At the Breaking Point

Everyone says “You are never given more than you can handle.” They think it is a comfort but it really isn’t because I honestly do not feel like I can handle anymore. I feel like I will explode. When you are in the thick of a very difficult time you need something more. I do not think there is a “one size fits all” for this situation. I think everyone needs something different. For me it helps to hear success stories; people in a similar situation who then experienced a turn around. A hug also does wonders for me. It feels reassuring.

I am very blessed that many people have found this blog and have shared their stories. The words provide so much encouragement and hope. Strangers have made a complete difference in my life. My husband (and the kids) gives the hugs. He is great at that. ❤

This past month has been a major trial. Between having hurt kids and getting some scary news regarding Zen when we went to his 1 year well child check I was left feeling hopeless. This is on top of the “normal stuff”; Mark looking for work back home, looking for a permanent place to live, friends who are hurting, an uncle with cancer, the health of my wonderful in-laws…. I can’t handle anymore of this. I hit the breaking point.

After a particularly stress-filled and overall “feeling sorry for me” kind of day I got some  amazing news from my husband. The timing was really quite insane and quite perfect.

<drum roll>

Mark will be starting a new full time job back home the beginning of May!

I hit the breaking point and now I am granted access to relief. I can’t even adequately describe the relief I am feeling. It is all consuming and wonderful.

The job doesn’t come with health insurance but it pays more than minimum wage and offers a decent commission. It is full time! Best of all it gets us back to our church, homeschool community, and friends who are family to us.

Mark will go ahead of us because he will need to find us a place to live. He will stay with some friends who are seriously some of the best people we know.

I have last minute doctor appointments to finish up with the kids. We will also finish up our school year and fit in some last minute “stuff.” It is all fitting together quite nicely. Things will never be what they used to be and that is OK. It is a beginning of something new and wonderful.

Thank you all for the help, kind words, encouragement, and mostly the prayers.
The support I am surrounded with is seriously amazing and I really am blessed to have you all as a part of my journey!

I hope you are as excited as I am to find out what is in store for the future! I think I will include smaller posts with updates as we transition into our new journey.


The Washboard Part 2

One day on Facebook I randomly posted this picture:
I wrote “Thankful for my mom’s washboard”

One friend expressed the desire of wanting one. Another said she couldn’t live without hers. The majority had never used one and couldn’t figure out how I have time to wash clothes this way. Honestly, I never really used to wash laundry this way. I have a working washing machine. I used to only hand wash diaper covers and other delicate items. I now do the majority of my laundry this way.

Well, there are several reasons.One is that it is cheaper. I use cold water and a bar of laundry soap. That’s it. Another reason is it is environmentally friendly. The last reason is it reduces the amount of waste going into the septic at the house we are currently living in.

How exactly does one use a washboard? First I fill up both sides of the sink with cold water. I add the laundry and the washboard to one side. I use a simple bar of laundry soap which can be found in the laundry aisle at the store.


Bar of laundry soap. You can find this in the laundry aisle.

I rub a bit of soap on the clothes and then scrub away. Some clothes need more effort than others; armpits always get a good scrubbing 😉 After the clothes are scrubbed I plop them into the other side of the sink; if you remember this is also full of cold water.




Once I finish washing the load I drain the sink, rinse it out, and fill it about halfway with cold water. Are the clothes clean? You decide:


Before. Can you tell Zen was crawling outside? 😉

I swirl the soapy clothes around in the water that they have been sitting in and squeeze them out one at a time and put them into the clean water. Once I am done I drain that sink and rinse it.

After. Pretty clean in my opinion :)

After. Pretty clean in my opinion 🙂

I then wring out each item one last time. If they seem a bit soapy I will rinse them again, but I use so little soap that this is rarely necessary. The only thing that would make this easier is a wringer. Oh what I would give to have a laundry wringer! I hang much of our laundry although towels are always put in the dryer because I hate crunchy towels.

I want to note I separate laundry very differently when I hand wash it. I tend to wash based on type and start with the lighter items. For example I wash all the socks together. Underwear and diapers are always washed separately and last.

Tell me, do you ever hand wash your clothes? Would you ever consider using a washboard?

The Washboard Part 1

It is a cool morning and the early morning sun is blazing through the kitchen windows. The sink faces these windows. It is quiet. Peaceful. The bitter cold water runs into the double basin sink, filling one side and then the next. There is a job to be done.

I grab the overflowing laundry basket from my bedroom and hold it against my hip as I head to the sun-soaked kitchen. I am pretty sure that when I die there will be a permanent indent on that side of my body. I drop the basket with a satisfying sound onto the floor and start sorting the items into piles. The socks and other small articles go immediately into the water-filled sink. Shirts, pants, diapers, diaper covers…..everything gets sorted. Right now the piles are overwhelming and my arms scream in the anticipation of the ache they know they will feel in an hours time.

I grab the soap and inhale. I love the smell. It is familiar. I am not even sure why. My mom didn’t use this soap. Did one of my grandmothers use it? I am not sure. The only thing I know is that the smell calms me.



I grab my mom’s washboard and plunge my hands into the icy water and I start scrubbing. Each sock is cleaned, dunked and tossed into the other side of the sink where clean, clear water awaits. My arms move without prompting. I have done this enough that my muscles know what to do. I don’t even have to think about it and before I know it I have finished the multitude of socks. I drain the dirty, soapy water and move to the clean socks that are waiting to be rinsed out. Swish, squeeze, plop. The socks are tossed into the other side of the sink that is now empty.

Once each sock is rinsed I drain the water and start over. My hands are red, raw and aching from the piercingly cold water. I put them under my arm pits to warm them before starting the shirts.

I look into the mudroom where the washing machine is gathering dust. It taunts me. It’s Energy Efficient status just can’t hold a candle to the washboard though. The machine is only used for blanket, sheets, and towels. I look away from the tempter and plunge my hands back into the frigidness. There is a job to be done.

Where are the Sunshine and Daisies?

This post isn’t about my everyday life. It isn’t about my amazing kids. It is about my bad mood. If you are looking to be uplifted then I recommend you stop reading right now because this post isn’t a sunshine and daisies post. This post is full of the hurt that I am feeling today.

When Mark and I married I knew we would move a lot. At the time I was OK with that. I never thought, however, that we would move 13 times in 15 years….OK some of that was silliness that could have been avoided. Those first 2 places we lived in right after we got married we were actually house-sitting. In hindsight we should have skipped those first 2 places and just moved into our first apartment, which was instead our third abode. Still, the rest really couldn’t have been avoided. The 13th hasn’t even happened yet, but we are in the process of it. Sadly I think there will have to be one or two more moves after this next one and I am pretty sure one of those will happen within the year. Who knows, maybe I am wrong.

We are moving back to MO but we are in no shape to buy a forever home. This is my dream; a forever home. I desperately want a place where my kids can grow up. A place that gives them a stability they have never really known.

I know we are not unique. Military families have it far worse. That knowledge doesn’t change my bad mod though. I am so angry. I am tired of living out of boxes. I am tired of packing tape and paper to wrap items in and I am sick of bubble wrap. Even my kids do not get as much joy out of the obnoxious popping that they used to and age is not a factor in that. They have popped more bubble wrap than you can imagine.

I am jealous of my friends who own houses and are selling those perfectly fine places so they can simply “upgrade.” Do not get me wrong, they have every right to do this and I really am happy for them most of the time. I totally understand the need for more space, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am jealous of what they have and I don’t. Part of me wants to scream at them and remind them just how d**n lucky they are to even own a house. Of course I won’t do this though because it isn’t their fault I am jealous.

Life is fragile

Picture compliments of my talented friend, Shannon AKA TheBohemainHomebody

Every night at dinner we say Grace. The kids have taken to praying “…and please help us find our forever home.”

It breaks my heart every.single.time. It tells me that they are feeling the stress of instability. They crave security and we are epicly failing in providing that for them right now. People keep telling us the kids are resilient. Really? Where is your proof because what I am seeing is a bunch of kids who are hurting.

So here I sit in a bad mood. I didn’t unpack much when we moved into this temporary shelter, but I did unpack our homeschool stuff. Today I started to pack it all back up. I will leave out summer workbooks and their math, but everything else is getting packed away. At one point I was packing some reading books and the sudden urge to throw everything against the wall consumed me. I had to walk away. I came back 5 minutes later, slightly calmer, but still angry at the crummy situation we are in.

This is my way to vent. Mark has enough worries so I won’t burden him with this. I really don’t want the kids to see me angry so I will let my keyboard take the brunt of it all instead. It sucks. Being homeless sucks. Being unsure of the future sucks. Moving sucks. Right now, in this moment, it all just sucks. This is where I am right this second.

This is my life unfolding. I have no clue what will happen next but I ask that as we wait for it that you all pray for us. I do not need a big fancy house. I just need a place to hang my hat and a yard for the kids to run freely. A place to call home.


Happy Birthday Zen!

Near the end of 2012 we learned a great secret. We learned a little baby was miraculously forming inside of me. Baby #5 was on its way. We were in a position where we could pay the midwife cash for all of the care and delivery. Throughout the pregnancy I refused to know what Zen’s sex was. I already had 2 of each so no matter what Zen was the tie-breaker. We used the nickname Zen because baby movements were so calm and relaxed; almost like there was a Tai Chi going on in the womb.


Me pregnant with Zen at my Blessingway; a night of prayer and encouragement as I enter into Full Term.

Fast forward to April 2013. Zen made a fast appearance (4 hours total, 3 of that at the birth center). It was the most amazing birth ever. By far the best I had. I am not here to talk about that though.
Once Zen was born I was thrilled to announce “A boy!” Oddly, once I said the words I felt like I had always known that he was a boy.


Labor of love

My mom was in town and between her and Mark I was able to spend my time in bed getting to know the baby and simply enjoying life. The big kids would crawl into bed with me and snuggle and admire the new little bundle. It was the best recovery time I ever had. It made me want to do this for other new moms; make them just enjoy their kids while I care for the house for them. I think every mom deserves that.


Newborn Zen

Over the next year we learned a lot about Zen. He really is a calm baby. We call him “Happy Chap” all the time. He smiles easily, laughs a lot, and snuggles contentedly. He is a true joy to all of us. Very seldom would jealously poke its head out, but when it did it was never bad. For example, the girls would get more demanding for “Me and Daddy time” even after spending a day with him. We could handle that.

During this past year the kids have gotten hands on experience with cloth diapers, bathing Zen, feeding, and more. They are learning how to appropriately interact with each stage and teach Zen so much, including sign language! They encourage him when he is learning new tricks, like crawling. They read to him and sing to him and play with him. It has been a year full of love.

We watched Zen go from a sleeping bundle of newborn to a rolling baby. We would have to watch where we walked because he would suddenly be rolling along the floor. He then learned to sit. He was oh so proud of this accomplishment! From there he learned to army crawl, regular crawl, pull himself up, creep, and finally take those first wobbling steps all on his own. He teethed and started solids. He learned several simple words and how to ask for more food using sign language. When he is distressed just start singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and his body visibly relaxes. He rolls cars on the floor, rocks baby dolls in his arms, and tries to steal C-Dog’s army men toys. He loves his stuffies and his blankie goes everywhere with him; Linus style.


Princess playing with Zen. I am so glad I captured this moment ❤

We celebrated the year with a small party in March. Bug was camping with the scouts, but 2 of my lovely aunts traveled down to see us and meet my 2 youngest (they had never met Princess either!) and a family friend stopped by. On Zen’s actual birthday we were in our home state so we went to a frozen yogurt place that also serves non-dairy treats and met some friends there. Overall, I think Zen enjoyed his first taste of sweets. He may not have understood what the big deal was but soon enough he will learn that HE is the big deal! He is loved, wanted, and has a purpose in this world.


I made this cake from scratch. It is free of gluten, dairy, and eggs

I can’t believe a year has gone by. I always feel that first year goes too quick. I honestly love that first year. I wish that everything that happens would take 2 years instead of one so I could treasure it longer. As we enter the second year of Zen I look forward to watching his personality continue to blossom. He is turning into quite a clown. Apparently all of my children are nothing if not hams.

Happy first birthday Zen! Here is to year 2. May it be filled with even more smiles and belly laughs.


Zen’s first experience with a sugary treat.