January 26, 2020

Can it be spring now?


Ugh, I'm glad it's almost over. It's been a super rough month! There are things I wish I could write about sometimes, but when it's something about my kids, I like to keep it private for their sake. Everything is okay!... there has just been a lot going on this month.

I wrote recently that I was wondering if I might have Seasonal Affective Disorder, because it seems that over the last few years, I've had bouts of depression in the winter months. This month has been no different. I've been super tired, unmotivated, emotional, uninterested in everything, and just plain unhappy lately.

Last month, when I asked on Facebook for blog post suggestions, one person said: "How about an honest approach to parenting, meal prep, marriage and still have your own identity. Instagram and Facebook are filled with perfect pictures of family and kids. Nobody wants to sound imperfect."

I love this. Because it's true! If you were to judge someone's life based on their social media posts, it would seem like nobody has any problems at all.

After reading that Facebook comment, it reminded me of a status post I wrote last February:

Having written this in February, I again wonder if the season had anything to do with it. I know I felt better at some point after that, but I don't remember when.

The timing of that post is actually pretty funny, because coincidentally, I literally cried at Lowe's on Friday. I was going to stop on my way home from dropping Noah off at school and pick up the materials to make new nightstands for my bedroom. I'd picked out the building plans online and had a list of the wood and cuts I would need.

Having a Jeep Renegade, there isn't exactly a lot of space to bring building materials home. Through trial and error, I've learned what sizes of things will and will not fit in my car. It's the plywood that is the toughest to work out.

Plywood is a 4-ft by 8-ft sheet. That will obviously not fit in my car, so I always have a Lowe's employee make a couple of cuts for me so I can at least get them home. Anyway, on Friday, I pulled into Lowe's and got a notepad from my purse to write down the cuts I would need.

To do this, I had to basically draw a rectangle on the notepad and try to "Tetris" all the cuts into that rectangle, with the fewest amount of actual cuts from Lowe's (I can't ask the Lowe's employees to cut out dozens of smaller pieces--I try to keep it to three cuts per sheet, just to get it home, and then I make the rest of the cuts myself).

Since I'd be making two nightstands, I had to double everything, too. This didn't help.

My mind just didn't seem to be working on Friday. I can't even tell you how many times I started over, trying to figure out how I could get the plywood cut and in the car, while keeping the pieces at the sizes that I need. I'm embarrassed to say how long I sat in the parking lot (ahem, 90 minutes!) before I just gave up.

I cried out of frustration because I couldn't figure out something that I'd done so many times before. I'm an expert at how to piece cuts on plywood to fit them all in. When I got close to home, it dawned on me that I'd been making a HUGE mistake while I sat in the parking lot (it's okay to laugh at this):

I was writing the width of the plywood as 36 inches and not 48 inches (as I said, the plywood is 4x8 feet--48 inches by 96 inches). When I was trying to fit all the cuts into the rectangle I drew, I was counting that shorter side as 36 inches for some stupid reason (I hate the term "brain fart" but that's basically what it was). If I hadn't been so frustrated, I would have thought the mistake was hilarious!

Most of the time, life is pretty good. Things go pretty smoothly. But sometimes I get so stressed out and overwhelmed that I have a week (or two or a month) like the one I shared in the Facebook post above.

The stress seems to come in spurts--one week might be so jam-packed full of things on my "to do" list, but another week might have an empty schedule. This month, it's been super busy; and having all of it on top of feeling depressed has been extra rough.

I have not been sleeping well at all, and twice last week I shut off my alarm only to have the kids wake me up, yelling, "Mama! It's 6:50!" (We normally wake up at 6:00.) I swear I only closed my eyes for a second...

Lack of sleep makes me unable to focus on anything. Or I'll start a task and then forget to finish it. If my kids tell me something that I'm supposed to remember, they might as well just not have even told me at all. My memory is horrible when I'm tired.

To get to the actual question from Facebook--about an honest approach to parenting, meal prep, and marriage while still having my own identity... it's hard!

Parenting feels harder now than it was when my kids were little. I like to keep their lives pretty private here on the blog, but in general, I have more to worry about because they aren't in my sight all the time. Also, I worry about their feelings SO much. I just want them to be happy.

You would think that as a stay-at-home mom, I would wake up and pack their lunches for school and make them a nice hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs and toast. Well, I stopped packing lunches a couple of years ago. And breakfast? That's what cereal is for! At 14 and 15 years old, my kids are old enough to pack their own lunches. And I don't say this out of laziness--they really need to learn to do things for themselves.

I wake up when they do (at 6:00), but I use that as my "me time" while they get ready for school. I usually do my "Peak" or "Lumosity" apps or read a book on my Kindle while I have tea or decaf coffee in the morning. Since Jerry is on straight day shift now, I am the sole chauffeur--I drive them to school in the mornings (it's an hour round trip for Noah, and I drop Eli off on the way).

I get done what I can before they get out of school (Noah gets out at 1:30 now, which doesn't leave me with much time)--writing a blog post (I need the quiet to write), working on laundry, dishes, house chores, grocery shopping, budgeting/finance stuff, errands, etc.

Meal prep/planning - I'm terrible about "prepping". I KNOW I should prep things like meat and vegetables right when I get home from grocery shopping so that it'll be less work throughout the week when I cook. However, grocery shopping is exhausting in itself!

I always use the self-checkout, so after putting everything into the cart, I have to remove it one by one, scan and bag it all, unload everything into the car, then carry everything into the house and put everything away. By that time, the last thing I want to do is prep food.

(I know some of you have mentioned grocery shopping online and either picking it up or having it delivered... I wish I could let go of my "control freak" side to do that, but I don't think I could let someone else pick out my groceries--especially meats and produce. I'm very picky about those things!)

I do write a meal plan every week before I go grocery shopping; but unfortunately, I rarely stick to it. Either the kids make other plans or I am exhausted and don't want to cook or I forgot to thaw out the meat or something like that. More than a few times, I've put food in the slower cooker only to realize later that I forgot to plug it in (seriously).

I cook as often as I can, even if it's something as simple as grilled cheese. But for the days where I am super short on time or I don't have a plan and the kids are starving, I usually have a pizza in the freezer. Thankfully, my kids love them ;)  Something I underutilize is my slow cooker--I need to plan more meals around that. And make sure I remember to plug it in!

Marriage - This year, Jerry and I will have been married 17 years (!) and thankfully, we are still super close. We love spending time together, even if it's just reading our own books while sitting in the same room. We have literally NOTHING in common, but somehow, we still enjoy each other's company.

We rarely do "date nights" and that's something we've been wanting to do more of this year. I just feel so old! Now, when I think of date nights, I think of how expensive it is to go out to dinner or even just a movie, so that kind of ruins the fun of it. We'll need to come up with some cheaper ideas.

One of the most fun things I can remember us doing together that didn't cost us anything was actually a long bike ride. We were having a "staycation" while the kids were away at camp, so we spent a lot of time together that week. We rode 26.5 miles when Jerry got out of work one day (we did an out and back ride on the Metropark trails, going through THREE parks). On the way back, we had to outride a storm that was coming in behind us, and we had so much fun!

I think what makes us have such a great marriage (I'm definitely not saying it's perfect, though!) is that we laugh a lot. Usually at the stupidest things. Just today, we were looking at memes on Pinterest and laughing until we wheezed about memes that reminded us of each other.

Last night, we were watching a show and I had my feet up on Jerry's lap. My feet are SO dry that when I shifted positions, it sounded like sandpaper rubbing against his pajama pants, and I was so sure that my dry skin was going to snag the threads 😂 We started laughing about that, and then Jerry made some joke about it that I can't remember now, but we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe.

It felt really good to laugh like that, because like I said, it's been an emotional month for me and the laughter has been rare. The thing I've always loved most about Jerry is his sense of humor--and even when I'm not feeling good, he can usually get at least a smile out of me.

As the Facebook comment suggested, it's hard to be a spouse and mom and still have your own identity. I wrote recently about my hyperempathy and how I am always tuned in to others' feelings. I do everything I can to make other people happy and consequently, I don't do much for myself.

Quite often, just writing on my blog actually helps me "remember" who I am. It helps me to think about what's been going on lately and how I've been feeling.

My favorite thing to do for myself is actually working on some sort of project--either organizing a closet or painting furniture or building something new out of wood. I didn't realize how much I loved this until I remodeled the entire house!

When I'm working on a project, I listen to podcasts that I enjoy and I love seeing the progress I'm making on whatever it happens to be at the moment. A couple of days ago, I had a couple of spare hours before I had an appointment at the Secretary of State to renew my driver's license (ugh) so I decided to use the time for a "fun" project (others may think of it as dreadful, haha).

When I painted my cabinets, I lined most of them with contact paper on the inside, and I loved the way it looked. There were a couple of very large cabinets that I hadn't done, however, so I decided to tackle the largest one.

It took me FOREVER to get the shelf out (actually, that's why I didn't do this cabinet last year--because the shelf seemed to have been put in there before the cabinet faces were attached. I tried twisting and turning it every which way, removing the doors from the cabinets to make room for it, and still--it just wouldn't fit.

A couple of days ago, I decided to try again. I thought there was no way that someone would put the shelf in there before finishing the cabinets, so there HAD to be a way to get it out. After about 15 minutes of different maneuvers, I was able to remove it! I have no idea how that was possible, and I was sure there was no way I'd be able to get it back in when I was done, but I'd worry about it later.

I wasn't able to finish the whole thing in the two hours I had, but I was able to finish it up when I got home. And I was even able to get the shelf back in! It looks so much better. Of course, I forgot to take a "before" photo, but I'm sure I can find one from when the kitchen was in progress...

Anyway, projects are my happy place :)  Next weekend, I'm going to finish my brother's bathroom for him, which has been "in progress" for probably six years now, haha--he needs the grout sealed in the shower and I'm going to build shelves for the closet. I'm actually looking forward it. And hopefully it'll help with my mood!


  1. I hope your projects lift your spirits! Regarding grocery shopping, what if Noah came with you after school to help with the shopping? You could pick him up and head to the store from there. I homeschool and often take one or more of the kids with me, give them a list (of items they are very familiar with and know where to find), and we meet up at the checkout. You could even have him check out his cart, and that might halve your load. And it's another life skill kids need to learn! I am the same way about grocery delivery; my husband and I both would rather choose our own produce and meats. But I often think it would be great for pantry items, boxed things and such.

    Anyway, I do not think it's unusual to feel down in the dumps in the winter. I grew up in the same region where you live, and still live in Ohio, and the weather in January and February is just miserable. If I didn't have a rec center with an indoor track, I'd go nuts.

    1. That's a good idea to take one of the boys with me! I usually go shopping while they're in school, but you're right--it's another life skill they need to learn. I think they would probably enjoy it, actually (although I'm sure I'd wind up buying several items that we don't need because they'll see things they want!) ;)

  2. Do you grocery shop at Meijer? Not sure if you have one nearby, but as you're shopping you can check out your items on their app! It's so amazing. I bring reusable shopping bags so I can scan and drop the item in the grocery bag. Then you just go to self checkout and scan the barcode on your app to the register! It'll pull up your order. It takes a minute to get in to the swing of things but really cuts down on some time. Produce can be a little trickier since you have to weigh it but you can always set the produce aside and scan those at the register after you've downloaded your order.

    I hope things get better for you! I feel you on needing spring to be here like NOW! This winter is just dragging :(

    1. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! I don't shop at Meijer, but there is one on the way home from when I take Noah to school, so once in a while I'll stop in there (they have a bigger selection than Kroger on certain items). I'm going to check that out fore sure. It would save so much time and hassle at the checkout.

    2. Yes its a game changer! It's called Shop & Scan on the app. My store also has digital scales throughout the store for weighted items like produce so you can get a barcode ahead of time too. Let me know if you try it!!

  3. I share your SAD and total lack of motivation at this time of year. I also agree that parenting teens is the absolute hardest part of being a mom. They are their own people, testing limits, negotiating school, friends and you have very little control. I'm almost through it (my youngest is a HS Junior), but I have a lot of empathy for you!

    1. Thank you, Lynne! I'm sorry that you're feeling the depression this time of year, too. And I had no idea just how hard it would be to parent teens--I always thought it would get easier as they get older, but the less control I have (not just over them, but their surroundings) the harder it gets!

  4. I agree with samcarter. My daughter does the shopping with me and not only does it help me, but its teaching her a life skill that she didn't have. But more than that, it gives us one on one time where we've had some deep conversations. In less than an hour!

    I completely understand about picking out your own produce and meat. I wouldn't trust any of the employees in my town to do that. BUT, I have fallen in love with Walmart's next day delivery. If you buy $35 they deliver it straight to my door for free. My husband had back surgery last summer and one of the stressful things for me was buying things like cat litter at Walmart. My shopping experience with that was ridiculous: go into store, put giant 35 pound tidy cat container into buggy, remove and put into car, remove from car and cart into house. Now I just buy two at a time and add in a filler item for a couple of dollars that I would have bought anyway - its usually toilet paper and voila! They bring it to my door. The only issue I've had with this system is that I ordered liquid dishwashing liquid once and some joker loosened the lid and half of the contents were in the box instead of in the bottle. Other than that, its an easy thing to do for myself. As always thanks for sharing with us!

    1. I love the idea of one-on-one time while grocery shopping--that time is hard to get when everyone is so busy. Maybe I'll alternate which kid is "luckiest" enough to go with me every week, haha ;)

      Amazon does next day delivery now for a lot of items, so I'll have to start looking for some of the things I buy regularly. Just yesterday, I ordered more nuts for the squirrels, and they'll arrive today. Some items even have same day delivery if you order early enough! I agree, buying cat litter is the worst. And huge bags of dog food!

  5. Well, I don't have kids and I'm not handy at all so we don't have much in common but I LOVE reading your blog and think you're really cool. :)

    1. Aww, thank you so much, Susan! I appreciate that <3

  6. Regarding your teenagers and you worrying about them all the time....I have two teenagers, one who has moved out of state for college, and one who is in HS. We’ve had our ups and downs in school, with sports teams, teachers and relationships. I feel as a parent it is my job to teach, and give them skills how to deal with adversity. There will be LOTS of it in HS....there will be times your kids aren’t happy. Are we as adults happy every minute of the day? Situations come up that we have to deal with them accordingly and appropriately. Teach your boys that, and they will be able, to handle whatever life throws at them. :)

    1. I know it's the "right" thing to do--turning those times into lessons--but as I'm sure you know, it's so hard to see your child hurting for whatever reason. Not making sports teams after tryouts, having to deal with a particularly rough teacher for a whole semester, and especially relationships (not just in a romantic way, but feeling left out of friendship circles and things like that). It's so heartbreaking to see that and not be able to do anything about it! But you're right, I really do need to teach my boys how to deal with those types of things before they go off in the "real world" themselves. Thank you for the advice!

  7. SO glad I'm not the only one to forget to plug in/turn on my crockpot. That makes me crazy! Once I remembered all those things but we plug our crockpot into a power strip and I forgot to press down the button for the power to turn on in the strip. I was SO mad at myself! Hope your feeling better soon!


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