Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Nine years::::

Shortly after Isaac joined our family, we had a family park night. I walked the trails with Ezra and pushed Isaac in the stroller. Marshall stayed at the park pushing Eli and Oliver in the swings. As I headed back, I saw Marshall, smiling, laughing and talking to the boys as he pushed them high to the sky on the swings. I watched from afar and my heart swelled. He looked over at me, we locked eyes, smiled and waved at each other. The next thought that ran through my mind was how much harder it would be for us to come together each day to connect, especially now with 4 busy boys.

These past couple months haven't been as hard on us as you may think. Marshall has been solid in caring for our family and for me. He was sensitive to my needs with my postpartum struggles and knew when to take over and help out with things around the house. He has been more flexible than ever in the crazy ideas I have about most things and he is so good at letting me be ME. I am grateful for that. We have grown closer every year as a couple, because frankly, we've had to. We have needed to be on the same page about everything and if not, we have needed to at least back down and trust the other. We have both made sacrifices and compromises for each other and it is always important in a relationship to do this, no matter how long you've been together.

It's been a little harder for us to get on dates with the baby, but we try. Oh, heavens, we try! I always look forward to an evening away with Marshall. It's good to remember that before our children, it was just US. Marshall and me. Two people who love each other and want a life together. I am happy to say that we are doing just that.
 I am so grateful to have a respectful, honorable and hardworking companion to have by my side forever. I wouldn't want it any other way, with any other person.

Happy 9 years, Marshall. I love you and this life we've made together. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ezra is 7!

::Thud::: ( sound of feet hitting the ground and walking out into the living room )
He's awake.
He grabs the Christmas toy magazine and sits huddled on the couch just next to the lamp. He spends a few moments alone before his brothers wake up to join him. He studies each page, every detail. He mathematically analyzes each price to what he has in stashed in his wallet. He compares each toy and each price to what is a better deal and what is not. He gets excited about something he may not have noticed the last time he looked at a certain toy or page. I love his attention to detail and his knowledge of money management at this young of an age.

We recently drove by a "lost dog" sign with a photograph and description of a dog who was clearly missed by it's family. Ezra read the sign and hasn't stop thinking about that family or the dog. He has been praying for that family and that the dog will be safe ever since. His little heart is so incredibly tender and thoughtful and his Faith in God is so real and true. He shows me daily of how God plays a role in his life and I love that he recognizes God's hand in things as simple as finding a lego that he has lost and prayed and knew that he would find eventually (Because God would help him).

Ezra is continually keeping me on my toes, it is he who is constantly challenging me on what I need to know as his mother. He is sensitive and fierce, He is kind and aware, He is timid and confident, cautious and adventurous, creative and innovative. He loves books, storytelling, art and the outside. He has even named the squirrel in our backyard, Red- and chases him everyday. He loves to learn and this year, I explained to him his responsibility in learning daily and how education is important, it's his job. He takes this seriously. He reminds me what we need to do throughout the day, or what he would like to work on. He may not be aware of the power that he has in our home, but he definitely has a presence here. His brothers look up to him, trust him and love him. They hang on his every word and do just as he tells them. He has a way with getting what he wants without even having to ask. (I have had to step in a make sure his brothers aren't getting totally worked over)

I have loved watching him care for another little brother and I have been impressed with how welcoming and  how willing he is to help with Isaac.

Marshall and I are so very blessed to have the gift of being Ezra's parents. We have loved and cherished our 7 years with him and promise to continue for many, many years to come.

We love you, Ezra.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Embracing time

 My therapist seems to think that I am doing self therapy tactics. She's not wrong, I suppose. But I heard someone say something not long ago that made me rethink how I  want to think. It made me flip my perspective on how I handle things with my children. It challenged me to embrace my children in the present moment that they are at. Their age, their wonder, their spirit, their focus, their intentions, their words and their very being. I wrote notes to remind myself of the things that they did and how much it affected how I saw them in any moment.

The other night, Marshall had just tucked the boys in bed, and said goodnight and I ran and grabbed a bottle of windex and cleaned every reflective surface in the house- this way I knew they would stay clean for at least 12 hours. I woke up the next morning, hopped in the shower, and when I stepped out of the shower, there in the steamy glass was a little smiley face sketched on the foggy glass looking right at me. In that moment, I could feel myself wanting to be annoyed that I had just cleaned that mirror, but I allowed myself to breathe this moment in and change my perspective. My child was communicating without words, with a picture. He used his finger to draw onto a surface that he knew would allow it to be seen. He wasn't trying to mess up my freshly cleaned mirror, he wasn't worried about that. He just wanted to draw a picture on the glass. That smiley face made a giant impact on my view of this child throughout the rest of my week. It softened my eyes to see him how I should always see him.

Later that morning, I was bustling around getting everyone dressed. fed and situated for the day. I knew I wouldn't be able to sit and enjoy my breakfast at the table with the boys since I would need to nurse Isaac before my morning appointment, so I scraped the sides of my peanut butter jar (that I smuggle, hide and sneak into the house with Eli's peanut allergies) to add a spoonful to my protein shake that I would be able to drink through a straw while I fed Isaac on the couch. While I was holding Isaac, I placed my shake on the ground at my feet for just a second, when Eli came from the kitchen table and raced toward Isaac with his little lamb doll knocking my breakfast shake down and it spilled all over the floor. "NOOOOO!" I yelled, " That was my breakfast and my only time to eat it!" I said. "This is why you don't leave the table when you are supposed to be eating!" I snapped again. I didn't mean to come off as strong as I did, but it was obvious Eli felt terrible. I paused after this and took in what had happened. Eli noticed that Isaac didn't have his lamb and he wanted him to have it. He left his chair in which he was supposed to be sitting and eating his own breakfast to bring it to him. He was happy and excited to do this, when he wasn't watching where he was going and knocked over my drink. How could I be upset with this gesture? His sweet and giving gesture to his baby brother was all I could wrap my head around when I allowed myself to embrace this moment. I apologized profusely and thanked Eli for what he was trying to do for Isaac.

I am tired of saying no to my kids all the time -- especially for reasons like, I am too tired to pull craft stuff out, or how messy it will be, or how it could be an inconvenience, or throw off the schedule I have in my mind. To shake things up early in the week, my sister in law invited us to Minnehaha falls and we brought Grandma along. The boys had a blast running and climbing. They were taking in all the colors, sounds and sights from the beautiful park. It wasn't exactly stroller friendly, but thankfully with our group, we were able to get down a little closer to see the falls up close. My anxiety sky rockets around water, so we didn't stay down by the water for very long. Just enough for a few pictures to prove we made it :) Eli stopped and touched an examined every little thing he could get or not get his hands on. Every time I turned around, he was far behind our group huddled over something he had discovered, this became frustrating to me over time, constantly calling him back to me- But I watched my mother in law, gently go to him and talk him to him about the world around him. I really appreciated that she was embracing him and his world in this moment.

The next day, I wanted my kids to remember all the things that they saw and heard. I put on waterfall sounds and relaxing music and got the paints out and asked the boys to paint what they remember seeing. Ezra made a beautiful painting of the waterfalls, Eli started making the water but then it turned into a star wars fight scene and Oliver chose red and yellow paint, which to me meant that he was definitely listening to what I was asking them to do AND he remembered the fall colors that we saw at the park. (Or it was a total coincidence? Who cares?) I watched from across the room while they all focused on their paintings as the sounds of the waterfall music played in the background. These boys were in their element. I embraced it. I was so relaxed for this short moment in time and I was breathing it in. Ezra almost 7, Eli almost 5 and Oliver 2 and a half-- all naturally active, noisy, talkative and physical kids were meditating, creating and relaxed. It was beautiful.

School at home has been awesome. We have been spending as much time as possible outside while we can. We have been learning about all sorts of things. Johann Sebastian Bach, Conflict (using Julius Caesar) Doing things for the right reasons, Warnings and Pride, self reliance and potential. My kids are learning so much and applying so much into their little lives. They have been a lot more crafty than usual lately, making their own books, sketching scenes, composing their own music to certain scenes they have made up through play. Ezra engineered an "army tank" in the backyard with a wagon, a t ball stand and a cozy coupe. He even made a trench where he runs to and gets down low and pretends to shoot the bad guys (with a big gun shaped stick) He has been filming these creations as well, which has been really fun to play back. We have been "Creating our own adventures" where I start a story and give them options as the story goes along and we all have a part in creating where the story goes, the boys LOVE this. It is a perfect thing to do when they need to settle down from being too crazy. I am embracing these stories, these lessons learned, these creations and these imaginary places that my children's minds go to. I can't grip onto this time with them tight enough, I feel like time is moving too fast-

How does anyone enjoy their children enough? 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Dog Days of Summer

I've been feeling pretty guilty about how often we've been cooped up inside or how many times I told my kids NO just because I didn't have the energy for any fun. This summer, this very beautiful summer I spent most of my time nursing a baby and pulling my life back together while Marshall worked on the fence in the backyard. The boys thankfully enjoyed the hard labor and working besides their daddy. I don't think they even noticed that we skipped riding Thomas the train in Duluth, only went the park twice or never once swam in a real pool. (Besides our plastic pool that they can only sit in) Children (or at least, my children) are having the time of their lives doing anything as long as we are all together, and I hope that never goes away.

We were really excited when we went to our friends home last weekend. They told us to bring our suits so the boys could run through the sprinklers and honestly, this was probably the most fun they had all summer. I am not kidding. I could hardly get any photos because they were all moving so fast, especially Oliver. They were slipping and sliding, screaming and squealing with laughter. I felt so happy watching them all playing together as the summer wraps up and the fall begins.

This week, I tried to focus more time with Eli and I am amazed at how much he knows and understands as a 4 year old. He is adding and subtracting and even writing books! I was surprised when he came up from downstairs with an entire illustrated book that he wrote, and honestly! His spelling wasn't that bad, it was phonetically perfect. I was completely flabbergasted.It is amazing to me all that he picks up by just being present when I am teaching Ezra,

Isaac turned 12 weeks and we cannot get enough of him. I learned last night that he is ticklish under his armpits and poor boy can't even protect himself from me tickling him any chance I can. He is so adorable- even when he is hard. He is a tough one, this one.

The boys performed in the primary program on Sunday at church, they memorized their parts like champs and sang their little hearts out. I LOVED IT.

Isaac's belly! Isaac's cheeks! 
I asked Ezra to watch over Isaac while I dried my hair the other day and Ezra taught Isaac to draw. :)
Ezra and Eli's new game this week was a fun one. They dressed Eli as a squirrel and tried catching squirrels in our yard. I even saw that they made a bed of leaves for Eli to sleep in. They are hilarious together.

We are having our yearly family photos taken tonight and I feel like it is week long process of mentally preparing everyone for the hour of smiling nice. Wish us luck!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Postpartum reals.

The echoes of little feet moving around me and the boys voices competing one with another were just muffled noise in my head. I know they were talking to me. I know they were needing me. But I didn't care.
Someone did something to the other or took something from the other... I didn't care. " Look mom! I made this awesome pirate ship!!".... "cool" is all I can bring myself to say, when I really did.not.care. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to be asleep and I didn't want to be bothered. I was in the thickest fog and I couldn't see what was in front of me. The easiest tasks became the heaviest and my children were begging to be held and attended to. When anything and everything upset me and I would yell at my kids over another little thing that they didn't mean to do, it hurt me. Deep down in the pit of my stomach, I hated everything about everything, especially the monster that I had become. My safe place became the salon and my work. I looked forward to going into the studio and shutting the door so I could feel like something else besides "mom". A role that I love and cherish became too much to bare.

Looking back, when I had gone in for my 6 week postpartum appointment, I felt completely fine. It was shortly after when it felt like a light switch went off in my brain and everything changed, everything was dark and crazed. I hated the way I had no control over how I was acting or how I felt. My anxiety and "baby blues" turned to withdrawal and rage. Everything pushed me away and anything made me mad and resentful. This was NOT me. 
My mind was going a million miles an hour.
What was wrong with me? Why was everything closing in on me? Why did everything have to be my responsibility? Why am I surrounded by people who love me but feel completely alone? Why doesnt anyone care? .... and then I received a text. A friend wanted a hair appointment and texted, "can I come over and give you a hug.... and have my hair done?"  I felt breath in my lungs and felt alive, I felt love -but love from my Savior-reminding me that he was there. I suddenly felt hope, that I wasn't alone and that there was help for me. Postpartum depression wasn't really on my radar in the depths of my moody emptiness. I have a lot going on at home, 4 (5 counting  Marshall) boys who rely on me for everything, a business that is busy on it's own and homeschooling. When I look at my load, it is a lot, anyone would feel overwhelmed BUT I love being busy  (normally) I love people and I love to work in every aspect of my life. I love my family, but I didn't want them anywhere near me. I wasn't enjoying them when I should have been because normally it does come so natural to me.

I mustered up the strength to call the clinic and get help. They were able to get me in the same day. I filled out their questionnaire and I felt like they were in my head as I circled the answers that matched with how I felt. Everything the nurse said rang true in my cloudy mind and it was like the sun was finally starting to peek through. I cried the entire appointment.  I forget how therapeutic it is to just cry! I am not normally someone who cries but it felt good to let it out.  She prescribed some medication to help out with the obvious chemical imbalances and I was so nervous to take them.  Once again, in my own head, I was thinking, " Maybe I am over exaggerating? Maybe I will be fine without the drugs, I can do this on my own..."
So, I went to my Instagram stories and asked fellow trusted mom friends of their experiences with postpartum and my inbox was flooded with messages. It was inspiring to read and realize that I was not suffering alone, that this is not forever and that it's okay to take medication and take care of myself.

In the depths of feeling completely out of control and miserable, there was a dark cloud over our home. Moms are said to set the tone in the home. "When mom is happy, everyone is happy" there is a reason why that is a saying- it is true! (at least in our home)

Marshall didn't know what to do for me, he would come home grab Isaac and strap him in the baby carrier and walk around the yard with all the boys following him. He gave me my space which I am grateful for now, I needed it then. He was also good about getting us out of the house as a family. We have done a lot of fun things together and it has been so good for all of us.

I have struggled with sharing this because I don't want anyone to think that I am not able to care for my children or that I could harm my children or myself. This isn't the case. I don't feel like I need any extra help or anything like that (Although, I do really appreciate the offers- everyone has been so kind). My children are very loved and cared for. It really came down to not feeling like myself and since then, I have gotten the help that I need and it is all upward from here.

 I can honestly say that I feel tremendously better in the last few weeks. The medication that I am on has been magic- but speaking with a therapist has been even more beneficial for me. Just being able to talk about my life out loud, or the things that are on my mind with someone else has been an awakening for me.
I am so grateful to have such wonderful health care and people around me who care.

I never thought something like this would happen to me or our family. I've always been pretty self aware and able to find ways to cope when I've felt overwhelmed and stressed. This was different. I am humbled and grateful to have had my eyes opened to the reality of depression and anxiety and the power that it can have on your mind, body and spirit. 
I think of the power that Satan has over mothers and their important and necessary roles in the family. I am reminded of how eager he is to destroy the joy that comes from motherhood and how he goes straight to the power source- the mother. I am glad I got the help I needed when I needed it.
 I will never let him win. 

*If you think you need help. Get it! There are resources out there to help you get through whatever you are going through.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Start of the School Year.

We have had a great start already. Ezra and Eli have both been eager to learn new things this year. They want to know about everything. I will be teaching one thing and Ezra will say "Oh! Mom! I have so many questions!" And his questions are thought provoking and sometimes totally stump me. His mind is going a million miles an hour and it is hard for me to keep up sometimes. 
We have been pretty consistent on our expectations as far as our days go. I love when the boys are outside exploring and creating, using their imaginations and getting dirty, but I love it more when they are taking video of themselves being archaeologists finding treasure (which have recently been the copious amounts of black walnuts that have completely stained their hands and feet) in King Tutankhamen's tomb (Which I found today- Eli was King Tut- Ezra was the archaeologist)  

We have been reading Laura Ingall's  Little House series. We are currently reading "On the banks of Plum creek" Marshall is reading the Chronicles of Narnia. 

Ezra's really been into Roman history. We have so far learned about Romulus and Remus, Horatius, and Julius Caesar. We tackled similes and metaphors, and plot techniques yesterday and astronomy today. It has been so far, SO good and we are all loving it.

 Ezra, Eli and Oliver help me out in the kitchen and around the house, constantly learning right from wrong, good and bad. Finding responsibility in house keeping and having good manners. We are still focusing on our Value of the month (This month it is Peaceability) and how we can be more peaceful- or being a peacemaker in the home. We have memorized our family school year theme (I will listen, I will learn, I will labor and I will love) and talk each day how we did these things. We have memorized poems and the 7 continents. There so many more things we have learned as well. After last year, I have been taking a lot more relaxed approach with our learning. I want the boys to enjoy learning and finding answers to their questions. I want them to study to understand and not because there is a test at the end. They are enjoying learning and that is the most important thing that I feel like I can teach them right now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

State Fair 2017

I look forward to the State Fair practically all year. I don't know why I love it so much- but I do. Marshall's parents came along  again this year and it was really nice. They are a tremendous help and joy to have along.
This year, I gave Ezra and Eli their very own cash to spend. It was burning a hole in their pockets and they weren't happy until they spent their money. I was looking forward to seeing how each of them decided to spend it. Ezra purchased a root beer float that he willingly shared with whoever wanted some and he was excited to have some cash leftover. Eli spent all of his money on a big bag of cotton candy, which he was happy to share as well. We had never tried the Sweet Martha's cookies until this year- I know, crazy- huh? The best thing about them were that they were warm, otherwise, they were Eh. 

We always park and take a shuttle to the fairgrounds, the boys sat in the very front seat and LOVED it.

Ezra and Eli rode down the giant slide together, on the same mat. They came down SO FAST that I couldn't even get a picture. It was something I needed to see without a camera in front of my face, I thought Eli was going to fly off! I couldn't stop gasping and laughing! I was afraid for him, but he loved it! Oliver and Marshall went down together and Oliver of course loved it, too.

We love being able to see our friends horse, Jacky. She is so sweet to let us smother her and even sit on her. The boys warm up a little more to her every year. Shes a beauty. 

The boys love the home depot spot. this year they made their own tool boxes.
I had to stop and nurse Isaac near the midway at the perfect time, too. They boys were able to experience the parade that came through.

Another year- we survived with the whole family!