Tag Archives: Family

10 Things I Learned in April: The Parenting Edition

1 May

I can’t quite wrap my head around the reality that it’s been almost a month since our sweet Anders Knox joined the family.

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The past four weeks have been a blur of visitors, spit up, diapers, yoga pants, late night feedings, and sleep deprivation. It’s been the most challenging four weeks of my life, but it’s also been the most beautiful.

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Since April was entrenched in babyland, my monthly “10 things” isn’t going to be a very diverse list. I may not have showered today, but I’m seizing a quiet moment (Anders finally went down for a nap) to share 10 things I learned last month.

10 Things I Learned in April

1. Babies poop. A lot.
They warn you. The books tell you. But nothing can prepare you for the awe-inspiring amount of poop a tiny human being can produce. It’s baffling how much of my day is spent dealing with, assessing, smelling for, washing off, evaluating, logging, and transporting poop. Dairy Man and I are both black belt changers at this point.

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2. I can eat any meal in under 60 seconds.
Anders’ crankiest time of the day is typically between 5 and 10 p.m. That means DM and I stagger our dinners: one person consoles the baby while the other scarfs down their food. During the day I also have to eat breakfast and lunch with a baby in my arms or frantically while he’s napping. At this point I think I could win some sort of speed-eating competition.

3. I can do a lot of things with one hand.
Anders isn’t the best napper and DM is busy at work every day, so I spend a lot of time alone in the house with a baby in my arms. Thankfully I’ve gotten quite proficient at doing things with one hand. The list includes eating a bowl of cereal (though I did spill milk all over the table), loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, typing emails, and mopping baby vomit from the floor. If only onehandedness was a marketable job skill.

4. The human body can survive on minuscule amounts of sleep.
Anders needs to eat every 2-3 hours. Since I’m breastfeeding, this means that I never get more than three hours of sleep at a time. The fact that I’m still standing, speaking, and functioning is nothing short of a miracle.

5. Seeing my husband as a father is the most beautiful thing in the world. 
My heart wasn’t prepared for the gut-bursting joy I would feel in seeing DM as a father. He’s patient, gentle, and enamored with our little blue-eyed bundle of joy. My soul melts into my shoes when I see them together. I can’t wait to watch them grow closer and learn from each other.

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6. Sometimes just taking a shower is an inconceivable accomplishment.
I feel like I’m really kicking life’s butt if I manage to take a shower every day. I never thought something so small would puff me up with such a sense of pride. If I’m really feeling crazy, I might even wear makeup.

7. Flexibility is the new norm.
I’ve grown in flexibility ever since marrying a dairy farmer. My plans and schedules often fall victim to a broken tractor or escaped bovine. But I can already tell that parenthood is going to require an unprecedented amount of flexibility. My schedule, my sleep, my favorite shirts, my furniture, my chores, my sanity, and my relationships are already outside of my control. This leaves me with two choices: become completely unhinged or let it all go. Since I don’t want to take a trip to crazytown, I need to learn to let go. I need to be ok with being late. I need to ask for help. I need to accept failure. I need to put everything I do into the hands of my Creator.

8. I have the best family and friends in the world.
There’s nothing like having a baby to make you feel loved. I’m ridiculously grateful for the people who have held Anders while I napped, changed diapers, cleaned our house, given advice, brought dinners, walked Jersey, sent encouraging messages, delivered chocolate milkshakes, and tolerated a steady stream of adorable baby photos on Facebook. DM and I couldn’t have made it through April without this support. We are so blessed by our tribe. I’m also so grateful for the love I’ve received from YOU, our online community. Your sweet messages and comments are so appreciated!

9. Parenting is the most frustrating, fulfilling, exhausting, amazing thing I’ve ever done.
Dairy Man and I wake up each morning as different parents to a different child. We learn more about this strange creature every day and he learns about us. We have good days and bad days. We’ve had triumphant parenting moments and moments that make us want to curl into a ball and weep uncontrollably. Like most new parents, we’ve done a lot of things wrong. But we’re learning. We’re trying to be patient with ourselves and each other. We rejoice in our small victories and live to parent another day. This life is beautiful and we are so in love with this child.

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10. Babies don’t really appreciate new machinery.
Despite DM’s best efforts, our youngest farmhand isn’t quite ready to report for duty. But we have complete confidence that he will one day appreciate the excitement of a brand new loader.

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It’s Not About the Closet Doors: On Motherhood, Fears, and Faith

26 Mar

A friend told me recently that one of her biggest fears in regards to her baby boy isn’t that he won’t sleep through the night, eat his vegetables, or learn to spell.

She’s afraid that his future wife will hate her.

I can honestly say that such a thought had never even crossed my mind until then. Should I be worried about my unborn baby’s betrothed!? I’m barely grasping the idea that I’m going to have an infant.

The more I thought about what she said, the more I started to realize the gravity of my upcoming entrance into parenthood.

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Within the next 2-3 weeks I will give birth to a living, breathing, functioning little boy. This boy will skin his knees, go to kindergarten, get holes in his jeans, bust a move at school dances, and one day bring home a woman who will be his wife.

The trajectory starts with his first cry, his first gasp into life. And then, someday, he’ll bring home a girl who might hate me.

I recognize the insanity of this logical leap, particularly since I haven’t even met my son yet. But something about the late third trimester flips a switch in your brain between pregnancy and parenthood.

I’m so excited. I’m wonderfully, ecstatically, fearfully, joyfully waiting for life to change forever. I’m elated to meet the little being that has been growing and kickboxing in my womb for the past nine months. I can’t wait to hold him, to see if he has Dairy Man’s eyes, to watch him grow.

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But if I’m honest, I’m also terrified.

This terror has spawned a few moments of pure, unadulterated irrationality throughout this pregnancy. One such moment came when Dairy Man asked me what kind of closet doors I wanted in the nursery and I melted into an indecisive pile of emotional goo.

I know there’s nothing existentially significant about closet doors. But for some reason it felt like if I picked the wrong doors for a room that was going to house MY CHILD, everything else would fall apart.

The doors had to be perfect. I had to be perfect. Because, clearly my child’s whole future would hinge on closet doors. The wrong doors could keep him from sleeping through the night, getting good grades, making friends, eating his vegetables.

I’d like to blame it solely on pregnancy hormones, but I think it’s deeper than that.

Because it’s not about the closet doors. It’s about feeling overwhelmed. It’s about the unknown. It’s about life changing. It’s about a long-awaited blessing so beautiful it simultaneously makes me want to laugh and weep.

Pregnancy has been a growing experience (no pun intended – bahdoomCHHH) for this self-aware Type A. The baby-baking process has been the ultimate exercise in loss of control. And it’s liberating. Everything up to this point and everything that will come after requires complete trust in God.

My son might not like broccoli. He might get detention. He might draw on his perfect closet doors with a red Sharpie. He might marry a girl who is lactose intolerant (the horror).

I have to put it all, even that future woman who will steal …ahem… I mean marry my son away, in His hands.

This is all part of a plan—a plan outside of my control. The road was paved with frustration and heartbreak, but God finally blessed us with a viable pregnancy. My fear of parenthood pales in comparison to my intense, overwhelming gratitude. That’s what matters. I might not know how to swaddle a baby or discipline a misbehaving toddler, but I’ve been given the incredible chance to figure it out. This child is already in someone else’s hands.

I’m realizing that this is it. Right now. My life isn’t about tomorrow or growing up or my son’s future wife, it’s about the beautiful terror of each moment. The realization that I’m not in charge. The recognition that each mundane or shattering moment can take me straight to the feet of glory.

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I’m so thankful I get to live this life. I wouldn’t trade all of the pain, anger, fear, and uncertainty that comes along with it. It’s not about what already happened or what could be, it’s about where I am now. There is nothing more sacred or profound than this day.

So I’ll keep nesting, reading baby books, saving money, and practicing my breathing techniques. But ultimately I know that this new adventure is out of my hands. Everything will be new, but everything will be painfully beautiful. Life will change and we’ll change with it.

That’s the best kind of fear.

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All photos for this post were taken from our maternity shoot with the talented Ashley Folkema.

A Big Announcement

7 Oct

Ok people. Hold on to your hats. It’s time for a big announcement.

We’re expanding the dairy! Well, kind of. The truth is that we’re working on our very own homegrown farmhand. It seems more cost-effective in the long run.

 Confused? I’ll let this picture explain things for you.

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That’s right, folks. The Dairy Man and I are officially expecting our first child! Even though he/she won’t be able to shovel manure for a few more years, we’re over the moon with excitement and gratitude. We feel unspeakably blessed.

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Jersey and the cows seem ambivalent, but they’ll come around. I have no doubt that J-pups will settle into his new role as an older sibling.

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So that’s that. #30 on my 30 things to do before I’m 30 list will be checked off in April 2014. You’re welcome, Mom.

For now, we’re embarking on many months of Dairy Man trying to understand a human pregnancy through his knowledge of cows. I’ll try not to be offended. Whatever helps him cope. As long as we don’t name the baby “Holstein.”

Life is about to change dramatically and irrevocably. I’m thrilled, overwhelmed, ecstatic, and terrified all at the same time. But even amidst the bouts of terror, I thank God for this tiny life inside of me.

On to the next adventure!

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*And many, many thanks go to the talented Ashley Folkema for these amazing photos.

A Typical Family Christmas

2 Jan

So, here we are. 2013.

The transition from an old year to a new one is always bittersweet. As I look towards this upcoming year with hope and excitement, I also recognize the closing of a chapter, the culmination of another 365 days of life.

Some things in 2012 happened exactly as I wished them to. Other things did not. I’ve learned lessons about patience, trust, and timing. I’ve felt fulfillment, disappointment, joy, and sorrow. As look to 2013, my heart feels a mixture of excitement and apprehension, hope and longing.

In the midst of all of these semi-melodramatic musings, I am left with one thing that will never change. My family.

Have I ever mentioned how awesome my family is? Well, let me tell you. They are awesome. Wicked, dope, sick, ridic … or whatever the kids are saying nowadays.

My family is unavoidably loud. We interrupt you when you’re talking. We squeeze a Seinfeld reference into nearly every family story. We don’t understand quiet people. We take the best annual Christmas photos.

It all started back in 2008. Up until this point, my odd family had managed to rein ourselves in for one normal picture each year. But 2008 was different.

Maybe it was something in the water. Maybe we ate too many frosted Christmas cookies with sprinkles. Maybe we were delirious with holiday spirit.

Whatever the reason, somehow the annual Christmas Eve picture in front of my parents’ tree turned into this:

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We’re still shocked that my face didn’t stay that way.

This photograph kicked off an epic tradition that is only five years old, but is already wildly anticipated by our friends and family on Facebook. What began as an impromptu bit of silliness has transpired into five people scouring the house looking for costumes and props and one poor grandma who is obligated to play photographer.

Though I’ve only chosen one picture from each year to show you, believe me, all of the outtakes are equally awesome.

2009 (the Christmas DM and I got engaged)

09xmas2010 (our first Christmas as a married couple)

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2011

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2012 (the first Christmas at our farmhouse instead of my parent’s house)

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Each year brings new joys, new levels of ridiculousness, and new participants. Jersey was thrilled to be included this year.

Though 2013 is a great unknown at this point, I feel so blessed to have a band of weirdos like this in my corner.

Here’s to a fabulous new year.

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