Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Cleaning: Home, Body & Soul

You'd probably never have guessed it ... but I've been in a funk.

Maybe it's the three "free roaming" 2-year olds that are taking a toll on my existence.

Maybe it's the work schedule that I can't catch up with and the plethora of action items I need to accomplish for a large meeting I'm hosting next week in San Diego.

Maybe it's the unending housework that has completely barreled me over, sprinkled me with dust and a few dozen loads of laundry - and left me to die.

Maybe it's the insatiable nesting instinct to get our chaotic living space ready for a brand new baby.

Maybe it's the pregnancy and a rapidly changing body that weighs 40 pounds more now - than it did last year at this time.

Maybe it's my diet, which although should be packed full of healthy and nutritious food for a gestating body - has consisted of O'Henry Bars, Honey Nut Cheerios and the crust from grilled cheese and PB&J sandwiches.

Maybe it's the lack of exercise. I've given up on the gym, but even brisk walks that I was taking around the neighborhood have become nearly impossible, considering all three of our children insist on "walking" too ... and when I do walk more than 15 feet ... I like to know that I'll be within at least 30 feet of a bathroom because the baby has set up camp on my bladder.

Maybe it's wanting to enjoy every waking moment with our toddlers - and savor every aspect of this pregnancy - but lack the energy to do both - and struggle with guilt because I don't feel like I'm doing either, very well.

Maybe it's the moral dilemma of what to do with our 12.5-year old dog, Molly. As much as we love her, she has slowly moved back in to the garage, full time, because the dog hair and constant hacking - all through the house - got to be too much.

Maybe it's that my feet have grown by a 1/2 size in the past few months and my favorite shoes are too tight.

Maybe it's the lack of "me" or "us" time.

Maybe it's the uncertainty of our future - if we will move, where we will live, when it will happen.

Maybe it's the feeling of desperation, that manifests itself in my very psyche and makes the simplest of tasks - like preparing dinner, picking up Legos, or finding a competent someone to come in and "help" - seem insurmountable.

Maybe it's all of these things.

But something I've really noticed is that there is a strong connection between physical health, mental health and financial health. When one of these things gets out of whack ... everything in life goes topsy turvy.

So in an attempt to pull our lives back in to focus, and after taking a 3-month hiatus, we've returned to church.

We took a break because after six continuous months of our children being sick, we opted to ride out the rest of winter in quarantine. Apparently, it worked - because our kids haven't been ill since February. But because we ditched church, again, yesterday - on Easter Sunday, of all days - to avoid exposing our children to the swarm of germs from other children (whose parents only go to church on Christmas and Easter) I promise to put an additional $20.00 in the poor box next weekend. Really, I will.

Charlie and I are glad to be back at church. Our kids aren't.

Without fail, they will start screaming as soon as we pull in to the parking lot, go completely boneless once we take them out of the car, and scream the entire length of the parking lot - through the church - and in to the nursery.

Even though I tell them that we're going to a party to see their friends, they will cling to us like they are about to be thrown in to a pit of starving lions.

Every week I feel a twinge of guilt about leaving the nursery staff with our 3-2 year olds who are the only children crying, but that feeling quickly vanishes once I catch a whiff of the after-service cookies hear the heavenly music.

Last week, the sermon that we heard was about options. The minister was telling us that in life, we give ourselves far too many options and as a result, we become incapacitated to make a decision. This sounded eerily familiar to the last sermon that really struck a chord with me.

This time, the analogy our minister provided was eating out. He said that people will become familiar with a restaurant and the menu, and chances are - they will order the exact same thing time and time again. They know what they are going to eat before they even get there.

YES. That would be the LARGE MOLCAJECTE. And make it snappy. Please.

So why is it then, that people cannot make a decision about the important things in life?

Like, say - where they want to live?

In life ... options are good.

too many options are bad. Which is why I firmly believe that whoever came up with the *brilliant* notion of a 30-page menu at the Cheesecake Factory needs to be strung up by their toes and smacked with a mozzarella stick.

After hearing this particularly applicable sermon, Charlie and I decided to limit our options.

We decided that unless my company relocates us - our best option is to stay where we are. The cost and headache of selling our house, moving, and establishing ourselves in a new environment are more than we want to take on, at this point in our lives.

You can imagine my surprise then, when I told my boss I was "open" to domestic relocation - he told me that there was an excellent chance he could have us in Massachusetts by September.


If only I thought that moving 3,000-miles cross-country while still on maternity leave with a newborn and 2.5-year old triplets was a fun time, I'd be all over that opportunity like white on rice. Especially if I wasn't such a chicken about pulling up stakes from a geographical location that does not have a fluctuation of more than 30-degrees in a year ... to a geographical location that can have a temperature fluctuation of 30-degrees in a day.

For now, yet again, we've decided not to move ... not to the million dollar house and not to the house across the street.

We have decided that routinely bringing a cleaning crew in every two weeks is a good decision, because if I have the option of spending a weekend cleaning our house or laying in the backyard and watching the clouds with my husband and children, I'd chose the latter. Even if it means we have to de-clutter before they get here, and they get to do all the "easy" work.

We have decided that because our kids need more organized socialization than what they are receiving at home, I opted to sign them up for two classes: a creative dance class and an arts and crafts class, that meet one day a week.

We have decided to maximize our space and reorganize our entire house and garage, from top to bottom. All of our discards will be sold at the neighborhood garage sale, or donated to charity. (We have also promised ourselves that we will repeat this process every six months.)

We have decided that financial freedom is where it's at.

We have decided to put away all of our credit cards and make every attempt to pay for things with cash. Going through the process of scrutinizing our finances to see what we could afford in a new home, was a real eye-opener for how much money we were spending on things that we don't use (i.e. a gym that I haven't attended in nine months). Because our perhaps "lofty goal" is to own our home (whatever and wherever that home might be), outright, before our children graduate from high school, we are buckling down hard - now.

We have decided that if we need to do work in the evening, after our children are put to bed, that is something we will do - so that we can have time during the day to do something for ourselves ... like go to the gym.

I have decided that my new pair of Keen shoes that I purchased this weekend, are the most comfortable things I've ever had on my feet - and I hope that my feet don't shrink after this pregnancy - because then my new favorite shoes would be too big. (I think it's very odd that they are flagged "Waterproof" what with the gaping holes all around the footbed.) If that were to happen, I would opt to give my new shoes to my mother - and I'm certain she would think that they are the most comfortable things she's ever had on her feet. Even if she'd also thought that they were ugly. Which, I'm pretty sure she would.

All told, I'm feeling a lot better now than I was a few weeks ago.

I attribute the improvement in my overall "health" to having our house and garage cleaned and organized, buying a new pair of shoes which I feel comfortable walking in (while I do fast laps around our house), successfully completing our first entire month of "cash-only" living ... and most importantly, returning to church to receive a huge helping of soul food each and every week.

Charlie and I have come to terms with the fact that there are those things we can control - and those things we cannot. We can control our finances. We can control calling in people to help us when we need it. We can control making time for ourselves - eating right, exercising - and going to church.

There's no doubt - with four children under the age of three - we'll have our work cut out for us for the next several years. But, these times - the magical joy and the sometimes uncontrollable chaos - will one day be a distant memory. So we have opted to write this chapter in our lives as a time when we were happy as opposed to constantly overwhelmed.

Although, I have told Charlie that if he ever comes home again with a 1/2 gallon of SUGAR FREE lime sherbert, because he thought that eliminating peanut butter ice cream from my diet, might help improve my self-image ... the only option I will have available is to string him up by his toes and smack him with a mozzarella stick.

(Which I will then eat, because I love mozzarella sticks.)


  1. Yay for this post Jenna!
    You sound like you have made some good decisions, and you are right that financial freedom is the way to go. Great on returning to church too.
    Yay on the 2 weekly cleaner! Double yay on some activities for the kids.
    I am a regular reader (who still can't work out how to get a profile) and I am SO with you on the tiredness of advanced pregnancy and running around after kids (only 2 in my case), and the rush rush of work on top of all that- though I have just started maternity leave this week!
    So glad that you have come to some decisions. I have one thought from your last post- could you and Charlie move into the room without the door and "give" your bedroom to the kids? Just a thought.
    I really hope you can keep the blog up once the new baby arrives- I love reading what you are up to, and I actually think I complain just a bit less when I read about your hectic but blessed life.
    Your #1 Aussie fan

  2. YEAH! Peace of mind at last! Nothing like it. Now here's to the rest of your pregnancy in peace and harmony!

    Love ya,

  3. Yeah! So glad that you are able to return to church- we to have had to "isolate" our son and it has made used to be simple things like going to church so much more difficult- 2 weeks ago at 14 months was the first time we put him in the nursery( he was low birth weight with mult birth anomales-a few of which affected his airway and breathing) Needless to say we are still a little leary, but, think its time....I hope the kids transition a little easier for you guys:)

    Great job with the finances as well!!! ( why is it sooo hard??:))


  4. Yeah! I'm so happy for you guys! We're glad that you've got it all figured out! When are we going to see you guys? We've got 2 pack n' plays for your garage sale... LOL!
    --Lorie (a former Geologist - YIPPPEEE!)

  5. Help is on the way. Jim and I can come and we are thinking of buying out tickets soon. Now, will you put a ad in the church bulletin looking for a spcae for us so we will not be underfoot.

  6. I'm a little behind reading and commenting, but THIS is a fabulous post and a fabulous plan on your part (in my humble opinion)...You go!!!

    "Don't give up what you want MOST for what you want NOW." Hard to live, but it leads to so many blessings and realized dreams...

    And I sure am glad you're not planning to relocate from the blogosphere any time soon. :)

  7. Oh, and about church...My take on the nursery is that it's the perfect place for kids to learn: 1) That there is fun to be had, there are other kids, and there are other adults in this world that will care for you; and 2) That mom and dad always, always come back for you - some of the sweetest moments I've had with my boys is their delight and snuggles when I return and ask them about what they've been doing. I look at it as a way for them to build trust and security. :) And never underestimate YOUR need to have a little peaceful spiritual uplift, even when you have to leave them crying at first.

  8. I have to tell you that when we had our triplets one of the best gifts we were given was a cleaning service every two weeks for over a year! We still have a cleaning person come to our house and it helps take a lot of pressure off of us so we can be in the backyard and watching the clouds!
    It sounds like everything is coming together for you! Congrats. Now try and get some rest.

  9. Hi Jen, I haven't replied in awhile but I've been keeping up with your ongoing struggles. I'm SO glad to hear that you have made peace with your current situation. It makes all the difference in the world!

    Please try to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy! We need to see some pictures of you pregnant!!

    Your 3 little angels are still absolutely adorable! They seem to be healthy and happy and very adventurous. They'll eventually get used to the church nursery. I've been taking a break from the nursery also...going on about a year and a half now....ha ha. Maybe you will encourage me to get back too!

    Take care.

  10. Jen,

    Your post is really all about keeping it real - sometimes we have to just GET OFF this roller coaster of (crazy parenting) life and take stock. It's not easy to do, especially when we see things which need cleaning/doing, kids who need our attention, and a life filled with options too many to count. It's definetly good for the soul, on so many levels. Kinda like an emotional spring clean.

    YAY YOU - and Charlie, and kids, and yet-to-be-born peanut! :) In six months when everything is feeling horrid, re-read this post, and get yourself to mentally 'spring clean' again. :)

    ...and I'm fighting Rebecca for the #1 Aussie fan title. :)


  11. ahhhhhh, like a breath of fresh air!!!

    I love how you and Charlie find a way to make your lives better and better (amidst the chaos).

    May you have this feeling of peace more and more.