Well, that was an unplanned, but perhaps not completely unexpected, break from the old bloggity blog… though in my defense, my regular Instagram posts serve as mini blog updates (at least in my own mind).
Shall I catch you up on what’s been going on since last I was here?
Imagine a little TV voice-over here saying, “Previously in Michelle’s Life…”
- I spent November being grateful for things on a daily basis. We let our small group “lessons” for the month and focused on being grateful and practicing gratitude. I am thankful every day, but it is good to give it a little extra focus.
- We hosted Thanksgiving and had another freaking big turkey… opting to brine it in a cooler this year rather than risking another brining-bag-explosion-all-over-the-counter episode like we had last year. Gravy has become my Achilles heel – I cannot get it right – it’s either too runny or too gloopy. Alas. But I did crockpot mashed potatoes and crockpot stuffing and they were both delicious, if I do say so myself, which I do.
- I had been completely braggy about taking Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar and then, guess what, I got sick. I got the flu, despite getting a flu shot which was apparently useless against this years’ strain, and it sucked. Super sucked. Simon also got it and that sucked as well. Jack was sick for a day – taking three naps in one day. Liam was immune to it – that kid has the heartiest immune system.
- We hosted our neighborhood Christmas party – a fun time was had by all, copious amounts of alcohol was consumed and all the tasty tidbits were eaten.
- Jack has declared kindergarten boring but continues to attend despite protests to the contrary. He and I both know that homeschooling isn’t really the best alternative option (not to mention completely unrealistic).
- The boys are still taekwondo-ing (we’re making that a verb).
- Simon had nearly two weeks off around the holidays and we had lots of family togetherness and it was quite lovely. It’s nice to know we still all like each other and even nicer to be sad to be apart again once real life returned.
- We soaked up our normal family traditions in Lansing for Christmas (Christmas Eve with food and presents at my parents, Christmas Day with more food at my brother and sister-in-law’s house and Boxing Day breakfast with more food). Sadly, two of the extended family members got the stomach flu which encouraged us to wrap our visit up a bit earlier than planned. Thankfully no puking at the Bennett’s (which pretty much ensures there will be puking in our near future).
- We had practically no snow in December and while it was nice to not have to clear off the driveway (or watch Simon clear it off from inside our warm house) – I felt slighted by not having a white Christmas.
- I finished my granny square quilt after teaching myself how to crochet watching YouTube videos and following this pattern (with different colors). It’s nice to mark something off the old life list that I’ve been woefully neglecting. Though we’re very good at going to new restaurants so that’s something.
- Book club is still going strong, though there are mixed reviews about February’s book (The Circle by Dave Eggers). I am actually looking forward to talking about it because sometimes the books we love the most we have the least to talk about… should be a good discussion.
- We rang in the new year with all of us staying up past midnight – a first for our family. Last year I had to wake Simon up at midnight so he could kiss me and then go to bed. Midnight is about 3-4 hours past his usual bedtime. He’s an old man – he will be 40 in a couple weeks after all.
- I continue to tell people the wrong age when they ask how old I am… I’m turning 37, but I have either said I’m 37 already or am turning 36… I suspect that Jack’s math skills will surpass mine any day now. Which seems about right since having children is all I can blame on my brain losing skills.
- I’m so sad that Parenthood (the show) will be wrapping up for good. Though any show that makes me cry as much as that is probably something I’m better off without.
- Our boys still share a bedroom, leaving us with a teenage mutant ninja turtle-decorated guestroom.
- As of January 1, I am officially a business owner all by my lonesome as my business partner decided it was time to retire (can you blame her not wanting to leave the loveliness of Key West and her new spouse to come to Michigan and work? I cannot.). It’s exciting times and more exciting as we’re moving out of our office space and setting up shop in my basement. I have not once met with a client in our current space and have plenty of off-site places I can set up shop if I tire of the home office so I’m excited to see how this shakes out. The move happens a week from yesterday. The place is pretty much packed up except technology. Now to get through the six meetings I have between now and then – being busy with work is a good “problem” to have. Again, I am blessed.
- In other crockpotting adventures, I’m trying a lasagna recipe today… hopefully it doesn’t end up being lasagna soup (which would be tasty but not the desired result).
- I’m quite smitten with a new-to-me show, Fixer Upper, on HGTV. I love Chip and Joanna Gaines and want to move to Waco, Texas so they can find me my own fixer upper (not really because I hate humidity and heat so much).
- Conferences are next week and I’m eager to hear how the boys are doing – since we haven’t had any phone calls from school since the last round of conferences, I’m calling it a “win.” Hope there aren’t any surprises. Unless they are good ones like, “Jack is such a pleasure 100% of the time and so compliant. Also, he really enjoys trying new foods and is a good friend to everyone.”
- We booked two sets of travel for April – Simon and Jack are attending Hands 2 Love Hand Camp in Florida the last weekend on Spring Break and while they are there, Liam and I will be road-tripping to North Carolina to see my dear friend, Stef. And at the end of the month, Simon and I will be bidding our kids farewell for a 10-day trip to the Pacific Northwest to tour Seattle, Portland and Vancouver to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. April’s a big month for the Bennett fam!
- My heart is hurting for some dear people who are walking tough roads… those who are struggling with life’s hard things that break your heart and make you hug your children that much tighter. I wish that bad things didn’t happen, most especially the things without reason, but these two women are beautifully sharing how God can use those things to His glory and give them purpose. Please join me in praying for both the Tippets and the Van Sprange/Conner families.
Be good, people. I’ll be back soon… I promise.
I still find it hard to believe that someone else is living in my old house. That it is someone else’s house now. I feel like once we left it, our house ceased to exist and in a way, it did because it’s NOT our house anymore, it’s their house.
I have not been back there since we drove away from it two weeks ago but I drove by my friend Sarah’s old house yesterday (she moved two days after us) and it made me wonder what was happening at the old house, almost enough to want to drive by, but instead I look up the new owners on Facebook, hoping they will post pictures of their new home.
I’m so glad we got to have one final meal there – well, the boys ate while I packed up the remaining items. I’ll miss the coved ceilings, the hickory wood floors and the lilies we planted over the years that come back to greet us every summer. But we took the most important things with us – the people that made the house a home – my boys (and George) are all I need to make me happy (and often frustrated as all get out).
We put so much into that house in the last ten years:
- central air
- new garage door
- new roof
- repainted the entire exterior
- gutted and remodeled second floor, complete with addition of a full bath (and she ended up taking the clawfoot tub that has lived in our garage the last 4 years – you can see it in the picture below)
- new appliances (all but the stove/range)
- brought the grass back from the dead and added many plants around the yard
But the house also gave back so much more that cannot be quantified by money or time:
- my first house – Simon was the second person to ever visit
- our first home together – the place we exhaustedly (and happily) returned to after International trips, marathon road trips and weekends at the beach
- a place to bring both our babies home to (Liam came home in the bright heat of summer, spending his first month swaddled up next to me in the one air conditioned room in the house; Jack came home a month earlier than expected, on an unseasonably warm day in February to a newly-remodeled upstairs that our friends moved us into while we were at the hospital having a baby)
- location for a couple family holidays (I SO look forward to catching up on my hosting duties now that we have a house big enough for it)
- play dates, birthday parties, backyard BBQs, girl’s nights with my friends, soccer-viewing on Saturday mornings
- a home filled with much laughter, few tears, unforgettable memories and endless warmth (and not just before the AC was installed)
I have so many memories in each room, and despite the negatives that come with an old house, I remembered none of those as I took one last walk through the rooms. It served us well, just like the new place will do in the coming DECADES (because we’re not moving AGAIN if we can help it, have I mentioned that?), but we outgrew it long ago.
The new house is such a blessing to us, made possible by a sudden shift in the housing market and money left to us by Simon’s mom and dad – it will be their on-going gift to us for years to come and though they won’t see it physically, I know they are watching us and sharing in our joy. I cannot wait to share the new place with you – I just need to finish unpacking and my desire to unpack dwindled once I got the kitchen in order but we are nearly there – give me another week (or five) and I can share the final product with you… once we can actually park in our garage :). In the meantime, if you are local, please stop by for a visit and if you are not local – plan to visit soon! We’d love to have you and start adding to the memories of this new home.
Moving one time in ten years isn’t bad, but the next time cannot be far enough away for my taste. It’s kind of a pain to pack up every single thing you own, move it and then unpack it all. Note to self: next time, hire the kind of movers who do all your packing for you and then load up the truck… then you only have to unpack it all (and do NONE of the lifting) and marvel over how they simply dumped the contents of your junk drawer into a box and helpfully labeled it: Junk Drawer (I was a little lax on my labeling, rather just inconsistent – I helpfully labeled a box “Kitchen 2013” because apparently the year was necessary.
I was trying to think of things that would qualify as something I would rather do than move (again) and quickly discovered that actually, there are still MANY things I would rather NOT do than move (get rid of a bee hive, face off with a squirrel and go deep sea diving are all on that list) so while my list isn’t that extreme, it does give you some perspective on my limits and boundaries. It should also be noted that moving THIS time was way more than worth it… just all-consuming and exhausting! Each night from Saturday through at least Thursday I went to bed completely wiped out, legs aching from standing, carrying and in general moving ALL day. By Tuesday, when my parents came to help unpack and put things together, I actually had to tell my
nearly 80 in-his-70s father that I needed a break when he was ready to move on to the next project. And as of right now I still have about 30% of our boxes left to unpack and our bedroom is a giant Tetris game of furniture, boxes, baskets of clean laundry and plastic tubs. Still worth it.
Things I Would Rather Do Than Move My House (Again)
- Visit a water park or Cedar Point (I’ve realized I am not a fan of these places, but I sure hope my kids like them because Simon sure does and then, someday in the future, the three of them can all go away together and I can have the house to myself)
- Have a third child – girl or boy.
- Go a year without Diet Coke. (oh wait)
- Move my office.
- Never eat
chocolate bread peas again (I mean, I do love pea soup).
- Stop using the phone to talk on… wait, totally not a hardship but I’m not giving up texting.
- Not see a movie for a year (or two, even, if I’m being generous).
- See AC/DC in concert.
Eat only at Applebee’s when we go out for dinner.… nope, can’t do that one, as much as I love Tequila Lime Chicken… give me small and local and DELICIOUS every time.
- Give up Prime Time television… think of how many Pinterest projects and crafts I could get done.
- Take up running.
- Not hate running.
- Spend 24 hours with Flava Flav OR Lady Gaga OR Martin Short; but not all of them at the same time.
That’s all I got for now… what would you rather do than move?
We’re on a good streak right now and I’ve often heard that when things are going well, we often forget to give God the thanks and attention He deserves. We’re real good at complaining, asking for help or lifting up our anxiety and concerns to Him, etc… so I want to take a moment to give God His due in all this. Certainly His hand has been in all these things going on (which, I realize begs the bigger question of where His hand is in things when they are not going so great; the great problem with pain and evil. I’m not about to get in a theological debate here, but I will say, He’s there in those things, too.) and I am so thankful and full of rejoicing in knowing He has guided our path all along the way.
In the span of the last few days my dad has gone into the hospital with chest pains and returned home after having a stent put in, feeling way better than he did before he went in, we closed on our new house (quite possibly our forever home) and found out that all is good with the sale of our current home (the appraisal came back at value and with no additional repairs). Thank you, God. I feel overwhelmingly blessed and lucky. My dad reminded me that God helps those that helps themselves – not sure I wholeheartedly adhere to that thought since I believe He also helps those who cannot help themselves – but I do agree that we have to do our part in things (God wasn’t going to sell our house without our cleaning and packing – not that He couldn’t, just that He maybe wouldn’t; and if my dad hadn’t listened to his body and taken himself to the ER, things could have taken a very bad turn), but that without Him, it all would not have gone as smoothly and as low-stress as it has gone (despite my useless worrying). God’s timing is perfect, but it is not always ours (if it was, for sure Simon would be working first shift by now) but He sees the bigger picture and brings it all together so much better than we ever could have imagined. There are often lessons to be learned along the way and sometimes those lessons rather suck, but without lessons, we would never learn. So I’m thankful it’s not my problem to figure it all out, but it is my job to listen to His voice as best I can, give credit where credit’s due and enjoy the blessings He’s bestowed.
Our family is currently in the midst of a season of change and I know it will bring some growing pains, but it’s the trials in life that make us stronger and condition us to do the hard work that can lie ahead. We are also entering a season of thanksgiving and are able to give thanks and recognize that we are so very blessed. Hopefully we are doing that without it seeming like bragging because that is the furthest thing from how I feel… all this goodness was not of my own doing and I didn’t receive it because I did anything right but because I have a good Father who gives good gifts. And it’s a beautiful thing.
I anticipated this, as well I should have, the anxiety that comes with change. It’s normal and it’s natural but boy does it suck. I would love to be a cool cucumber and not worry and I thought I was going a pretty good job but my sore jaw (from clenching my teeth in my sleep) would be a good indicator that I have a mite bit of anxiety. It’s funny, I trust that God is in control, I trust that we are following sound advice and I trust that we are making the right decisions and yet I can still hear the little voices that tell me otherwise.
Dear voices (i.e., that pesky devil): Please shut your pie hole. Muchas gracias. You are not welcome here, now or ever. Sincerely, Me
The first time you go through a house you love, the only things you see are the things that you love… the second time, when you go through with someone who you are asking to pick it apart and uncover any issues, well, you see the issues – even if they are comparably insignificant and very overshadowed by the good. I don’t know about you, but the issues, those are the things that cause me grief. But when I bought our current house, the realtor told me (extreme paraphrasing here, I’m sure): in every good home sale, both parties feel a sense of anxiety that they are the ones losing out, the ones drawing the short straw, when in reality, both are both winning, you’re just both compromising to reach an final decision. What is it about compromise that makes us feel like we are losing? Also, there is the small detail of the unknown of our house selling, stranger things have happened; despite the unlikelihood of it NOT selling, it’s still a variable in this all.
So, today, I need the reminder: anxiety does nothing for me. Trusting that God is in control, no matter what the outcome, that will give me peace. In the meantime, I’ll be taking an Aleve for my jaw and any prayers and happy thoughts you’d like to send my way.