Shock.

People constantly ask us, “Were you SHOCKED when you found out you were having triplets?” This simple question usually insinuates the following:

Were you so infertile that you had to do that IN Veet-Rooo* thing and ended up with three at a time…OR less interestingly, does it really run in your family?

*Just one of the embarrassing attempts at publicly discussing a very private, medical matter – pronounced In Vitro Fertilization. At least know what you are saying before mumbling it into the distance and making up your own weird, botched version of it all…really just wanting to know something that isn’t any of your business anyway*

Every time someone asks us the “were you shocked” question,  I always consider my answer with deep thought and say, “No.” It is the truth. I wasn’t that surprised. To answer everyone’s burning question, NO we did not do In Vitro. YES we (I) were infertile. NO we didn’t put three eggs in. (Nor would we wish one away had we put three eggs in. A guy actually said to Scott once, “I bet you wish you had only put 2 in now!” Ha ha…douche bag). Yes, multiples run in our family … however, we aren’t shy to say we did injections into my belly for five days, followed by big horse pills up my vagina and a shot to make me ovulate…and that’s how we “GOT” three.

The day we had our 1st ultrasound for the triplets was one of the best days of my life. I was NOT surprised. The correct description would be happy. Elated. Thankful. Full of joy. Grateful God chose us to be parents, finally. Grateful the little television screen showed life. Excited for the journey ahead.

And that is honestly how I felt. Scott pretty much felt the same. Shock never entered our system. We had been trying/praying/pleading to have a baby for TWO YEARS, so this moment felt like it was heaven-sent – no matter what road we had to take to get there. It felt

RIGHT. 

If you want to know shock, I will tell you shock. Here goes.

It was a hot, sunny day in July. It was one of those days I felt like all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed in our family. See, they never are, but every once in a while we are blessed with a day that feels like we have it all together. For example, I remember that my hair was actually blown dry and straight and looking decent. The kids were clean and dressed really cute. (I remember all of this because we ran into Scott’s x-girlfriend…and I remember thinking, “Oh, thank you God we don’t look anything remotely like we usually do.”) So on this particular HOT day … we decided to go shopping at the big BOGO sale at Stride Rite at the mall. New fall shoes – nothing takes you back to childhood like new leather for the rolling months of September and October. We forgot the strollers so we actually walked our then 18ish month trio into the SHOE STORE (yikes, they probably have our picture up not welcoming us back) and bought shoes. And somehow all made it back to the van as a family – hot, sweaty, frustrated and hungry – but still happy. It was just one of those mysteriously, joyful and connected family days where you look around and feel like the luckiest girl in the world. They come less the more “toddler” they get, so you learn to savor these moments like a hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream.

As we drove home, I remember sitting in a traffic jam with Elmo on and all the windows down. We had just kung-fu’d our way through a mall trip and I thought this is the perfect time to say it. So I said it.

“Would you legitimately like to try for another baby?”

I don’t really remember Scott’s exact words – but I remember his smile. The smile didn’t say no.

That’s all I remember. So, we gave ourselves six months. If it happened on our own without much anxiety or effort, we would rejoice and accept the challenge/gift/crazy decision. If it didn’t happen in six months, case closed. Beautiful family of five it is.

To us it seemed a win-win…but the control freak in me had been stirring leading up to this family decision. In my mind I thought…you know, it’s probably just the five of us, and that’s OK, BUT…

And I guess that is where the journey began. The journey of letting go and letting God.

I have always known I wanted another baby, I just felt like the table/van/house was missing someone. Sort of like when your husband is gone when you are sleeping in bed. You may be asleep, but you know he is missing. Or on Thanksgiving when you are SO full you may explode…but you couldn’t LIVE without a piece of pie.

I just knew.

Entering this stage of admitting we wanted another life in our lives opened up a can of worm-worries for me. I was paralyzed and nervous (and rightfully so) that we couldn’t get pregnant without fertility medicine. I was terrified if we did, we would suffer loss. I was mostly afraid I would be back to that dark place of “want” again. I was scared it was the wrong decision. I was afraid we would be judged for having another child when we had three very young and very healthy babies. I was confused at the seed of desire because I can barely handle the three I have.

And then I got over it. Well, not all alone. After a lot of counseling, praying and turning every last ugly piece of anxiety and fear over to something bigger than me, I was OK. I really was OK. I wasn’t afraid of every last “what if” I could come up with. I came to a shining place called

FAITH.

I felt a true answer to prayer. It’s called peace about a decision. This is HUGE for a girl who can’t even decide what type of sandwich to order for lunch.

Over the summer my counselor assisted me in the true art of “letting go and letting God.” This may get to be a little spiritually heavy for some of you, but it is part of my story and it is part of my truth. The truth is that when you are a control freak, you are for life. You don’t wake up one day in an Eric Carle book, transformed from the big fat control caterpillar into a beautiful, colorful and calm butterfly. However, you can learn to let go. When you learn to say  to yourself, “It’s OK, no matter what, I’m OK and IT’S OK and someone, something IS bigger than me and IS in charge”, that’s when life happens.

Now what I’m about to say is not a direct outcome of anything I did or didn’t do. (Well not exactly I guess…) It is something I recognize and accept as a pure gift that was meant to be. Something that feels so precious that it may just slip out of our hands because it arrived to us SO differently this time.

2 pink lines.

In our bathroom at 6 am.

One sleepy husband telling me the 2nd line “was too faint to be true.” But I knew. I just knew.

To a girl that waited 2 years…got a million ONE PINK lines…stabbed herself with injections…peed on ovulation sticks…timed intercouse (ack) and timed EVERYTHING…and was sad and in a place of want for a long time…this serendipitous moment …                                        

Now that is shock. 

Under God’s grace we are having baby #4. And I know three babies that will be the best big siblings on the block. We are due around Mother’s Day 2013. You may find some irony with that here. 

Of course every great story has a sequel…when I have a break from napping, crying or eating nachos, I will tell the rest of what real shock can teach you about life. Oh PS, this is the real reason I’m so tired. You didn’t think three toddlers got me down THAT much, did you?

Do Not Give Up

So it’s been awhile. I somehow turned into one of those bloggers that goes missing for weeks on end. Thankfully, I am not missing – just barely swimming. Instead of regular blog posts, I have been trying to keep mouths fed, faces somewhat free of snot and walls and cribs clean from the poop painting that has been going on during naps. Oh, and saying “no” a lot. I can only dream of getting through all the laundry and actually using that pound of meat I bought to make something tasty and homemade with.

I love this blog. I love you, the people I get to connect to through this blog. The dilemma is, loving my three little people and my husband and this blog can get crowded.

This isn’t my resignation letter, this is simply my “hello, I’m still here” but I can barely keep up with myself and family, so you may see less of me until I can get up for air. Katrina’s post the other week on how physical the toddler stage is … it’s true. All true. I’m so blessed, yet so tired. Just tired. Do you have (almost) 2 year olds? Have you had them? Well, you know then.

Let me just say – no one can prepare you for this age…not to mention three of them. No one. So for now, instead of writing about our days – I’m just trying to live the day. I’m sure you understand. The independence, curiosity, defiance, memory, preference and opinions are all something we pray for in our children. Now I am praying on how to handle these things from minute to minute (you can guess those characteristics don’t form in parallel with three small people. This can result in other choice words in describing the state of the mother witnessing all of these current developments).

I am just trying to be a mama. And I’m just trying to breathe. I hope you are too. all

One of my favorite verses that seems to pop up with these babes : (I had this verse, along with a seed, taped to my breast pump when they were newborns – now I should tattoo it to my face- ha!)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up - Galatians 6:9

Toddlers sure can make you weary…but the good news is, if we keep on loving them, they will turn out good…just the way they arrived to us.

Love to you.

PS, I am so sad for everyone on the east coast experiencing damage and fear from the hurricane. My sincere prayers and thoughts go out to you if you are living through the nightmare. I have special prayers for mommies and daddies just trying to protect their young – I pray you find special powers and sweet angels to help you. Please comment if you have suggestions on how/where to donate or help other than the RedCross. Thank you!

Thursday Nourishment – Guest Post by Katrina Anne Willis

I’ve sort of got a girl crush on this amazing writer/mom/cool person I met on this funny thing called Facebook. Seriously, we met over the comments section on one of my favorite blog’s Facebook page (she was meeting THE Anne Lamott, so I creeped in and started talking to her.) What’s really weird is that we used to live 10 minutes apart, know some of the same people, both have a lot of kids and each seem to try to be a sane, spiritual being in this same big world – so the world got small and we got kindred.

I am pretty picky about who gets my “tears” on the internet and it takes a lot to get into my crazy head. Somehow, Katrina always does it. Maybe it’s because she has four kids and she’s been to mental and back again or maybe it’s because she’s funny or it could be that she is just an amazing writer. You can judge yourself, I am sharing my FAVORITE Katrina essay for our nourishment guest post today.

If you like the popular blog “Momastery”, you should add Katrina’s blog to your blog roll. I think you will enjoy. You can check her blog out here : Katrina Anne Willis. If you want to read a sample of her “big time writing” –  you can read and review “Baby Steps” here. (Bring your tissues, moms)

Ok, enough of my words. I hope you get the beautiful, ugly cry I got reading this. Be nourished! PS, after  you read this essay, go read this one, my 2nd to favorite. 

Toddlers and Teens and In Betweens

Our kids are 15, 13, 12, and 10. That means at one point in our lives, they were 5, 3, 2, and barely out of the womb. When Mary Claire was born, Gus was not yet walking. When George (the baby) was born, Sam (the oldest) was still in preschool.

People ask how we did it. How did we manage with 4 kids under the age of 5? And my answer? We just did. It was what we knew, what we created, what our lives were all about. Parents of quads do it. We know a family who just had their 9th kid. NINE! Makes us look like lightweights in comparison. And that mother of nine? She’s always smiling. Always.

I was not always smiling.

Many have asked how hard it was to go from one to two, from two to three, from three to four. And here’s my experience… zero to one was the hardest. Zero to one rocked my world. When Sam was born, I was a lunatic. I was afraid of every germ, of every disease, of every nuclear holocaust that had ever been threatened. I was entirely sure he’d choke on his food, fall out of his crib and directly on his soft spot, be eaten by wolves. And meningitis? It haunted me. I don’t know why. But every time he ran a fever, I was SURE. I was ill-prepared to be a mother. I’d always hated babysitting (ask Chandra, she has first-hand experience with all my failures as a sitter), had always been more of a tomboy than a nurturer. I played with basketballs more than I ever played with dolls. I didn’t know what to do with a baby, I only knew that I loved him with a ferocity that scared the shit out of me.

Then came Gus. People asked, “How do you love the second baby as much as the first?” And that always seemed a bit silly to me. Because you do. You love them with the same fierceness, with the same all-encompassing power. Your heart expands with each baby. It has a limitless capacity to love. And, of course, Gus made sure we noticed his arrival. He and Glenn Close? They would not be ignored.

Next came sweet Mary Claire. That finger-sucking, pink-wearing, smiling-all-the-time baby. We had her pretty quickly after Gus. I was afraid I’d chicken out if we didn’t keep going, and I knew I wanted six kids. (My uterus made me stop at four, but that’s a story for another day…) At this point, we went from man-to-man to zone defense. It’s a bit of an adjustment to be outnumbered by those who can’t wipe their own tushes, but like everything else in life, you learn. You adapt. You keep the other team from scoring too often.

And George. Georgeous. Baby George. I was as big as a barn when he made his debut. Waddling up and down the preschool stairs, carrying Gus in one arm and Mary Claire in the other so they wouldn’t go plummeting down into the dark basement abyss. Because “my uterus was tired,” we knew George would be our last.

Those early days, quite honestly, are a blur. Gus was our baby who didn’t sleep. We tried everything with that one — we swaddled him into his carseat and put his carseat into his crib so he’d get used to being in his room. I cried a lot back then. (Not really all that different from today.) I remember pleading with him as I sat on the wooden floor beside his crib, trying desperately not to curl up and go to sleep under his Paddington mobile. “Please go to sleep,” I’d beg. “Please. Please. Please. Just for an hour. Just one hour.”

The early days were all about survival. While Chris was at work or at IU (let’s all remember that these are the years during which he got his master’s degree, then his doctorate…) or supervising a school activity, the kids and I were on our own. I’d strap Gus and Mary Claire into the double jogging stroller, load George up in the Baby Bjorn, give Sam a piggy-back ride, and we’d be on our way… to the grocery store, to the mall, to a restaurant. Those were the two-cart days: when shopping at Marsh, I’d push a cart for the groceries and pull a cart that contained all the kids. We weren’t fast, but we were a sight to behold.

The nighttime routine was akin to a marathon. One in the bath tub, one out. Another one in, another one out. Lotion, powder, diapers, PJs, books, songs, bed. Chris and I would tag-team it all. Unless, of course, he was at IU. Then it would just be me.

I remember crying at my beloved uncle/doctor’s office because Sam stopped drinking milk at one point. “Is he going to die?” I asked. “Are all of his bones going to break? Will he be crippled with osteoporosis by the time he’s ten?” And my sweet, straight-talking doctor/uncle said this to me, “Honey Baby, there are children in this world who eat nothing but rice and fish eyeballs. Shit survives.” It may seem a bit crass to you, but if you knew my uncle/doctor, you’d know that it wasn’t. It came straight from his tough-love heart, and it became my mantra… when they boycotted vegetables, when we ate too many McDonald’s cheeseburgers… when breakfast consisted of Pop-Tarts and donuts… when they skinned their knees and bruised their hearts. Shit survives. It is the beauty of this crazy life.

Those early years were the physical ones. Everything we did involved a high degree of manpower. We’d carry our gear around like pasty, overweight Sherpas. High chairs, carseats, diaper bags, Pack and Plays. By the end of the day, we’d fall into bed, exhausted. My muscles ached, my legs were tired, my arms were sore. Every single moment, I was spent.

We set lots of kid parameters back then. It was a necessity, not a luxury. By age five, you were in charge of your own wiping, seat-buckling, milk pouring, and buttons. Those might not have been our most hygienic days, but little by little, they became more manageable. Some mornings we even made it to school on time.

The physical days have since morphed into the mental ones. Now that our kids are teens, tweens, and pre-teens, they take care of their own physical needs. They wipe themselves (I don’t actually check that, but I’m definitely banking on it), wash their own hair, make their own lunches, load their own backpacks. But they also come to us with middle school drama and full-blown teenage grunting. There’s either too much communication (Mary Claire… talking… nonstop… All. Day. Long.) or none at all. Parenting teenagers requires less physical stamina, but the mental prowess of a seasoned Zen Master.

When doors are slammed and texts go unanswered and eyes are rolled, I want to yell, “Don’t you remember that I offered you MY BOOBS at all hours of the day and night ON DEMAND??” But actually voicing that statement would probably do more harm than good. And with all the parenting missteps we’ve taken thus far, we’d just have to add additional money to the therapy fund. And there’s never enough money to go around, anyway. Have I mentioned how expensive these babies are? Don’t think you’re getting a raise when you no longer have to pay for daycare. Because soon thereafter come book rentals and sports fees and lacrosse equipment and hollow-legged teenager snack rations and car insurance and college tuition and weddings with open bars. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

There are two things, I believe, that have sustained us — Chris and me — in this parenting journey…

1. Love and respect for each other.

2. Unconditional love for our kids.

That doesn’t mean as a family that we always like each other. Sometimes, in fact, I want to jump on a plane and fly far, far away to a private beach that contains nothing more than sunshine, a library, a full-service bar, a cabana boy, and no cell signal.

But we always love each other. Ice cream before dinner is negotiable. Love is not.

There are so many mountains we can die on — the key is choosing which ones truly matter. You want to cut your long, beautiful hair off? It’s just hair. You want to wear plaid shorts with a striped shirt? It will make for a great graduation day picture later. You want to go on a date when you’re 13? Umm. No.

We haven’t always gotten it right. I’m not even sure we’re 50/50. But my best advice to new parents in the throes of the physical years is to breathe.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

Remember every possible detail. Write it down.

Take time to nurture your marriage/partnership — it was you and your spouse first and foremost, it will be you and your spouse after the kids have grown and left home.

Trust yourselves. Your own instincts are better than any advice you can read in a book.

Find a mentor who has been there before. Watch, learn, grow. Thank God for my sister and my cousins who blazed the Mama trail before me.

Never say never. I was the perfect parent before I had kids. Just ask Carrie.

You’re not the only one who can “do it the right way.” Let your partner take over. Let the grandparents spoil them. Hire babysitters. It takes a village. Sometimes it takes an entire country.

It will get easier. And then it will get harder again. Life is like that. There will not be a day when you’ll wake up and say, “We’ve arrived!” (Although the moment your youngest straps himself successfully into his own carseat will feel that way.) Little victories become big wins. Celebrate them. And know that new challenges will come. They are, in fact, peeking around the corner right now. Teenagers are a breed of their own. They stink, they’re sullen, they’re messy, they’re secretive, they’re moody. And they’re also fun and witty and smart and full of life and wonder and promise.

Those babies? The ones whose noses you’re wiping and whose shoes you’re tying? They blissfully, magically, wondrously came from you. But they’re not you. Remember that. They’re individuals. They’re human beings with their own little brains and their own little quirks and their own little wants and needs and dreams. Nurture the shit out of that. They may not be who you expected them to be, but they’re perfectly themselves.

Give them a safe place to land, always. The babies, the toddlers, the teens. They all need love and kindness and reassurance at home. And when you’re done yelling because you’ve — once again — lost your shit, make sure they know that despite your craziness, you still love them. You have always loved them. You will always love them.

Let them know that you will make mistakes, but that you will always have their best interests at heart.

Expect the best from them. Not your best, but their best. Vast difference.

Love them. Love them. Love them. Kiss them while they’ll still let you. Hug them. Sing to them. Read to them. Laugh with them. Let them see you cry. Then they’ll know that all those emotions are okay, are normal, are expected, are perfect parts of our human imperfection.

You may not think you’re doing it right, Mamas and Daddies, but you are. Oh, you are. Just look at those precious faces. There’s nothing wrong about that.

Get dirty. Get clean. Get grateful.

Fall down. Stand back up.

Do the work. Embrace the reward.

Hang in there. Sleep when you can. Drink when you must. Hide a secret stash of Oreos. Pull up your britches and get on with it. Hang on tight. Let go when it’s safe.

Enjoy the ride.

XO

Tuesday Taste: Fuel The Body Well Guest Post

Last August at the Blogher’12 Conference, I had the privilege of a chance meeting with a girl after my own nutritional heart – Simona Hadjigeorgalis from Fuel The Body Well.Com. I met her briefly but feel like I know her well from following her awesome blog and watching her personal videos on nutrition and health.

Simona was nice enough to put together a video JUST FOR US!

In today’s Tuesday Taste, Simona shares with us 5 quick-tips for nourishing our bodies.  She made this video especially for “Just Breathe Mama” readers, knowing that we mama’s need reminders on prioritizing our own wellness!!

Enjoy this video and check out Simona’s full bio and info below her video…and then go check out her blog fuelthebodywell.com for more simple and practical advice on health and nutrition!

Simona is the co-creator of a family of wellness websites developed to empower people to connect to the wisdom of their human vehicles. She is also the owner of SiVantage Marketing.

While her kids are at school, if she is not consulting for fortune 500 companies or doing P90X2, Simona is either writing for FueltheBodyWell.com and TrainingforLabor.com or she is mentoring wellness-minded and aspiring Momtrepreneurs on their paths to financial freedom.

You can find Simona on Facebook, YouTube , and Pinterest and occasional visit to Twitter.

All Things Nourishment

If you haven’t noticed, I am a big believer in nourishing your body AND soul…especially as a mother. The minute we find out we are pregnant we start to sacrifice the priority of our mental and physical health for the priority of ANOTHER body and mind… and  from there, it never ends. The time we take to spiritually reflect or treat our physical body well starts to dwindle, although this is the time we need that spirit and body the most.

I have two guest bloggers this week for you to enjoy. They are both “experts” in their field of nourishment … one for the physical body and the other for the spiritual soul. Come back prepared to listen, learn and do something for yourself this week. I promise you will enjoy them both!

“Tuesday Taste” : “Fueling the Body Well” with Simona

“Thursday Nourishment” : “Toddlers and Teens and In Betweens” with Katrina

As we enter this beautiful fall week, let us be nourished together – the best way!

 

Haunted House at Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Who doesn’t love all things fall – including a visit to childhood every October when Halloween rolls around? The smell of Snickers, Twix, Starburst and Milky Way mingling in a trick or treat bag is like heaven. A close second to the naughty candy made calorie-less one day a year, is the spooky fun you can have getting lost in a haunted house.

Of course, our kids are a little on the young side…but since Haunted House at The Indianapolis Children’s Museum offers “non-scary” hours with the lights on, we went ahead and checked out the”Wicked Workshop” last week. (It opened this weekend AND it’s the 49th annual event!)

Although a little young for the witches and really spooky stuff, they still had fun touching the rats and animals down low, watching the lights, dancing to a little “Thriller” and running through the big fuzzy pumpkin. There was so much detail and activity, you could get away with taking toddlers to teenagers, and all have a great time.  They REALLY liked the ‘trick or treat” at the end and there was even a concession stand with various fall treats.

Tip: Marsh has discounted tickets if you aren’t a member! Here is more information on scary/non scary hours and ticket prices ! INFO!

Enjoy a little snapshot of our 1st haunted house!  

 

Prime Car Wash: No Brainer for Mamas & Papas

So, moving on from marriage to my minivan.

These are my minivan thoughts:

Graffiti of fruit squeeze pouches on the doors and windows, crushed crackers in the carpet, socks ripped off and chewed and thrown to and fro, half eaten chicken nuggets, random sour milk sippy, the occasional missing dirty diaper and the piles of random toys, books, old wrinkled balloons (hazard, I know), and bags and jackets and dirt and grime and wrappers and …

I can’t breathe.

So, I’m lucky that my friends at Prime have a pretty good gig going on for parents with disgusting cars that need help. Disclaimer: I tend to stay away from reviews…but I thought this worth sharing. I did get some perks to try out the wash, but was not paid by the company to give my opinion!

During my “mother’s day out” time last week, I spent around one hour sitting in a clean cafe, with wireless and good music and ended up with what appeared to be a new minivan. I didn’t even know it smelled so bad, until it smelled so good.

If you live in the Indianapolis area – you should go check out Prime Car Wash on 37 and 146th Street. It’s an interior/exterior full service car wash with a CLEAN comfy waiting area with good music, televisions, free wireless and i-pads to use. Did I mention a real coffee bar ? (not grouse black coffee like at the car dealership). It’s only $45/month for a membership including: as many inside/outside washes as you can cram into the month and free coffee in a cafe setting while you wait. PS, Orange Leaf is right next to Prime if you have your kids with you…I always blame ice cream runs on my kids.

OH…and you know how you always clean before the cleaning person comes, you don’t have to for them, they cleaned around my junk and THREE car seats…

Thank you Prime for making me feel a little more sane with a clean, shiny mama minivan!

*PRINT OUT THIS BLOG POST AND BRING INTO PRIME CAR WASH THROUGH THE MONTH OF OCTOBER TO RECEIVE $10 OFF ANY DETAIL SERVICE!*

BEFORE (that is baby food puree that is probably about a year old on the right, eww): 

 AFTER:

Vows

(written October 6, 2012…somewhere much warmer. Life has happened since, so please excuse the gap in posting time…pretty fitting for life as I know it right now.)

Five years ago. Today. 
We look classy, huh?

I can smell the ‘Scent of Peace’ perfume on my skinny and smooth 26-year-old chest.  I can hear the sweet voice of Carol King in the background singing “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Women” as they zip up my dress in the dressing room at the back of the church. I can see the smiling, excited faces of my girls and family as we made our way to the tiny chapel in that church where it all began. I know the thick wooden doors were closed…open the doors and see all the people. Wind hit my face. I’m sure the trumpets played…because I paid them a check, not because I heard them. In my memory, the chapel went quiet, like when you go under water and everything is blurred and your ears are full of water rush. It felt like I floated home – right up that aisle, clinging to my dad’s arm as I made my way to my groom. We were so excited. In fact, friends later teased us because we “side kissed” when my Dad handed me over…we simply couldn’t wait until the preacher blessed the allowance of the first kiss. He really was the prince that saved me from the frogs. I was ready to be his ever after. 

Of course, that sounds terribly hopeless and tragically romantic – but it was the truth. I was his lady and he was my man, and nothing – NOTHING, I thought, would take us under. 

We are blessed to be in paradise this week as we ring in five years of marriage. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic has done a nice job of echoing the fairy tale feel of our wedding day. We’ve had this weekend to celebrate, reflect and relax on all that has happened, or not happened, over the past five years. We have been gifted a step out of reality, much like that wedding day was, to just be together and celebrate life together. To reconnect in the present, vow to the future and learn from the past. 

Thinking back on the day we said “I Do”, it seems confusing. We say our vows when we look our best. Feel our best. Have gathered among the best. When we have prepared every detail, overspent on the altar flowers and carefully picked the appetizers served to guests during the God awful transition time where the wedding party lets their hair down and sober guests stare at their feet waiting to get served. Yes, we say the vows, but let’s be honest, saying the vows that day are kind of like when you go on a flight for vacation. You sit down and let the flight attendant say what to do in an emergency, but really, all you are thinking about is the frozen drink you are going to have when your toes hit the sand. The words are very meaningful but they get lost – just part of the pomp and circumstance. They blur into the background, there when you need them for the emergency… with prayers you never really need them. 

In my opinion, there aren’t many days or weeks or months that go by without “marriage emergencies” that call upon those vows. You need those words, and you don’t need them when you are in your wedding gown toasting champagne with your husband, sharing your first bite of cake together. You need them at 3 am, over a middle of the night feeding, when you haven’t showered for days, your boobs are leaking and you trip over the nine loads of laundry sitting on the sticky floor. Or when the house is empty of any food outside of crumbled crackers, you, coincidentally, haven’t showered yet again for three days and all the kids are sick and you are sick and he is sick and, and, and… 

That is when we need our vows – on the not so fairy tale days that make up life. The vows, although lovely and meaningful, are said at totally the wrong time. Scott and I wrote our vows, so truthfully, they did mean WAY MORE to me than simply repeating ornate vows offered to us. I know he said “when he was away from me, he couldn’t wait to get back to me,” and I said “you make my crazy sane.” And they were sweet and poetic and made me tear up and chill all over my overly fake tanned Bridezilla body. However,  I wouldn’t know what any of those promises would mean until the ideal picture of our life together would start to take shape into reality. Although full of so much life and joy and beauty, it has been a puzzle missing pieces here and there – leaving us scared and afraid the picture would never come together. 

I was sitting on the beach this week reading “Bossypants” by Tina Fey. (HIGHLY recommend, hilarious on all measures). She told this story towards the end of the book, referring to a time in her life where she was facing a “crisis” having to do with her family/marriage: (*her words not mine. Excuse the vulgarity…but it just fits*)

One time my mom babysat a set of the Italian kids while their parents went to a wedding reception. This was the first time this nice couple had gone out alone since their children were born. Their parents dropped them off after the ceremony. Little Christo and Maria were still all dressed up. Christo wore a tiny black suit and a white shirt. Maria wore a red velvet dress and cried in the playpen from the moment her parents left until the moment they returned. My mom tried everything to console her, food…The end.

After a couple of hours of this, seven-year-old Christo was beside himself. He had never been babysat before. How long was this *fuckery* going to go on? His sister was hysterical. He paced around our living room, now in his shirtsleeves and black pants. Pulling his golden curls nervously, he looked like the night manager of a miniature diner who had just had a party of six dine and dash. He ranted to his baby sister in Greek, ‘HGE, KATAVITNOE, BRI, MAJOJ!’ This sent my mother running into the dining room laughing hysterically. I chased her. What? What did he say? Roughly translated it was ‘Oh! My Maria! What is to become of us?’ 
His overdramatic ridiculousness tickled my mom in such a specific way that she doubled over in the dining room, hoping the kids wouldn’t see that she was laughing so hard at them she peed a little. A phenomenon I now understand on all levels.  
They were going to be fine, but they couldn’t possibly believe it.   
That must be what I look like to my doctor friend. That must be what I look like to anyone with a real problem – active-duty soldier, homeless person, Chilean miner, etc. A little tiny person with nothing to worry about running in circles, worried out of her mind. 

 

Either way, everything will be fine. But if you have an opinion, please feel free to offer it to me through the gap in the door of a public restroom. Everyone else does.

 

- Tina Fey, “Bossypants”


I cried. I cried because this story represents so many of the bumps, little and big, that Scott and I have had in five years. Some are very public and some are very, very private. Most are not that dramatic, yet all have been life altering. All bring a new piece to a puzzle that I thought I had all figured out five years ago. I thought I was vowing to the picket fence, the 2 kids and the perfect career while supporting Scott in all his endeavors. My vows were right, my ideals were wrong. And I am often that little tiny person, running around – NOT BELIEVING it will ever be fine again.

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again. Life is what happens when you are busy making plans. To my groom, Scott, thank you. thank you. thank you, from the bottom of my 31-year-old, “a lot more wrinkled and a little more saggy” chested heart – you still make my crazy sane. And you ALWAYS remind me when I am the strung out manager running around after a dine and dash, assuming life is so derailed it will never feel normal again, that it will be fine. It will be fine.

WE will be fine. 

Plugging Back In: Expectations Versus Reality

Hi friends.

I’m slowly but surely coming back from under my rock that kept me safe from Facebook, Twitter, and Internet overload. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously strongly believe in the connecting power behind the Internet and social media, but when you’re thinking about it every waking minute, it’s time for a reset.

As you know, I took last week off to unplug and get my physical space back in order.

Hmmm. I wish I had the report I had pictured in my mind for you. Clean, organized closets. Sippy cups stacked and orderly. Toys neatly binned and cleaned. Kids clothes stacked by season and size.

I bought a shoe organizer??

Sweet smiling and organized Megan from Best Nest even came over and gave me direction on what to do with the hot mess. And still, the mess lives on. (I will gladly share some of her tips with you this week. I DO plan to use them…BEFORE 2013, promises – promises.)

And my friends at Prime Car Wash…they keep saying – COME! Come get that swaggerwagon cleaned – we don’t judge how old that grime from an applesauce bag gone wrong on the side door is.  And…oops, just haven’t made it over yet. TOMORROW. I am going tomorrow. *There’s always tomorrow*

So, I am faced with self judgement or acceptance of failing my beautiful plan.

Then I think about the bigger picture. We went to a wedding this weekend that took me back to five years ago this very week. The planning, the prep, the Magoo (our dog) puking all over the floor the day before all the wedding guests were coming in. The really bad manicure. The way Scott “forgot to not come home” the night before our wedding because he wasn’t supposed to SEE ME. The mess I’m sure that lived in our house and cars because all we cared about was that day. The day we walked down the aisle with 99.9% of everyone that ever mattered to us right there in the same room – as we were totally unaware they were there, but full of their warm, glowing presence.

Our wedding day. October 6, 2007.

The day we blindly vowed to the years to come. This week I celebrate the reality of our vows. The truth about the house we have made a home. And the story that we have made so messy that it is beautifully hot.

Hot Mess.

That’s what we are five years later…a picture I could have never pictured.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t picture still being in the same house…THREE kids later. I certainly didn’t picture those three kids coming to our family in one pop (and it was a POP). Nor did I know I would go through three jobs and be at home with our kids. Or that our mortgage would sound so big and scary with one less income, minus group health insurance, three kids later and a realtor hubby on the battlefield cleaning up after the economic dump (with a smile on his face). Probably didn’t picture all the colds our family unit has had these first few parenting years. I didn’t know how hard it would be to keep five people fed and clean and not whining (including me). For sure thought I would always feel sexy for hubby by attending the gym, with energy and clean hair, 5 days a week. Was convinced date nights would never end up in drooling on the couch at 8:30 pm over take out, a glass of wine you are too tired to drink and a movie on demand you will never see the end of. Probably didn’t see that dryer breaking with 9 loads of clothes and towels piling up either (Happy Anniversary to me)….

Maybe I haven’t failed? Maybe it’s just a reality that I couldn’t dream BIG enough for (or know that I could survive). Possibly I don’t have to choose between self judgement or acceptance? Maybe I just have to live and love the birth of our own, unplanned reality and breathe in every moment – even the hard, I’m sweaty and I may flip out and scream profanities in the grocery store moments.

For all that I didn’t see coming, I thank God for every imperfect, perfect piece of the picture – the better and the worse and the sickness and the health. All of it.

This week is dedicated to the original crew of a family – the husband and the wife. And the reality that is always better than the expectations…if we just let them be.

 

Guest Post – Your Best Nest Indy: Getting Your Home Organized

As mentioned, my house feels like a hot mess.

Thanks goodness there are people like Megan Morton that operate on a high level of organization and motivation. I am inspired. Inspired enough to take a whole week and devote myself to the art of getting my life back in order (somewhat).

Meet Megan and enjoy her story, tips and great ideas below. If you live in Indianapolis or surrounding area, you should check out her services. Her company, Your Best Nest, specializes in home styling and baby planning services in Indianapolis. Her services can fit any budget and any timeline. She will work with you to create a beautiful and organized home, and help you enjoy a peaceful and healthy pregnancy. It is possible! (Um, hello, wish I would have known about this during my eight week bed rest stay??!!) AND, she is offering 20% off any service through October 31 for JustBreatheMama followers!  Contact Megan by visiting her website, liking her on Facebook, or email her at megan@yourbestnestindy.com

As a young girl, I always loved my Grandfather’s stories about growing up on an Indiana farm.  I even loved to hear about how the chickens would run around with their heads cut off after a swing of the axe.  As I grew older, this image terrified me.  It became clear that the chicken image haunted me because that is what I would see when I looked in the mirror.  Too often, we Moms find ourselves running around our coops like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.  “Where are my keys?  Where is my list for the store?  Did I eat breakfast?  Have I shaved this week?  This month? Where is my baby?   If only we could have a minute to catch our breath…

or·gan·ized Adjective. Having one’s affairs in order so as to deal with them efficiently.

Oh.  That sounds easy enough.  Organization is a work in progress, and the ultimate goal should only be that you have eliminated stress and have simplified your life.  Not that your house looks like a page from the Container Store catalog!  My journey to making organization a priority started long ago.  When I was 8 years old I would make a detailed schedule of events in my Trapper Keeper for road trips to Florida.  It has just been since becoming a mom that living an organized life has become a priority and often, a necessity.

I consider myself the Julia Child of organizing (minus the funny voice, I think). I have passion and some experience, but I am FAR from perfect.  There are definitely some drawers in my kitchen that would make a set designer from the Container Score cringe.  Ahhh, the kitchen. The bustling center of every happy home.  Not so much!?  I remember back in B.C. (Before Children) when my husband and I spent a lot of time in our family room, on the couch.  After my first was born, I was suddenly thrust into my kitchen every waking moment, or so it seemed.  I vaguely remember un-loading my dishwasher once while using a manual breast pump.  After months of chaos and a maternity leave that flew by, I was back to work and super-stressed!  Oh, and my second baby was on the way! I was freaking out!  How was I going to handle two babies when I could barely handle one?!  I found myself almost weeping one day at my sink while watching Julia Child reruns on PBS.  She was expertly preparing Chicken Provencal when a poof of flour exploded in her face.  She started laughing and so did I.  Then the laughing turned to tears, and the hormones kicked in and I went crazy.  Good crazy.  I purged every drawer in my kitchen.  I emptied out half-used boxes of food from the pantry.  I dumped out containers of mysterious papers.  I was going to take control of my kitchen and my life!  I worked hard to create balance and efficiency in my kitchen and found that I suddenly had more free time.  I left in the morning without the feeling that I was forgetting something.  I even sat down and read magazines.

The most important thing to understand about organization is that it is different for every person.  Everyone thinks “being organized” means you have a bunch of cute containers in a row.  Well, your pantry can look fabulous, but if it is not put together in a way that is efficient for your individual needs, it is just another pretty face.  Taking the first step toward simplifying your life is to figure out what exactly is causing you stress!  I can’t find anything in my cabinets!  Whenever I need to clean something I can’t find my products so I give up!  I don’t have time to think about making dinner, I haven’t even gone through coupons yet!  Figure out what is making you stressed, and tackle it!  Simple as that!

Here are some easy steps to take toward kitchen bliss…

1.  Buy Storage Containers

Hint: For storage that will be visible, buy containers of one color.  Then if they are a hodge-podge of different styles, the look will have a basic color scheme and won’t look mix-matched.

2.  Purge

Donate, recycle, or just throw it out.  Take the item you no longer need, open a trash bin, place said item in the trash.  You can do it, I promise.

3.  Group by Similar Items

4.  Arrange

5.  Maintain

The practice of organization will not succeed without regular maintenance.  Choose a day of the week or a time each day to “tidy up”.

All you need is the motivation to make a positive change!  You don’t have to organize your whole kitchen, just start with one cabinet or just one drawer and before you know it, you will be an addict!  It is also a great excuse to go shopping, because you obviously have to buy some new items to get you started.  These products are organization All-Stars…

Copco Turntable (BedBathandBeyond) and Container Store Shelf

Create space with these items, and maybe even use all those sippy-cups…

Tip: Keep labels and a Sharpie near your to-go containers and you won’t have to waste time looking for them.  A blank calendar + multi-colored pen = You, recording daily milestones and funny comments from your hilarious children 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crate and Barrel Cutting Boards

These cutting boards are flexible, dishwasher safe, and BPA free.  I store them in a drawer where they work perfectly to cover the cooking utensils I would like to remain hidden from my toddlers!

Tip:An empty wine rack works great for sorting miscellaneous papers.  Why is that wine rack empty anyway?

Container Store “Crunch Can”

My all-time favorite invention!  Durable, easy to clean, collapsible, reasonably priced, and large enough to hold a full-size toddler!

Container Store Magazine Rack

Add a couple of Command hangers and you just cleared off your counter!

Organization isn’t only about efficiently arranging your belongings, it is important to organize your daily tasks.  Use the same steps necessary to organize your kitchen to schedule your daily routine.  Eliminate wasteful steps and purge unnecessary clutter, figuratively speaking.  Keep a cute tote near your steps or in your kitchen for items going upstairs.  Empty it upstairs, fill it with laundry, etc. and bring it back downstairs.  Husbands are also great at completing this task!

Today’s modern age boasts a million luxuries to make our lives easier, but often we find our selves completely overwhelmed and longing for simpler times.  Personally I am a complete technology-phobic!  I use an actual calendar and checkbook, and I prefer turning the crisp page of a book and smelling that stinky old library smell!  As moms of the 21st Century, we don’t have to go out back and take the chicken’s head off for dinner, thank goodness!  When you start to feel like that doomed chicken, find a moment to just breathe, and take that stress head on.  Organize yourself, simply your life, and realize that all the perfect kitchen really needs is love.  And if all else fails, throw some flour on your face and laugh at your perfectly imperfect self. Bon Appétit!

Megan

megan@yourbestnestindy.com

 

 

 

 

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