2018 Focus: White Space

6 Feb

whitespace copy2017 was a crazy year…

Because of me. I made it one.

The whole year, my mantra was, “I just have to get through this/finish this/do this… THEN life will slow down and I can spend more time with my kids/have a consistent quiet time/read more books…” Except that following each one of those “had-to’s” (some my own doing, others expected of me) was another, and another, and another.

Don’t get me wrong, I was busy with good, worthwhile things…

I decluttered our whole house, did a garage sale with friends, and we donated $500 to the Lakes Area Pregnancy Center.

I co-organized and hosted a pallet-painting craft night. I organized several events for our church group. I threw a baby shower for my brother and SIL.

I brought meals to families with new babies and other needs.

I served on the leadership teams of both my local MOPS group and our church group.

I worked 2 days a week and served in the church nursery once a month.

But the more important things suffered…

I had no consistent quiet time with God. I’ve been using the same journal since June of 2016, which for me is unheard of. To me, that shows how poorly I’ve prioritized my relationship with God as well as my mental health.

I went months without actually playing with my kids, or spending time outside. There were too many “When I finish this” and “I can’t right now” responses to my girls’ pleas to do something with them. Too many days of errand-running and just keeping the kids “occupied.”

By the end of the year, I was feeling crushed by obligations. I deeply desired a day to just BE and not have anything I had to do, but it seemed I always remembered something that was either already overdue or would be overdue if I waited. I felt bitter and boxed in by my life.

Life actually slowed down in December, giving me the chance to reflect and decide that this year…

I’m choosing White Space.

I’m going to Say No and Do Less.

I’m giving myself permission to not bend over backwards to meet every demand, see every person, milk every opportunity, and take every chance.

I’m letting myself step back from being the responsible person, and the person responsible.

I’m promising myself (and my husband) that I won’t plan any events this year, and will never do a garage sale again.

I’m setting up boundaries, limitations, and borders on my time and my family’s time, so that we can live out a schedule that aligns better with what we say our priorities are.

Because that’s the thing about busyness and no margin, regardless of how good the reason: they squeeze out the important for the sake of the urgent.

NO MORE.

Things may fall through the cracks. Balls may get dropped. Opportunities, untaken. Fun things, undone. Expectations, unmet.

But I’ll be gaining my own sanity. And spontaneous memories. Time with my family. Relaxation. Refreshment. Freedom from responsibility.

That’s not to say I won’t ever Say Yes and help others. I don’t think that’s what God wants. But I will Say Yes with a much more intentional mindset, remembering that a Yes to one thing is a No to something else. My time is finite, and I can only do so much. And I want to Say Yes to my family more.

WHITE SPACE. It’s about time.

Pregnancy #3: 8 Months

1 Feb

I was 32 weeks this past Monday, and my due date was 2 months from the previous Friday.

I’m both ready and not ready to be done. Ready, in that pregnancy is not my favorite thing ever, especially the last few months. Not ready, in that the end of pregnancy means the beginning of taking care of a newborn, which comes with challenges and limitations of its own.

OB Appointments

I had 2 appointments 2 weeks apart but my OB said that since my pregnancy is going so well, I don’t have to go back in until I’m 36 weeks. I did ask her about Jellybean being breech, and she said that only 3% of babies are still breech at 37 weeks, so it’s not a concern until then. And the fact that I’ve had 2 babies who were head down is encouraging that baby boy will turn.

Symptoms

I still get a decent amount of Braxton Hicks contractions, which make me walk bent over like a grandma. I’ve had fairly bad acid reflux with this pregnancy (more so than with the previous two)–more foods give me acid reflux and even Zantac sometimes doesn’t help. The only thing that helps is sleeping in a sitting position in bed, which does not result in great sleep. So I’ve been trying to be extra vigilant in avoiding foods that give me acid reflux, even if they’re some of my favorite things.

I’ve been having crazy dreams similar to previous pregnancies, and I’m still ridiculously tired. So far, minimal swelling and very little inner thigh pain (I think it helps that instead of sitting at a desk all day like I did during my pregnancy with Emma, I’m up running around after kids, even if I’m doing less official exercise). I use a heating pad on my back and belly every night though.

I’ve also thankfully avoided the linea negra and facial acne that I had with Emma.

Clothes

My wardrobe is little by little becoming more limited, and the maternity leggings that I bought from Motherhood Maternity are unfortunately pilling hair collectors like I had feared they would be. They’re still comfy, they’re just relegated to being worn at home. :\

Food & Cravings

My latest cravings have ice cream and fruit (specifically berries, grapes, clementines and peaches), but otherwise my eating habits are pretty similar to what they are when I’m not pregnant. So far, I’ve gained a little over 20 pounds, which is pretty much on par with my other pregnancies.

Exercise

When I walk on the treadmill, it’s usually between dinner and bedtime, and my belly feels huge and heavy. As a result, walking is not so enjoyable and I’m often not motivated to do it. But yoga and Pilates can be done then too, and they feel better, so I’m hoping to do that more. Honestly, though, I’m prioritizing sleep over exercise, and I’m totally ok with that. I’ve been here before, and bounced back after pregnancy, so even though I am not as active as I would ideally be, I’m ok with that.

Sleep

I’m still taking naps most days that I’m not working, and they are glorious. Sleep at night is becoming more and more elusive. I miss sleeping on my stomach so much. This is my least favorite part of pregnancy.

Nesting

I got Jellybean’s clothes assembled and organized, and his nursery (which is the room Annabelle is sleeping in right now) is mostly organized. I am planning to paint our old dresser and move that into the girls’ room, so that they can both share one dresser (right now, they have a smaller dresser and a 3-drawer nightstand for their clothes). Then I’ll move the nightstand back into the nursery for storing burp cloths and blankets (and we’ll probably just store the other dresser).

My main nesting instinct right now, though, is cleaning. I finally found the motivation (and the weather cooperated) to clean out our disgustingly filthy windowsills. Seriously, they had not been cleaned since we moved in (and who knows when they were cleaned before then?) and they are just so gross. I also find immense satisfaction in cleaning things that I don’t plan on cleaning again for at least a year or two (as opposed to a bathroom that gets dirty again by the next day).

But my girls are mess-making maniacs so who knows how long my energy for cleaning will keep up.

And that’s pregnancy #3 at 8 months!

Emma Grace: 4.75 Years

18 Jan

Emma will be turning 5 in three short months! It is crazy to think that we’ve been parents for that long. And I apparently haven’t done an update on Emma since she was 4.25 years old, so there’s that.IMG_5413IMG_5433IMG_5774Size

Emma weighs 40 lbs and is about 43 inches tall. She now wears size 11 shoes and 5T or girl’s size 5 (XS) clothes. She is a still a beanstalk though, so she regularly squeezes into Annabelle’s clothes when playing dress-up at home.

Eating

Emma has a major sweet tooth and is always vying for candy. One of her favorite treats (though I have no idea why) is a little toilet that comes filled with loose sugar that you eat using two plungers (suckers). It is the grossest idea but she loves it! She also loves donuts, cookies, ice cream, birthday cake pops from Starbucks, pretty much anything with lots of sugar in it.

She’s still not a huge fan of meat, and absolutely refuses to eat anything that even hints at being spicy (you’d be surprised at how many things don’t say they’re spicy but are a little bit), but overall, Emma is still a pretty good eater. Her favorite foods are most kinds of fruit (and specifically apples, applesauce, and strawberries), PB&J sandwiches, chips, chocolate milk, broccoli, and raw carrots and dip. She also loves eating at McDonald’s and China Garden (“china fay” for china buffet).

IMG_5008Sleeping

After my last update, Emma pretty much stopped taking naps. It was painful for me at first to not get that break but I’ve adapted. And now that I’m pregnant, I hate to admit that most days when Annabelle is napping, I also take a nap and Emma watches iPad. But it works out well because Emma now goes to bed at the sensible hour of 7:30 or 8, instead of 9 or 10 like she was when she was still napping.

Emma sleeps through the night, getting up to go potty once or twice. We still usually get up to help her because she’s often so out of it that she can’t remember how to leave her room, or which way to go, or how to get back to bed. It’s actually pretty hilarious. She’s definitely more out of it if she wakes up to go potty just a few hours after going to bed, versus waking up at 2 or 3 am. Though I will sometimes just lay in bed and listen to see if she’s doing fine or having trouble (her room and bathroom are just down the hall from ours).

IMG_4937Development

Emma started going to preschool for 2-3 full days a week this past fall, and has been doing great. She says that she loves going, and really likes her teachers, Ms. Kayla and Ms. Laurie. It has been fun to watch her learn her letters better, enjoy practicing writing them, and start learning words that start with each letter. Her favorite parts of preschool are the arts and crafts, and the different stories and themes they do. Her best friend is Henry Martin.IMG_5193IMG_5192Her teacher Ms. Kayla says that Emma is the only student who writes her name with her last initial: Emma K. When she was still going to daycare, there was another Emma and so they learned their names with their last initial: Emma K and Emma V.

Emma is still quite the budding artist and has started drawing actual things, instead of just scribbles. Most often, she is drawing people and letters. IMG_5545IMG_5419A few “firsts” for the girls that I haven’t mentioned here on the blog yet are that we took them camping this summer for the first time. We stayed at the Army Corps campground in Crosslake, which is about 30-45 minutes from us. The girls had a lot of fun, and we definitely plan to go camping again. Both Travis and I grew up camping, and think it’s important for the girls to have those experiences too.56543DB0-D6E5-47E5-BB76-0C04C12C50EFA weird thing that happened when we were heading home after camping, though, was that Emma’s face got really red and swollen. We took her to the doctor several times to determine the cause and the best answer they could give us was an allergic reaction to the sun. We don’t really buy it, but it hasn’t happened before or since, so…???

Another first was taking the girls to their first football game at USBank Stadium in Minneapolis. Travis’ hometown football team went to the state championship, and even though they got slaughtered, it was still fun! IMG_5766Emma also tried ice skating this fall. We enrolled her in the Learn to Skate program, which met every Sunday evening for a couple of months. Unfortunately, after a few classes of falling down a lot, Emma decided that learning to skate wasn’t very fun, and started to refuse to get on the ice. It was a parenting conundrum for us, but we decided that we would still take her to the class and have her sit on the bleachers, and she could choose whether or not to skate. There were plenty of classes that she didn’t skate at all, but a few she did get out there, and the last class she did really well! So even though we didn’t sign her up for the second session of classes, there’s still hope for her learning to skate sometime in the future.IMG_5173We took the girls to an Operation Christmas Child packing party at our church again this year, and Emma was super into it. She probably packed 20 boxes on her own! Each time she finished one, she raced back to the start of the line and packed another one.IMG_5701Emma and Annabelle still get along really well, and often play together in the morning for almost an hour in one of their rooms. Their favorite games as of late are House (often overheard: “I’m the mom.” “No, I’m the mom!” “Two moms!”) and Doctor. They do fight fairly often over the same toys, but overall, they really love playing with one another.IMG_6514IMG_5678IMG_5260Emma still does mischievous things, like covering her face in an entire tube of chapstick…IMG_5141Or drawing on her and her sister’s face with marker…IMG_5258But overall, her naughty antics have slowed down quite a bit. Which is good, because Annabelle has taken over that role.

When Emma first found out that Jellybean was a boy, she sobbed because she had wanted another sister. She’s since come around and decided that a baby brother will be fun too.IMG_5674This girl adds a lot of spice to life and keeps us on our toes, that’s for sure!IMG_6221IMG_5809IMG_5572IMG_5598IMG_5430IMG_5337IMG_5160And that’s Emma at 4.75 years!

Pregnancy #3: 6-7 Months

2 Jan

I was 28 weeks yesterday, which means I’m officially in the third trimester!

OB Appointments

I had my gestational diabetes and hemoglobin tests two weeks ago, and passed both of them. My hemoglobin is slightly low, but it has been in my other pregnancies too. (I could probably do a better job of taking my prenatal vitamins…)

As I was looking my test results up online, I happened to glance at the “results” of my 20-week ultrasound and it noted that as of then, Jellybean was in the frank breech presentation (meaning head up, butt down)–and I’m guessing he still is because I don’t feel much movement in my upper belly, mostly on the sides and lower toward my hips and pelvis. For grins, I looked up what Annabelle’s position was at my ultrasound with her, and she was in the transverse lie presentation, which is more ideal. None of the doctors or nurses have mentioned Jellybean being breech to me, I’m guessing because the vast majority of babies end up turning on their own before 36 weeks. I do plan to ask about it at my next appointment, though.

Symptoms

I’m having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, both during the day and at night. Getting up from sitting down and standing for a long time are getting harder. I slept on the floor in Annabelle’s room for a few hours one night and it didn’t seem too bad at the time but I had shooting lower back pain for the next couple of days, so I won’t be making that mistake again. And the tiredness! So. tired.

Name

We have decided to go with the name we had picked out for a boy before Annabelle was born. But we’re going to keep it a secret from social media for now. 😉

Babymoon

We went on a babymoon to Las Vegas the weekend before Christmas! We flew out early Saturday morning and got back late Tuesday night. All the grandparents watched the girls at our house while we were gone. On Saturday, we ate Chipotle for lunch, did some outlet mall shopping, and then went to a free Corb Lund concert at the Tropicana (the National Rodeo Finals were in town). Sunday, we drove 4 hours to the Grand Canyon and saw the sights there until sunset, then ate dinner and watched cheesy Christmas movies in our hotel room. Monday, we saw sunrise at the Grand Canyon (and froze! It was only 32 degrees outside), did a little more walking and sightseeing there, and then drove back to Vegas, with a short-ish stop at the Hoover Dam. Tuesday was beautiful–60s and sunny–so we went on a short hike and read outside before heading to the airport. It was a very nice trip, with a good mixture of activity and relaxation.

Clothes

While we were in Vegas, I went to Motherhood Maternity and bought two pairs of amazingly comfy leggings, and another t-shirt. I also ordered a nursing bra and tank from Kindred Bravely, which I’m super excited about. They are also super comfy and surprisingly supportive, but the jury’s out on how well they hold up after a lot of washing and wearing–the bra and tank are hand wash only, which could be annoying, but I have high hopes!

Food & Cravings

Overall, I don’t have any cravings other than for chocolate (which is similar to my pregnancy with Annabelle at this stage) and the forbidden (deli meat and wine). Nothing ever really sounds good; it’s just a matter of, what am I willing to eat? Or, what doesn’t sound gross? Countless nights, whatever I had planned for dinner sounds MEH (and I just can’t bring myself to expend energy on making a dinner I won’t personally eat) so we hodge podge something together, Travis makes dinner, or Travis eats leftovers while the girls and I have breakfast for dinner.

Exercise

Travis and I have gotten better about our exercise schedule again, and I’ve mostly been walking on our treadmill (since it’s frigid outside and/or I’m exercising after it gets dark) but I have done Pilates and strength training a couple times. There’s still room to improve here, but it’s better than nothing.

Sleep

I am so. over. sleeping on my sides. Between the difficulty of getting comfortable, needing to roll over every hour or so, having weird dreams, getting up to go potty, getting up to help Emma go potty (she’s a zombie), and Annabelle waking up at odd times, I am not sleeping the greatest at night. On the days I don’t work, I almost always take a 1-2 hour nap while Annabelle naps and Emma watches iPad. On the days I do work, I hit an afternoon slump like it’s nothing funny. But still, if this is my biggest problem in pregnancy, I am pretty blessed.

Nesting

I am excited to start getting the nursery and stuff ready for Jellybean! I pulled out all the 0-6 month gender-neutral clothes I have last week and have been looking at nursery ideas on Pinterest. We’re leaving Annabelle’s room pretty much how it is (since it’s decorated gender-neutral) but I want to hang up some antlers and a couple of canvases with a woodsy/deer theme and Jellybean’s (real) name.

Annabelle Lyn: 2.75 Years

5 Dec

I’m long overdue for an update on the girls here on the ole blog, so here’s an update on Annabelle at 32 months (almost 2.75 years old). Hopefully Emma’s 4.75-year update will be up in the next few weeks as well.IMG_4800IMG_4701Size

Annabelle is wearing some 2T clothes still, but is mostly in 3T. Annabelle is about the same height that Emma was at this age, but is thinner because she eats like a bird. She wears size 7 shoes, and we are moving her up to size 5 diapers (no, she isn’t potty trained yet). We’ll find out her weight and height at her 3-year visit.AB735C72-B05D-4F4E-8228-AC031EB1A182IMG_4798Eating

Like I said, Annabelle eats like a bird. She is a much pickier eater than Emma, but she does have some favorite foods. Right now, she loves yogurt, grapes, mandarin oranges, cheese, tortillas, and bagels. She will also usually eat any kind of fruit, baby carrots with dip, bacon, eggs, fish, chicken sausage, and spoonfuls of peanut butter. But with both girls, if anything even hints at being spicy, they won’t eat it.IMG_5047IMG_5144IMG_5520IMG_5776IMG_4957Sleeping

About a month ago, we moved Annabelle back into her own room so that we could put both girls down to bed at the same time without it being a disaster. Our plan as of right now is to buy Emma a twin “big girl” bed and move Annabelle from her mattress on the floor to the toddler bed Emma has been using. Then we won’t be able to lay by Annabelle while she falls asleep (because we literally won’t fit in the bed), so hopefully that’ll help us help Annabelle fall asleep on her own. We’re probably going to keep Annabelle in her own room until Jellybean comes along and needs a room of his own.

Annabelle mostly sleeps through the night, though has an uncanny habit of waking up at 6:15 (instead of her usual 7:15). I usually lay down with her to get her back to sleep, but since Annabelle is still napping too late in the day (usually from 2-4, my own fault), I think I’m going to start letting her stay up when she wakes up that early, and move her nap to coincide with the time she naps at daycare, which is 12-2. That seems more reasonable, and will hopefully help Annabelle fall asleep faster and earlier at night (right now it takes her around 30 minutes to fall asleep around 9:30).

We do occasionally have Annabelle skip her nap, and then she zonks out immediately around 6 pm, which is nice. But overall, she still needs that nap. And she is a beast if we wake her up before she’s ready, so we really try not to do that (though if she’s still napping at 4:30, we don’t really have a choice).IMG_4766IMG_5129IMG_5596Development

Annabelle is a little chatterbox and has reached the age where to us, she still seems like a baby but then she says stuff that makes her seem like such a big girl! The amount that she comprehends, and the number of words she knows, surprises us a lot. She can count to 13. She can sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Jingle Bells on her own. She can use a scissors now (and one day, decided to practice her skills on the dress Emma was wearing. Uff da!).

She loves jumping–on beds, trampolines, couches. She can be kind of a stinker and get into things that she shouldn’t, and has been known to destroy things for fun (she entertained herself ripping up styrofoam while we decorated the Christmas tree this year). Add in Emma, and the two of them together are Trouble.IMG_5255IMG_5108 She loves baby dolls, especially her Little Baby. While at my dad’s house for Thanksgiving, she found a little basket for Little Baby, and carried her around in that with Baby’s little blanket. So. Cute. She also loves pushing strollers around, and being pushed in them.IMG_4921IMG_4814Annabelle also LOVES shopping and running errands, both the real thing and pretending. She often asks to go shopping, and if she hears that I’m going shopping without her, has a total meltdown. Luckily, she’s a pretty good shopping buddy and is fine with riding in the cart 80% of the time (especially when Emma isn’t there). Get the two of them together, though, and it’s game over. IMG_4984Annabelle doesn’t really have the attention span or muse for coloring, though she does like painting and doodling. Her new thing (that she picked up from Emma a while ago) is playing restaurant–sitting down with a pencil and paper, and asking us “What would you like today?” (though it comes out more like “Wha ya like day?”) And she gets very upset if we don’t answer her immediately. And she LOVES Playdoh.IMG_3931I feel like we still don’t quite have a grasp on the things that Annabelle is truly interested in beyond baby dolls, shopping, and music (she loves singing!), because her most favorite thing to do is whatever Emma is doing. She goes along with Emma’s ideas 80% of the time, though there is still plenty of fighting over toys and “Annabelle isn’t doing x or y like I’m telling her to!” Overall, though, these sisters really love each other, and find some very creative things to do together.IMG_5261IMG_5312IMG_5320IMG_5617IMG_5797IMG_5813Annabelle has started to be a good helper with picking up toys and putting things where they go, especially when there’s an incentive to do so (like helping mommy bake something). Often when we ask her to do something like pick up or to stop doing something like throwing pencils on the floor, she’ll say, “Oooo-kaaaay.” It’s so stinkin’ cute!

She is still a cuddlebug, which I love (but could be problematic when baby brother comes along), and a sweetie. She loves cuddling when she wakes up, especially with her favorite blanket draped over your shoulder, and if you don’t go pick her up the minute she emerges from her room, she assumes the fetal position right in the middle of the floor, waiting for you to come pick her up. IMG_5719IMG_5549In general, she just likes climbing on people, and at night while she’s “falling asleep,” she’ll balance on her head and bounce her butt in the air, which inevitably leads to her falling over sideways into either the wall or your face.

But she has a fierce side too, which comes out when Daddy is rough-housing with her or Emma makes her mad. She bites, scratches, kicks, and jumps on you. Emma likes rough-housing too, though, and my sister-in-law remarked that they wrestled like two boys when we saw them at Thanksgiving. 😉

Annabelle has started to prefer to pick out her clothes on her own and put them on without help. She has a couple of different sweatshirts that she loves and wants to wear whenever she can, and loves to bundle up in the winter by wearing a hat and gloves (pretty much the opposite of Emma in that regard).IMG_5414Annabelle still loves being carried, and often says, “Carry me.” When I put her down after a while and say “I can’t carry you anymore; you’re too heavy!”, she responds, “No, I’m little! I’m little!”

Annabelle loves watching movies and YouTube–her favorite movie right now is Curious George’s Christmas and favorite show is Peppa Pig.IMG_3955 We’ve unfortunately fallen back into the habit of watching technology right when we wake up, but it gives me a chance to drink my coffee and wake up before they demand too much from me. Annabelle often says when she wakes up and I’m still sleeping, “Mom, it’s wake up time!”IMG_4836IMG_5177IMG_5566IMG_5579IMG_5622 cropIMG_5638And that’s Annabelle at 32 months!

Pregnancy #3: 22 Weeks

21 Nov

This pregnancy is flying by! I can’t believe that I’m over halfway already.

23722368_1675810179115964_8792944856374028945_nThere’s not a whole ton more to talk about in the past 4 weeks that I didn’t address in my first bump update but we did have our anatomy ultrasound at 20 weeks and found out that…

WE’RE HAVING A BOY!

We actually had the ultrasound technician write the gender down on a piece of paper without telling us what it was, then we gave it to our neighbor, Andrea, along with a black balloon and both blue and pink paint, and she filled the balloon for us. Then we pinned the filled balloon to a blank canvas and shot it with a shotgun (a little overkill?). The paint was blue! I posted the video on Instagram if you’re interested in watching (@specialkkluthe).

Travis is very excited about having a boy, and I am too, though ever the practical/responsible one, I’m also thinking through all the clothes, blankets, etc. that we’ll have to get for a boy, since all of our stuff after having two girls is pink and ruffles. But I’m trying to look at it as being exciting and not a chore. 😉

Annabelle had no reaction to the news that Jellybean is a boy, but Emma started sobbing over how she had wanted a sister (even though whenever we asked her before finding out, she said she wanted a brother). She’s not that sad anymore (though she still refers to the baby as a “she”), and I’m sure she’s going to have a blast with a little brother. I did remind her that I grew up with a younger brother, and I dressed him in dresses, put makeup on him, played Barbies with him–just because he’s a boy, doesn’t mean he won’t do stuff like that. But he’ll also think of fun games to play with Emma that she wouldn’t have thought of. And she likes rough-housing and getting dirty, so I’m guessing they’ll get along just fine.

Name

We had a boy’s name picked out for Annabelle (since we didn’t know what gender she was until she was born) so both Travis and I had assumed that we would just use that name, since we both still like it. But we apparently can’t agree on whether the full name would be what Jellybean goes by, or if he would go by a nickname. Travis says nickname, I say full name. I feel very strongly that we should name him what we want him to be called (that was the same case with Annabelle…she is not Anna or Belle, her name is Annabelle). So the jury is still out on the name.

Movement

I started feeling Jellybean kick around in my belly around 18 weeks. At first, it was just when I was lying down or being still, but now it’s pretty much all day long. It’ll be fun when his kicks are strong and consistent enough for the girls to feel them from the outside! (We took both of them to my 20-week ultrasound, thinking they’d find it interesting, but their attention span lasted about 5 minutes. Live and learn.)

Clothes

I’m pretty much fully in maternity clothes now. I still have some pre-pregnancy shirts that fit, but most mornings, it’s just easier to put on a maternity shirt, since I know it will fit. I bought a few more maternity shirts from Target, but they’re the kind without ruching on the sides, so I can wear them even after baby comes. 😉

I’m definitely needing more maternity pants, though. I lamented this when pregnant with Emma, and it’s still an issue–you would think that finding maternity pants that fit would be easier than finding regular pants because of the whole stretchy waistband thing, but nope, it’s just as hard. I looked at the limited stores around here with no luck, which is not surprising. I do love the jeans I bought from Old Navy a few months ago, and am probably going to just buy another pair since I know they fit well.

I also really want some maternity leggings and ordered some from Blanqi, but I tried them on and even though they were super comfy, they attracted dog hair like no tomorrow. So back they go. They’re not something I would wear to work, and if I can’t wear them around the house without being covered in dog hair, they are pretty much useless.

Food & Cravings

I don’t really have that many cravings these days, though I have been loving raw veggies and dip, and spinach artichoke dip. My main challenge these days is that I’m so tired, and have been so busy (way, way too busy), and Travis has been traveling for work, so I haven’t been meal planning like usual. But after Thanksgiving, my schedule is a lot more open, and Travis is done traveling for a while, so I’m hoping to get back into the habit of actual dinners.

Exercise

This is also something that has suffered with Travis’ travel schedule. I just do not have the energy to work out and watch the kids at the same time, or get up early/stay up late to work out when they’re sleeping. And since I usually end up falling asleep with Annabelle for her nap, that time doesn’t work either. So I haven’t been working out really at all. With Travis back now, I’m hoping to start doing at least 1-2 days of Pilates, and walking on the treadmill or outside. The girls and I haven’t played outside in weeks! (yikes) We’re due.

Sleep

The last couple weeks of sleep have been less than stellar. I’m already sick of sleeping on my sides, but my belly is not really comfy anymore, and my back is only comfy for so long. But if this is the worst of my pregnancy woes, I’m still lucky.

And that’s about it for 22 weeks!

Confessions of a Deer-Hunting Widow

7 Nov

Ah, deer hunting season. How I hate thee.

I knew when I married my husband that he liked to hunt. He grew up hunting, almost his entire family hunts, it’s just their thing. But when we were dating, and then got married, Travis was at his all-time hunting low–as in, was doing the least amount of hunting in his life. (On the other hand, I was doing the most hunting of my life. One deer season. One day. HA!)

But it didn’t last long. The fall after we moved to Colorado in 2007 commenced Travis’ family’s annual week-long pilgrimage to the Rockies in search of the elusive elk. That pilgrimage remained a strong tradition until 2016, when Travis opted to hunt antelope in Wyoming instead, and then this year, opted to fish for a week in Canada instead of hunt out of state.

And that was just one season of hunting. Before we had kids, Travis hunted elk, deer, antelope, and ducks. All different seasons. All back to back during arguably the busiest time of year (fall and winter). One year, Travis shot FIVE animals: 1 elk, 2 deer, and 2 antelope. After butchering and vacuum-sealing meat for what seemed like two months straight, I told him he was never allowed to shoot that many animals again.

Then there was the time that Travis had been hunting a lot, and I jokingly (but not jokingly) lamented, “Hunting is taking over your life!” We laughed about that then, but somehow since having kids, that joke isn’t quite as funny anymore.

Because once you have kids, hunting is no longer just a hobby for one spouse. It’s a SACRIFICE for the other. (Unless both spouses like hunting, I guess, but from what I’ve seen, that’s a rarity.)

It’s taken me literally years to remember that hunting doesn’t involve just the time in the stand, or even the time at deer camp. It’s also setting stands. Brushing trails. Cleaning guns. Site-ing guns in. Assembling gear (which for the elk pilgrimage involved two pickup trucks completely bedded down with stuff, including a wall tent with wood stove). And then if the hunters are successful, retrieving the animal. Butchering meat. Grinding meat. Vacuum-sealing meat.

And one year, this process also involved Travis boiling an elk head and scraping out the brain cavity with a tiny wire in order to make a European mount of his bull rack, which we now have displayed in our living room. (He learned to have it done professionally the second time around, and that European mount is in the basement awaiting its placement.)

The hardest part about hunting for our family is that it always happens in the fall (with the exception of duck hunting). And ever since we’ve had kids, fall also happens to be the time of year when Travis’ job is the busiest, and requires the most travel. So it’s no wonder that every October and November, I find myself at my wit’s end. And actually, that’s a very mild way of describing it. Perhaps I should say, I find myself drowning?

Because that’s how it feels. Every moment, my body is consumed with a frantic panic similar to what I imagine a caged animal feels. No matter how much I dislike my circumstances, no matter how stressed out or overwhelmed I feel, I am stuck, spending what feels like endless days and nights by myself with little humans who do what I don’t want them to do, and won’t do what I do want them to. Little humans who refuse to go to bed without tantrums, or who get sick and won’t sleep, or who seemingly break out their most unruly behavior at the very moment I need them most–for my sanity’s sake–to behave. (Thank God for technology, or I would completely lose it for good.)

Then there are the annual marital fights over the H word: how much hunting costs, how much time it takes, how many seasons he should hunt, etc etc. Because Travis’ family’s “thing” is hunting, the amount of time we spend with each side of the family gets brought up defensively. Last year’s argument included my throwing a Camelbak water bottle, complete with expletive, at the wall, breaking the water bottle, and puncturing a hole in the sheetrock. (That happened after Travis said, “I really haven’t gone hunting that much.”)

After that shameful but ultimately productive incident, I was finally able to put words to my feelings and tell Travis, “I know you love hunting. And I want you to continue doing the things you love to do. And I want to be supportive of you doing them. But right now, I can’t be more supportive than simply telling you through gritted teeth that you can do them. I want to have a good attitude about all of it, but I just don’t. And I don’t have the emotional capacity to change that. Because I feel like I’m drowning. And I can’t do anything more right now than just survive.”

And that’s where I find myself again this hunting season, even though now I work two days a week (a change that was brought about by last year’s hunting season). Because Travis has traveled for work 4 out of the last 6 weeks, and is set to leave for another 5-day work trip on the last day of deer season.

But what can I do? I know for a fact that if I asked Travis not to hunt anymore this season (since he HAS already shot two does), he wouldn’t. He doesn’t blaze a hunting trail with no thought to his wife or kids. But if I do ask him not to hunt anymore, then I end up feeling like the needy, no-fun ball-and-chain who doesn’t let her husband do anything. And I honestly do want Travis to continue doing the things that he loves. So even though it’s hard, and I don’t have the attitude about it that I wish I did (because honestly, how can I?!?!), I will grit my teeth and tell Travis to go have fun while I change poopy diapers and wipe poopy butts, diffuse umpteen fights over toys, assemble meals that do not get eaten, and keep my girls from destroying my in-laws’ house.

There is no tidy wrap-up to this blog post because this is an issue that we are still working through, and I imagine will work through until the day our kids can take care of themselves, or go hunting themselves. Rather, I write this more to say that if you find yourself a hunting widow with young kids, and you’re having a hard time maintaining sanity, I understand. I’m there with you.