The Struggle Bus(t)

OK. If the title and the picture didn’t give it away, we’re getting all up in the boob talk with this one, so consider yourself warned….

After the last post about The Bleb (surely it should be a proper noun, no?), a friend who experienced one on her last baby told me to keep an eye out for repeat occurrences, as apparently once you get one, it is common for it to come back. At first I was dismayed/horrified/disbelieving, but it makes sense, especially in my case where I had to create an open wound ON my nipple. Trying to heal something like that can be tricky because breaking open can cause bleeding which can lead to scab/scar which could totally become blocked again, even with lanolin (which I have been applying after every feed on that side ever since).

So that’s part of this story: the paranoia. I am watching those pores like a hawk because I do NOT want another Bleb, but when your sweet, sweet, baby nurses like a, like a what? a Tasmanian Devil? good luck being gentle with a recovering boob.

All of my babies have been movers and shakers while nursing (I credited RL’s and LT’s pint-sized-ness to the fact that they never stopped moving, even to eat), but Wilson is a puller-back which sucks. Or rather, doesn’t suck as nicely as I would like her to (it’s funny how many puns there are around breastfeeding once you get going). Mainly she is forever pulling her head back away from me, with my nipple still in her mouth, so ouch, AND she comes off a ton of times, too, in any given feeding. Part of this is her age and distractability, but part of it is also just her. (Any suggestions for how to curb this and still get her fed would be great, thanks!)

Even though I sometimes think The Return of the Bleb might be upon me, that’s not actually the point here. The point, or rather the pain, is now in my other boob which apparently got left in one particular nursing tank for waaaay too long (confession: a solid 40 hours, tyvm) and is now incredibly, miserably, sore. So, note to self: even if not showering, CHANGE THE TANK/BRA/WHAT-HAVE-YOU every day/night! Duh. And OOF. (Again, any tips here would be great. Trying to massage the breast during feedings and considered using a warm compress on it. Can’t always start on that side, though, because I’m a one-side per feeding kind of girl.)

Once again, in the span of just a few weeks, I find myself doing everything I can think of to clear this what I assume is a clogged duct in hopes of avoiding mastitis. For the love of all things holy, please let me avoid mastitis!

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And really, all of this is to say that even though I take these #brelfies, it really isn’t to (just) show off. It’s motivation. It’s documentation. It’s mother-effing determination to keep going because breastfeeding is STILL the hardest thing even though it seems like it should be the most natural. I take these pictures and I write these posts because I want other mamas to know they are not the only ones struggling. I really want all this boob drama to just go away so I can snuggle up and enjoy nursing my last little one for as long as possible, but honestly, the last few weeks have been rough and have left me wondering just how we’re going to get as far in the months nursed as I did with all the others.

If you know a currently breastfeeding mama, give her some love, even if she’s not (over)sharing about her efforts and her struggles, because the struggle is indeed real and encouragement helps.

 

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Should We Stay or Should We Go (Now)?

I keep writing status updates and blog posts and song lyrics (just kidding) in my head, so after a month’s worth of not actually getting any of those words OUT of my head, it’s time to dive back in to the blog.

A month is the longest I’ve gone between posts possibly since I started doing this. Losing my Grandpa Cliff and then throwing myself into one of the biggest distractors ever – house hunting – the day after we got home from his funeral also hasn’t happened in my six and a half years of doing this, either, so you know – uncharted territory and whatnot.

And no, not looking at houses only because I haven’t found a better way to deal with grief (although I’d be fuzzing details if I said I had found a good and proper way to actually do that), but rather picking up a thought we started playing around with about this time last year, which would have been shortly after we found out Baby No.5 was on the way.

In case you don’t recall, we moved into this house when Baby No.2 was brand new. We had tried to sell our first house after I found out I was pregnant and it didn’t go well, so we took it off the market and decided to be patient. Then our realtor came to us about a month and half-ish (six-and-a-half-ish years ago is hard to remember such details, even when you do keep a blog to help with such remembering) after RL’s birth with a potential buyer for our home, so we went looking, and just like that we found our current house.

Make no mistake. We love our current house. It is a beautiful home with a ton of character and a surprising amount of space. But if you know us at all, you know we’ve done our darndest in our time here to FILL that space.

And so….the looking that started last year.

We visited a couple houses early last summer, got discouraged, and decided we’d just spend money in our house to make the space we do have work a little better for us. But then, as the year played out, those plans didn’t all come to fruition and so I still find myself checking Realtor.come on a fairly regular basis, which lead to the discovery of a house the day after we returned from SoDak that caught my interest. And then another. And another. However. The market here is tricky (not to mention expensive) and so the last three weeks have been a whirlwind of “What ifs” and “Maaaaaybe we should just stay puts” and “Do you like this ones” and all of those crazy making (for two Type A planners such as B and I) questions that go along with a search like this.

Also, did I mention that we even showed our house a couple times already? I spent my 36th birthday (and the whole day after it) cleaning my entire house (with family here to help, even!) so potential buyers could see it, which was so much work it left me sore the next day as if I’d gone on an 8 mile run. But its hard to strike a deal for your own house if you don’t actually know which one will be yours next.

Because here’s the deal: in order to get a house big enough to even hold our crew, that is also nicer than our current house, in the Hastings market of today, we’d have to go over $100k for what we paid for this one. When we upgraded to this house, we had to go about $30k up (however it was 2012, soooo). And the real kicker is that many of the homes in our price range actually still need updating, or will in the very, very near future, and that is daunting for a family with this many small children (and one income).

Which leads me to my second deal: if we move, I’m most definitely going back to work full-time sooner than later. I mean, not until all the kids were in school, but still – there’s no way to make this fly on B alone forever.

While I’m OK with that concept (mostly), I also wonder how OK we could be here if we just did the work we wanted to last year and stuck it out in our cute little one-and-a-half story house that would be paid OFF before HD goes to college (& that’s without me working any more than I already am).

Do I have house envy? Do I need to have my head examined? Do I need to just have a big cry about everything that has been topsy turvy in the last month, curl up with a good book, and let it go?

I have no idea.

But here I am, sorting it out in words once again, as I do.

And, y’all…truth moment…if we move, I am really going to miss the room in which I wrote this (which was admittedly a couple days ago before we got more snow and it was too cold to sit out here):

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A Sadappey Trip

In our house, we have a dinner time check-in ritual called Sadappeys (thank you, Toddlerisms, for blurring the line years ago from where it started as Sad/Happys). We don’t do it every night, but when we do, it gives us a chance to reflect on our day and share our ups and downs with each other. And right now, we are faced with a huge Sadappey.

You see, it hasn’t been since Harrison was the age Wilson is now (approx. 3.5 months) that we’ve had a direct loss in our family, but Monday morning, my grandpa Cliff passed away suddenly. Maybe 89.5 years doesn’t qualify to some as sudden, but his death was certainly not anticipated and has been, as a result, a bit of a shock for all of us. Plus, as noted, we have been tremendously lucky in this respect for many years, which also makes this feel like uncharted territory.

In some ways, it really is. We’ve never had kids old enough to remember losing a family member, so we’ve never had to deal with helping them understand/manage grief while also trying to understand/manage our own. So here is another parenting hurdle to face, and like all challenges, I find that I am very much in it with the extra phone calls and memories and tears and smiles, while at the same time, “normal” life very much continues with laundry and homework and so on; all of this leaves me feeling a bit dazed at trying to hold all this normal and very NOT normal together at once.

In other words, it’s a hard week. And that’s OK. This muddling is very much part of the process and it’s likely that this juxtaposition of handling life while celebrating and remembering a life will continue through the weekend and beyond as we travel to South Dakota for the funeral being held Monday. In true on-point kid style, Harrison nailed it on the head when his first response to the news was: “So we are going to take a sad trip to South Dakota, soon?” Yes, Buddy. Yes, we are.

And yet, when I think about my Grandpa, my namesake (Clifford Raymond for Jennifer Rae (hence Raegan’s name spelling)), there is so much joy in remembering our time with him. I was lucky to call him mine for almost 36 years, and as I’ve been sitting here the last couple days, thinking about him, I realize there are so many characteristic bits of awesomeness about him that I have stored in my head and heart. Essentially, I find myself in the height of Sadappy existence right now. So sad to know he is gone. And so happy to have had as much time with him as I did.

I’m sure the list will grow as the week continues and the Sadappy trip takes place, and so I hope to add to it as we go, but for now – a glimpse at Clifford Raymon Jansen through his oldest granddaughter’s eyes…

He was…

the one who turned a ski rope and a tree into a trapeze, and a boat cushion into a stair toboggan for all six cousins to ride together.

the master of horseshoes (he could spot us 20 points and still beat us as played on the beaches of the Missouri River near Pierre).

the fishing guide who always had a line or two out on the boat or the beach. Soooo many walleye caught over the years.

the one who gave me a greeting so big at my wedding that my veil came lose.img_9394

the lover of old school country music that we danced to together in their basement that was, I’m convinced, 70s-tastic enough to have shaggy carpet on some of its wall (that might have made the stair taboggan slightly more safe?).

the man who took over after my grandma’s death, almost 15 years ago, to be the sender of birthday cards (and he rarely missed a one, even for all of my kids) that always included a clever, handwritten note inside.

the bearer of blue eyes – the same bright blue eyes (that hold that seem devious-in-a-fun-loving-way spark) that I see in my Truman.

the one who called me Jennifer more often than not and loved loved getting to meet (and see almost annually) four of my five children. img_9395

the sayer of things like “Well, I’ll be darned” and “Is that right/is that so?” and another one I can’t remember right now, but each of them would usually be accompanied by an emphatic head nodding gesture that in recent years I have totally caught myself doing.

the wearer of a pack of smokes in his shirt pocket that I was sure were getting crushed when he’d hug people (the man was an enthusiastic greeter/parter) and a holder of, what I remember most, a can of Old Mud (Old Milwaukee) in his hand.

the maker of cookie salad (bless him) and provider/pusher of sour cream and onion Pringles when you visited him (Ben says we’ll have to have some in his honor while we are in Pierre).

the one who showed me the magic of a big family. One of 13 kids himself and the father of four, it is in part from watching him with his own siblings at reunions and with his kids and grandkids over the years that inspired my own desire to have a large family.

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2018 Books

Between two book clubs, I read 22ish “required” books a year, and I have quite the stack to work through and lots of recommendations coming in from my reader friends (yay! I love that!), so I’m making a little “required” list of my own to accompany the others, in hopes that I really will make it to these 12 books at some point this year. As always, the full list and a little blurb about each follows in the rest of the post. Happy Reading!

  1. The Power by Naomi Alderman (Thanks, Obama!)
  2. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine (#RWBookClub)
  3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (sooo many people recommending this one)
  4. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (DS)
  5. State of Wonder by Anne Patchett (been on my list for a couple years now)
  6. Unseen by Sara Hagerty (KG)
  7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (SB)
  8. The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (SO)
  9. A Thousand Hills to Heaven by Josh Ruxin (RG)
  10. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (Glennon rec)
  11. Rising Strong by Brene Brown (from my own list)
  12. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (started this behemoth in 2017; will finish in 2018!)Untitled design (1)

 

  1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (book club read) — so, so good. Can’t wait to talk about this at book club because the way it is written is beautiful and thought/question provoking. (finished 1.1.18!)
  2. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (my book club selection) — I have been wanting to read this since EG mentioned it in Big Magic and while it took a little to get into it (that may have just been a result of the audiobook format), I could not believe how it all unfolded, developed, or resolved. SO good. And really, I can’t wait to discuss with my book club when the time comes!
  3. Gift from the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindbergh — started and finished in one day, I plan to reread this one many, many times throughout the rest of my life. Although I think certain gender/marital roles are a bit outdated in the language used to refer to them, this is such a beautiful and easily digestible rumination on the life and changing seasons of adult womanhood. I highly recommend! (finished 1.31.18)
  4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman — and in total contrast from the previous entry on the list, this one was started last July and just now finished during the first weekend of the following February. Whoops! B and I started listening to this on our trip to KC, but the audio was 20+ hours long and while we got a good chunk of it started on that trip, we got nowhere near finishing it before school started. Anyway, I really want to watch the Starz version of this because it is such a crazy, other wordly, and twisty book that I can’t wait to see what the show is like.
  5. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan — this is the third novel in this series and I am finally getting a good grip on the huge cast of characters in this wealthy family and all their drama. As with the first two books, I found this to be an entertaining read (and again, the easiest to follow, but that may just come from exposure at this point).
  6. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness — another read-in-a-day book thanks to its YA nature and heart-wrenching, pull you along story. Definitely would be a good one for kids dealing with family sickness or for an empathy lesson for those in different family/health situations.
  7. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson — Welp, should have picked this one for book club, too, because it warrants a lot of discussion, especially the end which didn’t exactly seem satisfying to me. I liked the spin of the main character beginning again and again, though. It was interesting to see what all I could pick up as “changes” in each life, as they were sometimes subtle (and other times shocking).
  8. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (book club read) — This was a perfect read following Life After Life as instead of starting over and over, it followed one Korean family living in Japan for 70+ years, with lots of beautiful vignettes/glimpses into the lives of people around them, too. Oddly enough, they both were set with the same start time, so there were some crossovers about the war and such, but this book gave me great insight into what life was like for people displaced from Korea by the terrible and  continuing conflicts.
  9. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown — although just as emotionally and intelligently as dense as the last book of hers that I read (Daring Greatly), this one was much more digestible (and more brief) and extremely relevant to today’s times, making it a recommended read for sure.
  10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (book club read) — Haven’t read this in years so was happy that one of my friends picked it just before the movie release so I could refresh. I seem to remember there being more resolution to it from my years ago read, so my take on it this time was a little different (do I love it so? I don’t know), but I’m very curious to see how they treat it in the film.
  11. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankle — I canNOT say enough about how much I loved this book. I’ve been saying that a lot of my reads thus far this year have been good (and they have been) but this is one of the tops. I love the way it is written, the characters, and the depth of the questions (parenting, life, etc.) it raises. Focused on a family with five kids (OK, so I may have been biased from the get go), it features their journey/story of when their youngest of five boys begins to demonstrate that he is in fact not a boy. For real; everyone should read this book. (finished 2.25.18) (side note: sort of crushing it on my self-made list. now will have to wait for some of the titles to become available through the library as the wait lists are long for several of them)
  12. The Midnight Watch by David Dyer (book club read) — while the concept here is interesting (the fictional “what if/why”s of a ship that was near the Titanic as it sank but did not come to its rescue), I did not care for the writing of this novel. The unreliable (and alcoholic) narrator drove me nuts, and ultimately I would have liked more resolution for the end of the book.
  13. Still Me by JoJo Moyes — had no idea a third book was coming out in the series until the night before its release, but manged to get an e-copy from library fairly quickly and it was an enjoyable/predictable read and far less gut wrenching than the first two. (finished 3.6.18)
  14. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson — perhaps my perspective is shaded by my choice of reading this (start to finish) during the return trip from SD for my grandpa’s funeral, but I didn’t really care for this book. It’s not a sad book, but it’s also not a terribly helpful book in terms of instructions either. It reminded me of a more anecdotal Marie Kondo (KonMarie Method) book, but that one irritated me, too, so maybe I’m just not in the right place for decluttering books at this point in my life. And while I sort of see how this could start a conversation for families before someone actually passes, I could also see how a recipient of a gift copy of this book could think, “Ummm, so you’re saying I have too much stuff and should get rid of it all so you don’t have to?” Again. I may just be really prickly these days.
  15. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the Original Screenplay) by J.K. Rowling — Huh. Wasn’t really my intention to read the screenplay version of this, mostly because I think they aren’t the easiest thing to read, but it was still interesting and told a great story. Perhaps I’ll have to track down the original version another time to get the full effect.
  16. Beartown by Fredrik Backman — Backman has quickly become my favorite contemporary author, and I’ve only read about half of his stuff. This one was HARD to read because of the subject matter but I absolutely love the way he can develop such a vast and complete cast of characters and write what is a essentially a who-done-it in way that leads up to the final pages but is never cloying or annoying in doing so. So, so good.
  17. The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers — The piece of nonfiction was fascinating. It’s all about one man’s quest to improve the quality of life for coffee farmers in Yemen and the quality of Yemeni coffee and I learned a TON. Plus it was an entertaining and ultimately suspenseful read as the real world, politics, and war all played roles within the story. (finished 3.29.18)
  18. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrick Backman — I’ve now read all of Backman’s novels (not his novella and another short) and he is now tied for Tops at my Contemporary Author’s list. His stuff is incredible. This novel spins off from a side character in My Grandmother Asks…, and a side character I didn’t even like mind you, and I LOVED this book. The way he writes! I laugh, I cry, I just want the stories to keep going (& I never quite figure out where they are landing until they tell me at the very end). Seriously. Read his work. Any of it! SO. GOOD. (finished 4.4.18)
  19. Educated by Tara Westover — had I known about this book earlier, it would have definitely gone on my Must Read list, but as it is, it founds its way to me/that list anyway. Couldn’t put it down. It is a remarkable coming of age novel, except that’s just it – it’s not a novel. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.
  20. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (book club read) — I don’t read many books set in a day’s time span, so that alone made this interesting to read, once I got into which admittedly took a while. I also don’t read many novels set in contemporary times, although this one is still a decade out at this point, so the pop culture references were different for me. I’ll be curious to see what shape the discussion takes for this one – talk of war? soliders? love and loss and life? football? Not sure.
  21. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (book club read) — Huh. I don’t know. Normally I really like YA reads but this was one was almost too much of a teenage drama, except with OCD thrown in and some comically melodramatic “love scenes.” I saw some of the twists coming, but maybe just because I had forewarning that there were some. The author’s note at the end made me appreciate the whole thing more as she explained that she wanted to write a book that would highlight OCD in young people and hopefully show them how they could manage through therapy, etc.
  22. A Thousand Hills to Heaven by Josh Ruxin — This biography was such a great read. Informative, inspiring, entertaining. I loved that the timeline was so close to when Ben and I visited Rwanda (but sadly Heaven was not one of the restaurants we visited; I even checked our scrapbook to see); I could see in my memory some of the exact places he mentions in the book. But more than that, this book really sheds lights on how foreign aid can/should work – go in and help but ultimately prepare yourself and all those around you for your eventual step back. Helpers are not meant to be saviors, upon whom all is dependent, and this book of setting up health centers, better ag practices, and even starting an upscale restaurant, demonstrates that all beautifully. (finished 4.23.18)

Theory Testing

“It’s just hair.”
“It will grow back.”

These are statements I have said many times in my years of coloring, chopping, and growing back out my hair. And really, I’ve lived by them for darn near 35 years, but I had to laugh just now because instead of lived, my computer autocorrected whatever the heck I typed to “lied” which seems fitting since I am now very much rethinking my hair mottos.

Actually, that’s not true either.img_8954

The mottos hold. It really is just hair and it really will grow back (eventually anyway). But after chopping off 12″ last week, which equaled pretty much ALL of my length, to donate, I have found myself very much testing and tested by those comments that I have made many, many a time in the past. As with any test, a few lessons have been learned.

 

  1. I am apparently way more attached to my hair than I previously understood. The fact is, I don’t think this is a bad cut. I just don’t think it is my cut. As in, I don’t know whose hair I am currently sporting on my head, but it has yet to look like “mine” whenever I catch sight of it in a mirror (and we are five days in, so that’s weird). I find this ironic considering that we went full-on pixie straight away to get the length to donate so someone else can indeed wear my hair. And all this, despite the fact that my family and friends have been very sweet and kind in response to the cut even though I didn’t tell any of them about it in advance! RL adores it and Ben keeps complimenting it, and I agree – great cut. but not my cut! lol.
  2. When you want to preemptively strike against post-baby hair loss (oh man, it’s so bad, isn’t it, mamas?!), perhaps wait until some of it begins to fall out so you know what you are actually working with before cutting. Because we took off SO much length/weight and did so while I still have a TON of hair, I now have some very, very free locks/curls that basically just poof to the sky every time I touch them, which is often as I’m still trying to figure out this do (and how to do it). I think once it actually thins out, it will feel less bizarre on top of my head, but in the meantime, I am going to have to start sitting on my hands so I don’t turn the cut into a Chia pet every day.
  3. If you feel the need to do a pixie (an idea I’ve been flirting with for a couple years), aim for summer. It turns out that (duh) January in Nebraska is a terrible time to chop off all the hair that keeps the back of your head and neck warm in the midst of sub-zero winter weather!! While I haven’t yet slept in a hood, I have been curling the sheets up around my noggin at night because oh my gosh – I am sooooo extra cold!!

So, let the regrowth of this “just” hair begin. I wonder how long (literally) it will be before it feels like mine again!

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The pic I sent some girlfriends after I got home from my appointment. That’s my “trying to hold shocked laughter back” face! 

Time Keeps On…

Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’…into the future….

Sorry if that means that song is stuck in your head the rest of the day, but I’m right there with ya, humming away and ruminating on all that was and is and will be. I guess the start of a new year (and a new family life) is a pretty mind- and time-bending season of life, so it really doesn’t feel that far off base to say that we are slip sliding our way into 2018 and time is a fluid, flukey thing. Is that really so bad? I think it’s more just what is.

As you may have noticed, in the weeks since we’ve been home from Omaha, I’ve had much less time to write. There was nothing terribly restful about our time at Children’s, but it did mean that we weren’t doing the all-day/all-night with five Littles to care for (and meals to feed and laundry to wash and so on and so on), so while we were very much on a newborn feeding/pumping schedule, I did have/take “down time” to write. I had to for survival.

And while nothing has changed in regards to the importance of writing for me, much has changed in regards to how much down time I have here at home – and this is even with Christmas break and Ben still having a few days to take off from school for parental leave.

Side notes about life as the spouse of a teacher: I love breaks. I love having my coparent home and a part of our bustling house. I love snow days for the same reason – they equal Family Time. But I do NOT love how many hours he has to pour into sub plans to be gone. The amount of time he spent prepping just to not teach while we were in Omaha was insane. And for every parental day “off” he gets, he spends almost all of the evening prior doing the same thing, with hours upon hours spent at school getting everything ready. Anyone with a connection to education knows that teachers often say it is easier to just be there than to try to get ready for a sub, and wow, have we felt the effect of that since Wilson’s birth. Please don’t mistake a teacher being gone as a vacation. I promise you they very much have paid the price in terms of time and stress and effort prior to (and after) that leave. *end rant*

Being home now means doing all the newborn things AND toddler AND preschooler AND school agers things, and then the grownup things. And you know the adulting kind of  grownup things have to come first, so as per usual, the self-care grownup things take a backseat, which might explain why we once got through all the Omaha/holiday/family obligations of the last six weeks, I got slammed on Sunday with germ bugs.

It was *just* a low-grade fever and a sinus headache, that on Monday morphed into a can’t-hardly-move headache, but are you kidding me? Being sick as a parent is tough enough, but you add in a nursing schedule where you are the one doing all the nursing, and sickness somehow manages to suck even more. And all those adulting things? They don’t just go away. In fact, when the primary “house person” goes down, that shit just gets worse (walking in to our laundry room today where the laundry chute sends all the dirty clothes that I have ignored the last few days was disheartening, to say the least).

You see, I thought I would get to use these last few days to catch up around the house before Ben goes back to work full-time. You know, be extra prepared for the chaos that will be living one-day-to-the-next as a SAHM of five Littles 8 and Under (not to mention business owner, but thankfully we’re just going to table that for a bit). But no, the fever and headache said “Nope” to those plans, and instead all I’ve really accomplished the last two days has been watching most of Season Three of Fuller House (bless it, I love it so). And feeding the baby because that is clearly Job No. 1 in terms of importance.

Such is life, this finding of balance between responsibility/obligation and nourishment. And survival. Because let’s face it, Survival Mode is going to be the name of the game for however much amount of slippery time we need it to be. There’s just no other choice. That doesn’t mean we can’t all continue to thrive, but clearly there is going to need to be a BOAT-load of grace dumped all over plans and expectations of exactly what that looks like. For now, it looks a lot like this:

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25 Things – 2017 Edition

The annual list!

The last few years I’ve started working on this in the fall because thinking back over the entire year is hard, but not this time! Oh, no. I waited until the 28th to start. Think I can use “procrastinated on making my list” on my list? I guess we’ll see what happens….

  1. Had the happiest labor and birth for sweet Wilson Ann, born at 1:04 a.m. on her due date, November 22nd (8lbs. 11 oz; 21 inches). Drug-free, two contractions of actual “pushing,” and once again, totally floored by the baby’s gender!
  2. Got tossed in head first to (and SURVIVED) NICU life after Willa was born with an unknown omphalocele which resulted in surgery on Day Two of her life (which also included a bowel resection that was also previously unknown) and then three long weeks of living in Omaha away from the rest of the kids while she recovered at Children’s Hospital.
  3. Started Grounded Sky, my very own yoga for service (15% goes back to the community) business!
  4. Hosted classes, a workshop, a retreat, and four community-based events through Grounded Sky, the last of which raised over $700 for a local backpack/food program for elementary kids.
  5. Became a Presbyterian! After almost two years of attending, we officially joined FPC in June.
  6. First concert at Red Rocks! Nahko and Medicine for the People. Bestill my music loving heart!
  7. First MLB game! #ForeverRoyal (I married into this, but whatever; it’s fun!)
  8. Built my very own website from scratch (OK, template) for GS.
  9. Spoke about Body Dysmorphia in front of an entire room full of people.
  10. Got hit by a deer while driving to book club. The (old) car was technically totaled, but by golly, I still went to book club!
  11. Read 52 books!
  12. Wrote 75 blog posts! Writing was one of the main factors that kept me sane during our Omaha stay.
  13. Taught, for the first time, a five-week summer course for CCC (and this was directly after teaching two nights a week in the spring – and fall – semester).
  14. Attended two full training weekends with SreeDevi Bringi for Yoga Nidra certification. And then wrote several of my very own Nidra scripts!
  15. Visited, for the first time – which is actually embarrassing considering how close I live to it, the Cather Memorial Prairie south of Red Cloud, NE.
  16. Became a kombucha fiend. No one ever loved fermented tea as much as meeee in the weeks following Wilson’s birth. Kept my system functioning and healthy, for sure! Now home, I still have to have it on the daily.
  17. Did eleventy-billion loads of laundry. Just kidding. Probably closer to 500, but since I can barely remember to put the clothes in the dryer, much less count loads, I may never know just how shocking the real number is.
  18. Experienced food poisoning while pregnant. Clearly not something I’d recommend.
  19. Finally earned enough views on Her View from Home posts to actually EARN payment! Whoohooo!
  20. Potted succulents in June. Kept them alive rest of year. Yay, me!
  21. Donated approximately 800 hundred ounces of breast milk to local mamas because Milky Mama + NICU pumping for three weeks (plus ten more days after getting home trying to even out my system) meant I WAY over produced. Waaaaay over.
  22. Started reading The Little House series for the umpteenth time but this round has been aloud to my 8yo (we made it to the first few chapters of The Long Winter, and this is with many other books read aloud inbetween them).
  23. Gave up coffee. Started drinking coffee again a couple-few months later. Probably the last time I try that craziness, at least while small children share my living space.
  24. Made actual phone calls to actual politicians (although nowhere near as many as I should have) because, Resistance.
  25. Got to be on the local news with my hubs and sweet little presidents, less than a week before Wilson’s arrival, talking about our POTUS-named crew. It was sweat-inducing but paired well with my nesting desire to clean the house, and the piece turned out to be a great little “keepsake” of this stage of life for us.

So that was actually easier than I anticipated, until it wasn’t. I got all the way to 22 without much stumbling, but the last couple took me a while to determine. If you’ve never tried a list of your own, do consider giving it a shot. It’s a really great way to look back at the last 12 months as you celebrate the ups/downs/forwards/backwards/all arounds/and inbetweens that have made up your year. #measureyourlife

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