Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Counting Down to Life

I've always been a big fan of countdowns.  I love anticipation even more than the actual thing or day we are counting down towards.  I enjoy Christmas Eve (the pinnacle of anticipation) better than Christmas Day.  But lately, our life has been overflowing with countdowns and I feel like I'm in this constant state of anticipation without much focus on the actual reveals.

After Christmas was over, there was the countdown to 2013.  When we returned from our first trip to California, there was the countdown until I flew there a second time to be with my parents during my grandmother's memorial service.  While I was there, the kids counted down the days till I returned home to them.

Since then, there was a countdown till rent came in on our property back East (there were some delays due to our tenants' job changes and we tried to be patient and understanding).  Meanwhile there were other countdowns: Valentine's Day, tax returns, paying off credit cards (again), the boys' birthdays, as well as a host of deadlines related to S's graduation from high school.  There were little countdowns, too, like getting small school/home projects done, like keeping track of practices and game days and not missing any, and like waiting for illnesses in the family to be over.

Each day of anticipation would eventually arrive and our goals would be met.  But in the meantime, there was not much jubilee, because we were immediately onto the next waiting period.

Then, just for fun, we decided to make some additional plans in our already busy lives.  These events would make living better or easier in the long run, but sometimes, the process of doing so makes our lives uncomfortable in the short-term.

We decided we needed our carpets cleaned (and they did desperately need it), which meant we had four days till everything needed to be cleaned up and off the carpets all over the house.  Following the carpet cleaning, we ordered painters to come in and finish our downstairs (all except the homeschool room, which would have been an insurmountable task with so many books and heavy shelves).  But this meant that after the carpets were clean (and dry), we needed to move everything from the edges of rooms that we'd piled high so carpets could be cleaned in the center where they were dirtiest, to the middle of the room so the walls could now be accessed.

This whole process left our home in a state of disarray for more than a week while we anticipated these events.  The disarray was so unnerving for some of us that we were a wreck the entire time (I love adventure and new surroundings, but I don't enjoy discombobulation in our home).  I was so emotional and felt very overwhelmed.  So once the carpets were clean (yay!), our celebration was momentary while we moved our piles into the middle of each room, away from the edges.

The painters arrived just two days after the carpets were cleaned.  Or was it three?  I forget.  But it was soon.  And they did a beautiful job!  Those of you in the Albuquerque area, we recommend EuroPainting for their expertise, professionalism and just their willingness to really listen to our wants and needs and follow through on them.  I am super picky about the edging, too, and they were able to impress me beyond any other painters we've hired in the past (usually we did most of it by ourselves).

But as soon as the painting was done and I relaxed in each area for a few minutes and just really soaked in the new beauty of our home, we returned to our place back on the clock.

Easter Day was the day after painting was complete.  So there was a massive hustle to pull things back together in the house (or at least put things in less precarious positions) before guests arrived Sunday afternoon for dinner and an egg hunt.

While all of these projects have continued (plus a trip to Arizona, that I still have been unable to blog about), I still have other deadlines for S's graduation weighing on me and yet getting pushed aside (still haven't mailed her beautiful announcements that my sister, Jessica, designed for us!).  I still have many appointments to get the kids to.  It's routine dental visit time of year for all of us, it's fast approaching medical checkup time, too.  One-on-one time with the kids, fitting in time at the gym, date night and practice/game schedules continue.

Things fall through the cracks.

I haven't been able to attend my Bible study in a few weeks (but have been better about reading the Word on my own more regularly, so I feel there is some balance there).  And this week, we realize that one of the items down in the crack was laundry.

And yes, it's embarrassing sharing this shameful view of our laundry room with you, but I strive to write honestly about things here at Mama Flock and share with you my real life because I know we've all been "here" at some point.  Maybe not with the laundry, but in some other way -- you know your life has been messy, too.  My hope is that by showing you some of the worst messes in my life (and sharing with you how we found our way out of them), others will feel encouraged that they, too, can tackle their own tough situations (by God's grace).

The laundry pile had gotten so deep that I became too depressed to go in there and do anything about it.  I didn't want to walk on all those clothes and yet tackling this job of clearing things out by using those machines just seemed like too much to bear.

My wonderful husband decided to rally the kids to bag everything up so we could take it all down to the laundromat and get this caught up in one long afternoon (and evening and into the night).  When we were all done, there were 17 giant trash bags full of laundry sitting by our front door.

Nova got so excited.  She has gotten used to our routine of piling luggage by the front door when we are getting ready to leave on a vacation (and Nova goes to the kennel that she loves).  I think she must have been waiting for us to load her into the car and take her on her own dog-vacation.  Who is she to complain about what her humans are packing their belongings in?! 

So like seven hours later, all this laundry was washed, dried and folded.

For the next few days, I took the opportunity to go through every piece of clothing to sort out the stuff kids have outgrown or don't want anymore for various reasons.  I helped them switch their summer clothes back into the regular rotation, while we moved the heavy winter stuff into the "seasonal box" they each keep under their beds.  This took hours.  Days.

All the while, regular life kept on going.  Watching E, driving the older nieces, trying to maintain some kind of educational routine with our kids and stay on top of everyday chores as much as possible.

But the good news is, we finished!


I started this post several days ago and am finally returning for the conclusion.

We still have an abundance of countdowns in our path and sometimes it seems like when will we ever get beyond them and back to regular life.

But I suddenly realized that this -- this season of countdowns -- is our regular life right now.  The anticipation is good, but it's important that I'm taking notice of the joy moments throughout the process of counting down.  Life keeps on happening all the while.

In fact, while I have a few days of spring break on my hands (while my nieces are out of school and therefore able to watch each other at their house), I'm grateful for increased opportunities to complete some of these outstanding projects.

  • Graduation announcements were handed out to locals on Sunday (with the exception of a couple of them who attended an alternate church service) and the rest were mailed today.
  • I have gathered all the information I needed for S's transcripts -- and now am onto phase two of compiling that information into useful categories before the final transcript creation phase.
  • The whole house is managing to stay cleaner.  I think now that the carpets don't smell and the walls look less worn out, everyone is pitching in better.  The laundry room has been empty at the end of each day for more than a week.  The loft playroom is sorted and buckets are labeled and the kids are finding it easier to keep things picked up.
  • I'm feeling happier about our home as I've already made two trips to Home Goods (which finally made it to Albuquerque last September) and bought a few new art pieces to mount on the freshly painted walls.
  • Celebrations keep on coming, but I'm less insecure about having guests in our house when it has been staying nicer.  I'm not worried so much.  We have always been blessed with this nice, big house, but the blessings were disguised with grime.
  • Friends and relatives around me are feeling better in their own situations -- it seems -- so I'm worrying less and trusting God better.
All this stuff -- this LIFE -- has happened while we count down to dozens of other dates ahead.  I'm just so thankful I was able to see it clearly.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me stay organized as I organize our surroundings one room at a time.  But mostly, thank you for loaning me your eyes to be able to better focus on the good things in life, all amidst this busy season.


  1. This is like a before and after post! I'm glad you got some stuff done and that's funny about Nova and the bags. :D

  2. PS How are people liking the announcements? :) Yes, it's uncool for me to ask, but I'm curious!

  3. Good attitude! I've been overwhelmed a bit myself. I do need to stay calm and appreciate the "events", too, instead of just checking them off the list.

    Thank you for the reminder!

  4. Jessica, it's funny because I didn't really see anyone opening theirs. Maybe we'll get some feedback when people get them in the mail? But either way, we love them. That's what's important.

    Mom, thank you. I'm sorry you've been overwhelmed, too. I haven't had a great attitude the whole time, just mostly in the process of writing about things did I have a shift.

    Hopefully my readers don't really mind that I don't always know what I'm going to write as I blog. I think and type at the same speed. I get inspired to write on a topic but where the post takes me is really only known beforehand by God. Ha!