Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lily of the Valley


I walked into the kitchen from the back of the house while Collin was unloading the car and instantly the perfumed scent hit my nose.

"What smells like lilacs in here?"

I knew it wasn't from our lilac bush, I've been stalking it for days on end, hoping, hoping, hoping this would be the year it would take off and produce some blooms.  It does have one, but it's not even in good enough shape to cut off and bring inside.

Collin had placed them in the windowsill and my eyes instantly saw them.  Not lilacs, but Lily of the Valley, picked by my boys from Busha's house.


I don't know if she knows this but Lily of the Valley always remind me of my friend, Jill.  I'm not sure if it is because it blooms in May, her birthday month, or if it is because as kids we used to pick the blossoms on the side of her mom's house.  Probably both.

This bunch has made its home on our kitchen island and every time I walk past I take a deep breath.  It will likely only be a few more days that they are looking and smelling pretty and I want to make sure I take every chance I can to soak up their beauty.

Thank you all for the comments, texts, emails, and calls following last weeks post.  I was woefully unprepared for my phone/computer to blow up so instantly.  It reminded me, once again, that even during the dark times I have the most wonderful set of friends and family, always willing to lend an ear or an arm.  Truly, I can not thank you enough.  

Also wanted to let you know that Collin's Dad was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon and he is doing well.  Thank you for your prayers.

Wishing you all a most wonderful weekend.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pondering


These rough weeks will just not end.  
It's one on top of another on top of another. 

Laying in bed last night I found one child on top of me uttering "I need you mommy" and a second child snuggled into my side.   They were fighting for space, neither could get close enough.  

When is enough, enough?  When is it time to say I can't do this hamster wheel anymore?  Or better, I don't want to do it anymore. If I jumped off and were free falling, would it make it better or worse?  Would the current stress just be replaced by new stress? How would we, very literally, pay the bills? Do we need all the answers or will we figure it out on the way?  

These are the questions I'm pondering lately.  I've never been so close in my life to saying: I'm done.  

***

Could I ask you for some prayers for the health of Collin's dad, the boys' Papa.  We had a very serious scare this week and are hoping he will be released from the hospital today.

***

Hoping for some peace and serenity this weekend and wishing you the same.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

just the two of us


Nolan and I spent Thursday through Sunday afternoon flying solo.  

Thursday and Friday he was home sick and accompanied me while I worked, playing at my feet.

Hahaha.  Like what I did there?   Accompanied me while I worked, playing at my feet.

Accompanied me while I worked is a euphemism for: screamed into the phone while I fielded call after call trying to hit a deadline (Thank GOD for awesome co-workers and working with people who know what it's like to have little ones - especially sick little ones.)

And playing at my feet is a euphemism for: kept himself busy destroying my office. He unloaded all of my office supplies, tore apart my bill sorting system, spread the piles of "to be shredded" all over the floor, and pulled down the curtain, rod and all.

But Friday night through Sunday afternoon were all ours as the big boys all headed up to the cabin for the weekend.  We slept in, had breakfast together, did some chores, worked on converting closets to spring/summer, went to Target, and to bed early. Oh, and I even started writing his birth story (finally!) I had planned on using this time to return some phone calls and catch up with some friends but instead I spent the whole weekend soaking up this kid.  

It's not very often that I get to spend one-on-one time with Nolan.  As a third child you'd think he might have been lost without his big brothers around.  Quite the contrary.  He was so independent and such a happy little guy.  It was so fun to watch his personality explode.  And while his personality exploded, my heart exploded.

You know when you love your child so much you just can't imagine loving them anymore?  And then you fall in love with them all over again?

That.




Monday, May 20, 2013

out back








Last week was a rough week.  A really, really, rough week.  Actually, the past two have been difficult.  Work is insanely busy right now - last Tuesday I pulled an honest-to-goodness all nighter, working from 9 pm after the kids went to bed until 5 am when it was time to get ready for the next day. Busy work is a good thing, hopefully it means job security and a rebounding economy, both of which we desperately need, but when my work-life gets so out of hand I have a very hard time finding any sort of balance in any other aspect of life.  The house is a mess (I actually turned the tax assessor away, asking him to come back a different day because I was so embarrassed at the state of our house), I haven't been working out, and our eating?  I don't even know.  I have no idea what we have been subsiding on these last few weeks. Nothing healthy, I can tell you that.  All of this, this disarray, leads to stress.  And it just seems to mount, and mount, and mount.

On top of that Nolan was sick at the beginning of last week with a cold.  He seemed to be handling it well even though  like normal, it appeared to be developing into croup.  On Wednesday night when we went to bed I realized he had a 101 degree fever and his breathing was very labored.  Very labored.  I'd never seen him like this before. I gave him some medicine and he went back to sleep.  At 4 am, when I got up to go log into work early, his fever was back and his breathing was no better, maybe worse.  And then a light bulb went off: this is what they warn you about with croup! I spent the next hour talking to a nurse on the phone and we decided I didn't need to bring him to the ER, but I did need him to get in asap in the morning.  Sure enough, he had a severe case of croup as well as an ear infection.  Thankfully his oxygen levels were at 95%, so he didn't require hospitalization but although he was getting air, he was having to work very, very hard to get it.  We gave him a dose of steroids and his first breathing treatment before leaving the office and the two of us were sent home with a Rx for amoxicillin, prednisone, and albuterol with instructions for further breathing treatments every four hours.  This meant I had to keep him home with me even though I had deadlines still to meet.

Stress.  

I love being with that boy but working with a small child at home is....well, it's very difficult.

I don't want to say my stress levels were at an all-time high last week, they have definitely been higher, but they were pretty high.

When I get stressed out these days there seems to be one thing that always helps.  A walk out back.  Being in our back yard/back acreage does wonders for my soul.  Everything stressful melts away when we are out there.  There are no deadlines.  There is no counter to clean or laundry to fold.  No one is looking for me and there is no set time to be back.  It's just the wind and the sun and the birds.  There's dead leaves from last fall crunching underfoot and little blooms popping up in the clearings.  The trees have budded and the boys are constantly in search of new mullein. Last night we found a magical mullein wand (from last year) and I've never seen Hutty so happy.  

Looking at these pictures I'm reminded (once again!) that even a midst stress, life is pretty beautiful.  Here's hoping for a better week this week and wishing you all the same. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

the nest


I remember sitting in the glider in our old nursery, rocking back and forth, back and forth, my hands covering my belly as I felt the little kicks from the baby inside.  Our first baby.  We had dreamed about this, prayed for this and I was so excited to finally be a mother. I imagined our baby as an infant, snuggling him or her, and basking in their sweetness.  I imagined that same baby as a toddler and then a preschooler - a small child  who earned compliments from strangers for how well-behaved they were.  

I remember sitting in our bedroom, rocking back and forth in that same glider that had been moved out of the nursery in order to make room for a crib and a toddler bed.  My hands were again covering my belly as I felt the little kicks from the baby inside. Our second baby.  I imagined that baby and their big brother - I saw them playing, running and laughing, and being the best of friends.

Some days the reality of our daily life is in such stark contrast to these early dreams it's almost laughable:  meltdowns, tantrums. fighting, accidents, messes to clean up. Motherhood can be overwhelming and some days it feels like I'm failing miserably at this job as Mama.

As I was putting Hutton to sleep tonight I found myself thinking about this nest and these eggs that we found today. I thought about their Mama and her job once these babies were born and I realized how our jobs as mothers aren't really all that different:

Feed them.   Feed their bodies, their minds, their souls.

Nurture them.  Support them as individuals and honor their strengths and desires.  Encourage them to try hard and be their very best.

Protect them.  We can't protect our children from all the dangers of the outside world, but at home, in our little nest, we can make them feel safe by protecting them from anger, quick tempers, hurtful words, and violence. 

I have work to do to be the mother that I really want to be, but at the core I think my three greatest responsibilities are these: feed them, nurture them, protect them. Parenting young children is so much work, but all too soon these little guys of mine are going to grow up, they are going to test their wings and before I know it, they will fly away. When that day comes I want to look back on these days and remember them as joyful; a crazy time filled with lots of sticky hands and dirty faces and mud all over the floor, but also laughter and smiles and hugs galore.

Happy Mother's Day, Mamas. xoxo

Friday, May 10, 2013

Something Happy

Photo by CaSondra Shim Photography

I wish I was one of those people that when they have a mountain of a to-do list they get up in the morning, make themselves a steaming cup of coffee, clap their hands and say, "okay, boys, let's get to work.  What are we going to accomplish today?" and then they dig in.  And they work and they work and they work and they get done what they can do and when they put it down at the end of the day, or even for just an hour, because you have to put it down at some point, they are fully engaged with whatever else they are doing: making dinner, playing with their kids, talking to their husbands. And when it's time to pick it up again they clap their hands once more and get down to work.

I wish I was one of those people.

I'm not.

I'm one of these people:

When I have a mountain of a to-do list I fling myself around dramatically, kind of like a fish out of water, flopping myself further and further inland all the while gasping frantically for air.  Life feels bleak, like really really bleak, and suddenly that fish yells out - I just want this life to be over.  No really, I WANT TO DIE!

(in front of her baby fish.)

(no really, THAT happened.)

(to which, Hutty, fish #2, responded, you can't die, mommy, you're my buddy!)

(and Collin gave me a look like, really?  Really, Bender?  In front of the Baby Fish??)

And I know, I KNOW! if I sat down for a minute, got my bearings, and used that energy to flop my way back to the lake, I'd be able to breath again in no time.

And yet, flop, flop, flop.

Right now I need some happy.  A Baby with his first maraca is happy.  What do you have?  Give me some happy here today. And Happy Weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This guy.

Photo by CaSondra Shim Photography
I'm struggling this week.  Work deadlines have me depressed and overwhelmed.  There have been tears and lots of "I don't WANT to work - I want to be home with my kids!"  Sometimes I wonder if this is all even worth it - this life; the seemingly bad news on top of bad news on top of bad news.  But then Collin brings the boys home for the evening and this guy, this guy!...I pull him out of his car seat and he immediately lays his head on my left shoulder.  He sticks his right thumb in his mouth and wraps his left arm around my neck.  He doesn't seem tired, just content to snuggle; and in that moment after a long, stressful day I know it's all worth it.  It's all so worth it.

(Cas sent me a little preview of Nolan's birthday pictures last night and this one made my heart leap.  I love this kid.)

(Check out all of the cake in his hair!)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nolan: 1-year Pictures

It is official.  Our baby is 1 year old.  While his birthday was on Sunday, we celebrated on Saturday with a Cinco de Mayo inspired Fiesta theme.  It was a  lot of fun and we are so thankful for all the help we received leading up to and during the day and for all of our family and friends who came out to help celebrate.  A proper birthday party post will be coming.  I've also got some more Nolan posts to write and while I had intended them to be up this week, this week's workload my prohibit that.  They will be coming....hopefully soon.  For now, here are his 1-year pictures.  For a more artful display you can also check out Christine's post at Natural Intuition Photography's blog.

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

The Cake Smash

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography 

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Friday, May 3, 2013

Nolan: 9-month pictures

Nolan's 9-month pictures were taken at the beginning of February 2013 and, once again, were taken in our master bedroom.  By nine months Nolan was sitting by himself and crawling all over the place - both new developments from his six month shoot.  The outfit he wore for his nine month photos was his Bender Family Christmas outfit; I'm trying to remember what other occasions he wore this for but am coming up blank. The Fischer Price rocking ball that makes its appearance here was mine when I was little and it was one of Nolan's favorite toys at this age.

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography

Photo by Natural Intuition Photography