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Lately, in random bullet points

March 15, 2017

It’s full-blown spring here today. Blossoms about to pop into bloom, temperatures creeping up past the mid 70s, and so much wind. A month from now we’ll be buried in 22 inches of snow, I predict, so I try to keep my expectations low this time of year, because for every margarita-on-the-patio kind of afternoon Denver hands out in March, she predictably levies a devastating penalty in the form of spring blizzards come April and May. And sometimes (gulp) June.

But, it’s lovely. It’s lovely to be able to kick the kids outside after school, and to run around with them barefoot with a soccer ball. And oh, speaking of backyards, here’s a little glimpse of our new one:

Let them dissect my broken blowdryer. Very STEM.

That’s right, we moved. #again. It’s a temporary stint in a town north of Denver, in the home of some friends who are living oversees right now, whilst our pristine, staged and mostly packed home sits on the market (hopefully not for much longer, c’mon St. Joseph!) and we search for a new one.

The short version of the “why in the name of all that is good and reasonable would you move twice in 7 months with 4 children” is that our house, a fixer upper if ever the term were applicable, has been fixed. To the level of our competence, and then some. About 2 months ago, after a major construction project in the basement necessitating lots of professionals and lot$$$s of drywall and electrical work, we kinda threw our hands up and were like, um, what are we doing?

We are not handy people. Painting, laying flooring, some light caulking? Sure. We can handle that. But when walls started having to come down, it turned out we’d gotten in over our heads. Happily for us, the market is white hot here in the Denver metro area, and so when we finished up the last bit of work in the basement in February, we made the call to list it, because hey, we don’t love it. And we didn’t relish the notion of spending the next 4 years of weekends at Home Depot. We have had so much peace (after the initial “wth are we actually thinking about doing this???), and it was very providential the way the dominos all fell, including having this amazing home to stay in while we sell it, thanks to the generous hospitality of friends.

So, this whole situation may seem a little crazy to some people, but we’re okay with that. We’ve done plenty of things in the short 7.5 years we’ve been married that have been conventionally crazy. We figured, why stay in a house that doesn’t work for our family while we’re in the business of raising that family? We’d rather get into something smaller, if necessary, if it means we can have our nights and weekends back and can actually spend time together when we’re home. The house was less than ideal before the cascade of interventions, and so this time, we’ll look smarter at things that really do matter with a larger family, like a sleepy street with less traffic, a more suburban location, and a better floorpan that allows for common areas where the 6 of us (plus our large extended families) can gather.

Come on, St. Joseph. You’ve got 5 more days.

Looks good without people living there, doesn’t it?

*

There are some bonuses about this extended staycation situation we’ve entered into, including living in a totally different part of our area that we’d never spend time in otherwise (new parks, friends we don’t usually see, a new parish) and it’s interesting and fun and inconvenient all rolled into one. It has been fun to see familiar faces we only get to see at holiday events or big parties, and it is interesting to see life in a different parish, and to feel both welcomed and totally, totally off our game because our kids are struggling with the layout/lack of grandparent support/different Mass times. It’s given me a deep appreciation for how wonderful our parish really is, and how much of it we take for granted. Also? The drive. OMG THE DRIVING. We didn’t pull the kids out of school because we knew the commute was possible (the family whose home we’re borrowing were also students in our school) but hot damn, going from a leisurely 7 am wakeup and out-the-door-with-daddy by 7:40 am to reveille at still-dark thirty and a frantic scrambling of eggs, cinching of belts, making of lunches and slurping of espressos – and all before 7 am – has been shocking. I know that most grown ups live this way. I just never wanted to be one of them.

“Let’s all go grocery shopping in the snow at 4 pm, it’ll be great!”

My Lenten practice has been to get up early and pray before the kids, which means something starting with a 5. This is not a happy reality for me, but surprisingly, my internal clock has adjusted and I have been waking up on my own around 5:40 most mornings. I have to go to be no later than 10 now, but I should be doing that anyway because, adulthood. It’s been a good practice in self discipline, which I sorely lack. But boy, by 7pm every night, I am d.o.n.e. with parenting, dishes, mopping, answering emails, all of it. So the standards of cleanliness are relaxing, and my need to sit and chill with the kids at night is taking precedence over the need to shine that empty sink or get one more hour or writing squeezed in.

Probably it’s a better way to live. But it has been hard. It’s like I was still coasting on the fumes of survival mode mothering and now I’ve been thrust into the bigger-leagues of “you no longer have any free time during the day unless you guard that 45 minutes of quiet time like a prison sergeant,” because without predictable nap times (hello, crazy school pickup commute and car naps) and without my beloved mother’s helper who is now a good 45 minutes south of us, I’ve been boots on the ground in it in a way I have become unaccustomed to. In some ways it reminds me of our year in Rome, minus the good coffee, the beautiful churches, and the astonishing loneliness. I guess it just reminds me of having to be more self-sufficient and learning to navigate a strange new place (but still, Target. And a mini van.) and not being able to call a friend or sister 5 minutes down the road for some back up babysitting or a quick La Croix.

And, speaking of La Croix. I have a problem.

*

 

Next week I’ll be doing a live teaching event for Blessed is She and I’m kind of nervous. I’ve got plenty of speaking experience under my belt from various mom’s groups, conferences, and retreats I’ve participated in over the years, but for some reason doing it remotely behind a computer screen has me a little more jittery. I mean, I don’t love public speaking to begin with, but I can do it. And afterwards there’s inevitably the huge smile and endorphin rush “I can’t believe I did that!” Anyway, if you want to follow along, you can resister here (and with a Blessed is She membership you have access to all this content, which is so good. I’ve listened to a couple amazing talks this month while I’ve been preparing mine – this one is especially good) and tune in next Wednesday night, 3/22, at 9 pm EST for “Grocery Store Evangelization: engaging in the missionary apostolate of your ordinary life”

*

I’ve spent the past year and some change experimenting with various dietary restrictions, having blood work and hormone levels checked, and adding different combinations of supplements to the mix. It seems like I might have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (I have been hypothyroid since my teens, and on thyroid meds) which is an autoimmune thyroid disease, and is a little overwhelming in terms of the lifestyle changes it demands, but, happily, for lots of people, it can be treated really effectively that way.

I’ve been gluten free for about a year (minus the inevitable gluten exposure from restaurant eating) and it has helped a lot, and now it seems that cutting out dairy is the next step. Which is …. uggggggggh. Just ugh. I love cheese and ranch. But not so much that I want to keep feeling like crap.

So, gosh, that aspirational stuff about God choosing your Lent and all that. Yes. (Did I mention that wine seems to be a terrible culprit too. 5 months off the mommy juice now, and missing it still.) Tequila and vodka seem to be tolerable, in small and occasional amounts, but I’m getting to be a really, really lame happy hour buddy. I have some girlfriends who are also exploring health problems right now and the persistent joke among us has been “welcome to your 30s, when everything falls apart.”

 

I’ve also crashed and burned with THM and have been trying to reincorporate the most helpful pieces of it (namely, the stable blood sugar levels that it delivers) but haven’t been following it religiously by any means. And that’s starting to show up on the scale. Or it’s stress that is showing up. But regardless, trying to get back in the habit of balancing out my meals with protein and separating fats and carbs by several hours. It really does help prevent crashy afternoon syndrome, and I still have about 18 stubborn “baby” (read: cool ranch dorito) pounds to shed.

#paleo

Anything else missing from this novella? Oh, yes, I’m back on Instagram. It’s much more addictive than I remember, so I’m trying to only use it certain days of the week, and to resist the pull of the stoplight/carline scroll. It’s hard!

Finally, any good reading recommendations that don’t involve World War II? I’m a little burnt out on the genre after a slew of fantastic reads, and I’d like to get into some other fiction. Currently reading THM (again), this fantastic book Ignatius sent me to review, and something about some guy in Moscow that Kindle recommended to me that I do not love, at least not enough to recall the title.

Happy hump day, may yours be filled with daffodils and spicy water.

19 Comments

  • Reply Hannah Brockhaus March 15, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Jenny, I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and am completely gluten free, dairy free, and…well, not wine free. But I try to limit it. All while living in Italy. (Although let’s be real, Italy is not bad at the whole GF lifestyle).

    Anyway, all that’s to say:
    a) I feel your pain and
    b) You can do it!

    • Reply Cami March 18, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      In case it’s helpful:

      http://mariamindbodyhealth.com/thyroid-madness/

      I’ve had family members going on keto genic eating and they are healing thyroid, diabetes, and even cancer with it. Some hospitals (Wake Forest & Hopkins, I think) are using this diet for patients as well.

    • Reply Sarah March 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      thesmartblondesguide.wordpress.com I’d love to share my Catholic blog if I could. I am enjoying reading your posts!

  • Reply Jamie March 15, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I just got diagnosed with hypothyroid/hashis a couple of weeks ago and trying to make the dietary adjustments. Ugh. So hard! I started a whole 30 on ash wednesday, but cheated on monday (for a VERY good reason..still) and the fatigue hit me like a truck. So I guess the changes are helping. Still. Ugh.

  • Reply Ashley March 15, 2017 at 11:20 am

    “welcome to your 30s, when everything falls apart.” YES! I say all the time that no one told me it was all downhill after 30, hah! I developed a dairy sensitivity after the birth of #6 and have been so grouchy about it, but it’s worth not feeling nauseous all the time. Still so hard!

    • Reply Caroline March 15, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Wait till you hit 45! That’s when the slide gets a lot faster!😲

  • Reply Kathleen March 15, 2017 at 11:33 am

    I feel your pain about cheese. Been GF for a long time but giving up Dairy seems really hard. But I think it’s the next step. I am currently reading a book called “the case against sugar.” Such an inflammatory food but so good especially in cocktails and dark chocolate!

  • Reply DJL March 15, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Ha! If think everything falls apart in your 30s, just wait for your 40s! Sorry, I shouldn’t be so gleeful about it but seriously, BRACE YO’SELF.
    Good luck with your house-hunting and God bless.
    Dana

  • Reply Ceciia March 15, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Jenny,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now. You are an amazing, wise Catholic woman, wife and mother. I know I didn’t cope as well when my kids were little. You and your beautiful family are in my prayers.

  • Reply Nancy S. March 15, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Although my family-raising days are way behind me, I so enjoy your writings, and I love that your faith shines through in all of them. Bless you. You asked for reading recommendations. I have a few of which you may already be aware. The first is The Wilderness Series by Sara Donati. I like the series for itself but when I discovered that a main character encountered the Grey Nuns in Canada, I was over the moon that an author actually worked that blessed Order into the story. (I was taught by the US branch, K through college). The second series should be known to everyone now, since the first two books have been made into a mini-series on Starz, with more to come, thankfully. It is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. While book one starts out at the end of WW II, it very quickly goes to the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland 200 years earlier. I would never part with this series. It was actually Diana who recommended The Wilderness series during an extremely long stretch without a new book from her. I also love to read historical romances. My daughter chides me no end over the “bosom-heaving trash” but I love the era, and reading about the castles, manor houses, manner of clothing, the foods they ate, etc. I also greatly enjoy light culinary mysteries such as those of Joanne Fluke and Diane Mott Davidson. Another somewhat in that genre is Tamar Meyers who writes hysterical Mennonite mysteries. I have also enjoyed the books by Philippa Gregory aboit early Britain and Morgan Llewellyn’s wonderful stories about Ireland. For really meaty reading, besides the Outlander series, I turn to Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta novels. Happy reading.

  • Reply Ana March 15, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    I just finished reading Devil in the White City… loved reading about Chicago and its world fair circa 1890’s

  • Reply Lisa March 15, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Have you tried the Late July Dude Ranch flavored chips? They fill my craving for Doritos and they’re “healthy” .😉
    Also, when Evie first started preschool it was 2x / week and started at 0930, and I thought getting out of the house at that time was roughing it. 😂 Now that we’ve entered reality, out the door time is 0740 but Tim takes her most mornings because he’s a saint and can deal with commuters and school buses.

  • Reply Lorna Mackie March 16, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Have you read any Camilla Lackberg novels – crime novels with heros I can identify with. Not everyone loves a crime book so I’ll not describe them too much. I love a Debbie Macomber book, although I need a good cry with every one! One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern and First of the Tudors By Joanna Hickson were good too. (Goodreads read list does come in handy!) Good luck with the house hunting – we are planning big rennovations I think, partly excited, partly dreading it, but the thought of moving makes me sad, so it wont be happening anytime soon!

  • Reply Hannah March 16, 2017 at 9:43 am

    The two books I’m recommending right now are Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (great nonfiction about elder care & dying in the US) and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (fascinating fantasy bildungsroman, crazy addictive and super long but worth it). The first literally changed the way I see the world and the second made me stay up way too late, too many nights in a row to finish it. Both hallmarks of good books!

  • Reply Danielle March 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Just finished Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman and it was SO good, but there should be a disclaimer for parents of small children. I think if I knew going in it’s a bit tough emotionally I would’ve been better prepared. Strong themes of mercy and what “true” love does throughout. A series I really like is the Inspector Gamache series, beginning with Still Life, by Louise Penny. They’re a murder mystery series that is more about living than the murder itself and looks deeply at the human condition. The third one got a bit weird but I’ve heard that they get better and better–and the weirdness didn’t get me to want to stop reading! Happy Reading 🙂

  • Reply C March 17, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Everyone has different tastes obviously, but Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series was great in my opinion!

    http://danipettrey.com/books/

  • Reply Anamaria March 17, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Books: Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz about Rome under Nero and some early Christians is great- pretty action packed and the character descriptions are fantastic. The Awakening of Miss Prim is very light-hearted and fun while still deep! Probably my highest recommendation right now.

    On stable blood sugar: just giving up white flour and added sugar really really really helps! Even without separating fats and carbs. But! I have been doing this while really upping my probiotic/fermented food game (for various reasons) and that has helped SO MUCH with the sugar craving (I have done it before without the probiotics and it’s been incredibly difficult). I am currently having a fermented food or a bit of probiotic with every meal. Just a little bit of fermented sauerkrat or pickles (bubbies brand) or yogurt. That mid-afternoon sugar craving has not been there like it normally is!

  • Reply Patty March 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I’m the same way with LaCroix too! Currently I am double fisting it at my desk, lol! 😉

  • Reply Stephanie Rodriguez March 30, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Any series by Alexander McCall Smith! So, so pleasant and enjoyable. I think you’d like the Sunday Philosphy Club series. I started with the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Read many many many of his!!! It’s easy, fun, suspenseful, pleasant, charming reading. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy.

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