Monday, May 28, 2018

Home Again

I've been meaning to write a blog post for a while now, but things have been busy.

First off, Eden's still waiting for an appointment with an eye surgeon in Dallas. She's doing well with her eye patch wearing, though she still resists it quite a bit. We're bribing her with water color painting and tv shows.

We moved into the Orange street house on May 18, so we've been here for ten days now. We got everything into the house in 2.5 trips and about 6 hours. We got the kids' rooms set up as much as we could that night, though of course a lot more work was done over the next few days. Our bedroom took a while because Austin couldn't find the bolts to put the bed together, resulting in our being up until about 11pm while he searched for, located, and assembled our bed. That doesn't seem TOO late but I'd been awake since 5am and we'd moved so I was exhausted. My body definitely didn't appreciate it and I was sickish for the next several days. I'm still recovering.

In spite of all that, though, I'd say we're about 95% done unpacking. There are filled boxes in the garage, sure, but those are things in long term storage. We're passing along our empty boxes and once we've got those down to a manageable number, we'll (I'll) work on organizing the storage areas a little better. There are still things around that need a permanent home, but we'll figure that out as we go. We've turned the dining room into a temporary gathering place for everything that's left, just to help me keep my sanity. After two months of living surrounded by boxes, I'm really glad to have the majority of the boxes confined to one room, and it's a room I can avoid easily.

The kitchen is unpacked and usable. We've cooked quite a few meals, though we've also ordered in and picked up a few times because hey, we just moved and we're still unpacking and we're tired.

The last room started was the first room finished. The library has books on the shelves or in the cabinets, art on the walls (made by me), comfy chairs for reading, and a desk chair at the desk. Not all the books would fit because of course not, but each kid has shelves in their room with books on them and my Book of the Month books are in my sitting room. Of course those shelves are almost full with the ones I've already got so that's definitely not a long term solution. I'll likely be donating more of the books Mom left behind (there's already about 11 boxes of books she left that we're not keeping) to make space for our books. We'll need to get a library ladder because we can't reach the top two shelves without one, and even then it's tricky. Needless to say, the books we don't use much (or ever) are up there.

I'm absolutely loving how some of the rooms look, namely the girls' rooms and the library. I'm taking pictures as we go and I'll eventually post some before and afters. I'm just waiting until rooms are done before I take pictures of them, and since only a couple of rooms are actually completely done (or as done as they're going to get for now) that's slow going. The family dining room is done but my kids are super messy eaters so I'd have to clean and sweep to get a decent picture. Maybe after the next time the house is cleaned I'll snap a picture before the kids come in. It doesn't look all that different from how Mom had it, it's just got our stuff in it.

Mom and I went on Friday and did the official signing and transfer of Orange street, so the Caldwell House is officially, legally mine. I did have to pay for it, but it was a reasonable amount. I don't even have to sell a kid. The last step to get Mom free of this house is June 1 when the bills go into our name instead of hers.

It's interesting to live in my childhood home as the parent. Walking into the rooms, they're so different because of paint and use, I kind of feel like I'm living in two worlds at once. I can see how the rooms were when I was a kid and how they are now. I can remember the things that happened in those rooms and imagine the things that will happen in the years to come. Eden is in my childhood bedroom and Asher is in Caleb's room. Rebekah is in what was Dad's office and Elijah is in the craft room. Austin's office is the music room where I spent hours practicing the piano as a kid and once in a while when I'm in there, I remember Dad making faces at me through the double glass doors. I'm remembering the quirks of the house and learning new ones.

The kids seem to love being here. The only complaint I've heard is from Elijah who said this house is so big. He still likes being here. He's torn between wanting to still be in the Mulberry house and being here where there's so much more space and he's got his own big room. Asher is enjoying having his own room, his only complaint has been that it's "small" which is silly because it's a large room. Though in his defense, it is the smallest bedroom in the house. That's what he gets for having a bedroom on the first floor away from everyone else.

Rebekah mostly stays away from the stairs, though she likes to pull up at the top of the stairs and give me a big grin as she bounces. She's very cautious, though, carefully sitting down and backing up. I'll eventually get around to bringing a gate upstairs to put at the top when we're all upstairs relaxing and she's roaming free. She's loving having so much space to explore. She was let loose in the downstairs on Thursday while I did some unpacking in the dining room and she managed to find a paperclip, two screws, and two plastic pegs from a game. She was very unhappy when I fished them out of her mouth. If you want to find things that shouldn't be on the floor, get a baby and she'll find them for you.

So things are going well as far as the move goes. There's a few little tweaks that need to be done. Austin's still unpacking because he hasn't been home as much as I have plus he's been doing things for me around the house, like hanging things up and taking empty boxes out to the garage. When he gets done with the things I've asked him to do, he's usually tired and ready to sit and do nothing for a while.

Elijah asked me last week how long we'd have boxes all over our house. I told him to give me two weeks. I feel like I can safely say that after 10 days, we're pretty much out of boxes. This is my superpower.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Things are Looking Up

It's been a rough couple of weeks, y'all. Moving is at a weird point where we're moving boxes over but we weren't unpacking anything or even putting them where they would go because the rooms had Mom's furniture in them or were being painted or something. Keeping an eye patch on an opinionated 3 yo who doesn't want to wear it was also super fun. We went through about 70 eye patches in three weeks. That's a lot of eye patches.

BUT! Things are getting better. Mom has been going to Orange to get the last of her things as she's been able, adding the the monstrous pile in the dining room of things she's donating. She hired some people to come move furniture downstairs last Thursday and the same day, a woman came and took all the antiques to sell, even a couple things I thought were being left for us, lol. We'll have way more space than we thought. It'll be great.

So Saturday, a friend and I spent a couple hours at the house moving boxes around the house and unpacking a bit in the kitchen. My housekeeper went over and cleaned the kitchen for me on Wednesday and I'm hoping that tomorrow, they can get a couple more rooms cleaned for unpacking.

It's so weird. The house has an echo that I don't remember it ever having before. There were a couple hours on Saturday I was alone in the house and I'm going to have to reacquaint myself with it's creaks and moans and sounds, because it did feel a little creepy on a sunny Saturday

The painting is trucking along and looks so good. Austin and I are really pleased with how it's looking and it's making the house feel like it's actually going to be ours, instead of my mom's. Our stuff is not going to fill it up by any means, but it'll help with the echo. I hope.

We still have a lot of packing to do, but now that there are empty rooms, we can actually move stuff over and not be surrounded by boxes. It was getting claustrophobic over here.

In other news, Eden had her follow up appointment to her first follow up appointment three weeks ago. She's been wearing an eye patch for the past three weeks and everyone has beenn so supportive with helping us keep it on her. It's been rough, because she hates it, but it's all worth it because we were successful! Her vision three weeks ago was measured at 20/80 and today he measured it at 20/30, a huge improvement. She still needs to be patched part time, but we're looking at 14 hours a week, which I think will be much more doable. She still needs to have surgery, but hopefully after she won't need any additional patching.

We were supposed to go see a doctor in Dallas tomorrow, but it turned out he didn't actually have operating privileges at Children's, so that appointment has been cancelled and they're looking for a doctor who can. Hopefully we'll get that appointment soon and we can get this done quickly. In the meantime, we'll be back to see our local doctor in 4 months.

So, things are turning around for us from our brief down turn for the year. We're looking forward to all the good stuff coming soon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Then I got pelted with shoes.

Mom moved on Saturday. Five burly bikers and two young men and me all showed up early to help Mom and Bob with the big moving of furniture and remaining boxes. We worked for 12 hours (I left after 11) and the end result is that Mom and Bob have a house full of furniture and boxes...and there's still some that got left behind because we ran out of time.

I think the job was bigger than anticipated. Certain things weren't as well communicated as they could have been, so there's still quite a bit to move and do, which makes everything interesting. Since Mom's not fully out, and won't be for a while, our move has been postponed to a date to be determined. First, Mom needs to make arrangements for what's left, and she's pretty busy most of the week so that'll take a little time to do. After that, we can proceed.

The hope was for our family to be in before the end of the school year so I'd have a few days with no kids underfoot to work on unpacking and settling in and decorating. I'm thinking it'll be sometime in the summer before we're actually moved, so I'll have to get creative with child distractions. Hopefully we can have a safe room with a tv and toys for them.

Then, yesterday, Caleb had to have surgery to remove a ruptured appendix. He was in pain starting early in the afternoon on Sunday and it just lingered until he ended up in the ER (for the second time in two days) yesterday morning and in surgery last night at 7. He's doing better and will be there for a couple of days recuperating.

Then today, I called the doctor in Dallas to confirm a couple of things before the appointment in a week and they told me that he does NOT have privileges at Children's. So now I'm trying to work that out and figure out what happened.

I'm tired.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Then the other shoe drops

The last few weeks/months have been pretty good around here. We've had some illness, but a house full of young children goes through that periodically. We've had more ups than downs lately.

Then Monday happened.

For those who forgot, or maybe didn't know, on top of Eden's heart issues, she's also got ptosis, a droopy eyelid, on her left eye. She's been seeing a pediatric ophthalmologist since she was 6 months old since it's so low it obstructs the top of her pupil. Put your hand over the top of your eye and look around....that's her whole life. Back in December, her doctor went out of network so we had to find a new one. We saw him in February for a vision check, more than the eye exams we'd been having. Three is about as young as you can check vision.

She did great with her right eye, but was very uncooperative with her left. He managed to get enough of a check done that he estimated her vision at about 20/60. He sent us home with instructions to play "pirate" to get her used to covering her dominant eye for another exam in April. She got pretty good at it and had fun teasing us with how long she could do it.

Monday was that follow up exam. She, again, did great on the right eye but when it came time to check the left, she wasn't really working with us. When the doctor finally came in to do his part, he tested her using a card and said she's not being uncooperative, because she answered just fine when it was her right eye, she just couldn't see. He estimates her current vision in her left eye to be about 20/80. That much deterioration in two months leads him to believe that her brain has started to ignore her left eye.

People with ptosis usually adapt. Think about Forrest Whitaker. He's got it pretty severely and he does fine. I'm not sure if his vision is affected, but it's pretty likely. Eden should have begun to tilt her head back to see better under the eyelid. Her eye seems to be perfectly fine, it's just not being utilized.

So her doctor wants to move her ptosis surgery from summer of 2020 to .... now, essentially.

Not tomorrow, or even next week (thank god for small favors), but sooner rather than later. He sent us home with instructions to patch her for three weeks. We have a follow up appointment with him on May 7.

Because of her heart, this surgery has risks and can't be done in Abilene. She has to go to Dallas to have it done at Children's. So when I got home Monday afternoon, I emailed her cardiologist to fill her in and ask about next steps. She doesn't have an eye surgeon in mind, so our doctor here agreed (and even offered at the appointment) to find one for us. Wednesday we got a call that we have an appointment in Dallas with a pediatric eye plastic surgeon on May 8.

Because I want to do ALL THE THINGS the week after we move. Sounds fantastic.

That's why, if you've seen Eden this week, she's wearing an eye patch. She hates them, but at least she's quit pulling them off. It's a struggle to get them on, but once it's on she generally leaves it alone. Monday was rough, she kept pulling them off, but if we can get her distracted with tv or her tablet, she forgets she's wearing it. I got some pretty ones on Amazon with ladybugs, mermaids, stars, teddy bears, and mouse princesses on them. Amazon seriously has everything, you guys.

I did a little googling of what her surgery will probably be and it looks like it's a 45 minute to 2 hour procedure and we likely won't have to have a stay in the hospital. I'd love if we didn't have to stay overnight at all, but if we do, I'd rather stay in a hotel. Granted, what I read was about a normal pediatric ptosis surgery, not a cardiac patient.

I have every confidence this will go well and she'll regain her vision. We've caught it as early as we could and we're doing what we can. She's my and Austin's child, and no one in our families has good eyes, so it's a given our kids will need glasses at some point. 20/80 isn't terrible (I'm sure mine is worse since I can't even tell if there's a chart on the wall, let alone read any letters) so if it even stalls there, that would be ok with me. That's correctable. We just have to get her brain to use that eye.

And I think it is. She's been watching tv one eyed all week and she's tilting her head back and correctly answering questions the Bubble Guppies and UmiZoomi ask. She gets pretty close to things, but she IS seeing. So that's a relief.

No one likes hearing their child needs surgery, or for that surgery to be complicated. I did cry on Monday, even as I was telling myself it would be fine, that this was nothing, a routine, simple thing for these doctors. The tricky part is the anesthesia, and that's why she's going to Children's. And if anything were to go sideways, she's there at a fantastic hospital that is fully equipped to handle her special case.

But she's still my baby and she's having surgery. Possibly in as little as a month or so.

So, prayers, healing thoughts, etc, all are welcome. She's a fighter and she's strong and willful. She won't let this keep her down.

Her eye is as open as it ever gets. Her first eye patch. She didn't know what was happening so she didn't fight it. 

We bought this one but it wouldn't stay in place very well and was constantly slipping over her left eye, so we quit that. It was soft, though, so she prefers it. 

Watching tv with a mermaid eye patch. Apparently this is comfortable? 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Busy Busy Busy

We've been blowing and going around here for the past several weeks. packing and moving boxes and stacking boxes and repacking after the kids find the boxes and pull out toys they haven't played with in ages so I thought were safe to pack but OH NO IT'S ACTUALLY THEIR FAVORITE TOYS and.....

I'm a little stressed. And tired. Ok, very tired. I have a standing Monday night "Mom Date" and last week I nearly fell asleep whenever there were those regular comfortable lulls in the conversation. I was asleep within about 15 minutes of walking in the front door.

We have packed up nearly everything we don't use on a daily, or even weekly, basis and there's lots of empty places in our house. They're balanced by the giant pile of packed and labeled boxes by the front door which is balanced by the pile of empty boxes in front of the fireplace.

I didn't used to be claustrophobic or have a huge issue with clutter but this past month I've felt on edge about stuff everywhere. We moved a ton of boxes over to Orange to store in the garage and thank god for that because I have no idea where those boxes would be now if we hadn't had a place to move them to. Maybe we'd have put them in our storage building, but probably we just would have procrastinated packing even more.

Easter came and went with a stomach bug that wiped out half of the family and problems with an oven which resulted in the Walke family Easter being catered by Belle's and eaten in the Perry Center at the church. The kids were adorable, as usual, and enjoyed the egg hunt. I dutifully took the candy tax and they're quickly working their way through the rest, since I've declared whatever isn't eaten is being thrown away when we move.

Everyone is doing great. The kids are getting more and more excited about the move, Austin got a nice raise at work, and I'm feeling pretty happy, in spite of the stress. Having my mom dates really helps with de-stressing, both because I get to get out of the house and have adult conversations, but also because I get away from the clutter.

A couple of people have pointed out that I don't have nearly as much stuff as Mom, so the house will be somewhat empty, or at least emptyish. I reply "I know, it'll be great!" Don't worry, I'm my mother's daughter. I'll fill it up. Hopefully it'll take me 25 years.

The big happy news, though, is Rebekah. She had her cardiology appointment today to check her VSD. For those who forgot, or didn't know, she was diagnosed in the womb with a small intra-muscular ventricular septal defect (hole in the muscle tissue between her ventricles, the bottom chambers of the heart). It was one that is super common and lots of people are born with it and never know, because they close on their own as the child grows, usually by about a year old, if not sooner. It's nothing to Eden's holes, but it was so minor, the doctor wasn't concerned about the home birth and gave us the thumbs up for that (which was good since the diagnosis was at like 28 weeks or so). At her birth, no one cold detect anything. At her doctor appointments, the ped couldn't hear anything. In April of 2017, she had an echocardiogram and it was still there, but it hadn't changed in size. Still no concern, come back in a year.

Cut to today, a year later. Our regular cardiologist wasn't there, because she's changed how she does things, but the other doctor is great, too. He listened carefully to Rebekah's chest, looked at her vital signs (100% pulseox, great bp and EKG, slightly elevated heart rate, but she hated having things stuck to her) and declared that the VSD has closed.

We knew it would happen and we've had no concerns about her health any more than any normal baby, but still. It's such a relief to know that her body did what it was supposed to do and her heart is whole.

Now I just have one kid with a janky heart. But it's janky in the right ways. We don't really want that to mend itself. (It would probably kill her if it did.)

There's so much more going on. Painting the Orange street house and moving Mom and Bob and moving ourselves and finishing school and getting settled into our "new" home (is it a new house if I lived there for 10 years 15 years ago? and is also 100 years old?) and everything else. I'm sure I'm forgetting major stuff. I've got lists everywhere and still managed to forget about today's cardio appointment until yesterday afternoon when Austin asked me about it.

We'll make it. Three weeks to go.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Home Sweet Home...Again

It finally happened. After three and a half months and I don't know how many houses and 4 offers and three contracts, Mom finally bought a house! She's been packing and moving things in slowly over the past two weeks. I've been over there twice helping unpack and get things set up. My nephews have been helping pack and move the boxes and a couple of pieces of furniture.

It's definitely a downsize for her. She's going from 5400 square feet to about 3000. I have a skewed vision of what a big house is, so I don't think this house is huge, but a lot of my friends do. The main part of the house is three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large living room, huge dining room, huge kitchen and a small dining area. It's got a huge room with a full bath over the two car garage they'll use as a guest room. The main house is 2500 square feet and trying to figure out where Mom is going to put everything is like a puzzle. We've been measuring and remeasuring and triple measuring furniture and rooms and thinking about configurations for days. I think we might have her office figured out. Mostly.

She started packing back in February, when she had contract #2. I refused to pack anything until she actually had keys to a house because contract #1 fell apart when the seller couldn't sign because of a contention in the estate. Contract #2 was opted out of because of the incredible amount of work needed on the house. Offer #3 was declined. Offer #4 turned into contract #3 and I still waited until contract #3 became house #2.

So I've packed a few boxes. Not many in the grand scheme of things, but about 30 or so of books. And I have one tub of kitchen stuff packed. And Austin packed a few boxes out of the front closet.

I hate packing. Its so tedious. And there's not really space for filled boxes anywhere at the moment. I'm waiting for Bob to move his Corvette to the new house so I can start loading up and dropping boxes in the garage on Orange, but there's not a super rush on that. He's got a lot of other stuff going on with the move so that is not a priority for him.

Elijah has been surprisingly helpful with packing. He's pretty good at packing books into boxes. Granted, he's had some behavioral issues recently so he's lost screen time (the only punishment that really works around here) and packing and being Mommy's "slave boy" is the only way he has of earning it back, but he actually is useful. He can fetch and carry empty boxes, he's figured out how to put books in fairly efficiently, and he can pack one box for every three that I pack, which isn't nothing.

He doesn't want to pack his stuff yet, though. That should wait until we move. So that's going to be fun. 🙄

I asked the boys to pick out the games in the dining room they wanted to keep out so we could pack the others. There's probably about 20 games in there. They were ok packing the games Austin and I play with friends who come over for dinner and Eden's game. Everything else needed to stay out because they MIGHT want to play it in the next two months.

Everything relating to a move is so daunting. Utilities, insurance, packing, unpacking, the move itself; those are just the must happens. The extras, painting, new decor, special purchases...those don't actually make it just tons more fun. I am looking forward to throwing some color on the walls in the Orange street house, and I finally get to decorate bedrooms for the children, but figuring out the logistics is making me want to just crawl into bed and watch mindless tv and sleep for about two months. Wake me up when it's all over.

Maybe I should hire someone to come pack, too. That's not too terrible, right?

The kids are mostly looking forward to it. Asher is excited to have his own room with privacy. Elijah is excited to have a Mario themed room. Eden is excited to have a pink room. Rebekah...she's 1. She's clueless. They like Oma's new house. They're iffy on BB and Papa living in their old house ("I don't want to leave my stuff for them. I don't want BB and Papa to play with my trains." -Elijah).

It'll all work out and in a year's time, everything will be settled for us (I hope). We're hoping to be all moved by mid-May so I can have the last couple of weeks of school to have two days a week of uninterrupted unpacking and settling. CCF is only once a week this summer, and only in June and July. So I'll have maybe 7 days of no kids underfoot. SUPER.

It's happening. And it's going to be exciting and terrifying and exhausting and I'll be so relieved when it's all over.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday morning thoughts

There are a few things I don't talk about in mixed company, mainly politics and religion. I don't think I really have to explain why. I just smile politely or pretend like I'm somewhere else when they come up because I don't want the headache. Today, I'm going to talk about church a little bit.

For the second Sunday in a row, I'm not at church. Last week, the kids and I were just tired. They didn't even wake up until 9 and 930. Granted, we could still have made it to the service, but I didn't feel like dealing with four kids on my own, so we stayed home. Today, I have a migraine that is slowly ebbing after drugs and a shower, though I'm not feeling fantastic. I get migraines (or at least really awful headaches, I'm not sure I can actually call them migraines) quite often but usually at the end of the day. This one struck late last night and lingered into the morning. Normally I'd try to rest but my migraine meds have caffeine in them and today, that has kicked in so I'm wired and wide awake, but my migraine is still lingering. So that's fun.

Plus, I'm disappointed and a little "over" church right now.

I'm disappointed in my church, specifically. There have been decisions made over the past couple of years that I don't agree with, and that really really disappointed me. I do understand why they were made, and that in a couple of instances there wasn't really any other choice to make, but that doesn't mean that I agree with them.

Our church is older. I don't know what the average age is, but it's probably in the 50's. It's smaller because we have so many older members and not very many younger members. It honestly seems like us and one other family are the main ones growing the church, and that's mainly because our two families have had a combined 8 children in the last 9 years. There aren't many families with young children, though every Sunday I'm surprised by the number of kids who go to the front for the Children's sermon and who come thundering down the stairs at the end from children's church.

I honestly think a big reason our church doesn't have more young families is because there is basically no programming for us. We have great groups for the older crowd, the children's programs are good, though not as good as they used to be, and there are things parents could go to occasionally, but the main issue is childcare. Our church rarely has that as an option for anything taking place outside of Sunday morning.

I have four kids. They would definitely take away any enjoyment of adult activities not only for me and Austin, but for other adults present, if we were to try to go to some of the activities in the evenings or mornings. So we don't.

Don't get me wrong, we show up to a LOT of stuff. We show up to congregational meetings, lunches, activities, special services, etc. We bring our brood of kids and deal with the stress of keeping them under control and from bothering other people.

That's not to say our kids are wild and out of control, because they're not. But they are kids. They get restless. They may not like the food served at the meals, so we have to eat quickly and get them home to eat something they'll actually eat.

Because our church is mainly an older population, I like to say we have a lot of grandparents. Most of them are grandparents to their own, but because their families don't live close, my kids and the other kids in the church benefit from the love they have to give. The women in our church volunteer at the MDO and rock the babies. I've heard there's one lady who loves to just sit and rock Rebekah, which I love. They smile and coo and make faces at my kids. My kids just take it in stride because this is normal for them.

A couple of weeks ago at a brunch welcoming our interim minister, one grandma used her walker to create a space next to Rebekah's high chair where there really wasn't one with a sweet smile on her face the whole time. The person who had been sitting closer to Rebekah just scooted over and made space. The grandma just beamed at me and said so many times during the brunch how much she loved sitting next to this messy, happy, baby. She didn't use those words, but when I warned her that Rebekah might reach out with her messy hands and touch her sleeves or her pretty jacket, she brushed it off. She didn't mind at all. Later, when I was standing nearby talking to Austin, she asked if I needed a seat and offered me her walker (she was not about to give up the prized seat next to the baby).

I love the people of our church. They work hard to support each other and the community. They show up for each other when needed. They love each other and on each other's families. They celebrate new babies and marriages and grieve losses. They cry when a member moves away. And I love that about them.

The thing is, our leadership is getting burned out. It's the same small group of (mostly older) people leading everything. The same people lead Sunday School, head up committees, take charge of donation drives, show up to our community outreach programs, take care of our children, and more. Austin was willing to be praise leader as a volunteer position, but they insisted it be a paid position. So we donate the majority of that back to the church. I got voluntold as the president of the women's group, Circle with Faith (or Christian Women's Fellowship) for the year, a position I wasn't, and still aren't, thrilled with, but I recognize that no one else wanted it and the people who have done it for years, among other leadership positions, are getting tired. They need a break. So I've managed to delegate out some of the tasks and look at myself as more of a manager than anything else.

I admire these same people for continually stepping up and showing up. It's hard to be one of the few people making sure things are working and moving forward when no one else is volunteering and in fact is telling you what you're doing wrong and that you should do it better, but don't ask them to do anything.

I don't have any answers as to how to "fix" things. Our church is slowly moving towards closing it's doors (this is known around the church so I'm not spilling any beans by writing about it now) and that's sad, but the church is not just the building, it's also the people. These amazing people will be fine wherever they end up. Those who lead will continue to do so and those who follow will continue to follow. Maybe if our church has to downsize or disband all together the leaders will get a break and the followers will be inspired to do more.

Personally, and I know I'm not the only one, I feel like our church needs to downsize. There are thriving, young churches in our area that could greatly benefit from having our beautiful space. Mom and I talked about how it's like her giving us her house: an older population is occupying a huge beautiful space that they don't need and can't fill while a younger population is crowded into a small space that they're making work, but it would be such a blessing to have the bigger space. Everyone who has heard about the house has said how amazing that is and how smart and logical it is. And yet when it comes to the church, we're clinging to it like a life raft in the middle of an ocean.

And I get it, I do. Many people in our church grew up there, raised their children there, were married there and watched their children get married there. It's a lovely space and we're all sentimental about it. But sometimes, it's time to move on and let the younger generation have a turn.

I wasn't raised in this church. I was raised in another church that disbanded and I have sentimental feelings about that building, but I'm glad that it's being utilized by a new congregation. When the church disbanded, the last service had maybe 30 people there, people who had been there almost since the beginning of the church 20 years earlier. I don't know how many people are there now, but surely it's more than that. I still drive past occasionally and look at the building, wondering what the inside looks like. Maybe one of these days I'll go and see.

As you can probably see, I have a lot of mixed feelings about our church. I don't have any easy answers and I wish I did. I wish I could flip a switch and young families would suddenly start flocking to our church so that it would grow and thrive the way it used to. I wish there was a way to have so many members that we had to have multiple full services and not enough space for our children on the steps of the sanctuary during the children's sermon. I've asked people who've visited and not returned why and their answers were things that we can't change, which is both reassuring and very frustrating.

Maybe I'm just feeling down about church because of the situation the church is in right now. Maybe it's the season. Winter always makes me feel a little down. Maybe I'm just tired in general. I don't know. I don know that whatever happens, it'll be ok. If we attend this church until we die or if we attend this church until this summer, it'll be ok.