Domesticated Happenings

Friends, there are always as many as three blog posts being written on the computer, as well as 7,000 being written in my head.  That is how my brain just functions.

Sometimes I get around to writing these fantastic blog posts I have in mind, but most of the time, these posts end up in the graveyard of dead and lost ideas.

Yes.  I have one of those.  It looks very similar to the elephant graveyard a la The Lion King.

Since a few things have been happening around here that I haven’t mentioned, this will be a hodge podge blog post.  A few of these things I will elaborate on more in future blog posts, but others will just have this small cameo appearance.

First, we have finally settled into our new rental home.  It felt like it took forever for me to get all of the boxes unpacked and to get everything where I would like it.  Because we didn’t move with very much furniture, we had to collect some new-to-us furniture.  There was a one month season where we had a free but very smelly couch.  The day I decided the smelly couch needed to go into a burn pile, friends of ours gifted us their old couch because they were buying a new one.

(Side note here:  The entire time we had said smelly couch, I would walk past it singing “Smelly Couch” to the tune of “Smelly Cat”, the tune written by the beloved Phoebe of the television show Friends.  My girls wondered how I made up such a clever tune about our unfortunately odorous couch.)

Our neighbors’ boss (yes, that possession is correct; both of them work for the same person) gave us his old dining set.  This was an unexpected blessing since we had never met this man before, and we really needed a larger table to accommodate any potential dinner guests.

I finally straightened up the office today, as well.  Our office/playroom is characteristically a dumping ground.  Even in Virginia, if the office was cleaned, I must have had some serious free time that day, or I was having company.  It’s nice to not have visual clutter staring me down each and every time I sit down to check e-mail or blog.

Our trusty old SUV is no longer safe to drive due to some rust issues and a non-functioning master cylinder.  Rather than repairing the car (which would probably cost more than the vehicle itself is worth), we looked into selling it to someone who would be able to repair and enjoy it.  In the meantime we had three children, all with car seats, in the back of our commuter car, a 2-door coupe.

I will mention here that we learned a valuable lesson through this experience:  Most car seats are very safe, but it is the most expensive car seats that are narrow and allow you to put multiple children in one row of a vehicle.  We did not consider this when we originally purchased car seats for the kids.  Oh boy.

After a few weeks of hauling a family of five in a scionTC, we grew tired of the “clown car” feel.  We scoured the internet for minivans that fit a few very specific criteria that my husband was not willing to budge on.  Fortunately for me, the search led us to a van in Illinois, just a few hours south of us.  Off my husband went one day last week to rescue me from having to squeeze my adult-self in the back seat of a 2-door coupe to buckle in my three children.

Our new van is a Honda Odyssey (surprise), and although it isn’t new, it is new to us.  It has some things that our family could really benefit from, like leather seats (ever taken crayons on long car rides??) and a low, deep trunk (for those of us who might be vertically challenged).  I had dreaded this stage of motherhood:  the acquisition of a “mom van”, but now that I’ve sat in the driver seat, the idea of a mini-van is growing on me.  It certainly is much more convenient than I had previously anticipated.

In light of purchasing a new vehicle, the Beard and I took a long, hard look at our finances.  Although we had taken Financial Peace University (a Dave Ramsey financial planning course), we had fallen off the bandwagon somewhere along the way.  We had, at one point, been throwing lots of money towards our student loan debt, but as of late, our zeal had waned.  Adding a car payment to our budget gave us a reality check, and we have decided to put all of our financial efforts into paying off debt before anything else.  Before buying another house.  Before buying another anything that is not absolutely necessary, in fact.

And finally, friends, I am working on taking my job at home more seriously.  As it happens, every year or so I go through phases where I feel like my work at home, raising babies, cooking, cleaning, etc. is just not “real work”.  I can feel a bit unaccomplished.  Of course this cycles downward quickly, and I find myself in pajama pants at 2:00 PM.  In order to circumvent this cycle, I intend to value and put effort into my work at home, both in order to find satisfaction in it, and to do it to the best of my ability.

That is all for this holiday weekend.  I hope you all enjoy some hot dogs, fireworks, and a toasted marshmallow or two!

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s House.

Exodus 20:17.

These words written almost 3500 years ago by a painfully shy and not-so-well-spoken servant of God have been ringing in my ears recently.

Let me explain.

When my husband and I decided to move from our last rental house so we would have room for a baby Madeline, we looked into both renting and buying options.  We hadn’t been married very long and were still (and are still :-/) paying off some student loans, so we really didn’t have any down payment saved up.

Being my traditional, we-need-to-do-things-the-“right”-way self, I spoke up and said we should just rent for a while longer.  Ryan, on the other hand, had heard that in rural areas, one could buy a home with little to no money down; this, he told me, would be a better option.  He reasoned that at least the money we spent on housing each month would actually be going towards a purchase, rather than just rent.

And now I can see that he was right, but at the time, I fought his decision a bit.  Mainly because without a down payment, our price range for a home was fairly small.  Sure we could buy something liveable and with enough room for us and a little one, but I had grand plans.  I wanted a family room and a living room, a fireplace (or two!), multiple bathrooms, and a classy looking porch.  And even more.

Our home, is not so grand.  It is modest at a little over 1000 sq feet, and it has a very simple layout.  There are no fireplaces, and there really isn’t too much quirkiness or character to the home at all.

Friends and family members around our age/life stage are beginning to buy homes, and it has seemed that everyone’s house has so much quirk and character.  I’ll admit, I have been very jealous.

Not to mention that it seems as though when our friends have bought homes, they have quickly painted and decorated, making their houses homes almost immediately after buying them.

We have been in our house over a year and a half now, and I still haven’t even finished painting our hallway.  In fact, I finished a can of paint about 3/4 of the way down the hallway.  So it just looks a bit ghetto.

And it has looked ghetto for the last, oh, 8 months.

Since the new year, I have gotten very annoyed with myself over the state of our home.

Please don’t misinterpret me, here.  Our house is fairly neat-ish, most of the time, and it is usually clean.  I just really haven’t been able to make it very homey.  Each time I went to a friend’s house and they had decorated nicely I would feel down about my own skills

These feelings culminated a few weeks ago.  We were driving home from a very artsy friend’s house, and I honestly broke into tears explaining to my husband how inadequate I felt that I couldn’t create a home like my friend could.  He tried to comfort me as best he could, but I knew my husband just couldn’t understand my distress.  What he kept reminding me was that there were so many other things I excel at, and so what this wasn’t one of them?

And then it really hit me.  Although I thought I had been coveting other women’s homes, I wasn’t.  Instead I was coveting their skills.  I coveted their eye for color or their ability to pick out and coordinate fabrics and furniture in their home.  I coveted their ability to work within a budget to make their home a comfortable place for their family.

I simply don’t excel at those things.  But like Ryan said, so what?  God has given me other gifts.  I can bake a mean loaf of bread, and I can memorize almost any number I see, including license plates and social security numbers.

I am essentially my own Rolodex. 😉

So, readers, I wrote this long post just to say that I have surrendered to that fact.  I simply don’t have the artistic ability to make my home look like a picture-perfect magazine house.  Instead, I am striving to not only discover what it is I like, but how to incorporate it in our home within a budget.

No longer will I worry and fret over what other people think when they walk into my living room.  Will they judge my color choices?  Will they think I hang weird pictures?

Who cares?

It’s our home, not theirs.  And it may be a plain Jane kind of house, but it’s my plain Jane kind of house to put my mark on.