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{6-Month Update} 2018 Focus: White Space

24 May

I just emotionally vomited on my husband. It’s my last day at home with Corbin while the girls are at school and daycare before I go back to work, and I feel this intense pressure to at once enjoy my fleeting time with him (why do all the moms with newborns on Instagram seem to do this so well?!?!) as well as get stuff done during his naps. Except that he decided to not nap today unless I was holding him, and then only in the swaddle, not the Baby Bjorn. So I’ve accomplished exactly nothing today.

I wish deeply that I was ok with that. Why can’t I just enjoy holding him, even if it means I accomplish nothing? Why can’t I be ok with not having planned dinners for over a month? Can’t I let a dirty kitchen floor and dirty bathrooms go for just a few more weeks? It’s not that bad wearing dirty clothes, right? I don’t need to exercise, shower, write blog posts, finish thank you notes, or drink another cup of coffee, right?

Part of the reason I’m not ok with those things is that I’m a Type-A neat freak who is literally stressed out by a dirty, messy house.

Part of it is that I love accomplishing things and checking things off my to-do list. Getting to the end of a day and not being able to say I did anything but survive is a major killjoy.

And part of it is that I’m overly ambitious, always wanting to do 500 more things than I have time for. It’s sadly ironic that the days I’ve had either without kids at home or with just the baby at home have been some of my most stressful days because I feel pressured to do all the things. I almost always pray in the morning on those days, “Lord, I know that only about 2 things out of the 50 I want to get done today will actually get done. Give me wisdom to know what I should do, patience when I don’t get everything done, and trust that You’ve got the things that are undone under control.” That prayer helps, but I’m obviously still a basketcase.

I felt like this even before Corbin was born, and now it’s exacerbated 1,000%: I don’t have time for the things I want to be doing because I’m spending all my time doing crap I have to do. To solve this dilemma, I either have to A) Stop wanting to do things, or B) Decrease the amount of things I have to do. I choose Option B.

Enter Minimalism. I first really started reading about it during the winter of 2017, and that following spring, I spent weeks decluttering our entire house, getting rid of things that we had been holding on to from our college days thinking we would use “some day.” (And I’ve been a declutterer my whole life, so this was even a deeper level of getting rid of stuff.)

But that alone wasn’t enough. The week that Corbin was born, Travis and I had a tense discussion about a familiar problem: Too Much to Do and Too Little Time. The house where we live is in many ways our dream house. It’s in a mature woods, with no neighbors for two lots on one side, and a neighbor with just a garage and a garden on the other side. Our driveway is long enough that we can barely see the road leading through our quiet neighborhood, and our backyard leads to the river, all combining for a very idyllic, serene setting.

The house itself has four bedrooms–three on the main level and one in the walk-out basement, which my husband uses for his office, since he works from home. It has a lofted ceiling and big windows that look east onto our backyard and the river, filling our living room and kitchen with morning sunlight. In the summer, sometimes the sun even reflects off the water onto the wall in our living room.

We love living here. We love the space, the quiet, the water. However, we don’t love the required maintenance. You’ll encounter house maintenance in any house. But as I’ve told Travis, if I had known how much work it would be to live here with these woods and this lot, I would’ve seriously reconsidered buying it.

In any given season, there’s at least 2-4 hours of weekly maintenance that need to be done. In the summer, you have to pick up dog poop, mow the lawn, and deal with the large areas of landscaping the previous owners created (if you don’t want to look at beds of weeds). In the winter, you have to blow snow off the long driveway. In the fall, you have to pick up leaves (though thankfully, because we have the use of my inlaws’ Cyclone Rake, this takes a fraction of the time it would otherwise). Then there’s the cleanup after every storm, and at least a dozen 50-foot trees that need to be cut down.

All things that young kids cannot help with, which means Travis ends up doing these things by himself while I take care of the kids on my own.

Two to four hours a week may not sound like much, and it isn’t really, but it’s just enough to cause an imbalance in our family life. Travis works full-time, and has in the past traveled a decent amount, so the weekends are usually the only time he has to get things done. Even when he’s home, the evenings are all business with the kids–dinner, bath, bed.

That leaves a day and a half (half of Sunday is taken up by church) for him to squeeze in chores, family time, his own hobbies, and hopefully a break for me. Newsflash: those things rarely all happen in a weekend. Just like I don’t get done what I’d like to get done on my days without kids, we don’t get done what we’d like to get done in a weekend. It may work on paper (and honestly, as I’m typing this all out, I’m wondering, “So what’s the problem again? This doesn’t sound so bad…”) but it doesn’t work in reality. And it’s not working for our family.

(For a period of time last year, Travis only worked four days a week, and let me tell you, it was AMAZING. Even though we lost 1/5 of his income, the balance it brought to family life was priceless. He had a whole day to get his chores done and do his hobbies, we had a day together as a family, and then a day to go to church and relax. I wish it could have stayed like that!)

Which has led to us half-jokingly, half-desperately suggesting to one another that we sell this house and move into a town home, where all the maintenance is done for us. 95% of me says that’s crazy, there’s no way we will ever sell our dream house! 5% of me says yes it’s crazy, and it just might be the crazy move that will save us from a lifetime of the rat race.

Because the breakneck speed of life seems to be universal. This is just the way life is, people say. It doesn’t slow down as you get older. You’re just as busy, or even busier, as your kids get older. (Insert mind-blown emoji here.) So ever since I started my minimalist journey, I’ve been wondering, How do you get off this merry-go-round? How do you put your foot down and say ENOUGH to all the busyness? 

I honestly do not believe that God intends for our earthly lives to be lived this way. For us to only have time for the stuff we HAVE to do, and not the stuff we WANT to do or FEEL CALLED to do. I lost my marbles today because I have not actually played with my girls since Corbin has been born, and even before that, it was sporadic. I am barely keeping my house clean, failing at feeding my family (why is that always the first thing to go?), not exercising, and falling into bed after the kids are asleep with only the energy to watch a 20-minute show.

I know the season of life with a fussy newborn is even more taxing than normal life with kids, and having three kids is NO JOKE. And even though I’ve gotten a lot better during this year of White Space at stepping back from being the responsible person, and the person responsible (even when I wonder if other people think I’m dropping on the ball on something I should be doing), I am still learning to respect my limitations, and to operate within them–at least, as much as I can with three kids.

But there’s got to be a way to carve out even more margin, more time for doing the things we want and feel called to be doing. Joshua Becker, author and blogger at Becoming Minimalist, writes,

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

That is what I want for my life, and for my family. To promote the things we most value and remove what distracts us from those. Selling our house is one of the most radical things I can think of (and I’m only about 10% serious about it at this point in time), but if selling it would free up more time to be together as a family, serve others, and make a bigger impact for God, then it would ultimately be worth it.

We’ve given ourselves until next spring to make a decision. I’m interested and excited to see how and where God leads us during that time.

Have you or your family adopted a minimalist lifestyle or mindset in any area of your life? Any books or resources you would recommend?

Corbin Travis: 8 Weeks

18 May

Corbin was 8 weeks old yesterday!

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He will be 2 months next Tuesday, May 22, but his 2-month well-child checkup isn’t until June 1, so I decided to do an 8-week update, and will do another update at the beginning of June (since babies change so fast in so little time!).

Size

Corbin is starting to outgrow his 3-month shirts and sleepers. He has short little legs though, so 3-month pants are still kind of long on him. And he switched to size 2 diapers when he was about 5 weeks old.

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Eating & Sleeping

Similar to Emma, Corbin is pretty much all over the place in terms of how long he goes between feedings, and how long he naps for. But in general, he goes 2.5 to 3 hours between feedings during the day and has at least one 4-5 hour stretch at night. The night before Mother’s Day, he slept from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. He knew just what I wanted! A few nights, he has slept so well that after nursing him at 5 a.m., I’ve stayed up to go on a run. What a great way to start the day! (But that doesn’t happen very often yet.)

Corbin can stay awake for about an hour between naps (including the time it takes to nurse) and then he naps for 1.5 to 2 hours, sometimes 3. His fussiest time of day is actually the morning. He’ll nurse between 6 and 7, and then be just generally unhappy. Travis has tried many times at that time of day to get Corbin back to sleep by swaddling and bouncing–unsuccessfully–so we’re conceding that it’d just be easier to put him in the Baby Bjorn in the morning (because he has come around on that, and is usually fairly content in it for at least one nap). I usually nurse him again around 8:30 or 9, and then he’ll take a decent 2-3 hour nap.

Usually he’ll nurse around (give or take an hour) 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and sometimes when he falls asleep at 7 p.m., he’ll sleep straight through until midnight or 1; other times, he’ll wake up again between 9 and 10 p.m. for another feeding. For some reason, after his nursing session between 4 and 6 a.m., he’ll usually go back to sleep for only about an hour, then he’s up for his morning fussing. Good thing Emma taught us how to go with the flow!24398D94-2AD9-4BAE-B626-F1FE8AD4AC73

After my last post on Corbin, our neighbor offered that we could borrow their Rock ‘n’ Play with built-in vibration, and I think that has been a huge help with getting Corbin to sleep longer. We just leave the vibration on the whole time he’s sleeping and have white noise from a fan in his room. He still loves to be swaddled and bounced (or carried around while I make lunch, get the girls dressed, etc) while held horizontally. He can take or leave the pacifier, but he loves sucking on his hands (which he does often in the Baby Bjorn to soothe himself). He doesn’t like being rocked in a chair and he’s not a huge fan of the baby swing (though he does really enjoy swinging to sleep in the chair swing we have outside!).BE0AEA23-6DDF-4112-AFEC-1EFD2071416266DAE0E8-A7B7-4E25-B45B-FDAE93FF71A2

Also since my last post, we met with a dentist that specializes in treating lip and tongue ties in infants, and found out that Corbin does have mild lip and tongue ties. But because he can still breastfeed without causing me any pain, it’s not necessary, and they can’t guarantee that treating his lip and tongue ties would solve his fussiness/swallowing air/spitting up a ton. So we decided to wait and see if things improve as Corbin gets older before going that route.

We did, however, start Corbin on acid reflux meds just to rule that out as a potential issue. For the first few days of giving him the meds, it didn’t seem to be doing much so I contemplated stopping them (since I don’t *love* the idea of giving him meds in the first place) but over the past week, his fussiness has decreased considerably (though he still hates his carseat unless he’s swaddled in it), his periods of being alert and content have increased (he’s even started cracking some smiles!), and he is overall easier to get to sleep. So for now, we’re going to continue the meds because they just might be working!

Development

Like I mentioned above, Corbin has started smiling. Those moments are just so precious! It’s so fun when you can tell that your baby sees you, and likes you. (My baby likes me!) Corbin has also made a few babbling noises, (baby noises are the best!), and started to enjoy looking at the star on his playmat that blinks and plays music, and batting at the dangling toys (by accident).AB1E08BC-EFFB-4BB1-A2BD-F9ECCDD332C96D61CF01-6B59-4635-9D6F-3D2CB32B03DA

Corbin has also stopped pooping so much–thank goodness! Now he’ll poop every couple of days, but his toots are super smelly! Before we figured out it was just gas, we changed his diaper expecting to see a blowout, but only found little skidmarks.

A few firsts for Corbin in the past week were his first walk in the woods (at 8:14 a.m.), first road trip (to the Cities), first night in a hotel (he didn’t know the difference), and first time at Cabela’s (one of Daddy’s favorite places). And he has finally taken a bottle from Travis! The girls got to help feed him too when Nana was down here the first weekend of May.

DBF2132F-911C-4933-932A-112F5F29DCE51571CFCE-02F6-4DD8-98B7-079B4FF823744A10E3A2-7793-4E0A-9388-0F8B14ECC15CLittle by little, I’m getting the hang of three kids. I’ve become a lot more flexible with where I nurse Corbin (in the hallway during bathtime, outside when the girls are playing in the yard) and also resigned to having him in the baby carrier more often. Some women love wearing their babies; I enjoy it to a point. I also enjoy being able to bend down without squatting, and take a shower every now and then.

And that’s Corbin at 8 weeks!2939D48F-C1C4-474D-A03C-17E86284047D4A4C0C62-6329-4985-A748-185DA89CCA77979D8651-C5C8-4B0A-B7E8-5816A73F2F94

Pregnancy #3: 6 Weeks Postpartum

10 May

I’ve posted postpartum updates with both of my other pregnancies so why stop now? I’m technically 7 weeks postpartum today but kept this as my 6-week update because it sounds better. Anyway…

Physical Recovery

This pregnancy was my easiest physical recovery by far. The afterpains of uterine shrinking were a b!tch (Tylenol with codeine was a lifesaver) but that was really the only issue. My bleeding was much lighter with this recovery than the first two (though it lasted slightly longer) and I made sure to be diligent about taking a stool softener for about the first month, since I learned the importance of them the hard way after having Annabelle. I didn’t even have the abdominal pain that made it hard to be up walking around after giving birth this time.

Nursing has gone well overall, despite Corbin’s swallowing a lot of air. The fact that he has a weaker latch because of his lip tie means that I haven’t had any nipple discomfort or pain. TBD on whether we do anything about his lip tie. It’s unique in the sense that breastfeeding is going well and he’s gaining weight.

Weight / Body Image

I’m about 5 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.

It’s all concentrated in my stomach, but this time I started doing ab exercises at 2 weeks postpartum so I can actually fit into several pairs of pre-pregnancy pants. I did also buy a couple new pairs of jeans though so that I could put my maternity clothes away (and even though the weather is warmer, it’s still jeans weather).

I also bought three nursing shirts from Latched Mama. They are awesome to use, though I have mixed feelings about the fit and fabric. I plan to do a separate post on the nursing tops and bras I bought in the next month or two.

I’ve gone on a handful of runs so far and done some strength training (squats, lunges, pushups) a few times. I’ve been fairly consistent with my ab exercises, only missing a few days (it helps that they only take 5-10 minutes). I’d like to get out biking soon too! It feels good to be active again, and with Corbin starting to sleep longer stretches at night, morning workouts are starting to be a possibility.

Emotional

The first week postpartum was rough. Life just changes so. much. when you’re the mother of a breastfed newborn. The father gets to more or less go back to life as normal (sleep for a full 8 hours, go to work each day) but the nursing mother is now tied to a child 24/7 (even those who use bottles still have to pump). So I was having a hard time with once again staying home full-time and not being able to “accomplish” anything besides caring for children all day. And between nursing and trying to sneak naps in, I was feeling isolated from my husband and girls too. I still feel that way sometimes–I love family time more than anything so when they’re having fun without me because I’m sleeping in or going to bed early, I feel left out and a little lonely. But I know it’s just for this season, and even a little more sleep will help me be a nicer person.

Because I was struggling so much, I re-read the book Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic. I had read it when Emma was a baby but now I have more parenting experience under my belt so I can relate more to what she writes. Her book was the change in perspective I really needed. It’s so easy to let the challenge and mundanity of parenting glamorize other roles and convince me that having ambitions bigger than parenting well is necessary for me to feel fulfilled. This isn’t the first time I’ve struggled with feeling like parenting is preventing me from doing other, more worthwhile things with my life. But Rachel’s book encouraged me to fully embrace parenting as being the absolute best way for me to spend my time, seeing as God has made me a mother three times over.

The recurring theme of my life over the past 8 years or so has been “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD” (Isaiah 29:19). What that verse means to me is that joy is not found by demanding my life be a certain way, but by embracing the life and circumstances God has allowed. I will never find joy if I am “one foot in, one foot out” in my own life, if even part of my heart is lusting after How Things Should Be or What I Want Instead.

And what I’ve found to be true is that ironically, when I give up dictating what my life should be like, instead of feeling trapped and limited, I find great freedom and abundance. Living within God’s limits on my life brings freedom. Denying or begrudging those limits leads to bitterness and resentment.

These truths have proven to be very helpful and I call them to mind often, especially when I feel like I’m completely in over my head, have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, and fall so far short of the kind of mom I want to be (which is every day). Because parenting well is hard. Frankly, without God, it’s impossible. The last thing I need is a bunch of unrealistic, guilt-producing expectations about What I Should Be Able to Handle and What I Should Be Doing Besides Parenting.

In this season of my life, parenting is all-consuming. That’s ok. God knows that. He sees me in the midst of it. And He empowers me to keep on sacrificing my life and my desires for the good of my family. I have full confidence that I will look back on these years, from old age or heaven, with absolutely no regrets, but instead joy and gratitude to God for strengthening me to persevere. It will all be worth it because Jesus is worth it.

Master Bedroom Redo

10 Mar

Over the course of our marriage, Travis and I have been fortunate to receive lots of free furniture and find good deals on Craigslist. When we moved into our first house, we bought a brand-new queen-size bed, and moved my full-size bed from college into the guest room.

The rest of our furniture was hodge podge. We had my grandparents’ old bedroom set, plus a dresser bought from a garage sale (which was so beat up that you had to hold up one of the drawers with your knee to get anything out of it). We used a garden table and wicker hamper as night stands, which we replaced with cheap, tiny Target night stands when selling our house, just to have something that matched. The assortment of couches and futons we had over the years were all given to us (with the exception of a new futon for the guest room before Emma was born, and the couches downstairs in our current house, which we found for an awesome price on Craigslist).

All that to say, last year when we had saved some extra money from Travis working so much overtime and were wondering what to do with it, buying a nice, quality bedroom set came to mind. Travis’ main desire was to have a nightstand taller than 2 feet with more surface area than a dinner plate; mine was to improve the aesthetics and functionality.

But as we always say with having kids and dogs, “We can’t have nice things.” So when we were looking at bedroom sets, we were drawn to the rustic, imperfect designs–I love that look in the first place, and they would hide chips and scratches easily. After looking at several stores and quite a bit online, we had decided to buy a floor model dresser and bed frame from HOM in St. Cloud that was made with reclaimed wood from an old tobacco mill (the brand-new prices were out of our range), but it was sold before we could get back down to buy it.

Then I saw a Costco flyer with a bedroom set I really liked. It was about the same price as the floor model we had wanted, but it came with two nightstands, a bed frame with two drawers, a 6-drawer dresser, and a large mirror. After several weeks of consideration, we finally decided to pull the trigger.

We had a great experience ordering from Costco. Almost right away, we received an email from a customer service representative, giving us a delivery timeline and number to call if we had any questions. The delivery team worked around our schedule and showed up exactly when they said they would. They set up the furniture where I asked them to, and were very efficient and friendly.

The brand of furniture we bought is aspenhome and we love it. The drawers slide easily and between the six dresser drawers, bed frame drawers, and large nightstands, we easily have enough room for all our clothes. The headboard has buttons on each side for turning on lamps, as well as two outlets on each side. The nightstands have indirect lighting with 3 settings underneath them that work great as night lights when one of us comes to bed later than the other. We didn’t expect to use those features much, but we do all the time.

ANYWAY, since we bought a new bedroom set, we decided to paint the walls (before the furniture came) and finally do something with the TV built-in between our closets (which was just being used as a dumping ground to keep things out of reach of the girls).

Without further ado, here are the before and after pictures.

Before

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The wall color was MEH.master gallery wallbefore

Lots of clutterIMG-4487IMG-4505After

IMG_7173IMG_7174Comforter is the Avondale Manor Ella Pinch Pleat set; bedroom set is the Audrey 5-piece Queen set from CostcoIMG_7188Prints from Hobby Lobby and cotton wreath from AmazonIMG_7175IMG_7179IMG_7176IMG_7178IMG_7182I plan to replace the toolbox for Travis’ stuff once I find something.IMG_7180IMG_7183IMG_7190IMG_7191Jewelry hangers from Hobby LobbyIMG_7187IMG_7186Lamps from TargetIMG_7185Curtain rod and curtains from Kohl’s

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!

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.