Friday, August 25, 2017

If I had _______, then I would be happy...

This is a lie I tell myself way more often than I should.  When I was single, I wanted to be married.  When I was married and living in a rental house, I wanted to buy a house.  When we had bought that house, I wanted children to fill that house.  When I wasn't working, I wanted something to do.  When I was serving at a restaurant, I wanted a job that was more consistent and independent.  The problem is, there's always something that seems better than what you have if you stop and think of it that way. It starts in one area (most recently, my job), and when it isn't stopped there, it can quickly spread to all areas of my life.  Last night, it hit me how discontented I've become.

I have decided to make a conscious effort to practice thankfulness and contentedness moving forward. In reading various ways to help that practice, one writer suggested making "Top 5" lists stating the things you love about the areas where you've been far from content.  So, here are mine for today:

Top 5 Things I Love About My Job:

  1. I am able to work independently.
  2. I get to help and do things for people every day.
  3. It provides a comfortable life for Sam and I (extra money, health insurance, etc.)
  4. I have a lot of time off compared to most jobs.
  5. I generally really enjoy being around my coworkers.
Top 5 Things I Love About Our House:
  1. We have been able to transform run down areas into beautiful, peaceful and functional spaces.
  2. We have been able to make so much of the furniture by hand, or finish/install items ourselves.
  3. We have learned new skills or gained experience with things we had done before.
  4. It is inexpensive to live there.
  5. It is in the country, with a lot of space outside.
Top 5 Things I Love About My Appearance/Style:
  1. My eyes are a very fun shade of blue.
  2. My hair is super easy and generally looks great.
  3. I am strong.
  4. My style is easy-going and matches my personality, but I can also pull off professional/sporty styles too.
  5. I am fit enough to find things I like at most clothing stores.
Top 5 Things I Love About My Life:
  1. I have a sweet, smart, hardworking husband who loves me, and who works at showing me love in ways I understand.
  2. We have families who genuinely love and care about each other, who get along for the most part, and who have remained strong through very difficult things.
  3. I have friends who love and care about me, and who pursue time with me even when my introverted social anxiousness keeps me from investing as much time into my relationships as I should.
  4. Sam and I are both mostly healthy and able to pursue the lives we want.
  5. We have a stable supply of all essential needs.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

2.5 Years Later...

Let me fill you all in on the last few years:

My sweet Ralph got sick at the end of 2015 and ended up dying a few days after Christmas.  It was heartbreaking and awful to lose the boy who was such a good friend to me for so long.  We went through a lot together.

Sam's brother, sister-in-law, and their kids moved to Scranton, PA (yes, that Scranton) to go to seminary.  That left their house, which was actually Sam's house that he was letting them live in, open and available for us!  Unfortunately, the house had become pretty run down, so we started a pretty major renovation in January.  Here you can see some of the work we've done in before and after shots:

Dining Room Before
This is what the dining room looked like before: Dark.  The wainscoting is actually original to the house.  Sam's brother and his wife refinished it, and added drywall over the plaster walls.  We just repainted everything.  We have redone the floors since this picture was taken, and we made a corner cabinet for the corner you can see here.  It houses our fancy dishes. :)

Dining Room After

Kitchen Before
The kitchen was falling apart.  It was probably in the worst shape, as far as the entire house is concerned.  We would have loved to have saved the kitchen cabinets--a wedding present to Sam's grandma from his great-grandpa--but they were too far gone.  We completely gutted the kitchen, filled in a doorway, put in new wiring, insulation, drywall, cabinets, counter tops and sink.  The only thing we didn't replace was the stove they left and our fridge.

Kitchen After

Living Room Before
 The living room is very interesting.  It used to be the porch and Sam's grandpa turned it into a living room because that's what grandma wanted.  The room is 26'x9.5'.  We took down the old lace curtains and the trellis Tiffiny had put up.  We filled in the old window and the doorway that used to lead to the kitchen, we repainted everything and put up new curtains.  The windows are old and need to be replaced, but with 11 windows, that project gets expensive and time consuming.  It will have to wait!
Living Room After

We made a few pieces of furniture for this house.  It was my first time making furniture and I had a blast learning and experimenting.  I'm so thankful for a husband who is patient with all of my wild ideas.  He taught me how to use the circular saw and cut the pieces I wasn't confident cutting. And he cut all of the pieces for the first project.  I should add that the door on the corner cabinet has been painted since this picture was taken. It's all white now.

Also in January, we added this insane puppy to our family:

 She ended up getting hit by a car on the road in front of our house in April.  Both of her back legs were hurt badly and she ended up having surgery to repair two joints in her right leg, and had a ton of staples in her left leg.  We had to help her walk using a harness on her hips so she couldn't put full weight on her legs, and so we could catch her if she started to fall.  She handled it all better than we did. :)
As you can see, she's doing fine now.  She's insane, opinionated, constantly moving, very playful, and still wants to run to the road any chance she gets.  So she's an inside dog, and stays on a leash outside.  We go for walks in the pasture (far away from the road) and I let her run out there.  She loves it!   

So, here we are, enjoying 2017 and all of the adventures she has thrown our way.  Sam is moving to a new job in Joplin.  I'm so thankful for this opportunity for him, but I'm going to miss seeing him whenever I want at work.  He'll be teaching middle school and high school math at an independent school.  I think it will be a great  place for him.

We have done quite a bit of visiting friends this summer, and working on our house.  But mostly, we are settling in and trying to figure out what we want from life.  We're in our early 30's, so we're starting to seriously plan for the next big chunk of our life--what do we do as far as kids, jobs, house, etc. are concerned?  I know people who are in their 60's still ask those questions, but we'd like to at least have some sort of plan in place so that we aren't still wondering what to do with our lives when we'd like to be retired.

We have developed a few new hobbies over the past few years as well: I've added milking a cow (not sure how much longer I'll keep that up.  It's very time consuming, which is not good when we're trying to keep up a yard and a house during the summer!), making cheese (I've made gouda, feta, mozzarella, ricotta, and I've got cheddar and monterey jack aging in the garage...we'll see how they turn out), and Sam added podcasting.  He and his friend Matt have a podcast called "According to the Technical Rules". You can check them out on itunes, google play, stitcher, etc.  They're also on Facebook.

Okay, hopefully that covers the main points.  I'm sure I'll think of more later, but for now, that's all I've got.  Oh, and here in the south it's been about 98 degrees with 70-80% humidity lately.  There are spiders that build webs between the trees and the ground every night (you have to walk with a flashlight or you'll get a face full of spider every few feet).  And we should mow our lawn about every 5 days (we do more like 7-10...who has time for every 5 days?!).  That's how life in the south rolls during the summer. I hope you're enjoying your summer!  I hope you stay cool, dry, and spiderless.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Years Resolutions

I normally don't like this time of year. I don't like the pressure of starting new habits or diets or practices all while recovering from the exhaustion and the food comas of Christmas. 

This year, I feel differently. Sam asked me what my theme would be this year. I have decided this year will be the start of living the life I want to lead. We talk about growing a really good garden, going on adventures, eating well, and losing weight, but we barely do any of it. Whenever I put in the extra effort to make something happen, I thank myself for it later. 

Maybe that's a side effect of waiting so long to get married. We lived a long time in the "Well, when I get married... *then* I'll do (or be) __________". And we got especially comfortable in that mentality because we had "When my mom isn't dying...." or "When we are past this first year of marriage...."  And then we moved on to "When we have kids...."  But now that Sam is in his thirties, and I'm almost thirty myself, we realize we can't keep saying that forever. Eventually it will be "I can't get around without a wheelchair or a lot of pain...."  So, now is the time. We need to live our life. We can't assume it will be better or easier around the next corner. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Giving Pain Significance

It is just about 2:00 am. I can't sleep. After dealing with multiple friends and family members who are pregnant, I find myself wondering—

Why does pregnancy always trump lack of pregnancy?

Why is it that my sadness and pain is never as valid as someone else's happiness?  As soon as someone tells me they are pregnant, I am required to tell them how happy I am for them and congratulate them. It doesn't matter how terrible of a day I've had. It doesn't matter if I just, once again, found out I'm not pregnant. It doesn't matter how many other friends have told me today that they're pregnant. It doesn't matter how emotionally raw I already am. I am compelled to tell this person that I am happy for them.

Am I happy?  No. I am holding back tears. I am angry. I feel hurt and hopeless and destroyed. But, because that doesn't matter, I congratulate them.

I'm starting to wonder if I have been doing this all wrong. I think I may have to start giving my pain it's due significance. I need to start putting my family (even without kids) ahead of someone else's family. If I don't, I think I may go crazy.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer Evenings

Driving on a country road, Ralph sitting comfortably at my side and Huckleberry letting the wind from the open window blow up his nose until he sneezes, I am content and free. Folk music mixes with smells of grass, cows, and hot, humid air. I am singing along to the words and melodies. Fireflies are dancing in the ditches, flashing their lights here and there and filling me with child-like awe and excitement. I love fireflies. I love summer evenings. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The First Few Steps Forward

Well, we finally gave up and gave in to the fact that we won't have a baby that genetically belongs to both of us unless we both lose weight. We have both put some effort into this in the past and have been somewhat successful. We have both noticed that we lose weight the fastest and most continually if we cut out sugar and starches. So, we have given up the things we love the most and have filled our fridge with fruits and veggies. We have been doing this for about 3 weeks now and have collectively lost somewhere around 20lbs. We have both done things to remind ourselves of our future children. When it gets really tough to skip the ice cream or the brownie, we remind each other of our reasons for doing this. We almost wrote their names on our fridge. I may do that later if it gets more difficult. 

If any of you are trying to eat more healthy, real food, I would suggest a couple of things:
1) This is a website that compiles recipes from a ton of paleo and whole30 websites. We don't always follow the recipes exactly because we aren't cutting out dairy, but the recipes have generally been really tasty!  The other thing that's great is that you "save" recipes and it compiles your shopping list for you!  It's so handy!
2) Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Making everything from scratch is delicious and fulfilling, but it also takes some time and effort. 
3) cauliflower rice. We like rice and eat a lot of it, or at least we used to. Try chopping a head of cauliflower in your food processor (a few large florets at a time) and dump into an oiled cookie sheet, spread around to coat with oil. Then bake in a 400 degree oven for 15ish minutes until browned. It is good to mix it up and spread it around again somewhere in the middle. This is delicious and has made several of our meals more satisfying. 

Anyway, this will take us a while, but I'm so excited for our future, our children, our energy and ability levels increasing. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ups and Downs

I'm not sure I've posted about Katy Days before.  Parsons was built around the Railroad and thrived on Railroad money until the end of the Railroad era.  Parsons still loves its trains and its history.  Every Memorial Weekend, we celebrate the MKT (Katy) Railroad and everything that once made Parsons more populated than Kansas City.  They have the old guys who used to work for MKT come in and demonstrate how they laid the tracks.  They're called Gandy Dancers.  It is pretty crazy to watch these 70+ year old men throwing sledge hammers around like they're nothing, pounding huge spikes into the ground.  They have music, crafts, a petting zoo, Miss Katy Days pageant, and all the carnival food you could ever want (complete with roasted turkey legs and homemade root beer).  They also do something called the "Spike it Rich" Medallion hunt.  They hide a medallion somewhere in city limits on public property and then post clues and see who finds it first.  The winner gets $500.  So, Sam and I decided to go look for it last night.  The clues are pretty rough, but we thought we had it narrowed down pretty well.  After we looked at today's clue, I was pretty sure I knew where it was.  I told a co-worker about it so we decided to go look this afternoon.  We were right!  We were at the right park...just about 30 minutes or an hour too late!  Someone else found it right before us.  I'm disappointed we missed out on $500, but I'm pretty proud of us for figuring it out, even with the poorly-written clues.  Sam asked me if I was proud of myself for doing something traditionally "Parsons" (judging by the other people we saw wandering around looking for the medallion, he does not mean this as a compliment).  I did have a good time.  I felt very southern.


SEK is pretty humid and warm lately.  It has actually been pretty "dry" this year as far as rainfall goes, but it has been pretty muggy and humid.  I really dislike the humidity, but I have recently discovered something I really do enjoy about humidity.  I love going for a walk and hearing the birds singing and chirping in the trees and hearing those muffled echos you only hear on really humid days or in climate controlled botanical gardens.  For some reason that sound feels both familiar and special.  It makes me happy, even as the sweat drips down my back and my hair grows exponentially larger.


We had a rough Mother's Day.  I almost thought I was pregnant.  I let myself hope even though I knew I shouldn't.  It was even more rough because for some reason, no matter what I said, someone asked me if the reason I said/did ___________ was because I was pregnant.  This week one of our friends told us they were pregnant.  I am happy for them. I really am.  They will be great parents and they are excited.  But no matter who it is, or how happy I am for them, I always hurt deeply for Sam and I every time I hear someone is pregnant.  I long for the day I get to tell Sam that he's going to be a dad.  I want to be happy when someone asks me if I'm pregnant...I want to grin and be able to say yes.  It is hard to wait for that. It is hard to have patience and to remember that there is still time--that it would be difficult to deal with the stress of pregnancy or a new baby when we are still dealing with the stress of a graduate degree.  

I will probably still allow myself to be hopeful sometimes. I think without hope I would go crazy from the waiting.  

Sorry for the random post...sorry for ending on a downer of a thought.  But that's what life is like--full of ups and downs, silliness and heartache--and you just have to go with it and take it as it comes.