Monday, August 22, 2016

Life When House Hunting

So it's been nearly six months in Michigan house.

I thought, in a simplistic way, that it would all be so simple. We'd sell our house (by the way - if you want to buy our house- check it out here) Buy a house here. Boom. It's quite sad how hopeful I really was.

Instead, my days look like this.

Lay in bed until 11 or so, scouring Zillow or the MLS, looking for a magic house I haven't yet found that is 1) within our budget, 2) big enough to suite our needs, 3) cute/close to being finished. Find nothing new or, find something new that is 40 minutes away and save it even though I know Tom will veto, or find something new that isn't big enough or is too expensive or needs a ton of work and try to convince myself we could make it work (save it, even though it'll just cause a terse exchange tomorrow). 

Go to sleep. Dream of unpacking my things in a house - any house. Dream of Zuzu's birthday party being in a house she can get comfortable in since she'll know we're not going anywhere. Wake up a lot and go to the bathroom, banging the bathroom door into the awkward wall that protrudes into the 'master' bath. Curse the designer of our apartment. Chide myself for my ungratefulness. Go back to bed. 

Wake up. Love my children's wake up faces, think how lucky I am to have them and my husband. Go to the bathroom - begin to curse the apartment again. Feel bad again because it's such a #firstworldproblem. Go to the kitchen - miss my things again, try to avoid thinkings about my hatred of formica and beige cabinets. 

Get everyone breakfast. Step on the carpet in bare feet and cringe that it's crunchy feeling - think how dumb it is to put carpet in the dining area. Resolve to vacuum today somehow, even though it makes Davey scream. Go to pray - regain a sense of peace. Afterwards, do some morning chores while kids play; have Fixer Upper playing on my computer in the background. Wonder at the home prices in Waco and Joanna's use of bronzer. Consider, again, begging the Gaines to come help - remember that they don't do work outside Waco - wonder if I could do what they do. Wonder how the money aspect of the show works and how hard it is for the family's to get rid of all the designer stuff after the show is over and move in their old ratty stuff instead. 

Peruse Zillow before/after lunch. Analyze saved houses again - wonder which one would be the best pick. Think if it's worth it to go see the beautiful reasonably priced one that's 30 minutes away, or the shabby-needs-serious work one that's only 15 minutes away and whose price probably indicates it's located next to a drug den. Wonder why there is plethora of Catholic bloggers with chickens and if the homesteading life is inherently more holy, or if their Instagram filters just make it seem that way. Wonder where are the suburban mom blogs that showcase holiness without all the chicken poop and homeschooling. Remember Kathryn Whitaker. Feel better about looking at homes in neighborhoods - spent 30 minutes looking at houses that all look the same and getting irritated about the state of current home building. Change filters and instead look only at houses built before 1949; remember that although they're packed with charm, they're all really small and the laundry rooms are in creepy basements. 

While putting Davey down for a nap, wonder why this area has to be so darn expensive. Look at houses in my hometown and realize I seem to only enjoy really expensive areas of the country. Fantasize about living in the middle of nowhere in a redone Victorian mansion that has land but also good neighbors and is close to a thriving Catholic parish. Remind yourself that holiness consists in living in the present. Sniff Davey's head and think, happily, how good and clean baby sweat smells and how darling his curly hair is. Feel bad that he has so much sun in his eyes, get mad at the apartment again, then reproach myself for not hanging curtains when we moved in 3 months ago. Remember that 3 months ago, I didn't think we'd still be here and thought there was no point. Mourn for all the things I didn't do because I thought there was no way we'd still be here - wonder if there's a point in doing them now. 

Come out and read with Zuzu while Davey naps. Answer her questions about all the things she wants that are still packed "in the big container." Entertain her fantasies about what the "new house" will have: she wants a pegasus farm close to her Grand, GG, and Auntie Jen (who live in Orlando, Indiana, and Washington DC, respectively). Try not to encourage it, but secretly think my own desires are about just as probable. Crabbily respond to my husband's texts because I've gotten into the habit of thinking that this situation is harder on me than him and that he really doesn't care and is being really flippant about the whole thing. Feel bad and remind myself how great a husband I have; repentantly clean our room. 

Davey wakes up, and I start dinner prep. Go to use a kitchen utencil/instrument I don't have and get mega-annoyed; think longingly of my crockpot. Pull up Amazon and swiftly, vengefully! fill my cart with all the things I don't have with me, but would really like. Cackle with the powerful feeling that gives me...but take it all out, because it just feels wasteful to buy things I already have even if I don't have access to them. Stare at water boiling and feel sorry for myself. Children screaming jolts me back to reality, snap at them. Realize they're probably just hungry and get everyone settled at the table with big glasses of milk and before-dinner fruit and biscuits with butter. 

Tom comes home. Try to be cheerful, although I've been stewing over unhelpful things all day. Start the crazy dinner-walk-bath-prayers-bed whirlwind where we are corralling chaos. Finally wrestle crazy kids in bed. Sit on the couch next to each other pouring over spreadsheets and house stats till way too late. Crunch numbers again - and again. Bicker. Feel stressed. Late night text my realtor (thank God she ignores me past 9pm and that we're friends). Apologize to one another (Tom and I, not me and my realtor) for not being our best; resolve to be better, offer each other comforting thoughts about it all being over soon. Crawl into bed saying oh yeah should've gone to bed hours ago but -

Start the cycle again.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Open to the Life I Have Now

"Open to life."

If you're part of the circles I am, you hear that phrase a lot. It's what we promise at the start of our marriages, it's what we pray about most every month of our married life until our child-bearing years come to an end, it can sometimes be the guilt that hangs over us if we choose to abstain for whatever reason, or the sorrow that plagues us if our openness is not fulfilled with a child.

In my own married life, openness has largely meant waiting. Whenever I have felt ready for a baby, I have waited...sometimes as short as seven months, or as long as fourteen months - still just small bumps in the road compared to those I know who are still waiting, years after they gave their "yes." Five years in and two babies later, I often feel we're on the "slow train" of openness to life...that if we had been given a child every time we said yes, we'd be one of those Catholic families with stair-step children in a row: we'd be in the trenches with those moms of large families, talking about all the awful things people say to us and pricing out 15 passenger vans.

But I'm in a different place right now. I have two small children that I endeavor to love and support through this cross-country move; two little beings that I try to be rock and soft place to, while we all mourn the loss of our home and find a new one in this place that is so different and so beautiful. It is requiring a great deal of me - sacrifices that I am reluctant to give. I am having to make peace with being temporary, when my role in this family is to provide a sense of permanence. I miss Florida and the surety I had raising my children in my home state. There was a strength I drew from its very soil, knowing that I was chasing diapered babies in the same land that my mother, grandmother, and so on did.

In my desperate attempts to find permanence, I sometimes cling to rigidity and mistake it for strength. God help me, it is making me more closed to my children - and here is where it comes in, again, that openness to life. Openness to the lives I have under my care, right now - that's a calling too, that's a promise I made too, when I invited God to give us life. Openness to teaching the same lesson, day after day, because learning takes time. Openness to a child's strong emotions and push back, without letting it ruin my peace and calm. Openness to silliness without mistaking it as defiance, to bluster without seeing it as rudeness, to a certain amount of chaos that I must be able to oversee and overlook with calm compassion.

In this season, the thought of another life is a bit intimidating - sitting here, in my 900 sqft apartment, with most of my things still in deep storage, and my heart still raw - but that doesn't negate my calling that already exists. I can be open to the life I have now and surely God can make this season one of fruitful waiting.

"The soul of woman must be expansive and open to all human beings, it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as not to benumb fragile buds; empty of itself, so that in order that extraneous life may have room in it; finally, mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call." 

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

David: One Year

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, what God has ready for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

Dearest David,
Over a month ago, you turned a year old. I had wanted to write you a long tribute, but time got away from me! That is a good motto for your entire first year - it got away from me.

Unlike Zuzu's first year, I didn't have all the time in the world to sit and hold and rock you, but you wouldn't have tolerated it anyway. From the first, you have loved your crib and your space. No cosleeping for you, no lingering in my arms - I have so many pictures of you sleeping! in a crib! or a pack n play! or the floor! Because you'll sleep anywhere so long as you have your space.

You really did love your sleep from the first, a fact that has made me sob with joy. That combined with Zuzu getting older means I got some pretty decent sleep in your first year (until you started teething in earnest, but lets not dwell on the negatives).

Remember when we had thrush and you were a newborn and I was a total mess? No, thank goodness, you do not.

 Also unlike Zuzu's peaceful first year, you have been dragged all over in service to the family good: big sister's swim lessons -

Disney water parks - 

The Naples Zoo - 

The beach or pool - 

Even the cold and snow! (that was for the Christmas card photos, I admit) 

In truth, you are very difficult to get a laugh out of! You're sort of a taciturn fellow, not that the pictures I have of you reflect it. Oh it's easy enough to get a halfhearted smile, but a true belly laugh? That IS a feat! 

The three nephews on the Rogers side! 

Three generations of Orams...with a photobomb 

Oh, but you do smile. And your even-temperament is a refreshing change from your sister's steep learning curve on controlling her emotions.

Your unabashed sweetness has brought a tenderness to my mothering that was missing before. I can easily be firm, maybe too firm and a bit dismissive, in my dealings with you precious children and your worries (no doubt your sister can attest to that). You, however, give me a gentleness - you remind me to be merciful. Without you, this aspect of my parenting would perhaps be latent, slower to develop. There would truly be something missing in me without you.

You are such a gift not only because you have expanded my heart as a mother, but simply because of who you are. Maybe because I know now how fast it all goes, I marvel so much more at each step. I worry a little more though - I've seen so much more now, seen the heart ache and pains that can befall parents in their vocation to love and rear small children. Now that I see the fleeting nature of your childhood and the constant possible calamities, I am more worried, more watchful than when it was just Zuzu and I thought nothing would ever happen to us.

You were Jesus in the Christmas play, just like your sister! 

And yet your cheerful demeanor and darling face so often chases clouds of worry far from my mind. Instead, I relish being the witness to your life. 

Now, at just over thirteen months, you are walking all over - just working on your speed and stability. You try to say "all done!", you can wave and clap and drink from a straw. Your dark hair curls around the nape of your neck and around your ears, which when combined with your sleepy wake up face, makes my heart skip a beat. You have kept your deep dimples and the small indent on your right ear, both of which you had from birth. Your nicknames include: Dimple Dave, Davey Baby, Davey Dreamboat, Davey Bubblefish, Bubby Chubs, Davey Pavey, Dave-Dave-Woo-hoo, and Davey Doodle Dot. 

I cannot wait to see you grow up - and yet I can. I know one day, God willing, you'll be as old as your sister - you'll be doing things for yourself and we'll be talking about preschool. That will be so wonderful in its own way! But right now you're little and I get to be the one who rocks you in the wee hours of the night, keeping our own little vigil in those still small hours. In those quiet moments, that are more often now than they usually are for you, I try to pray (when I'm not dozing myself). I pray for many things, but I always pray for you. (That's why God gives children mothers, you know, so that they always have someone to pray for them.) Please don't ever forget that David: no matter how big you get, I will always be loving and praying for you. 

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

So Long, Farewell

If you thought this was me saying goodbye to my little corner of the internet...
you're wrong.

Instead, I'm saying goodbye to my little corner of my home state -

And saying hello to new adventures in a new state.

As we were looking at the map of our new home, Zuzu strolled up casually and said "Michigan? Isn't that a blue state?" Tom and I stared at her with mouth-gaping awe, until she pointed to Lake Michigan and then we were much relieved.

I am filled with such great excitement. Tom and I have felt pulled by God in a different direction for some time; we just weren't sure what he was really asking. We kept exploring different avenues and coming up with nothing, and then the way this opportunity fell into our lap was really miraculous. We feel truly led to this place and this work, despite our shortcomings and haphazard process of discernment.

It's been over a year since we started praying about what God was asking of us and here we are - oh here we are. Yesterday I closed my front door for the last time, walked down the driveway that we had redone, climbed into my mom's car, and drove away. It is surreal. The memories in that house! In this town! Has it really been almost five years for our family, nearly seven for Tom?

So, without further ado, here is my walk down memory lane - that I have been working on for about six weeks, which is what happens when I try to blog and move and raise a family all at the same time.

On our way to a football game...this wasn't in Naples, but Tom was just about to move to Naples! 
We got hitched at the parish that took a chance and hired Tom after three years in seminary and then about a year kicking around Tuscaloosa. I moved to a new town, had all the wedding events, and then was married and moved into Tom's house. I had never lived in any other part of Florida, had no friends in town, and was a bit overwhelmed! 

So Tom and I hung out a lot - we went to the Botanical Gardens (below), explored the surrounding area, and just generally enjoyed being in love. My mom would come down and help me take on projects like cleaning up the porch and painting. 

And makes three. 

Jen was living with us! The good old days! 

A baby means a baptism! 

We had so much fun when Zuzu was our only little love. Since we knew that we could not take it for granted that we'd have more, we soaked up every moment of her babyhood - what if it was the only one we got to witness up close? We loved it. 

Many birthdays were had in our sweet little house...



And we discovered the news that we were welcoming another baby! 

And David Gregory was born! The Monday of Holy Week 2015. 

What a full Easter! 

And life with him was so, so great - and so, so much harder! 

Another baptism...

Lots of sibling love! 

But then, shortly afterwards, we had to say goodbye to our Auntie Jen...

And just a short time was time for us to leave too. 

Though I often complained about Naples - the relentless heat, the skewed demographics, my house without a sewing room - I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with love for this place where we became a family. For Decembers that still allowed diaper-clad babies to eat popsicles outside, for neighbors that were always willing to come over and talk about home improvement projects or sewing ideas. Beach sunsets year round and Panera right across the road, not to mention Royal Scoop ice cream just a bit away! 

So deeply sad to say goodbye, so exciting to see what God has planned for us here...

Coming soon - updates from the land where is snows in April! 

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