Take it easy … on yourself

Moving is never easy.

Moving pregnant is definitely not easy.

Moving pregnant after buying your first house ever, losing the majority of your belongings in a fire and dealing with unexpected stressors like your new house flooding two days before you close your house – yep, that’s borderline crazy when you say it all at once.

So when I misplace my wallet Monday morning in the house full of chaos – boxes and a stir crazy 2 year old and 85-pound dog – leads to streams of tears I probably shouldn’t be surprised.

But the anger and pressure I put on myself about said wallet and getting the house in a reasonable order within days isn’t OK.

Yes, the situation our family is in right now is (thank goodness) temporary. Eventually the boxes will get unpacked. And I did (after HOURS of searching on the part of myself, Michael and even Miles) find the wallet. My son and dog will get used to the new surroundings and sleep later than 5:30 a.m. Peace will once again be felt.

But until all that happens, I have GOT to learn to let go a little and stop being so hard on myself, and my poor husband too I’m sure.

I know everyone goes through these seasons of stress in their life. What did you do to take the pressure off yourself and your loved ones?

What’s your go-to “treat yourself” activity? I’ve got pregnant brain, so my immediate thoughts are ice cream; but give me some healthier suggestions.


You can never go back home again

We returned this weekend from an amazing trip to Louisiana. The two-day road trip was exhausting but worth every minute of time with family and friends.

The three of us stayed the majority of the week with Michael’s parents but had the opportunity to see nearly everyone in the family as well as friends and former co-workers.

PawPaw and MeMe with Miles, Eli and Jhett

PawPaw and MeMe with Miles, Eli and Jhett

And of course much of our trip focused around the amazing food and beautiful weather that Louisiana has to offer. There was boiled crawfish, shrimp Po’boys, my hubby’s favorite chicken, burgers from the tiny little shack Michael grew up patronizing up the street from his parents, his mom’s famous and rich chicken and sausage sauce piquante, Miles’ first wienie roast, boudin, brisket and so much more. I think I gained about 10 pounds from our week there!


Miles helping great-grandpa Monroe play guitar

Miles helping great-grandpa Monroe play guitar

Great-grandpa Monroe and great-grandma Nellie

Great-grandpa Monroe and great-grandma Nellie

Wagon ride with Jhett

Wagon ride with Jhett

Much of the days were spent outside with Miles enjoying one of the many wagons he fell in love with, playing on the swing set and trampoline at MeMe and Pawpaw’s and going on crazy four-wheeler rides. Michael and I got a kick out of watching Miles reacquaint himself with family, most of which he’d only ever met one time when he was just 9 months old. He called out for his MeMe and PawPaw, snuggled with his great-grandparents, giggled and played with cousins and enjoyed tickles from his aunt.

Miles helped give Ray a ride in the wagon

DSC_1154 Miles helped give Ray a ride in the wagon

Miles' wild ride with his cousins

Miles’ wild ride with his cousins


Miles, Jhett and Eli

Miles, Jhett and Eli

Eli and Miles

Eli and Miles

In addition to spending a ton of time with family, Michael and I had a chance to show Miles our old stomping grounds — where we met (the newspaper office we both worked), where we lived together and our favorite places to hang out.

The trip home for Michael and back to the place I loved and called home for nearly four years for me made us both very sentimental. Of course I love being back “home” in Indiana and being close to family, but there is so much I love and miss about Louisiana. We talked about what it would be like if we moved back.

The good ol’ days had Michael working with his best friend Ray, me with one of mine David and our house being THE PLACE to be for a great social gathering. It had a huge kitchen, a spacious backyard with a privacy fence, a covered patio and an awesome hostess (me). We had an amazing time in that house with a great group of friends.

But when we went back to visit the paper it wasn’t the same. Our closest of friends had already left. When we drove by our house you could tell the last couple of years hadn’t been kind to it. It had fallen into some disrepair.

The whole place, the whole idea of going back to that place at that time seems like an amazing idea. But going back now really has no appeal. There wouldn’t be a place for us where we would feel we belong, where we’d be happy.
And in some ways that feels really sad, like our memories and times there have lost some of their shiny appeal. But that’s not it at all. I think it makes that time and place even more special and magical, makes the memories even more precious. It was a great snapshot in time, some of the best.

Have you ever tried to “go back home again?” How did it work out?

It’s just stuff, right?

When the phone call from my mom started with, “Everyone is OK. No one is hurt,” I knew the second part of her sentence was going to be bad.
My head raced. We are in Louisiana on vacation. Had our house been broken into? She was watching our dog, had something happened to Van Gogh?
“There was a fire at the storage unit.” Long, long pause.
“Everything is gone.”
It took a while to sink in. What is she talking about? What does this mean? What did we even have in there?
About 30 seconds later it sunk in – everything was in there.
When we moved from Anderson to Evansville we decided we wanted something small so we could save up money to buy a house. We knew it would be temporary. So all of our belongings that were once in a four bedroom house had to be wheedled down to the absolute essentials to fit into our tiny two bedroom duplex in Evansville.
So we got a storage unit at the same building my mom has used for years to store Christmas decorations and other miscellaneous items.
Lots of furniture went there – an entire bedroom set and mattress, a chaise lounge, a rocker, an easy chair, a couch, book shelves, my Papa’s desk that I admired my entire childhood and was able to take after he passed away, my great-grandmother’s vanity that I remember sitting at as a little girl to put on play make-up, several lamps and the most amazing blonde butcher block table that my parents had my entire childhood and had saved for me. There were even crayon drawings on the bottom of it courtesy of my sister and me.
And then there were boxes and boxes of books. Books from my childhood, coffee table books of photography and newspaper, novels Michael and I had collected over the years, special books given to me by my dad and mom with beautiful inscriptions.
And then the pictures, the keepsakes, the letters and cards, the mementos of life. I had saris from Bangladesh, tapestries from Thailand, dolls from Guatemala and sculptures from Haiti – all gone. All irreplaceable.
Michael, who admittedly is much less sentimental than I, even was crushed by some of the losses. Baseball gloves he’d used as a kid he was anxious to pass on to Miles; baseball cards he’d collected since childhood; a handful of childhood toys and clothes his mom had saved so we could pass down to our kids – all gone.
Our high school and college diplomas – gone.
We just bought a house and have spent the last month excitedly planning about how we would decorate and furnish it with all of our stuff we’d been missing for the past year tucked away in storage. Our current apartment in Evansville has empty walls, no decorations as we’d stored them all.
All of our plans about what would go where meant nothing.
As I was processing the enormity of it all while on the phone with my mom I couldn’t hold the tears back. She apologized profusely although she had no control or anything to do with it. But what do you say in a situation like this?
I’ve written dozens of stories about people who have lost everything in a fire. I’ve interviewed those families and was only able to offer a hopeful apology and sympathy, never empathy though. I had no idea what it feels like.
After hanging up the phone the tears turned to sobs. I cried so hard I nearly threw up. I was devastated. Yes, it is unbelievably frustrating that we are going to have to start all over furnishing this house with both furniture and decorations (minus the tiny bit of stuff we had in our apartment). But the part that makes my whole body ache, the part that still brings tears to my eyes days later, is that irreplaceable stuff.
There was so much of my life in there. The hardest things to think about being gone forever are the things from my dad. I had countless letters, cards, notes and poems that he wrote me saved. These are things I’ve saved for more than 20 years, things that meant so much to me. In a way, I felt the loss of my dad all over again. There was comfort in knowing I had those things that he’d written me, those connections to those times, in a physical form that I could physically hold on to.
Now they are gone.
I wipe away the tears though and keep telling myself, it’s just stuff. No one, not even the three men who have been arrested in connection to the arson that destroyed the storage unit, can take away the memories of my childhood, my travels and adventures or the amazing man and father my dad was.
It’s just stuff, right.

Throwback Thursday — Happy fourth anniversary to us!

I’m not gonna lie, there are days I never imagined we’d make it this far. But here we are, four years married! It hasn’t always been easy but there have defnitiely been some really fun adventures along the way.

Love you oodles and oodles Michael. Thanks for helping keep this family running smoothly and being a loving and caring husband and father.

Here’s a few pictures from our wedding day in Natchitoches, La., on March 27, 2010.

wedding wedding silo wedding wedding dance ab dad dance

dance wedding sophie kiss

Best ring bearer a gal could ask for.

Best ring bearer a gal could ask for.

dog kiss

Cousins at my wedding (travelled to Louisiana from Montana, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.)

Cousins at my wedding (travelled to Louisiana from Montana, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.)

When it starts to feel like TOO MUCH

I feel like my life has been consumed by packing!

We are living among boxes and tiny trains, all of them bound and determined to stub my toe or trip me in the middle of the night. The boxes part is new; the trains feel like they will be a permanent fixture.

So we are trying to pack up as much as we are able to this far in advance because the two prime “packing weekends” (the two before we move) will be spent in Louisiana, 700 miles away from where we and all our crap live. When we return on April 6 we will have five days (all of them working days as that Sunday I’ll be working too) before we close on the house and start the move.

But as much as I’ve tried to focus on packing, I had to take a break from doing it. My break from packing boxes though was spent packing suitcases.

Our last trip to Louisiana Miles was just 9 months so it was a lot more complicated. I worried about packing food he could eat (I made all of his baby food and brought with me a cooler with enough food for him to eat the week we were away), frozen breast milk, bottles, formula, pacifiers, a pack and play, a mini high chair, ALL OF THE STUFF. This time it’s just clothes, a few trains and books and the requisite electronics to make the two-day car trip a little more tolerable.

But it’s still a lot of stuff! Three people for nine days. And I had to pack a smaller “go bag” for us to take into the hotel for our stop tonight. And then there’s goodies, items for family and friends in Louisiana.

In other words — TOO MUCH!

So while packing has been the theme of my life these days, TOO MUCH is running a close second.

Buying a house, struggling with what has been a much more challenging pregnancy than my first that has included one trip to the OB emergency room, planning a move and then planning and taking a road trip all while working, trying to be a not too cranky wife and mom has been a little TOO MUCH!

But I see an end to this era of TOO MUCH! The stress of packing/planning the trip is nearly behind me. And in two days we’ll be there and the hecticness of work will be behind me, and I’ll have a week with family and friends to enjoy. And in a mere 25 days me, my happy little family and all of our crap will be in our new house, and we can start making it a home.

And while this sounds like a long time away (it really isn’t) our newest bundle of joy will join us in our new home in around 190 days!

Eh, let’s get real, while these stressors have an end, I’m sure new ones will jump on. I guess that’s how life is for me and just about everyone else. I’m just so happy I have an amazing group of friends and family around me to help me tackle all of the challenges and embrace my TOO MUCH!

What’s your TOO MUCH? How do you deal with days where it feels like you just can’t take on anything more?

And baby makes four

So there’s a lot going on in the Doyle family these days. As I’ve written about before, we just bought a house that we close on April 11.

We’re also preparing for a week and a half long cross-country road trip to Louisiana to see Michael’s family and friends with a toddler in tow. We leave Thursday.

And I’m pregnant.

baby 2

It’s not intentional, but it seems like I can’t do things simply.

I know there’s really nothing simple about buying a house, but the Doyles can’t just buy a house and move like normal people. No, we have to do it while we are juggling a lot of other things too.

We’ve been planning for all three things for a while; they just all kind of happened to fall into place right at the same time.

I’ve just entered the second trimester of pregnancy and while those first 12 weeks were far from smooth sailing, I’m happy to report that mom and baby are doing well. An ultrasound last week showed a super active and healthy baby that’s developing right on schedule. We should know baby Doyle’s gender by mid-May and expect Miles’ sibling to arrive late September or early October.

When we found out we were pregnant a few months ago I looked around our tiny house (that we’ve been renting since we moved to Evansville just about a year ago) and thought, “There’s no way a baby will fit here!” I joked with Michael that instead of a crib we would have to use a dresser drawer. So the house hunting started in earnest with the need for three bedrooms realer than ever.

Thankfully the right house came along after looking at about 20 or so frogs.

And the trip to Louisiana is something that is long overdue. The last time we made a trip down there Miles, who will be three in July, was just nine months old. All of Miles’ family on my husband’s side (but his parents) have only ever seen him that one time. It was definitely time to make a visit. Also, a cousin recently had a daughter, and she and her family will be leaving soon so her husband can fulfill a four year duty in Japan with the Air Force. The timing, while far from convenient in terms of packing/buying a house, was right to see family and friends that are near and dear to us.

Wish me luck as I’m afraid I may lose my mind in the next few days trying to pack for our trip around the boxes we’ve already packed for the move. And I’ll do my best not to fret about the fact that we are losing two packing weekends and instead focus on the fun time with family and friends.