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.
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.
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.
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.
Today at church I briefly stood before my congregation and bore my testimony of God’s love, how sometimes in His love (and infinite wisdom) He asks us to do hard things…because He knows that it will make us strong.
Motherhood has been a struggle for me lately. Particularly with my first born. He is determined to help me be strong. Really strong.
After my testimony, I returned to my seat. Wiley was so happy to see me and said, very enthusiastically, “Mom, you did a great job!” followed by a sweet little boy kiss.
Floating – his kiss and exclamation had me floating the rest of the day! (much like the hot air balloon we saw fly over our home.)
God sent me a strong willed, funny, intelligent, happy, passionate, particular and loving boy we call, ‘Wiley.’
Wiley turned 4 years old last week.
Lord knows time is flying and somedays it doesn’t fly fast enough to bedtime…
I am well and healthy today, but the entire month of April I was sick. So, as Wiley’s birthday neared, I knew he wouldn’t care if he had a party, but I wanted his day to feel really special. I wanted him to know I thought he was special.
He started his day with cartoons. I had blown up several orange balloons to litter the floor and got him four floating balloons and two dinosaur puzzles.
[go Dollar General!!!]
I had to coax him away from the TV for a morning outing – just with mom.
I took him to the grocery store and let him pick out anything he wanted! Cause, I’m money bags like that.
The birthday boy wanted fresh strawberries, raspberries, whipped cream and donuts.
He also wanted a “grown-up sippy cup” (those plastic drinking glasses with straws/screw on lids) colored orange. The boy likes orange.
I’m pretty sure most of his t-shirts are orange.
Kind of fits his personality.
After our breakfast outing, he wanted to put his dinosaur puzzles together with me. He and his little brother had hours of fun playing with the balloons. I read some books…and I let him play on the iPad, because that was just what he wanted!
Daddy took Wiley and Tyler to the “big slide park” for about two hours later in the day.
(I love, LOVE, when Dan takes them to the park – no bedtime troubles – and quiet time for mom.)
The grand finale to the birthday boy’s day was after the two babies went to bed.
Daddy made a fire in the fire ring and they roasted marshmallows!
It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten marshmallows, they aren’t my favorite.
We didn’t have cake, I pointed them out in the store, but he wanted donuts for breakfast and marshmallows for dessert; who am I to argue with the birthday King?!
Wiley stayed up late. I wish I could say it was way past his usual bedtime, but he typically refuses sleep until around 10pm every night, so it was business as usual.
Wiley finally passed out on the bed next to mommy and his sleeping baby sister.
I laid in bed two nights ago asking God why I was so sick, again. After three weeks with a vacillating cold (started with the head, made it’s way to chest), I got the stomach flu…
Thanks to God, it was not nearly as bad as Danny had it; poor guy.
But, I laid in bed pondering on what I did to enrage God that He would inflict me so and with a new baby?
The prophet Job came to mind. Job was a good man and he was truly afflicted.
(You have to forgive me for feeling so pathetic, I was having a low).
Then it occurred to me that I needed to have the flu to protect my precious baby!
Before I began having symptoms, my body was already producing antibodies that my baby got through the breastmilk! So, God is pretty much a genius. I’m grateful it was me – it is so tough to watch a baby suffer.
I would take this bitter pill any day to protect my children!
With my new perspective on being ill, I decided to embrace life and watch The Office on Netflix.
By the time I started throwing up, Danny was feeling better and was able to watch the boys. Wiley got an overload of screen time and watched Octonauts all day and Tyler destroyed things…but I didn’t have to stress about the imperfections of the day, because I got to rest.
Another bright spot to the day yesterday was a friend who brought over the best remedy to fight any illness: homemade chicken noodle soup, homemade bread, oranges, Saltines and Perrier.
It was probably no big deal for her, but it meant the world to me.
After a day and a half of rest, I was able to get my camera out for baby girl’s two month photos.
Now that we are all on the road to full health, I have a lot of projects I want to get started…I’ve decided to repaint my dining room chairs, again.
I am so done being pregnant for a while – which means I might get a chance to get my house in order.
The last thing I remember was, I had a baby…the other baby in August of 2014. Then, I was having a baby.
About the time I got serious about getting back in shape in Jan/Feb of 2015, I joined a beach body fitness group…my entire family had whooping cough (yes we’d been vaccinated, thanks).
Sick as a person with whooping cough, who is taking care of two small people with whooping cough, can be – I still started my fitness challenge the day the rest of the group did.
A month into my fitness challenge, I was growing another human again.
I was eating well, just got off antibiotics, and exercising regularly – so I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired.
Well, truth be told, I knew (deep down) that I was pregnant, but hadn’t excepted or tested the fact yet.
Here I am less than a year later with another baby laying next to me. My brain is not… what it is capable of being. I can’t remember some people’s names, I can’t recall words I used to know (I think I still know them, somewhere in there…) and every day feels like yesterday.
We’ve had a wedding, births, deaths (in my extended family), holidays in all those yesterdays. Where has today gone? Just another yesterday now.
My husband has been just as tired and overworked as I am. This winter vacation has been such a blessed and lazy affair.
We have had a very short visit to see my family this break and a weekend visit with Danny’s parents.
I was mind boggling tired with each visit and forgot to get pictures of my kids with their grandparents!! I was so grateful for the time we had together.
I’m enjoying this “honeymoon” of sorts with a(nother) new baby! The long days just cuddling are slowly fading and I’m slowly pulling myself together.
It’s good to exercise my mind again – with the whole blogging thing – and having just looked at a calendar, I can see that today is Monday…January 2016!
Wishing you all the best while facing your trials and reaping your blessings of another year.
My aunt Julie read a poem at Grampa’s funeral, one that he had found in a newspaper years ago and one that he shared with many, that was a much needed reminder to me – in many ways.
I have saved the xeroxed copy Grampa gave to me and I wanted to share it with you.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit – Rest if you must, but don’t quit.
Life is queer with it’s twist and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow – you may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than, it seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up, When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down…how close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out – the silver tint to the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
I sent the following email to my younger brother in Africa last week:
I have been sick this week and I have a week and a half left of this pregnancy…
So, I slowly get anything accomplished – including emails.
After waking up today with a weird rash on my arms and legs, fighting a cold and…well, one other thing that left me feeling yucky the words of one of my favorite hymns came into my mind.
Isn’t it great how the Spirit can bring such things into our remembrance? That’s why studying the things that matter are so important, they are a balm of healing when we are in need.
Anyway, the words to ‘Praise to the Man’ came into my mind, “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” This pregnancy is a great sacrifice for me, some women love this time of creation – I don’t, I don’t love anything about it, except for the blessing that follows – I love my children.
Sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice unless is requires work, patience/long suffering, a bit of discomfort and times where you feel all alone. It is our own personal mini-Gethsemane that we are called to walk through…though, unlike the Savior, we are not asked to walk it alone.
I know that I don’t walk this life alone, there have only been moments where I feel really lonely…usually after everyone in the house has gone to bed.
I’m awake, uncomfortable, aching, heartburning (I get nauseated from heartburn), and brain buzzing from the overproduction of hormones.
Although I’m far away from family and my closest friends, I have such a great support group of friends and acquaintances here in Columbia, Missouri – I am very grateful for my life and for the people in it.
I’m grateful for this yearly time to reflect on the things we are grateful for – because when we stop to count our blessings, especially during times of trials – we can see how much we have.
If you have family or friends who love you like a family – then you are blessed.
now…I just need to remember this every day for the next six days, as I wait for this baby to arrive.
Peace and Comfort to those of you in this world who are truly suffering – you are in my prayers.
I think for me, I reached a point where I had cried on and off for so long watching my Grandparents deteriorate, when I received the news that late last night my Grampa and close friend had passed away – I didn’t cry.
My mind is a unorganized matrix of thoughts and stories…what do I share?
For me, when I learned of his passing, my frist reaction was one of gratitude that he no longer suffers.
Grampa had been sick for a long time and had a great desire to be free of pain.
His life began, not far from where it ended, in Oklahoma.
After graduating medical school from the University of Oklahoma, he started in a small general practice up in Montana. It only took a year for Grampa to decide that general practice was not for him, so he uprooted the family again to Minnesota for his fellowship in orthopedics.
When his academic training was completed, he returned to Oklahoma and began the long road of building his private orthopedic practice, leaving gramma to shoulder the burden of raising their six kids.
Some things I know about Grampa White, he loved people, he admired hard work, and he appreciated beauty.
One of the greatest things I have to thank him for is he never asked me to do a job for him that he did not already do, and he took the time to show me.
He usually started out working side by side with me, until I got the job going as well as he would do and only then did he go off to complete another job he needed done.
When I moved in with my grandparents at the age of 18, there were many things I needed learn, about life and myself.
I lacked confidence in my intellectual capabilities and grampa pushed me onto things I didn’t think I could do.
Gramps paid for my college education, so naturally he had some say in the courses I took.
He still let me take music classes, fluff courses (kickboxing, intro to rock climbing..etc), but he had me take physics and other science courses.
I always had to take between 18 to 21 credit hours a semester – otherwise, I “had too much free time.” 🙂
The semester I only had to take 11 credits to graduate with an associates degree? He made me get a job, outside of working for him and gramma, too much free time made one idle.
He wrote the checks, but I was called into his office for many “dialogues” to discuss my grades, my goals, how I was spending my time.
I can say with absolute truth that I would not have graduated from college, doing as well as I did, without that kind of mentoring.
Like many 18-23 year olds, I lacked direction and he helped guide me down the right path.
[If for you it isn’t college, or vocational training, you need to have a skill, you need to be productive. Sitting around never accomplished anything.]
I really got to know my grampa well over the years while doing housework. Grampa would come up to me, coffee in hand, and start telling me stories while I was cleaning the kitchen.
It always seemed to be a good time to chat while I was cleaning the kitchen.
He would tell me stories about his children, his life as a doctor, the army years, et cetera. Sometimes we would talk about my future. Almost every story had a teaching moment for me to glean something from – and I did – I was listening.
Years down the road, I would sometimes feel like I had become a disappointment (it was during those waitressing years after my degree when I was trying to figure out what I really wanted out of life.)
I would recall the one conversation we had about the economics course I was taking and he would say, “hey, maybe you’ll end up studying economics at Cambridge.”
I never had a desire to study economics at Cambridge, whether some else was picking up the tab or not.
When I had fully committed to becoming a wife and mother, I never heard a disparaging remark, only kindness and love from my grampa.
I try to be the best, most well rounded, wife and mother I can be. An educated wife and mother. I try to pass along the things he taught me, because that is the best way I can repay him.