I can honestly say the last 7 years have been work.
4 moves, 3 children (2 miscarriages), 1 more college degree.
We could have done things a little differently – I could have put off having babies till I was closer to the age of 40 – I mean, it would have been a lot easier to get my husband through school without kids.
We could have stayed in Texas.
Dan could have avoided extra school all together and just started a career…
Hahaha, we would have taken way more vacations.
More time on the beach, just the two of us.
No diapers, no night time feedings or arguing over who was more tired (Mom or Dad) and which deserved the nap or night away with friends.
It seems we choose to follow Robert Frost and that darned road less taken.
In place of warm naps on a sandy beach, we get warm baby snuggles.
In place of extra vacations, we are saving for a debt-free house.
In place of the Texas economy, we are enjoying lovely Missouri summer evenings and country life.
I remember the first birthday we celebrated together was your 24th! We went shopping together because you did not own a suit and I told you that you needed to start wearing one to church on Sundays.
We had only been dating 1 month and 1 day, but you went along with my preference.
Most of the birthday’s between then and now have been really stressful. Birthdays are just different when your (frequently pregnant) wife/children’s needs come before your wants.
Today, you woke up early with the kids because you agreed to let me shoot an early morning photography session.
Two hours of taking care of the children’s needs while mom was away, was followed by preparing yourself for your senior engineering group project (capstone). You could have met up with your group on Sunday, but your wife said that Sunday was not a good day to spend hours away from home and it was right in the middle of church. Again, you went along with my preference.
I’m so proud of all you have accomplished in the years since that first birthday we celebrated together.
Thank you for being such a great dad.
Thank you for agreeing to make your own birthday dinner – because I’m tired from all that I do.
Journal entry (back when I kept a daily journal…) December 11, 2010:
“I’m grateful for the many prayers that have been and are said on my behalf. About 6pm tonight, I felt this incredible peace fill my soul and happiness commenced. This week has been an emotional epoch. I had trouble eating (stress), random heartaches mingled with tears. I fasted and prayed all week long – on Friday I was offered a long term substitute teaching job for 9th grade biology for the school down the street from my house.”
That fall I began substitute teaching, all grades, trying to find my niche in education. That summer I had been rejected by the two medical schools I applied to (I know, looking back I want to shout, “you only applied to TWO schools Katie!!”) and felt like teaching was a good alternative to being a doctor.
The 9th grade biology classes I was asked to teach were alternately full of smart-A high achievers (Tuesday/Thursday) and Monday/Wednesdays I was left with children who are mostly likely in jail today; sad, but the reality of life for some people.
That particular job was scaring me straight out of teaching. I would sit in my car after work and ask myself if I could come back the next day, my life felt like a nightmare.
The week of December 11th, 2010 – I left that high school and told them I would not be taking that job. (turns out the teacher I was taking over for had hypertension…I can’t imagine why…).
Saturday evening, December 11, I took a friend with me to a birthday party. My expectations for anything were zero, I was obligatorily socializing and not staying home to map out my “okay, what’s next plan” for life.
Instantly, as I pulled up to the house, I spotted a white Honda Ridgeline plastered with surf stickers. A small voice whispered in my mind, “you know the driver of that vehicle.”
As I’ve told the story before, I was technically in a relationship and not on the prowl but, I did look pretty cute. I still remember what I had on: yellow flats, black skinny jeans and a white Ocean Pacific sweater with colored stripes across the chest (a great thrift store find).
I went straight out to the pool where most of the people were gathering.
It was totally like a scene from a movie: steam rising off the hot tub, people trickling into the party, mood lighting, I spot him twenty feet away, tanned, hunky blonde dude sitting at a table next to a laughing beautiful brunette acquaintance; except that I was totally thrilled for my beautiful brunette friend who obviously scored big. My second thought, “that’s the driver of the white truck.”
As of this day, I still can’t get my husband to tell me what he was really thinking. The tanned, hunky blonde followed me the rest of the night.
And, well, he convinced me to marry him.
So now, I’m still wondering where life will take me. I still have nightmare moments where I ask myself if I can do this another day (hello, I have a 2, 3 and 5 year old and a husband who is in school, at work or doing homework). What I don’t have is a feeling like I missed an opportunity to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a whatever else I was planning for my life before a husband and children came along.
I’ll be honest, I never thought I was mean’t for motherhood or even marriage. It was the one thing I really had a hard time seeing myself being successful in doing. There was clarity in all my other dreams. Now, I get to experience things I didn’t know I could do.
I didn’t know I’d be any good at taking photos. I didn’t know my five year old would randomly come up and give me hugs to tell me I was the best mom in the world on days I felt like a failure in life. I didn’t know my three year old would cuddle me every night and ask me to sing him 20+ songs before bed. I had no idea having a baby girl would turn me into complete goo. I had no idea that the man I married, who was a surf bum when we met (with his only goal in life: surf) would end up working and going to school for six years to support a growing family. I didn’t know we’d spend Saturday afternoons at the skatepark as a family. I didn’t know my husband would pray with me and our children every night.
I didn’t know.
Yet, somehow on a really emotionally draining week – seven years ago today – something told me that everything would be okay and I had reason to be happy.
Listen, pets and children are very different, but I’ve taken enough psych-classes to understand conditioning.
I used to be the “do it this way because it’s the best way” kinda mom/wife, but my husband (who is an expert in many things) trained our Pit to say “I love you” and snatch a snack off his nose – also found a great way to train the kids.
It started with a massive bag of suckers. I was hesitant because of all the sugar and food dyes, but had to concede his method of getting our children to behave.
Getting three kids under five years in the car went from ‘nightmare’ to ‘not too painful’ with a sucker.
“Get your shoes on.”
*child still playing and departure time looms*
“Get your shoes on and I’ll give you a sucker as soon as you’re in your carseat.”
*child scrambles for shoes and babbles on about what flavor they want as they strap on shoes and make way to front door*
I sorta want to sound like Willy Wonka for a second, “the perfectly peach actually tastes like a peach! The pomegranate pucker tastes like a pomegranate” – you get the gist.
Any mother who has had to leave the park early knows the pain of pulling small children from the swings or slide.
What my little suckers wont do for some sugar…
They are eating steamed broccoli, sliced cucumbers, or a beef vegetable soup for dinner – so I have zero mom guilt about bribing them with candy.
About a month ago I had even less reason to worry about bi-daily sucker eating (high fructose corn syrup and food-dyes)!
I discovered YUM EARTH organic candies. Yes, it’s still sugar, but they are sweetened and colored by fruit! Yes, some have brown rice syrups, but I don’t have to argue with irrational beings about picking up toys anymore. I call it a win.
They smell as good as they taste.
My huge stache of YUM EARTH’s were meant to last till our church Halloween trunk r treat, but that will depend on my level of patience this month.
We’ve openned (finished off) the gummy bears, sour watermelon lemonade twists, and suckers.
The watermelon lemonade sour twists are fun for my three year old who counts everything and good for his motor skills (they come in a small pack of tiny straws – at least 12 – which my three year old can count up to)!
I’m still fairly new at the mom-thing but I thought I’d share one thing I’m doing that has improved my sanity just a bit.
The real win is when I tell the kids to get shoes on and get to the van and the habit has been so formed they forget to ask for a sucker or gummy bears and just go!!
My almost two-year old is self potty training, so I may just keep clapping and praising her while I eat the potty snacks! 🙂 A mom can dream can’t I?
Wiley started Kindergarten 15 days ago. My in-laws came into town 14 days ago. My husband took his dad on a much needed kayak/camping trip – just the two of them – 13 days ago. I had to finish writing music (the piano music we decided on was written for a piano/viola and I wrote the harmony part I sang) for a duet I sang in church – 12 days ago. The Total Solar Eclipse seen from our backyard – 11 days – also said goodbye to my in-laws. My Aunt came into town from Austin, TX to see the eclipse, and stayed in town to visit with me for a day. My middle child turned 3 years old – 10 days ago. Danny started school. My mother performed in a ballet – took kids down to my parents – had to see the mother perform. Racing home from my visit, to see mom on stage, to teach my Sunday School class….and so on…
All this time I’ve had to let some things slide. A grocery bag of un-openned birthday decorations still sit on my closet shelf.
Tyler, turned three, had the best day of his life. I gave him everything he asked for that day, I didn’t give him everything I planned, I gave him what he asked for and that made him happy. He wanted birthday donuts – no cake. He wanted to watch Youtube videos (supervised by me) during school hours. He wanted a tricycle – which he rides daily around my living room and kitchen – and Tow-Mater/Lightening McQueen cars. Done and done. Time in the sandbox. Play in the tub. Seems kinda like I was a lame mom for his birthday this year, but the birthday boy got everything he asked for, so I’ll call it a win.
Four days after my in-laws returned home to the Houston, Texas area Hurricane Harvey hit.
I have been glued to social media – watching through the eyes of friends – heart sick – as my old neighborhoods, libraries I visited, restaurants I frequented, trails I used to walk – all flooded.
I’ve been uniting in prayer with friends and strangers for the comfort, healing and rebuilding of Houston, Texas. Just as the country united only four or five days earlier to watch the amazing beauty of the solar eclipse, so many people united once again during the chaos and damage that hurt millions “back home.”
My husband asked me if he should take this semester off from school (where he studies civil/environmental engineering in Missouri) to help clean up and restore his home. My husband was born and raised in Houston, Texas. We met in Spring, Texas. Married in the Houston LDS Temple. Lived in our first home two blocks north of the Temple. In his mind, after spending this summer as a storm water management engineering-intern for the City of Columbia, he felt like he could do a lot of good in the after math of Harvey. My response was, “you’re eight months from graduating with a degree – you can do a lot more good when that is completed, when you’re done, you can improve infrastructure not just in Houston, but anywhere in the world.” Right now, it would only increase our financial burden with him not in school and not working.
Husband took this with his phone with a filter.
Husband took this with his phone, no filter.
Husband took with his Nikon
Husband took with his Nikon
Danny will continue to do much good for everyday life as he finishes his degree. He will continue to do much good when he graduates.
‘Great’ Aunt Laura
I’ll do good here in the home.
So, I am continuing to pray for the aid (physical, financial and emotional) of those hurt by Harvey. In all the chaos of my life, I have not forgotten you or the other people suffering in the world.
No matter what is happening in our own lives, God wants us to think about and serve others.
Life can wear you down, just stop and rest a bit, but just don’t quit.
Monday was meet the teacher, which Danny and I took him to. Wednesday I took all three of the kiddos up to the elementary for Wiley to be evaluated. Part of the reason teachers do that is to get that one-on-one time between new pupil and new teacher, building the relationship. It also gives the teacher a baseline for where he is right now in his education. Come parent/teacher night, she’ll be able to show mom and dad some quantitative evidence of his growing knowledge!
Wiley is so intellectually curious, I’m thrilled to have Mrs. S help supplement his education, while I parent the two littles. Wiley is also very social, so now I wont be responsible for entertaining him everyday. Already my sanity is improving.
Back in the spring when I told him about starting school in August, Wiley told me he didn’t want to go to school. I told him he would love it!! All summer we talked about school and I let him pick out his own clothes, backpack, lunchbox – all in effort to get this guy excited about school. Learning is fun, school is fun!!
Last night, I checked and double checked that Wiley’s backpack met the teacher’s checklist (towel for nap time, spare clothes for potty accidents)…
Kindergarten today – it was an early start 5:50 for mom, 6am for baby girl who heard mommy and Tyler soon followed. Wiley finally surfaced around 6:30.
Lunch was made, mommy got Wiley to eat something for breakfast while he stared blankly from his perch on the couch.
Wiley – “I’m not going to school if you don’t let me watch the show I want.”
Mom – “I’m sorry buddy, no TV before school, but would you like some chocolate milk to drink?”
Wiley – enthusiastic nodding
I had all four of us (mom, three kids under five years) dressed and in the car by 7:18am.
The car drop-off line was a tad hectic, but I knew it was just first day of school issues.
Kindergarten parents have the luxury (on day 1) of parking right in front of the office and walking their kids into their classroom. With overcast skies and cooler temperatures, I felt very comfortable leaving my two littles in their carseats for the 8 minute round trip walk to Wiley’s class.
With less gusto in his walk than yesterday, Wiley held my hand into Mrs. S’s room. I helped him put his lunchbox and backpack where they belong and walked him to his new desk!!
He wasn’t crying, he stood nervously next to his desk and I hugged him really tight, told him, “I love you so much, you’re going to have the best day!” Mrs. S came over and took over. I said ‘bye’ and headed toward the door, I turned around one last time and saw two little boys sitting at the first table inside the door, one spoke to the other, “do you want to be my friend?” I smiled, one last glance at Wiley taking a seat at his table. I knew this was going to be a great day for my little guy. I hurried to the nearest exit and sprinted down the sidewalk to my parked van.
The two babies were still listening to music on my phone (DJ Adri on duty). I sat in the drivers seat and my heart felt swollen, I resisted the urge to cry, a smile cropped up – ear to ear – on my face and I knew everything was going to be great for me too.
I took the babies to the Post Office (closed till 9am), so I drove over to the Library (closed till 9am) – what the?! We went to a grocery store to kill time before the opening of the library.
Meeting up with friends (Adrian now being the same age that Wiley used to be when he and I met up with our friends Tina and Haylee for library play!!)!
Followed by lots of outside playtime. Before I knew it – it was time to load the van again to go get our Wiley-man!
The carline for pick up ran much more smoothly than drop-off.
I was so excited to see how his day went – Mrs. S walked him to the curb where I waited and I squealed, “Wiley, how was your day?!”
Wiley burst into tears, “I wanted to take the bus home!!” hahahahaha
His largest complaint is the time to eat lunch is too short…on a side note, Wiley was telling jokes at lunch. (While eating his grapes, “ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!!” Dan and I asked if anyone laughed, “no.”) hahaha.
He didn’t want to talk much about his day, but I knew he just needed to chill awhile. By the time daddy got home from work and started asking Wiley about his school day, Wiley was really excited to share all about class, “and you know what my teacher said? She said to come back tomorrow!!”
So, with mom and dad’s excitement, Wiley feels excitement too.
The first day of school was followed by a date night – to the waste water treatment plant – because nothing says true love quite like taking a tour of the place where your poopy-water gets cleaned. I do however now know how that happens. I am grateful for engineers!!
If anyone is curious about fun facts, please send me or Danny a Direct Message.
I read a story about post-partum depression today, it wasn’t a happy one, which reminded me that I haven’t updated the internet on the state of my health: mind, body and soul.
It’s good news. [Sigh of relief]
I don’t really feel like talking about the depression, it’s part of my past now and I know that it could potentially be part of my future. For now I’m going to tell you what I’ve been doing, about what makes me happy.
I needed more Family time, spouse time and time just for me.
First, I called my mom and asked if she would pay for my gym membership. I knew that all the time away from the gym was one reason I was sad. I missed regular exercise!! I started making better choices with my food and I started pampering myself.
Anyone who knows me, knows that when you think of me, you don’t necessarily think “cheapskate.” But, for years I have rarely paid for haircuts (ask a friend or sister to just cut it right over a trash can), I almost never go into a salon, I have never had a manicure and I only get pedicures once or twice a year (because if I didn’t, my entire foot would turn into a callus). I also never spent money on makeup, hair supplies or skincare.
My skin care routine – up until this year – was usually going straight to bed without washing my face. Rinse face in morning or just wait till I took a shower…whenever that was.
Wearing makeup was usually reserved for Sundays and the makeup I did own was either purchased for me by a mother or sister or given to me by a sister or my mother (because it came as a free gift during a purchase)! I spent very little money in the hair, skincare and makeup department.
In the spring and summer of 2016 when I struggled with pink eye, I had to throw away all of the makeup I did own – which included some new and nice (gifted) things. In addition to throwing out all my makeup, I threw out all my bed pillows (nice, newer pillows I couldn’t afford to replace).
We were also very broke when this happened.
Somewhere between back to back pregnancies, a husband who was gone all the time for school and with church responsibilities, a four year old just barely potty training (read “three kids in diapers”) – I was feeling pretty haggard.
Well, I discovered a multi-level marketing company that has amazing skin care and makeup. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy/wear good products unless I sold some. So, I signed up to distribute.
Along the way, I started having fun with my life again and taking care of myself made me feel good.
So, I’m going to the gym, taking care of my body, eating healthier and getting better sleep – now at bedtime, I don’t lay in bed trying to un-wind from a day that pulled and stretched me, I go to bed, I think of all the things I’m grateful for and all the things I can do better tomorrow.
Then, I stop thinking and go to sleep.
I started singing around the house more often, letting the messes sit later, snuggling with my babies a little longer.
I decided that dates with my husband were worth the cost of a babysitter (again, where I tend to be cheap – “let’s just not get a baby sitter and stay in or take the kids with us.”
I re-took my Athletic Training exam (to re-certify) and was 23 points short of passing!! [I mean, I can’t be too sad, I’ve been out of practice 11 years!! With very little study time I squeezed in, I almost passed!! Yes, I’m taking it again].
My energy levels increased and the chemicals in my brain have found balance as I allowed for more positive thoughts.
I consciously made it a daily effort to push negative thinking away and only see the positive. I had let negative thoughts camp too long in my mind and I didn’t want to be sad anymore.
Happiness had been my life before and I wanted that life back.
I never stopped praying during my struggles. I never stopped hoping. I knew that change would come if I just kept trying.
God knew me, He had faith that I could overcome my circumstances and He has faith in you too. The tools are there, we just need to reach out. Ask for help and take steps to change.
Postpartum depression is not an old friend, but foe. An enemy I may face in the coming years. But I have hope that my faith and past experience will help me defeat him again.
Disappointments still arrive, but I see the light and know that everything will work out.
In 1989 I wrote a very short story called, The Lonely Mouse. I was seven.
My childish creation was trying to connect how Mickey Mouse might have felt before Minnie came along.
He had a dog, but humans (and obviously mice) need more.
So in this story, he meets Minnie, they fall in love and have triplets, just in time to hear that Mickey got that dream job of his at Disneyland.
That, is my story in a nut shell.
My mother thought it was so adorable, she sent a copy to every one of our extended family for Christmas.
Twenty years later I tried re-writing the story (in a rhyming salute to Dr. Seuss who is an all time favorite) I began to write:
Lloyd P. Mouse, lived in a house right on the edge of town.
Late one night, when he turned out the light, his face made a little frown.
“I’m all alone in this cozy home, I should find a mate
I can’t go through life without a wife, what an unfortunate fate.”
Lloyd went to bed with dreams in his head of finding the perfect girl.
She would be witty, funny and pretty – a gem of a lady– a pearl.
Morning arrived – Lloyd opened his eyes as sunlight danced through his window.
He whistled a tune that rang through the room, peaking to a crescendo.
An hour later, after reading the paper, the clock said eight thirty-four.
After donning some gloves and a scarf, hmph! Tug! Lloyd scurried out the front door.
…which is how it sat for another seven or so years.
Until now. [insert grin]
I took the story and went in an entirely new direction –
which cannot be revealed until after Christmas, because I had it printed out and my family reads my blog. I’ll give you this:
I would like to thank the folks of flickr – I took a lot of awesome photos from you and used Preview on my Macbook to cut and paste my little characters. I will make zero profit off this story, as it was only intended for my family as a DIY gift.
Should I ever hope to make a profit from this story, the photos would have to be changed entirely, as I do not hold the rights to any of the ‘backgrounds.’
Our Protagonists are fighting the odds, making their way towards the promise that lay in the future…one day at a time.
Can I tell you about the last few months? Then I will tell you about all the beautiful souls who helped us along the way.
Things were supposed to be really good for us, after a tough Spring and Summer, when fall came, everything would be grand. Dan would have this awesome great job and we would buy our first home!!
It was such a beautiful dream and everything was falling into place – just like dreams do – and God laughed, because like little children we were “asking our mom to open a packet of Ranch dressing mix for us to eat, because it looked so delicious – while she was busy preparing an actual meal for dinner – and she smiled at us and shook her head.”
We had several new families move into our church ‘ward’ this summer and one of those families gave us a huge pile of boxes and paper for wrapping. (then the couple who gave us all the boxes, stayed a little longer and fixed our front door!)
Things are coming together!
Ten days before we were to close on the home, Dan’s job didn’t work out, we couldn’t get our home and since we told our current landlord we were “absolutely moving” – he sold the house we were living in…
We had ten days to find a new home, we had a flea infestation, we’re packing, cleaning, looking for a new place to live, Mom got a stomach bug and the steam cleaning vacuum had to be returned three times…because it didn’t work.
Katie eventually got the steam cleaner to work by turning it on and off again. It worked for a solid 15 minutes…before it didn’t.
and as far as Mom is concerned, fleas are just as nasty as EBOLA!
Everything must be washed.
and bug bombed.
and bug bombed.
This is a sad, and somewhat comical from where I stand now, story of how to clean up after you find your small children covered in flea bites, while you have a stomach bug, during a house move.
I have had a different woman volunteer to take my children for several hours, each day the last week and a half, offers to bring us meals or help in any other way possible – here’s the kicker – without being asked for help, they just heard we were moving!
I have a visiting teacher (my previous ones are always missed!) who just moved here not long ago – we had never met – and just after being assigned to visit me, she inquired about me and found out we were moving and took my boys twice in a matter of days into her home (along with her small children) so my husband and I could tackle the cleaning and move.
Then, our home teacher called (again, another new family to the area)! Our home teacher is a new medical resident, his wife stays home with three small kids, and everyone is busy, but they wanted to help us too. Wiley is making lots of new friends.
It felt like our world had turned upside down in a time in our life when I really and truly felt like I had earned some good things in my life.
Today, I see the good things in my life.
We didn’t get the house, he didn’t get the job, we had a lot of extra physical labor and we’re all covered in flea bites…but we have been lifted by heavenly hands and helped by angelic people here in Columbia, Missouri.
It’s been nothing short of a miracle to see this kind of love. We have felt all the prayers said on our behalf and we are grateful.
I know that God is love, and He knows our needs.
I also know it’s a lot harder to feel His love, if we sit and mope about all the things that aren’t going right, so we stand up and move forward with hope.