When You Think You’ve Changed Your Mind

b1

Isn’t life a funny, unscripted shit-show? 

At least in my family it is.

I’ve been a bit MIA because I’m a true rollercoaster of emotions over here, but this post isn’t meant to just be a rambling of my crazy circus-style life. It is meant to help others who may find themselves changing their minds and feeling almost insane because of it. Perhaps my methods may help you sort out your back and forth…

Over the recent months, I have finally started feeling like my normal, motivated, genuinely happy, pre-surprise-baby #5 self. Maybe it’s my hormones finally balancing out. Veda is barely nursing anymore; my cycle has started back after 11+ years of pregnancy and breastfeeding (literally, no cycle for over a decade). I think my body is reclaiming itself – with my mind becoming the star of the show.

It’s quite freeing to feel like me again. 

Along with the fog completely clearing, I am finding myself at a crossroads with our upcoming move. I have fought the midwest for 2.5 years. I have built a wall around myself, guarding from deeper friendships, and disconnecting from so much here. I blamed the winter. The winter is brutal, and my Florida blood just doesn’t enjoy it. I have Raynuad’s disease (autoimmune) where my fingers and toes lose circulation and experience incredible pain when they are cold. It happens even at the grocery store, so the extreme temperatures here have made my love of the outdoors turn into a fear of any temperatures below 50 degrees – which of course is more than half the year. More than the winter, though – my attitude is probably mostly to blame. But, there is beauty everywhere here. There are genuinely good people who I would love to welcome into my life on a regular basis and not just as friends in passing. We have built a life here, and it is wonderful. Our children are thriving in all aspects, too.

b

This leads me to a new place. This leads me to wondering what it would be like if we stayed longer.

When we were in Virginia, we wanted to stay forever. We knew moving was what was needed, though, for John to continue his upward career growth. However, in Omaha, there is potential for many projects to continue that growth. 

I’m torn, you all. I’m torn.

So here I sit, my mind pulling me in a direction I have sworn off for the past 2 years. 

When You Think You’ve Changed Your Mind

My husband thinks I’m riding the crazy train right now, but here’s what I’m doing to sort out my thoughts on our future… Perhaps my methods may help you figure out your confused state. 

Personal Pro Con List

Selfishly, I am starting here. I have to sort out what I like and dislike about this situation.

Family Pro Con List

I will then recruit my kids and ask them to create a list of their own. While most big decisions fall on the adults, it’s nice to at least include the kids and hear their thoughts. 

Family Getaway

We are packing our bags and taking a quick road trip this weekend. It’s time to start exploring a bit more out here, and some quality family time is needed to stay connected and focus on the most important parts of life. 

Getting away with your kids can be a great distraction from the weight of your decision. It can remind you to live in the moment and have fun. It can bring you back to the reality of it all – that in the end, this family is what’s important.

Adults’ Only Getaway

Next month, while we have family in town, John and I are going to escape for a few days. It will give us more than the few minutes we get at home of uninterrupted conversation.

A quick trip together can be fun, of course, but it can also grant you the time you need to breathe and absorb your thoughts – and your partner’s thoughts. 

Exercise

If you are anything like me, sweating it out helps everything. 

Prayer 

There are times to be selfish, and times to look deep at why you are being selfish. This is a time for me to let go and learn about myself. I find myself praying for peace and trust in what choices we make. There is no wrong answer for our family, but that doesn’t make it less difficult. 

I have no idea what will happen in the near future, and it has been eating me up — but I’m hoping I can come to a solid state of peace about it all… but for now, my pro-list is greatly outweighing the con-list.

b4

The hardest part.

We love adventure.

We have made the unknown our lifestyle for over a decade now, and have had 5 children born in 4 different states, with our oldest living in 5 states before she turned 8. Life is definitely anything but boring over here.

o

Here is what I love about this life:

Our marriage. Moving brings John and I closer, as it reminds us that a house is only a house, but we create the home for each other. We can tackle just about anything together, and exploring new places always gives us a rush.

Our family’s bond. I am biased, but these kids of ours are pretty darn cool. They are supportive of one another, look out for each other, and are truly best friends. Watching their relationships develop as we move is inspiring and makes my heart sing.

New friendships. I believe that people are brought into your life at certain points for certain reasons. I have collected several friends who I will cherish for all of my life – but I never would have met them if it weren’t for being relocated every few years. 

New houses. I can’t lie, it’s fun to reuse furniture and decor in a new space. It makes everything feel new. It’s also fun to find new pieces for each house to make it feel like ours. We love putting our touch on each place while also creating memories. We’ll eventually frame a picture of each house we called home.

Purging. We have about zero attachment to many tangible items. We purge things easier than most. Art projects? trash. Toys? gone. 

Freedom to start over. Do you ever just wish that you could start fresh? We actually get to every 2-3 years. This freedom comes with so much happiness, just as you would imagine. 

o2

Here is what is hard:

Packing and Unpacking (Selling and Buying). Yes, movers move us, but it doesn’t come without crazy amounts of organizing things. And just like any trip the worst part is unpacking. Trying to make a new place a home as fast as possible is hard. 

Friendships. Finding friends as an adult is HARD. Mix into that my natural-minded stance on life, homeschooling 5 kids, and working from home, and most women run away from me. 

Kids’ Friends. As hard as it is for me to find new friends, watching my children leave their friends and try to start from zero again is heartbreaking. I know that it makes them strong and confident. They know no different and love having friends all over, but it doesn’t make anything easier.

Kid Sports. I am devastated over moving away from Emmett’s club soccer team here. They have played together for over 2 years and have become an unbelievable family (and force to be reckoned with on the field). When we move, he will be at the age that he will be trying out for travel/club teams that have been playing together since age 5/6…  Then there is winter wrestling, spring baseball, basketball, dance studios, and every other sport these kids want to play. 

Other Activities. I have to find new speech therapists, enroll kids into the school system to receive free therapies, find scout troops, musical theater groups, homeschool coops, museums, memberships, etc.

Miscellaneous Crap. New doctors, chiropractor, dentist, happy hour spots, grocery stores, shopping, etc. EVERYTHING is new.

Finding a Babysitter. This is almost the hardest part of moving when the kids are still at babysitting ages. 

But the hardest part… the hardest part is:

Anxiety.

We have no idea when we will be moved or where we will be moved to. The entire United States is a possibility for us. This is extremely exciting, but a small town BFE town in poe-dunk, USA is NOT where I want to be… I want a say, and I don’t really get one. I suffer from the high highs of adventure, but also from the lows of knowing that time is up but having no say over what is next. I am the one who handles 98% of life at home and the stress is REAL for the 6 moths before an inevitable move occurs….

Can you tell that we are within that move window?

Well, we have about 6-8 months left with no idea what is next.

Scottsdale: A Bucket List Add-On to Your Girls’ Trip Weekends

Many of you know that I flew away (much like running away, but much more glamorous!) to my first girls’ weekend since having kids. That’s over a decade… and previous life was rice-and-beans bank account, so there wasn’t much traveling then, either! One of my nearest and dearest friends had been begging me for a weekend away, but my mom-guilt kept me from saying yes. However, once Veda turned two, I was ready and willing to leave for a few nights. (Yes, she’s still nursing. Yes, I had to pump. Yes, it was worth it.)

87B3AE4A-6BBC-4624-8BBB-D79D67768047

While we have traveled as a family, there is so much to consider when traveling solo. The mother-anxiety is strong. What if I die on the plane and my kids grow up without me? What if something happens while I’m gone? 

CVFA+X4ySSef%qR2FOfBog

Although, packing is fantastic. I had an entire suitcase TO MYSELF. I filled that thing with things that I knew there wasn’t enough time to wear! I didn’t care, I just wanted to fill it with MY THINGS. I packed heels, sneakers, sandals, flip flops, and flats. I packed pool dresses, multiple swimwear, shorts, dinner dresses, and running gear. I packed a sun hat, a straightener, a curling wand, and all.the.makeup. Why not, right? 

6B0F0D7E-F5C0-456D-9924-0A3BCA8DA7FE

Nicole and I are about 17 hours or so apart these days, and we both still have toddlers at home. We needed to find a great location that would be an easy flight. Scottsdale was an obvious choice. I had never been, and the resort looked like a slice of heaven. Little did I know just how heavenly it would be.

AD427C8C-8450-4FDD-8080-FCFBA0DE78E2

If you are considering a weekend away, JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback should be added to your potential destination list. From the moment we arrived, we were escorted on golf carts to our room, which had 360 degree views of the mountains. With a small balcony to sip champagne on, and a second (unbelievably large) patio with lounge chairs, outdoor tables, and privacy, and a sunset unlike anything I have seen. The sky is just different out there. 

448A3B86-D5BA-4A08-B7CA-EF1487EF962F

After popping champagne and locking ourselves on one of the balconies, we were rescued, got glam’d up and headed out to explore. We enjoyed ample amounts of wine – and had no one take care of for 2 days. The food on site was perfect, and the resort is large enough to spend days at without leaving for much. 

6F6B8298-2399-4516-BC5C-CDF180BB9DD9

I decided to wake up before the sun and run the few miles to the base of Camelback Mountain. It was a spontaneous decision that John had planted the seed for, as he has hiked the mountain and described it as a must-conquer experience. With people being helicoptered down every few hours, it was a bit intimidating, especially climbing alone, but once I approached the start, I knew I couldn’t turn back. There were other people hiking – some slowly, others at a pace that screamed ‘I do this every Saturday!’ I was in awe of all of them. The hike was something you need to experience. The views, the trail, the solitude (or company if you want to do it together) were all exactly what I needed on this trip. I had hours to focus on myself and where I am in life right now. I absorbed the moments hiking that mountain and had passing thoughts of:

  • I can’t wait to do this with the kids when they are older.
  • I wish John were here with me.
  • This is too hard.
  • This is freaking unbelievable. 
  • I am a badass.

20BD079D-D784-4815-BD58-D442B7D06CB6

And then I realized just how happy I am right now. I work hard. I mom hard. I wife hard. But my personal cup is constantly full, too. Life is not easy, but it is wonderful.

F2B62D63-E39D-42DF-92A0-2D980DFB2C90

89F985A7-26CF-4227-9526-E7FC4A29D808

After running out, hiking, and running back to the resort, it was time to be pampered. Nicole and I settled on having honey and oats dripped and rubbed over us in our morning treatment. We retreated poolside with friends afterward, where we enjoyed the frozen peaches compliments of our amazing pool boy. (I’m not kidding) We drank, swam, chatted, laughed so hard that we cried, and drank some more. And then, Nicole and I walked (still sans makeup from our first spa treatment) back to the spa for Round 2! This time, we received massages that sent us into deep relaxation. Room service was in order for dinner after that experience. Can you imagine? I ran, climbed a mountain, and received detox massages all in the same day.

fullsizeoutput_33d3

We slept like the queens that we are, in the most comfortable beds, with the doors open and the Arizona air blowing in. The weekend was too fast, but it was much needed. 

75F4F445-C2EA-465D-921B-027B8515ABB5

Every mother needs to retreat somewhere at sometime. Even if it is a decade after becoming a mother. Even if it means anxiety creeps up. Even if it means you leave 5 kids behind and consider skipping your flight back home and extending the trip for another week, or two.

fullsizeoutput_33d8

10 Ways to Save Money for a Trip

I recently wrote about why it’s so important for me to pay off our trips before we even go on them. It’s the only way I can relax and have fun – and NOT think about how much everything is costing! But I realized I didn’t explain HOW I save enough to actually pay these adventures off! 

Don’t get me wrong, this budgeting thing is not easy. We are not growing a money tree over here, either. We are in the thick of childhood – and only have 3 of the 5 kids in year round sports so far. We pay a mortgage payment (more!) in healthy foods each month – and if you think homeschooling is free, think again. The way we are doing it, it’s as if we are paying for private school! So yes, money is tight. It’s always tight. We have to triple think every purchase before it is made, and always consider savings accounts first. 

But there are a few things that I have learned throughout the last few years. I have found these small things add up to big trips for our large family! 

JyFioVHlSM6Iglf7tNFW4w

10 Ways to Save Money for a Trip

Take extra cash out when grocery shopping and save it. 

Even if it means you put back a few ‘treats.’ Withdraw $20-40 each week to stuff inside of your travel account. This can include all change you are handed back when paying in cash, too.

Automatically transfer money to a vacation fund.

Our paychecks are direct deposited, and I have $100 immediately taken out and transferred to a vacation account. If you set it up to automatically do this, you won’t even realize that money is gone.

Cancel/put on hold any memberships such as the gym or audiobooks.

Most families are paying for things they aren’t using, or things they could do without for a little while. I found that I was paying an annual subscription for several educational apps ($30-50 each for a year!) that my kids maybe toyed with here and there. Those were cancelled immediately, and we put our crazy expensive gym membership on hold whenever we need to save quick. 

Create an actual budget so you know where your money is going.

This is key so that you know where your money is going. It doesn’t just disappear, you (and I) spend it. Create a spread sheet with the last 12 months on it so you can see your trends. You’ll be shocked how much you spend on Starbucks.

Stop spending money on unnecessary things…

Such as fast food, restaurants, expensive (or cheap) coffee, happy hour, lavish date nights, or even just bottled water—- pack food, reuse cups, eat at home, etc.

After you’ve looked at your spending habits and created a realistic budget, you’ll naturally want to cut out this excess spending. Fast food is junk, and it adds up fast! Those coffees, happy hours, and quick errands will put your vacation on hold. 

Second guess yourself before spending money, and hold yourself accountable.

This is where my Target trips come in. I have to ask myself if it is even necessary to walk in those doors? Is it a need or a want? Stop yourself before running out for that ‘one thing’ that always leads to $50 blown. 

Shop consignment stores for kids clothes.

If you look regularly, you’ll get the newest stuff! I would guess that 80% of my kids’ closets are previously owned items.

Meal plan and stick to your list.

Take the time each week to plan our your dinner menu, utilizing similar ingredients to save money and buy in bulk. Cook larger batches to roll over into lunches, too. 

Make money on the side.

Babysit, wait tables, take an extra shift.

If you are really trying to save large funds, consider taking on extra money-making hours. Sleep is still needed, but you can find a way to make a couple hundred dollars by selling items/toys/clothes in your house, picking up a weekend serving job, babysitting, or even taking those cheesy online surveys.

Get your kids on board. 

If the entire family understands why you are saving money, they will be less inclined to asking for additional money. My kids host lemonade and cookie stands, car washes, and ask neighbors to pull weeds to earn a few dollars to contribute.

Watering Your Garden

It’s an interesting thing, a vegetable garden. We plant one every year, at every house, in every city, in every state that we live in. We reinvest our energy, time, and money in creating a solid foundation to grow beautiful plants full of organic, beautiful foods. We have learned that different foods grow better in different areas, and sometimes the soil isn’t right for some. We have used raised beds and in-ground beds… potted gardens and patio gardens. We have adapted to our environment with each move because a garden is important to us. 

g

But, do you know what happens when you start to get comfortable? You can forget to water your garden. It becomes another chore or task that can be easily forgotten because it is no longer new or exciting. We generally skip this part, though – as we are moved so frequently, but I realized as I was watering our garden today just how easy it would be to completely forget about it alongside of our house. We are comfortable here, now. We are well over the 2 year mark. Life has fallen into routine. We have grown to love our neighborhood and friends. We have grown to handle the temperatures (as well as can be expected), too. But we have learned how to have a very successful garden, and I do not want to take it for granted.

As you can tell, I’m not solely writing about our garden; although, it is worth it’s own post. I’m writing to remind myself -and perhaps you- that after becoming comfortable with where you are in life, it can be very easy to stop watering all the things that need watered. These things may include filling your own cup with self-happiness, appreciating your children for who they are right now, taking time to reconnect with your partner, or continuing to build friendships. Comfort is a beautiful and time-sucking thing, isn’t it?

g1

“The Simple Life” is a motto well known around these parts, and it is one that I understand and question often, but I have come to appreciate just how much people water their gardens here. You will find grocery store conversations lasting longer than coffee dates, and the dinner table is a place that is always sat at. 

I started running longer distances again. I took a hiatus for awhile there throughout the unexpected baby #5, unexpected cross-country move, mid-western winter, and postpartum depression time of my life. I did, however, find yoga then. And now the two have found a significant balance in my life. Doing these great things keeps my own garden watered. Whether you sew, cook, read, dance, or sing – find some time to do it. 

g5

Finding a connection that is not the general parental role with your child(ren) can prove challenging. My 10 year old and I just started watching Gilmore Girls from season 1 together. I didn’t realize just how much fun it would be to have this thing that only we share. It can be so simple, so easy to create and strengthen these connections, but also so easy to blow past the opportunity to do so. There are great similarities when comparing my garden to my relationships with each child. My garden produces well-grown, healthy foods when maintained, suffers when neglected. My children are balanced, connected, and happy when I take care of that relationship. Again, I’ve learned how important it is to water my garden.

g4

The most overlooked area of life always seems to be the marriage or foundational relationship within the family. It is the most comfortable spot – the worn in couch cushion. It’s the strawberry plant that comes back year after year, generally more fruitful each time. But it still needs watered. The love and appreciation is always there, but the watering may not be happening much. The leaves may be wilting, and the harvesting isn’t happening near enough to keep the plant healthy and happy. It doesn’t take more than brushing arms as you pass each other – pulling in for a true kiss, or dancing in the kitchen to an old song. These things will keep the garden growing.

g6

Between juggling work, kids, marriage, house, food, calendar, and life – how does one even have time to start a garden, you may ask? If it’s time consuming enough to remember to water the fictional hypothetical garden in your life, how can you ever plant a real one? Well, it takes a little bit of time, a lot of love, and the helping hands of those around you, but you can do it. Will it be a huge success? Yes – if only to bring you all closer and remind you to water your life daily. 

g7

A Mother’s To Do List Before Vacation

T-minus 3 days until we leave for our week in Colorado. It’s about an 8 hour drive each way, and we will break it into two days on the way there. You know this isn’t our first rodeo, and I have packing down to a science. However, this is the first long trip with 5 kids. They all can touch in the van, and there is minimal space for much else. I’m trying to get ahead with my work so I can enjoy this trip, but it makes for a stressful week! Here’s a glimpse into what I’m handling — maybe (just maybe – wink wink) you can relate?

A Mother’s To Do List

Make a massive check list.

Continue to add to the check list, even after crossing items off. 

Take the car in for a check-up (and have the fuse replaced so DVD players might actually work on this trip. FYI – plugging in 4 at a time will blow the fuse.)

Spend 2 days searching for the damn DVD players and cords to make them work (have to purchase new cords because the cords are MIA)

Reschedule all of the things that were supposed to take place during the vacation (speech therapies, cleaners, play dates, appointments).

Organize work and schedule out anything that needs completed. 

Clean out car from the gold fish explosion last week, stickers, sand, dirt, shoes, clothes, toys, and everything else that you don’t want to know about beyond the first row. 

Fill the car with gas – but the night before the trip, no earlier.

Confirm the house sitter.

Get food for the house sitter.

Get food and treats for the dog (and CBD oil/rescue remedy/anything that will help her not freak out while we are gone).

Create a list for the house sitter — including dog items, garden instructions, house plants, remote control issues – you know, all.the.things. 

Call neighbors to inform them of our plans and have them check up on the garden and make sure teenage house sitter does not throw a massive party. (Only kidding, our sitter is AMAZING.) 

Confirm all reservations to make sure nothing was overlooked for the trip.

Create a grocery list for road trip: snackage, lunches, food to keep in the hotel. Don’t forget to bring wine instead of paying $10 a glass while on vacation. 

Run to Target for travel sizes items. (and 26 other items you didn’t intend to buy – new water bottles are always great.)

Have a house key made for the sitter.

Organize dog items (leash, poop bags, food, treats, etc)

Make packing list: include clothing, entertainment for the drive, plenty of changes of undies for the potty-learning toddler, a travel potty, favorite games/toys, DVDs, batteries for DVD players, iPads/chargers, rafts for the lake, an air pump to blow up said rafts, toiletries, hiking gear, toddler hiking backpack/carrier, ergo carrier, stroller, laptop to make sure work is up-to-date, camera, wine, and the kitchen sink.

Return library books (that are due back during the trip).

Portion snacks into ziplock bags for the car ride. 

Clean out the refrigerator of anything that the house sitter won’t want. 

Water house plants.

Empty all trash bins in the house – before the designated trash day so house sitter won’t have to. 

Actually pack. But wait, not for yourself. You must first pack each of your five children – but into as small of bags as possible. Consider all activities and washing possibilities. (Oh, there are none? Ok, time to over-pack. yes, your spouse will then question your packing abilities, but at this point you can just pour a glass of wine and laugh.)

Continue to do the daily laundry, dishes, food prep, kitchen clean-up, bed making, house organizing, errands, kissing of boo-boos, nursing babies, actual work, and extra curricular activities.

The night before you leave, you may actually have time to pack for yourself. Pack way too much. There may be poop or puke on your clothing at some point, be prepared.

Listen to spouse complain about all the things he has to fit into the car.

Pour more wine because all he did was pack his own damn bag.  

 

(Yes the damn picture is sideways! I’ll fix it in my free time this week.)

hyRDF7CySbW0fvWv9Wk7%g

As My Sensory Kid Grows Up

 

E

The days have been beautiful here in Omaha, Nebraska. I have very few complaints during the warm months of the year. My entire soul shines bright, especially on the other side of postpartum depression mixed in with seasonal depression – nothing like the first summer after the longest ‘winter’ of your life, right?

So, all is good.

All is spectacular.

But – and you knew the but was coming… but, I am not Super Mom. I feel like I need to stand on the tallest building and scream it loud because so many friends and acquaintances try to slap that (annoying and crappy) label on me.  However, I’d have no voice to do this because I’ve lost it from yelling at home. I wish I were kidding, but alas, I have become the yelling mom I never thought I’d become. (I’m laughing at myself, so you can laugh at me, too.)

I’m a strong believer that my children are mine for a reason. Each one was meant to be mine – and I was meant to be their’s, and they were meant to be each other’s. Many of you know how hard it was when my oldest son was little. He struggled with Sensory Processing Disorder. I was the mother crying on the floor in Target because I was frustrated. I was the mom who had a child who would not physically move from one spot (while screaming) because he simply could not move past something. His mind just wouldn’t let him. 

He wouldn’t get his head wet until after age 4 – but now he’s on the swim team. He wouldn’t let a blanket touch him – now he snuggles tight every night. He wouldn’t wear structured clothing – this is still an issue, but he works through it and can do it fine most days now! He would kick and scream and take an hour to transition from one place to another – now he’s on every sports team, a fantastic athlete, helps me plan our road trips, and attends sleepovers.

However, the sensory issues are still present. It’s true that through diet, our amazing herbalist, chiropractic care, and age, he has grown so much. I look at him and see this handsome boy, loving, giving, brilliant, and happy – most of the time. But he struggles with the “Why ME?” attitude.  He feels as though everything bad happens to him and gets stuck in those moments – sometimes crying for an hour, even throwing himself on the floor. 

These hard moments can come if he gets hurt, doesn’t get something he wanted, plans change, etc. And the spiral is awful and all-consuming. It takes all of the energy from the room. It effects the entire day for the family. It is truly exhausting. 

The major difference between toddler-version and present-almost 8-year-old-version is that I am not the same mother. I have 5 children instead of 2. I do not have the patience to sit on the floor and hold him through these moments anymore. He has the tools to do it. He knows he can do it, but at his age now, I cannot wrestle him or walk him through it every time. 

I am thankful that these moments are not frequent. But it seems that they come in waves. We are in the middle of one right now. His body is fighting something. He has had too much gluten. He hasn’t consumed enough water. He’s not getting enough sleep. Any of these could be a trigger. Maybe his tinctures need adjusting (I already have a call in.) Maybe our camping trip triggered something – it seems that these moments have been happening since then. Who knows, honestly. And I can’t sit and play detective all day. 

As I am writing this — there is a major meltdown happening. It’s lasted 1 hour and 25 minutes. I am beyond frustrated. I have yelled. I have ignored. I have given him space. I have hugged him. But, I will not just give in and give him what he wants. My anxiety is through the roof and it makes me short with the other kids. We have lost the afternoon to this meltdown. 

I’m ready for a glass of wine, but it wouldn’t help the problem. ha. 

And just as suddenly as the moment started, he is back to his normal self. Close to 1 hour and 45 minutes later, of course. His eyes are puffy and swollen – and the baby was woken up from her nap. But we are on the other side, so I’ll take it. 

Sensory kids grow up. My sensory kid is growing up. Just when I think we have gotten through this, a hard day hits. It reminds me to stay true to our diet and lifestyle. 

So, if you are also struggling in hard moments, know that you are not alone. Know that you are strong and capable. You are loving – even when you are losing your mind. You are doing the best you can. This is all I can do right now. And while I am constantly trying to become better, for all of my kids – and myself, I also am ok with being honest. I am not perfect. I am not handling any of this perfectly. I am living these moments as a tired mom – a mom hoping that as my sensory child continues to grow, we will continue to see less and less hard moments. 

Why We Parent With Expectations

We have never treated our kids as anything other than the good humans we expect them to be.

We are far from helicopter parents over here. My oldest three kids (ages 9, 7, and 5) have the freedom to bike the neighborhood without an adult with them. I can let all five kids (the youngest are 3 and 1.5 years old) play outside in the field behind the house together while I pop my head outside every so often to check on them. I can leave my oldest two at home alone while I run errands.

Friends often ask how I can have so much trust in my kids. Strangers comment daily about how respectful, kind, and considerate all of my kids are. I generally laugh it off because the strangers don’t see the regular fighting and messes that also happen here. But the truth is that my kids ARE trustworthy, helpful, and giving. (They also understand boundaries and rules.)

While there is still a lifetime ahead of us in child-raising, looking at our children thus far has me realizing that we are guiding GOOD people.

kids4

I yell. I yell a lot at this stage of motherhood. I’m in the thick of it all, and I know it. I can see the light though – having an almost 10 year old, independent thinking, amazing kid allows me to see that these last few toddler years will pass quickly. But that doesn’t make them any easier, right? Even in these moments, I apologize, regroup and explain how imperfect I am, though.

I’ve been watching and listening to how my husband is living this stage of fatherhood. While the toddler side is exhausting, he is thriving. As a kid comes down the stairs, he always greets them with, “Well hello there, my friend!”

My friend.

Those simple words have made me see that our children are growing and blossoming because of how we have treated them. They never had to earn our respect and we never had to earn theirs. We have never treated them as anything other than the good humans we expect them to be.

kids2

This mindset led us through a mix of attachment parenting and gentle parenting, but it also created a balance containing parenting with expectations. Yes, WITH expectations. Go ahead and blast me with how wrong we are to ‘expect things’ from our children…. but then look at them close and watch them make appropriate choices, treat others with respect, and find the beauty in everyone.

Let me explain further…

Our kids make mistakes every single day. Stupid mistakes. We expect them to. We also understand that they are capable of learning from these mistakes if we help them learn. We expect them to fail again. and again. and again. Each time, though, they grow and become more capable of controlling their actions and considering their options.

Most parents justify their children’s actions with, “It’s age appropriate! It’s ridiculous, but it’s funny. He/She is just immature still – they’re just being a kid.”

We don’t roll that way over here.

Someone commented recently that our kids probably don’t ever have fun… and that it sounded like a crappy childhood. I don’t need to compare my children to others to know how wrong that is.

I spent that afternoon truly watching my kids enjoy life. They jumped on bikes and tore through the neighborhood, built a fort with friends, read books together, made crazy messes and cleaned them up. They looked pretty damn happy to me – and didn’t have to disrespect anyone’s personal space to do so.

kids1

We believe in natural consequences. We believe in respecting public spaces and places of business. We believe our children are capable of so much more than what is deemed ‘okay’ for this generation.

It’s amazing to watch our kids choose friends, and see how they gravitate to other fun, intelligent, and respectful kids. They stick up for others. They speak up when others are disrespectful. They are confident, happy, and true to themselves. Watching the oldest two solve problems and address their mistakes, as our 5 year old is on the cusp of doing the same grants us such excitement.

We are excited for every future age and stage of life with our kids. There will be crazy hard lessons they learn – and we learn as parents. We are hopeful that we are setting good examples and sharing real life with our kids. We don’t hold much back from them because we always want conversations to be open and available without hesitation.

All of this to say – You can hold your children accountable for their actions without spanking them. You can also parent gently while also laying out expectations. You can fail and teach failure. You can yell and apologize; you can be friends with your children while also guiding them.  You can let go and trust when your children are able to naturally understand expectations.

kids6

When Here Became Home.

We have parted with multiple houses, cities, and states over the last decade. Some places have been harder to leave than others – with many being shorter stops along the map of our lives. We left our hearts in Virginia just over a year ago. I knew that I would move on but couldn’t see passed my love of everything there; not to mention, the amazing road trip situation I had going on throughout the entire coastline.

One year later, I am here to put the words into the world. These words that I knew would come but just couldn’t imagine writing through the first 8-10 months in Omaha.

“We are home.”

Home is wherever we are together, of course. This much you all know about our traveling family.

In the past month, I have made more friends, joined an amazing yoga studio (hello newest friends!), and found peace with our schedule here. We found an incredible therapist for my oldest son’s apraxia speech disorder; my oldest daughter’s swim and girl scout friends have become her ‘total bffs’ (her words, not mine). I am watching my kids blossom here. They are becoming fiercely independent and proving that our attachment parenting paid off. We can trust them with a walkie talkie and bikes throughout the neighborhood, full day trips with friends, and with more responsibilities at home.

Needless to say, the kids are loving life in the Midwest. Are they over the cold? Yes. Are they happy? Hell yes.

I knew my mindset was shifting as I started planning this year’s house projects. It went from being, “best bang for the buck” to “I can’t wait to make this everything I dream.”

Maybe my baby #5 funk is gone. Maybe it’s just that the kids are all healthy and adapting. Maybe it’s that I can look out my window and see a spectacular sunset every night. Maybe it’s the yoga.

Whatever it is, I am finally happy here.

My words of advice for today:

Let time pass. Let life play out. What you feel today is valid today, but what feelings 100 tomorrows may bring you won’t be known unless you let tomorrow become today – mentally, physically, and spiritually.

5 Reasons Yoga and Motherhood Mix

If you are my real life friend, you are probably sick of me talking about my yoga obsession right now, but I’m not done yet – now I’m on a mission to spread the yoga love.

I have a ton of kids. Not a physical ton, although, they may eat an actual ton of food throughout a year. These small humans are all-consuming. If you are a mom, you get this. You don’t have to have an entire gaggle of tiny beings in your personal space, even one is enough to lose yourself.

I have trained for and ran marathons during my motherhood journey. I have worked out regularly at gyms and at home. I have taught workout classes for other moms – hell, I even had my own mommy bootcamp business for several years.

I drink wine. I read books. I plan awesome trips. I thought I was filling my cup, and I was, but I was trying too hard.

Here’s the thing though, my mind is always going. While working out does save my sanity, I am still running through the lists of motherhood as I get sweaty. Not every time, but a lot of the time.

Instead of intentionally filling your cup, you can lead a life that constantly keeps you happy. This means your cup is actually never empty. Choose happiness. Choose a life that you want to be present in.

Insert yoga here.

I have done yoga here and there over the years, but never consistently. I actually laughed at Yogis who said the practice was part of their lifestyle. I take it all back. I have basically moved into my yoga studio. I have attended classes 20 out of the last 24 days – most of the times were at the absurd 5:30am hour.

Why would I willingly roll out of bed at such a ridiculous hour? Simple, I get to be alone.

Everyone is asleep, and John can handle any little ones who wake up. Everyone is take care of for the time I am gone. I get sweaty, centered, and focused – oh, and happy – and then return home to a house that is still *mostly asleep (*minus John walking out of the door for work, and at least one child awake and hungry). I make tea, change the laundry over, open my computer to work, and take a quick shower before sitting down to write. My mind is clear; my patience is renewed.

This is what I want other mothers to know about yoga:

It Makes You a Better Mom

Patience, breathing, and peace are all contagious. Learning to fill your entire lungs and release that breath can reach each point of the body and mind. It is amazing what taking the time to breathe can do for you and your children.

It Grounds You to the Earth

Completing moon salutations and series of flows that connect you to the seasons and life springing around you can open your senses to the earth. You don’t have to be good. It will be your own journey, each day different than the one before, but your practice will bring you closer to the world we live on.

It Keeps You Present

My studio harps on the mantra “Wherever you are, be all there.” I have found myself skipping social media and leaving my phone in another room. I have spent the weekends not opening the computer unless work must be completed. The TV has been off, and we have chosen music and hands-on activities instead.

It Makes You Less Judgmental

Everyone can do yoga. Sharing the energy inside that room reminds you that everyone is on their own journey – just as each parent is on her (or his) own path of parenthood. Finding contentment within your yoga practice – and within your life allows you to be happy for others instead of jealous or spiteful. We need more of this in our society.

It Helps Your Health

Including yoga in your exercise routine alongside of other activities or done daily provides the body with more benefits that I can list here. Learning to listen to your body will easily transition you into a healthier lifestyle all around.

If you can find a yoga studio that offers kid classes, grab your tribe and head over to try it out. My 4, 6, and 8 year olds attend classe and absolutely love it. It’s also fun to watch them utilize the mantras and breath into their daily habits. Even John goes after work.

We are all in love with yoga… and I believe, possibly, that you could fall in love with it too.

What’s there to lose?

(And, in case you were wondering, Goddess Pose is my absolute favorite.)