Day 15: Sharing art

My husband and I love buying and showcasing art in our home. We pick up mementos on trips and try to fill our home with things that will remind us of our adventures and the life we are experiencing together.

We have framed postcards, notecards, pictures we’ve taken, cards we’ve written to each other, our wedding cake topper, and gifts from friends. Every year we add a piece or two to our collection and now we are reaching a point of saturation. We almost have too much art – if that’s possible? Soon we will have to start rethinking our displays and how to make it all fit cohesively. (Right now, most pieces are in storage, so it’s not an immediate problem… but it will be when we do find our next home.)

However, even with all this art, we can’t stop. It brings us joy and sometimes its the perfect gift… which was the case for our most recent piece.

Our anniversary was July 13. We are really into following the traditional gifts which mean the theme this year was fruit and flowers. That’s kind of a hard theme for buying for a dude. I was racking my brain, googling ideas and still wanting to knock his socks off! (Last year I was pregnant and not great at the anniversary gift – so I really wanted to WOW this year.)

Well, it finally hit me about 9 days before our anniversary. In 2014 we were on one of our West Texas trips, exploring an art gallery in Fort Davis and we fell absolutely in love with a painting. It was THE piece of art for us. We almost bought it right then and there, but we had just bought a home and furniture and we thought we should wait and be smart with our money. We wrote down the name of the piece and the artist with the idea that one day we would own that work.

Over the next year or so, I thought of that painting often and almost bought it for Eric’s birthday, but it was an expensive purchase and never exactly the gift I wanted to give him. THANK GOODNESS because it fit this year’s anniversary theme spectacularly. (I may have stretched the flowers theme a bit – but it is a Texas landscape and those are West Texas flowers!)

Here it is:

daybreak across the top of texas

The artist is Lindy Cook Severns. She does amazing landscape paintings of West Texas and she was a pleasure to work with. I emailed her directly to ask some questions, order the piece and tell her about our anniversary. I didn’t expect for it to come in time with me ordering a week before, but she said she’d get right on it and expedited the shipping for free! Sooo awesome! You should definitely check our her website here and admire the exquisite colors and details of her work.

She also wrapped it beautifully with ribbon and a hand written note. Eric LOVED it and we now have it hanging in our bedroom across from our bed. Our West Texas trips have always meant a lot to us. They provided us a break from the busyness of life and a chance to slow down and connect with each other. We cooked good simple food, had deep conversation and strolled hand in hand through the quiet stillness of that wilderness. Being able to look at this work every day is one of the best reminders of our love and our trips to a place we cherish.

BK

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Day 14: Lovin’ the library

As a kid, I LOVED libraries and book stores. My mom often took me to our local library with my designated library books bag to let me check out a TON of books, especially during summer break. I read many teen girl trilogies, Amish series (I know… I still love them) and books with interesting covers. (I’ve always judged a book by its cover.)

I would even attend the craft and other special events at the library. It was truly one of my favorite places. I loved to check out like 10 books and try to get them all read by the due date. Another favorite thing? The return slot. I’ve always enjoyed putting the books in there. It felt old school and fun. (I also really miss Blockbuster… just saying.)

Before the internet and easy home access, my parents would drive me and several friends up to the big city library to do research. I remember spending one afternoon at the library researching Zion National Park for my 4th grade project. I thought it was so cool that there were multiple books about one national park!

Libraries have been a pretty consistent friend for me as a young child all the way through college. I loved spending hours studying in the stillness at Mizzou. I was all about East 4th floor – big window by the trees and never a ton of students in that section. Perfect.

Once I left college libraries kind of went out of fashion for me. Internet access provided convenience and with an adult job I found less time to read and less reason to research through books. Most of the books I get, I buy from Amazon prime. It’s convenient, cheap and I get to keep them. (It’s not always cheap though…)

However, now that I have a son, I am rediscovering libraries. I am all about taking my son to experience story time, music classes and any other baby related events. He loves to be around other babies, I like to get out of the house and it’s actually really fun. So, I recently headed to our local library for storytime – it was cancelled, but I found a really neat kid’s play space. It’s huge, only for kids under 6 and has a ton of different areas/activities. They have a baby area with features attached to the walls, developmentally appropriate toys and padding on the floor. They also have a block/lego area, puppet show and puppets, a big wooden car, a doll house, a kitchen area, and a little toy store.

On the days when I don’t have anything planned or just need to get out of the house, I can drive 7 minutes down the road and entertain my son for at least 45 minutes for free. It’s so awesome!

The other day, I had my husband go with me so he could see this area and watch our son be so freaking adorable crawling around. There were 4 little girls there and Lochlan was mesmerized watching them play. We also got a library card and checked out a book for us and a few new books for Lochlan. What’s really cool is that the library now has an app where you can search for and reserve books! I am just really impressed and excited to be using a library again.

The library is such a good thing for communities; free books = free knowledge, events, and computer access all help people to connect to each other and the world. I feel like not enough people use them and that’s such a shame. I was one of them for awhile! It’s too easy to just use Amazon prime and have everything delivered to you – there’s a service for everything now. You miss out on so much when you don’t get out and participate in your community. I’m so glad I’m back to using the library and I think you should go check yours out soon!

BK

Day 13: Hump day grump

Sometimes I’m just grumpy. I have no patience, I’m tired and for whatever reason I’m the biggest grump of them ALL.

That was me today. All grump. All day. No fun.

Our son was being so cute, but as the day went on he just got fussier and fussier. His 1 year molars are coming in and sometimes it’s rough. For him, for us. Teeth are no fun. I totally understand why parents hate teething. It turns adorable babies into fuss monsters.

So by the time my mom got off work, I was done and not in the mood for anything. She says, “You need to go, get drunk and come back with a better attitude.”

It wasn’t funny right then. No. Instead, I vindictively marched off to the baby room where I proceeded to pump milk for my baby and get the hell out. I’ll show her, I thought! You hang out with this frustrating, teething baby. I will take a break!

I grabbed my husband and said, we’re out of here. I kissed my sweet baby, proceeded to remind my mom of the 100 things she already knows about our child, but I feel I have to say EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I leave and we left.

We went to one of these hip places with great food, beer and a really solid atmosphere. I did get tipsy – 2.5 beers right here! We ate delicious flatbread and potato skins. We flirted, talked, laughed and had the BEST time. My husband had to drive me home – which NEVER happens. It was such a great time and the perfect cure for my grumps.

When we returned, my sweet baby and mom weren’t even here. When they got home a little later, our baby boy was so happy and content. It was the perfect way to end my night. Shout out to all the grandmas who help out and give you a night out – even when they are yelling at you about your attitude! (I’m so thankful for my mom being honest and real with me. You need that sometimes!)

Oh the joys of parenting! I’m so grateful to have my mom in our daily life.

BK

Day 12: The hard days will fade

Today, I read a blog post titled “You Really Do Forget The Hardest Parts of Parenting“.

I had to read it because boy – it’s been hard over the last year; the sleepless nights, the illness and all of the other obstacles life has thrown at us since becoming parents. I haven’t always felt capable, happy, supported, and positive – things I definitely feel right now or at least WAY more than I used to.

While it’s been a bit rough, it’s also been life-affirming, glorious and peaceful too. I’ve had to harness a deep power to push through the rough days and give my little man the best of myself. Being able to do that is what humans do best, but I’m still proud of it.

There have been a lot of dark days though. Fights with my husband, days without a shower or a delicious meal, lonely days without a friend or family member to see and talk to. I’ve wondered if I was going to go insane, if a baby could really cry this much, why babies even need teeth… Lots of those thoughts and days!

Reading that post made me smile – I’m glad there are things I will forget. Not because I don’t want to fully engage in my life, but because I don’t want the hard times to overpower the beauty. Raising kids is anything but easy – true. It’s also everything good and real. I am comforted by the idea that the hard memories will fade. Even now, my husband and I can look back and laugh (a little) about the way we felt on those nights that L just wouldn’t stop crying. We thought it would never end! It does and it will…

Now we worry about him getting too big. We miss the days when he would sleep peacefully on our chest and cuddle us all day. We can’t get him to cuddle now. He’s too busy exploring, reading and bonking his head as he stumbles around the room. It all happens so fast.

Sometimes I do wish I had more women and moms to connect with when I was in the thick of it. It would have been nice to be able to call up another mom of a high-needs baby and get affirmation that it would be OK, that this was just a season. I got through it and next time, I’m going to be that and seek that out more. Being a new mom – it was hard for me to complain (even though it’s not complaining) because I was so excited to be a mom and even when it was crazy, I could never regret this or want it a different way. I felt so lucky to have my son, that it seemed wrong (truly!) to make it sound bad or to admit that sometimes it was bad.

It wasn’t what I expected I guess. I did try to mentally prepare – but this is one of those things that no one can totally prepare for. I knew it would be hard, I knew there would be sleepless nights and it would be initially hard on my marriage. I didn’t know the intensity of some of the feelings though or how it would affect both my husband and me differently and in turn our relationship. I didn’t expect to feel so overwhelmingly in love that leaving him in daycare was physically painful. I didn’t know I wouldn’t want to leave him even when he was driving me absolutely crazy. I had no idea that a warm, sleeping baby could make my world so whole and complete. Those moments are the most blissful I’ve ever experienced on this earth. Holding my sweet boy while he sleeps, looking at his perfect face and feeling that warm breath – it’s divine.

AND YET, it’s hard and that deserves to be discussed because that’s real too. I’m still not great at asking for help when I need it (although I’m getting better at it) and I’m also not great at striking the balance of being honest about the hard stuff – I’m not sure how to be better at that.

I’m going to continue embracing the hard days, loving the perfect moments and being grateful that those hard days will continue to fade.

Cheers to parenting and learning more about life and yourself every.single.freaking.day!

BK

Day 11: Organize, reorder, start again

I love order, efficiency, procedure. I like finding a spot for everything and I routinely claim (rather proudly) that I can find anything in my home. “It’s in 1 of 3 places,” is my motto and I’m almost always right. I know the system I create and why I’d make certain choices. It’s refreshing and nice. I like knowing where things are. It prevents the over-purchasing of goods (which somehow we still do from time to time?) and it helps me spend less time looking for things. I love all of that.

However, sometimes I take it to an extreme. There are times when I have simply run out of space for items – those items then get left for days that turn into weeks because I don’t have a system or idea for it. Yuck! Also, I don’t always clue my husband into my system. So, very often, he puts things in the wrong place. (I mean, he technically doesn’t know it’s the wrong place – but he’s still wrong right? hahaha) OR, he can’t find anything in the house and has to ask me where things are ALL.THE.TIME.

Again, this isn’t his fault. I’ve created a solo system and I’m not solo. I’m a partner in my love story and I need to do better at creating systems with him. THAT is it’s own process – I tell ya.

BUT – while I love organization, I’m not good at the daily cleaning. Bizarre right?

I recently read a NYT article, “Making a Marriage Magically Tidy.” This article could be describing me…something I’m not at all proud of. I am notorious for leaving my mail, papers, clothes and other random articles everywhere. (Newsflash – I do have designated places for most of these items!) I’m great at the big picture systems, not so great at the 50 little life hacks (as my mom calls them) to keep a tidy home as you move through it. Rinsing dishes right away, wiping out/off the sink while brushing my teeth, making my bed first thing in the morning, etc.

My husband is much better at these tiny tasks, even if they aren’t as perfectly done as I’d like them to be. (Again – why am I judging? I can’t even be bothered to do them sometimes.) My poor husband has put up with a lot of mess and clutter over the years. I’ve always improved for short bouts of time, but I slip in to my old habits and then do an insane clean where everything is messy and I’m organizing a closet and then the whole house gets clean. It’s nice for a few days, but it doesn’t last. I have routinely critiqued his disorganized closet with papers shoved in corners, socks cluttering the floor and shirts and pants sitting haphazardly in a laundry basket. Does anyone see his closet? No. Why let this mess bother me when our dining room table looks like its covered in tornado debris? I’m not sure… but it does bother me, especially when I hear that question, “Hey babe, where is my X?”

Now that we’re sharing our space, it’s even more important to have tight systems because we now have to move within my mom’s system – if you think I like order, meet my mother! (This is not a bad thing – truly!) My mom is a big part of why I like order and enjoy organizing. I’ve learned a ton from her!

On the daily, I find myself not knowing where things are, then stopping to think like my mother. Surprisingly, I’m pretty good at thinking like her. Slowly but surely we’re learning and finding a new system. You know what’s really helped?

Having less stuff.

We kept out our favorite things, most of our clothes, and lots of furniture, but everything else is packed up in storage. There is something freeing about living with less. Why do we Americans need so much stuff?

Anyway, as we settle in and continue to create these new organizational systems, I am really looking to include my husband, start being more of a daily cleaner and appreciate the process of it all. One day we will be back in our own space and we will be ready to unpack boxes and once again find OUR system.

BK

Day 10: Let’s talk Lactation

I’m a mom and breastfeeding is a huge part of my life. I love it! I am a total advocate for it and I want to use this post to talk about that. If this doesn’t apply to you, feel free to move on. I want to discuss this though because it’s important and I don’t think enough people understand it. Let me start this post by saying I believe a fed baby is the most important thing. (ie: I am not formula shaming.) Got it? Great! Here we go.

When I was pregnant, I did a TON of reading. Hell, even before I was pregnant, I was thinking about having a baby in the healthiest way possible. I wanted to prep my body and my mind. I wanted to have ALL the knowledge. (This is kind of impossible, but I sure did try!)

I read so many books, I quit eating and drinking certain things, I gave up allergy and other medications… It was extreme maybe, but it was what I wanted to do and I enjoyed the process!

I had always known I would breastfeed, but during my pregnancy, I became even more excited and knowledgeable about that decision. I began talking to friends and family members who had breastfed and they really helped me identify support systems and resources to help me on my journey. I read this book put out by the La Leche League:  The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and this was probably the MOST helpful and informative item. I seriously cannot recommend this book enough. It walks you through your breastfeeding journey, what to expect when you start, things to know about troubleshooting and interesting facts as well as a history of breastfeeding.

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I also attended a La Leche League meeting while pregnant. The La Leche League (LLL) is an organization dedicated to supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed. In the meeting I attended, I was able to ask questions, here from new moms and just get encouragement about the journey I was to embark on. My meeting was especially informative because there were two moms who had just had babies not 6 weeks earlier. They were able to offer advice and things they learned from day 1. In this meeting, the leaders were also really honest about what to expect in the beginning. They told us that new moms really need to spend the first 2 to 3 weeks laying in bed, nursing their baby and relaxing. They explained how important it was to feed your baby on demand to help establish your supply. They encouraged you to sleep when baby slept and to let your partner also know what to expect. I am SOOO glad they shared this because I was able to use this to help me and my husband get ready. Both of us totally expected the first few weeks to be very low maintenance and he helped a ton with house stuff, getting me food and water and letting me sleep when baby did.

I left the meeting excited to keep reading my book and armed with a wealth of knowledge as my due date approached. I also joined my town’s Facebook LLL page where moms were able to post questions. I have seriously learned so much through this page. I often just go there to read about issues and see all the responses. Most of the questions are things that the book has addressed or things that I’ve also struggled with, so it’s cool to see so many women commenting and helping out. It’s also great because moms with older babies will post questions and it gives me a little mental note about what may be coming for me in the future. Through that page, I also found Kelly Mom – which is another GO TO website for all things breastfeeding. She has posts on EVERY topic. They are well researched and crazy informative. It’s the BEST!

Let’s get into my journey though… Before I gave birth, I was already super committed to my choice to breastfeed. I worried about it because so many women made it sound difficult. There seemed to be so many rules and things to look out for – you won’t have enough milk, it’s so painful, you have to pump and dump when you drink, on and on and on… Reading the book calmed a lot of those fears, but when so many people are saying this stuff, it starts to wear on you. Also, while I was pregnant, I dreamed about breastfeeding a bunch of times and each time in my dream, it just came so naturally. I remember my best friend Katherine asking if I was worried about breastfeeding and I told her, “No. I’ve dreamed about it a few times and I could feel the milk flow, so I think it’ll be good.” Hahaha. My commitment was even in my dreams!

When my little guy was born, he didn’t latch immediately. He was having trouble and when my placenta didn’t detach, I had to hand him over and let my midwife focus on me. So I was a little worried because I just didn’t get that instant breastfeeding relationship that I really wanted. However, later that night, he latched really well and it’s been pretty great ever since.

I do count myself lucky though because my journey has been fairly easy (so far). My guy has always nursed quickly. Most sessions are done in under 5 minutes, which is super fast and not particularly common. However, that has its own issues:

  • When he was little, his stomach couldn’t handle how fast he ate. So he was fussy, gassy and pretty uncomfortable after meals.
  • He eats every 1.5 to 2 hours. He only ever goes 3 or 4 hours at night. (He’s had a few nursing strikes during bouts of illness or growth spurts, but that’s uncommon. He loves milk!)
  • Sometimes he wants to comfort nurse, but he doesn’t want to eat more, so he gets upset. (This was more of an issue when he was under 6 months.)

I’ve also had no issues with plugged ducts, mastitis or bad latch AND breastfeeding was NEVER painful for me. I think because he eats so fast, I never got raw because he wasn’t on there long enough to get to that point.

I have had issues with my son biting – I was able to nip that in the bud by taking away the boob for 20 minutes and then offering again. He hated having it taken away and he learned after 3 or 4 times what the consequences of biting would mean. (Occasionally he will still bite, especially when teething, but he immediately stops when he realizes it’s me.)

I’ve also had to deal with the bottle refusal issue. When my son was about 6 or 7 weeks old, we introduced the bottle and he took it no problem. However, we didn’t give him enough practice with it, so later on he refused it. Even now, the bottle is not his favorite, but if he’s hungry enough he will take it. If I’m being honest, I really don’t mind most of the time because I’m not a huge fan of pumping and washing all those parts. Not to mention washing the bottles as well. That is seriously a ton of work and it’s so tedious!

My choice to breastfeed on demand and not pump often has resulted in a so many good things and some hard stuff too. My son is well fed (to say the least!), he has a great attachment to me, he’s been sleeping well since 5 or 6 weeks (as in we co-sleep and he is able to eat while he sleeps, so I don’t have to fully wake up at night – it’s the best!), he has never taken a pacifier and he’s a pretty happy kid. I’ve also not had a lot of issues and I attribute that to both luck and listening to my body to help myself develop a supply and curb things before they turned into issues. YAY! I also don’t have to worry about buying formula, prepping bottles or really prepping anything when I leave the house with him. I’ve always got fresh milk on me. However, it’s not always easy either. My son wants to comfort nurse often and when I’m not around that is hard for both him and whoever is watching him. Nursing the way I do has also meant I don’t get out and have as much free time. I either need to pump bottles to be away or I need to plan short trips around his feeding schedule. I don’t really mind this most of the time, but there have been times when it is hard – especially when he’s super fussy and I need a break. Another random thing I learned is that breastfeeding can affect your libido. This one is hard because it is… my husband and I have always had a healthy sexual relationship. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for us. Luckily, it does start to bounce back and I’m glad we’re in THAT stage of things. Hahaha…

Now that my son is almost a year old, I am proud of this journey and I’m looking forward to continuing it. I have every intention of continuing that journey into his second year. I don’t know if I’ll continue past that right now. I used to feel kind of weird about it, but I really don’t anymore. I am just going to do what’s best for me and my son and what feels best at the time.

This blog could seriously go on and on because I have so much to say, so many experiences to share and I would love for EVERY woman to be able to successfully breastfeed their babies. I know it is absolutely the best thing for babies and it feels rewarding to be able to satisfy such a basic need. I know that it can be hard, frustrating and painful initially – but just like having a child, there are seasons to the different stages. I believe with the right support and encouragement most moms can get through those challenges to breastfeed – even if it’s just for a short time.

In the future, I will definitely write some follow up posts about this topic. If you have any ideas for stuff you’d love to hear about or questions you have, please comment and let me know. I’d love to discuss and I am definitely an open book when it comes to breastfeeding.

Thanks for reading!

BK

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Day 9: Ignoring Ignorance

Oh friends… I wish I were better at this, but I’m not.

When people are thoughtless, ignorant and offensive, I can’t handle it. I get so furious. I read things they post on Facebook or hear things they say and it just stops me, especially when I feel offended by it. Or maybe, it’s more I can relate to the dumb thing they’re saying and I so want to correct them, disagree with them, educate them… but it’s not worth it. I guess sometimes it might be worth it, but there are those times when it’s just not the right time. For example, it’s usually not the right time because:

  • They are not a person who will hear differing opinions (so annoying!)
  • I do not have all of my statistics/details ready to construct a bullet-proof argument (who does?)
  • I need time to figure out why I’m annoyed – is it valid or am I being sensitive?
  • I’m just too (something) to even start the conversation

I bring this up because Facebook has been getting to me more and more. Oh the things people be posting! I mean, really, it’s mostly a select few. I’ve unfollowed some, unfriended others and mostly looked at it less and less. However, it still happens where someone posts something and I get aggravated. I don’t want to feel that way. I want to be able to read it and just let it go, let it go…

This is definitely an area of growth for me. My husband, my mom and even my grandma have pondered why I can’t just move on. My grandma (the farm grandma: see last post) said, “Well, you can’t change the world.” Her point: don’t stress about the stupid, just move on.

They are all right to an extent and I really do want to be able to let these meaningless to me things go. So I googled, “How do you ignore stupidity?”

I found this Wikihow article called, How to Stop Letting Ignorant People Bother You. It has 105 votes at 77%, so I guess it’s halfway decent? Either way, I read through it and while most of the ideas were no brainers, I do feel like they are good reminders that I need to keep at the forefront when this kind of thing happens. They are:

  • Seeing things from the other person’s perspective
  • Practicing empathy
  • Rising above

In my daily life, I often do stop to see things from other people’s perspective. Just ask my husband. I’m always reminding him to think about why that person might be doing this or that or holding that opinion. I struggle to be that way sometimes though because I feel like I’m always thinking of that – why don’t other people?!?! Why do people think it’s OK to make blanket statements and judgments without first thinking? Thinking – it’s a lost art.

I would also say I’m an empathetic person. I try hard to understand and I sometimes take that to the extreme. (However, sometimes I just can’t be understanding…)

I think the biggest one for me was to rise above. They are things I can’t control – especially another person’s journey. I’m sure I have posted offensive, seemingly ignorant things. Was I intending to seem that way? Probably not! I’m sure some of the things I read are people’s feelings now – they probably won’t always feel that way or maybe they will. Either way, it’s not my life and I’m wasting my time being upset by it.

I need to feel confident enough in my ideas and beliefs that another person’s ignorance regarding them doesn’t aggravate me. There will always be people out there who disagree. That’s totally OK and normal. It can just be hard when it is said in such offensive or judgmental tones – again, not my problem. I do not usually engage and I can continue choosing that or even removing such negativity from my life.

To start, I’m going to keep working on rising above and really moving my thinking away from those kinds of posts and people. I know it affects me and I don’t like that. Next step, is being able to calmly address those comments, especially in person. That step is a long ways off I think!

Do you ever struggle with that? Do people’s posts ever hit a nerve with you? What do you do to handle it?

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest,

BK

Day 8: Heading to the farm

Well friends, my blogging streak had to go on hold because I went to the farm.

It’s not really a farm… well, it is because there are crops growing, but there aren’t lots of animals which is what I imagine a farm to be because of Old McDonald. Ha!

The farm is where my grandma grew up. Her father lived there up until he died and he left it to her and her 3 brothers. About 20 years ago, she moved back to the farm. When she moved back she didn’t have plumbing or water for quite some time. She does now and I learned this weekend that she even has internet… MY, HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED.

The farm has always been this beautiful, safe, sacred place for me. I’ve been going since I was young, when her childhood home was still standing strong at the front of the property. I remember my great grandfather’s red tractor parked on the side. It hadn’t been moved in years and EVERY TIME I visited, I would climb up and sit on that tractor. The seat had that old, worn-out bounce to it which made it even more fun. The big tires were still tough and the steering wheel felt rough in my hands. I LOVED it!

My husband and I hadn’t been to the farm since 2012. That’s the longest time I’ve ever gone without visiting. When we were living in Texas, it was a long enough drive to come to Kansas, and then to have to drive a few more hours just seemed like a lot of work. Also, it’s the big weekends where you are burning (burning off the land) or the whole family is going down, that it’s really fun to visit. Those weekends never happened during a break where we could make an 11 hour drive. This is just another perk of us living in Kansas. The drive to the farm is just over 2 hours – the perfect time for taking a fussy baby on a car ride. (2-3 hours is his max!)

This weekend was perfect in a lot of ways. It was a birthday weekend celebration – my husband turned 38 (old is hot!) and my cousin’s fiance turned 27. It was also my mom’s birthday a month ago.

It was great to get down there and be in that stillness. The land was so green and full. The old cabin looked better than ever with the new cabinets. Even the outhouse was updated and new. (There is plumbing now, but the farm wouldn’t be the farm without the outhouse next to the cabin. When you have to go in the middle of the night and you’re staying in the cabin, you don’t want to have to walk all the way up to the main house.)

The best part though, was getting to take my son there. He’s part of the 5th generation. That’s so crazy! Even though he’s only 10.5 months old, it was still special for me to watch him enjoy this special, family home. His face just lit up while he felt the wind through the trees behind the house. He would make what we call his dumb baby face: mouth open, eyes big, almost muppetish. He absolutely LOVED it! He also got to swing by the campfire and swing off the old tree in the front yard. He loves swinging! It felt right to be around family and have my own son there to share in it.

My husband cooked a delicious brisket that our whole family enjoyed. We took a four wheeler ride around the property and it’s funny how some things just don’t change. I know that land so well. Years and years of walks, hikes, 4-wheel rides through the Easter pasture, by the two ponds, over the small creek and through the lane have left an imprint on my heart and mind. So many memories to recall and new ones to make with my family – it’s a vital feeling.

That, my friends, is worth interrupting my daily blogging. It was important to let that experience and trip have my full attention. HOWEVER, I did make notes of topics and ideas to blog about. So now I’m on a writing spree – get down all the ideas before they’re gone! Get ready to read friends!

BK

Day 7: Settling in

About a month ago, my family and I moved back to Kansas where I grew up. We are living with my mom and her husband… in their basement and this is what we want to be doing, as funny as this all sounds. Here’s the story…

When we had our son in September last year our life was turned upside down. My mom came to Texas for the birth and stayed for a week afterwards. It was awesome to have her there and devastating to watch her leave. I had just become a mom and I watched her become a grandma to our sweet boy. She loved him so much right from the start. About an hour before she left, I found her in the baby room rocking with Lochlan and crying. She didn’t want to leave him and it broke my heart. It was so sad to watch her go. I remember Lochlan was sleeping and I just cried while my husband held me. She continued to visit as much as she could and when Lochlan got older we began daily video chatting so he would know grandma.

In Texas, my husband and I settled into as much of a routine as we could with a new baby. My maternity leave was blissful. Our sweet boy was growing, happy and healthy. I healed really quickly and while life was a huge learning curve, it was a beautiful time. As my leave was ending, I was partly excited about the return to work and partly dreading it. My son was going to be at daycare within walking distance and I was going to be able to breastfeed him throughout the day which was so wonderful and definitely helped the transition. However, it was still tough. I wanted to make sure he was held enough and talked to. The first week of daycare was miserable. He was so overstimulated, he wouldn’t nap during the day and then would sleep all night when we picked him up. That made it even harder.

Then our son continued to get sick and we hated leaving him at daycare, so our family made the decision for me to leave work. We also began discussing the lack of help in Texas. We had great friends, but we didn’t want to go out as much and we began to see them less and less. We also didn’t always feel like we had people we could ask for help. I know friends probably would have helped, had we asked, but there were so many times that it was 11 pm and we were exhausted and Lochlan was fussy and we thought, who is really going to be OK with coming over at this time of night to watch our crying kid for us for an hour or so? Maybe a billion hands would go up, we just felt like we shouldn’t ask that.

To be frank, we had an incredibly tough winter. He was sick a lot and teething and we got sick a few times too. It was a difficult season of life for us and it hit us hard. We began to think more and more about moving closer to family. We also started to crunch the numbers financially and it seemed like we could make some smart financial moves as well.

We weren’t really ready to go all in yet, but it was an idea…

Eventually that idea grew and grew, until we felt like it was absolutely the best thing for our son and we thought why not give it a shot.

Eric applied for teaching jobs, we prepped our house for sale and we waited. Eric had 3 interviews and ended up getting offered a job at my high school (which I think is so cool) and our house sold very quickly. Everything just kind of fell into place for us. We were able to pay off some student loans, move our family to Kansas and begin taking in life with family around.

It hasn’t been an easy road. Leaving Texas was heartbreaking. We left the home our son was born in and the first home we’d bought together. We painted all of the walls and hung up so many pictures and pieces of art. We created lifelong memories there. As we drove away, we cried for our home.

When we first arrived in Kansas, I began to wonder if we’d made the right decision. I missed our friends, our home and the life we had built. Now we were sharing our space, unpacking parts of our things and starting over. I was returning home after 11 years… it’s been weird.

It’s going to take time to truly settle in and we were both prepared for that. We are giving it that time and reminding ourselves of the reasons we made this choice. Seeing my mom with our son every day is the best way to remind us of how positive this is. She is so sweet with him and he just adores her. We’ve noticed Lochlan is more vocal and he’s really doing amazing with the transition. We are also exploring our new town… checking out restaurants, breweries and other attractions. It’s fun trying to figure out where our new spots and go-to hangouts will be. It’s all different and similar for me.

When we began telling our friends and other people about our move, we would tell them we were moving in with my mom at first. They would always ask, “Well are you looking for a place?” Sometimes we would say “No, we are going to live there for awhile and save money.” Other times, we would say, “Yeah, we will start looking once we get there…” The truth is we like being around family and having that support. It’s great for our son and it gives us a chance to get settled and save money. It’s going really well and it may end up being a year or two before we make a new move. Only time and opportunity will tell….

For now, we are soaking it up, adjusting and staying open-minded about all the possibilities. The biggest thing we are looking forward to is creating a community: making new friends, getting closer with family and continuing to write our story together.

I guess there really is no place like home…

BK

Day 6: Giving grace

Hello again! I am really enjoying taking this time to write every day and I’m starting to be able to write earlier and earlier which is very good for my sleep!

The other day on Facebook, I came across a blog post titled Giving My Husband More Grace. I follow several mom blogs/city blogs because I find a lot of the content both interesting and super relevant to my life as a new parent. In general, I find parenting topics, relationships and people’s viewpoints very engaging.

This post was basically talking about how this mom is patient with her children, but not as patient with her husband. I can TOTALLY relate to this… I would say most parents or caregivers can relate. Children are so innocent and they are still learning so it makes sense to give grace. However, we expect adults to be on their game all the time. It’s unfair and the more I think about it: limiting and hard.

Reading that post made me think more about life and why I’m not as good at being patient with my husband and really with other people in my life. I decided to tell my husband about it and he agreed that he also isn’t as patient with me as he wants to be. He thinks of it like a credit card – our kid is just racking up that bill and it leaves us shortchanged. We simply don’t have more patience to give.

I think this is a great analogy, but I don’t want to use that excuse. I don’t want to live in a state of patiencelessness (yep, new word) while raising my babies. I don’t want to have constant spats or feel so bent out of shape. The more I thought about this idea, the more I realized that most of my impatience stems from minor things that just happen to hit nerve buttons for me.

Here’s some examples of times where I had little patience and looking back, I think, really?:

  • Coffee grinds left on the counter
  • Clothes not put away out of the dryer
  • Not reading my mind and knowing exactly what I wanted him to do… (HAHA! I wish this wasn’t true, but it is)

I mean, this list could go on and on because I’m a bit of a control freak about the things I care about and it’s so easy to catch someone not doing something. I know for a fact, my husband could make a list of all the dumb stuff I don’t always do… like rinse off my breakfast plate in the mornings right away. (I usually have scrambled eggs with cheese and that cheese is tough to get off!)

That’s the thing about life though – there’s always a ton of stuff to do and it takes practice and routines to keep a household running. When you add in an unpredictable baby, time with friends or family, working out, doing something for yourself and other random clerical tasks, it can be a lot to juggle and to remember to do everything. My husband and I both thrive on routines and when one small part is different, it can really throw us for a loop. It’s in those moments that we lose patience and we feel frustration. We are desperately in need of consistency and a slower pace sometimes.

It makes me realize that I have to give grace because I want that too AND some of the things we want to get done or have ready aren’t really all that important. Maybe our home won’t be show ready everyday and maybe dishes will get left in the sink sometimes. We may forget the laundry or forget an insurance card on the way to the doctor. These things are small and simply not worth the pressure and stress they sometimes impose. I know that I don’t want my children growing up in a home feeling that lack of patience and stress. I want my kids to remember a loving home where everyone enjoys life, helps out and creates beautiful memories together. The routines will get better and I fully believe in striving to be as efficient as possible, BUT I refuse to live a life that is made up of only routines and getting tasks done. I want a life that is peaceful, joyous and full of gratitude.

A few months ago, I bought and read a book called, How not to hate your husband after kids. It was recommended in a parenting magazine and I thought, I need to read this. I didn’t buy it because I hated my husband. I bought it because it sounded interesting and because I was curious what the book would say. The transition to becoming parents was hard on our marriage and I wanted to see what this book could offer.

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It was such a great read! It was funny and insightful. This woman really goes on a hunt for answers to her questions and her frustrations. She talks to anthropologists, psychologists, and even spends a ton of money for an intensive 8 hour therapy session with one of the top marriage counselors in the country. I don’t want to give away the whole book, so I won’t say too much more. I learned a lot from that book and I feel like it helped put me on a path to being more understanding of my husband and starting to talk more about my feelings, my needs and my wants. I also learned that I needed to lower some of my expectations initially and show appreciation when my husband helped.

After reading this book, I learned that I’m one of those women who wants to have control over certain things and the way they are done. Instead of sharing that with my husband and showing him my preference, I just take over and then become resentful. That’s not my husband’s fault – it’s all mine! This book has really helped me let go of some unhelpful feelings and move forward in healthier ways. It was also fascinating to read about some of the studies she shared from top researchers and experts, as well as get their advice all in one place. If any of this sounds even remotely interesting, I think you should check it out. You will laugh and think about relationships in a whole new way.

Navigating life after a baby is different, hard and also the BEST THING EVER. We love our little man so much that it makes getting through the hard stuff a little bit easier. I am so glad I read this book a few months ago and it was refreshing to read that woman’s post the other day; a little reminder to keep giving that grace and to remember what I want my life to be. Sometimes life is chaotic and stressful, but if I don’t make a point of calming the seas and really appreciating life as much as I can, then I will be in a constant of state of tension.

As a final note, my husband actually let me know a few days ago that he had noticed me being more patient and doing less nagging. He said it was really helping him to feel better as well. That felt really good because I had been working on it and it wasn’t always easy in some moments to make the choice to change that habit.

Thanks again for reading!

BK

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