3?

Scooping handfuls of hot water onto my face, again and again, baths are where I process. Scooping moments of blur, no thought, calm, hot water.

I am great at decision making in our home. Dinner; Bam! I’ll decide after one quick look in the fridge. Paint? It has never taken me more than five minutes to pick a wall color. I don’t vacillate, I know what I want my end result to be and look like, and choosing the color just makes me feel more sure. I don’t really paint “test” areas, I just paint walls.

In parenthood it’s felt about the same. Being a gentle/attached parent has been a no brainer that has been affirmed time and time again from counseling, my (really fabulous) parents, the results in our kids, science (again and again disproving stuff that has always “felt wrong” to me), and following the gut pull. It hasn’t been a huge choice.

But… family size? I’m struggling.

The pro and con list feels endless. The pragmatic and smart choices feel somewhat obvious, the heart ones feel… much less. I don’t have any of the “tell tale” signs of not being done. I don’t look around and see a lack in our family at all. I feel full and overfull in love with these girls. I love their differences and the sibling relationship they share is a magic one that is untouchable. There isn’t the “someone missing at the table” feeling. But. . .

a baby.

And in my heart, and my endless tears at all babies, births, pregnant women, bands of three siblings cuddled up, I feel it. My hope for them as adults, having close siblings to share their growing up experience with. To have someone to fall back on in hard times, heartache, and once we are old and grey and they need support. Then it feels all muddy again.

Being done. Moving only forward. Toward time away at a couple. Toward sleeping at night. Toward body autonomy and weaning. Toward school, soccer practices. . . so appealing. But, a whole other person. Another little soul in our family to be loved and love. Another body full of spunk, heart, lessons, and camaraderie. . . that feels worth waiting a few more years to move forward. Maybe?

Charlie is in the same back and forth boat as me. Each day more prayers, more conversations, and more thankfulness for the girls we have. We are adoring the phases they are in, and so blown away by their love and change every day. Adding to that feels so big and amazing, and scary and possibly wrong.

The girls however? beg for a sibling each and every day. It’s darling. And, as much as I adore them and take their words to heart. I won’t have a baby for my children, I’ll only have a baby if I feel capable of loving, lovingly parenting, and caring for that baby (if I don’t, we’ll get them a dog instead ;) ).

 

Anyhow. Thats part of my radio silence. We are living life big and full lately. Adventures, rain walks, leaf collecting, hiking new trails, reading endless books, dressing up and cozying in. Celebrating holidays in all the biggest ways we can. And just. . . going! And, thinking. Taking long baths, praying longer prayers, and waiting patiently for some clarity.

Sorry for all the hazy muddy ramblings. I think I need another bath. I’m sure I’ll be back with some DIY projects (we’ve been doing a lot!), a new hair style, or some weird kiddo quotes. But, for now, we’re thinking a lot and living even more.

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Traditions: Pumpkin Patch

Year One: 69865_494766586256_4175302_n

Year Two:307806_879709193820_583087261_nYear Three:

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1069290_10100668462423000_2099827825_nYear Five:

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Also, somehow our three kids (we always pumpkin patch with the same sweet families who have been there through thick and thin, pregnancies, pregnancy scares, and all the booze and popcorn fueled playdates you can imagine) turned into seven over these years.

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raising women.

Ever just get chills when you look at those beautiful big eyed babies? See them speak with love, interact without shame, and love with zero abandon; The hairs on my arm stand tall as I see them walk taller. And I know. This is holy work. This is it. These girls are gonna change the world. And I can’t even fathom in what huge ways their love with shape people. Will change broken hearts. Will rock this town as we know it. This world as we know it.

The little powerhouse firecrackers who live in this home are gonna do some big, big, things.

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baby, I think you’re cute and funny.

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I hear the words play out, at five am, “we might not have any money. But we’ve got our love to pay the bills. Maybe I think you’re cute and funny . . . ” and the song stops as he turns the alarm off and sneaks noiselessly out. And the girls and I keep on dreaming.

But sometimes, I can roll away and sneak out before their eyes crack open to the streaming sun through our bedroom window, and sometimes when I do he is already standing there in the kitchen. Skillet bubbling with butter, water boiling for the coffee he makes for me each  morning, and with a smile on his face because quiet mornings fill him up.

And I just want to soak him in. The way he gives to me with my coffee made just right, a breakfast prepped, and a house all straightened up. How he knows my favorite cup, the place to put the cozy blankets on the couch so we can cuddle in upon first waking, and how he leaves huge glasses of water filled up for me all over.

And if I could freeze that first moment he turns around, surprised to see me childless… I would bottle it up and pour it on me during every hard day, during ever 3pm. His eyes have grown older and twinkly, his laugh lines fill immediately, and his arms beg. A moment free of little limbs, tiny voices “mama, up with you. Papa cuddle me in!” where a hug is unencumbered, uninterrupted, and on our own terms. A moment that happened a thousand- million- endless times before the years with babies, a moment I took for granted so often, a Moment of “I want to kiss you. So I’ll kiss you.” that now holds monumental weight and sits atop a mountain top of laundry/nursing/bouncing/reading/scheduling.

This guy gets it. He lays it on thick at every opportunity and gives endlessly.

Charlie, the times for those endless kisses will come back. But for now, I’ll hold tight to morning moments with you, coffee hot, and hugs tight and long.

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finding my church.

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I don’t make room for guilt and God in my heart. It seems that one or the other is reigning and the relief and comfort both bring, while so different, is consuming to the point that my body is flooded, there is no room.

Today, during my few minutes of yoga  (I’m doing another ‘ten day challenge’ on my blog Facebook and instagram) I had that sweating/shaking/you brain isn’t ‘thinking-thoughtful-thoughts anymore’ moment. And I felt so clearly; “God is here. Here in yoga, in your book, in your baking, in your interactions with your girls. You are engaging Him, loving Him, and knowing Him better in these spaces.”

I am not a fan of many devotional books, contrived bible studies, or video series that are shown at Women’s Breakfasts. I have a hard time reconciling the woman on the video with my woman in the mirror, we seem like different breeds. The Church and I often times not lining up. My heart wanting to give to every homeless person I come across for my tithe, and churches seeming to scramble for new sound systems and technology for their sanctuary… I know none of it is that simple, but it feels simple to provide what you have to those who ask, without question. And, regardless, it often times leaves me feeling  lost and guilty for not being at every study/sunday morning/and devotional. And I have battled that guilt for years. Ached for those spaces to feel right, the right fit. But have yet to find that church setting that seems to be brimming with Jesus and not judgement and legalism. And I know that half that battle is in my own heart, but big pieces of it also seem to lay in a deeply broken church. One that holds one mold, one kind of person, and I have struggled to reconcile where I fit.

But this morning it rained down on me in the midst of a thankful filled Sun Salutation. Yoga is a prayer, I spend those 25min feeling awe for His creation and how intricate my body and muscles and blood flow are. I feel intense thankfulness for the time and space from my girls I am getting to take. And I feel that calm, quiet, listening space emerge in the moments of holding a post just long enough to shake. I feel Him. Without judgement of “are my hands in the air?” or “did I just parent wrong in front of that church Mom?” or any other guilt ridden junk I lay on thick in those situations.

I feel abundance, and wholeheartedness, I feel vulnerable and awake, and feel thankfulness and new understanding. I end conversations with fiends (“non christians” !) and feel closer to God, deeper in relationship, and in Worship without ceasing, as opposed to ending the song set and checking the clock worried about my preschooler in the sunday school program.

I’ve found where I fit. I fit in with God. I fit in with movement. Nature. Friends. I fit with vulnerability and raw conversations with people who challenge me to look at what I think and believe and back it up; in scripture, in great books, in prayer, and in ironsharpensiron with Charlie. I feel at rest in where we are right now.

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And if those movements don’t look and feel like worship, deeper than I’ve ever known, I don’t know what does.

maintenance level.


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Charlie is a maintenance man. I never grasped just how daunting of a task that was, to bring something up to “maintenance level” till meeting him. He makes a huge and beautiful space easy to care for (for a living!), instead of huge projects all the time, disrepair, and work always needing to be done, he knows what to do and when so that it never gets out of hand, the ‘to-do’ never too long.

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{sun cat in the living room today, sleeping off a little sick bug}

 

I’ve always been an all or nothing type. I move into a space and there are pictures on the wall, flour in the jar (and cookies in the oven), and cozy cups on the end tables within 48 hours; I move fast. I go from not working out; to six times a week dripping sweat. But the problem is that the motivation wanes quick, the bandaids reign supreme, and I never get to the point where it’s just easy. Instead I put up art all over and then move it ten times and still don’t love it; and have ugly holes in my walls, because it wasn’t thoughtful. It was frantic. I buy the cheapest because saving up for the nice piece would take too long, and I just want it done.

I’m either MOVED IN or “I hate my home!” or I am WORKING OUT or I am “too fat and sad to do anything…” There is no happy medium.

Charlie is different. He works hard to get up to a certain level; be that in our home or his shop or his job, or… his heart. And then it’s at that amazing spot. Maintenance Level. He is dedicated to chipping away, slowly, at the list to do things really well and with quality work, even if that means living in “not perfect” because he knows what it is to be able to sit in a manageable spot, and that spot only comes with diligence.

 

When my words are sharp and I say something horrible to him, he doesn’t crumble. He knows our love is at that spot, where one false step carries little weight, because the huge foundation and work underneath it surpasses one bad fight. We have worked hard, and we have a love that is (as unsexy as it sounds) at Maintenance Level. And in that, I can see it’s huge benefit. And am only now seeing how amazing it would be to have the rest of my life sit in that spot of ready for change, but not needing it to feel okay.

Well, I’m getting there. I’m trying to find the Maintenance Level of alone time, making the gym a habit that I pour into myself, slowing down the home projects so we can just do it right, the first time. It has meant empty walls, glaringly empty. And spaces that make me feel a little frantic with how “undone” they are. But the pays offs keep happening. Because I’m not rushing out to buy the cheap rug to cover up a  space of linoleum I don’t love (and then end up buying a bunch of hooks for the entry way that are on sale, and an ugly art print because it’s the right color), I can save up and buy the stools for the kitchen I actually want. And, turns out!, waiting to get what you actually want is kinda amazing. And our house is getting closer and closer to that sweet spot, of just needing a slow and steady project a weekend, instead of feeling like we need to always be pouring every penny/minute/thought into it. We are getting there. And it’s big growth for me to see how living in a little discomfort and working slowly is worth it, and that in the discomfort is growth.

A big piece of that is this island. It was an exercise in living with an unfinished piece so we could tweak it, invision it differently, and eventually change it to bring out kitchen up to snuff for our families needs. But it meant that this wasn’t a two hour, bring it in and “done!”, kinda project. It was a “finish it” and live with it, change it, “finish it” again, and repeat. But, finally, we’ve found it’s end. And I love it.

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{first draft of the island}

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{nearly finished product}

$20 worth of bought supplies (we had stain, enamel, and white paint on hand. But the lumber/screw cost was only $20!) I have a pretty sweet little island. And the rest of this dream home is coming together too, slow and steady. With a lot of change and growth.

This is, by far, my favorite room. And Ever is cozying up my favorite spot.

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step back.

So, it seems like every blog I read writes this post at some point or another. And I kind of self vowed to never write one. But I also never thought I would need to.

But, I guess I’m here. And this is my little space and this is what is on my big heart and it deserves a moment of documenting, processing, thinking.

I love writing here. I write to work through motherhood. The things that just boil hard and fast and beautiful and I need a place to let them run-over, and the things that sting and ache and the only way I can seem to make heads or tails is to take hands to board and get the words and thoughts in an order. And, I miss writing. I loved each of my college writing courses and miss them. I miss a ten page requirement and hours spent on  one (likely lousy) metaphor. So this is my spot.

But lately I am feeling like maybe it’s too much out there, or not quite enough and I am walking a fine line between “real” blogging and just throwing up some cute photos and recipes here and there. And I don’t know quite how to jump ship or tow either line, I am just fumbling often. I don’t want to put more out there than my girls will want to see/read/have known when they are older, I also don’t want to update obligatory or pointless pieces, I try hard to only put things up that have merit and meaning to me.

So, yeah, as you can read, I am just mumbling around annoying here. For  now, for this space, I need a little perspective and time. However, I recently purged about half my “friend” list on FB and will be updating on my blog facebook a lot more, so find me there.

If you aren’t there, you missed this picture. And that is a travesty.

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My little mirror.

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I keep waiting for her to be quiet and not need me, long enough to write about how incredible she is. Long enough to put down into words how amazing it is to see the cogs turn, the words come, the abilities pour out, and her growing go faster-faster-faster till it’s spinning so fast we both fall down. But that moment isn’t coming, and we have both just fallen down, hard.

I remember  Nolie crying for no reason that I could discern, yelling loudly and sadly in words I couldn’t understand, but I was there. I could get down on her level, talk to he and give her huge feelings words, I could hold her all day long, and nurse her for hours. When she was having a day that developmentally spun too fast we would slow the world in the rocking chair and nurse all day while I watched old movies and cried about how hard it was.

But Ever is a new breed. She wants to nurse, but can’t stop watching Nolie-playing-running-working to do it. So instead she latches on and cuddles in and then scratches and kicks and kneads my boobs while simultainiously trying to stand and run and nurse… “gymnursics” would be the understatement of the century. It feels like we are off; two cogs on, what is supposed to be, one wheel, that just keep grinding and sparking.

I am lucky in my disposition that none of this makes me mad at her. But mad at myself. Frustrated at my inability to take a deep breath and just.keep.loving.  I have read enough, experienced enough, and researched thoroughly enough to know deeply that none of this is her manipulating-doing “bad things”- or being “naughty” all of this is …. normal. All of this is developmentally dead on, learning her world, her boundaries, what works and what doesn’t, what cause and effect is, what happens when things fall down, what happens when you throw, what happens to others when you ________ . I know. Empathy is starting here. And it needs to start here with me, not with the 1.5 year old.

But it’s so hard. So, so, so damn hard. I want to cry and yell and just say “GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK, LIFE!” Today I cried to Charlie… “I just want to drive to a job, leave the girls with someone I trust as much as you trust me, and just do some busy work. Wear dress pants. Eat the the snacks left by whoever was an over zealous baker the night before. And drink some frilly latte with my comrades while we gossip about the annoying memos.” {And, for the record, this was weird and I *never* want that.} These days feel so long, till there over.

I am on a hair trigger fueled by little sleep, little space to myself, stress over things that are small, (Birthday parties, business information, mama drama, vacation planning, the daily things that aren’t bad at all. The things I know I would ache to ‘deal with’ if anything ever really went wrong.) and the weight of two… the weight of two little girls, the weight of four ears that hear it all and cry when I say “no” to harshly (because it’s scary! and I am so much bigger than them!), and forgive me so so easily it breaks my heart for my mean’ness even more.

And maybe that’s the crux. When I am laying in bed with Ever, attempting to nurse her down for nap for the third time, and she is clawing at me and leaving deep marks, and I am laying her down again-again-again and she is crying so hard she chokes and I am at the end of it and I then she pinches me hard (in frustration and lack of words) and then I say, again, “I can just hold you.” and she sobs her sadness, finally, into my arms and her eyes close with hard and tight as she finally latches on and falls asleep, and I can remember that this was not that bad. And I can leave the room and have to face the apologies of all the hours before this; “I am so sorry I said a mean word (Stupid), I am so sorry I spoke too harshly at the park when it was time to leave. I was feeling frustrated and upset.” and instead of being met with my feelings, at the same confessions that come from a sweet and small 3 year old voice, I am met with “it’s okay Mama. It’s hard being a baby. It’s hard being a Mama. Lets cuddle up.” and I can feel it. That despite my lame and anger, my huge-huge-huge disproportionate feelings when they are being two of the punkiest punks I have ever seen… what they soak up is the forgiveness, what Nolie is learning and growing (and AMAZING AT) is the empathy. She is quick to forgive, and a portion of that is because she has the most open heart I’ve ever seen, but a portion of that is modeling… is what she’s seen. Is a quickly erased slate.

We will weather this stage. And the hard failures I have, the endless apologies on my lips, the sleepiness and lack of words, the anger and frustration, the nap battling, and so much ‘mama mama neeeed’ing will come to an end. And at the end of that phase is this new one, one I am blessed to be standing in with my older girl, the one where empathy isn’t just a glint in their eye as they share a loved toy with a crying friend, but empathy is words upon words of balm to a soul of any age.

I’ll admit that 18mo is not my favorite. But it is a harshly accurate mirror. And here I stand, often wordless at my girl and in need of extra love despite not knowing how to ask for it. But I can see what stands on the other side, and I am not quite wishing this away, but am endlessly excited to see what fruit grows out of Ever and I during this spark and fire filled time.

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Weekend Laundry List

This weekend I vowed to get ahead. Since Charlie started his new job our little home has seen some changes, the two most notable are NO PAPA ALL DAY and A bigger pay check! The end result of those? Exhausted Mama, and Papa who wants to treat us all.the.time. So, the eating out commenced. And it felt good! And it tasted good! For a bit… but after a bit? The pants are tight(er), the changes aren’t getting really accustomed to or grown into and instead they are getting a big (greasy, cheesy, local, delish) bandaid put on them. So this weekend it came time for Big Talks, bandaids pulled, and healthy choices again.

On Friday I went for a great run with new friends and we killed it! Okay, okay, it was slow and we walked a bit. But we got out there and did it! Even though it was friday and we easily could have played our ‘mom card!’ and phoned in dinner and ate some chocolate while whining about our weeks… but instead we Ran! And then I went to town on prepping for the coming week. I made a meal plan (relying heavily on two books, Feeding the Whole Family and Whole Life Nutrition), and planned for Dairy Free dinners (and gluten light) all week. We grocery shopped. We made breakfasts ahead of time (Overnight oats! Do it!) and grab-able lunches (Mediterranean Quinoa Salad and homemade bean and chèvre burritos), and a big batch of refried beans (well, really they are just mashed beans but they taste the same!) for dinners and quick lunches for the little ladies and I at home. Then I made a tasty concoction that is a perfect “creamer” for my morning coffee and then pulled the trigger…

Ten days of yoga. Yes, again. Last time I did it I felt incredible by the end. Stronger, more nimble, more able to be quiet and still without that beast on my back telling me ‘not enough’, ‘fat’, ‘you can’t do it’. But then I came to the end of the ten days…and one day off turned into a week, and the beast got bigger again. So I am back on the wagon, this time some friends are going to play along to! Check it out on my facebook page, and on Instagram with the #tendaysofyoga and #yogaformama I would love to have more buddies doing this. The accountability is SO good and motivating! I’ll be writing more about where I’ve gotten to with this beast and those words, but it’s all a little too tender for now. I’m hoping to come at it with a renewed confidence after some good hard sweaty yoga.

Anyhow! I wanted to share two of my meal prep recipes and I’ll post another one for you tomorrow!

1003049_397197070380039_2074574728_n-1The rundown: Yogurt Containers; filled with homemade slow cooked beans, yellow bottomed jars are overnight oats, big jars are quinoa salad, bag underneath are grab-n-go burritos, crisp for dessert last night, and then some snacks to get through the week! And sparkling water, because topping fresh made ABC juice with that is SO good (apple, beet, carrot.)!

Over Night Oats:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup milk (I use almond, but any kind would work, or you could use yogurt)

Flavors! In this batch I used a big spoon full of homemade apple sauce and black berry jam. But some other favorites around these parts are frozen fruit and honey, sliced banana and peanut butter, mango and coconut flakes (great with coconut cream or milk in it too), and good old brown sugar and cinnamon.

Mix it all together, seal, and let it sit over night (but will keep for about five days in the fridge). It’s an easy one to take on the go, eat in the car, or a morning walk. YUM

Dairy Free/ Soy Free Creamer:

One can Coconut Cream (or, full fat coconut milk without the water on the bottom)

Two Tbs coconut oil

1 (or more if you like it sweet!) Tbs Honey

1 Tsp Vanilla

(and I put in a few big shakes of cinnamon too)

Puree it all together (blender works best, or immersion blender) and refrigerate it over night. YUM. Scoop into your coffee and enjoy!

skin to skin

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The need for skin to skin is stressed in those early months. Kangaroo care, skin to skin to help establish healthy breast feeding, to bond with baby, to help Dad bond with baby, and on and on. But then? Those babies grow up and into independent toddlers. “I do it myself!” is a commonly heard first phrase from a two year old. The need for distance and autonomy grows and that skin to skin priority wanes. And for some kiddos, that is just what they need, but not my sweet Noele.

I read about Love Language when we were doing our premarital counseling. Charlie’s love language is touch, mine is words of affirmation/time spent (talking)- I’m a talker. But I am not touchy by nature, and it is easy for me to feel touched out just by all the nursing/baby wearing that I do. But Nolie suffers because of this. She needs touch, needs skin to skin, and needs that affirmation. To feel full she needs a lot of touch. One of the best things we have found for her is baths together. I take baths often and once the water is cooled enough she joins me, cuddles up, nurses, tells me all about her day, and always (without fail) asks me to tell her about when she was born and when Ever was born. It is incredible and such a reset button for us.

Last night everyone was crumbling. Nolie was really on edge and losing it over every little thing, Evie was tired and sad if she wasn’t being held, and Charlie and I were both exhausted from a super busy weekend. So we decided to go for it and the three girls all hoped in our (tiny) bath. It was giggling, splashing, cuddling, story telling, shrieking, and all things good. We all got out clean and filled with a renewed appreciation and love.

Finding ways to meet Nolie’s needs, put her needs (and Evie’s) on the front flame and realizing just how important those needs are and feel for her. Ever isn’t nearly as touchy and is more verbal/chatty and love to be talked to/laughed with. Getting to know my girls, their needs, and how to meet them will be a lifelong endeavor I am sure. But today? It was as blissful and easy as taking a warm bath with them and laughing hard and cuddling long.

**also, I hesitated about posting these photos but after talking to a group of other women who parent similarly to me, this was a pretty universal experience. And I want that to be known, and encouraged, bathing with our kids is awesome/bonding/normal and incredible!