair. I rocked him and opened my LDS Library app, determined to get some sort of gospel study in this morning. I decided to re-read Rhee talks from the Christmas Devotional.
Heavenly Father loves us. He is aware of our needs. He is mindful of our desires. He wants our happiness more than anything.

As I read the talk by Sharon Eubank, rocking my baby in the dark, tears flowed as I was struck by how personal they were to me at that moment.
She said
Our Heavenly Father is exactly like this. He sees little children, trying. Our efforts don't always succeed, but he knows how hard we are working--sometimes gritting our teeth and plunking through a disaster--and He loves us for it. For all of our dissonant, out of tune, unrecognizable music, He sent His beautiful Only Begotten Son, who is love's pure light. Jesus Christ will repair every bad note and redeem every sour overtone if we turn to Him and ask for His help. Because of the birth, the Atonement, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can all "sleep in heavenly peace."

I have been struggling with the fact that I try so hard and yet I seem to always come up short. I want to have a morning devotional every day, and yet my baby wakes up before I get the chance. I want to go to the temple desperately but every time I try to go something comes up. And let's be frank here, finding a sitter isn't the easiest thing in the world. And so reading those words this morning was like balm to an open wound. I have been carrying this guilt around for so long. Ever since I was pregnant with Vince, actually.

What a merciful and loving Father He is to help me find those words, just when the guilt is so strong. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and so grateful i could read those words in my measly morning devotional.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tiny House Confusion

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I love that people get so excited about living in tiny houses. I love that there are people out in the world who want this. Having lived the first 3 years of marriage in 700 sq ft and with 2 kids, it wasn't fun. And then, we lived with my in laws for 3 more years, and that was no picnic either. It was really hard not having actual space for all of our stuff. I really don't understand why someone would voluntarily do that to themselves. When we moved into Moon Hollow, it was like heaven! We had all of this space to fill and to spread out in! And fill it up we did! See, Jeffrey and I were both raised with the philosophy that it is better to hang on to things "just in case" rather than buy said object years in the future. Essentially, we have been treating our house like a storage unit. Add to that the two more babies we had since moving in here, we have accumulated quite the collection of stuff.

It is no wonder that I have been feeling like I am drowning over the past few years. Since Kip was born it has intensified and I have scarce been able to get my head above water, it seemed, or above all of our stuff. See, when I was pregnant with Vince, Jeffrey noticed that I was really struggling to get things done. I was sick a lot and holy Hannah, the migraines! And so he told me that he was going to take over doing laundry for me. And he was wonderful in keeping clothes for the kids mostly washed. Except being a man who is not burdened by attention to detail the way I am, he merely washed the clothes and gave them back to the kids. He didn't weed out the ones that were too little, or had gone past their expiration date (Faye is really good at loving her clothes and using them to the last thread of their life.), he merely would wash them and put them back into their respective baskets.

This meant that the accumulation of clothes was ridiculous! Add to that the many wonderful people who have given us clothes, so I didn't have to go shopping for clothing for my children in such a long while! And we now have MOUNTAINS of laundry. Most of it is no longer useful for my children, and yet it continues in the laundry rotation. Beth is now 5 but I am finding clothes of hers from when she was 2 or 3.

I have had a continual feeling of being overwhelmed and smothered ever since I was pregnant with Vince and my house wasn't properly cleaned.

It is no surprise, then, that I have been drawn to things like Allie Casazza's minimalizing motherhood course, or Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up book. I have been devouring these things this past month, and I cannot even articulate how wonderful it has been! I have been taking bags and bags and bags of things to the DI, and emptying our cupboards and closets of things that we don't need. I am dreading tackling the junk drawer, but I am going to do it. Probably sometime next month, after I have taken care of the really big things, like the mountains of laundry and toys that are not played with but instead just strewn about the house. I have to tell you, though, that listening to the audio book, or the pod cast while cleaning is either brilliant, or a very bad idea. I was cleaning the kitchen. As I listened to Marie Kondo talking about minimizing, I was putting the dishes away. I looked into my cupboards and stopped. We had far too many dishes! And so, while listening, I removed a large chunk of the dishes from the cupboard and put them in the DI pile.

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I took that pile to the DI yesterday. Yay!

With the minimalism mindset, though, it has made Christmas shopping rather difficult. We didn't want to give the kids things they wouldn't use, and we didn't want more stuff to replace what we had just gotten rid of. However, I am very happy with the things we found for each child. They really are only getting one thing, but they don't need more than the one, and I think they will be quite happy. We are getting a few games, and a membership to some local museums, so I'm sure they will be quite happy with that.

But friends, I am so excited! The kids bathroom is finally and actually clean!

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I have been showing Keith and Faye how to use cleaning wipes to wipe down the counters and toilet once a day so that it will stay clean. I have high hopes. The kitchen has been clean for nearly a week now!

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I don't think it is understood how amazing this makes me feel. I crave a clean house, and when my house is clean, my stress levels are much diminished, and I can be the sort of mother that I have always longed to be. There is hope on the horizon!

I know that this isn't really exciting for anyone but me, but I am honestly quite thrilled with the state of my bathroom and kitchen, and living room. I have been able to maintain the messes, and keep it clean, and for that, I want to do a happy dance! The boys' room has even stayed clean!

Now, let's talk about Kip. I don't remember if I shared about him before, but the child does not like to sleep. As such, I don't get to sleep. It has been a very sleep deprived 15 months thus far, and I am over it. I went to bed at 8 last night because I was so exhausted, and he woke me up at 10. 12, and then I was up from 2:30 on. He also hates water. Bath time is beginning to get a little better, but it still takes him a long time to adjust to the water and to actually sit down. As such, shower time for me is incredibly difficult. He doesn't sleep, so I can't shower while he is sleeping. He hates water, so I can't put him in with me. I can't let him roam the bathroom while I shower, either, because he inevitably finds the toilet scrubber, no matter how well I think I hide it, and either tries to "help" me be washing my walls with it, or he tries to eat it. I am not sure which disgusts me more. So today, I was incredibly stinky and tired. I called Lisa, and she was an angel and watched the boys so I could run home and shower. It was glorious to actually shower without worrying about what Vince was getting into, or having someone banging on the door or barging into the room! I got clean today! And then, my mom called me and said that I could bring the little ones over to her house, and I was able to get a nap as well! I feel incredibly spoiled today, I'm just saying. Don't ever underestimate the power of a nap and a shower!

Because seriously, clean house, clean Amy makes for an incredibly happy Mommy!