Time

Work, life, balance - what?!  Forget about it.  That single phrase brings me SO MUCH GUILT!  Guilt that I can't balance enough to work and be home with my kids.  As a SAHM (Stay-at-home Mom), I still can't manage to get a blog or vlog or etsy store or WHATEVER up and at 'em each day.  But here's the thing - it's not about 'balance', but satiation.  

 O is strapped in his Ergo carrier, you can't see him - but can see his board!  More on that in another post (I've got videos to compile!).  Our first year snowboarding says everything about balance vs satiation.  Snowboarding is about balance but even the falls can be satiating.  There is a lesson in every single one.  This tested all of us and our ability to persevere.  And to do it as a family.  I wouldn't trade it for the world and we all look forward to the snow next year!

O is strapped in his Ergo carrier, you can't see him - but can see his board!  More on that in another post (I've got videos to compile!).  Our first year snowboarding says everything about balance vs satiation.  Snowboarding is about balance but even the falls can be satiating.  There is a lesson in every single one.  This tested all of us and our ability to persevere.  And to do it as a family.  I wouldn't trade it for the world and we all look forward to the snow next year!

What satiates my personhood?  Here's a few things:

Rhythm.  I just watched this fantastic live video about 'rhythm'.  For some it may be 'routine'.  Either way - it's vital in my life and my kids.  I see the benefits of it in our household.  Weekday mornings around here have a beautiful rhythm:

6a Wake with toddler - make lunches, coffee, breakfast (sometimes I get ready during this time) - 7a Dad home from work - 7:20/30a older boys awaken (dress, make their beds and come down for breakfast) - 7:50/8a Brush teeth and get book bags ready for school/mom gets ready for the day - 8:20/30 leave for school.  

 This is from our evening rhythm.  The boys read for 15-20 minutes each night before bed.  We just recently altered this - O used to go to bed, he now joins them.

This is from our evening rhythm.  The boys read for 15-20 minutes each night before bed.  We just recently altered this - O used to go to bed, he now joins them.

The boys have time to play after packing their bags and before we leave for school.  It's a sight to see.  They know:  wake - dress - beds - breakfast - teeth - bags - play.  It's amazing.  And I love it.  They are confident, secure and independent - happy.

I like to read.  I am learning to take time out to read.  One of my favorite things to read about?  Parenting.  I know - huge shocker.  I now keep a book in the car door for just that reason (and knitting in the center console) when waiting in the epic car pick up line.  My current read - Masterminds and Wingmen.  Highly recommend whether you have boys or not.

Writing.  I love to write.  Communicating is paramount for me.  One of the things that brought the hubs and I together.  We are both talkers.  And this space allows me to do that.  Which is why I am back.  It's going to take awhile to get back into this rhythm - but I am looking forward to it!

Grace is last.  But most definitely not least.  Granting myself the grace to rest.  To fall asleep and take time.  Just because I am a SAHM, doesn't mean I have to work on the house, this family, the kids, etc... until my bones ache and I can't stand any longer.  I quit my job and career so I could minimize stresses in my life, making room to be a whole self.  For the kids, my husband - and me.  It's something I think a lot of SAHMs have difficulty with and can lead to some intense bouts of depression.  

 Perfect example.  I was doing dishes when this was happening.  Trent had just gotten home from hunting and O was elated to see him (as usual).  He promptly brought over a book for Dad to read, which also required many kisses and squeezes.  This man misses his kids SO much when he's away.  I am grateful for his doting, uncensored LOVE for the kids.  I stopped - dishes could wait.  I needed to hold on to this moment.

Perfect example.  I was doing dishes when this was happening.  Trent had just gotten home from hunting and O was elated to see him (as usual).  He promptly brought over a book for Dad to read, which also required many kisses and squeezes.  This man misses his kids SO much when he's away.  I am grateful for his doting, uncensored LOVE for the kids.  I stopped - dishes could wait.  I needed to hold on to this moment.

Working outside the home brought me anxiety, but being at home - secluded from adulthood, immersed in parent and spousal responsibilities accompanied with the never lightening load of guilt when taking time out can result in the mind dipping into a dark, dark place.  That's when grace for self comes into play.  Something I work desparetly on each day.

What do you think of 'balance'?  Do you feel like grace could play a bigger part in your life?  What are some of your must do's/have's?

Welcome Back

Whew.  Wow.  It's been awhile.

I'm glad I have waited though.  It's been a huge year for us; for me.  I've been a stay-at-home parent for a year and half now and I'm starting to finally feel comfortable in those shoes.  I'm getting there - although never really knowing if I will ever be completely there.  Accepting that indecisiveness seems like the greater portion of the battle.

It's been a year of homeownership trials and tribulations.  Parenting woes and successes.  Marriage earthquakes and rainbows - you get the idea.  It's been a lot.  We are a family of 6, 7 including our pup (although she sleeps the majority of the time).  Our little world feels epic most times, but is just that.  Little.

By comparison.

Our country and the world has seen changes - trials and tribulations, woes and successes, earthquakes, rainbows, floods and more on scales much larger than these four walls hold.  But that doesn't mean these four walls are not capable of epic change.  This is what brings me back to pen and paper - keyboard and screen rather.

I wrote a blog size Facebook post a few days ago (bleh - my face goes green on two levels, 1 - becoming a keyboard warrior and 2 - I wrote something lengthy and heartfelt on social media for everyone to see - yikes, not my style) about the safety of our schools.  Or rather, my disturbed and saddened take on the situation.  I couldn't take it.  There've been so many posts and shared pages about gun legislation - how Congress isn't going far enough or doing the right things or arming teachers is a bad idea - or a good idea, etc....  It's over whelming.  

As a stay-at-home parent, not once - ONCE have I seen a post about the significance of child rearing.  How we've abandoned it.  There is no financial benefit to a parent quitting a career to be home, rearing their children - in fact, quite the opposite.  Home to hear their woes, frustrations, issues in school, cyber bullying.  To speak with them about vengeance, love, hate - the emotions that fuel the turmoil that causes ANY human to act out in violence.  How many families still sit at the dinner table every evening?  Show of hands?  Ours.

This is my job.  This is my duty.  To be here for them.  I am not an educator - I am not a teacher.  I am an environment.  And aren't we all just that?  A product of our environment?

Slow down.  Soak it in.  Take a moment to reflect on what our true core values are in this country.  What have we abandoned - logic, love, compassion, kindness, foundation, community; the village.  What have we adopted - greed, negligence, entitlement, privacy, fear, piety - pride. 

Large million dollar houses or a community filled with love and compassion.  Not without it's faults and crime.  But a dedication to a great good - a larger picture.

A few months ago I came across a collection of videos I've had since Orion's birth.  They are beautiful to me.  And each time I watch it, I am reminded of why I gave up my 12 year career, my final Grammy Nomination nod - they are worth every moment.  Being there for them in anyway I can - and they for me.  This is our family.  We treasure all of it - the core to extended to surrogate.

I look forward to posting more in the future.  Stay tuned and please engage.

E02 Political Discourse and Marriage

Episode 02!  Below I discuss the 5 steps that help prevent divorce when Trent and I are discussing current political and social issues.  We are not one in the same politically which results in some interesting discussions.  Most importantly we try to remain respectful and honor one another's individuality.  To do that we try to stick to these 5 rules:

1.  Don't Yell (super hard for me)

2.  Stay on Topic (Trent... this one is particularly for you and your incessant habit of arguing semantics instead of the topic at hand)

3.  No Name Calling - that goes for politicians and pundits as well.  The name calling can become inadvertently (or purposefully) personal far to easily.

4.  Love Timer - seems juvenile, but this works for us.  A timer that forces us to reflect on the conversations, our differences and what brought us together.  There is a world outside of our political views that is beautifully vast and full of culture.  Our politics are not what brought us together - our love and respect for one anther; our personhood did.

5.  Active Listening which is great in any situation.  I could talk for hours on this subject alone and how we have become such a self obsessed species, that we could stand to work on this with everyone in our lives.  Hearing and listening are completely separate and different acts.

How'd we get here?  The Women's March in DC.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was just a couple weeks ago and Marley was studying key words like protest, picket, character, etc... in his class.  So we were asked as parents to use those words in the house in conversation so the kids could become familiar with them.  Conveniently the Women's march was that following weekend (after we received the email).  Our friends were going to DC, and the kids are very good friends with their children (we carpool and they are the other half of the Woodburn Village - I can't wait to discuss that further) - so it gave me a great opportunity to use these terms.

My husband noticed it on my screen that Saturday morning.  He immediately asked about it and I told him I was explaining it to the kids - in their terms.  His reply 'they asked? or you offered?'.  I explained that we received an email from the teacher and I felt it was a great way to connect with them about the words being used in school.  Also - the kids have been exposed to the political climate as of late through their peers and what has been said in their company (a whole other blog worthy topic on appropriate political discourse with children).

But why shouldn't I be able to talk to them about it?  The smug reply he had was enough to set me off.  And we did.  We debated, we got personal, we threatened our marriage over words and hurt feelings.  Over semantics, miscommunication, hearing but not listening.  We almost destroyed our family through blind passion and anger.  My husband left for work that afternoon with our foundation crumbling - tears in my eyes and fear in my bones.

And then I received this text message.

Beat 5 - my husband is a police officer.  He's had guns pointed at him, been attacked by drug users, dealt with over doses - you get it.  It's dangerous.  I can't stand when things are left like this.  Everyday he goes to work vowing to protect and serve us - our community, you and I, he takes the risk that he may not return home.

I know that seems dark - but it's the truth.  And the fear resting in my bones was just that.  The tears - shame and guilt that I couldn't let my pride down for the brief moment it takes to recognize our differences.  

The beauty in our individually and how much I love that man.  After this exchange we had a very important discussion on how to handle conversations like this in the future.  And then I received this:

pussy hats are the pink knitted caps seen at the Woman's Marches - they are worn to bring feminine solidarity - and I love to knit and yes, my husband knows how to as well.

We decided not to pretend we DON'T have our differences.  We've chosen to embrace our mental autonomy.  To honor our personhood and never, NEVER let one another forget how much they are loved and cherished.  May this be a lesson for all of us.  That we are here, and our actions and words effect one another delivered passively or for purpose.  Take care in these days when the political climate is hot and liberties may be at stake - that our words truly reflect the greater good.

authored by Chelsea Crutcher

3 months - Yikes!

Forgive me readers - it's been almost 3 months since my last entry.  For years I'd rarely let a week go by without an Around Here or 52 portrait - but this year has been a bit more hectic than the norm.  And for good reason.  Our expanding family really put our noses to the grindstone these past 6 months and although we are still in the tunnel searching for light (not meant to sound so destitute), we are starting to breath a little lighter.

Trent made it.  He graduated - beautifully.  He worked hard, was diligent and mindful and is now a Cincinnati Police Officer.  We celebrated his graduation this month and I'm not sure if I have seen my husband more at ease and content.  Surrounded by his family - all of us celebrating what an achievement this was.  For me, however, realizing how surreal and heavy my future as his wife became.  But I love him and understand his commitment to the community and admire it.

Here he is.  Sitting proudly at graduation.  I kept it together - really I did.  Until... final role call.  They stood up and in military fashion answered loudly when called upon.  It happened so quickly and the 6 months seemed to vanish in an instant.  For this wife, it was his release into the elements.  That this is really happening.  I am so happy for husband, it's a dream of his and means the world to protect the community.  I love you.

First day on the job.  It's been a few weeks now and I am still acclimating!

Along with this giant leap forward - the kiddos are moving ahead as well, at lightening speed!  They are all in school full time starting next month which boggles my mind and we will have our crazy dancing wee one with us in just a few months!  They are reading, writing, making up stories - constructing (their ultimate past time, thank you Uncle Derek), swimming (Soren took the deep end test and I can't get him off the diving board and slide!), visiting parks, spending time with family (thank you Mom for helping me in June! and OMG! - my in-laws are so cool!) and still working on my end. 

We are in the midst of wrapping up our last commercial recording of the year with the Symphony and last opera (Tosca) with Cincinnati Opera.  I am on the road to DVD archive back ups and finalizing masters, dubs and billing (duh, duh DUHNNNNN!).  We've moved out of Music Hall for the year, the Aronoff sounds amazing and I'm interested to see what the Taft has in store for us.  

I miss this space.  I hope not to spend time away from it again.  Coming up will be some great entries from my hubs, updated news on the peanut in the oven (moving as we speak), the three muchachos and how they blow my mind on a daily basis and our busy house hunting days (help?!!!!!  please!!!!).  

authored by Chelsea Crutcher