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Why another blog?

I’ll be the first to admit that I spend way too much time on Instagram.  I’ve carefully constructed my feed to be a mix of friends posts and inspirational accounts that I follow regarding birth, motherhood, health, homemaking, etc.   The problem with these inspirational accounts is that they make me feel like they are snippets of reality, because isn’t that what instagram is supposed to be?

It clicked one day as I was scrolling through a favorite mommy account.  This beautiful stay-at-home mom is IN all of her pictures with her kids.  And not at a selfie angle either!  I asked my sister about it and she remarked casually, “Oh, they have professional photographers come in and do photoshoots.  Usually hair and makeup artists too.”

Oh great! Thanks.  So all these blogs and instagrams that are supposed to inspire us to what mothering can look like are actually a hollywood worthy production?

I thought about making my own “mommy instagram” and sharing the reality of being a mom (the smiles and the messes combined), but I’m better at words than I am at pictures so for all the real life moms who have real houses that are sometimes real messy and real children who wear hand me downs and thrift store finds and occasionally blow out their diapers, here’s another blog.

And in keeping with the spirit of real: We’re currently living in a 31′ 5th wheel trailer on our property that is 25 minutes from town.  It’s 42 degrees outside and my man is working hard to get the new shop ready and weather tight so we can park the trailer in there all winter.  Hopefully in the next couple of years we will have our house built and the name of this blog will become obsolete, but for now this is our real life.

The crockpot is on high, hopefully creating a yummy fajita soup from a pinterest recipe, the 5 dollar candle is burning valiantly and not putting out much of the advertised smells (you get what you pay for I guess), the boys are sleeping, and there is hunting gear hung all over the trailer trying to dry out.  (Hooray for elk season)

In 4 short months this 10 acre piece of land went from a rolling pasture with some forest and a great view to having power, running water, a new road, a skeleton of a huge shop, a house site, a hammock and a horse corral.  I try my best to keep up with our two boys, keep our home relatively clean and cozy, and keep food on the table for my husband and anyone who may be helping him.   It’s a pretty good life, and I’m learning that the more things I find to be thankful for and the more joyfully I do things the better my life becomes.

 

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Three under three

Somehow we’ve been parents of 3 kids for 3 months already!  How did that happen?  It seems like just a couple weeks ago we were meeting our baby girl for the first time, but sometimes  I can’t remember what life was like without her.  But then, yes, I can.  I used to go grocery shopping without outside help.

I kind of thought that by now I would have figured out the rhythm and dynamic of this new sized family.   While I don’t feel like I really have enough of a handle on life to leave the house yet, I am learning a LOT.  Here’s some of the highlights.

  • Having 3 under 3 requires 100 percent of your attention, 100 percent of the time. Take your eyes off of them for 1 second to check Instagram or jot down a thought and bad things will  happen.
  • Sometimes the 1 year old is under the weather and just wants to sit on your lap and then it’s only like having 2.5 kids to keep an eye on.
  • The 1 year old can still make messes while sitting on your lap. Remove all glass, candles, water cups, coffee cups, and electronics far from reach before engaging your attention anywhere else.
  • Having them all three buckled into their car seats for the 25 minutes it takes to drive to town is the most relaxed I’ve been since I was relaxing in the birth tub waiting for baby girl to come out of me.
  • Buckling all three of them into their car seats for the 25 minute drive to town takes more than 25 minutes, especially if anyone cares about clean diapers and kids wearing clean clothes, shoes and socks in the winter time.
  • Speaking of clean clothes, I’m learning that I don’t really need to have so many different sizes of clothes to sort and fold and organize into tiny drawers in the trailer. The boys can wear the same size of almost everything- if the jeans are a tad short on the older one and a tad long on the little one it’s not the end of the world. Mama’s sanity just became a little more secure and that is something they will remember and value a lot more than fashion.
  • (This method doesn’t work for the baby girl. She needs all the pink ruffles and bows, all the time, obviously)
  • The other thing I’m learning about clothes is that if I walk by the washing machine and it’s not running – it should be. This might mean it’s time to change over the load because I don’t want to be buried in laundra-geddon, or it might mean that one of the toddlers switched it off because lights and buttons, oh my!
  • Schedules are important. Naps are important-er. Some days there is always someone napping as they tag team through the day with tears and melt-i-ness, and we don’t get those blissful afternoon hours when three nap at once, and that’s okay too.
  • Help is there to be asked for. Sisters and sister-in-laws and grandma’s are miracle workers and total hero’s.
  • That time I went grocery shopping with just the baby and she blew out her last clean outfit and I was out of wipes, and she cried her little head off in the store…. yeah, not a big deal. That’s the difference between baby #1 and baby #3 I guess. You just clean them up the best you can with wet paper towels, put them back in their car seat and keep shopping. You emerge with only the groceries you put in the cart, none of them are eaten or broken, and you haven’t had any potty emergencies, so all in all it’s a pretty successful grocery trip.

A couple more observations- I guess having 3 under 3 gives you the ability to make up words.  Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.  And while you’re making up new words it also helps a lot to make up new attitudes- cultivate your sense of humor, create an attitude that loves to do laundry and dishes, and find something to be thankful about every single day.

One day I will get out of the house by myself with my precious kiddos again.  It may not be tomorrow, but I have every confidence that it will happen before they’re all getting their drivers licenses.  Until then, thank you, Lord for grocery delivery services.

Mornings in the trailer

Of course trailer life comes with its own set of challenges and adjustments but we’ve lived in small(er) spaces all of our married life so moving into a 30 ft trailer wasn’t really that hard.  There are things that I miss about having a house like a full-sized oven, stove and refrigerator, and a long shower or a soak in the bath – but to be honest, I hardly ever notice those anymore.

I really miss mornings the most.  It’s not like we’ve ever lived in a place where the kids have had a separate area of the house (except for a brief stint in the apartment when we made the man-child a tiny room in the hall closet) but I miss getting up in the morning and being the only one up.   Getting to sit on the couch or in the big chair with a fresh cup of coffee and read, dream, pray, write or even just think.  Getting to enjoy that fresh cup of coffee without even being asked to share. Getting to fill my tank and prepare for the day before it really starts.

Trivial, I know, but this morning all of the stars and REM cycles aligned and I woke up after a decent nights sleep to the start of a summer shower that provided just the right amount of white noise on our roof.  I was actually able to get up and go to the bathroom without waking anyone up, and then when I finished by some miracle the boys were still sleeping and I was able to sneak out and make a cup of coffee without anyone even stirring!

Until you’ve live life on wheels you’ll probably never understand how the very act of rolling over in bed shakes the whole house and wakes the babies.  There is no such thing as morning solitude.  If you wake up and haven’t woken the babies by stretching in bed, you don’t move. If it’s really important, you can climb out the window for it but mostly you hide in your bed until they wake up on their own schedule.   Because if there’s anything I’ve learned in my life it’s that you never, ever, ever wake a sleeping baby.

It’s been over a year since I’ve had a morning cup of coffee at home in the quiet without sharing. Please don’t get me wrong- there’s something extra about starting your day off with sleepy baby snuggles and changing soaked diapers while sharing handfuls of cereal because “I hungy mama!”, and “have some your coffee, mama?”,  but I realize that mornings like this are a gift – one that I’ve been missing for so long I’m not quite sure that I remember what to do with them.

Oops, I coughed.  The baby is awake.

Rain drops and noses drip

This probably isn’t the best time to write a blog. It’s not one of those beautiful, Son filtered, full cup of coffee, soft worship music in the background moments. But I promised to talk about the real, and this is about as real as it gets.

It finally stopped raining and the sun came out today but it’s been a tough week in our little trailer house. The boys have been sick for 9 days now.

Three nights ago after dinner I announced to my husband that I was done being the mom for the day, and could he please come take over for me.

He cheerfully did, by the way. He took the boys into the front room of the trailer and shut the divider door. For 20 glorious minutes I didn’t calm any crying, clean any snot, answer any questions, or do any chores. And then I came out of the bedroom to see the dishes cleaned up and the two year old running to hug my legs. “Hi mommy!!” He greeted me like I had been gone all day.

“Out of the mouths of babes You have ordained strength to silence the enemy.” Psalm 8

Suddenly I could and wanted to mom again.

After 9 days and counting of the croup at our house and 15 weeks of pregnancy I had an epiphany.

I’m growing! (Okay, very funny. I know I’ll be whale sized by summer but I was talking about on the inside)

I was finishing making dinner last night for my little family with one crying, snot dripping baby crawling between my feet and the other fussy child climbing on the counter to “help” with snot running down his face, coughing all over the food I was trying to plate.

That’s not such a tough scenario But when you add the back story of the long days (and longer nights) of sickness in our trailer home, the constant fussy babies, the sleep deprivation, the stir crazy mama, it had really been a long day.

I bent over to pull the baby out of the trash can (again), washed the egg shells off his hands, (it’s hard to tell where the egg white stopped and the snot started), and realized that a few months ago I would have snapped by now.

I remembered a similar evening last summer that I blogged about where I was making dinner and lost all my patience and ran out the door when the meal was ready and God sent a nasty beetle to chase me back inside.

“Wow! I really have no desire to run away from this right now!” I thought to myself. “Either my patience is growing or I’m super hungry.” (Or that 20 minute break a couple nights back really worked magic!)

No really, it was such an encouraging moment to realize that God really is working on my heart and all these growing pains are actually achieving growth. I was actually smiling by the time I served the germ infested dinner.
(When 3 people out of 4 are sick in 350 square feet, there’s no such thing as containing germs anyway)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces patience. Let patience finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Making it fit

I say to the Lord, “You are my God.  Apart from You I have no good thing.” Psalms 16

Part of the challenge of moving onto our property was figuring out how to fit our lives into 300 square feet.   From the time we signed papers on the property to the time we moved out of our apartment I would lie awake at night planning, dreaming and scheming. (We didn’t find our trailer until 3 weeks before the big move, so most of my planning was actually imagining.  Also I was 41 weeks pregnant, so that might have also been keeping me awake at night.)  Even without knowing what it would look like, I imagined our lives would be drastically different.

(Side note:  I mention the 41 weeks pregnant part of this story because, for those who have experienced it, 41 weeks of pregnancy is about 3.5 years long.)

The trailer we bought came without any furniture which would have been a dream for an energetic creative designer who could turn it into a Pinterest mecca, but for practical me it just worked.  I remember hauling my 41 weeks pregnant self around the RV show looking at used trailers.  I remember that our trailer didn’t have a funny smell.  I remember sitting down on the step in the trailer and envisioning the crib sitting where most trailers have a table. And I don’t remember much else about it, but when we went home that evening I told my husband that if he felt good about it he should go back and buy it.  He did, (on both counts) and when he got home the baby was born.

All of the sudden which towels we would use and which dishes we would pack away for another season of life didn’t matter while we savored a couple of days of new baby fog and even less sleep, but the clock didn’t stop for the baby or anybody else, so it wasn’t long before we got back at it, paring down, boxing things up for storage, sending things to the goodwill, and selling furniture on Craigslist.

Those days flew by in a fog, but one thing I do remember was how hard it was to put things in the boxes labeled “for storage” and how quickly the boxes labeled “for trailer” stacked up.  I’m sure a lot of it was me not being ready to let go and embrace the way my life was changing, but it manifested itself in me, not wanting to let go of things.

things: (n) inanimate material objects as distinct from living sentient beings.

Then moving day happened and reality hit as I busied myself putting things away in the trailer while our awesome family kept bringing in more and more (and more) of my boxes that I had deemed too necessary, or too valuable or just plain old sentimental to store for a couple of years.  I had to rethink my strategy and pack most of it away.

Seven months later our lifestyle really hasn’t changed that much because it’s fed by who we are, not what we have.  And I’ve learned a ton about what I think I need.  I’ve sent boxes on boxes of things to the goodwill.  (There are still a couple of cabinets of things that we really don’t use, but it’s only a matter of time).  I’ve dug through the storage trailer to pull out things that were just for being pretty.   I’ve revamped my wardrobe so I can wear things that I like rather than things that I don’t mind getting dirty.   I’ve pulled out mugs that I enjoy drinking out of because if they break, at least we got to use them.

I’m learning that life is what happens while you’re waiting for life to start (or waiting for a house to be built).  I’ve learned that all good things are from God and we ought to receive them with open arms and hold them with open arms.   I’ve learned that some things are more important than things.

Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I will keep my eyes always on the Lord. with Him at my right hand I will not be shaken. Psalm 16

Making it fit will look different for every family in every different situation, but for us in our 300 square foot trailer it means embracing the joy, seeking eternal life, pursuing peace, and not letting me go into the home goods section at Ross.

No more fear, and other things

There’s so much to say that I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts down in any semblance of cohesive order.  Do I talk about what I learned in 2017, or what I hope to achieve in 2018?  Or do I skip the new year marker all together and just talk about all the things I swore I would never do as a mom that I find myself doing.  (If I’ve learned anything about motherhood it’s this: mamas will do whatever it takes to see their babies thriving, no matter if it’s “too crunchy,” “top new-age-y,” “too mainstream,” or “too industrialized.”

5 things I swore I would never do right off the top of my head:

  1. Have babies as close together as certain unnamed people who I love dearly. The boys are 15.5 months apart.  Check!
  2. Allow electronic battery-powered noise making toys in the house.   I’m still torn about this one, and the singing school bus and airplane we got for Christmas from the sweet neighbors are taking a break on the top shelf of the closet, but I don’t have the heart to throw them out.  Yet.  Maybe my husband can do surgery and disconnect the sound from the lights.
  3. Count to three.  When you’ve just settled in to nurse the baby and the toddler is doing things that need correction, what’re you gonna do?
  4. Take “me time”. I was such a mocker as a teen and young adult of moms who needed a break.  I didn’t take breaks from being a sister and a daughter, why would someone need a break from being a mom?  (I’m not proud of this attitude, but confession is good for the soul, just as some time alone is good for a mama).
  5. “Bird feed” (For those unfamiliar with this term, this is when mama chews a bite of food off of her plate until it’s a pulpy saliva filled mess of goo and then feeds it to the baby sitting on her lap.)  I absolutely did this today with my whole breakfast, and it was wonderful! I finally felt like my little big one got enough food to eat.

On that note, here’s 5 things I’ve been learning in the last year.

  1. HUMILITY.   Oh man, I so do not have everything together.  I don’t have everything figured out.  I don’t have the corner on the market of wisdom and understanding.  I don’t even know what I’m going to make for dinner tonight!
  2. I don’t use half of the stuff I thought I needed.  Also, shopping is only fun until you get home to the 5th wheel and have to find a place to put things away.
  3. It doesn’t take much to turn an “everyday” into a “special day”.  Just a little bit of creativity and a good attitude.
  4. Things freeze out here in the winter.  (Water lines, sewer dump hoses, etc.)  If you’re trying to thaw them you should be really careful, especially if you’re using a knife.
  5. Living in a 5th wheel (or any place that is stripped of your average comforts and conveniences) will bring out all of your ugly, all of your vulnerable, all of your worst character traits – and yet God and your spouse love you anyway, and the closeness that grows from that realization is worth every minute of discomfort.

For the upcoming year I have many goals of the practical sort – eat healthy, enjoy more sunshine, get the baby to sleep all night, spend more time in the Word, etc, but as I’ve been pondering being real and this upcoming year I have to share that my biggest goal for 2018 is to be free of fear.  As a mom of boys and the wife of a (recovering) adrenaline junkie I have seriously struggled with the bondage of fear.  (I like to lessen the blow to my ego and call it worry, but sin is sin.)   It’s not like I have no reason to be concerned – in our three years of marriage we’ve had equally as many traumatic scares.  But really it just serves to show my how small my faith really is.

The man-child isn’t quite 2 and he already wants to do everything Daddy is doing.  He talks about “ah-cycles” and “no-biles” (motorcycles and snowmobiles) whenever he isn’t playing rodeo with his rocking horse.

“I fell!” he announces triumphantly as if that were the goal.

But the drive to go fast and jump high and do tricks that my husband and boys are given isn’t the problem. I find myself a slave to worry even while they sleep, my over-active imagination taking everything to the worst case scenario in a matter of seconds, and that scene replaying over and over in my mind.

My goal for 2018 comes straight from 2 Corinthians 10:5.  I want to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.”

Last night while laying in bed the Lord spoke to my heart and reminded me that I don’t want to be so crippled by the fear of living without the ones I love that I miss out on living with them.

And hey, if I master my goal about of fear, the eating healthy goal might just happen along with it – at least I wouldn’t have to eat as much chocolate while my husband is out snowmobiling.  =)

Super-mama

Cold dinner is never pleasant and spaghetti probably tops the charts in the “needs to be served warm” category but sometimes between feeding the husband, soothing the baby, untangling the toddler from the kitchen sink (“Mommy, help dishes?” is his new favorite precious messy pastime), changing a dirty diaper and feeding the baby and the toddler simultaneously, the spaghetti becomes stone cold.

You’d think as a mom I’d be used to cold things (isn’t cold coffee the trademark of motherhood or something)? But I was silently grousing to myself about my lot in life to be stuck with a cold dinner when the love of all my life looked over and remarked with affection, “Baby, you’re a superhero.”

I swear, it was out of the blue! My silent grousing wasn’t even showing on my face (or if it was, it was too dark to see it in our trailer house).

But maybe it wasn’t completely random. About a month ago we had the privilege of attending a marriage retreat by FamilyLife ministries and one of the many (many) take aways was the catch phrase “your marriage is always moving, either towards one-ness or isolation”. We’ve both been so convicted ever since that even in the crazy insane busy times, the building a shop times, the living in a 5th wheel times, the rushing around like crazy to get us under cover for the winter times, we can be experiencing the beautiful intimacy that God intends for marriage.

That cold spaghetti was the first meal I had really cooked in two days. We were both struck with the stomach flu in the middle of the night (there should be a rule against parents of little ones both being sick at the same time) and I won’t bore you with the gory details, but those were a rough couple of days of taking turns crawling around the trailer to take care of the boys while the other rested. I hadn’t showered, changed out of sweats or fixed my hair, and those four words proclaiming me a superhero made me feel like a princess.

You better believe the cold dinner was forgotten, (I wasn’t that hungry anyway) and when it was time to dump the sewer tanks after dinner, I beat him to the door cheerfully. Because once again, it was us against the world, not me against him. (except in that race to the door)

But if I really was a superhero I would want my super power to be the ability to change diapers with my mind.

What? The toddler is stinky— Nope, not anymore. The baby needs changed in the middle of the night? Got it done.

And then I would figure out a way to do the middle of the night feedings with my mind power and sleep the whole night through.

Snowed in

Typically Mondays are busy days here, starting with a quick breakfast, followed by a menu planning session, some laundry, a trip to town for groceries, overtired babies, overtired mama, naps on the run and a hurried dinner prep with lots of crying. (Mostly babies, but sometimes I cry too).

Instead I’m enjoying a moment of serenity this morning while the boys are napping.  The world outside is white, and we’re warm and cozy in the trailer by the electric fireplace.  I’m sitting on the couch with a reheated cup of coffee and the remnants of a cookie from the batch just out of the oven.  (Since the cookie is packed with omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and protein it doubles as a yummy treat and a healthy lactation booster; and there are lots of chocolate chips).

The weather forecast has rain coming that will wash away all of this snow and since my goal for the year is to avoid driving in the stuff as much as possible, groceries and errands and all that stuff can wait.

I got caught up on laundry when the snow was just starting so we could fill our water tanks and drain all the hoses and water lines outside and be set for awhile.

When the boys went down at the same time this morning (it’s only still morning thanks to daylight savings time) my mind immediately went to “okay, what do I have to do next.”

I came up with nothing.  There’s nothing that absolutely must be done now.

Of course there’s always things that could be done (finish changing out summer clothes for winter clothes and fold that last load of laundry, clean the bathroom and declutter the clutter counter). There are always things I probably should get to before naps are finished, (pick up toys, make our bed, clean up the cookie making mess and get a jump on dinner prep).

Living in the trailer has really forced us to slow down in some areas of our lives, and I’m really starting to enjoy that.   There is something freeing in the realization that there isn’t anything that I HAVE to be doing right now.

If I don’t have to do these things and I do them anyway doesn’t that mean that I choose to do them?  And if I’m choosing to do it I might as well choose to enjoy doing it.

Being snowed in isn’t so bad after all.   I’m gonna enjoy the stillness of the day for a few more minutes and then go enjoy all the things I don’t have to do.

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(This is the kind of day that makes me wish I had a real camera.  Or at least an iPhone 7)