Advent: Days 12-16 2017

I know I’ve been off my game this year. It’s ok. I’m letting it slide. I want to let you all in on a little secret. I don’t have it all together. I know it can seem that way so many times. We see each other once a week or so, or only through social media, and everything seems perfectly in place. I’m not saying my life always looks like that (in fact, I feel like it seldom does), but that’s often (almost always) how I view other people. It’s this lie that the enemy likes to whisper in our ears, “everybody has it together except for you….you are not enough…you’ll never own up, so just. stop. trying.” It’s super embarrassing to post this for all the world to see, but I had a little meltdown Sunday night. We had a fun, busy weekend, and we came home to a disastrous house. After we got the girls in bed, Blake went down to the basement to finish up some work that he had and I spent the next hour or so cleaning our pit of a house. The whole time I kept asking myself, “How on earth did it get this way?…I try so hard all day long, and this is still what I end up with?…Why can all the other moms out there get this, but I just can’t?…I will never be enough. I can’t do it. This is too hard.” And on and on and on. I cried myself to sleep that night. That almost never happens.

I tell you this, not because I want your sympathy or your pity. I tell you this because I know every other woman out there has felt this way at some point or another. It seems as though we are always in some sort of unspoken competition with each other. I see it in my daughters already and I try to fight those kinds of thoughts out of their sweet little heads. The enemy we face is real, he starts to prey on us while we are young, and he never stops.

Truth be told, I have a lot of good reasons for not being on top of things. We’re homeschooling, which is awesome, but we’re only in 1st grade and I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m 30 weeks pregnant. The aches and pains and limitations are real. And with our history, I’m taking every precaution possible. I refuse to push myself too hard this time. Blake just started his own company a few moths ago with 3 other partners. Everything is new, and exciting, and hard. He works 50-80 hour weeks every. single. week. It’s just a season, it won’t always be like this. But it is the season we are in now. And it’s hard. Raegan had her tonsils out a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. And while she was recovering, she came down with this awful virus that made her recovery 10x worse-and longer-and harder. We had sick kids for basically a whole month. Life. Just. Happens. Things fall through the cracks. Sometimes we can’t keep up. And that’s ok. But it is oh so hard to remember that in the moment.

I was “off” for a couple of days after that. I just felt so defeated. Then Eleanor fell off of our rocking ottoman just before bedtime on Tuesday and I rushed her to the ER so she could get stitches. The waiting room was jam packed and we were there until just after 1am. She got 3 stitches in her tiny little eyebrow that night. When I got home, the other 2 kids had woken up and didn’t go back to sleep until 4am. It was the second night in a row they had done that. Needless to say, this week has been more than exhausting. Then on Thursday morning, Blake paid for me to go get a (very much needed) prenatal massage. We went out to eat that night for my Mother-in-law’s birthday. It was so nice. Just what I needed to turn my week around. I’ve been ok since then. I still have to fight to press down those lies that I get fed all day long. But it’s a battle that I feel like I’m winning right now. The counters in my kitchen aren’t clear from the clutter that’s on them. Our laundry room needs picked up. Our floors could be mopped (even though I’ve done that just about every day this week). But our room is clean, the girls picked up their room, I’ve kept the playroom clean for 10 whole weeks now, and our dishes are washed. I’m counting my wins. Trying to focus on what I’ve accomplished instead of what I’ve not. And tonight, I am going to post what we’ve done for the past few days-it may be late, but I’m doing it, and that’s a win.

SO, all that to say, on Tuesday, we made a gingerbread house. I learned something that day: gingerbread house making is not my strong suit. Next year, I’ll probably buy an already constructed one for us to simply decorate. 😅 You guys, the struggle was real. My mom was actually able to come over for a bit to help us out with the project-so that was really fun!

 

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And 30 minutes later, this is how it ended up:

Wednesday, we went through the drive-thru at Starbucks so momma could get a Chestnut Praline Latte (my absolute fave), and so the girls could each get on of those snowmen cookies they are always begging me to get for them. We had some errands to run, so this was the only picture I got.

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Thursday, I gave the girls some really fun, incredible Christmas activity books from Usborne. Those books kept them occupied for the longest time.

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Friday, we decorated those plastic ball ornaments with the girls. We pulled the glitter out again. It was a HUGE hit. I should have taken some “after” photos, but Blake and I had to rush out before they were done for a Christmas party. My parents helped them finish up, but I never snapped any more photos. IMG_0780IMG_0783IMG_0781IMG_0782IMG_0779

And this morning, Saturday, we had our second annual Ron Swanson themed Christmas party with another family. We were having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures. But we had bacon, and eggs, and ham, and we exchanged gifts. The kids played and we parents got to talk. It was such a good, refreshing morning.

Well that’s it! Thanks for sticking with me! Even though it’s been crazy, I am truly enjoying this holiday season, and I hope you are too.

 

20 Mile March

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Have you heard of this concept before? The concept of the 20 Mile March? My husband was the first to tell me about it. Sometime last year, I believe. The basic idea is that if you were to travel to a destination, going around 20 miles per day no matter what, you would arrive there much sooner, and in better shape, than you would if you were to travel really hard on the good days and then not so much on the bad days. Does that make sense? There are plenty of examples out there. It’s based on the first groups of people to travel to the South Pole, back in 1911. Team 1 traveled 15-20 miles per day, every day. They didn’t overextend themselves on the good days, and they didn’t hold themselves back on the bad ones. Team 2, however, traveled as much and as far as they could on the good days, and then didn’t travel as hard (or even at all) on the bad ones. Team 1 arrived at the South Pole weeks before team 2. They were able to travel on the bad days, in worse conditions, because they hadn’t exerted all of their energy on the good days. So then, this concept is now used in every day life and situations.

Admittedly, it is in my nature (down to my core) to act like Team 2. When I feel good, I want to keep going and going and going and going (much like the Energizer Bunny). In fact, when Blake was telling me the story of the 20 Mile March, I was certain that team 2 was going to make it to the South Pole first. Really. I was shocked when he told me otherwise. Like, for a minute there, I didn’t actually want to believe him. That being said, I have tried to put into practice this whole “20 Mile March” thing. I wanted to put it to the test. And can I tell you a secret? It. Works. At least so far it has.

I had this idea last year that I wanted to get my whole house really nice and clean and organized. A place for everything. I tried. I really did. And I even made some progress. But once I start a task, I want to finish it. Even if that task takes me 4 hours straight-which is not ideal when you have 3 screaming kids who really need their mommy. A person tends to get burnt out pretty quickly doing it that way.

So this year, I had the same goal. I really wanted to make my house nice, and clean, and fresh, and organized. But this time, I was going to try it a different way. I was going to 20 Mile March it. And, you probably wouldn’t even believe it if I told you: It’s only January 11, and I have already made more progress in this year than I did in the whole entire year last year. For. Real. I’m not lying, I’m not making it up, and I’m not kidding you. This whole 20 Mile March thing is the real deal. I wish I would have known about it in my childhood. And when I first got married. And when I first became a parent…

So how do I go about my 20 Mile March? I’m so happy you asked! I do 2 rooms every weekday, one upstairs, and one downstairs, and I work one section at a time. I do the upstairs task right after I lay our youngest down for her nap, and then I find time to do the downstairs task when all the girls are awake and playing-I don’t do it at night (that’s my resting time). The night before, I choose what tasks I will complete for the next day. And I keep it simple and easy. For example, I started in the kitchen and our master bathroom. To begin, I went through the drawers on my side of the sink in the bathroom. Done. Then, I went through our cup cabinet in the kitchen. Done. And that was it. No more, no less.And even when I REALLY REALLY don’t feel like doing it, I simply tell myself, “20 mile march. Just 20 mile march. You can do this.” For the times I want to keep going, I tell myself, “That is tomorrow’s task. You will have time for it then. Go enjoy your girls.” Let me be clear: the whole family is way happier this way.

The other part that helps me push through and keep to it: I give myself a small reward for each room I finish. Now, when I say reward, I don’t mean that I go and buy myself a Venti latte from Starbucks (although that is tempting). My reward is something that would either help to organize that specific room, or simply something that will make that room look nicer. I just finished the master bath last week, and as my reward, I painted our awfully ugly honey colored cabinets a really nice, shiny dark blue, and bought some bronze handles for Blake to put on them. I’ll post some before and after pics of them once the handles are on. Today, I just finished the kitchen. And while it might seem weird, my reward is going to be contact paper for the very tippy tops of our cabinets. Just trust me on this, it’s definitely an appropriate reward.

My other project today was in our master bedroom. I decluttered the shelf next to my side of the bed. Here’s the before.

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And here’s the after.

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It’s not a hugely significant difference, but enough that I feel really good when I look at it.

I know I have a whole huge house with lots of tiny crevices and corners to clean and organize, and that can be entirely overwhelming and defeating. Sometimes that thought alone makes me want to quit. However, I will press on. 20 Mile March. Just enough every day to make it to my goal. And let me tell you, I cannot wait!