August 24, 2015

It's the Little Things

Friday evening I got into a project that needed to be finished the next morning and forgot to eat.  The next morning I was rushing out of the house to pick up one last thing for that project and my husband stopped me to ask a favor.  When I asked what he needed, his reply was, 'Will you eat something?' He had realized I would be skipping two meals before I did. It was one of many moments that show me how much he loves me.  He puts my welfare first and always makes me feel special, even on days when I don't return the favor.  We had a moment this weekend when I was upset about something small.  He could have just left at his usual time and let me get over it on my own.  Instead, he stayed much later than he usually does, made dinner and cleaned the kitchen, watched a show with the kids, brought them down to say prayers, and tucked them all in before coming to sit beside me and just talk, about the kids, about us, about our feelings.  It was really wonderful. With him being gone through the week, those chats are what I miss the most.  When he is home he is making up for lost time in so many ways, but mostly with the kids, which is the most important thing.  But I love those rare moments, when it's just he and I and we talk about more than just mundane things.

I have a few friends who have recently gone through quite a bit of drama with their significant others and it made me feel very lucky to have my boring little life.  It may be hard that we are not together every day, but I love that when we are together it is good, it is sweet, it fills me up and gives me the strength to go another week to seeing him again.  And it's the little ways he shows me he loves me that do it.  He gets up with the kids on Saturday to let me sleep in.  He makes sure the kids get all their chores done and then vacuums the house.  Then he spends some one on one time with whichever child's turn it is. He makes sure I get a chance for a nap if I need it.  He makes sure every child gets tucked in with a personalized lullaby.  I am always impressed with the songs he comes up with at the kids' request.  It's something I think they will never forget.  In so many little ways he shows me that he puts his family first.  He puts aside all his needs when he is home and tends to all of ours. 

It's the little things that add up to the big things.  He inspires me to be a better wife and mother because he is such a good husband and father. 

January 07, 2015

Bright New Day

When you are sick for a long time and finally have a day when you feel better, not only does good feel REALLY GOOD, but you realize just how sick you really were and had gotten used to feeling.  I feel like that this week.  I have struggled for the last five months just to get through the day every day.  Getting up was hard, keeping up with the kids was hard, keeping up with the house was hard.  I felt like a zombie a lot.

It's not until I started to actually feel good these last several days that I realized just how sick I really had been.  Not just healthwise, although that was part of it.  Depression.  The baby blues are real.  I might go so far as to call it post partum depression though it wasn't as bad as I had with Porter.  And it wasn't until this week that I am realizing just how bad it was.  In my head I just thought, wow having four kids is HARD. And I never considered that it might be a hormonal imbalance that could be helped with medicine. 

Now, looking back, I realize that I was a sinking ship and didn't even know it.  Thankfully I had so many people around me who were helping in one way or another.  And the Lord buoyed me up when I needed it and got me through.  Things truly were made relatively easy considering how hard they could have been.  But I know I wasn't there for my kids like a should have been.  They were forced to be more independent than I would have liked. They are great kids, and Porter especially was such a great help.  But I am glad to find that I am finally feeling more like myself and I can give more to my kids.  The TV can get turned off and we can spend time together and they can have a Mom that is tuned in instead of zoned out most of the time.

I wish I had realized sooner what was going on so I could have gotten help sooner, but I am glad to be feeling better.  I am determined to pay more attention to my health in other ways so that I can continue to be there for my kids.  I am hoping that by eating better, I can improve my mental functioning as well as keeping myself from getting sick so often.  I am SO sick of being sick all the time.  In the last eight weeks I have had 4 head colds, the flu, and strep.  Stress and depression has had a big effect on my immune system, but I know that sugar has also played a big role.  It slows down my thinking, it makes me tired, and makes me more vulnerable to illness. But when I feel down and slow and tired, what I want is the quick high of sugar.  It is a hard habit to change, but I am working on breaking the cycle, something that will be lifelong and won't happen overnight.

I am working on ways to deal with the stress.  We are getting on better footing with Adam's job and financially, so having a good plan in place is lifting some of that stress.  I still wish he was here all the time, but I am better able to handle what I need to on my own now that the depression is lifting.  So now I need to work on my physical health.  I am doing research on PCOS and have started taking some good supplements that should help.  I will continue to research and start making changes that should improve the way I feel.

It's a bright new day.

January 06, 2015

New Year, New Word

Last year I decided to follow in the footsteps of some friends and rather than making goals, I picked a word to encompass what I wanted to bring about in my life in 2014.  My expectations were low, but I was surprised by the changes that came about.  I wouldn't say that learning about 'enough' was fun exactly, but it was enriching.  I learned, I grew, and I want to do it again.
 
     I am a little more aware of the power in a word now, so it has taken me some time to come up with just the right one.  I have narrowed it down to two that mean mostly the same thing as far as what I am looking for.  Mindful and deliberate.  For the last six months since Adam started his job and I had baby #4, I have been living in a bit of crisis mode.  Trying to keep my head above water for the next wave and just hanging on.  Life has been living me in some ways instead of me living life.  I am getting used to the new schedule and finally coming out of the baby fog, so I am ready to change that.  I want to start being active instead of reactive.  Putting myself in a place to be able to make some decisions instead of feeling backed into a corner.

     I am not a financial whiz.  Far, FAR from it.  My parents drilled saving and preparing for the future into us from the time we were little, but for some reason, it didn't stick very well with me.  I have a really hard time planning for the future with my money.  Thankfully Adam is much better at saving and he takes care of the retirement account and such.  But I want to be better.  I want to be more mindful of where my money is going so that it isn't wasted on things we don't need.  I would like to be able to have a bigger nest egg put away so that things like the last several months of unexpected expenses don't knock me off kilter as much.  It has been really stressful to have the future uncertain with Adam changing jobs, and maybe that is what it took for me to finally get that saving lesson into my head.  The future is always uncertain and no one knows what tomorrow may bring, so I need to be more of an ant, and let go of my grasshopper tendencies.

     I am not making a health goal this year of losing a certain amount of weight or exercising every day.  I have done that before and inevitably I end up quitting for one reason or another and losing whatever ground I have gained.  The quick fix doesn't work.  But I do want to feel better.  I want to get my energy back.  I want to have the strength and stamina to do more.  Getting Gracie to sleep through the night will help some of that.  But I really want to focus on changing the way I eat so that I feel better over all.  Having learned that I have PCOS this last year with insulin resistance being part of that, I know more now of what will help me be successful in feeling better.  So I want to be more mindful of my body.  I want to be making deliberate choices about what I put in my body and not just mindlessly munching when I am hungry, or tired, or bored, or celebrating, or sad, etc, etc, etc. 

      I know that I need to give up sugar.  For my body, it acts like a drug.  I have noticed recently that when I take that first sip of carbonated, caffeinated, sugary goodness called soda, I breathe a sigh of relief.  I usually drink it when I am really tired and need a pick me up, or when I am really stressed.  And that sigh of relief comes before anything in the drink has had a chance to get into my system, so I know it is in my head. I imagine that might be what someone addicted to drugs might feel when they have been jonesing and get some of their drug of choice.  It is the anticipation of the high to come.  But just like drug abuse, sugar abuse destroys.  I have read several articles about how sugar leads to disease in just about everyone, and given that PCOS magnifies the problems with sugar, it is something I want to start taking out of my life.  I am not saying I will never have it again, or even that I will cut back drastically all in one go.  I know that if I do that I will end up right where I am again.  But I want to be more mindful of what I am eating.  I want to look at labels more so that I can make healthier choices.  I want to be able to make deliberate choices, rather than just what sounds good for dinner or what is easy to make.  I want to slowly, sustainably, change the way I look at food and how I eat.  I want to be aware of how what I am eating effects the future of my body so that I can eat mindfully, rather than mindlessly.

So- mindful, deliberate.  Mindful of where my choices lead both financially and for my body, and deliberate in the choices I make to bring me where I want the future to be. I hope I am up to what the future will bring in 2015, but if it is anything like 2014, no matter how hard it might be, I will be better at the end of it.



    

December 05, 2014

Family, Friends, and the Spirit of Christmas

My last post I talked about how we have all we need - family, friends, and the spirit of Christmas.  In my patriarchal blessing it talks about receiving great blessings by coming to recognize those blessings.  It was always a confusing sentence to me.  But I have seen it happen recently. As I have contemplated the blessings of family and friends and the meaning of the season I have received such blessings, and I am recognizing just how much a blessing it is to have amazing family and friends around me.  My heart is warm with a testimony of how much my savior loves each of us and what a gift He is to all of us not just at Christmas, but always.

When I was a kid, we hit a rough patch and we had a neighbor give us milk from his dairy for a while.  I don't remember how long it was, but until we were back on our feet.  I don't remember thinking much of it as a child, I was just happy to go pick up milk, fascinated at the whole milking process, and enjoying fresh whole milk on my cereal and in my glass.  Now as an adult, I have a whole new perspective on what that must have taken for my parents to accept that gift, knowing that they may never be able to pay that neighbor back.  Through the years we as a family have tried to pay it forward to those in need at any time of the year, but especially through the holidays.  I have always felt special blessings come from being able to serve and help others and have pleaded with people to accept service not just for themselves, but for the people who serve, that they can receive those blessings that come from helping others.

Now, I find myself on the receiving end.  I find myself wanting to say, No No, we are okay, we (I) can handle it.  A lot of times I do and we muddle through somehow or people step in an bless us anyway.  This week I needed to run an errand that I knew was going to be a hassle with a toddler and a baby, but I felt like I had already accepted so much help that I didn't want to burden anyone by asking them to take care of my kids while I went and ran the errand.  But even then, I ended up taken care of.  When I got where I was going, a friend was there and kindly offered to watch my kids while I got what I needed to done.  It made what would have been a very frustrating trip into an enjoyable one.

I have a neighbor a couple houses down who has been taking my boys to school in the morning with hers so that I don't have to pack up the girls early in the morning to get out of the house.  I don't know that I can ever repay her for how kind that is of her.  It is a blessing I think of every morning when I don't have to wake up two little girls before they are ready.

A couple weeks ago, my kids were sick with the flu and then I got sick too.  My visiting teacher texted to ask how I was doing and when I replied we were all sick, she was at my house within ten minutes with a ton of supplies from soda and crackers, to Clorox wipes, to chicken noodle soup.  She stayed with my kids while I picked up my oldest from school so I didn't have to pack everyone up, and then she got dinner warming and stayed until my husband got home to take over.  All of this with two kids of her own at home who each have special needs and them just having gotten over the flu themselves.  She deserves sainthood for all she does.  She also let me bake my rolls at her house the day our oven broke down so they wouldn't go to waste.  Amazing woman!

And now with Christmas time we have had people ask how they can help us and my heart is so full of gratitude. With Adam losing his job and now working out of town, our finances got unexpectedly tight rather quickly at the worst time of the year for that to happen. While I wanted to say 'No no, we are alright, we can handle it', I knew that I needed to let our loved ones help us, and pray that they receive all the blessings they can handle in return with my gratitude. I don't feel particularly worthy to receive such love and blessings, but I will do my best to pay it forward with my family, just as my parents taught us to do years ago. 

So many things in the last four months since Adam started working out of town could have been so difficult.  With four kids, just running errands can take up all my patience for a day.  But we have been blessed time and time again and I am recognizing just how blessed we are every day when people have stepped in to make my life a little easier, to make what was very daunting become doable.  I could not be a single parent during the week without all the support I have gotten from those around me.

And the Lord has smoothed the way for us in other ways as well.  When the water started backing up through our drains, we worried it was our main line and was going to be not only a hassle, but really expensive to fix.  Thankfully it was easily fixable and while not cheap, we were able to take care of it.  And both that and our oven break down happened on a weekend when Adam was home and I didn't have to deal with it on my own.  Not only that, but it happened on a weekend when ovens were deeply discounted for Black Friday, so if it had to break down, it was the best weekend for it to happen.

I have always told people when they hesitate to accept service that everyone goes through hard times.  Life is a roller coaster and we all have our dips.  I have had dips before and will have dips again.  When I help others, I am only paying forward what someone has already done for me.  I hope to be able to teach my children that service goes both ways, both giving and receiving.  When we are able to serve, we jump in and do it with all our hearts, in whatever way we can.  Hopefully soon, we will be in a position to be able to do more.

Our bank account may not be at its best, but our cup of blessings is spilling over.  Thank you to all who have touched our lives for good in one way or another.  We thank you with our hearts and will thank you with our deeds to the next person in need.













November 15, 2014

The power in a word and why I will be putting up my Christmas tree early this year

This is the first year I chose a word to work on through the year.  I chose 'enough'.  My expectations weren't terribly high, but I was curious to see what focusing on it would bring.  Saying enough to those things that were too much, working on getting enough of those things I needed.  And learning what is enough.  That turned out to be the biggest lesson for me.  What is enough?  How can I better recognize it?  I am still learning it.

Through the year, I have had many times when I saw that things were getting to be too much and I was able to consciously take a step back and say enough.  I spent more time at home.  I worked on things that made me happy, like projects for my home and family, and those around me.  I stepped up in asking for those things I needed and let go of those things I didn't.  It has been a great year in that respect.

But this figuring out what is enough is one I will probably keep learning for a long time.  Learning what it means for myself and for my children.  Giving them enough of the right things and limiting those things that aren't so great. 

I remember being told in a blessing several years ago not to limit my family for financial reasons because there would always be money for babies.  That blessing and promise have stayed with me as things have gotten leaner.  When we had Charlotte and I didn't go back to work, I worried about having enough, but leaned on that blessing.  We somehow had enough.  And now with another little one and Adam's office closing, and his now having to work in another city, I have worried about having enough.  We are leaner than we have ever been.  And yet, somehow there is still dinner on the table, and clothes for my kids.  We may not always have extras, but somehow God has blessed us with enough.  Through the kindness of family and friends and angels in our lives, we even get a few extras now and then. 

Christmas is a tough time when you are barely getting by.  I worry every year about having a good Christmas for my kids.  They are getting old enough now to recognize if there aren't many gifts under the tree.  I was worried this year about how we were going to explain the lack of too many presents.  But as the snow has fallen the last few days and I have started feeling Christmassy, I realized this year is really a gift to me of enough.  It is an opportunity for me to step back and see that we don't need the gifts.  We have enough of those things that are really important at Christmas.  Family, friends and the spirit of Christ.  As we have struggled being apart, I know so much more the value of my husband as a part of our family.  I always knew he was the most important thing to me, but absence has certainly made my heart grow fonder and realize just how lost our little family is without its head.  I have watched my kids step up and be more helpful because they know that daddy isn't here to do some things.  I have watched them struggle with missing him.  And I know there are so many out there whose fathers aren't coming home for Christmas or ever.  We are so very blessed to have our family healthy and whole and to know that we can all be together.

My kids will be learning the true meaning of Christmas this year as we concentrate on listening to the spirit, remembering Christ and trying to shine His light in our countenances, and spending time with loved ones.  Somehow I don't think they will worry too much about how many presents are under the tree.  And if they do, they can join me in learning what is 'enough'.  :)

 I am not one to put up a tree early.  Back when we did live trees it was a fire hazard to put it up too early.  But now that I have a fake tree and can put it up whenever, I feel the need for that reminder of the holidays.  For the lights that remind me of the light of Christ. For the ornaments that bring back memories of Christmases past. I have many precious ones that have been given to me, each with its own story.  For the peace it brings me in the evenings to sit in the soft light of the tree and read a book.  For the joy on my kids faces as they rearrange where everything belongs until it looks just right and then do it again when Charlotte moves everything while they are gone.  (Thank you unbreakable Walmart ornaments!)  For listening to them tell about how they made this one or that one and when.  I want that spirit of joy and love and laughter to last a little longer this year.  

 I want Thanksgiving to have its day too, but this year I think Christmas is coming a little early in our house. Our Christmas is going to be all about gratitude, so hopefully we can blend the two together and make one long thankful season of joy.

September 25, 2014

ETC







 Porter wanted to sew something this summer, so we sewed burp cloths.  They have come in really handy and they were a great project for a beginner.  He did really well.

 Charlotte has been very jealous of everything we got for the baby.  She tried to take it all for herself.

 Super heroes in their towels after the pool.

 Family reunion.
 Paddle boating.  It didn't work out too well for me.  My nine months pregnant belly just got in the way of my legs, making it really hard to paddle.  I am sure I look pretty funny. lol



 What does a duck say?  No, not Aflack.  He says quaaack....
  Tea party.
 First day of school.



Cheyenne

We went to Cheyenne this summer for a little vacation/job interview. The job didn't pan out, but we have a good little vacation with the kids anyway. There was a children's museum inside a buggy museum that they enjoyed romping around in. And we went to a working buffalo ranch and they got to hand feed bison out of a train.








They rounded them up with a 4 wheeler and sent them toward the train.

They ate the pellets right out of your hand which, understandably, made my kids pretty nervous.

And this is what our car looked like after driving through Wyoming.  Yuck!

Summer Fun

Playing in the pool. It was so hot being pregnant in the summer, I gave in and bought a pool, and never regretted it for a second. The kids had a blast and I got to cool off at the same time. Bliss.
The boys did T-ball/baseball for the first time this summer.  Porter really got into it.  Gabe, not so much.  Mostly I heard how hot it was.  I have some pictures of Porter too, but I think they are on Adam's phone, so they will have to go on another post.

Picking strawberries and a farm.  Gabe was pretty wary of picking any because of the cotton that got caught in all the plants.  He thought it was spider webs.  But once Porter announced a competition for getting the biggest strawberry, he was all about telling ME which ones to pick.  :)
We had a visitor for a couple days.  She crawled under our fence, and after talking to several neighbors we found out she was a stray everyone had been feeding.  We got the shelter to take her in so they could find a good family for her.  It's too bad we have allergies here, because she was the most snuggly cat with such a purr!  I hope she found a great family.
32 week pregnant.  I finally figured out how to dress a little better during what is probably our last pregnancy.  Wish I had figured that out 8 years ago.  :/ 
Summer fun at the cousins.  Playing in the pool and jumping on the tramp.


Finally made it over to In and Out.  It did not live up to memory, sadly.  It was okay, but nowhere near what I remembered.


More pool fun.





Playing Catch Up


It's been forever since I sat down to update the blog, so it will mostly be pictures just to get them saved for memory. Here is Charlotte's birthday and then Gabe's. Charlotte got her own cupcake on her birthday, but basically shared Gabe's party. It won't be too long before they are insisting on separate parties, but while they are little, they can have a co-celebration.


We set up a water blob again this year and used a much better tarp.  They hada blast with cousins and friends.




We got a fire pit from my SIL for Adam's birthday, so we roasted hot dogs and then later smores.  It was smoky, but lots of fun with friends and neighbors.

 Gabe decided on an ice cream cake this year.  I will never argue with that, yum!

 Sneaking some frosting.


 His new scooter, with an engine revver.
 Ready to race!! Vroom, vroom!