Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Flying Teddy Bears

"So, what did you do today?"

It's a perfectly innocent question.  Usually asked simply as a conversation starter.  No big deal.  However, I have allowed it to sneak under my skin lately - leaving me with a subconscious feeling of guilt.  And truly for no reason.

I have had the amazing privilege of being a stay-at-home Mom for 13 years.  I laugh thinking back on the adventures {or blunders!} in parenting our first-born, from learning how to swaddle {Yeah, I still can't make a "burrito"}, breastfeed {Um, ouch!?!}, put on a stinkin' onesie {Who knew you could put it on feet first??} to discovering the reason why you should ALWAYS strategically place the diaper over his little man parts during changes {Smile}

Onto our second who taught us why it's important to close the toilet lid {especially while the cleaner is still clinging to the sides} and that life is as fun as you make it.

The third is my mini-me {Stubborn as an ox} and has taught us that every object in life is a mountain that needs to be conquered!

Right down to our fourth who has reminded us that we humans learn by example {something I have to continually reminder her older siblings of} and that a tom-boy mama can still manage to give birth to a pink-loving, dancing Princess!

Thirteen years later I find myself a stay-at-home-alone Mom.  I sent my last baby {Yes, the sweet & sassy pink one} off to Kindergarten this Fall - all day, every day.  The first week was awesome!  I enjoyed drinking my hot coffee on the porch swing, with the birds singing and the sun shining, glorious book in hand.  I soaked in the quietness of the house as it no longer needed to fend off attacks from flying teddy bears, colorful crayons and speedy little feet.  I could take the time to actually think about what to make for dinner, followed by the time to prepare it!  I think that's where the guilt came.  After 13 years, I had time.  And I felt guilty, really guilty.  Until recently....

I love this time of year.  I love reflecting on things that we are thankful for, spending time with family, observing our traditions and making new ones!  This year, it became clear to me how important the little, everyday "traditions" are.  I'm not a super creative person.  I don't go all out with perfect decor, cookies, activities and events.  Not even close!  So, take my guilt and feeling slightly inadequate {Thanks, Pinterest!} {Smile} and bring on my kids.  As if they could read my mind, they started talking about all of our "traditions".  Things I didn't even consider and would have never classified as traditions!  They talked about the way they each have to be woken up in the morning - one is a simple touch, one requires some basketball-style bouncing, another tickle tortured and the other needs her love bucket filled to the brim with cuddles before she sets her feet on the floor.  Every morning each one requires a hug {Yes, even the 12 year old} before leaving for school.  My 12-going-on-13 year old son still loves that Mom gets up early with him and makes his daily PB&J before heading out to the bus.  There is an after-school tradition, a cleaning tradition, a bath time tradition, breakfast, lunch and dinner tradition, game night tradition, movie night tradition and don't forget the bedtime traditions!  We adults may call them routines, but to my kids, they are traditions - our traditions. 

After that conversation with my kids, my guilt disappeared.  They had unknowingly filled my heart to the brim and reminded me what a simple privilege it is to be their Mom {Smile}

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Brachial Stun

Once again I can see the questions marks flying around in the speech bubbles above your heads!  {Smile!}  My titles lately truly have been coming from my every day life.  And, yes, that means that my life is a little crazy and filled with oddities!

My husband has been away for training at the police academy and was home playing with our kids this weekend.  I'm not entirely sure how, but we got on the subject of defense tactics.  {Again, oddities perhaps unique to certain professions!}  We proceeded to watch YouTube videos showing a technique known as the brachial stun.  In short, it is a defensive move in which the aggressor delivers a blow to the side of the neck, hitting the nerves that regulate blood pressure, causing temporary loss of consciousness.  Your body then has to reset or start over before you can regain your senses.  Unfortunately, two weeks ago I got hit with a "metaphorical brachial stun".   Yet as funny as it may sound, it was an answer to prayer!  I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, or very simply, an allergy to gluten. 

For the past five years, I have been searching for answers.  Every year, I would visit a new doctor, trying to find one that would actually listen.  I had many symptoms that alone didn't raise any flags, but together made quite the list!  The doctors made me feel like an idiot or a hypochondriac.  They told me I was getting old {Seriously, at 30?!?!}  Or that my hypoglycemia (chronic low blood sugar) was an "alcoholic's" syndrome {which I can guarantee you I am not!}  After five years, I felt like a fool and started to buy the line that I was an old, overweight hypochondriac.  However, when it was time for this year's annual check up, I decided to give it another shot.  New city, new clinic, new doctor.  Maybe the fresh start would yield better results!  Thank God, it did!  The doctor was amazing!  She listened intently, repeated my concerns and then put a plan into action.  After much testing and discussion, I had a diagnosis that made sense.  Even though the diagnosis sucks, I am so grateful to her! 

I have many friends who have experienced these same things, especially since turning 30...changes, symptoms, abnormalities.  Granted, it is normal for our bodies to change after hitting that "milestone", but Ladies, we know when something is off!  Don't give up!  Be your own advocate and keep fighting to get an answer. 

The Celiac diagnosis can be devastating.  It completely alters the way that you have to eat.  Thankfully, I had been wheat free since May, so the changes that I have to make aren't quite as drastic.  I have been 100% gluten free for 2 weeks and I feel awesome!  I have energy, strength and mental clarity {Thankfully just in time for the Holidays! :) }  I don't intend to turn this blog into a Celiac blog, since there are plenty of those to go around.  I simply wanted to share my story.  Thanks for listening!

Oh, and just for fun, here's one of the YouTube videos we watched.  Just promise me you won't try this at home!  {Wink and a Smile!}

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not Alone

Oh, boy.  I have been wrestling with myself all night over whether to blog or not to blog on this topic.  I tell you this because I believe VERY strongly in being open, honest and sharing our experiences with one another.  However, this is a sensitive subject.  I have many close friends who have walked this road and experienced things MUCH more difficult than I have.  It is because it is more common than I ever thought that I am going to write today.

My husband and I are extremely blessed to have four amazing kids.  They are strong, independent and individual.  Love them!  People often ask us if we are "done".  My reply is always a definite yes.  Sometimes I even say "Four is perfect.  I know that I don't want 5!".  Then I give myself a mental kick in the head.  Don't want 5?!?  We had 5. 

I always hate going to the doctor and filling out the questionnaire:  How many children do you have?  How many pregnancies?  How many live births?  Ugh.  My stomach always sinks.  And I know I'm not alone.  Or the inner debate that goes on in your head when someone asks you how many kids you have.  I've had this discussion with several friends.  To answer with the number of "alive" children is easiest, but leaves you with a little feeling of guilt.  However, to answer with the "real" number invites a discussion that the asking party was not prepared for!

Our story is pretty simple, pretty straight forward.  We had 3 healthy kids, healthy pregnancies, normal deliveries.  So, when Baby #4 was on the way, we wasted no time telling our happy news to the World.  {This is a decision that I do not regret, by the way!}  I was only 6 weeks along, but felt like I had no reason to worry.  Then came week 7.  My husband and kids left for Wednesday night activities and I stayed home, not feeling very well.  By the time they got home, I knew what was happening.  I could go into detail here, but I don't feel that is necessary.  By morning, the baby was gone.  We still had to go to the hospital, have an ultrasound and meet with our midwife.  It's one of those memories that I still see in slow motion.  It was the longest morning we have ever had. 

The following days were filled with surprise for me.  As we began telling people about our loss, we found that we were not alone.  I honestly did not know how many women {and men} have had to endure this journey.  It simply wasn't a topic of discussion until it had to be. 

Clearly, we healed and were soon expecting Baby #5, now known in our house as Squirt.  She is a joy and delight and I cannot imagine life without her!  But I have to admit that I have thoughts sometimes of Baby #4 and what he/she would have been.  We wouldn't have our Squirt today, would we?  I don't have an answer for that.  And I can't get lost in the land of "what-ifs".  All I can do is enjoy the sweet family that I have, love the little lost angel and help those who have shared in similar loss. 

This month is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, which has prompted this post.  The statistic is that 1 in 4 women suffer a miscarraige or pregnancy and infant loss.  If you are one of the four, you are not alone.  If you would like more information or need help, please email me or click one of the links below:


Monday, September 24, 2012

It's a Woman's Prerogative

Well, I sat down last night to start writing.  I was feeling a need to vent, talk it out, give an update on life.  I'm going to leave my writing as it is for you to read, but I might decide to change course a bit at the end {Smile}

"I'm not really sure how to start this blog post.  It seems like since I started this "blogging journey" that my most popular posts are the ones where I am the most vulnerable.  So, I think that's where I'm going to go this evening...I'm in a very odd place.  I'm not sad or depressed.  I'm not stressed or anxious or worried.  I don't necessarily feel alone.  But I do feel kind of isolated.  My husband made a comment this weekend regarding our move.  He said that people have been asking him how our family has been doing since moving to Wisconsin.  His reply was that he thinks I am having the most difficulty.  At the time I was taken aback, but the more I've thought about it, I realize that he's right.  He made the point that I was completely immersed with getting everything ready and organized, making sure that our little family would make it through the transition as smoothly as possible.  However, I didn't take the time to prepare myself.  {Well, duh, isn't that what we Moms do?! {Smile}}  We arrived here just days before my husband's first day of work and the kids' first day of school.  We rushed to unpack and get settled and then they all went off on their new adventures and I sat alone in an empty house.  Hmmm....Don't get me wrong, we are venturing out, starting to meet people and we have found our new church.  But it takes time.  Time to get to know people, time for them to get to know you.  It takes time to build relationships and to develop trust.  This is the part of moving that I wasn't looking forward to.  And so it is in this lull that I currently sit.  Not quite sure what to do with myself.  However, deep down I know just that - that this is a lull.  There are friends to be made, community to be found.  And I'm excited and hopeful for what is ahead, I just need the patience to get there!"

So, not a whole lot has changed since last night - I'm still in that place.  However, I think that I lost focus for awhile.  I started looking to the immediate, the here, the now.  I lost sight of the fact that we came here with a purpose.  Not just for my husband, but for all of us.  I have a heart for missions, women, moms and music.  Right now I get to take a little respite, take some time and refocus on those things and what I can do with them here.  I get to walk around with eyes-wide-open and an expectant heart just waiting for the right doors to open.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Recombobulation Area

I can almost collectively hear you all saying "huh?" as you look at the title of this post.  It will make sense in a minute, I promise! 

If any of you have been to the Milwaukee airport, you may have seen the sign as you exit the security checkpoint....Recombobulation Area.  Buddy and I noticed it after one of our many recent visits to this particular airport.  We both cocked our heads to the side and started laughing - what a funny phrase!  It didn't strike me at the time, but it has repeatedly come to mind over the past two months.  I am now in my own personal Recombobulation Area.

Recombobulation:   1. Something being put back the way it was, or into proper working order;   2. Gathering one's thoughts or composure.

You may have noticed that I have not blogged in a really, really long time.  For those who know me, you know why.  But for those who are strangers, let me bring you into my world!  My family and I recently completed a huge move.  We have moved before, but always local, never having to change much {doctors, schools, church, friends, stores, favorite hangouts, whatever}.  This time was different.  We uprooted our kids and moved 6 hours east.  As a kid, my family made some big moves - Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Texas, back to North Dakota.  It would be a massive understatement to say that I have a new appreciation for my parents!  I could get into all of the minute details, but lets just say it is a lot of work - mentally, physically and emotionally - to pack up and move a family of 6.  I'm still in recovery. {Smile}

Our story is not a short one.  For as long as we have been married, we have been in a partial state of happy discombobulation.  We got married young, had a baby, lived with my in-laws for 2 1/2 years while my hubby went to school {the first time}, built two homes, had more babies, went through job changes, a bad ecomony, unemployment and my husband went through school again {while working full time!}.  It sounds rough, but through all of that, we always knew that God had us right where he wanted us.  Time and time again, He showed us who He is, His love, His mercy, His grace and above all, His indiscriminate favor.  We knew that if we just kept following His lead, we would land on our feet right where He wanted us.  I can now say that after 13 years, we have found that place.  My husband took a position in a field that will change our lives.  We have signed on, together, as a family.  His job is now our mission.  I love that!  I have no idea what the future holds, but I'm okay with that.  We are where we are supposed to be!

So, we now find ourselves in the "recombobulation" phase.  My husband is loving his new job.  Peanut has made many new friends and loves her teacher.  Bug seems to be doing fine.  Squirt {who just started Kindergarten!} can't get to school fast or often enough.  Buddy had a rough start, but is starting to settle in.  Me....yeah, maybe I'm the one still trying to "gather, compose, put into working order".   The house is unpacked and organized.  The kids are off to school.  And now it is time.  Time to find life here.  Uncover all of the new places to see, know, visit and love.  Time to find my place. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


There's been something stirring lately.  Actually, a little more than lately.  The past few months there have been small discussions, little drops of conversation and some mulling inside of my head.  I think that most of you know by now that I like to serve.  I love missions, mission trips, helping others.  We have always felt called in some unique way to live it out.  In my brain, I always thought that "calling" must be or would be overseas.  Parts of my heart live in Africa and Haiti.  I cannot wait to go back!  But then there is the stirring...

One of the conversations that happened a couple of months ago had to do with people's willingness to serve over oceans and across continents, but their unwillingness to serve their neighbor, their community.  Even worse, the unwillingness to serve those who scare us, who seem too rough-on-the-edges, dirty, {let's be really honest here...} but maybe those who seem "less than".  I'm guilty.  Guilty of being scared.  Guilty of using the excuse that I need to stay safe or keep my kids safe.  Guilty of being "busy". 

Not to say that you should drop your guard or not be street smart.  You should always be aware and be cautious.  But I've seen some things lately.  Paying it forward doesn't take much.  Look people in the eye when you say hello.  Give a truly warm smile when you ask how they are.  SEE them.  Everyone wants to be seen.  Everyone wants to be loved.  There are people right where we live who need to be touched.  What would happen if we all slowed down, just a little, to see, to smile, to ask? 

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it's important to serve.  Overseas, at home, next door, down the street and "downtown".  Live it out, love it out.  You never know what your impact will be!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Purple Mountains

My family and I have been on vacation for almost 2 weeks!   We have never been away from home for that long and never over the 4th of July {which is our favorite holiday!}  I have to admit that I was a little concerned about spending the 4th away from all of our usual hot spots and all of our traditions, but our location proved to be an excellent place to celebrate the birthday of our beautiful country!  We started our westward trek by stopping at Devil's Tower, WY, climbing as high as we possibly could.  Then we ventured onward to Yellowstone National Park.  The sheer size is daunting, but the beauty is unsurpassed!  In thinking about how to blog and share just a little snippet of our travels, all that kept coming to mind was the lyrics to one of my favorite anthems.  And as I read through them, I realized that we don't normally hear all of them, so hopefully you can soak in the words and enjoy some of our pictures!

O beautiful, for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties,

Above the fruited plain!

America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee!
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful, for pilgrim feet,
whose sterm impassioned stress,
A thoroughfare of freedom beat,
Across the wilderness!
America!  America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful, for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America!  America!
May God thy gold refine,
Til all success be nobleness,
And every gain devine!

O beautiful, for patriot dream,
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!

And a few more just for fun!

Old Faithful!

The opening....

...and on the other side!


And now to fulfill our #1 July 4th tradition!