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How To Make Sense

Nothing makes sense right now. Concentrating is difficult and nothing feels right. I feel off-kilter and uncentered.

But, if I smooth out the sheets and prop the pillows just right and square up the seems on the comforter, other things feel straighter and smoother too. Something has definitely been accomplished, just like this guy says.

When I do laundry, NOTHING unexpected happens. It goes in dirty and comes out clean and cold and ready for drying, fluffing and folding. It is divine and is warm and lets itself be rolled or folded into neat bundles. It is so predictable and I don’t have to wash my hands when I am done.

I can make order from disorder. I can make an utter disaster into peace & calm. I’m not getting that feedback in any other area of my life right now. So I forge ahead with my spray cleaner, scrubby sponge and microfiber cloths.

I take Melissa Maker’s advice because I am a devotee of her cult of cleaning. She preaches the sermon that is my salvation. It is well with my soul when each new task is completed.

I can stack and order and line up books. I can place small tokens of love and life on shelves and they stay right where I place them. Pledge is a balm for my soul. I remove dust and scuffs like it is my religion.

Amen.

She Was Lost

For years, I’ve been looking for a house. We had out grown our previous house many years and several kids ago. On my tippy toes, I could touch the ceilings upstairs. We were literally bursting at the seams.

We wanted to stay close to everything and everyone we know and love and the activities that make up our lives. We needed better school options for our kids who choose to use them. We needed to be near ‘Ethan’s life’ which included being 3/4 of a mile off a pubic bus route in order to ever utilize Access Link and near his beloved day program. There was Dennis’ job to consider. We needed So. Much. Space. We needed bedrooms and bathrooms – and a lot of them! We dreamed of a two car garage and space for my mom. Stay tuned, as our family delves into intentional, multi-generational living.

We’ve seen a ton of houses, each with their unique assets and definite drawbacks. The price points where we live are very high and discouraging. Taxes can be prohibitive. Attempting this move has been frustrating and exhausting at times. Like most house searches (that include a budget) something has to give.

I thought from reading the listing of Brook House, it was very close to all we could ask for. I looked at every house that came close to my crazy specifications just in case there were hidden assets or magical extra rooms. I went alone as Dennis was on an adventure with Sean.

I walked into the Open House at the same time as another couple. After about a minute, I heard the woman exclaim, ‘Oh, hell no.’ They left shortly after. Her comment was in response to the copious amounts of dirt and the sheer volume of tragic cosmetic issues. I know. Everyone says “It’s just cosmetic”. That would come back to us in the coming weeks.

We confirmed with the previous owner/builder (not the people who destroyed it) that this rug was circa 1978

I am not gifted at looking past certain things, but I really could see the good bones in this one. The spaces were generous and flowing. The first floor was practically elegant. The kitchen was at least giant, if not filthy. A huge, luxury Theramador range was tucked away in a corner – covered in a thick layer of grease, along with every other surface in the kitchen.

I found an extra room and then a bonus room and stairs up to plenty of bedrooms. I kept finding more space and more horrible dirt and grime. I wandered, counted, measured and inspected. The closer I got, the worse the dirt became. But I overlooked it. When I opened what I thought was a closet in the family room and found a stairway I was surprised. The realtor admitted that she knew very little about the house, as it was a bank sale. I hoped to never get involved in a bank sale.

Secret Stairway

That’s when I found my magical rooms. My mom’s space materialized like the Room of Requirement I am so fond of in Harry Potter. Other than the obvious ‘cosmetic’ challenges, it was exactly the space she had been describing that she needed for herself and I kept explaining was not going to be an option – houses in our area just weren’t constructed with these types of ‘in-law’ spaces and our price point would probably never allow for it. But it was there with all it’s 1980s carpets, lavender walls and filthy bathroom.

I exited through the two car garage hanging with cob webs and stinking of mildew, to walk the perimeter of the large, rectangular and very level yard. I needed to overlook the moss on the exterior of the house to see it. I had to look very closely.

But then I saw it. Yup, this is the one. I found it.

The End of An Era

As I was finishing cleaning out the house we have inhabited for almost 22 years. I looked around at the empty space and realized it is a crucible in which my family was formed. Does that sound extreme? It has been.

Suddenly, alone in the house doing the last of the vacuuming, I notice I am crying. I am crying because I thought moving would be different. I thought it would organized and calculated and there would be a more formal way of saying goodbye to all we have known. I expected a flamboyant and final farewell. But instead, we literally abandoned ship on a Friday afternoon in the middle of this ‘Covid-19 Crisis’ . The uncertainty about our ability to rent a truck, find moving help or to what extent the ‘stay-at-home’ orders would infiltrate our lives, Dennis and I made a last ditch effort to get the most important items and our beds moved in the back of his pickup truck. Moving was unsettling and the ‘world pandemic’ produced anxiety and uncertainty at a completely new level. I have felt as though I am free-falling for a couple of months now.

And just like that, we moved into our new house with no official way to welcome ourselves or our friends. No housewarming party or celebration – as is our style. No fanfare. We just did. It is not how I pictured any of this.

Unhappily, I discover that I am also crying because I’ve been left alone in the house. Normally, that would be a very welcomed situation for me, but I have become accustomed to four very different walls and seven additional people with me at all times. We have developed a specific choreography to our isolated days, and right now, deviating from it seems wrong and uncomfortable. That in itself is distressing. I am upset that I am alone, and then upset that I am upset about it. It’s a vortex.

I turn back to thinking about our little house. The house meant everything to us. It took us a few hours to move into it as we owned absolutely nothing. Ethan and Dennis and I had all the space we needed and I was pretty certain that we would not have any other children.

<Insert laugh track here>

If there is anything that defined this house it was children and parties. My sister’s kids and mine were raised like siblings here. Picnics on the driveway were a common occurrence. There were birthday parties, countless holiday parties and a New Year’s Eve party that hosted 70 people! There were sleepovers of all types, children who joined us for 1 night or several weeks through foster care. Once, adoption papers were signed at our dining room table as there was not another feasible location for the family to do it. We homeschooled our kids here comfortably. Our family was ridiculously happy in this house. The 1400 sq. ft. of that house lived super-BIG and we could not have asked for one more thing.

Except for a BIG, new house for a new chapter in our lives! I can’t wait to tell you her story. It’s amazing.

Update4Boys

What’s going on, you ask? Ok. I’ll tell you.

The Happy Man is busy, chaotic and unpredictable. We are endlessly thankful for this program that keeps him engaged doing things he likes with people he loves. When he is home, he continues to color and color and color. He takes breaks to play Xbox, watch funny videos on YouTube, plan his audition material for Americas Got Talent. He occasionally hosts a ‘fake’ funeral for Joe Jackson in his room.

90% of the time he’s pretty funny and very entertaining. The other 10% usually produces parental exhaustion, total frustration and an infrequent emergency. His consistency lies in his inconsistency, if that makes sense. I sometimes write about E here. Follow him on Instagram here.

The Welder happily graduated from high school and took a job in a metal fabrication shop. After a few months of that, he realized that he was not getting what he wanted out of it and embarked on some “Life Lesson” exercises. He sought advice from wise & thoughtful men who know him well, planned an exit with integrity, made contingency plans, researched some options and changed his mind and course. It was painfulf and wonderful watch.

He will be attending RVCC for the Spring semester as a Physics Major using his NJSTARS Scholarship. He has the most lovely girlfriend, a good work ethic and big ideas.

Photo courtesy of Happy Famiy Art



The School Boy does just that. People ask me if he ‘likes’ school (I guess after homeschooling most of his life). Go ask any teenager if they ‘like’ school. It’s a place to be and he likes the mayhem and antics associated with a large concertration of teenagers doing teenager things. He would gladly spend all his time as a professional camp counselor, like he did this summer (and the previous summer). He rocks the ‘work’ thing and the ‘summer’ thing – but something needs to fill the time in between. He loves his friends, his hamster, binge-watching Netflix and finding Friday-night fun. Mikey is thoughtful and funny and quintessentially 16 – drivers permit and all.

The Homeschooler is completely feral. He plays town sports, skateboards with friends, plays any and every board game every chance he gets. He loves Mahjong, reading, is teaching himself cursive and playing Dragon Box. He loves all things Dungeons and Dragons and has several ongoing games. He’s all about The Pyramid Code and Ancient Aliens. He is my constant companion. He does not believe he is 10.

Our current world is a sharp contrast to how it all started. There is so much to miss and so much to look forward to, and some pretty good stuff to just be in now.

Sunday Scenes – Wedding Recovery Edition

Our family was in a hotel from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon for a BIG, happy, amazing, love & fun-filled wedding. We all came home fried!

Sunday was full of unpacking messes, reading, napping and Harry Potter watching. NOT cooking is NOT an option – Moday morning comes quickly and since I have switched up my eating habits to a paleo/healing diet – food-making is a must.

We are coming off of months of chaos – moving my mom, unexpected funerals and the awesome wedding. I am hoping & praying for months of calm to make up for it. Is that even an option?