Friday, October 24, 2014

From the Nature Trails

My mom and I took the boys out on the trails in our back acreage last weekend while she was up visiting; I had grabbed my camera hoping to snap some pictures of the beautiful leaves. There was only one problem....the leaves were all gone.  I breathed a deep sigh of regret for not getting out there sooner and started walking.  

The kids ran and ran and found milk weed just right for blowing and leaves on the ground just right for collecting.  As I watched them I realized (once again) that there is magic and beauty in every stage of every just have to look for it.

Happy weekend, everyone!  

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Halloween 2011
Keaton, almost 3, was an oriole.
Hutton, 16 mo, was a blue bird.
I was newly pregnant and horribly nauseous during trick-or-treating.
We shared the news with our families that night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vacation Journaling 2014: Day 3 - Fishing, Ice Cream and a Lumberjack Show

Tuesday, August 19th

The kids woke up with one thing on their mind today, so after breakfast we didn't stop them from getting dressed and grabbing the poles. Fishing was suddenly on the agenda.

Our dock is decent size but putting five kids and four adults into any area suddenly results in cramped quarters. 

That being said, I was so impressed with how well the kids did.  They took turns so nicely and waited patiently and generally just loved being down there watching and reeling and touching (the fish) and taking it all in.

They all got a chance to catch their own fish and, as any good fisherman would do, name them accordingly.

Keaton named his Nice Bluegill, Hutton named his Lumberjack Show, and Nolan named his FEESH!!

(My children may or may not need a bit of help in the naming department....ha!)

The girls, on the other hand, picked out beautiful names for their fish.  Lucy named her fish Lyra and Lily named hers Ellory.

Just as Lucy was getting ready to put her fish back in the water Lrya flipped and wiggled lose, as fish do, and jumped back in.  The kids all stood at the edge of the dock and shouted, Bye Lyra!

It might have been the most adorable thing ever.

That night we headed to Minocqua for dinner and ice cream at Hoogie Doggies....

...and then made our way to the Fred Scheers Lumberjack Show for an evening performance.

I love these shows because they are entertainment for everyone, kids and adults alike! I think it is safe to say we all had a good time.  After the show the kids got to collect some wood chippings to have signed by the lumberjacks.


By the time we got back in the car to head home the kids were ready to crash - it was too late to ask them about their favorite part of the day - but I'll tell you my favorite part: Keaton, after getting his first wood chip signed looked up at me with wide eyes and said, "Mom! This was signed by a REAL lumberjack!" 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Soul in the Season - Autumn 2014: Nourish


Soul in the Season is back and it has found a new, permanent, home over at The Sunlit Path!

It's been exactly three years since I last made a "Soul in the Season" list and five years since I started this segment in the first place.  Just like I needed it five years ago, I really, really need this in my life right now.

Em and I have changed things up a bit, adding a new fun element I hope you love as much as I do. We've also tried to minimize our "list" to avoid it becoming too much of a task can find all the details here: The Sunlit Path - Introducing Soul in the Season - Autumn 2014: Nourish

Come read and then Tell us! 
What are you looking most forward to this fall?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Week So Far....

Sunday - At church on Sunday Keaton slumped over and look up at me with puppy dog eyes and whined, I'm just soooo tired! And I did as any doting mother would do, I looked down at him and hissed, "sit up straight, that's not how you sit in church!" He came home from mass, ate lunch, and put himself to sleep.  For 3 hours.  You know where this is going, right?  Back to School germs, yup, yup, yup.  And Mother of the Year for me, obviously. Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, our first (of the year) school cold! ::throws confetti::

Monday - After hitting the essential oils hard on Sunday Keaton was good enough to go to school on Monday so we got everyone ready, headed to the car, and then our nanny called.  You know where this one is going too, right?  Back to School Colds for everyone!!! She sounded awful. AWFUL.  So we quickly adjusted our plans, Collin took the boys to school and then stayed home with Nolan for the day.

Tuesday - Everyone is feeling much better.  Sarah (not her real name) is back, Keaton is continuing to perk up, the other two are still showing no signs.  Life is Good!  Everyone makes it to there designated locations on time! My phone drops my first conference call but makes it through the second with flying colors!  Yay!  Oh Shit.  Why is Collin calling me 4x in 15 minutes? He threw out his back.  Wait. That does it no justice....He THREW OUT HIS BACK.  That's a little better.  You guys, I've never seen anything like this, he CAN NOT GET OUT OF BED. Apparently all those times I said I "threw out my back" I must have "slightly tweaked my back" because Holy Shit is this bad. The boys brought him dinner in bed though, so that was kind of cute.

Wednesday - Is that today?  I don't even know where were at here....yes, today is Wednesday.  Collin barely slept last night, which of course means I also barely slept last night.  And guess what else happened over night?  The little two started coming down with their colds. Because, of course!  I was going to keep Hutt home but he woke up 10 minutes before Sarah was going to be here and said he wanted to go to school (he doesn't and hasn't had a fever so I let him...I probably shouldn't have, but I did). So, we had 10 minutes for him to eat, brush his teeth and me to make Keaton's lunch.  But then he sat down to eat and said his tummy hurt: poop or eat Hutt, you can only do one! Pick! He went to the bathroom, I shut the door behind him and realized instantly it was locked, because why not? I mean, we're not running late or anything....I find the key, get the boys in their shoes and coats and out the door only to realize that Keaton's car seat is not in the car....and OMG, can we add one more thing to this morning?  Please?!

Anyway, that's our week so are you doing?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School

Yesterday marked the First Day of the 2014-2015 school year.

Keaton has been pretty excited about this upcoming year - and especially about his new back pack and lunch box - at Meet the Teacher night last week he had a hard time sitting still through Hutton's open house, so eager to get to his own classroom to check it out. So it was no surprise to me that yesterday morning he lined up as soon as the bell rang and marched right into his room with his classmates, never looking back. 

When he got home last night we asked what his favorite part of the day was and he told us: Everything!! He told us all about the classroom behavior chart and he's excited to move up from green to earn stickers and prizes.

Hutton has been a little more tentative about going back to school and he's the one I've been a little more worried about. Having still struggled a bit with drop offs even at the end of Preschool I wasn't quite sure how he would react on the first day. But like Keaton's transition from Preschool to 4K, there was no need to fret.

As soon as we walked in the door he found a friend from last year and off they went to play with Lego's; I barely had the time to give him a kiss on the cheek and tell him to have a good day! When he climbed in the car at pickup he pulled my ear close and whispered, "Mom? Can I go back tomorrow?" and last night as we laid down to sleep he told me, "The teacher was really nice!"

Nolan produced our only set of tears on the First Day!  Ohh boy, was he mad that he couldn't stay to play with all the toys in Hutt's classroom!  

He was also mad in the morning when I was making the boys' signs and the printer spit something out for everyone but him.  I can understand, kiddo.  You don't want to be left out!  So we made him a sign and he held it proudly. He was also pretty happy when it was time to go pick up his big brothers.


In preparation for the First Day we had a little Back to School dinner on Sunday night. Back to School Party according to the boys. It was a little celebration for sure. Papa and Busha came over and we had beer can chicken on the grill, corn on the cob, green beans, watermelon, potatoes and rhubarb crisp for dessert. Keaton picked out most of the food; Hutton didn't care what we ate as long as we ate it at the "fancy table."

The boys each got a couple little surprises.  A new outfit for the two big boys (mostly because I needed more school clothes for Keaton!) and all three got a new folder, sketchpad, and I finally (finally!) finished their colored pencil rolls (which I started back in February!)

They were pretty thrilled. 

Papa and Busha brought along a goodie bag for each of them too. Hutton pulled me close as we were setting the table, pointed at the gift bags they brought and asked, "What are those for?" with a little gleam in his eye. 

Even though I'm not quite sure I'm ready for summer to be over, I guess it's time....Back to School they go!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Sunlit Path

I was so upset last Tuesday evening when I sat down to continue our vacation journaling and realized I had forgotten the cord to transfer pictures from my (real) camera to my computer.  You may have seen some of the fishing pictures loaded to Facebook, I just couldn't continue journaling without being able to document the morning spent on the dock, poles and worms and tackle boxes in (many little) hands.

I've been busy transfering and uploading pictures and will come back to our vacation journaling shortly, but for a moment I want to break to let you in on some other exciting news going on around here.  Remember awhile back when I mentioned that I had taken on two new (outside of work) projects? Well, yesterday my good friend, Ember, and I unveiled one of those projects.  One that has been in the making for just over a year but that we moved ahead on in earnest at the beginning of this summer: a collaborative blog called The Sunlit Path.

We had originally planned on launching this in July but life and other things got in the way.  For reasons we can't really put into words - okay, we can, nerves - we've been dragging our feet since then.  Early this week Em pinged me and said: I feel strongly that we should make this go Without thinking twice I told her, Do it.

I plan on continuing to post here and I'm sure at times the lines between what I talk about here and what I talk about there will be blurry, but for the most part I foresee My Merlot being home to our family happenings and documenting the boys as they grow and The Sunlit Path being a place where I bare my heart and soul about the journey (accomplishments and struggles) to living the life that we so greatly desire. Much of what I talk about in our first post has been known to anyone that we've seen in person in the last year or so, but I'm not sure I've ever talked about it publicly, here.

I hope you will come and walk with us on this journey...

You can find The Sunlit Path online at the following places:

Instagram - coming soon!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vacation Journaling 2014: Day 2 - Northwoods Children's Museum

Monday, August 18th

We woke up this morning and checked the weather. As predicted late last night, it didn't look good. Rain. Possible thunderstorms. Kind of chilly.  We had tentative plans of going to Paul Bunyan's for breakfast followed by Wildwood zoo, but we quickly abandoned those plans in favor of an indoor activity.

Kira had told me about the Northwoods Children's Museum, she's taken the kids there a couple of times this summer and said they really enjoyed it. I know how our boys love the children's museum in town so Em and I figured this would be a good bet.

And it was.

So many little exhibits in this building. Log cabin, miniature town/train (I might have fallen in love with these two), telephone booth...

...tree house, ice fishing/snow mobiles, Wisconsin fishing, a coal mine, market, ambulance... fire, bubble machine, shadow room, dress-up area, art center, the list really goes on and on.

The kids' favorites were:

Lucy - Everything!
Keaton - fishing
Nolan - FEESH!!! (fish)
Hutton - Neon room
Lily - putting on the skirt (dress-up room)

The kids played hard for an hour or a bit more and then we headed for lunch followed by a little time spent in town, in a couple of shops.  We were in search of some locally made wooden trucks for gifts - we found them and got two and I'm afraid I'm going to regret not getting more - and on the way found a cute little toy & rock shop where Lucy found some really pretty little rocks for her collection.

The kids fell asleep on the way home and I might have joined them for a long nap when we got back to the cabin. When naps were over no one really felt like cooking and so pizza pick-up it was. After a quiet movie we headed back up for kid bedtime; while I laid with the boys Collin was outside on the porch when he came back up to our room to tell me he heard a bear walking around outside crunching leaves and sticks, but it was the long low guttural moan that confirmed for him what he was hearing. 

Storms rolled in late at night and Em and I sat up late talking and drinking tea. It was pitch dark outside; the only source of light coming from the intermittent flashes of lightening - we were enjoying our talk until we started hearing crunching and odd noises; both of our minds started turning, picturing a bear coming right up to the patio door and we decided pretty quickly it was time to shut the cabin up and head up to bed.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vacation Journaling 2014: Day 1 - Swimming at Lake Mildred

We're up in the Northwoods this week with Ember and Drew and their two little girls; spending some time at my family's cabin. Last night after we all arrived the kids jumped on the trampoline, fed the fish, and watched the movie Brave after dinner.  We put them into bed Saturday night with promises of swimming in the morning.

Unfortunately, we woke up to an overcast and rather chilly day.  Instead of grabbing the swimsuits we grabbed the sweatshirts. But after breakfast we headed back outside to the trampoline and they jumped and jumped and jumped and then we took a walk down to the dock to see and feed the fish before coming back up for some more jumping.  By noon the sun was coming out and sweatshirts were being tossed aside and we promised them, after naps, after naps we will go swimming. We promise.

While the kids napped Em and I ran into town for some groceries and by the time we got back (there may have been a detour to the book store) the kids were awake and jumping again.  We called them all in for swimsuits and crocs, gathered the towels and beach toys and we headed out to the big lake.

The water was really chilly.  Really chilly.  At least for adults.  I didn't hear a single child complain about the temperature. In fact, Hutton didn't even dip his foot in before sprinting down the dock and jumping straight in.

They swam and swam and swam. Jumped and swam.  

And then all headed to the sand to dig and build castles and apple pies.  

The last 20 minutes the kids played so quietly on the sand that the four of us adults just stood back, waist deep in the water, and talked.  The sun was warm on our backs as the waves lapped in and it was so relaxing.

We came home in time for dinner and while the kids ate I asked them the traditional vacation question: What was your favorite part of the day?

Lucy - Swimming
Hutton - Jumping on the trampoline
Nolan - O'line! (trampoline)
Lily - Bouncing. And also jumping.
Keaton - "Ummm, I have a few things...are we going to have ice cream tonight?" Collin: No, tomorrow night. "Okay, I liked swimming, jumping on the trampoline, and my other favorite thing is something in the future." (tomorrow's ice cream)

Ember and I agreed that our favorite part was that peaceful time spent in the lake.  My other favorite part was watching the weather for tomorrow and seeing that it is going to rain (a bummer since we had out door plans) and Em looking at me a saying, completely straight-faced, "well, the good news is we have lots of bacon."

Monday, August 11, 2014

a setback

I stood next to the window as we talked, the rain pouring down outside, our littlest below me sliding the pane up and down - Mama! Up! Mama! Down! Mama! Yock! (lock) went the window - booms of thunder rattled the house while the splatter of water pouring off the roof echo'd in my office.

"This has been a big setback...."

I'm not quite sure what he said after that because those words hung in my ears and clung to my bones. A light bulb moment in which I felt like I had been jerked out of my fog and placed squarely back in reality.

His "setback" is my "world crumbling."

It's been like this for the past, almost, three years...ever since the fire.  Every "setback" sends me into a tailspin. My depression, I've come to realize, is much like an addiction. I can climb up the mountain, fight my way back to solid ground and find myself standing at the edge of the cliff taking in the glorious views and life can feel so good and so full, but I'm always perched there preciously on that edge.  One slight slip, one little set back, and down I go, spiraling faster and faster and faster until life is, once again, completely out of control.

That's where I'm at right now - everything feels out of control. Every bit of ground we gained by pulling in the reigns at the beginning of the summer has been lost in these last few weeks. My despair, which comes out in the form of anger, is hurting the kids. I can see it in the way they talk to each other. I can see it in the way they talk to us. I can see it in their own, all too quick tempers. I have to pull myself together but I can not. I can not collect myself. I can not function. I can not breath.

"This has been a big setback..."

His words shook me because I realized he was right. It's a setback. It's not the world crumbling. This doesn't mean I'll never be home with the kids, it just means not right now. That jerk back into reality, if only for a second, was exactly what I needed.

As soon as he walked out of my office I picked up the phone and made the call.  Due to some changes at work and being unable to fit it in my schedule, it's been a year since I've had a therapy appointment but it's time. It's time. I care too much about these boys and this family not to.

And maybe, hopefully, if I'm lucky, this will change the momentum from a setback to a step forward.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

after the storm

Last Thursday evening, just before 6 pm, the sky grew dark. The black rain clouds looked menacing as they made their way east and without much of a warning the sky opened up and unleashed its fury.  Hard, hard rain, hail, and cracks of thunder.  We stood at the door and watch it unfold and then hurried to the tv, just to make sure there wasn't a bigger threat. Severe thunderstorm warnings were scrolling across the bottom of the screen and yes, most definitely, these were severe. But it only lasted a matter of minutes, maybe 10 - 15 max, and then it was over. 

The sun didn't come out but it was apparent that the storm had moved on and so the boys went out to play in it. The puddles that is- jumping and running and screaming. As I stood there watching them I realized this is a good metaphor for our lives right now. 

The storm. 
The aftermath - getting wet and dirty in the puddles.

As many of you already know, just over two weeks ago Collin's dad (the boys' beloved Papa) had a heart attack.

Thank God it happened at home and not when he was alone at the job site.
Thank God his mom was able to get him to the ER quickly.
Thank God the ER staff was quick and diligent in their care.
Thank God we have a hospital with a reputable heart and vascular center within driving distance.
Thank God that hospital has amazing surgeons.
Thank God it played out as it did.

As always there was/is so much to be thankful for, even in the midst of the storm.

But every storm, every crisis, brings puddles.

Collin is now back to work full-time, finishing the house his dad has been working so hard on this summer and working up bids and prices for work on potential future projects that have been coming in these last few months. It all makes sense now, why the decision to have Collin quit his job at the beginning of the summer came so easily to us. Yes, it was because of the hours of his last position. Yes, it was because we wanted the kids off of the rigorous schedule. But most of all, we made the decision because it felt right, even if we didn't fully understand it. As Ember said to me last week: "He knew, Kate. He knew that Collin would need to be free'd up." And she was absolutely right.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that Collin is in a position to step-in and take over. I'm thankful that he is being called back to doing the work he loves. After all, this was our plan all along. 

There's always a but, isn't there? 

We weren't ready yet. I'm not in a position to quit my job. I'm not even in a position to scale back my job. This is all happening at lightening speed and we weren't ready.  

What this all means, of course, is that now we have to find someone to watch the children during the day while we are working.  It's hard for me to put into words what this is doing to me mentally, emotionally.  It sounds melodramatic but I feel like my heart is breaking in two.  Six summers ago I remember walking down to the end of our road, newly pregnant, trying to convince myself that it was okay to be a working mom.  But here's the thing, not once in six years has this ever felt right. 

Not once. 

Sure, there have periods of time where I've accepted this, this working mother roll, as my lot in life, but not once has it felt right.

Last summer, our first taste of a true "summer break" it felt the worst. It was a horrible time for me full of guilt and anguish. This summer, although I'm still working, just having them in the house with Collin has put my heart at ease. Sure, there have been some rough moments  and of course we didn't get nearly as much accomplished around the yard/house as we had hoped but the kids were here, at their home, on a leisurely schedule, and our family life has improved dramatically because of it. And now it all has to change again and we're not ready.

Last week I was so sick over all of this that I just wanted to scream and throw things and curse God. And I'll be honest, I did every single one of those things. I lost it.  It was not pretty. And then I sunk down to the floor, wrapped myself into a tight ball and cried.  I cried so hard.  I cried and cried and cried until I had nothing left in me. I was left feeling hollow, but it felt better than sad or mad.

(I'm feeling better this week. I've done some praying (and listening!) and I know things will be okay. I don't know yet what we are going to do for daycare but we're meeting with a potential nanny next week. I'm praying it will all work out - at least then they would be in the house and I feel like that would be the next best thing to me being home with them.)

Last Thursday, an hour or two after that storm hit, I backed the car out of the driveway and realized the puddles had already dried up; there was hardly any trace of the rain left. I know this too, these struggles, will eventually dry up and disappear but for the moment I feel like we are still outside splashing around in them.  For the time being we are still running, jumping, and soaking wet.