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Our Fall Routine

29 Sep

mums.jpgWe’re almost a month into the school year now, which is a unit of time that hasn’t really mattered to Travis and I since we graduated from college over 10 years ago. But now we have a kindergartener, and our lives are ruled by the school schedule.

Which, as it turns out, has been really good for us so far. Yes, the arbitrary holidays that the kids get off from school but we don’t get off from work and spontaneous early releases are going to drive us crazy, I’m sure, but the overall structure of school five days a week has enabled us to do something we’ve never done before:

Stick to a routine.

When I think about how to describe the way our days are going now, I can only think of the trite, “It’s just so. good.” But it really is. I have been trying to stick to a weekly routine since we moved back to Minnesota and I became a stay-at-home mom four years ago, but I could not do it for the life of me. I’m one of those people who functions well with schedule obligations like bookends–something to reign in my “free time” (or should I just call it unscheduled time?) and give it boundaries. I can’t be all scheduled, but I also can’t be all unscheduled.

Enter our routine now. Emma needs to be to school by 8:25 AM every day Monday through Friday. She needs to be picked up at 3:00 PM each of those days as well. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:45 to 2:45, during which time Annabelle and Corbin go to daycare. Mondays and Fridays, Travis takes Emma to school so I can still have a few lazy mornings.

Those scheduled things have taken up just enough of my week that I have felt the need to get more intentional about my unscheduled time. I also just recently realized, after lamenting for years how chaotic life felt, that I was a main culprit in making it chaotic by not sticking to a routine. So my routine:

I meal plan and make a grocery list on Sunday.

Mondays are reserved for grocery shopping and MOPS, and playdates or errands as time allows.

Fridays, I stay home to get stuff done (like laundry) and don’t change out of my pajamas until school pick-up.

At the beginning of the school year, I switched from working 9 to 5 two days a week, to working 8:45 to 2:45 three days a week. So I have an hour and a half with the kids every afternoon between school pick-up and dinnertime, and we’ve even developed a routine with that time. On Mondays, we go to the dollar store and buy Lunchables (at the girls’ request–they’re obsessed). Fridays, we go to a park near the school. The other days, we head home and play outside (while it’s still nice!) until Corbin needs to nap or nurse, usually around 4:45. Then they watch iPad while I take care of Corbin and start to make dinner. It’s not a ton of time, but it’s been so. good. to just have a slot of time everyday that I spend hanging out with my kids, doing what they want to do.

And Travis and I still have our scheduled workout times (M & W for him, T & Th for me), as well as our weekend hobby times. Sunday mornings, we go to church, and the rest of the weekend is fairly negotiable.

Something I recently read in an email from minimalist Allie Casazza was along the lines of “You may think routines make life boring and predictable. But routines actually provide the foundation for adventure.” She used the example of being able to spontaneously fly to visit a friend in need, leaving her husband in charge of all 4 kids, and feeling peaceful with the knowledge that their house was tidy, there was food in the fridge, and their schedules predictable because she had laid that foundation with her routines. I should’ve saved that email (why didn’t I?!?!) because that message resonated with me so much. I am loving our routine.

I should mention that the parameters of a school schedule aren’t magic. I’m not all of a sudden able to stick to a routine because I have a kid in school. My desire for and ability to stick to a routine have slowly evolved over the course of this Year of White Space. During which time I’ve learned that the main requirements of a routine are that you do it, regardless of whether or not you feel like it, and that you make time for it, which means guarding that time from other things. As a spontaneous and a Yes person by nature, I’ve had to learn how to stick to a routine.

For example, even when I forget about meal planning on Sunday until it’s 10 PM, I buckle down and do it so that I’m ready to go grocery shopping on Monday, instead of just blowing it off and saying, “Eh, whatever, I’ll do it tomorrow.” I keep telling myself, “If you want life to feel more predictable, you have to make it more predictable.” (Obviously, unpredictable things still happen but most of my strife with a chaotic life has come about through my own doing.)

Lest you think that our routine has made our fall a rainbow of mums and pumpkins, let me assure you that it has not. My job has been crazy busy and stressful, we’re in the midst of changing caregivers for Corbin, the girls have daily tantrums over everything and nothing, Travis’ work has been famine and now feast, and I’m staring down the barrel of another hunting season. But the routine definitely helps make things less chaotic. And that’s really all I can ask for.

{9-Month Update} 2018 Focus: White Space

26 Aug

I haven’t sat down just to write in forever. This feels good.

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There is no margin in life with three kids. At least, not with three kids this young, or with us being the parents we are. I used to be flexible, spontaneous. I could adjust my plans, stretch my energies to accommodate doing something that might fall during naptime, push back bedtime, or replace my grocery shopping time. I’ve always been the one to overextend myself for good causes or fun experiences.

No more.

Now I live on the margin, and there is no extra. There have been several times since Corbin was born that I literally could not muster up the socially appropriate or polite response or action in a situation. One example: family was staying at our house overnight, and instead of making their beds for them, spending time with them after the kids went to bed, and making breakfast for them in the morning, I told them where the linens where, went to bed without saying goodnight, and said they were on their own for breakfast. Because I just can’t.

“I just can’t.” A phrase that has often echoed through my mind these past five months, justifying to myself why I cannot and will not, despite the responsibility I feel or expectations I imagine, go to x meeting, be involved in y cause, or overextend myself for z thing. A reforming commitaholic (reforming because this is ongoing), I have both loved to say yes to all sorts of things, and also felt the pressure of saying yes if I didn’t have a legitimately good reason to say no.

Now I don’t care about legitimacy. I don’t have the margin to.

When you’re a parent of young kids, the reality is that during certain seasons, your hands will be tied, and you will not have the time or energy to do many things that you would like to do. People without kids (I used to be guilty of this) do not understand this, or view having kids as a cop-out of other responsibilities and obligations. But parenting during the little years is consuming and demanding. (Then there are all the expectations that having kids in school entails, but I won’t get into that here.)

I spent last year chasing all manner of commitment other than loving my family well. I detailed all of that here. This year, I have said no. We have said no. We said no to getting a babysitter for a meeting that I “should have” been at with my husband. We said no to meeting once a month with a group from our church to talk about vision for our adult Bible community, though Travis loves discussing that sort of thing, because it was just one more thing on our calendars.

And then there are the other things I have said no to by simply not pursuing them. I didn’t plan a garage sale. No get-togethers or parties. Believe me, it hasn’t been easy. I’m pretty sure one of my spiritual gifts is hospitality—not that I do it well or have everything together, but I love it. I love planning events. LOVE IT. In high school, I planned a formal dance on New Year’s Eve at a hotel (with the help of my mom) just for fun. That was my kind of fun.

So I’ve had all sorts of ideas churning in my brain of people I’d like to have over, and events I’d like to plan, and sometimes I even get excited enough about it to almost ask Travis. But then I take a deep breath, and remind myself, Not this year. This year, I need to prioritize my family. I need to figure out how to do this well before I start taking on that.

We’ve made progress in figuring out our unique family balance (and it is unique, because it’s different for everyone. Some couples/families can handle a lot more busyness and separate-way-ness than we can, and vice versa). This summer, we’ve scheduled weekly hobby time for both me and Travis. Knowing that we have this time (at the same time every week) to do our own thing has really cut down on the number of arguments/tense discussions about hobbies and who gets time for what.

The key to making the hobby time work, however, is guarding that time from other commitments, which on weekends in the summer is very difficult to do. Guarding that time sometimes requires saying no to good, fun things, or leaving somewhere earlier than we might’ve otherwise. It also might involve being seen as socially rude, or inflexible. Obviously, there are exceptions, and we want our family routines to be filled with grace. But we also recognize that for them to be routines, they have to happen most of the time. So that’s what we’re shooting for.

One thing I have spent an inordinate amount of time doing this year is purging. Decluttering. I’ve been reading about minimalism a ton this year, and am convinced that having lots of stuff is robbing us of time that we could be spending doing other things. So even though it takes time upfront to purge, the effects it has on the rest of your life makes it worth it (just like you spend time working out to experience the benefits of being in shape throughout the rest of your day).

My main focus for the past couple of months has been our utility room. We have been holding on to all of the girls’ baby clothes with the idea that we would need/use them for foster care, but we have so. many. clothes. And we were given a ton of clothes for Corbin, so I’ve been sorting and organizing those, and donating what we don’t need, with the goal of freeing up some space. I’ve also been adding stuff to donation piles as I get a wild hair to organize a certain drawer or shelf.

But after donating a full carload of things to our local thrift store, I’m taking a break. I am stubborn and persistent, and have a really hard time stopping in the middle of something, so projects like this tend to be all-consuming. Even though I believe all the time spent doing this will be worth it, I need a break to focus on my family and relax.

It is seriously amazing how much stuff we accumulate. And this coming from a person who has done regular purging/decluttering my whole life. I didn’t have any bonus rooms filled with unused stuff, or closets ready to vomit the minute the door popped open. I regularly got rid of stuff I didn’t need, and my crap was organized.

But I still had too much. My kids had too much. My husband has too much (still working on with him to downsize his winter jacket and boot collection).

So I made us all capsule wardrobes out of the clothes we already owned. In my particular case, that involved getting rid of two boxes of clothing that I liked, and that fit me, because I just had too much. Now my closet is 55-60 things. I have loved the result. It takes me under five minutes to get dressed every day (no more trying on multiple outfits!), laundry feels much more manageable, and I still have plenty to wear. I did find myself getting a little tired of my options by the end of the second month, but it forced to me to wear a dress that I had been ignoring, so I kind of like that aspect.

I also purged our kids’ toys down to 20 per child. The toy purging has been an 18-month process. In the spring of 2017, I sold at a garage sale all the toys that the girls never playing with, even the ones given to us by family. Earlier this year, I once again donated all the toys that the girls never play with, and that Corbin won’t be interested in when he gets older (Frozen castle and play purse, anyone?).

But I was still picking up toys constantly, and even when everything was picked up, it seemed like there were toys everywhere. I’ve been reading a lot about minimalism online and came across the idea of having kids choose 20 toys and boxing up the rest on Erin Spain’s blog. I thought that idea was genius. It gives kids control of the decluttering process, while also being reasonable and a very easy-to-remember boundary.

I brought all our toys to the basement and laid them out so everything was visible. Things that were sets (like play dishes) counted as one item. Dolls and Barbies were each one item. I chose not to include the toys and activities that I either like them having (Duplos, puzzles, games, books), or that don’t contribute to messes (play shopping cart, baby stroller).

Once all the toys were spread out, the girls went through and chose 20. I reminded them several times to choose the toys that they loved, and not worry about what the other person chose, because they would still be sharing the toys in the end. And I have to say, they did not choose the toys I thought they would. Annabelle chose only one baby doll, and Emma chose none. Emma chose all her Barbies (I did expect that), but between the two of them, they chose all of their dress-up clothes and shoes, which they hardly ever wear (and the shoes are almost too small for Emma). (I also chose 10-15 of my favorite toys for Corbin once he starts sitting/crawling/walking.)

We just did this recently, so time will tell whether they will miss the things they didn’t choose. I am holding onto the toys that weren’t drafted, and allowing 1-to-1 exchanges until Halloween (and may encourage some exchanges, based on what I think would be better choices). Then the rest of the toys will be donated. So far, the girls have only made exchanges for two things—Big Purple Baby, and the baby bottles and accessories.

The idea behind purging their toys was to 1) Decrease the amount of time spent picking up toys throughout the day; and 2) Limit their toy options to a reasonable amount. The fact that they haven’t at all missed the majority of their toys proves to me that they weren’t really enjoying them anyway. They still have plenty of things to make messes with, so we do still spend time picking toys up, but it usually only takes about 15 minutes before bedtime to clean up inside.

One other area that Travis and I have been focusing on is our eating habits. For the month of August, we’ve been following the Paleo diet (no dairy, grains, or legumes) with four “cheats” per week. The best and most challenging thing about the Paleo diet is that it forces you to be intentional with what you’re eating. No more grabbing easy empty carbs. Instead of a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, now I eat breakfast sausage and a smoothie, or eggs with spinach, mushrooms, and bacon. For lunch, I’ve been loving spinach salads. And for dinner, we make a recipe out of one of Danielle Walker’s cookbooks (everything we’ve made has been amazing!).

Anyway, all of these things—boundaries, hobby time, capsule wardrobes, toy purging, healthy eating—have combined to make life feel less chaotic and more stable. We haven’t spent our summer flitting around to a thousand different things. Instead, we’ve stayed home and kept things low-key. We’ve had fun but also focused on maintaining a good balance – something I don’t think we’ve ever really had.

With fall coming, school starting, and all that goes along with that, things are going to start being a little more hectic than they have been this summer. But I really hope that the lessons we’ve learned so far this year will help us maintain this life balance, even with a fuller calendar.

{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

master 2

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.