Saturday, September 02, 2017

A Box of Journals

In my journey to get rid of stuff, I run into obstacles on a regular basis. My dad once said to me, "Ryann, everything we touch triggers a memory, but not everything has to be a memory." It was a revelation to hear him say that. Both he and I are intensely nostalgic and have detailed long term memories

Somehow, most of the Stuff I keep is paper. You can stash a whole lot of paper in a one foot by one and half foot moving box. Like, thousands of pieces of paper. Needless to say, I get emotionally burned out pretty quick when I'm trying to purge.

I opened a Box with the intent to get rid of the stuff inside only to find my childhood journals and some beautiful blank notebooks that I love (and want to fill up with writing). I can't get rid of those! Opening that Box triggered some depression (including crying). It can be demoralizing to have a strong urge to change, but are not be able to change very fast.

I've been pushing to get rid of Boxes, Stuff, and Paper  faster than I've ever done since we returned from our Epic Summer Road Trip. I realized that our lack of tall bookshelves is actually a major impediment to emptying Boxes (and subsequently, getting rid of the Stuff in them). After a few days of feeling stuck, I decided that I just need to unpack the blank journals onto the shelf next to my bed. I'm obviously not ready to deal with the journals. I'm getting better at getting rid of stacks of Paper in other Boxes, so I'm giving myself some grace on this particular Box.

When you are trying to change something about yourself, what gets you stuck?

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Importance of the Dumpster

An unexpected effect of spending a month away from home, was an increased desire to have less clutter and a realization that I could get rid of more of the Stuff I thought I still needed. I've been riding a wave of nesting energy from coming home with fresh eyes. I'm throwing away more than ever, and increasing my frequency of donation drop-offs.

But last Tuesday, someone threw a wrench in my system. Someone (or someones) filled up the dumpster bin at our apartment. Like filled up. To the top.

The day after it had been emptied.

There wasn't even room for the daily kitchen trash! We put the trash in anyway. (I made Darren do it. And the neighbor's husband jumped on the lid to try to squish it down.) But we were way above the "do not fill past" line. It really stressed me out.

It took me a few days to figure out why I was stressed. (Aside from the obvious: The kitchen trash stinks. I need it out of the house!) I couldn't throw things away because my trash bins were full. My de-cluttering momentum came to a full stop. But my nesting energy didn't.

It was the last week before school started and we wanted to have fun. We did have fun. We threw a birthday party and had dinner company. But I couldn't wait for the week to be over and trash day to come so I could move forward with cleaning things out of the house.

Trash day came. The truck didn't come at it's normal time. I checked the trash bin every hour (yes, I know that's weird). When the garbage truck finally came, I was so excited I think I hollered like it was Christmas.

How strange are the hangups we have when we're trying to change!

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Beginning! (Of the Epic Summer Road Trip)

Someone didn't want to sit in his car seat.

Friday, July 7 Drive from Home to Sacramento

Certain moments during the beginning of the epic road trip felt unreal. This was the first one. I almost couldn't believe that I actually had the car packed (and the trash taken out, and the fridge cleaned out, and the dishes done, and...). I found myself thinking, No way! This is it? I'm really driving away from my house and won't be back for a month? I can't believe I didn't have a melt-down!

My niece, who was staying with me for a few weeks, was helpful with Davey. I firmly believe that babies should be held as much as possible. I'd like to do that holding, but I don't have the leisure of holding Davey all the time like I did with Lilli. In order to accomplish anything, I usually have to have someone hold Davey. My niece did a wonderful job.

I started a few hours after my target departure time. But this is normal for me, so I didn't get stressed or upset about it. Google says you can make the drive between home and my grandma's house in about five hours. Darren can. And my dad can. But the kids and I can do it in about nine hours. Eight if we're lucky.

Saturday, July 8
Visiting Grandma and Friends

Darren has weekends off of work, so he came up from Modesto. We were so glad to see him! He took the kids to the library. We spent lots of time with Grandma and her foster pup, Cali. We also had Uncle Jason and his boys over for dinner and swimming. The kids played hard.

Sunday, July 9
Citrus Heights Ward

I love the church's LDS Tools app. We looked for the closest LDS chapel and picked the 11:00 Sacrament meeting so I could sleep in not get up early. I didn't think I knew anyone in that particular ward. I was surprised to discover that I knew, or had connections to, about seven people and families there!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Things that surprised me about being apart

We are two weeks into Darren's internship. So far it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be. At least for me. I think that it has been harder on Darren being away from us.

I've been surprised at how much more I can do now that I can't depend on Darren. It makes me feel like I'm really lazy when he's around! Darren says that he misses taking care of me, which makes me feel better about myself (and kind of special). But I think it's good for me to have to depend on myself for a little while. Maybe I'll be a stronger partner when we're together again.

Speaking of stronger! It's been seven months since surgery and this past week I hit a new level of healing. I can jog again! (When necessary...) And I can bend over again! You don't realize how often you bend over until you can't do it. Pretty much everything below my waist has been effectively out of reach for the past year because the energy expenditure for bending over was huge. I bent over all the time, of course, because: kids, life, gravity, etc. It is so nice to be able to bend down (and stand back up) without a ton of effort. And I'm thrilled to be able to do a (highly modified) sun salute again. ♥

Another thing I've been surprised by is how hard weekends are. I thought the school days would be hard (I don't do getting up and getting out the door very reliably), and the weekends would be easy. But by 4pm on Saturday, I was out of my mind and the kids couldn't settle down and be obedient. Next weekend I'm going to try to have a little more structure... though I'm not sure how, because I'm really bad at routines and schedules. And I have to remember to give the kids one on one time more often. I think that will help.

One last thing that has surprised me so far, is that this summer apart is already turning out to not be anything like single parenting, or coping with a deployment. Yes, I'm physically without a partner. But I get so much support from him, constantly, that I'm not weighed down by his physical absence as much as I thought I would be. (Don't worry, My Love, I still miss you and can't wait to snuggle!) We are able to leave messages for each other throughout the day, and call frequently, Between text messages, Voxer, Marco Polo, Google Hangouts, and regular calls we probably communicate daily just as much as we did when he was only a few miles away at school or work. Also, he's not on the other side of the world, or the country. We get to visit him every other week or so.

There are still really hard moments. I yelled too much this weekend. And there are hours moments when I just can't pull it together. But there are angels all around us. They come and hold my baby, or have my kids over to play. So, this adventure is turning out to be a good experience so far.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Our Family Names

It's funny how names and titles evolve within a family unit. While I was growing up I always thought of my two youngest sisters as the Little Girls. But once they were in high school that name didn't apply very well.

When Darren and I were new parents we called each other The Daddy, The Mommy, and The Lilli. Then we added The Boy. And now we have two of The Boy and it is harder to tell who we're talking about.

When we're talking to 2Flowers, we can refer to The Boys or The Little Brothers. And when we're talking to Davey, we refer to The Big Kids (or Brother and Sister). But poor Oreo, stuck in the middle and part of both groups, doesn't have any characteristic that sets him apart and puts the other two in a group.

He also has to share some of the special names that Daddy had given him. 2Flowers was Little One (though now she prefers Munchkin, which Daddy never remembers, but which Uncle Jeremy always does), Oreo was Little Guy and, more recently, Buddy. But Davey gets called Buddy sometimes, which confuses Oreo.

Davey is still pretty new around here though, so I'm sure the names will evolve more and hopefully settle down with everyone having a unique term of endearment. At least from Daddy. I tend to call everyone Honey or Sweetie with no particular consistency. Even Darren lately!

Maybe I should look for something special to call each child. There are so many fun ones to choose from: Honeycomb, Pumpkin, Cupcake, Acushla (which means something like darling).

What do you think of Huckleberry for Oreo? For 2Flowers I like Cinnamon, but I think she would be in heaven if I called her Kitten. And for Davey, I think Honeysuckle has lots of meaning, but I don't think he'll like it later.

Or I could tap into the Spanish name:, Corazon, Muñequita, Querido/a, Pollito, Mi hijito/a, Mi chiquito/a. What about Bomboncito/a? I think the kids might like to call each other that given their current sense of humor and how it feels coming off the tongue.

I couldn't help but find a few things I might like to call Darren (who doesn't actually need a new term of endearment), like Cariño or Mi amado.

What do you call the people in your family?

Need ideas? I liked these lists: Terms of Endearment,
Oxford Dictionaries Historical Terms of Endearment,
Oxford Dictionaries Obsolete Terms of Endearment
New Republic Terms of Endearment
FluentU Spanish Nicknames
FluentU Spanish Terms of Endearment

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Crazy Epic Road Trip

So, I mentioned that I'm planning a crazy epic road trip...

The more I plan, the more excited I get. And the more terrified!

I am travelling 5933 miles and 100 hours of driving (give or take some) over three months. Mostly without my husband.


Where is Darren going to be?

Darren has a federal internship with the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) in Modesto. That's about 340 miles away from our home. We're really excited about this internship because it pays well, it provides a housing stipend (so we don't have pay rent in two places), and it is for two summers, so he won't have to look for a job next summer.

We're not too excited about being apart for eight weeks. We're pretty sure it's going to be really hard. But we're also pretty sure we'll survive. One of our favorite quotes says, "...though you can have grief without adventures, you cannot have adventures without grief.*"

Ok, so why are you going on a road trip?

We also have a family reunion in San Antonio, Texas this summer. Texas is a looooong ways a way from Humboldt County. About 2000 miles.

At first I thought, "I'll take the train!" I like the train. I don't mind going slow. I can pay attention to my kids and not have to drive. It's great!

But it's not great. I'd have to transfer trains twice. With three kids (6, 4, and 8 months), four sets of luggage, car seats, and all the extra paraphernalia that comes with traveling with kids. No thank you.

For some reason I didn't even consider flying. I probably thought it would be too expensive. The cost (if I buy tickets two or months ahead of time) is actually pretty comparable to what my fuel costs will be for driving. But I got this other idea stuck in my head before I really looked at plane tickets and it sounds like a wonderful adventure.

What if I start heading out early, take it slow (I don't do well under pressure and I don't like to be rushed), and stop to visit people we love along the way?

Where all are you going?

Darren has a brother in the Salt Lake Area that used to live near us. I could catch up with my sis-in-law in person, and the kids could play with their cousins. I have a sister in that area, as well as several cousins and a few aunts and uncles. We also have some friends that just moved to that area and we really miss them. There are lots of people we could visit if we drove through Utah.

Darren also has a brother in Colorado. David is Oreo's favorite uncle.When we first moved away, Oreo would ask to go see David about once a week. That's about how often he saw David when we lived in Sacramento. But David and his family moved away from Sacramento about the same time we did. It was really hard to explain to Oreo that he couldn't see David when we went to visit family in Sacramento. After eight months, Oreo finally caught on. David isn't in Sacramento, David is in Colorado. It feels really good to say, "Yes, we can go to Colorado and see David." to my little four year old, who still doesn't really understand where Colorado is, but wants to see his favorite uncle. Attached to that uncle are four cousins that we love to play with, and a sis-in-law that I miss visiting with in person.

I'm excited for the family reunion in San Antonio. My dad, Allen, saves and plans for a few years then brings all of my sisters and brother together (except my brother just joined the army, so we don't get to see him this time) and plans some fun activities (like Disneyland or jetskiing or a river walk tour). We usually stay in a vacation home so we can all be together. We make food together, have Family Home Evening and family prayers together, and spend our down time together. Some of my favorite memories are having an nail painting party on the deck of the house in Tahoe.

Instead of coming straight home after the family reunion. We are going to visit another one of Darren's brothers. This one also lives in Texas and is just a few hours away from San Antonio. We were hoping to spend several days with them, but Darren has to be back in Sacramento for an internship meeting sooner than we were originally planning to be back, so we're trying to figure out how to get more time with them.

On the way home we're going to drive in 12 hour stretches, mostly at night. Because Darren can do that. But on the way out I'm planning to stop often. We're going to stop at Dinosaur National Monument and some of the National Forests that we pass.

I'd like suggestions though.We're looking at I-80 through California, Nevada, and Utah; Hwy 40 through Utah and Colorado; I-25 in Colorado; and I'm not sure about our routes in Texas. 

What are good places to stop and play (local parks or food, national parks, or other kid-friendly type stops...)? 

*Quote from The girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making by Catherynne M. Valente (affliate link)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Where have I been?!

You may have noticed that I haven't posted here for two years.

Two years! 

I can hardly believe it. I've been experiencing something of a desert in my writer's soul. And I have not been able to figure out how to balance my creative pursuits with being a mom. Being a mom has won out and I'm okay with that. But I'm hoping to write (and post!) more often. We'll see...

Meanwhile, here is what's been going on!

2Flowers started Kindergarten in 2015. We often walked to or from school. She made friends, and I got involved with the PTO. We loved her school. We found out that Darren's dad and uncle attended the school when it was new! I love connections to history and family like that!

In December 2015, Darren quit his security job. Within a month of giving his notice, he had a new job in the Environmental Restoration branch at Teichert. During 2016 he sprayed lots of weeds and got to work outside most of the time. He also got to work on a mapping project and design a study on medusahead. He had great co-workers and supervisors and goes back to visit as often as he can.

I got pregnant in February 2016. It was a difficult pregnancy because we were preparing to move and I hadn't wanted to be pregnant until after we were settled in our new location. Darren was accepted to the Rangeland Management program at Humboldt State University. I was excited to move back to Humboldt County! I tried to pack (and get rid of Stuff!) but it was really hard. I just wanted to sleep! And to stop feeling nauseous.

In June, 2Flowers and I went to Humboldt to look for a place to live. We looked for two months and I had almost given up hope on finding a place to live. Finally, one landlord approved our application and we jumped on it. By then it was August. Darren and Oreo had joined us in Humboldt and we were all sleeping on my dad's floor. Darren's semester started within a week of our move-in date, and 2Flowers started 1st grade a week later.

My original plan involved me unpacking and setting up house during my second trimester. But I was in my third trimester by the time I actually got to start homemaking. My allergies were exceptionally awful over the summer and fall. I wasn't able to make much progress on the house. I was pretty sick by October and one prenatal appointment ended in a trip to the hospital because my OB was so worried about me.

Baby #3 was due on November 25th, But he came early. He was pre-term by one day and super healthy. The doctors let me hold him while I was still on the operating table. I snuggled him for a bit, but felt very weak. My anesthesiologist asked if I'd like to go to sleep and that sounded very nice to me. Darren held our new baby for three hours while the doctors worked on me. Darren said he wasn't worried until they called in the head doctor (who wasn't on duty). I lost so much blood the doctors gave me a blood transfusion. (I can now attest that giving blood saves lives, because I'm pretty sure that it saved mine.)

Darren was in the middle of his semester still, and his schedule had him away from home twelve hours a day, five days a week. Things would have completely fallen apart if we hadn't had help. God sent us to an amazing ward with friends that I already knew and new friends just waiting to wrap us in their arms. He sent us to neighbors who would watch over us and our kids. And He let Darren's brother, Jeremy, become unemployed so he would be available to come and live with us and take care of us for two months.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Now I've got to write again. Right? I've got to tell you more details about the baby. And about our new friends. And about the adventures Darren has already been on at school. And about the crazy epic road trip I'm planning for this summer... I don't think I have any profound or inspiring thoughts to share. But I do have lots of adventures to tell you about.