Practice

I just finished a home yoga practice on the sun porch (that was closed up all day and consequently SUPERBLY hot) and it felt so good. Shocking, right? That my body (and brain and heart) thought some yoga felt good?

I know. You all know already how much I love the practice.

But do you know how often I don’t practice?

Like all facets in life, my yoga ebbs and flows. Sometimes I knock it out of the park and other times my therapist flat out delivers a three week challenge in which she wants me to do 30 minutes a day (yoga or some bilateral activity like walking) to insure that I get some actual real FOR ME self care. Not bubble bath self care (not really my thing anyway, but I do love a good epsom soak), but legit movement FOR ME.

Challenge Accepted.

Actually, it was accepted six days ago and I’ve held strong to it.

Until today I’ve done videos after the kids went down for the night (I love when people message me and ask where they can start an at home practice. I hands down always say Yoga with Adriene; she’s served me well for over 4 years and counting). But tonight I had the time and space to roll out on the sun porch to get my asana and sweat on in a total go-with-the-flow practice.

It. Felt. GREAT. There may have even been a spontaneous dance party in the middle of that which you will not find in your regular flow class but which I highly recommend for home practice. ūüėČ

And there was also this: a constant running voice in my head about how my body feels. How it feels to move (good). How it feels to challenge myself (awesome). How it feels when I twist and turn and fold and squeeze (hmmmmmm).

So I grabbed my phone (I know – not very yogic of me, but it’s the chronicler in me) and snapped some pics. And between two different poses, I got two pretty striking perspectives, which are fairly accurate in how I see/feel about myself.

One is what I would call pretty awesome. The other is what I would call pretty real. While it’s not easy to share that second one, it’s like the swim suit in that it just is what it is (and it being Navasana or Boat Pose, a.k.a my nemesis and not just because of the belly squish).

Now, let me back it up a bit. My therapist did not put me up to the 30 mins a day because either one of us thinks I need to do it for weight loss or because there is something wrong with my physical body. I’m doing it at her request because the more time I take for myself to move, the better I am able to see myself in a loving way, and that means loving whatever there is to see. Does it mean I can’t want to make changes? No, not all. But I want that desire for change to come from a healthy place, not a berating one, so I’m doing the work and I’m doing my 30 mins a day, and I’m sharing pictures of different perspectives because, Truth. Life. Love. Care. Acceptance. Practice.

May we all find just a little bit more of each, every day. Even in Navasana.

 

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Road Weary

Yesterday we did a first ever (and let’s be real, unlikely to be repeated for many, many years) 9+ hour drive with the children in one go. Also a first ever? A six day trip with the children, and as any of you currently living with the 10&U crowd may know, a TRIP is very, very different from a VACATION.

Yes, we did touristy things, but no, I would not call our Black Hills Extravaganza a vacation because we had to do all the normal parenting things but with a bunch of extra hours in the car, sugar, loosey-goosey bedtimes, and not in our own house. While I know what I signed up for when having (this many) children, I also know that I look forward to the day when B and I can once again travel in such a way that does not involve working harder than we do when we’re at home.

Of course, the trip itself had a slightly heavy undercurrent as our real reason for venturing so far from home with so many young children (maybe by the end of this post, I’ll get mentioning that so much out of my system) was to pay final respects to my grandpa, Cliff, and attend his internment ceremony at Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, SD. So yes, tourists over the weekend and once again mourning on Monday. But it was good that we could be there because I slipped up big time when we attended his funeral in March by not taking a moment to say my actual goodbyes to him, and on this trip I made darn sure to get the closure that I needed.

After tears and hugs and goodbyes post-ceremony, it was time to hit the road home because two kids had camp starting this (Tuesday) morning and we knew were looking at 7hrs, 45mins even without kid stops and a time zone change to boot, so on we rolled.

img_0819Truth be told, the kids did well. Ben did amazing (he drove the whole way). And I did my best to be a solid co-pilot, spotter, DJ, snack and water provider, fight-breaker-upper, and food source (breastfeeding while traveling post coming soon, friends). While I thought it would be the tireds that got the best of us, it was really the discomfort of being in the car that long that did us in.

We spent many, many hours driving last Wednesday and Thursday to get there, and many more each day of our trip to see the sights scattered around the Hills, but yesterday took the cake. Or rather, it ran over the cake and smashed it good and flat. I think Harrison and I felt it the most as he was the poor kid stuck in the middle of the back seat bench with no proper place to get comfy for sleep and my back was just PISSED by the time we were halfway home. And unfortunately it’s still not very happy with me, even though I can’t fault it one bit because of all the work it did all trip long of schlepping Wilson in the Ergo darn near everywhere (including 250 ft. below ground in Wonderland Cave).

The hope with the night-trip home was that the kids would sleep, we’d transfer them to their beds when we got home, and that would be “it.” The problem with a plan like that is that the children must actually sleep, which 3/5 of them barely did (and 1/5 of them I don’t think did AT ALL). And, again, I get it. Discomfort, lights (sun and then headlights), the sillies — all of these things make it hard to sleep. In the case of RL, the stars (which apparently she’s seen very little of in her life thanks to her sleep strict parents) were justimg_0823 too beautiful to watch to bother with sleep, and so. On we continued, through was sounded like all the bugs in Nebraska until just after midnight when we got back to Hastings where we promptly got all the kids in their own beds and then collapsed in ours until the whopping time of 7:13 when the first kid got up for the day. Keep ’em up so they sleep longer in the morning? No such luck.

So, in case you see us stumbling (no, really – Trumy fell at least three times more today than an average toddler clumsy allows) or gimping around in the days to come, just know that we are in post-travel fallout, doing our best to realign bodies and sleep patterns while also being very grateful to have been there and back on our trip.

On This Day

I’m not sure what possessed me to make my first new swimsuit since RL was the baby girl in our house be a bikini (except that one pieces are a pain in the ***) but sure enough, that’s what I did. Ordering any clothing item online is a crap shoot, but the introvert in me + lack of stores in my town made a guessed-at size and purchase seem like the path of least resistance. Because, as you may have noticed, it is summer and it is hot and I have small children, and all of those things mean being outside and near water this time of year.

Full disclosure, I am a big proponent of the Wear the Swimsuit camp. Just fly your freak flag and Wear. The. Suit. Lumps and bumps be damned. Pastiness, too.

Also full disclosure? I find it incredibly hard to actually put that mantra into real life action because swim suits are HARD. Hard to find. Hard to wear. Hard to like. At least, that’s the case in my world.

But true to my other forward/backward motion with body dysmorphia, I’m pushing against the hard and doing it anyway. And I’m forcing it to be documented because this is part of the process, too. Essentially, I’m in full-on fake-it-til-you-make-it + be-in-the-pictures-anyway modes here because I can’t hide from summer and I can’t hide from life.

It would be easy to look at this and call it a Before Picture. Before I lose the baby weight. Before I revamp my diet and exercise. But really, it’s already an After Picture. After having five kids in under nine years. After going from 26 (age when I got pregnant with HD) to 36 (current). After getting straight with the notion that I’ve got some warped perceptions of self and body image. After learning that the way I talk about my body matters and recognizing that even when I know better, my self-talk can still spiral out of control for the negative.

Because, ultimately, I know this is neither a before nor is it really an after, either. It’s just what was on this particular day. And on this day (damn it), I wore the suit and I took the picture.¬†¬†36249474_10160766912935651_5116656649246867456_n

Family Rules

For some time, I have wanted to add to our walls, and no, that doesn’t refer to the (failed/tabled) house hunt from earlier this year. I mean artwork, but artwork (not surprisingly) based on words more so than images.

Basically, I have been itching to create a Family Rules piece to display on our walls where each member of our not-so-little crew could see it as a daily reminder.

We already have the Be the Good sign and this little piece (no really; it’s 5×7)¬†img_0394 I picked up at a friend’s home decor party that hangs in our bathroom, but the two messages I have been wanting to showcase come from Micah 6:8 and the lyrics to the chorus of a song by Nahko and Medicine for the People. Perhaps that seems like an odd pairing, but in my world and in my brain, the wishes I have for my family can’t be said any more beautifully or clearly.

This is not the first time I’ve written about Nahko, nor is it the first mention of Micah 6:8, either. Both have been featured in posts because both are, as best I can tell, TRUTH. And I finally got around to getting both up on the walls, but in slightly different ways.

img_0391The Micah 6:8 sign I found on Etsy after hearing another sermon preached on it at our church last weekend; it was a great reminder of how much I love the charge to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly” so I set out that same afternoon to find a sign. And because the Internet is awesome in that just about anything you can imagine exists, my beautifully lettered sign arrived five sleeps later.

However, when your favorite musician is a little obscure, not even the Internet can always provide the product you seek, so I had to get far more creative with my “Manifesto” piece (warning: the song has an unfortunate, albeit true, f-bomb in it, so be careful playing that around sensitive ears). It helps to have very talented friends, though, and instead of just a plain canvas, I was able to get a piece of art from my dear friend Chelsie Wilson, and because she’s not only dear but also awesome, she didn’t mind the fact that I wanted to write all over it in paint.

Originally I thought I’d have someone else do the lettering because my penmanship isimg_0393 nothing special, but I quickly tossed that plan because eff it. What’s so bad about putting my family’s rules in my own writing? If I can write in my own hand with a Sharpie on my walls, I can do so on a canvas. So I got a paint pen, spaced out the piece to at least make the lines even-ish, and got after it. Minus the fact that Chels hasn’t signed it yet, it is perfect.

So now these two signs are ready to display and ready to be imprinted on the eyes, hearts, and minds of my Littles, and any Bigs who happen to wander through my home. I can’t think of any better words to live by, at any age.

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Goodbye, Gertie

Gosh darn it. I’m sitting here¬†feeling a little un-tethered right now. In less than three month’s time, I’ve had to say goodbye to my last two grandparents.

The last blow came, initially, after my first week of teaching summer class (and the night before we took family pictures). My parents called to tell me that my grandma Gert’s nursing home had called them about wanting to have a meeting to put her on hospice care. They told me she’d been pretty out of it when other family members had been there the previous weekend, but Ben and I decided last minute Friday night to pack up the kids and hit the road Saturday morning post-pictures, so we could go see Gertie one more time.

Y’all, it’s a miracle those pictures are as good as they are because I cried a lot that night. This is all just so heavy heart making and also hit so soon after the loss of my Grandpa Cliff (just for clarity’s sake: Cliff was my maternal grandfather and Gert my paternal grandmother). And we knew it was a long shot that she’d be coherent enough to visit with us, but we wanted to try.

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The stop at the nursing home was tough. She had declined drastically from the time my¬†dad had last seen her and we had allll the kids with us, so I was trying to keep my brave, light pants on even though I was shocked by her appearance. She was not awake but also not asleep, if that makes any sense, so we tried talking to her a bit with the kids, but then Ben and my dad took them on a walk through the facility halls so I could just sit with her for a bit. I put my hand on top of hers, talked to her a little bit, and cried. That’s really about all one can do in a moment like that. And I said my goodbye because I knew that if they were talking hospice, that meant the end was near.

Getting to do that was a gift, really, and it’s one I’ve never had before with any of my other grandparents prior to them passing. It doesn’t make the loss any easier but I am grateful that she got to hear from me my thanks and gratitude for all that she did for me over the years. I thanked her for loving me. I thanked her for giving me my dad. I thanked her for being my grandma.

I spent a lot of time with my grandma when I was younger. Their farm was always less than 10 minutes away from us (even when they moved to a different farm place) and I spent countless hours roaming around her house and yard (and outbuildings, which apparently my parents did not know about until a week ago) where she would let me pull all of the cans out of her cupboard and rearrange them (yes, I sometimes did extremely strange things for fun as a child) and was always sure to hide the Twix bars in the same spot so I always knew where to go to sneak one. She made me hamburgers and mashed potatoes for lunches (because, again, weird kid), and taught me the beauty of games like Solitaire and King’s Corner.

After I left for college, my grandparents moved to town, and on almost every trip home, I’d pop in to see them. When I learned, my sophomore year, to quilt, my grandma recruited me to helping her with various quilting projects when I was home for breaks and holidays. She was also forever trying to give us stuff from her house (I use that vague word because seriously, there’s no way to categorize the randomness of what she might try to get you to walk away with after a visit), and I’m convinced she continued to work night shifts as a nurse for years and years and years just so she could slip us some mad money whenever my grandpa wasn’t looking.

Grandma Gert was fiesty. I heard stories about her card games (oh my gosh. so many card games!) and her quick mouth from people decades younger than her who worked with her at the State Hospital and got such a kick out of her. I heard that quickness myself over the years, and I have to think that I learned something about raising a big crazy crew from her, the mother of five boys and one girl. If my kids get together and laugh some day as they tell stories like hers tend to do, my heart will in fact burst wide open.

Right now my heart feels cracked for a different reason. We know what comes next because we’ve been here before and really, not that long ago. We’ll gather our gear and load up the babies to make the trip to be with family and friends to remember and honor another life that was thankfully long but of course never long enough.

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Our last photo all together, from our SD travels last July. 

One out of Five

And just like that, we’ve passed another milestone and are one step closer to being out of the Tunnel of Parenthood (I sometimes imagine an ominous three-note dity in my brain when I use that phrase. You?) However, seeing as the milestone in question is that of The Nap, I don’t know whether to celebrate or lament in this post. And also the Tunnel is time dependent, not milestones, but whatever. My brain is tired, so I’ll take the weak comparison and run with it.

Over the weekend we made a last minute decision to travel to SoDak for an overnight trip so we could see my grandma Gert and our travel + visit times both Saturday and Sunday meant that we weren’t in a house during nap time either day. And apparently the vehicle is no longer a sure bet for napping where Truman is concerned, so….there. His nap gone without intention, our toddler is now free to reign alllll the live-long daylight hours.

Actually, he’s handling it pretty well. The first day, Saturday, was at my parents’ house, so Truman had lots of fun distractions around him (mainly their puppy who is as much a toddler as TJ is) and was so worn out after supper that he agreed to going to bed before any of his siblings without any fuss. All told, he had a few Moments, but nothing too horrendous.

Day Two, Sunday, saw us traveling during the mid-to-late afternoon hours which for a suddenly non-napper translates to Witching Hours pretty quickly. The last 45 minutes were horrendous. But eventually we got home and we’ve now gone through two more nap times without naps and I guess we are surviving?

img_0313I mean, the volume level is intense and the end-of-day emotions are intense, but this is not the first toddler to drop a nap in the Twos (actually, he might be one of our longer nappers, if memory seves me right), so we kind of know what we are doing. Or at the very least, we know that bedtime will be easier and earlier and that alone will see us through one more step through that Tunnel. Right?!

If nothing else, those blonde curls and blue eyes continue to be the perfect salve for any and all chaos he creates.

 

 

With Your Love on Your Arm

I have been trying, for almost nine years, to think of my “mother’s” tattoo. Now, I understand that not every mother requires one of those, but I’ve always wanted one, and as I’ve added baby after baby (after baby after baby after baby) to our crew, I’ve been at a complete loss for how to represent them in permanent ink.

For the longest time I assumed I’d do something with their given animals. But it’s pretty hard to think of something where a monkey, owl, frog, bear, and elephant all go together that isn’t a zoo (although, let’s be real – that might be pretty appropriate and funny) and something that isn’t culturally appropriating, so that never seemed quite right even though I searched and searched on Pinterest for ideas.

Then, in April, Pinterest did show me the way when I saw the prettiest lower arm flower tattoo and a dang light went off in my brain.

Flowers.

Five different flowers.

All familiar to me and with significance, too.

I picked the following:

Sunflower – because, how could the 90s girl in me not include one, and my kids have always planted those in our garden, so, perfect.

Lilac – because they grow on my family’s farm in SoDak and are one of my favorite smells ever in this world.

Peony – because they are big and beautiful and their blooming process fascinates me.

Ranunculus – because from the first time I saw them, I was crazy in love with their shape and their colors.

Rose – because, love. Wild, free, sometimes thorny. Love.

Now, I don’t have a flower associated with each kid yet and maybe I never will. Maybe each kid will embody a component of each flower at different time in their lives, or maybe not. That part doesn’t matter so much as the bouquet, because without all five of them, I wouldn’t be the mother that I am.

The other factor that sealed this deal for me was the song “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty – my favorite of his ever since I came across it two decades ago in the yearbook editing room of my high school in a sleeve of CDs left behind by some other random student. If you’re not familiar, here are the lyrics (and my wish for my own five wildflowers):

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free
Run away, find you a lover
Go away somewhere all bright and new
I have seen no other
Who compares with you
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free
Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worries
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free

 

And, so. Here I am now with my love on my arm, for all of time. We weren’t able to get it all done today (gray tone fill will come in two weeks) but it is an amazing start (except wow, I hate how much line work hurts), and I can’t wait to see the final product.

Shout out to the always awesome Joel Anderson for another great piece!