08 December 2016

Happily Married

My husband had a meeting with one of his bosses the other day, one of those "how are you doing in achieving your goals?" check-ups, and said boss told Matt a story about how difficult the stress of private practice is/was on his marriage. 

It is really stressful, definitely more stressful than working in the public sector or being in law school. Lately Matt has been working on a huge project with a looming deadline that was just unexpectedly moved up. He has been coming home from work after the kids go down, working from home into the night, and going into the office on the weekends.

But our marriage isn't falling apart. It's really strong, actually. I want to call up his boss and have my own little meeting. "What was your goal in telling him that story? If he isn't willing to sacrifice his marriage he shouldn't be in private practice? Were you trying warn him of the dangers without offering any advice? Do you really want an office full of overworked, divorced assholes? Do you think if you supported your employees' families, you would have a team of people who are dedicated and loyal to the firm?"

We got married young and we had a baby in law school and my husband works 10-12 hour days and Matt has never spent the night on the couch. We've never been close to divorce. We resolve our arguments like respectful adults. For 8.5 years, we've been a really strong couple. The boss' story falls on deaf, happily married ears.

01 December 2016

Fertility, a blessing and a burden

Sometimes I have nightmares that I'm pregnant. But even on my darkest of days, even though I sometimes joke, I don't really want to be done having kids.

Physically, I need a break. I had a miscarriage in 2013, Eleanor in 2014, and Theodore in 2015. My body and my hormones need a break. And the toll that postpartum depression takes can be debilitating. Add in daily life: three kids in diapers, three kids who can't put on their own shirts, three kids who have trouble scooping up rice with a fork. It's exhausting. If I added a pregnant belly and then a newborn into the mix, I think I'd have a nervous breakdown. Sometimes I get really mad at the Catholic Church's stance on contraception. I furiously search Google trying to find some authoritative source somewhere that says that I am in serious enough straits to warrant something else. I never find it, instead usually stumbling upon something more uplifting. Somehow God always gives me the strength to persevere. We're doing a "belt and suspenders" method: mucus + cervix + the Clear Blue Fertility monitor. Theodore is now 12 months old and we are definitely not pregnant.

But I don't want to be done yet either. I don't want Theodore's first word to be my last first word; his first steps to be my last first steps. I'm not ready to sell the bassinet and part with the newborn clothes. I used to want to be a young mom, done having kids by my early 30s, but then I read a really interesting article about the benefits of having a family that spans a wider age range, and now I'm thinking maybe I want Eleanor and Theodore to be teenagers with little siblings at home and it be cool for my future babies to have older siblings as role models. A lot of lessons in love and compassion there. A lot of wisdom and responsibility to be taught. I need to carry more little newborns around in my carriers, milky breath and sleepy eyes.

But first I need Eleanor to be able to contribute a bit more. I need someone who can feed the dog, take the trash out, sweep under the table after dinner. Someone who can brush her own teeth and wash her own hands. I need Theodore where Eleanor is now: mostly listens to my commands, is able to fetch his own coat and shoes, can take his own plate to the sink. I don't know where Abigail is going to be. I think it'd be great if we could make it through 2017 without getting pregnant. Then for our 10th anniversary in April of 2018, maybe Matt and I can go away. A little all inclusive vacation package somewhere really fun, like Hawaii. Theodore will be 2.5, maybe he will even be potty trained? Or close? We'll leave all three kids with relatives for a few days. Then we'll try again. I'll be 31, that's not too old.

Anyway, I leave this out there for any other Catholic moms struggling with church teaching, finding it hard to keep going at times, contemplating the possibility of sitting in the pews instead of going up for communion. We can make it. I can make it. You can make it. We'll preserve.

30 November 2016

Buy and Purge

I am watching myself collect stuff. "Could you use this?" my 89-year-old grandmother asks me as she passes me a kitchen gadget that is older than I am. "Do you want our old Christmas decorations?" my mom asks as she lugs an old blue tote through the front door. "I got this in the white elephant gift exchange at work," Matt says as he hands me a Pepto Bismol pink cupcake maker with a broken handle. I take all of it, I find a place for it in my spacious closets, my full-size basement, the built-in cabinets in the hallway. It all fits in my spacious house and so now, after 7 years of various apartments in 3 states, I can finally keep it.

I think the squirreling away of stuff is inherent in human nature. I see it in two-and-a-half-year-old Eleanor who desires every Sophia figurine she sees and keeps them safely tucked away in her bright orange trick-or-treating pumpkin. I even see it in 12-month-old Theodore who speed-crawls to the bouncy ball that fits perfectly in his hand, his lovingly scattered pile of blocks, the Little People puppy with the red fire helmet, and his favorite bedtime board book. And so it continues into adulthood: I am free to nest away: I save the old, flat pillows so I have something to offer when snowstorms hit and people crash at our place. I take the crock pot that is older than me "but still works just fine!" so that I'll be able to make a vegetable and mac n' cheese at Christmas. I buy the mixing bowls on the Black Friday sale because I want to be able to start in on the chai bundt cake without having to do the blueberry bundt's dishes. I gaze happily at my match up shampoo stash and know that if the government collapsed or the zombie apocalypse hit, we would have clean hair.

But there is another side of me too, the quirk of my personality, the nurture meeting the nature. There is a part of me that desires minimalism and open space. A part of me is crushed by the overwhelming presence of too much stuff. And so I rampage through my closet and toss out everything I haven't worn recently. I dig through the wash cloth and old towel pile and throw away everything with a hole in it because rags never clean as well as paper towels. I go through the kid toys and donate the things no one has ever really liked. Even as I stock-pile clearance sheets, I allow no extra furniture in the dining room. I insist on no hall tables in the hallway. Open spaces, visible corners.

I marvel that we insist on buying and collecting things even as we don't need them and do need the money. We have 26 little Sofia figurines, yet we still want the mermaid set. Even with a cabinet choked full of yarn, I still squeal at a sale. I stock up on the good brownie mix when it goes on sale even though I don't need the calories, don't have the pantry space, know that it would be healthier to make my own mix, and want to save the money. Even as I secretly wish that a tornado would wipe out half the clutter that is building in my basement, I find myself squirreling things away. Such strange creatures we are.

28 November 2016

Quiet and (a little bit of) Peace

Her story went something like this: She was taking on too much, her schedule was jam-packed, and so God let her get sick, and so she was made to give up all her tasks and spend the week in bed.

I'd never thought of it that way before. And it fits in well with my God-designed-science philosophy: when we take on too much and become stressed, our immune systems are weaker, and we are thus more likely to be laid flat by a few germs. And God designed that too, so whether He smitted her with a green ooze while she slept or via ragged good intestinal bacteria, she was down for the count, with nothing left to do but rest and ponder God.

And so God (directly or indirectly) smitted me with inflammed vocal cords that have reduced my voice to a pathetic whisper and suddenly, not of my on volition, I am the type of mother who does not yell at her children.

And while the cat frolics on the counter and the dog pretends she doesn't know what my firmly pointing finger could possibly mean, I have learned that I don't always need to yell at my children, or even speak firmly to them, in order to get them to listen to me. A whisper from across the table yields the same results as a loud, angry command. "Use your spoon." "Don't feed Roxy Cheerios." "Stop taking Theodore's cup away from him." Still, no one used their spoon, Roxy binged on Cheerios, and Theodore screamed his brains out at Eleanor's retreating fingers clutching his big boy cup in a greedy death-grip.

I kid.

Sort of, but you get where I'm going with this.

I got Eleanor to stopped throwing the counting jungle animals and pick them all up without yelling. I stopped Theodore from tumbling down the stairs with a terrified whisper just as effectively as I did with a terrified shout. I couldn't scream angrily when Abigail locked me out of the house when I let Roxy out. My life is bumbling along as exactly the same speed whether I yell or whisper. And so I wish to stop yelling. Yelling makes me angry and bitter and petty. I don't like how I feel at the end of the day when I yelled all through it. And while I always meant to try to stop, being absolutely forced to quiet the volume has been quite an eye-opener.

16 November 2016

Updates and Housekeeping

I started an Instagram! You can follow me at Instagram.com/jak425, or check out the widget on the right side of your screen, the pictures will update as I update my Instagram. It's really just for my crafting endeavors, maybe even just my yarn crafting. I'm really just creating my own yarn archives so I can ogle them. I started about three weeks ago and I try to update once a day. Sometimes I post what I'm currently working on, sometimes it's a project I've already completed.

A photo posted by Jacqueline Kuschel (@jak425) on

I also want to plug my sister-in-law's new Etsy shop: Little Saints Chewelry. She sells the usual stuff, like pacifier clips and little toys, but she mainly focuses on teething Rosaries. She makes them all by hand - they're beautiful and made with FDA approved, food-grade silicone. If you're looking for a Christmas gift for a new little, I recommend checking out her shop.

This is one of my favorites.
Captain America's Rosary
Photo Dump! Okay, I'm out of words for today, so I'm just going to post a few pictures that were on my phone here. Sorry for the lack of gracefully flowing prose today.

My $25 garage sale find.

When you buy your house with Remax and your agent is a hot air balloon pilot, you might get a gift certificate for a hot air balloon ride.

It was so awesome. Yes, I was scared, and yes, I don't really love heights, but I was not going to let fear keep me from this possible once-in-a-lifetime experience. Totally worth it.

I was, however, too scared to look straight down, so I held my phone out and took a picture looking straight down and waited till I was on solid ground to look at it.