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.
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.
“It is [God] who in the beginning created Adam and Eve in His image, male and female, and joined them as husband and wife to become “one flesh” and to multiply and replenish the earth.21 ”
“Each individual carries the divine image, but it is in the matrimonial union of male and female as one that we attain perhaps the most complete meaning of our having been made in the image of God—male and female.
Neither we nor any other mortal can alter this divine order of matrimony. It is not a human invention. Such marriage is indeed “from above, from God” and is as much a part of the plan of happiness as the Fall and the Atonement.”
Marriage creates families, which is central to God’s plan of happiness.
See why this wedding was a big deal?
It was “the most complete meaning of our having been made in the image of God.”
Marriage and family has shown me how much I needed to change – to become more like Christ.
Having children has shown me how much further I need to go, to be more like Christ.
I would have liked to have spent more time, just Danny and I before we started having children.
I would have liked for him to see me normal for awhile…before the constant roller coaster of hormones.
In the four years I’ve been married, I’ll have had three kids.
When I got hitched, I was an old maid, at 29 with expiring eggs; so, you know, I had to start popping those kiddies out.
My little family spent some time at my parents home over Thanksgiving break, Danny had deer to hunt (freezer needs stocking) and I had family to spend time with and old photos to view.
It’s not uncommon for me to rifle through all boxes when I’m home, or visiting grandparents, to revisit the happy times from my past or uncover some old relic that holds a new story for me.
Most of my life, my mother has done a great job of keeping the family photos neatly organized, but somewhere in the last two moves the photos were all thrown together.
About the time my parents sold their home in Texas, the majority of family photos were in old photo albums and the glue that held the photos in the albums were actually damaging the photos, so my mom took all the photos out of the old albums – and mom decided to finish her midwifery training on top of all her other pursuits – thereby leaving all the photographs mixed together.
I took it upon myself last year to, at least begin to, sort through them. I haven’t begun the scanning process, but I will be the one to do it.
Memories must be recorded and preserved.
I only took about an hour, this last trip home, to go through photos. I have two small children and if I don’t keep a very close eye on the two year old, things can end up destroyed very quickly – clever boy
Luckily I had some help for a short while from my baby brother Konnor:
My boys and my dog…
with my brother Konnor.
It was also the day before our Thanksgiving feast and my mom needed some assistance in the kitchen. Not too much assistance, she pretty much made the entire feast all by herself.
I peeled some potatoes and cut them up.
I did the majority of helping my mom by washing all the dishes.
If a food or drink request was made by a child or son-in-law, my mom put in her ear buds (I’m so glad for head phones and internet radio on cell phones…as a child we all had to listen to talk radio when mom cooked, cleaned…canned, etc) and got to work.
I didn’t have any personal food requests this year – I was just happy to be home!
But I was really happy that mom made a homemade chocolate pie, it’s my FAVORITE pie.
Since I’m still trying to loose some post pregnancy weight, I only had one slice of pie and only one small plate of food. It’s worth the wait…
I’m really grateful for the love my mother shows by her actions – the night before Thanksgiving, my husband said that Aunt Patty’s cranberry crush drink was he all time favorite drink, so of course my mother whipped some up.
On Thanksgiving day, an hour before dinner, my brother Kaleb said he wanted some Yorkshire pudding with his meal…yeah, mom made them, because she loves her babies.
So thankful for my family – I don’t think anyone can make me more crazy then my family and I don’t think anyone loves me like my family either.
So I was on Pinterest this week and I happened to be looking at a recipe for candy popcorn – the blogger was telling a story about going to the movies – with her husband – and the amazing (shirtless) abs of the actor on screen… how she was so intently watching this movie (and his abs), she ate too much popcorn.
I realize she was being “funny” and I’m sure she loves her husband – but I for one am too uptight for that kind of “funny.”
My husband is my celebrity crush, #MCM (mom, that means “Man Crush Monday” and it’s just something people hash-tag about on social media…please don’t ask me about hash tags…again) and will always be the sexiest man alive – to me.
It really is the small things that keep marriages strong, especially in a world with so much divorce.
Choose your love, love your choice and make it last Forever!
Disclaimer: Does not necessarily apply to the single ladies and gents… Those movies abs are for you!
“For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies…”
“For the love, which from our birth, over and around us lies..”
“For the beauty of each hour. Of the day and of the night,”
“Hill and vale and tree and flow’r, Sun and moon and stars of light.”
“For the joy of human love, Brother, sister, parent, child..”
Friends on earth and friends above, For all gentle thoughts and mild,”
“Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.”
My sisters and I sang that hymn, my Nana’s request, at my Nana’s funeral four years ago. I like the message that is shares. I wasn’t able to finish singing it that day, but I really like the line, “Friends on earth and friends above.” I can finish singing it for her when I see her again, in heaven.
It’s nice to have peace in a world full of questions.
This Christmas season I want to focus on being grateful for what I have
Of course I have a mental list of things I would like, but it’s the kind of list that carries over a span of ten years…or a lifetime.
So, most of the things on my “list” are a “someday I’d like.”
A few of things I’ve been grateful for lately:
I’m grateful that I still have a few friends in Tulsa, where we spent our Thanksgiving with family, so my husband and brothers had somewhere and someone’s to play football with before our thankful feast.
and I’m thankful for a vehicle…where Wiley and I spent most of our time during the nippy football games, in side, staying warm.
I’m grateful to spend time with family and that said family is willing to be my photography test subjects.
I’m grateful for essential oils – yeah, I know not what you were expecting next.
but personally, essential oils have helped me tremendously.
I am so grateful for modern things most people in the first world take for granted,
showers, warm water, washing machines, indoor plumbing in general, comfortable mattresses and more than one pair of shoes.
I’ve got options in my closet – compared to the majority of people in the world – I’m over flowing in options when it comes to clothes, shoes and embarrassingly hats, gloves and scarfs.
I’m glad that my parents made the time and effort, regardless of where we lived (California or Pennsylvania) to visit extended family in the mid-west when I was a child.
I’m grateful for the family I see often and the ones who I don’t see regularly.
I love beautiful things, in the form of art, music, dance, architecture and nature.
Every season, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall have beauty in them.
I used to hate the brown and deadness of winter, but I’ve come to appreciate so many things about brown grass.
The first being the greenness of the evergreens is amplified and I might never have noticed had the grass and other trees stayed green always.
I don’t enjoy cooking, which makes me especially grateful for people who do like to cook.
I also love that Subway restaurant has a drive through. For a mother of a small child, things like a drive through make a huge difference. I might never have come to appreciate this had I never become a mother.
I’m grateful for sheepskin boots, some people think they are yucky and tacky, but if you lived in a cold climate…you’d appreciate warm boots too.
I’m grateful for a healthy body. I love to take walks and swim. I enjoy water sports and climbing. Some times we take things like “walking” for granted.
I don’t ever want to take things for granted. I used to take many things for granted and I sometimes still do.
But it is my goal in life to live with gratitude for all I have and not waste my life wishing for more.
“Live with a spirit of thankgiving and you will have greater happiness and satisfaction in life.” (For the Strength of Youth)
In the spirit of thanksgiving, I wish you all a great Thursday, be it a day of freezing rain or sunshine and waves.
try, try again
As for me and the rest of the mid-west, we are in for a lovely day of below freezing temps and empty bread shelves at Walmart.
Peace and love to all.
Oh yeah, opening for the musical “A Christmas Carol” is tonight…I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a packed house. But the show must go on. Did I mention I’m playing a lead role? True story.