Monday, June 30, 2014

surviving through blue skies

I thought I'd take a moment and explain the new title of my blog.

It may be temporary, who knows. But for this stage in my life, it is very fitting. Here is why.

I'm sure I'm not the only parent who feels that they are just trying to stay afloat- trying to keep on top of all the chores, personal hardships, financial struggles, and emotional ups and downs that come from the constant demands of tiny humans.

Sometimes I feel like warrior-woman. Like I can take on the world and still have time for the luxuries of mommy hood such as taking a bath or reading a chapter in an enthralling book. I don't let the little things get to me, I brush off the drama from others, and without hesitation I'll casually add 11-12 more things on my "to-do" list for that day. I feel, quite simply, like a rock star of a mom.

More often, though, it is not this way. It takes every ounce of energy and faith in my body to hold myself together... to not raise my voice to the kids... to make an actual meal that doesn't include cold cereal or string cheese and crackers. I blame myself for everything I don't get accomplished. Any sideways comment or passive-aggressive notion I take personally and I CAN'T let it go. My emotions eat me up from the inside. I fall asleep on the couch while the kids scream and play around me because I am just. that. tired.

On those days it feels like I'm trying to hold onto something bigger than myself... a more divine purpose. This must all be happening for a reason, I think to myself. And then I tell myself- You can do this. You can survive this. And guess what? I do. I survive it all. I may be beaten down to a pulp by the end of the day, but I'm alive and breathing. I'm there- I'm not gone. My kids still have me for the next day.

I'm not talking about my life. I'm talking about my heart. My heart survives. For some bizarre reason that I will never fully understand, I can have the WORST day ever and by the next morning- all it takes is looking into my sweet children's tiny-featured faces to feel whole again. Especially those seriously captivating, soulful, crystal blue skies of blue that go on forever.

Eyes that open wide in wonderment when they discover something new.

Eyes that see my mistakes and forgive instantly. There is no room for anything but love in those eyes.

Eyes that never seem to run out of tears. So many giant, rolling tears.

Eyes that watch my every move so closely, making me approach situations more cautiously- afraid I'll teach them the wrong lesson.

Sleeping eyes that pierce my soul even when they are shut, for I can only imagine what they must be dreaming as their eyelashes flutter softly.

Their eyes remind me that they are my little warrior-helpers; we are on the same team.

It might sound really cliche to say, "When I look into my children's eyes, I know that all is well and I will be okay."

But that's exactly what happens.

I remember when Talmage was a baby and I would gaze into his eyes for hours... those eyes got me through a lot of hard days as a new mom. They saw right through me and didn't care what I was failing at, but instead squinted at me joyfully with every toothless smile.

Then when Charlotte was a newborn, the post-partum depression was thick and I trudged my heart through it day after day. She never saw my pain or understood my tears- she only knew she loved me and those bright eyes of hers kept my head above the surface.

I find myself over and over again completely lost in my children's eyes. How can they be so pure? I wonder. It is because they are still untarnished by the world? Or because eyes are truly the windows to heaven and only little ones can access that view? How is it that they always pull me back to what's important? If I'm ever at conflict at myself over a decision, spending time looking into those eyes always clarifies what it is I need to do. How can this be?

I believe it is one of the ways in which Heavenly Father grants me peace. I'm an easily irritable person; I get flustered and discouraged on a daily basis. My children have kept me grounded...I can't express how grateful I am for this.

When I interact with the kids I try to save the little moments and lock them away in a mental safe... but often those moments slip away and it's not enough. And so I take pictures.

I take a lot of pictures. To remember their smiles, their light, their expressions, their eyes, everything.

The sky darkens and seems bleak, but I know that above the clouds there are blue skies awaiting. There are always blessings after the storm... and something I'm realizing... sometimes the blessing IS the storm. No matter what the world throws at me, I can always take a moment to look into my children's eyes and tell them that they are loved- and remember that they love me back. I love that they can't hold grudges yet... in their eyes, I am their warrior-mom hero :)

And together, we survive.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

the pie don't lie!

Yesterday we had our 20 week ultrasound for baby #3!

I was super stressed/nervous all day- not sure why...I always worry that something bizarre will show up on the screen. It's irrational- I know. But well, anxiety has been my constant companion lately.

When we saw the two arms and legs, pudgy tummy, and sweet little face my nerves calmed all at once. The ultrasound tech said "Oh good, you're contraction is finally over. Were you stressing?" She showed me how my uterus had been contracting for the first few minutes of the ultrasound- not totally unusual at this stage but not common either. I realized how true it was that my emotions were impacting my body- and decided I needed to just CALM DOWN.

We asked not to know the gender, but have the "reveal picture" placed into an envelope. We thought it would be more fun and personal to find out as a family at home. I arranged with a local baker to prepare us a pie- one flavor for girl and one flavor for boy. We wouldn't know the pie flavor until we opened the box :) I figured this way- even if Talmage was disappointed that he wasn't getting a brother- at least he'd be getting desert!

We picked strawberry ganache for girl and chocolate cream for boy. Both pies have these swirly chocolate shavings on top, and as the kids began to pull back the paper I saw the shavings and my mind immediately thought "oh it's a boy!" until they pulled it back further and there in the middle were big, red strawberries!

And just for fun :) Here are the stats of my preggo self in all my 20 week glory.

cravings: I don't really have an appetite throughout the day until the kids go to bed. Then the hunger monster consumes me :) My only cravings have been sushi and pickles.

morning sickness: All gone, I think. But there are days I still feel lousy and lightheaded or just really, really lazy.

weight gain: Still 10 lbs. less than what I was before I became pregnant. I think this is mainly due to my decrease in appetite.

ring on/off: On- so far no swelling anywhere, thank goodness.

weird pregnancy symptoms: Nearly every time I sneeze I pee my pants a little. It really sucks.

how big is baby: the Internet says a mango..? haha. But the ultrasound tech said the fruit comparisons are usually inaccurate and totally ridiculous. :)

maternity clothes: Oh gracious, yes. The pants mostly- I NEED elastic waistbands.

baby names: You betcha! I have a few names that I love- when she's born hopefully we'll have an easier time narrowing it down. Can I just say I LOVE baby girl names? my goodness. 

sleep: It's...okay. Not great. After two pregnancies my body pillow has lost its "umph". I usually lean against Jonathan for back support which helps a lot.

what I miss: Sleeping on my tummy without feeling incredibly awkward...finishing my meals...and being able to pick up and hold either child for longer than one minute.

what I'm excited for:
Charlotte to be a big sister, and having a little "live doll" to adore and swoon over. I've also always wanted to buy matching dresses for two girls (oh boy, I'm in trouble...)
Talmage being tender towards another baby (he was the sweetest when C was a baby...but that's worn off. Now they feed off one another's hyperactivity!)
And just having a baby in the house again. It is the sweetest feeling.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

random baby thoughts and confessions

A few weeks ago I was sitting and thinking about the timing of our (soon to be) three children. Talmage and Charlotte are 22 months apart, with Talmage being a spring baby and Charlotte a winter baby. When new little one comes, he/she will be 33 months apart from Charlotte and will be an autumn baby. Kinda funny how that worked out.

I like having everyone's birthdays spread throughout the year because then we all get our "special month". It keeps me on my toes and makes it a little easier to plan something fun for each birthday without getting too overwhelmed. Not that everyone gets a party...we'll definitely be laying off the parties for a while.

I joked with Jonathan that #4 will end up being a summer baby. I always wanted a summer child but friends who've had kids in the summer have pointed out to me it's most uncomfortable to be 9 months pregnant in the hot months and then they have to wait longer to take baby outside. It's a valid point, though someday I would still like a summer child so we can have summer birthday parties outside :)

Anyway, since people have known we are pregnant, I've gotten quite a few responses that perturb me a bit. It's in their faces- a look that says "Oh? How did that happen? Was this planned?"

They don't have to say it- its plain as day in their expression. There's a silence that follows and I feel obligated to fill it with "Yep. We're so excited!" or "Uh-huh...crazy stuff, I know."

Now this part is quite personal, but I feel okay enough sharing it on my blog that about 5-6 people read. Plus I've always seen this blog as sort of a journal and my experiences-even the dark ones- should be in it. Especially when invaluable lessons are learned :)

Talmage and Charlotte were both "planned babies". We both felt it was the right time and I went off birth control intentionally. I feel very fortunate that it never took too long to conceive- about 2-3 months each time. I say fortunate and not "blessed" because I know quite a few women who don't have the same success with getting pregnant and I don't believe God is withholding blessings from them but instead, timing things in His own way. My heart breaks for these women and I often wonder why things happen the way they do- especially when they seem much more spiritually prepared and emotionally stable than me. I often get the feeling that I'm not at all worthy to be a mom to such perfect little spirits- but this is something that I'm working through. 

This pregnancy, however, was not "planned". We'd been doing this natural birth-control method that absolutely works- WHEN you have time to pay attention to the signs. The month of February was a stressful one and I was not paying enough attention to my cycle. I let a few days go on my "fertility calendar" and of course- what we had been trying to put off happened in that short time.

A few weeks later I knew something was up when I purchased a Costco-sized box of orange juice. I hate orange juice, but I couldn't drink enough of that stuff. My boobs started to ache and sting like no one's business and that's when I knew for sure.

At first I had a lot- and I mean a LOT- of anxiety about my positive pregnancy test. I was (and am) still dealing with the grief of my grandmother's passing last October and it didn't seem right to bring another life into the world when I was so consumed in the concept of death. The really bizarre/ironic part of it was that my grandma was born November 10th, and we are due on November 4th. It's likely that I'll go past my due date since I'm not getting induced this time, and very likely that I'll deliver close to her birthday. At first I wept at this realization, but I've started to embrace the coincidence and I believe everything happens for a divine purpose.

For the first many weeks, probably the entire first trimester, I felt not only physically uneasy but emotionally uneasy about being pregnant. I slipped deeper into my depression and shut the world out. No one probably knew what was going on, but it was a very difficult time. I felt guilt for not having that elated, wonderful, and maternal joy that expectant mothers should have. And, let's face it, I was completely overwhelmed to have three young children under one little household roof. Fears and worries consumed my every thought. I expressed my feelings openly to our family doctor and later again to my midwife. Everyone that I confided in encouraged me to seek out counseling and I kept putting it off- not wanting to devote time or money into myself. From the outside, it seems like such a simple solution. But internally it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do- admit that I needed help.

Another ironic part to this story- I was prescribed some anti-depressants shortly before we found out we were expecting. The very morning I was to start the meds was when I took the pregnancy test. It's considered safe to take anti-depressants while pregnant, with some minimal risk included. But it just didn't feel right to me, and again I believe there was a higher power working in my life that day. Had I gone onto the meds, who knew what would have happened. Things could have gotten better or worse- I'll never know. But what I've learned is that there are alternate ways to deal with my issues that are less invasive to my body and baby. I'm not anti-medication, and someday I might go on them if I feel that's what I need. But for now, I'm coping with problems in other ways and they have lifted up my soul.

I will always remember the day I decided enough was enough and called my insurance company about psychologists. I literally felt that I was going insane...I felt out of control with my emotions and losing my grip on the world. I prayed a lot for the next few days and had the continual impression that seeking therapy was the right solution and would bring me some peace. Now having gone and done it, I realize it's so NOT a big deal. Everyone has stuff going on and we could all benefit from seeing a psychologist- regardless of how big or small we think our problems may be. It turns out that I have way more issues than I even realized...and this whole time I just thought I was crazy!

Aside from seeing a therapist and letting out a lot of dark feelings and thoughts, talking them through, and learning to change my behaviors- something that has helped immensely is maintaining a relationship with my Heavenly Father and Savior. I don't always feel like praying or reading my scriptures, but I force myself to do it anyway and it *always* helps. Going to the temple has helped a lot, too. I've even talked with the Stake President about things weighing me down and though that was hard, it was incredibly freeing. Another big one has been nurturing the relationship I have with Jonathan. With everything that's happened, I knew I loved him and always will but I've had a hard time showing him my love. We've since then started a book together that we read at night, planted a garden together, and done this crazy awesome activity called making Birth Art. It's helped me see him in a different light and appreciate him more. He bought me a new set of scriptures recently and I treasure them immensely- they remind me that he will always be my number 1 advocate in helping me to be happy and discover the joy in living the gospel. I love him with my whole heart and would be lost without his continual support and patience.

Now to get to the point of this really long post...

At 19 weeks, I feel completely turned around in my feelings towards this pregnancy. I am still a little anxious/fearful but I'm sure that's normal. More than anything, I'm truly excited to meet our new little person. I know that the timing is perfect because it is the Lord's timing. For some reason that I may never comprehend, He believes that this is what our family needs right now. All I can do at this point is trust in His plan. We truly love little babies around here, and I know without a doubt that Talmage and Charlotte will fall completely in love with this baby, too. This child of ours will never be an "accident."

We find out in ten days week what we're having- and I finally feel like I'm in a place to be over the moon about the gender :) Boy or girl, I can't wait to know! I always felt a closer bond to the baby growing inside me when I knew the sex. I can't believe how fast these last few months have gone and I know the remaining ones will fly by.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer fun, Strawberry Picking, & Enchanted Forest

The weather has turned to beautiful here. Mid 70's most days now and we can't get enough!

We've gone fishing at the pond (with not much success haha)-
 had a backyard campout-
family t-ball and BBQ's-
 we even pulled out the kiddie pool to splash around in!

But my FAVORITE thing about the weather getting warmer- besides getting to play outside- is that it means berry season is here! Strawberries are first, then raspberries, and at the end of the summer there's blueberries and blackberries.

Every time before this year that we've picked strawberries we unknowingly went at the end of the strawberry season and haven't had the best experience. They were usually small and hard to find. And we'd get SO dirty, but that part was okay. This year, as soon as I heard they were ready to pick I headed out with the kids. Not wanting to go alone and desperate for company, I called up a friend and she was actually on her way to the same place to go pick! It worked out perfectly. I loved the location- its really out in the country and I kind of feel like a pilgrim gathering in the fields, haha. Also these strawberry plants were the biggest I'd seen, and the strawberries themselves were HUGE and so sweet. We picked out hearts out and left with 36 lbs. A few weeks later we went back with Jonathan and got 30 someodd more (of a different variety- but just as delicious!) Last summer I made lots of jam, so this year I'm freezing most of them and we always set aside a few lbs. for eating.

We still got dirty, but the kids were in their own kind of heaven :) They eat wayyyy more than they pick- I'm grateful that the farmers don't mind!

This last weekend was another hot one, so we decided to stay in the shade of the Enchanted Forest Theme Park :) It's about 15 minutes from us, and I've always wanted to go but was worried the kids wouldn't care for it. Now they're at those ages where they are super active ALL THE TIME...and sure enough they had the time of their life!

 bumper boats. Kids LOVED those.
 Creepy witch mouth tunnel cave thing...
 I cannot believe these two did the log ride! So terrifying. I'm a chicken.
 Talmage insisted he go into the haunted house. Crazy boy....he enjoyed it though he did pee his pants a wee bit. haha. Also the worker turned off a lot of the scary noises for him- thank goodness!
 Old LAdy's Shoe slide, mini ferris wheel, and train ride. All so cute and fun.

The park was super adorable. Half of it was twisty cooblestone pathways through the forest, with storybook characters along the way (just statues and tunnels and tiny little houses). The second half was rides and a village that looked like something out of Pinnochio. Also lots of little shops and rooms to go into- but since we were limited on time we just did the rides and ended with a picnic. I liked that the park encourages people to bring their own food and that they provided beautiful picnic areas. I also appreciated all the hands-on play for young children- if only we had more time to do explore everything! Still I'm glad we went and made those memories with the kids.

I've been realizing that this is our last summer with these two before we have THREE little chicklets, so I'm trying to make it special and do as much as we can in the few months we have left. Talmage & Charlotte are completely thrilled to meet baby- they talk about him/her all the time! I can't wait to introduce little one to them.