The Day You Should Have Been Born.

My Dearest Clara,

Today is the day you should have been born.  Today is the day, had you not decided to come earlier like your brothers, we would have had a C-section scheduled.  Today is the day I should have held you in my arms for the first time, seen your sweet face, smelled your baby smell.  This is the day our family should have been complete.

I’ve been dreading this day, Sweet Daughter.  I’ve had this letter mentally written for weeks.  When September rolled around, I got a pit in my stomach; and as this day has drawn closer and closer, every morning I’ve woken up wanting to puke.  Because this day is not just the day you should have been born, but a reminder of the things that should have been, could have been, and likely never will be.

This day is a reminder that I should be holding you in my arms instead of typing this while sitting in a coffee shop with tears running down my cheeks.  I should be anxiously awaiting your brothers to get out of school so they can meet you-  a sister they were so excited to have.  I should be feeling relief that you made it here safe and sound.  I should be feeling contentment, that our family was complete and whole.

This day is a reminder that I will never get to watch you grow up.  I will never get to see you twirl around in a princess dress and wrap your baby dolls up in blankets.  I will never get to take you to get your ears pierced or put your hair in a ponytail.  I will never get to have a girl’s day with you shopping.  I will never get to hear about your crush or watch you go on a first date.  I will never get to watch you fall in love with Jesus.  I will never get to watch your Brothers be fierce protectors of their Baby Sister.  Oh Clara, Wyatt had been praying for a sister since the day he found out you were in my belly.  Before that even!  He would have loved you so fiercely, the way only a brother can love a sister.  I will never get to see you wrap your Daddy around your little finger or watch him walk his Little Girl down the aisle.

This day is a reminder that while I love your Brothers with all that I am, our family will forever feel like a piece is missing.  This day is a reminder that, barring an act of Divine Intervention, I will likely never see that test say positive again, feel a baby move in my belly again, never experience the first cry again.

What would you look like?  Would you have curly hair like me?  Would you have your Daddy’s blue eyes like your brothers?  Would you have been a whirlwind of energy like Logan or more reserved like Isaac?  What would it have been like to have a little pink bundle in a house full of Boys?

I miss you, my Daughter.  I sleep with a blanket with your name on it every night because it makes me feel just a little bit closer to you.  Losing you was the hardest thing I have ever been through.  But you make me braver, Sweet Girl.  You make me stronger.  You make me so grateful for what I have- your Daddy, your Brothers, our family.  You give me the courage to fight for the things that matter in this world- quality time with those that mean the most to us and serving those who are hurting.  You give me a passion and an empathy for others struggling, and you taught me how to not only give grace because we don’t know what others are going through at any given time, but to receive it in return when our world was falling apart.  I never held you outside of my belly, Clara, but you changed my entire world.

So today, snuggle in a little closer in Jesus’ arms.  Know that you are missed and loved oh-so-much.  And I can’t wait to braid your hair and hear all about Heaven when I get there.

Mommy

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The Morning We Had an Epic Dance Party

The school year is back in full swing, and I now have two in Elementary school (and one close behind in preschool!).  Our evenings come with spelling words, activities and decent bedtimes.  The Little Years are quickly coming to an end, and I find myself in this whole new stage of parenting without even realizing I’ve entered it.

During the Little Years, the days are long and often times exhausting.  You’re depended on for every little thing.  You need to kiss owies, get more Goldfish and help them learn not to throw themselves on the floor when they don’t get the things they want.  Your days are consumed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and wondering if you’re doing enough.  You’re worried about if they’re walking on time and if they are learning to share and be kind.  You’re working hard to make sure they learn manners, their letters and numbers, and are respectful of others.  The Little Years are full of challenges, and for the last several years, that’s all I’ve known.  But these last few weeks, I’ve realized just how much my Littles are becoming Big Kids.

Ever since the school year has started, Wyatt has inevitably forgotten something at school.  Whether it be his jacket, his lunch box or his KIT binder (which contains his spelling words and weekly Bible verse!  He always seemed to forget this on Fridays too so we were scrambling over the weekends!) something was always left behind.  My frustration was starting to grow.  I’ll be honest, my instinct was consequences.  Take away his Kindle time if he forgets his binder again?  Lose some of his monthly allowance?  I was still mulling this whole situation over.  Then on a Thursday morning, I went to get his snack bags to get his snacks ready for the day…and they were not in his backpack.  That’s it! went through my mind.  What can I do about this?!  But then I had this huge realization: if I didn’t write things down in my planner, I’d forget pretty much everything I need to do.  How can I punish my child for something I struggle with myself?!  While Wyatt was brushing his teeth that morning, I got out a sticky note and wrote “Do you have…” along with a list of the items he needed to bring home each night.  We took the sticky note to school and his teacher taped it to his desk where he can see it every single day.  Guess what?  He hasn’t forgotten a thing since that day.

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Isaac has been having a rough transition to full day school.  He went Tuesdays and Thursdays for full days in pre-k last year, but now it’s full time.  Monday through Friday.  That’s been tough on him.  The first week was great.  It was exciting and new.  The last few weeks, not so much.  He’s cried most mornings because he doesn’t want to go to school, and when you ask him why, he says “It’s just so long!”  We had a discussion about how if he doesn’t go to school, Mommy and Daddy get in trouble with the police, and it’s not really an option.  That seemed to help… for about a week.  Yesterday when I woke him up for school, it was the worst meltdown yet.  My heart broke for him.  I tried to talk to him, but my emotional Little Bug, when he gets that worked up, there’s no talking to him.  I racked my brain.  He was getting help with schoolwork and handwriting.  He was making new friends.  When I picked him up from school, he was happy and excited and went on and on about his day.  The issue was only in the morning when getting ready for school.  So at dinner (when we weren’t in the middle of a meltdown), I asked him again, “Hey Buddy, how come you don’t like going to school in the mornings?”  His response (and yes it took all of me not to laugh) “I just need something to get me pumped up and excited for school in the mornings!”

So this morning, I woke him up.  I told him to hurry up, make his bed and get dressed then come upstairs for breakfast because we were going to have a dance party!  I had an entire play list of upbeat songs just for the kiddos.  When he came upstairs, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” was blasting from my phone, and I was dancing up a storm.  Isaac giggled,  Logan busted out some preschooler-hip-hop moves and Wyatt gave me the “you’re-weird-mom” look (yes, we’re entering that stage), but had a smirk and was soon picking songs with the rest of them.  Music played all through breakfast.  The Boys were ready in record time for school.  All smiles.  No tears.  It was awesome!

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As I thought about the whole experience this morning, I realized my parenting role was slightly changing.  My role isn’t so much to fix things for them any more, but to help them figure out how to deal with obstacles and situations.  Wyatt didn’t need consequences to help him remember to bring his things home each night.  He needed me to help him figure out how to remember to bring his things home.  There may still be underlying issues with Isaac and school (that we are working through with Occupational Therapy), but he needed me to help him figure out how to have a positive attitude and get excited, even when it’s not something we necessarily want to do.

I want my Boys to be respectful, kind, caring men.  I want them to learn to process and deal with their problems and obstacles, not blame them on others or expect others to fix them.  I want my boys to learn that when they work hard for things they want, when they finally get them, they are so much sweeter.  I want my boys to take responsibility for their actions, to help others out the of the goodness of their hearts and always have a positive attitude.  And these are the years to instill those values.  Right now, when their problems are little, and I can help them solve them.  Right now, when their biggest obstacles are forgetting lunch boxes and not being a morning person.  Right now, before the problems get bigger and harder and more complex.

I have thoroughly loved the Little Years, and I’m clinging to Logan’s last one like nobody’s business.  I will forever wish my Babies were little again and will forever wish I had rocked them one last time.  But I’m also realizing that these Big Kid years are just as rewarding.  They are reading and learning new skills.  They can rationalize and start naming their emotions.  They still have the innocence of the Little Years, and just like I’m soaking up every last bit of Logan’s last Little Year, I’ll cling to these Big Kid years too.

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Because more than anything, I want my Boys to know I love them unconditionally.  I love them with the fierce love that my Savior has for me.  I want them to know that their little feelings of not wanting to get up in the morning matter so much to me, that I will throw an epic dance party to help them start the day right.  I want them to know that I can help them solve forgetting their binder at school so that they trust that I can help them solve bigger problems when the time comes.

The world is full of complex issues.  Real-life problems are so much harder than a simple sticky note, and it’s our job as parents to prepare them for that.  So we start small.  We start with giving them confidence in the little things so that when they face the big ones, they feel adequately prepared and know that we are always there to help navigate those issues…and have an epic dance party if needed.

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How I Meal Plan Part 1: The Basics

A few weeks ago I shared in our Rustic Posy Community group (found here http://www.facebook.com/groups/rusticposyboutique) a few of my favorite cookbooks for meal planning…and I got loads of questions on how I meal plan, where to start and plenty of people who commented they wished they could stick to a meal plan.  I planned to write this post at that time, but then my auto-immune issues cranked it into high gear so I’ve been in survival mode.

Even in survival mode, we stuck (mostly) to our meal plan, and I still managed to get groceries ordered and dinner made.  The thing is, since my auto immune issues have worsened, I’ve had to adjust my meal planning strategies!  I realized, this post needed to come in two parts.  This first part is going to be the basics.  It will be followed by a second part that’s going to be a little more detailed on how I plan for my auto immune diet, which can easily be tailored to planning any kind of special diet (ie- gluten-free, weight-loss oriented, etc.).

People tend to feel the need to meal plan for two main reasons-  to save money and simplify the meal making process.  It’s the never-ending question at 5:30pm-  what’s for dinner?!  I feel like I need to make one other disclaimer at this point-  what works for me, may not work for you.  Like all things when it comes to simplifying and organizing, there’s not a one-size fits all method.  It’s trial and error, tweaking and changing until you find the perfect fit for you and your needs.  You need to meal plan around your budget and your family’s needs and not anyone else’s.  This is a great place to start, but you may find you need to make a few adjustments to make it work for you!

I meal plan once a week.  I know there are people out there who plan two weeks at a time or even a whole month at a time (props to you amazing women!).  Planning once a week is what works for us.  I generally know what my next week is going to look like, know what produces will still be good in my fridge, etc.  In general, I don’t plan my sides, just my main dishes.  We have a pretty standard set of sides that go with most meals including rice dishes, various vegetables, breads, potato dishes, etc.  I do all my planning the day before my weekly grocery pick-up (thank you Wal-Mart grocery pick-up!  If you still need to try it out, use this code for $10 off your first pick-up order:  http://r.wmt.co/jGBtG ).  Currently for me, my planning day is Wednesday.  Now because I’m one of those weird people who get a crazy high off of organizing and planning, I love meal planning day.  It’s usually relaxing for me.  I also love to cook, so searching for new recipes to try is very leisurely for me.  Don’t overcomplicate it!  Yes, there are some amazing printables out there, but my planner works just fine.  In fact, I used to just write it out on a sticky note and stick it in my planner!  When I got my new planner, I customized it to include a meal planning section.  It’s where my life schedule is so for me, it makes sense to have my meal plan there too.

Everyone should have some go-to recipes.  If you don’t like cooking or new recipes, I’d suggest coming up with 20 or so basic recipes that you can rotate between.  If you’re like me and love to try new recipes, I have roughly 10-15 basic recipes I rotate through and then add three or four new recipes to try each week.  Some of our rotated recipes include:  spaghetti (a kiddo fav), sausage and eggs (because you can eat breakfast anytime!), taco bake or tacos, chicken alfredo and baked chicken.

When I sit down to meal plan, I do two things before I even start.  First, I check if there are any meals from the week before that didn’t get made.  Those automatically move to the week’s meal plan because I have already purchased the ingredients for those particular meals.  Second, I go through my freezers, pantry and fridge and note what proteins I have and any produce and perishables that need to be used up.  We are so incredibly blessed to get a large majority of our proteins from Greg’s parents on the farm, but around this time of the year, we start to run low on all of our proteins so I make darn sure I’m using the proteins already in my freezers.  (Another tip- when the budget is tight, I highly recommend planning a couple meatless meals during the week.  Greg is a huge meat-guy, but I’ve managed to find a few meatless meals even he enjoys!)

Once I have those lists I go my cookbooks and Pinterest and look for meals that would use up my current produce, perishables and meat.  I have some amazing boards on my Pinterest page.  Feel free to check them out here:  https://www.pinterest.com/rusticposy/  Now here is where people can get frustrated with meal planning:  you plan an amazing week of meals which is great, but you forget to account for what your week holds.  I know that on Monday, my son has taekwondo from 4:45pm-5:15pm.  If I plan a meal that requires a lot of hands-on prep plus a 40 minute cook time, that’s simply not going to work.  I’m going to end up ordering pizza and be frustrated because my meal plan “didn’t work.”  So look at your schedule and plan accordingly!

As you’re making your meal plan, make your grocery list.  Check your pantry for ingredients you may already have so you’re not buying items unnecessarily.  I tend to make a grocery list and star the items I need to check on so I’m not constantly getting up to check my pantry.  What I love about picking up my groceries is that I don’t get lost in Target-land and put unnecessary things in my cart!  Haha!  I also love that I can see my total before I checkout.  I can see if I’m over budget and if there’s anything I can wait to get until next week.

To keep my pantry stocked on my basics, anytime something is taken out of it (a new bottle of ranch, olive oil, etc.), it immediately goes on my grocery list.  This way, I’m never out of something I use on a regular basis, and I don’t have to make quick trips to the grocery store down the street in the middle of the week (and pay double the price!).

Below are some of my fav cookbooks (missing are the Whole30 cookbooks!).  We try and eat a very “real food” diet with as little processed foods as possible.  Partly due to my auto immune issues and partly because it’s just healthier for you 😉

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Weekdays are busy and hectic with school and running to various activities so I make sure my weekday meals are easy prep and quick.  I work from home, so I’m able to start my meal prep earlier than those who work 8-5, then have to pick-up kids and get home and start dinner.  For you guys, I’d highly recommend some sort of meal prepping on the weekend, even if it’s just chopping your veggies, pre-measuring them out and putting them in labeled containers or bags for quick retrieval!

Because I really enjoy cooking, I tend to plan meals for Saturday and Sunday that involve a little more time.  I involve my kids and let them help measure, prep meat, etc.  They love getting to use kitchen tools and pour liquids, I get to teach them basic life skills and we get to spend quality time together.  These are the meals that can bake for an hour in the oven or cook for 6 hours in the slow cooker and make the house smell amazing.   (PS- if you’re willing to do a little extra prep work one evening or on the weekend, crockpot freezer meals will save you sooo much time!)

Below is a sample week of my basic meal plan.  I never used to plan breakfasts or lunches because I work from home and would just eat whatever I found to make.  But as I mentioned above, with my auto immune diet, I had to tweak that so we’ll cover that more in Part 2!  I currently meal plan on Wednesdays and pick up my groceries on Thursdays.

H-  Ham Casserole

F-  Twice Baked Potatoes (See! Meatless meals!)

S-  Italian Dressing Grilled Chicken

S-  Stuffed Cube Steak

M-  Sausage and Eggs

T-  Chicken Alfredo

W-  Baked Shells with Ricotta

Here’s the thing though-  life happens.  You can have a perfectly set meal plan but sometimes things come up, you get home later than planned, you  just simply don’t feel like cooking (if this happens to me, it’s usually on Friday evening!).  So here’s the other thing I want you to do:  stock up on a few quick items.  Have frozen pizzas and extra chicken breasts on hand.  Keep extra canned or frozen veggies and rice dishes on hand for these nights.  I can make a quick chicken meal that has five minutes of prep, bakes for a half hour and dinner is on the table!  If you’re making a casserole or spaghetti or soup, make a double batch and freeze half for these types of nights.  Don’t beat yourself when you have these nights!  Life is not about perfection, but we can be prepared for the things that pop-up, not get too stressed out, stay on budget and still feed our families.  And when all else fails, make eggs and toast 😉

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So there’s the basics!  How I meal plan, how I’m able to stick to my meal plan and all the details!  As I mentioned above, I recently had to change up my meal planning strategy due to my auto-immune diet.  In Part 2 of this post, I’ll focus on how I plan for my breakfasts and lunches and also how I do a little more detailed planning for dinner (because I promise my kids are not going to eat the roasted peppers, onions and tomatoes that come out of the oven!).  In the meantime, if you have any questions or struggles with meal planning, I’d love to help!  Comment here or contact me!  Blessings to you, Friends ❤

The Day We Skipped Baseball.

I feel like it needs to be said right from the get-go that Greg and I are firm believers that if you commit to something, you see it through.  Wyatt finished out his summer soccer season last year even though he strongly disliked it after the first week.  Baseball would be no different for Isaac.  Now Isaac doesn’t necessarily hate baseball…he’d just rather play in the dirt than pay any attention to what’s going on.  But, he wanted to play baseball, so we signed him up (and paid the money!), so he will finish the summer season out.

This morning though, this morning as I was drinking my coffee having some quiet moments with Jesus (because my house was still quiet at 7:30am!), I started hearing this whimpering that escalated to wailing.  I wandered down the hall to figure out which Little needed consoling so early in the morning.  (Let’s be completely honest here- I was mildly pretty darn irritated that I was already having to deal with a meltdown.  I mean, no one had even come out of their room yet!)  I figure out it’s Isaac, go into his room, ask him what’s up and get… “I don’t want to to go to baseballllllll today!” We chatted (or I tried to chat, he continued to whine at me about not wanting to go) back and forth for a minute before I just turned and walked back to the living room, leaving him to whine.

You see, I had this conundrum going on.  On one hand, I didn’t want him to think that by whining about something so atrociously, he would get what he wanted.  On the other hand, I’d noticed all three of my kiddos had been acting out lately.  Way more than normal kids being kids things.  (Last night, we ran errands and it…was…awful.)  Even at home, just the general disobedience and attitudes had escalated in the last week or so.  Isaac seemed to speak in an incessantly whiny voice.  Wyatt was pushing buttons and picking on his brothers.  Logan was literally losing his cool over every little scratch he got.  Consequences had become more frequent and stronger.  My patience was wearing thin.  My Mama-soul was tired.

But yesterday I read this post by an acquaintance of mine on Facebook.  She and her husband have adopted three of their five children.  The adopted Littles were adopted from overseas and spent some agonizing time in orphanages.  She had written a post about how one of them reverts to his behaviors that stem from his orphanage trauma every once in a while through no fault of his own.  This particular day, this had happened…and she had wanted to punish him for his unacceptable behavior- have a time out, lose a privilege, something!  Instead though, she took him for some one-on-one time.  She loved on him.  For him, it was quality time that showed him unconditional love.

There is much, much more to the story than this short little blurb, and I can’t pretend that this even remotely relates to what that sweet boy goes through, but Jesus used that post to speak to my mama-heart in a very real way.  I realized these last two weeks, we’d been running a lot which means I’d been having to squeeze work in in-between all the running.  My stress level was higher which means my patience was thinner.  All day yesterday, I thought about that post.  All day it was on my heart.  My quality time with my Babies was lacking, and they were letting me know the best way their little hearts could.

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So today, we skipped baseball.  While the boys played, I secretly packed up a lunch.  We made a stop at the Welcome House to drop off some milk, sugar and bread we had picked up the night before which led to an amazing discussion on serving others whenever we can.  Then, I surprised them with a day at the zoo.  I mean, the entire day.  And we went at their speed.  Every section of the zoo became a world they “battled” their way through in some imaginary game they had started at home.  We made multiple trips back to the bathrooms which led to going through the same exhibit multiple times.  We had lunch by the camels.  We rode the train.  We had ice cream.  I let them run.  I let them have their adventures.  And I will never forget when we’d been there a few hours.  The boys were playing on the playground, and Wyatt came running over to me and put his arms around me.  He just sat there like that for a while, turned and looked at me and said “I love you, Mom” and then he was back to looking for some gopher (bad guy) that had gone into his hole by the swans.

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Mamas, don’t blink!  Our time with our Babies is so, so precious and so, so fleeting.  Don’t underestimate the simple things.  It doesn’t have to be a big spectacle or a meticulously planned vacation.  It just needs to simply be.  I know we hear this all the time, but I feel like the more we hear it, the more it begins to fall on deaf ears.  Since losing Clara, I’ve made conscious efforts to be with my kids more and to cherish that time.  I’ve made it a point to use my time more wisely so that I don’t miss out on these little years with my Babies.  While there are times the days seem so, so long, these days are also such precious gifts.  These are days we are blessed to have.

I needed that quality time just as much as they did today.  Today I saw the best behavior, the best attitudes, the best listening I’ve seen in weeks.  Today  had the most patience I’ve had in weeks.  I wasn’t annoyed by the little stories I’ve heard over and over…and over.  Today my tone was softer.  Today I didn’t worry about work, finances, life.  Today I was present with my boys at the zoo.  Today I watched from afar as the three of them played on a bridge, and my entire soul smiled.

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Today was one of the best days ever.

The Time I Ugly Cried

I ugly cried in the shower today.  Not a few tears or tears streaming down my cheeks.  Ugly, sobbing, couldn’t catch my breath crying.  The kind of crying you do when you simply can’t think of anything else to do.  When things seem so far out of your control, you feel like your only recourse is to cry.  I’m a fairly emotional person and find I need to ugly cry every few months or so.  The ugly cry comes when I’ve been doing my best to keep it all together, stressed beyond words with multiple things expected of me.  The ugly cry makes my eyes and my head hurt, and while I feel so much better afterwards, today I thought to myself while I know women just need to cry sometimes (I totally get that), why does it take getting to this point for it to happen?

Sometimes the Ugly Cry has good reason.  The last time it happened was when we lost our Baby Girl.  We found out her heart was no longer beating on a Monday evening.  To be honest, I had little emotion.  I had had this weird gut feeling for the last few days that something was wrong, but was trying to write it off as being paranoid from previous miscarriages.  All I could think of was what was next.  Tell family and friends. Check.   Call the doctor Tuesday morning.  Check.  Ultrasound and doctor appointment.  Check.  Discuss options and schedule surgery.  Check.  It wasn’t until Tuesday evening when I was in the shower (that’s where I prefer to do my ugly crying), that I completely lost it.  This was a justified Ugly Cry.  Heartbreak deserves ugly crying.

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But what about other times?  How do I let myself get to this point?  Since losing Clara, I’ve been making it a point to spend my time on things that matter to me, not others.  I make time to do the things that bring joy to my soul.  I literally schedule time to bake, go to the gym and make sure  my kids are getting plenty of mommy-time.  But this last week?  I’ve felt pressure from all directions that took some of that time away from me.  The stress of finances while we wait to see if workforce insurance is going to cover my husband’s back injury has me moving savings around to cover his six days of missed work and overtime.  The stress of needing to make my work quotas to ensure I get my monthly bonus.  This last weekend, I had a lot of places I was supposed to be, but I also had cranky kids, have been battling an ongoing stress headache (remember I said this last week has been tough) and it was Father’s Day weekend.  I finally realized I had to choose, and I couldn’t do it all.  I prayed for grace for the things I decided to opt out of.  My hubby lovingly let me go the gym after a busy morning of serving my amazing customers on Saturday, knowing that working out is a huge stress reliever for me.  Sunday, we spent some amazing family time together and did yard work but still didn’t get it all done.

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This morning, as I looked at my to do list, realizing how far behind I was, it all culminated into the Ugly Cry.  I’ve been working really hard on being ok with it when the vacuuming doesn’t get done the day I planned to do it.  I’ve been learning to be ok with it when I don’t check off everything on my to-do list for the day because I chose to go to the zoo with my kids instead.  But as I write this and stare at my sink full of dirty dishes (and cupboardless kitchen cabinets because life has kept us from completing the project by the time we wanted to), I can’t help but think of all the women just like me.  The women who strive to do it all and chide themselves when they don’t get it all done.  The women who work hard to please others and feel guilty when they fail or don’t do what others think they should do.  The women who try as they might to keep their stress levels down find themselves ugly crying in the shower because her checkbook makes her nauseous right now and she’s cut everything from her budget that month that she possibly can and she has to pay for her dog to get fixed tomorrow because he’s started marking everything in the house.

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To my fellow Ugly-Criers, you are Daughters of the King.  You are loved and your value and worth is not derived from how much of your to-do list you get done or how many people you please on this Earth.  Take a deep breath, and take a good look at that to-do list.  Will the world end if the laundry doesn’t get folded today?  Will things fall apart if you take an extra day to get those bathrooms cleaned?  Will your Friends disown you if you decide to go MIA from Pinterest night?  Don’t ever, for one second, feel guilty about taking the time to do the things that make your soul happy.  Don’t ever, for one second, feel bad about choosing family time over other’s expectations of you.

When we found out Wyatt had Sensory Processing Disorder, we had to be stricter in some areas and experiment with different therapies until we found what worked for him.  I know we were judged harshly by some for some of those decisions, but my child’s well-being was far more important than what somebody thought of my parenting.  My Friends, your well-being is no different.  Say “no” to the things you don’t need to do, even if you disappoint others.  Heck, say “no” to the things you don’t want to do!  When you look back on the years, you will never once regret saying no to something so that you could do something that made your soul sing or your children smile from ear-to-ear.  Schedule that time at the gym.  Schedule time to read on the deck with a glass of wine.  Skip the yard work for a day and go to the zoo.  To be clear- I’m not saying abandon all responsibilities.  I’m one of those people who get super stressed out by a disorganized home so keeping it orderly is a priority for me.  What I am saying is don’t get so focused on the to-do lists and expected activities that you miss out on the things that make you happy.  Choose joy, even if it means you take your kid out of one of their five activities so you can enjoy more time as a family.  Give yourself grace to to do those things.

And sometimes, you just need to ugly cry.  Sometimes, you need to scream and let all those emotions out.  Then you get to look at the world through those tears and realize you are right where you’re meant to be.  You have so much to be grateful for.  You have no need to worry because Jesus holds the world in His hands, and Sisters, He has your back.

The Day He Turned Seven

Today my oldest turned seven.  SEVEN.  Seven years ago at this time I was desperately trying to feel up to going to see my baby in the NICU after my first C-Section.  (I wouldn’t lay eyes on him for about 6 hours after he was born, and it would be another five days before I would hold him.)  Friends, this one has been hard for me.  Do you notice that or is it just me?  Some years I do ok with them entering a new year of life.  Some years I have a really hard time.  This is one of those years.  Some time in April, it really hit me.  I really started noticing that he has become a “big kid.”  He can read things to me.  He tells knock-knock jokes that are actually funny.  He tells me things about history and science.  He plays Battleship and understands the strategy of it.  He can reach things in higher places.  He can do things I used to have to do for him.  He asks harder questions.  He’s seven.

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Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am incredibly grateful and blessed that my babies are healthy and thriving and growing.  But I am so sad at the same time because those “little years” are quickly coming to an end.  And for Wyatt, I am already missing them.  The snuggles are becoming rarer.  The requests for assistance with the basics are becoming less frequent.  Little by little, we give him a little more independence, and he dances off into the day handling it with ease.  He makes me so incredibly proud, but when they say the time goes so fast, they ain’t lying.

That big kid has taught me so much from the very beginning.  He taught me about trusting God’s timing.  We tried for almost a year to get pregnant and suffered a miscarriage before he came along. He came into this world seven weeks early.  He taught me about patience as I laid in a hospital bed for a week before we decided to induce labor, and then when we did, he wouldn’t come.   He spent a month in the NICU.  I was convinced Wyatt would come home on his one month birthday.  The NICU nurses gently tried to tell me it was highly unlikely.  He taught me about prayer as I fervently prayed every single day to bring my baby home.  He taught me about faith and the power of seeking as we walked out of the hospital, baby in tow, exactly one month after he was born.

He has taught me about humbleness.  Wyatt is easily my toughest child.  His crazy energy and unending quest to climb all the things keeps me busy.  But when he was four and five, I felt like the most unqualified mother ever.  Wyatt couldn’t control his behavior.  It took him hours to fall asleep at night.  I researched and researched.  Nothing I tried would help.  I could look at him and see he physically couldn’t calm himself down.  I humbly had to ask for help when I knew I could no longer do it on my own.  I felt like a failure with one of “those kids” who couldn’t stay calm.  We sought out a couple different professional opinions before finally learning he has a form of Sensory Processing Disorder.  He’s taught me about advocating for my child when no one else will.  Not being willing to accept something when I know in my gut there’s a deeper issue.

But most of all, this child has taught me about grace.  Grace when I lose my patience and yell.  Grace when I humbly go to him to apologize and ask forgiveness to show him that everyone makes mistakes.  Grace when he immediately falls into my arms and tells me he loves me.  Grace when he makes mistakes, and I have to allow natural consequences to follow, even though I could rescue him, because I want him to know his actions have consequences.  Grace when I feel like I’m failing as a mother (like spelling ‘birthday’ wrong on his already very un-Pinteresty cake!).  Grace when he has a rough day at school because he couldn’t calm down enough to listen to the teacher, and I remind him that we all have bad days.  Grace, grace, grace.  How to extend it and how to receive it.

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To My Firstborn, I know you have so much more to teach me as we enter these “big kid” years, but I am ever so thankful that tonight you climbed up beside me on the couch to snuggle.  This Mama’s heart cherishes those fleeting moments because it feels like tomorrow I will wake up and you’ll be driving, bringing home a girlfriend or heading off to college.  Happy Birthday to you.  I am so honored that God chose me to be your Mama.

The Time Cycle Class Almost Killed Me

I went back to the gym today.  I thought I was going to die 20 minutes into my Cycle class… on the lowest setting.  I thought I was going to puke when I was done with the 45 minute class.  True story.  I was praying I could make it the locker room before I lost my yogurt.  (I was fine, by the way.)  Why I decided to go back to the gym and attend the cycle class with Barb, (whom I think is) the toughest instructor but also one of the most amazing people ever, is beyond me.  But I was determined this morning.

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I haven’t been to the gym since February.  I had started going to the gym regularly the end of October last year and had actually stuck with it.  I was working out with a friend, feeling better about myself and actually feeling stronger.  I had more energy and loved the “me time” of just being able to focus on myself.  (Side note-  I used to think “me time” was kind of selfish.  Then I learned how important it actually is!)  Along came our unexpected pregnancy which came with the worst morning sickness I’ve had with any of my pregnancies.  I was exhausted and constantly nauseous.  Thus ended my gym reign, but I was so nauseous all the time, I actually lost weight that first trimester.  Then.  Then we lost that Baby Girl.  I’m an emotional eater, guys.  Not only am I an emotional eater, but I LOVE to bake and cook.  So I baked all the things, because being in the kitchen is one of my happy places…and then I ate all the things.

Now before I go any further with this post, I want to make something very clear:  I do not for one second think any of our value and worth is placed in how we look.  I think your character and soul and how you treat other people are what make you smokin’ hot.  If your kids are still alive at the end of the day and you’ve made it through the day without tearing another person down, you’re pretty much killing it in my book.

So anyway, back to my gym day today.  I haven’t been feeling good about myself.  I’ve been feeding my body crap food (you all know what I’m talking about).  My Chron’s Disease has been flaring up.  My clothes aren’t fitting quite like they used to.  I don’t have a lot of energy and just plain-old don’t feel well.  I am ready to change that- to get back in control of my health and my energy.  To change some habits that have unfortunately formed.

I’ve been reading this book called “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis.  It’s a fantastic book that I’d recommend to anyone.  One of the things she heavily emphasizes is not breaking promises to yourself.  If you truly want something, you’ll find a way to make it happen.  I promised myself no more emotional eating and that I was going to get back to feeling good about myself.  So this morning, I put on my Jades and sneakers and headed to the gym (where I had my near-death experience).

But here’s the real point of this entire post:  When I got done, I DID NOT feel good about myself right away.  I mean, when you finish a workout like that, you’re supposed to feel amazing.  You just finished a cycle class and didn’t die.  Yay, you!  But all I could think to myself was how out of shape I am.  I used to be able to do so much more in Cycle class.  Barb didn’t used to scare the be-jesus out of me.  ‘Why did you eat so much junk at the lake this weekend?  Of course you feel like crap.’ I had taken this selfie to share with my online community and thought ‘Why the hell am I smiling in this photo?!  There is no way I’m posting this with how crappy I feel.’  (Remember in my last post how I talked about how easy it is to just post the good stuff?)

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Except then I really looked at that selfie.  This red-faced photo (because I get really red when I work-out.  I have no idea why) of me in my workout clothes that don’t quite fit like they used to.  This photo was proof that I’d upheld my promise to myself!  This photo was me DOING something about how I feel about myself.  And just like that, I felt my mindset shift. ‘Girl, you just worked your ass off!  You damn well better post that photo!’

It’s so, so easy to bring our own selves down with our own negative self-talk.  It’s so, so easy to take something that should make us feel awesome and turn it into something that makes us feel defeated.  I have no desire to be ripped, but I’d love to be toned.  I have no desire to run a marathon, but I’d love to be able to run a few miles and not feel like puking.  I really don’t put a lot of stock into the scale (altho I can tell you I weigh more now than I ever have other than when I was pregnant with the boys); I just want to feel better about myself and my health.  I used to think saying positive things about myself was really silly, but I’m learning that it’s actually kind of essential to my well-being.

Today, if this is you, I’d love to invite you to my online community.  You can find the link at the end of this post.  (Yes, my LuLaRoe business is also run from there, but the community that has formed there is so, so much more than clothes.  If you hate it, I will take no offense if you leave, but you may find an amazing group of women who are dealing with some of the same life things you are).  I’m going to be running an accountability group of sorts within and would love to have you join us.

What promises have you made yourself and not been keeping?  What negative self-talk needs to be flipped around?  Start small, my Friends.  Don’t expect to be perfect and make a bunch of changes over night, but for the love of all things good in this world, OWN your successes!  Shout them from the rooftops!  The big and small!  Because as long as you’re moving forward, that’s really all the matters, and it deserves to be celebrated.

My Online Community:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/rusticposyboutique

The Start of Something Beautiful

Hi Friend!  I am so glad you are here.  This is the start of something beautiful, and I’m excited you’re tagging along for the ride.  I don’t know how you found me or what you’re going through, but here, in this place, you will find grace and you will find real.  I hope you will find a friend and someone that “gets you.”

So let me introduce myself!  I’m Melissa!  I live with my amazing hubby in Bismarck, North Dakota.  We have three amazing boys that I absolutely adore.  We also have three sweet babies in Heaven we lost.  Our most recent one was in April at 16 weeks along and that sweet girl has inspired so much even though I never got to hold her.  I love coffee and cooking.  I love baking and reading.  I love going to the lake and organizing.  I love Joanna Gaines, drinking wine and Superhero movies.  I love Jesus more than all those things put together.  So here, in this place, we get to talk about it all!

 

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We get to talk about the fun things-  raising boys and kids in general, baking things that taste amazing, fantastic books to read.  We get to talk about hard things- motherhood struggles, self-confidence and miscarriages.  We get to tackle life together- becoming debt free, running a business from home, organizing and balancing it all.  Because let’s face it, when you have people in the trenches with you, life seems little less scary.  You have a little more courage when you see others having the same struggles, the same fears.  You have more grit when you see others failing but getting up and trying again.

You see, I’ve learned these last few years, that we all seem to have the same struggles and fears.  We all feel like everyone else has it all together while we’re over here floundering and trying to keep our heads above water.  But the truth is, in today’s world, it’s easy to “have it all together” or at least appear so.  It’s easy to just share the good things on Facebook and Instagram- the fun family vacations and amazing family moments.  The perfect dessert and the laundry that’s nicely folded.  Nobody wants to admit they are struggling to lose the last of the baby weight, lost their cool with their kids last night or feel like they just can’t get ahead in their finances.  Nobody talks about how they lost their baby last night at 6 weeks or how their 4-year-old is the most hyper-active child ever and you’ve tried everything to help him control it and you feel like a failure as a mother.  (And  yes, those things are all personal experiences.)

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Here in this place, I get to be completely real.  Here in this place, no masks, no staged moments.  You get real-life- the good, the bad, the triumphs, the struggles.  So grab your cup of coffee, hold your head high and march on.  You have an ally, you have a cheerleader, you have a Friend.   I’ll see you soon!