Monday, August 4, 2014

Love will find a way.

Tomorrow marks 8 years since this photo was taken-



Some days, it seems like it's been a fraction of that time since Jake and I were married. Sometimes, it feels exponentially longer.

I contemplated writing an emotionally driven, sappy recollection of my wedding day, but I think I probably did that a year or two ago.  Maybe that will be my ten-year flashback celebration. 

"Walk blindly to the light and reach out for his hand. Don't ask any questions and don't try to understand. Open up your mind and then open up your heart; you will see that you and me aren't very far apart. I believe that love is the answer. I believe love will find a way." - Blessid Union of Souls

Let's be honest. We've all been told that weddings and marriage are AMAZING and at the same time, we've been told that they are HARD WORK. We hear it, but we don't always see it, especially from a spectator type view. Couples work hard to put on a perfect portrait showing they are the couple who has it together. No one wants to look like they're falling apart or in the middle of a mess.  

We hear about the "seven year itch." We see it on tv, in movies, in magazines, and in real life. Divorce has become pretty commonplace. 

Jake and I just are just saying farewell to the seventh year of marriage. Ironically, it was an "itch" year on some levels. We travelled more rocky roads than usual. There were more stressors than we have had in the past. His work schedule had him working longer. I took on a job and wasn't raising our kids all the time like we had planned. We saw each other much less. We became used to communicating less frequently, less clearly, less level-headedly, less openly, less compassionately. We had more heated discussions. We were more irritable. We were less tolerant. Things threw us for a loop. 

It was awful...

Not always, but occasionally- more than in years past. Any time something feels awful, it feels like it's always awful and never going to get better. When the awful moments pass, though, they seemed fleetingly quick.

I wouldn't characterize the last year as awful. I wouldn't say our marriage was wretched or anything. Because it wasn't. It was rocky and hard and more moments were awful feeling than usual. 

But realistically, this past year was beautiful. It was joyous. It was break-your-soul-down-and-build-it-up fantastic. I'm incredibly blessed to have struggled more.

He wasn't a horrible husband. Please don't think that. He would tell you I wasn't a horrible wife, either.

Sometimes, things are just harder. Life throws boulders at you and you get hit or you dodge. You make it work and you gain wisdom and strength. 

I would venture so far as to say it is pretty commonplace. I would also venture to say that under the right circumstances, you can make it through.

The quote above is the opening stanza and choirs to one of the most beautiful, melodic songs I know. It's "I Believe" by Blessid Union of Souls. Eight years ago, my father escorted me down the aisle to the piano playing that melody, and I became Jacob's wife, for better or worse, until death separates us on earth.

Those are serious vows. That were serious eight years ago. They're just as serious today, maybe more so.

I am blessed beyond measure to have been given a life-long companion and love. 

Happy Anniversary, Jacob. Here's to the rest of our lives.

A Year Post-Test

One year ago this very morning, I sat in silent disbelief on the edge of my bathtub, staring, dumbfoundedly, at a test. 

There was no way the test was right. I was certain of that. 

I trembled later as I tested once more. This time, I used a digital, and in less than 30 seconds, the test glared
PREGNANT
in my still shocked and disbelieving face.

I trembled. I cried. I worried. I feared. 

After battling infertility to conceive our sons, I just could not believe that I was pregnant again. We had been utilizing charting to avoid pregnancy because we wanted to wait a few years before expanding our family again. I've never been a very scheduled woman inside, but I was certain I had missed the window to have a baby that month.

I was wrong.

It wasn't a "good time" for us. I had JUST accepted a job two days prior. We were just getting on our feet again after financial crises. We were finding our footing. 

This pregnancy scared me. And I worried for nine months whether we could make it work. I wondered if I would be a good mom to THREE babies under four. I wondered if we could afford it. I also worried if, due to all the stress and worries of poor timing, that I would love this baby or resent myself for getting pregnant.

I felt judged. People close to us knew the timing wasn't great. I didn't want them to think we were being stupid. Or that we shouldn't have another baby. So many more worries of similar fashion circled mind.

They didn't stop circling for nine months. They slowed down circling a month or so after that.

One year ago, I was terrified. 

I always said that one of my dearest dreams was to get pregnant "on accident" because I just did not think I could. But I did. And I was guilty because I was upset about it.


Tonight, after a few hours of protesting, Norah Rachelle sleeps peacefully in her bed. Her soft, sweetly scented skin pokes out beneath her (big brother's) silky, pink blanket. Her soft breath whispers as I sit here in silence focusing on my memories and emotions. Her gorgeous, dark eyelashes flutter as she dreams.

I couldn't imagine my life without her. 

She is a perfect fit in our family. I feel that she looks like a bit like one brother and acts a bit like the other. She laughs and squeals and smiles so frequently. She's absolutely the snuggliest of the three. She loves her brothers and they adore her. They're a perfect trio. She calms down to daddy's scent and voice. She lights up when she hears me talk.

While I know my fears and worries were founded in practicality, I feel ashamed for being scared or sad about adding her to our family. 

I was wrong. God was right. She belongs with us, here and now, even if a year ago I was on the verge of being completely convinced otherwise.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

the birthday card I can't send

Dear Leora Mae,

For the past few days, I've been counting down the time until your birthday. Every year, I do the same. Just yesterday, I was informing my sister "Grandma's birthday is tomorrow!" We decided we would celebrate with slushies and that I was super you would approve.

Remember how we went to Dairy Queen so many times just for slushies or Blizzards? So many great treats we enjoyed together...

I miss you like crazy. I have songs on my phone I swear you would LOVE and I wish I could share them with you. Instead, I share them with my children and husband and say "my grandma wpd LOVE this."

I wish you could hold my babies. They're so beautiful. You would laugh as you watch them play and your heart would be full. You were right, Gma, I was meant to be a mom. And you were right, God wouldn't keep me from being one. I have three children now, Gma. I just welcomed home a baby girl 8 weeks ago. 

As I said, I miss you. I miss you every single day, but I see this photo of us and I remember that, while you left "too soon" by world standards, I am incredibly blessed by over twenty years a of movies and love that grew from our relationship. I see countless ways you've influenced my life, and I know so much about you. Unfortunately, so many of my cousins and siblings cannot say the same. I'm a very lucky lady, and I hope I can help you live on down here.


Happy birthday, Gma. Dance with Jesus.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Things I need to tell myself...

No creative title today. Today, I bring you a personal list of sorts, of things I need to tell myself. I need a few reminders, or perspective alterations, to help me improve my mothering on a day I'm not really ready to get up out of bed.

---


1.) Spencer loves the mess out of you



Sure, he's started this new thing recently where every 17.58941 seconds he asks for a hug, and then asks for a kiss, and then turns around to move and asks for a hug, and often asks for another kiss...

Yeah, approximately half the time it is being used as either a stalling technique (you really do need a diaper, Spenk...) or a way to butter me up instead of being frustrated, but, if he didn't love me, he wouldn't be doing it, because he doesn't just hug everybody he meets.  It may be exhausting at times and keep you from accomplishing much of anything in the three spare minutes you have between feeding three mouths and changing three diapers (unless someone goes again in their new, fresh diaper... again), but he's showing he loves you all day long, and he's excited and loves doing it. You best not forget it!

Someday, he won't want hugs and kisses as much, and maybe not at all, so, cherish them now, mommy.

---

2.) Collin is hilarious.



Yes, the way he is short tempered (probably because he refuses to sleep as much as he should) lately and is perfecting the art of half-hour tantrums is enough to drive a mom to buying noise-canceling headphones and hiding in the garage some days, but at the same time, it also is amusing. 

The way he flops his short little body into the floor (or couch, or yard, or playground sand....) so suddenly looks like it could hurt, but he's so graceful about it, and let's face it- it looks ridiculously funny. He makes you laugh 80% of the day at least, so why not up it to 90% of the day and just be used by his upset over a leaf falling on his head, and move on instead of feeling agitated?

Someday, he will be even worse when he's upset, possibly swearing or throwing things and slamming doors like many teenagers do, and you're going to wish it was as simple as belly flopping into sand.

---


3.) The boys are best friends. 



Sure, they spend 3 hours of nap/quiet-time laughing and yelling the words to "Green Eggs & Ham" instead of laying in their beds sleeping, but they love to be together. Heck, half the time you find them sharing a bed. They may get into mischief together, be loud and wild when you're on the phone, or create a scene as they laugh hysterically at one another doing... nothing but shaking their heads in a restaurant, but they love each other.

Someday, they may not get along at all. That really does happen to brothers in some cases. Smile, breathe, and know they're perfect together.

---


4.) Norah needs you. 



She loves you. She wants to be on your chest all the time, feeling your heartbeat. Sure, it seems like she's hungry every nine minutes and nurses for three hours at a time, but she needs you, and you chose to help her grow and thrive by giving yourself to her. She may have been "unplanned" and an incredible surprise, but you you love her no less and from the moment you saw her, you knew she was a perfect addition to your life.  

Someday, she will not need you so intensely, and you will ache and long for those moments where the only thing that could make the world right were the sounds of your heartbeat and the warmth of your skin (just like you did with her brothers). You will miss the image of her tiny fingers searching for and clutching yours as you continue to give her the gift of sustained life. You will miss the way she looks up at you grins her huge, toothless grin, as she fills her tummy at 2am, 3am, and again at 5am. So hold onto those moments now. You'll be free to be busy enough with everything else way too soon.

---

5.) The house is chaos. 



It's messy and loud here during the day, and kids are crying and laughing and hugging and fighting and jumping and sleeping and everything in between. The dishes aren't completely done and you might not have swept yesterday, who knows. It wi get clean enough to keep you safe and hopefully sane, and the craziness will die down around 10 (or maybe 11:30) tonight, you will have a snack and some milk, and watch a little tv before going to bed and hopefully getting at least a nap before doing it all again. 

Someday, your children will all be gone, living elsewhere and maybe starting families of their own. You will be lonely, missing their laughter and their cries. So take it all in and remember these years fly by too quickly. 

---

Okay, momma. Time to face the day. You got this.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A month has flown by!

Today, (or technically yesterday since it is after midnight now) marks one month since I first peered into Norah's eyes.

Yes, my newborn baby girl is a month old. 

The month has flown by so quickly. I know that's an overused phrase, but it is quite fitting. Also, I'm exhausted, and I'm finding trouble thinking of a more poetic phrase. Yes, tonight, the post will lack my typical style of writing. See... Wow.

It's amazing to me that 30 days have passed since Collin began his role of a big brother and Spencer first said "hi, baby sister!" I look back at her birth day and find myself swelling with both pride and disbelief that I went through without an epidural. That it was only approximately a 6 hour time frame from the beginning of the pitocin to hearing her first breath seems like the blink of am eye compared to the month of having her breathing in our arms.

Things have been changing around here, obviously. I used to pride myself on being on time and early for things, but I forget that having a newborn makes it a bit more challenging with a slightly (some days more than slightly) unpredictable schedule. I've been trying to show myself more grace and lenience in that area so I'm not frustrated when instead of making it to early church, the five of us go to the second service, or when we arrive 30 minutes "late" for a play date.

Nursing is going well, but the boys are a challenge there. If I'm lucky, they play nicely in the living room while I feed her. Often times, though, they're off creating mischief (anyone want to unravel a new spool of thread around the house?) and taking advantage of the situation. Sometimes, they take my nursing as an invitation to try to crawl up my back or sit on my arms. It's kind of a circus here at times. 

Collin has become more aware of Norah and is generally cautious around her instead of accidentally sitting on her feet and such.

Spencer loves to hold her. He also songs to her, consoles her, and offers her his favorite books (so adorable, and so unhelpful as it occasionally angers her more) or a pacifier if she cries. He speaks to her in the same tone and phrasing a that I use. It melts my heart.

Otherwise, things are shockingly... Normal. It doesn't always feel like a lot has changed yet. The boys have transitioned quite well, now even sharing a bedroom, and Collin being in a toddler bed. Heck, twice in three days we have found them nestled up beside each other in bed (or the crib, the first day), asleep at nap time. I wonder if this month has brought them closer.

Unfortunately, knowing a month has already passed, I know soon I will be returning to work. But, I'll write on that topic another time.

For now, I bid you adieu, and leave you with this photo of Norah and I taken today. She's already over 11 pounds, she holds her head up frequently and for minutes at a time. She's alert, tracks us as we move, and is starting to make "babbling" noises.  She is quite active, loves to "stand" when she is nestled against your chest as you sit, and moves back and forth across your chest. She sits well (assisted obviously) and already is beginning to attempt some scooting while doing tummy time. She loves being on her tummy. For the most part, she's very laid back, and super sweet and snuggly.



We all love her.