We’re Going Home

Right now, it’s 82 degrees outside with 46% humidity. A little more humidity, and I would call it the perfect day. (Not southern humidity, mind you.)

I’m sitting with our patio door wide open, letting the apartment fill with heat, because I. Love. This. Weather. These are the days that make the long, windy winters worthwhile. These are the days making you forget what it’s like in January. These are the days we spend months longing for.

In a few hours, Hubs will come home and I’ll have long since shut the patio door and turned on the AC so everyone can stay cool and content, but for now, this is my time, and this is how I like it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was not so cool and collected. I was not so grateful or blissful, or even one ounce of happy. Continue reading “We’re Going Home”

Stop Fighting And Start Serving

I waited tables for five years, and have shared before how grateful I am for everything that experience taught me about life.

The first two years I waited tables, I loved it. LOVED it. I was ready to quit college and retire waiting tables. It was fun work for easy money and the people absolutely filled my tank. It was a honeymoon stage, if you will.

Something shifted in year three and my perspective changed to it being not enough money for hard work and the people made me want to spit. I resented it and I grew bitter and another b-word in a hurry.

Push pause on that story and work with me here. Continue reading “Stop Fighting And Start Serving”

Harlynn’s Gift To Mama

I’ve really been struggling.

I’m leaving for a business conference, and it’s a high-energy, intense 3-day event. The last day of the event is April 9th, and I leave a room of 1,000 of my new best friends to fly home on April 10th.

Which should have been our daughter’s 4th birthday.

I’ve been wrestling with this, as probably only other loss-parents might understand. And I’ve been wrestling with the fact that I’m wrestling with it.

It’s a little messy in my head with all this wrestling going on. Continue reading “Harlynn’s Gift To Mama”

Awaiting My Exodus

exodus

I am an Israelite, and I am waiting for my exodus.

In reading through the Bible, you’re eventually going to have to read through the book of Exodus. I say “have to” because it’s not one of my favorite books to read through. The intricate detail of the ephods and the temple construction and the linen threads and the cubits and the rings and the poles and oh my gosh stoppit already, Exodus. It’s painful for me to read.

Until recently. Continue reading “Awaiting My Exodus”

The Bedtime Hoops: 4 Important Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Night (Guest Post)

A few years ago, I signed up for the 31-Day Challenge: a challenge to blog every single day for 31 (consecutive!) days. Through that process, I came to know Christine. While we’ve never met in person (yet!), we have always felt connected. I’m so pleased she agreed to guest post for me and share with you on the Mind Mumbles blog. I’m honored to know her, I’m blessed to call her friend, and I’m thrilled to introduce her to you all today. I know you’ll love her as much as I do. ~ Val

The Bedtime Hoops: 4 Important Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Night

 

This post was first shared on Her View From Home (www.herviewfromhome.com )

I love my kids, but by bedtime, I’m just exhausted. At 8pm, my patience shuts off. It’s like I have some sort of glitch in my mommy code, or maybe I just missed the patience upgrade with each kid or something? Continue reading “The Bedtime Hoops: 4 Important Questions To Ask Your Kids Every Night (Guest Post)”

The Straight Paths

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5,6

I was reaching into the cupboard to grab a glass. With my hand around the mason jar (that’s what us country bumpkins use to drink from), my arm stayed stiff-straight, reaching up to the shelf.

“Stop using faith as a foxhole.”

It was a phrase I heard with my whole body. My entire mind. “Stop using faith as a foxhole.” Continue reading “The Straight Paths”

The Best Wednesday Of My Kitchen’s Life

I’m not sure what you were doing last Wednesday night at 8:45, but I was rolling around on the floor in absolute awe and amazement.

Nothing freaky-deaky. Here’s what happened…

I was working away on my computer when I thought I should grab myself a glass of water. I turned around (my “office” is in a corner of our hallway, three feet from our kitchen) and caught a glimpse of our fridge.

“UGH. That’s so disgusting.” said Ma Val.

Handprints. Watermarks. Smears. Smudges. Dirt. Filth.

We, like so many modern Americans, have stainless steel appliances. I, like many frustrated housewives, have struggled to find a way to clean it and get it mark-free without the use of chemical cleaners. Norwex and water wasn’t cutting it. Shaklee cleaner wasn’t cutting it. Spit and elbow grease (calm down, I never spit on it) wasn’t cutting it.

NOTHING COULD GET RID OF THE YUCK.

I turned to my most trusted advisor for a solution: Google.

That’s when I came across this blog post that changed my life.

“Val, don’t be so dramatic. Cleaning doesn’t change your life.” Wrong. I love you, but you’re wrong.

When there is physical mess and clutter, I suffer from tremendous mental mess and clutter. I cannot think clearly or function properly in the midst of mess. The fridge smears were so distracting, I could not even quench my thirst and get a glass of water. I had to act right then, or lose sleep.

I grabbed one of Brent’s old t-shirts from under the sink, grabbed our gigantic bottle of vinegar (Thanks, Costco), and grabbed our bottle of olive oil.

I started with the dishwasher. The dishwasher has always bothered me, as it is always streaked with water stains. I followed directions and wiped (with the “grain”) using the vinegar first. Minimal change, but it made me feel productive, at least. There was some dirt on the t-shirt, so I knew it was doing something.

Secondly, I took a tiny bit of oil and started to buff the grain.

Oh.

My.

Word.

I had a brand new dishwasher. No joke, it SHONE. I heard the angel chorus. I started hollering to Hubs. “Look at this! Look!” In his ever-enthusiastic usual reply, he uttered, “Huh.”

I scooted over to the oven and shrieked in delight as I turned it into a brand new appliance. “This is unbelievable!” I may or may not have done a celebratory dance while sitting in the middle of the kitchen.

Then, I moved on to the real test. The filthy, disgusting fridge.

You guys.

In less than 20 minutes from the time I started scrubbing on the dishwasher, I had a sparkling kitchen and there was not ONE SINGLE grimy fingerprint on my refrigerator. I spun around from appliance to appliance marveling at the sheen. The shine. The shimmer.

I got my glass of water, but not before feeling one of the most incredible senses of accomplishment in my life.

Let me be clear: cleaning the kitchen is not my favorite thing. Not even close. That said, I’m really looking forward to being able to clean my stainless steel appliances again. Granted, these aren’t ~my~ appliances, because #littleapartmentontheprairie, but won’t management be pleasantly surprised when we move out (please, Jesus, now) and they think they have brand new appliances in the kitchen we’ve used for the last way-too-long-time-period!

I know you’re chomping at the bit to try this yourself, so I’ll wrap up. But remember this: if your bit is also stainless steel, now you know how to clean it without chemicals.

God bless vinegar and oil. Great on leafy greens, better on stainless steel appliances!

What’s Cooking?

I did something I haven’t done in ages.

It’s been so long, in fact, when I started doing it again I thought I might wither and die from the stress and strain.

My head was spinning, my breathing was labored, and by the end of it all I was pretty worn out.

I created… (drumroll) …a menu.

Hubs had made a Costco run to get our first stash of food for the month, and came home with the biggest pork loin I’ve seen in my life. I’m pretty sure it came from some unknown breed of dachshund pig, for how long it was. There were other groceries as well, but they weren’t near as impressive as the giant slab of meat.

Looking at my countertop covered with fresh bounty, I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility. How could I be entirely responsible, efficient, and effective, with all this food? We’re battening down the hatches with regards to our budget, so keeping a strict reign on our groceries is imperative.

“I know,” I thought. “I’ll make a menu to get us through the next couple of weeks, working around the food we’ve got on hand.”

Brilliant! … Right?

Probably, yes. But also very time consuming. And requiring my brain to function at full-capacity at the end of the day. Brilliant, but dangerous.

I sat down and started to make a list of everything I knew we had on-hand. My initial mistake was thinking we didn’t have much. When I started making a list of all the meat we had (including a pork loin as big as Little Man), the list kept growing. And growing. And growing.

We have so much meat.

It turns out, though I’ve spoken against it for so long, I was approaching my food with a scarcity mindset. Though we had cupboards, freezers, and a fridge full of food, I always told myself we “didn’t have anything to eat”. I’d think of something I wanted to eat, we’d make another run to the store for that meal’s ingredients, and each month we were spending inordinate amounts of money on inordinate amounts of food, and all the while I was thinking we didn’t have any, didn’t have enough, or needed different foods from what we had.

I was wasting my time, wasting my family’s resources, and blowing beyond our budget.

With a list in hand of what we currently had in stock, I started writing down meals I wanted to eat and knew I could make. Before I knew it, I had 10-days worth of dinners planned out.

Since school started last August, my daily routine has been something like this: Around 3:30, I think to myself, “Oh crap. What are we going to have for dinner tonight?” I walk to the kitchen, open a cupboard, and stare. This staring lasts for several minutes. I then close the cupboard and message my husband something like, “Anything in mind for dinner tonight?” to which he rarely provides a helpful answer. By 4:00 I’m in crunch-mode to get something thrown together so we can all eat a hot meal once he gets home from work.

It’s a stressful routine. Most often, we end up having only a main dish with no sides, because I haven’t thought that far ahead in my panic to put food on the table that night.

Hubs has been suggesting for a while we go back to planning a menu, to which I always scoffed in reply. I always manage to get dinner on the table one way or another. I don’t need anyone telling me what to cook my family! Except, I absolutely need someone telling me what to cook my family.

We used to subscribe to a menu service which provided the week’s menu and the accompanying shopping list. Some meals were hits. Some were total disasters. It did save us money each month, though, only buying what we needed for the planned menus.

I had a fresh Costco haul before me, though, with half the month’s budget spent, so I needed to get creative in a hurry. It was an exhausting process, but when I was done, I felt powerful! Capable! Superhuman!

Yesterday was the first day of putting my menu to use. I had dinner ready by 9:10 a.m. God bless the crock pot. We had beef roast, carrots, potatoes, and mushroom gravy. It was delicious. It wasn’t the least bit stressful. We polished our plates in no time.

For the next several days, dinner will be so much simpler. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

When Living Simply Is Complicated

[ insert giant sigh here ]

Oh, friends.

I’ve shared a few times my love for sleep. How when I was younger, my family was afraid to rouse me from slumber, because it was like waking a bear from hibernation. Someone might die.

Then I had babies and didn’t sleep all that great for a while, but this past summer, Little Man finally started sleeping through the night! So my life was almost perfect again.

Until the wee hours of Monday morning.

A visitor decided to call on his friend around 2:30 in the morning. This visitor was carrying on lengthy conversations, and from all I could hear, it sounded like he was conversing with himself.

In the entrance of our apartment building.

If you’re wondering how I would even know someone was talking to themselves in the entrance of our building at 2:30 in the morning, I’ll let you in on a little secret: our bedroom wall is adjacent to the entrance. Because, #apartmentlife.

This visitor was out there for a long time, dropping many an f-bomb, and Mama Val was growing more and more irate. I pounded on the wall. No change. Brent went out to advise him to quiet down. It helped only barely.

The situation (allegedly) was he was supposed to be getting into someone’s apartment on 3rd floor, but the intercom was dialing straight to the person’s voicemail. Mr. Visitor was then leaving lengthy, profanity-laced threats on the voicemail message through the intercom.

Because that’s how you talk to your “Buddy” as he kept referring to him.

Folks.

If you’re trying to get into someone else’s home at 3 in the morning, and the intercom isn’t allowing their phone to ring to let you in, leave.

For nearly 90 minutes this guy left message after message on his “buddy”‘s voicemail. Let me just say, if that’s how he talks to his friends, I don’t want to know how he talks to people he doesn’t like. We called the cops; we have no idea if they ever arrived. The issue appeared to have resolved itself before any enforcement came. I was kind of looking forward to hearing a handcuffing scuffle, but no such luck.

I was preparing to go out and confront Mr. Buddy myself, but Hubs wouldn’t allow it. In my sleep-deprived state, it was most likely in the best interest of the safety of the visiting stranger.

After the great visitor debacle of 2017, I was wide awake, and so was hubs. Our day started before 3:00 a.m.

God forgive me, please, for what I’m about to say: I hate this apartment.

Our desire is, and has been, to live a simpler life. Get a home away from city limits, get our chickens and a rooster, grow our own food in the biggest garden we could manage, put my aprons to work while I can all the foods in between baking loaves of bread… The simpler life.

But it’s complicated.

It’s complicated because until we find the place that suits our needs and our budget, we’re stuck here. Stuck hearing everyone’s footsteps, conversations, f-bombs, no matter the time of day or night.

Stuck where our kids can’t just run outside and hop on their bikes, because people drive through the parking lot like it’s a Daytona track.

Stuck where I can only see to the east, and only the sliver of sky above the garage rooftops.

Stuck in a herd of people who forget they’re living with an entire herd of other people.

I adopted the #littleapartmentontheprairie tag last year in an effort to embrace our situation and make the best of it. Now… I’m so over it.

I don’t know what’s next for us. I don’t know if we’re staying local or uprooting and replanting hundreds of miles away. I’d love for there to be mountains in my near future.

All we want is the simple life.

But it’s complicated.

Yes, I’m complaining. Yes, I’m discontent. Tagging on to a conversation we had with friends this past weekend – discontent does not mean ungrateful! I’m thankful we have this place, and it has filled our needs from the time we moved in. We’re warm, we’re more organized than we were (as far as stuff and possessions go, because we’ve downsized so much), we’re on the first floor so at least the kids can run inside and not drive anyone beneath us crazy – – – we’re very grateful!

I’m not content to stay here, though. I don’t believe we were intended to rent forever, let alone in an apartment building. I don’t believe this is where God intends us to stay long-term. I believe my discontent is healthy, and motivating us to take those steps in faith to get out of here and move to where God DOES intend for us.

I only wish I knew right where that was, and it could have happened four days ago.

Deep breath. I have the aftermath of making fresh applesauce to clean up from, so I’d best get to it. I’m praying for the complicated to become clear, and for the simple to be achieved. May the #littleapartmentontheprairie tag rest in peace in our very near future.

Ma vs. Mama: A Comparison

We have a longstanding rule in our home, and for the almost-14 years we’ve been married, I believe it has helped our marriage.

But now I’m questioning the rule. And my degree of personal selfishness.

The rule is: whoever cooks dinner does not have to clean up after dinner. This translates to: Hubs does the dishes.

As I stated already, I believe it’s done a great deal in helping alleviate potential intense fellowship (read: fighting) in our marriage. For years, I was working full-time, outside of the home, cleaning the home (except for the bathroom because Hubs doesn’t like the job I do in there, and I’m okay with passing that baton…er, wand, as it were…), cooking the meals, managing our checkbook, organizing our social calendar, etc. etc.

Yesterday, as we were driving home from church, I finally verbalized a thought I’ve been having for the last few weeks. “I’m a selfish, entitled brat.”

To take our Little House on the Prairie revelations to another level, I realized there are so many things I do (and have) Ma Ingalls wouldn’t have known what to do with.

My husband works full-time, outside of the home, and I expect him to do the dishes every night because I cooked. If he doesn’t do the dishes, they don’t get done. They get stacked on the counter. EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE A MACHINE THAT WASHES THEM FOR US. If Hubs doesn’t put the dishes into the machine that washes them and turn it on, the dishes don’t get done.

Granted, we have more dishes than Ma Ingalls ever imagined having. But simply because we use more doesn’t give us credit in washing them less often. We have to push a button to clean our dishes, and I deemed myself spent in order to relieve myself of that responsibility. I mean, really.

We also have more outfits than any member of the Ingalls family could have imagined wearing, so we have the luxury of utilizing a clothes hamper to collect our dirty clothes. And collect, and collect, and collect. Until someone needs something in said hamper, and I have to put the clothes INTO A MACHINE THAT WASHES THEM FOR US.

I’ve griped for years about putting clothes away once they’re folded because (stamps foot) I don’t want to! I have never minded washing, drying, or folding clothes, but when it comes to putting them away, it’s something I only do when I absolutely have to.

Ma had to get a tub of water from the creek, use a washboard and a clothesline, and take extra care of the few clothes they had in order to make them last longer. The girls got a new dress each year if they were lucky. And I am griping about taking my clothes out of a basket and putting them into a drawer or onto a hanger.

Ma baked her own bread, made her own hominy, sewed their own clothes, homeschooled her girls when they couldn’t go to school, taught them from the Bible, cleaned her home, fed her chickens, raised her girls, and took care of her husband every day and the only buttons she had to push were the ones she sewed on to her own hand-made garments. (She also buried a son, by the way. That isn’t talked about in Laura’s books, but baby boy Charles died as an infant. As if Ma didn’t  have enough to deal with already.)

The ridiculousness of it all struck me pretty intensely the other day.

I work my share, to be sure. I have a client I work for, and I’m building my own business in addition. I help keep Harlynn’s Heart running, I co-facilitate a support group for bereaved parents, and I write for my blog, our local paper, and any freelancing I can acquire.

Granted – we live in different times. Our responsibilities are different. Our conveniences are far greater. Our demands are more and our skills are niche-based compared to 200 years ago. I know. I get it.

But still.

Hey Hubs? You’re off dishes duty. I promise I’ll fold the clothes I dumped out on our bed today, and I’ll even put them away. Dinner’s in the oven, and I’ll even try my hand with the toilet wand later if you need me to.

I will not be remembered for teaching my kids to be stubborn enough to get your way when you don’t want to do something. I refuse to be remembered for endorsing a lack of willpower to roll up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty.

I can’t expect everything to be done for me, simply because I’d rather be doing anything else. 

Thanks, Ma. I’m hiking up my big girl bloomers, and owning my Mamahood.