Mommy Chronicles

Because some days are just worth remembering…

A couple of weeks ago, Lydia and Abby had doctor appointments. I remember when Lydia was the only baby in our home and she had appointments. It would take a grand hour and a half out of our day, which felt like a huge chunk of time. With three, things sure have changed. Partway through this adventure-of-a-day, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much was involved in one little appointment. So here I am, documenting for my own future entertainment someday when life is either far easier and more peaceful or (more likely) even more chaotic.

Planning for the appointment started the day before as we prepared to get the kids to bed extra early. We were all going to be getting up early the next day so we ate our dinner and cleaned up quickly, put the kids in their pajamas, and tucked them in to bed. That’s where our troubles began…

Every night we wash a load of diapers, since we use cloth and don’t have enough to make it longer than a day (with two kids in diapers). I promptly started the load at 7:00, right after the final diaper changes for the night. Sometime later we realized the washer wasn’t washing. The switch was on, washer plugged in, lid down, and the tub was filled with water but the washer wasn’t washing. Some quick Youtube searching allowed us to diagnose our problem: the lid switch was coming unglued.

Can I interject an important truth here? I have a college education as a mechanical engineer. Most people think that means I can fix stuff, anything really. That is not the case. A mechanical engineer can do math, solve mathy problems, create complicated Excel sheets, and design parts. No fixing. No repairing. And no diagnosing. My dad does that, not me. (and as an extra side note, either of our dad’s could have fixed this problem in no time flat, I’m sure of it).

Now Dan has his training in Math and Physics with a lot of experience in programming. There is not a single math, physics, or programming course that teaches you how to repair household appliances. Although, Dan and I could quickly sit down with our skills and calculate the time and cost comparison of fixing a part, paying someone to fix the part, buying a new washing machine, or using a laundromat until one of our dads makes a trip down to fix the part.

Well, the diapers needed to be washed and we had a big day coming so we found a useful Youtube video and started tackling the repair. Things went great. We got the washer apart, found the switch, duct-taped it back together (whatever works, right?) and began the process of reassembling the washer.

Then our sweet girls, who always go to sleep without any problems, both started crying. Lydia was beside herself in tears although no one knew why. We interrupted our repair to snuggle her back to peace only to have Abby start crying, wake Lydia up, and the whole episode began again. Then Paul, who was sitting happily in his bouncy seat, started crying too. We struggled through the repair process for a little while and finally took a break to calm the criers and feed the baby.

The rest of the night was just an upsetting mix of crying and unsuccessful attempts to put the washing machine back together. It was terrible. But, we did it, and finally everyone was asleep. The diapers got washed. Dan’s lunch was packed. Clothes were laid out for the next day. We made it to bed two or three hours later than we had planned.

The next morning I had planned to get up at 5 to feed Paul, so naturally he woke up hungry at 4:30. Oh well. I fed him and took a power nap before getting up and getting the girls ready. Much to Dan’s surprise, we made it to the parking lot of his work more than ten minutes early. The kids were quiet in the back seat so we just sat and enjoyed a few minutes more of peace before saying goodbye for the day. Then it was my turn to take over the driving.

I don’t really enjoy driving. In fact, I really don’t enjoy driving especially on busy or new roads. I tend to be a pretty cautious driver and my greatest weakness is not trusting any of the other drivers to do what their supposed to do. I’m also terrible with directions and can get lost going just about anywhere. Driving is one of my scariest responsibilities as a Mommy. So when I have to drive, Dan always prays for me first. Then I pray for me. Then I tell all the kids they have to be quiet because “Mommy is driving”. I pray every time I have to get on an entrance ramp, make a turn where there’s not a stop light, or think I might be going wrong direction. I also avoid lane changes at all costs even if it means driving ten miles below the speed limit because I’m “stuck” behind a slow truck or bus.

Dan, on the other hand, is an excellent “down state driver”. He can handle traffic, construction, detours, and makes lane changes like it’s his job. He has a wonderful sense of direction and can get anywhere without asking for help even if he’s never been there before and even if he’s “lost”. He can find our car in the parking lot without a problem. He can talk and listen and dodge potholes, watch for street signs, pass slow drivers, avoid fast drivers, keep track of what our kids are doing in the back seat, and sing along to the radio all at the same time. For this, and many other reasons, Dan always drives when we’re together.

We were made for each other.

So as Dan headed in to his work building, the girls and I prayed for my driving and I began reviewing the directions Dan had given me to get home. (He’s also very good at giving directions.)

Potholes. The last thing Dan told me before going in to work was that there were horrific potholes on the highway that would definitely give me a flat tire if I hit them. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, I was supposed to dodge potholes We prayed for that too.

I was a nervous wreck driving home. It took half an hour and I still had another hour and a half of driving ahead of me for the day. At least the kids were being quiet. I did it though, I dodged those nasty potholes and thanked God for every single one we passed successfully. We made it home and I unloaded the kids. Now, breakfast.

After breakfast we had our daily “Bible Time”, prayed (for all the driving yet to come) and sang a Bible memory song. Then I packed the diaper bag, and repacked all the kids into the car.

Would you believe we actually made it to the doctor early? Not only were we early, we were 40 minutes early. Well, I guess I needn’t have worried about the rush hour traffic after all. I fed Paul and gave the girls some last minute snacks. Maybe I was trying to give them one last little boost before the big weigh-in. When you’re only 3rd percentile, every ounce counts. 🙂

The doctor appointment went remarkable well (everyone is growing and developing at a pleasing rate). I was feeling like a pretty good mom and even made a lane change on the way home to pass a slow truck. Now you all know how monumental that is, so you know I was feeling good.

Somewhere along here I had the brilliant idea, since we had the car for the day, to stop and get Dan a Father’s day gift on the way to pick him up from work. So when we got home I took a few minutes to research the cheapest place to get a Wiffle Ball and bat. It turned out that Dick’s was the place to go and, as it turns out, there is a Dick’s conveniently located right on the way to Dan’s work. Success.

We took our time eating lunch and then everyone got a half hour nap before we got back into the car. Prayed for Mom’s driving, And off we went. During the ten minute drive to Dick’s I tried to explain to Lydia what a surprise is and that we were going to get a present for Daddy for Sunday. Since it was for Sunday, she was not to say a word to him about it. Did I really believe that would work? Well, I was hopeful.

Finding a Wiffle ball set at Dick’s was more involved than I expected, and I was sad to learn that they no longer sell the balls in a set. You have to buy every single ball individually for $2 each. Ridiculous. We decided to just get the bat and ball and order more balls online. I was grateful there weren’t more people in the store to judge my parenting as Lydia ran chaotically through the kayaks yelling to me that there were purple life jackets. We survived the checkout line, even with its walls of colorful toys and candy and playground balls (honestly, who thought that was a good idea?) and made it through the checkout and back to the car with time to spare. I hid the bat and ball in the trunk and Lydia and I talked some more about surprises.

Then it was back to dodging potholes. I was a little less confident this time and decided to patiently follow the slow truck in front of me for the few miles to Dan’s work. I realized I didn’t have to worry as much about the potholes if I just followed the path of the car in front of me. That seemed to work well and soon enough we were finally safe in Dan’s work parking lot. I fed Paul and Dan came out promptly at 3:00.

Now, there are some days when, as a stay at home Mom with three, I feel like I don’t accomplish much. Dan comes home and asks what I did and I say, “I got the kids dressed and fed, did laundry, and cooked dinner. That’s all.” But this day trumped all days. “How was your day?”, he asked me. “Great! We didn’t do anything but go to the doctor, eat, and take short naps. BUT, I didn’t get lost, wasn’t late, and didn’t hit a single pothole!” And my husband, who knows me well, congratulated me and gave me a hug.

Now, as a side note so you are not all left hanging…I never heard Lydia say a single word to Dan about the Wiffle ball and bat. I snuck it into the house, and, at Lydia’s request, we made Dan a card to go with it. On Sunday we triumphantly brought out our surprise and gave it to Dan. He read the card, admired the bat, and than confessed, “Lydia told me about the bat.”

“What?!?”

“Several times…and I saw it when you opened the closet a couple of days ago.”

Good thing Dan doesn’t really like surprises. 🙂

Life in Chaos

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Transitions

Last April, Dan graduated with his Master’s degree and we were both so excited to move off campus, get settled, and begin life without school. In May, we moved into a spacious two bedroom condo that was conveniently located right next door to Dan’s work. It was wonderful. After a while, though, we realized that there was a serious problem with the condo (mold was our guess) and it was making us, Dan in particular, sick.

In one week we searched for another place, any place, that could take us immediately and that brought us to the lovely town of Plymouth. While our Plymouth home is beautiful, it has its downsides too. It’s a long commute for Dan to get to work, especially when he already has to sit at a computer for eight hours a day, adding on another hour or two of driving hasn’t gone too well.

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Unpacking

My biggest struggle, though, has been the unpacking. This place is fully furnished, which means there’s just no room for all of our stuff. Well, that’s not true. We have found room for all of our stuff, but there’s not room to unpack and really move in. So all summer, I have felt like I’ve been living in chaos.

The laundry room, stairwell, and corner of the living room are full of boxes. Lydia’s room, which is actually an office, now looks like an office that got into a fight with a playroom. Half of our clothes are unpacked, and a lot of them are sitting in piles on open shelves in our bedroom, in boxes on the floor, and on top of storage containers on the floor of our closet. I can’t get to my cleaning supplies, my measuring cups, or our water pitcher. I can’t find the iron. Oh, and my nice organized collection of very important documents ended up in storage.

To add to the chaos, I’ve been off of my routine ever since my first trimester, when nausea prevented me from doing much of anything. I thrive on a schedule, but my schedule went out the window back in May with the first move. Without it, I was getting nothing done, and getting frustrated in the process.

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Time for a Change

So, I sat down a while back to pray about things. And then I set some goals to tackle one at a time:

1. Go to bed earlier
2. Wake up earlier – pack Dan’s lunch and get him breakfast, and actually see him before        he leaves for the day
3. Take shorter naps
4. Get outside at least once a day with Lydia
5. Unpack one box a day

How did it go?

Well, it has been about a month since I set my goals. So how have I been doing? Well, I tackled the first one and started getting to bed earlier. About a week later I asked Dan to start waking me up when he’s getting ready in the mornings. We’ve settled into a lovely little routine to start each day, which makes the schedule-dependent-mommy in me happy. I succeeded at shortening and sometimes even eliminating my naps, but that one feels like cheating because I’ve been feeling so much better in my second trimester anyway. Lydia and I get outside almost every day, unless it’s raining. In fact, our day up to lunch has become pretty predictable, again, making me happy. As for unpacking, well, I gave that one up long ago. There’s just no point. Once I got things clean enough to host Leslie’s bridal shower, I decided it was good enough and that I’d just have to suffer through the rest of the chaos until we move.

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How much longer?

I would love to know the answer to that one! Dan and I have a signed lease at some nice Ann Arbor apartments and we are tentatively scheduled to move in on September 6. However, we have also applied for a mortgage through our bank and are waiting to hear back from them. If it’s a “yes”, we’ll begin our search for a house, stay where we are until we find one, and then work our way through the complicated process of buying.

In the meantime, I’m sticking to my routine – even if it isn’t as regular as I like. I’m using Mr. Jenkins’ (our landlord) old plastic liquid measuring cup (with half the numbers worn off) for all of my cooking measurements. And I’m continuing to remind myself of the ways God has provided – this home, and all of our previous ones! I’m thankful for a flexible landlord, and a diligent husband who works hard to find us a place that will really feel like home. So life goes on, more chaotic than I would like, but completely in God’s control. We’re, as always, learning to trust as we wait.