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.

07 November 2016

The Contradictions

I'm back. Back to talking about the internal turbulence.

It's gotta be depression. Coming off of an antidepressant, even when you do it super gradually, results in a whole bunch of withdrawal effects and one of those is depression. The depression coming off an SSRI (an antidepressant) can actually be worse than the depression that put you on the medication! I have almost 100% of the withdrawal symptoms: dizziness, electric shock sensations (in my opinion, this one is the worst), fatigue, flu-like symptoms, headache, loss of coordination, muscle spasms, nausea, nightmares, trouble sleeping, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. The only two I don't have are tremors and vomiting.

Last week when I blogged, I'd been having a really bad day. But for some reason, I couldn't tell I was depressed. I know, it sounds crazy, but it's the truth. I had to write it all down, step away from it, hear someone else tell me flat-out "Hey, you're depressed!", and then look again with fresh eyes. Yup, totally depressed. I feel kind of silly for wandering down the spiritual path about something that I now see so clearly as a physiological thing, although it did lead me to Mother Teresa, and how on earth can that ever be a bad thing?

I don't want to be on an antidepressant long-term. I would be open to it as a last resort, but there are other avenues I want to try first. Bleh, even talking about depression is depressing.

The withdrawal symptoms are so awful and interfere with my daily life so much so that I'm definitely not going on the same medication the next time we get pregnant. It turns out Celexa is one of the hardest to stop medications, so I'll be trying something else next time around.

I also really appreciate the suggestion to try The Mood Cure. I hadn't heard of it before, but it turns out the author is pretty much a giant in the field of nutrient therapy. I read some reviews from people who really benefited from her techniques when coming off an antidepressant, plus I would love to see if it can help my anxiety and depression in my daily, non-pregnant, non-SSRI withdrawal life too. At $4.49 on Amazon after shipping, it's totally worth a shot. I'm a big fan of such therapy since I was able to cure my colon disease via diet/nutrition.

No Greater Love is an amazing, amazing book, though, and I'm really benefiting from it, especially in the motherhood department. I'm especially touched by the wisdom relating to accepting burdens with a joyful heart and not being disheartened by failure when you've tried your best. Life with a hyper-clingy infant, a two-year-old, and a special needs kindergartner often feels like one giant burden that I'm continuing to fail at, and, of course, depression, shock sensations, and dizziness hanging out in my brain makes some days feel impossible. The hope I'm gaining from Mother Teresa's wisdom is really powering me through what I recognize is obnoxious depression.

Thank you, guys, for listening to me and offering your honesty.

03 November 2016

Division of Labor

I'm taking a brief break from the heavy duty posts, but I'll be diving back in tomorrow. Writing everything down, taking a few steps away, and hearing other people's thoughts gives a girl a new perspective. I have some more thoughts that I'll totally be going over tomorrow.

So I had an interesting question a few posts back about how Matt and I divide up chores. I always find this an interesting thing to hear other couples talk about too.

Matt's regularly scheduled chores are to mow the lawn and do the finances. I actually want to mow the lawn as I enjoy it, but it's a really difficult thing to do accomplish with three kids, so Matt does it on the weekends now. He does the finances because I find it torturous and it really plays to his strengths. I'm not sure how we're going to deal with shoveling the walk this winter.

All the other chores are mine, by choice: cooking, dishes, sweeping, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. I delegate to Matt as needed, which obviously is pretty intense when I'm pregnant. I take the kids to all their doctor's appointments and stuff alone usually, but if I can schedule something for first thing in the morning or super late in the evening, I'll ask Matt to go in to work late or get home a bit early. It's a lot easier to just lug Eleanor and Theodore now that Abigail is in school, though. I rarely take the kids to my appointments, though, and if I can't get something at a convenient time for Matt to take off work, I'll have Grandma or a babysitter watch the kids. I can't exactly get my teeth cleaned or my stress fracture addressed if I'm holding Theodore, and Lord knows that boy will not sit quietly in a stroller in an exam room.

How we split up kid duty at home changes often. Right now Matt is working a ton, so during the week, I usually handle dinner and bedtime alone, although one day per week I go to Zumba and Matt finishes up dinner and does bedtime alone.

Lately Matt has had to put in a few hours on the weekend, so he'll go in to the office or lock himself up downstairs Saturday morning. The rest of the weekend, we takes turns throughout the day, so each of us can get a few other things done. This basically means that one of us has primary responsibility (the one who changes the diapers, reads the books, carries the grouch Theodore) and the other one only jumps in as needed, although I'm always in charge of meals. Some days we really explicitly spell out who will be doing what and when, but other days we just jive and things work out without discussion.

Matt has offered to help out more at home, but I don't want him to. I'm home all day and being "a good domestic" plays to my strengths. When he's home and doesn't have to work, I really want it to be family time, not "Matt catches up on chores" time. Obviously I'm not saying anyone else's way of doing anything is wrong. This is just what works best for us right now. In fact, when Matt wants to take a little pressure off my shoulders, I would way rather have him take the kids or bring home a pizza than unload the dishwasher or make dinner.

01 November 2016

The Contradictions Inside

My mind was totally blown when I realized that being a stay-at-home mom was a particular vocation. I don't remember when exactly I heard someone talking about it, maybe a year or two ago now, but it really helped me through a lot of things I was struggling with at the time. Then just a few weeks ago, someone pointed out to me that being a stay-at-home mom is also much like being a nun - we are "cloistered" away in our homes - no ability to go out into the streets to volunteer or serve, but tons of time to pray and ample opportunity to offer up little sacrifices during the daily routines. I take great comfort in this truth. That I have the ability to live a life of service to the Lord right here through my family.

Even though everything in my life is going very well right now, I am still struggling. Everything is totally fine, yet I feel like everything is falling apart. It's so bizarre and I don't even have the words to explain my discontent, my depression, my frustration. I don't know why the frustration is there, and I don't know how to ease it. I have no deep and blinding insights. I only have the knowledge that sometimes you are doing everything just fine and it is still hard.

It's like a movie scene: a car is driving down the street on a beautiful sunny day when suddenly it smashes into a telephone pole. The windshield explodes in shards of glass, the airbag bursts open, sending up plumes of dust and chemicals; the driver heads lurches forward, the seatbelt locks in place as the driver's body continues moving forward, every blood vessel along the seatbelt - from the shoulder, diagonal across the chest, above the heart - burst spilling blood beneath the skin, pooling up in deep black bruises. And then the scene snaps away and the car is still driving down the same pretty street on the same sunny day - nothing happened, the crash was all in the driver's head. She imagined it.

That is the best way I can describe my mind and my life right now. I'm loosing my fucking mind even though everything is totally and completely fine.

And so I have these two puzzle pieces. 1. I am living my vocation; 2. Within my heart, I feel both God's peace and a black hole. I know they go together, but I don't know how. 

I also can't explain it, but I feel very strongly that I need to read about Saint Mother Theresa. I remember hearing a long time ago that she very much struggled with depression. I could be misremembering, I guess I'll find out because I went to the store about bought a copy of No Greater Love.

Maybe I am just chemically imbalanced and need to go back on an antidepressant. Maybe I am being attacked by Satan. I don't know. I don't know anything. It has taken me an entire hour to write this post, but I am so glad I did because I finally, finally found the words to describe what is going on inside. Now I just need to figure out if it's going on in my mind or in my soul.