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.
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.
This morning, after a few hours of anxiety, everything changed and the sun started shining through my soul again.
The day began like any other, woke up started breakfast – except this time I turned on some LDS general conference talks while I prepared food.
There are things I’ve always known, but today I understood them.
One speaker quoted Neal A. Maxwell,
“Certain forms of suffering, endured well, can actually be ennobling. …
“… Part of enduring well consists of being meek enough, amid our suffering, to learn from our relevant experiences. Rather than simply passing through these things, they must pass through us … in ways which sanctify [us].”
I know I’ve sounded a bit like a broken record when it comes to trying to find the positive during difficult times, but I’ve passed through something that has given me new perspective on those who suffer depression throughout their life.
I have depression each time I’m pregnant…then I have had post-partum depression following the birth of each of my three children. So, beginning with my first pregnancy in late summer 2011 through, this month…I have constantly struggled [mightily] with things I didn’t quite understand for a long time.
The first time, I didn’t even know why I felt the way I did.
I wasn’t disappointed in the idea of having a baby, I just didn’t feel joy or excitement about anything. Things moms are supposed to feel.
When I held my firstborn after delivery I was in love at first sigh. I couldn’t sleep I was so happy.
The pure excitement and joy that followed the next eight months was in a constant battle with depression. All the changes in my life added to six solid months of no sleep and then eating little – it’s no wonder my brain was off balance.
Just before my first turned one, I got pregnant a second time. Several weeks later I miscarried. Six months following that, I was pregnant a third time and later gave birth to a second boy.
I love babies so much. Love them and yet…
I constantly felt like I was going to snap in half and I cried all the time. My husband couldn’t fix anything.
My fourth pregnancy (and third child) was a complete surprise.
A tender mercy my last pregnancy didn’t make me feel sick physically, but mentally I was still fighting a mess.
I was vacuuming my carpets three times a day. Three.
How did I manage to get along? I set my mind to face each day, to put one foot in front of the other and not give up, rest if I must, but not quit.
So, today, with a morning full of anxiety I heard, Elder Evan A Schmutz say,
“The purpose and mission of Jesus Christ included that He would “take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people,” “take upon him their infirmities,” and “succor his people according to their infirmities.”17
To fully receive these gifts our Savior has so freely offered, we all must learn that suffering in and of itself does not teach or grant to us anything of lasting value unless we deliberately become involved in the process of learning from our afflictions through the exercise of faith.
Then we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught: “There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the ‘light that is endless, that can never be darkened’ [Mosiah 16:9]. It is the very Son of God Himself.”20
We can take strength in knowing that all the hard experiences in this life are temporary; even the darkest nights turn into dawn for the faithful.
When all is finished and we have endured all things with faith in Jesus Christ, we have the promise that “God shall wipe away all [the] tears from [our] eyes.”21
Something about hearing those words sent light through my heart. I hope that hearing those words will send light through your heart.
I hope that we can all keep trying to be a little bit softer, a little bit kinder especially towards those things around us that we just don’t understand, yet.
Don’t give up, keep trying, you are loved. Things really aren’t as bad as they seem.
Dan and I agreeing on a name when I was six months pregnant, was the soonest we decided on a name.
We had driven down to Texas for my sister’s August wedding, so we had ample time to talk names.
On our drive back to Missouri, Danny had his cellphone out and was telling me all the cool bird names he liked (because I really like the name Birdie, and we were trying to find a bird name for awhile).
I smile when I hear ‘Kestrel’…my youngest sister could have been Kestrel.
So, from Houston, TX to Tulsa, Oklahoma, Danny and I tossed names back and forth. Separately, he and I decided we liked the name Bell, but not as a first name.
Our little family made a really fast stop in Tulsa to stretch our legs and visit a close friend of mine.
My friend Rachel happens to now work at our alma mater, The University of Tulsa. It being August, the football team was in the middle of their two-a-day practices.
So, our brief stop was in the football training room to catch up with Rachel.
As she and I were catching up, one of the long time Orthopedic Doc’s came into the training room and joined our conversation.
I think some things are truly meant to be.
Out of no-where, Rachel says to Dr. M, “So Katie and her husband are having a hard time choosing a name for their baby girl.”
Dr. M has been a long time friend of my mother’s family, so when he got a sparkle in his eye and said, “I know a nice name.” I knew he was going to say, “Adrien.”
Dr. M’s wife died of cancer in her early forties, and I have heard, for many years from my Grandmother, what a lovely and gracious lady she was. He never remarried and adopted The University of Tulsa athletics as his family (in addition to his children).
Rachel and Dr M said how they liked the sound of Adrien (how his wife spelled her name) with our last name.
An hour later, Dan and I back in the truck swapping names again, I asked Danny what he thought of the name Adrien.
He said he liked it!
Dan looked up the origin of the name, depending on where you look, “dark one” or “one who comes from Adria” which makes way more sense to me.
Adria is on the north eastern coast of Italy, sitting on the Adriatic Sea.
Now that Dan is neck deep with research in Water Engineering, it only makes sense that he said, “if we spell it ‘Adrian’ after the body of water.”
And that is how our sweet little Adrian Bell came to be named.
Alert, Smiles all day, babbling, a great sleeper (when she isn’t sick) and trying to get up and walk to keep up with the boys.
“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.
As a family, we stayed in south Texas for three weeks.
It was hot – very hot.
The months and weeks leading up to our visit, Danny and I would talk about future plans for him taking a job closer to extended family. Our children would get to play with their cousins on a regular basis.
Well, we’ve changed our mind.
(Did it get below 100 the entire time we were there? I’m not talking the 89 degrees – with humidity – it dropped to around 9pm)
The first morning we were there, my sister and her kids and Danny with our kids went to the park at 10am.
It was already so hot, after 10 minutes I had sweat dripping from my face.
Before we left Missouri, in a state of confusion, I insisted Danny pack the double stroller – I wanted to take walks.
That double stroller sat in my sister’s kitchen the entire three weeks – I did utilize it as a clothing/bedding drying rack – no walks were taken.
The best Internet MEME I saw all summer (posted by Matt M.), “It’s so hot in Texas, I just saw two hobbits throw a ring in my backyard.”
I’m grateful for our family who live in Texas, I’m grateful for HEB’s, for really good Latin food on every corner and the awesome people I know who live there…but, we won’t be moving back…ever…if we have any say in the matter.
Our return trips to Texas will be limited to Spring or Fall.
We arrived home in Columbia, Missouri on August 12th at 10:30pm, the temperature outside was 75 degrees. When I drove to my OB appointment at 10:15am on August 13th, I drove there with the windows down, because the weather was so beautiful.
Today’s high? 88 degrees F.
So, the weather is nice, my OB said my Cervix was nice and tight (if that is TMI, then remind yourself that this blog is written by a woman, a pregnant woman who went to the hospital a few weeks ago for premature labor) and we have food on our shelves. There are a lot of people who don’t have enough food to eat.
Life is good.
Special thanks to The Righteous Brothers for penning a catchy song, “Unchained Melody,” that inspired my post and for the movie Top Gun – because it is awesome.
Today I slept in till 9:15am, while my husband took care of the kids…
It wasn’t until 9:30 that I heard the sound of the tub and wondered how long it would take for my husband to fetch me…
The sound of the tub in the morning means all the baby bedding needs to be washed in addition to the baby.
Too tired to finish dinner.
Water sounds were followed by a screaming three year old.
“Happy Anniversary,” I said to myself.
Here we are, married four years and I’m on my fourth pregnancy (having had a miscarriage), resulting in two kids and baby due in November of this year.
It figures that our morning would go wonky today…I stayed up way too late reading Pride and Prejudice. It was so late, that I was at the part near the end where Elizabeth, on her walk with Darcy, says “do not repeat what I said…” after Darcy says how her words haunted him, “had I behaved in a more gentlemanly like manner…”
Yeah, I was so tired, it was so late, that’s when I put my book down.
So, it’s only fair my morning start off with laundry before breakfast.
Danny stayed home with the boys this morning, while I took care of the vehicle and ran errands around town. So romantic, someday I’ll have to base a best selling novel from it.
Tonight, we are having a small family over for dinner. On Sunday, when I made the dinner appointment, it didn’t register that “Thursday this week” was my anniversary.
But this is real life.
Most couples don’t spend lavish weekends away from home or buy each other expensive gifts.
I call a night out alone with my husband, “lavish,” even if it is eating tacos.
Two weeks ago some friends of ours watched the boys (for FREE!) so we could have a date.
I chose a restaurant called 44 Stone Public House – they have outdoor seating (which we enjoyed immensely) – Danny tried his first Welsh Rarebit. Their Fish and Chips are not as good as the real ones found in UK, but I think I could go back for more of the Welsh Rarebit.
Our life is good, it’s happy, it’s stressful, it’s…the family life.
I say, ‘high-five’ for making it four years, through four pregnancies, two moves, three schools and multiple jobs.
While our family was down in Texas, back in March, we met up with my sister and her soon-to-be husband for a Sunday dinner.
As it turns out, the young man my sister is marrying is a good friend of my husband’s family…isn’t it nice how that works out?
After a big family dinner I made those two sit for lots of photos – I’ll spare you – and only show you a few.
In an effort to be silly, I like to play a game where I give a scenario for their life and then I capture the look on their faces:
Scenario: “you just found out you’re having triples!”
Scenario: “You just found out you’re having a second set of triplets.”
I then told them to try to give me their best American Gothic pose:
Ah well, I can’t wait for those to tie the knot in August…a little less thrilled about the Houston heat and humidity; but then again I married in Houston on July 9th, it wasn’t any better and we survived.
SO cheers to marriage and love and all the happiness that accompanies such things.