Our move this time around could not be more different than the last time we moved — last time, we only moved 15 minutes away from the apartment we were in before, which meant that friends and family (thanks to the lack of a pandemic, of course) could stay all day and help us get the furniture set up, a lot of the kitchen unpacked, and basically some semblance of order reached by the end of Day 1. It also helped that we had completed all the interior painting we had planned to do before moving in, which essentially meant the place was “move-in ready” (on the inside, anyway).
This time around, we were over two hours away from where we were living before AND moving during a pandemic, all compounded by the fact that two of our main floor living spaces (the kitchen and dining room area and our playroom) are currently lacking floors. Oh, and we’re not done painting. (Though, thanks to grandparents coming to celebrate Hyrum’s birthday last week, they were able to help us get the painting finished in the master bedroom at least and the flooring started in the playroom.)
Did I mention that my husband has been away 80% of the time because he’s working at his work’s old location three hours north of us?
All that is to say that now, 3 weeks after moving, we STILL look like we just moved in a couple days ago.
But slowly (ever so slowly) we’re starting to piece together our new home, and I’m starting to get more of a fluid sense of where everything is, both in our home (in the boxes) and outside (in town).
Sometimes I’m tempted on particularly hard days when I’m feeling especially isolated and very much on my own to just rage and whine and pity my own state of affairs. But, experience taught me long ago that those things will only get me so far. (Do I need to find expression for all my feelings, even negative ones? Absolutely. Do I need to wallow in them? Absolutely not!)
So this month, I’ve fully embraced the thought of a Very Strange Christmas Season, with a house only half-decorated, with a half-functioning kitchen area, with only half of the Mom-and-Dad duo in the house during the week, and with boxes and packing materials and just stuff in general strewn around every which way. Truth Moment: I *did* do the pity party thing for a few days in there at the beginning, just because everything seemed so absolutely HARD.
But I’ve finally come up with a system that’s working to keep my sanity and my good spirits (relatively) in check, which is to focus on maintaining a few distinct spaces very tidily indeed, and to not spend every single precious minute that I get to myself (which are especially hard to come by since I’m on my own with the kids all week!) on house projects or unpacking.
That’s meant waking up just a smidgen before the kids each morning and making sure I make my bed first thing. It’s allowing the 5-year-old to watch the younger two in the front room while I clean up thoroughly after every meal. It’s meant that for those two blessed hours when my daughter is at kindergarten and the boys are napping, I spend only half of it on house projects and the other half on activities that feed my soul — reading, blogging, photography, going outside to watch the chickens.
And on weekends, when my husband is back in our home?
Well, after he gives me pleeeenty of space and time to decompress for the first day or so and takes on much of the kid duty, we keep chipping away at the endless to-do list, we gather together for hot meals on our cleaned off table, we snuggle on the couch, we let ourselves just relax.
The house projects will get done. The unpacking will get done. (And they’ll both be a heck of a lot easier to do on a faster timeline once we’re no longer having to live apart.)
For now, we’re just trying to relish what we can of this strange end to a strange year, going easy where we can go easy on ourselves, and calling it good.
If you’re looking for a way to go easy on yourself in the meal department too (since I know this Christmas season has been weird for EVERYONE), do yourself a favor and give this baked oatmeal a try. (Although, fair warning—it’s kind of ruined plain oatmeal for my husband forever…he now thinks that the only oatmeal worth having is this one!)
It is delicious and low-cost and takes just a few minutes to prep, and the best part?
It is a meal that perfectly embodies the feeling of “Home.”
Baked Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal
- 4 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 – 3 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced (we like Granny Smith**)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Put the tablespoon of butter (cold from the fridge) into the middle of a 9 x 11 baking dish.
- Start preheating the oven to 350 degrees, and while it’s preheating, put the 9 x 11 pan into the oven to melt the butter while you prep the other ingredients.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a different bowl or extra large liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix together thoroughly.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together.
- Carefully fold in the diced apples.
- Take the pan out of the oven and swirl the butter around so that it coats the bottom evenly. Pour the oatmeal mixture evenly into the pan and place it back into the oven.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center is just the slightest bit jiggly.
- Serve warm, with milk.
Serves 5 – 6
**P. S. I honestly rarely bought Granny Smith apples before, but they’ve come multiple times in our Misfit Markets produce basket, and now I seriously wonder if I can ever NOT have some on hand at all times for baking! (That’s my referral link there, if you’re interested in trying them out and getting a 25% discount!)
Hope you’re finding moments of solace and peace and quiet celebration, and that wherever you are, you are well.