What’s on your plate?

What’s on your plate? No, I do not mean your literal plate, this is not a diet article. Maybe one day, I’ll write down my thoughts on dieting, whether it be fad or lifestyle. Today, I want to ask you about what you spend your time on?

I haven’t written for a while (Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, no matter). The reason being I ladled a huge helping of something onto my plate and it literally pushed things like blogs, hobbies, exercising, and free time off the edge.

In May of this year (2019) my husband and I decided to buy a local business. Technically, we decided to start looking into it and researching around February 2018, but the final papers were signed and the decision final on May 6th, 2019. I knew our lives were going to change, and I braced for it. I figured money would be tight and Reed would be more stressed when not at work, but nothing could have prepared me for the craziness that was about to ensue.

To be fair, there were other complications around the same time that led to us losing our church family, so the earth shattering stress and anxiety that hit about a month in was not all due to owning a new business. We found out that a lot of problems were lying under the surface, and it would have been much simpler to do a startup, then to take over a full grown business with a very poor reputation and crazy amounts of drama.

The beginning of July was the low point (which was obviously the turning point as well, if you’ve ever had experience with low points). We had a very full schedule and no employees. So me being the supportive partner I am, I offered to haul the kids to the shop and help run things. I figured it would be a couple of weeks of crazy stress, he would hire a couple of guys, then the kids and I would come back home and pick up normal life again. Boy, was I wrong!!

Months passed. We worked our way through three babysitters. (Because, surprise, trying to run a business with four kids under foot is not possible. For me anyhow.) My perspective on “normal” forever shifted.

I have always admired working moms. Marveled at their passion, tenacity, and what I assumed was copious amounts of energy. It was absolutely the hardest few months of my life! I was working 40+ hours starting a business beside my husband and coming home to clean and cook and homeschool and strive to make the kids feel as if nothing had changed. That plate I mentioned?? Was more like a waiter’s tray full of plates with me struggling to balance it and also make sure all the loaded plates didn’t bump each other.

Friends were worried and wondered when the madness would end. In the midst of it though, I struggled with what I truly wanted. I knew I didn’t want things to stay the same, but I also did not want to go back to the way things were. I loved being a huge part of the business! I got a thrill every time someone asked, “Oh are you the owner?” and I could legitimately say, “Yes.”

I understood the drive and the passion of a working mom, and didn’t know if I could go back to not being involved in the day to day of this baby business I had now poured sweat into.

So what’s happening now? Now, I work mostly from home, keeping books, billing and invoicing and paying taxes. Tracking the expenses and income and running the social media platforms. Have I found a way to balance that waiter’s tray of a plate? Not 100%. But most days I get to have the best of both the business world and the mom world! Also, I’m starting to work my hobbies back into a normal routine, though it’s a slow process.

The “Mom Ringer”

This last 36 hours I have been through the “mom ringer.” No, I don’t mean on the phone, Santa Baby. A ringer is something used in hand washing clothes. Instead of a spin cycle on your machine, it would squeeze (or ring) the item of clothing so tightly as it rolled through that any excess water would be rung out. Therefore, making the clothing easier to hang dry.

My 2 year old caught a bad case of croup. She started with just a sore throat, and I live in a high, dry elevation, so I simply sloughed it off and put a humidifier in her room that night. She woke up at 1 am with what they term “stridor.” Which is the most raspy, raggedy breathing I’ve ever heard. I spent the rest of the night on the floor beside her bed, to comfort her when it became to hard to breathe. I described it as “horrific” to a friend of mine as I cancelled plans the next morning. Little did I know that horrific hadn’t even begun. The day was tough, I tried all the home remedies I could find on the internet and through friends. Moist air, hot showers, Colloidal silver, Lavender essential oil, Elderberry syrup, Honey, cough drops, and even Vicks Vaporub. All these things would give a few moments of easier breathing, but nothing seemed to make it get better. I did not look forward to another night on her floor, so I brought her in bed with me that night. My husband and I have a king-sized bed, but she was so restless she literally flipped and flopped all over it. By 11 pm she had only sat still for maybe 20 minutes, and most of that was only to watch an episode of “The Octonauts” on my IPad.

As I held my baby struggling to breath, I kept searching on my phone for more details to let me know what I should be doing. Everything I had read said that croup is common and easily taken care of at home and only in extreme cases does the child need to go into the hospital, but I couldn’t find anything on what “extreme cases” would look like. I prayed and begged God to please help her get better so we could just both sleep. Finally, I couldn’t watch her suffer any more. Around 12:30 am I called the emergency hotline and explained what was happening. The nurse on the other end told me croup was going around and if she was having such a hard time breathing I should bring her in. So I called my husband home from work and packed up for the emergency room.

When we got there, Praise the Lord, we were taken back right away. They went to work on her so quickly I think she was almost in shock. She sat so still, so stoic, and wide-eyed as they strapped blood pressure cuffs and heart monitors and oxygen lines on her. She opened her mouth obediently when the shoved a nebulizer in her face. Finally her breathing turn from the “see-saw” to just a ragged shudder again. Then they put an IV in. Since her tiny arm and blood vessels are no match for large needles, it took them a couple of tries and I held her as she screamed out in fear and pain. I held her pink stuffed bunny as they took X-rays of her chest. I nodded and tried to wrap my head around all the medical jargon as they explained to me each step and each medicine and asked questions about her symptoms and when they started.

Finally things slowed down enough that I was able to call my husband and update him on the details of what was happening. We decided that he would come and switch out with me so he could deal with the doctors and decision making.

It was painful leaving my tiny baby lying there in that big hospital bed. I knew she was in good hands and that I was too drained to be of any use to her anymore. When I got home I needed to go feel all my other children’s chests. I needed to know they were breathing okay. I needed to know those ragged gasps I was hearing was only in my head. I stood and stared at the large bed with the heap of covers and pillows where my poor daughter was just thrashing around struggling for a basic necessity.

My story has a happy ending. My daughter recovered and came home from the hospital. My older daughter, Capri, has even been jealous of her new stuffed animals and stickers and the fire truck nebulizer Ella gets to use. She has whined several times saying she wishes she was sick, too. My oldest son, Colton, and I have a different opinion. When I asked him what he was going to write about in his school journal, he said something along the lines of, “Not everything that happened with Ella. I don’t want to remember all of this.” “You and me both, Bug,” I replied squeezing his shoulder.

Yet, here I am writing about it. Why? To share the moral of my story. The ringer is used to get rid of the excess. I had a lot of excess I had been worried about in my day to day. “When will Ella finally get the hang of potty training?” “When will we get the driveway heated?” “What will it be like when Reed changes jobs?” “When will I reach my ideal weight?” “When will we finally have our house remodel finished?” On and on and on.

Last Sunday a fellow pastor preached about living 24 hours at a time. Christ told us to let the things of tomorrow take care of themselves. I thought, “Huh, I pretty much do that already.” Nope! I do not!

When your busy routine comes to a screeching halt because you’re sitting on the floor holding a sick baby, you realize that you haven’t thanked God for your child’s good health. That you’ve been taking all the daily provisions for granted.

I can’t say that I’ll remember this lesson every day, but I can tell you when I do think about “that time when Ella had the croup” I will remember to thank God for all the little daily things He does for me.

The Secret to Friendship???

This thought has been bouncing around in my frazzled brain for a while. And it’s something that I have always wondered. Maybe, I’ve actually expressed it to a few people, but I doubt I really got across how often it bothers me. Maybe you’ve had it, too.

Remember a time that you are sitting across from a friend, or maybe you’re getting back in your car after hanging out with them for a few hours, and this thought crosses your mind, “Why are they friends with me?”

I’m one of those people that pursue and chase down friendships. It comes from years of moving constantly in a military family. It boggles my mind when I hear people complain that they haven’t made any friends after living somewhere for any amount of time. Yes, I’m one of those people.

Now knowing this about myself, I do often wonder if my friends are simply friends because I gave them no other choice. I know this isn’t 100% true, and I’m not writing this so all of my close friends who actually read my blog will come and assure me of their affection.

I’m writing this for those others out there like me, who wonder constantly if people really do like them, or if they simply put up with them. I know there are so many times I annoy myself, so why wouldn’t I be annoying to people around me? I’m forgetful and spacey, I often forget to think through what I’m about to say. I know I come across as ignorant and (forgive the stereotype) blonde, on a semi-regular basis.

My only redeeming trait, is love. If you are my friend or close acquaintance even, I will love the heck out of you. I might not hit your love language. But I will do my dead level best to remember what you like and don’t like. Know when your birthday is (though I may not send a card, because I despise them). I’ll know your children’s birthdays, your anniversary. Have on hand a couple fun memories we’ve shared, and a mental slideshow of my favorite moments with you and times you’ve made me literally Laugh Out Loud.

Are people willing to put up with annoying personality quirks and weirdness, just to be loved?

In my experience? YES!

To put in my own words a famous quote from the wisest man who ever lived: If you want friends, first you have to BE a friend. Love them!

Be Brave

Today my youngest baby is officially one month old! The last month has felt so long and gone by so fast all at the same time, in the way that parenting usually does. I cannot count how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

In the past couple of weeks I’ve pushed myself, and I know there is more to come in the next few months and years. I changed a tire instead of calling my husband to come change it for me. I’ve taken huge strides in not being terrified of my driveway covered in ice and snow. I’ve even backed down the whole thing in 2 wheel drive instead of 4 wheel drive Low. I sang a solo for my church family. I started school back up with my oldest two. That one has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve done, since I homeschool. I started potty training my 2 year old. Which has been stressful, but I’m very proud of how chill I am being this time around.

In all of this craziness, my mantra has been “Be Brave.” I’m not usually an anxious person, though I do tend to overthink, but I struggle with being truly brave in my day to day. I love playing it safe.

Maybe since I had major surgery, I shouldn’t change this tire. Not to mention its been over 7 years since I’ve changed a tire.

Maybe I could just have my husband back the car down the driveway for me, or maybe we should just stay home.

Maybe I shouldn’t try singing a solo. After all I’m not a soloist. I don’t have any plans of being a soloist, I simply love singing.

Maybe I should wait until baby Asher is sleeping through the night to start school back up. They’re ahead by a year anyway.

Maybe I should just wait until the summer to potty train Ella. I can deal with the diapers a little longer.

None of these thoughts are wrong. They’re all perfectly safe. Who wants to live a “safe” life? I want to live an adventurous life. One full of personal victories and times that I’ve pushed myself to see what I was made of. This attitude is hard for me to summon up most of the time. I’m more of a laid-back let’s-binge-watch-Netflix kind of a person. My husband is the passionate go-getter.

A lot of things in life scare me, but one that scares me the most is not being brave enough. All things take practice, so I practice being brave in my day to day things. Am I always successful? Not even close. The whole reason I had to deal with a flat tire is due to the fact I did not want to drive down the driveway. But every day I get a little closer to that life where I don’t let fears control me.

I’m going to keep practicing being brave, taking chances, how about you?


To be known

Growing up I always thought of myself as a pretty easy going low maintenance kind of person. I’m a people pleaser so nothing made me happier than to know those around me we’re happy.

By college I figured I’d be a pretty amazing girlfriend and future wife. After all it didn’t take much to please me, I wasn’t selfish or complicated. Or so I thought! I thought so much that it became part of my inner identity. I prided myself in knowing I wasn’t like all these other girls who were complaining about the man in their life not taking care of them. “I’m going to focus on taking care of him!” I vowed to myself. Nothing wrong with any of that, honestly, I’m still a big promoter of making sure to love on and take care of your husband. The downfall here that I was missing was I wasn’t making sure I was taken care of.

Now my boyfriend and now husband takes amazing care of me! But since I never took the time to figure out what I like and what makes me feel loved, it’s been a very frustrating confusing journey for him. All he wants is to be able to do things for me everyday that make me feel ten feet tall and just “high on believing.” The way I know how to make him feel (unfortunately, not every day though I do try.)

So I’ve been on a search. I analyze my interaction with everyone around me. What let’s me know they love me for real or what let’s me know I’m just a convenient friend is all? I’ve read all the love languages books and took the personality quizzes and I’ve shared all the results and thoughts with Reed, my husband, and, yes, I know I’m loved beyond all reasoning by him.

But you know what I found was the undercurrent of it all? What makes feeling loved so complicated? What makes me feel like I’m actually a pretty high maintenance person? When I feel the most loved is when someone knows my details.

I remember watching a hallmark movie or something and the main girl I clued in that the man guy loves her more than her current boyfriend because he knows how she likes her coffee. As a teen my sister and I read this Christian romance novel that had a man who couldn’t figure out which he loved of two girls and it turned out the one he loved he knew her eye color and the other he didn’t. These are terrible examples, but you get my point. I’m not the first to pick up on this. We all want to be known, and not only known but loved for what is known.

The best present I’ve ever gotten from my husband in the past couple years was an assortment of toe socks. Why? You ask. A few months (yes, months) before Christmas I was bemoaning the memory of toe socks and how much I loved them as a teen and how I didn’t even know if they made them anymore. Then silence! We never talked about it again. But Christmas Day I open a present and there they are… the most luxurious adorable assortment of the coolest toe socks!

My best friend keeps a mental folder (heck, probably a whole filing cabinet by now) of all the things I like and hate. In every category, clothing, people, food…you name it! Now I’m one of those people who is all over the place ( you know, who doesn’t like fruit pies unless it’s the apple streusel from city market). She works hard to keep up with all my little idiosyncrasies. And she’s a major reason I figured this whole thing out…every time she remembers some obscure fact about me, I get hit by that wave of love!

Everybody wants to just be known.

When God Says, NO

A few weeks back I confessed that I wanted to be pregnant. Well, answer to prayers, I am. New prayer: Morning Sickness!!!

My first pregnancy I lost 25 pounds in a matter of two or three months of morning sickness. I remember laying on the bathroom floor pleading for relief. I dont know if I would have called it “healing” back then. I thought this morning sickness was normal and I was just not as strong as other women. After all, morning sickness is always painted as terrible misery. After comparing notes with other pregnant women, I realized what I had experienced was not normal. I did some research before getting pregnant again and tried some natural processes to improve my gut health, hoping that the next pregnancy wouldn’t be as bad. Unfortunately, nothing changed. Once again I had lost 25 pounds by my 17th week of pregnancy before I started to slowly gain it back again. (The only difference was my second pregnancy I had the extra weight to lose anyway, what a blessing in disguise, right?)

When we started trying for our third child, I pleaded for healing. I had gotten in shape and was trying multiple nutritional things, basically doing my part to present a healthy body hoping that this time my body would be strong enough to handle pregnancy. But sure enough, as soon as that 6th week rolled around the sickness hit like a semi-truck. Once again, I was couch bound watching my husband carry the weight of my duties and his own to keep our household moving as smoothly as possible. My 4 year old learned how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and make his own cereal in the morning and my two year old learned how to get herself yogurt. I did as much as my body would let me. When my 14th week rolled around my friends at church decided to anoint me with healing oil and pray that the morning sickness would leave. God said, No, because it hung on with a vengeance for another month before it finally let up.

So, call me crazy, but, yes, in February it had already been a few months that my husband and I were hoping to be pregnant again, and I was frustrated that it wasn’t happening. So I prayed everyday that when the time was right, God would let it happen. I’ll be 10 weeks along tomorrow, and I’ve been dreadfully sick for 4 long weeks now. A month doesn’t seem very long when you think about it, but I have to struggle to remember what it feels like to not feel this way.

My fervent prayer every day for the past 28 days has been for healing. I know there are people suffering worse things in the world. I know being pregnant is what I asked for. I know what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. If it were just me suffering, maybe I could just bite down and deal with it. Wouldn’t any mom love an excuse to sit on the couch all day and binge-watch Downton Abbey?

I’m saddened watching my husband slave away doing both my job and his. I’m frustrated not having the energy to play with my kids or do school work with them. I’m angry that my 2 year old can’t snuggle as much as she likes because the pressure of her on my stomach and chest makes the sickness unbearable. I’m pushing through, one day at a time, but I’m still praying for healing! Maybe God is saying, “No.” Maybe He’s saying, “Pray more, lean on Me more.”

My favorite song through all of this has been “Even If” by Mercy Me.

“I know You’re able and I know you can

Save through the fire with Your Mighty Hand,

but Even if You don’t, My Hope is You alone.

I know the sorrow and I know the hurt

Would all go away if You just say the Word,

But Even if You don’t, My Hope is You alone.”