THE HAPPIEST WOMAN



My eyes rest on their blonde heads just seconds before my hands and fingers run through their hair. I watch their faces, just about mirrored images as they laugh, and I feel my chest and stomach warm. I feel my tight mouth loosen into a wide smile, and inside I know I am the happiest woman in the checkout line. I allow the happiness to soak in and loosen me… I might even start to sway ever so slightly.

I position our cart as to minimize access to strategically placed chocolate bars and crappy magazines, I feel my round stomach against the edge of the shopping cart. My body is full and aching after an afternoon of grocery shopping with three children, two of them wildly orbiting outside of myself, and one of them wildly inside. I recently told a therapist that I have three children, without ever thinking twice. She did a double take when I gave her their ages, and revealed that I was counting the one inside too.

I wonder if she will look like them - blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale. I wonder if she will be as wild outside as she is inside. Will she be their missing piece? Will she fill our cup right up to the brim?

If I analyze it too deeply, I feel guilty for imagining our family is a cup to fill or a puzzle that needs to be completed… that there is a finite amount of space or numbered empty slots, and it depends on me, and perhaps my husband, to figure out just how many we need to fill that void. Because its horrible and silly to think there is ever a void. Or is it terrible that there actually is one?

A few weeks ago I broke into tears at the thought that this might be the last baby I birth. That these kicks are the last ones, that this is the last time my belly will be this full, that this will be the last miracle my body is home for. Images of abandoned and vacant buildings come to mind, and I can relate to them; things that glimmered are now becoming dull from the wear and tear. The sharp edges of my trim are becoming rounded at the corners, chipped, and flat-out busted in some spots. This pregnancy has been my toughest, my most isolating, my most exhausting, my saddest… am I actually crazy enough to think that I could survive this season again, with not two, but three wild children? Can my body even endure another pregnancy, horrible or not?

 I don’t want it to end like this. I cannot let this season of my life end with me so defeated. I want to finish with grace, with the blissful and healthy pregnancy that I know I can have. The one where I glow, and smile, and shop, eat all the right foods, exercise every day - and not the one where I shut the bathroom door and cry just about every night for reasons I cannot even make a list for.

Except for guilt. Guilt I can pinpoint, it is ever present and palpable. Guilt for not smiling more. Guilt for not being stronger. Guilt for being so proud. Guilt for even the possibility that I might not even want another child, but just another pregnancy. Guilt for crying over a bad pregnancy when I am carrying a healthy baby. Guilt for being disappointed when I have two healthy, happy, and beautiful children. Guilt for being inpatient with them when they are trying to put on their shoes. Guilt for considering risking the better part of a year of their lives, once more. Guilt for being miserable, unsociable, tired… for not getting out of pajamas, not answering phone calls, and for wanting to curl up under a thick blanket for the next three months. Guilt for not loving every minute of this.

The kids fight over who will put the marshmallows on the belt in the checkout lane. My hands continue to ruffle their hair and allow them to work out the half-smashed marshmallows. One minute they scream and screech, the next they laugh with dancing eyes. I watch them most every moment of the day and we share it all… we are in this together. I do love these moments. Our lives are all so closely knit that it is hard to know where my finger-tips end and their scalps begin. They touch my belly, the home of their sister - a common-place they have all shared. The body of the woman they all still share, and I know that this is really the best I could ever be. Just to be there now with my sore body. To be their mom with my sad, and happy, and full, and broken heart. To be mother to one or to two, three, or four - to all of them. To allow myself to be stretched and to cry, and to laugh, and to hold them all so tight. To find strength in the exhaustion…

I run my fingers over the two blonde heads in the checkout line, I feel my hips sway very slightly, and the baby kick, and I am the happiest woman in the world.

ROOM TOUR: CHLOE'S SPACE

So, I have been making busy tearing apart our house and putting it all back together in a more orderly-ish fashion. Trying to simplify, organize, and pack stuff to move. Yes, we are getting ready to move. We are planning on listing our home sometime in the next couple weeks, so anything that is not essential, or unsightly has been sorted through, some of it given away, and some of it packed up (although i think eventually some most of what i packed away might become "give-away" when i open up all those boxes).  It feels good to have less stuff sitting around, it's much easier to keep things tidy, and nobody seems to miss any of it. Funny how moving can jump-start your motivation to clean house.

The other day I straightened up Chloe's room - it took me less than two minutes. It made me happy to see it looking good, so I snapped a few photos with my phone, and thought I would share them here. It's not a very big space, and like the rest of our home, has been a work in progress over the years. Starting with just a painted room, a crib, and a small dresser; art-work being hung every so often, bed linens made when needed, a sheet made into a curtain., leftover Halloween decorations reclaimed, etc., a little mish-mosh of stuff acquired. Chloe is happy in the space, and the simplicity of it makes me happy too. 







Sources: balloon wall decals from here, furniture from ikea, skeleton light garland and jack-o-lantern "night-light" from target, quilt and weaving made by me. 

Diaper genie... because we are keeping things real. 

Hope you have a great week!



10/52



A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe : totally dressed herself.

Gregor : hell-bent on getting himself that piece of apple.



Joining in with Jodi.



9/52






A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe: Sitting up on the counter, enjoying a snack with me, while her brother naps.

Gregor: Enjoying a quick sink bath before bedtime.


Linking up with Jodi.




7/52 & 8/52



7/52 

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe: a sweet messy face after helping me bake muffins.

Gregor: we have started, jokingly and lovingly, calling him a barnacle - he is happiest being worn.



8/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe: getting bundled up, ready to hear outside to play in the snow.

Gregor: his cheeky grin kills me!


Joining in with Jodi.


6/52



A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Gregor: very aware of all that is happening around him, and will stop nursing if he knows I am trying to sneak a photo of him.
Chloe: rummaging through my jewelry box, while sharing some hot chocolate with me, while her brother naps.

Portraits were taken with my iPhone this week as it was handy and caught the moments that I wasn't willing to risk missing by running to grab my real camera. They are not as good of quality as my real camera, but these were special moments that I spent with each of my kids that I want to remember.

Favorites from week five:

This precious moment captured between a mom and her youngest. Her words resonated about slowing down and not rushing even a minute of babyhood, resonated with me.

This set of portraits of sweet children exploring what looks to be a castle. The lighting in these portraits is stunning, and I like how their faces are captured so naturally.


Linking up with Jodi.

5/52







A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe: helping me prepare dinner by scrubbing potatoes - one of her favorite chores.

Gregor: always watching his big sister.


Favorites from week four:

I adore every single photo she posts, but especially this one of big sister and little sister.

These two playing in muddy puddles, has me looking forward to spring's arrival.




Linking up with Jodi.

FIBER FRIDAY 2.0

 Fiber Friday Friends! Totally making a "thing" of this! I have been busy sewing and knitting and crafting away, and I think that if I were to have "fiber resolutions", which would be a really nerd thing to have... i mean, who would make resolutions about fiber?  me. Well, if I were the type of person to make such resolutions, I would have them made. Like, I said, january has been a busy and fun month for me when it comes to sewing and knitting (I blame the cold weather and long nights), and keeping so busy with all these things that I love to do with my brain and hands has made me think about how I work, what I want to do, what I like to make... and then sometimes while I am working on things, and doing stuff, I have a brief existential crisis that I work through... and sometime that leads to fiber resolutions, you know, if i was nerdy like that. 

 So, the product of my latest crisis is my manta: the phrase "I AM NOT A MACHINE" So often I feel like I have an urge to chug out projects and work work work. Maybe this is on my mind because of the holiday rush, and how once January comes around and my little shop business slows down, I am needing to remind myself to calm down, take my time, enjoy my work. This phrase also bleeds into being a mom, and a nurse, and a human... I am not a machine - slow down and enjoy life. I am not a machine - take time to laugh with the babies and watch a stupid cartoon.  I am not a machine - take a couple minutes to do more teaching with a patient... re-explain something and make sure they "get it". I am not a machine - feed yourself real food. 

So, that is my mantra this year. I am not a machine. I am a human being. I make things with my hands because I love to. I sell things to people who want something made by caring hands, not a machine. I give things that are made with my hands and I use my brain. I take my time to teach my children about making things with their hands. 


which brings me to my resolutions... because, you knew it, I totally made fiber resolutions.

1 / Knit a pair of socks for each member of my family, for their birthday. Because I like to make socks, and don't make enough of them. Because many of my family members ask me to make them something to wear. Because I would love to wrap each of them in a sweater, but have waaay to many family members for that. A sweater for their feet though? I think I can handle that. 

First pair of socks, for my baby sister, modeled by Chlo.
 2 / Re-cycle more yarn and fiber. Knitting is not a cheap hobby, believe it or not. Yes, it can be more inexpensive to buy yarn than to buy a sweater. But then you have all the hours that you put into making that sweater, and in the end it's really not a matter of being more economical, but really just having an item that you love that you picked out the yarn and pattern (or design your own pattern if you do that kind of thing) for, and took the time to make. Also, if you are going to take the time to make yourself something, you want to use good stuff... and once you start using good stuff it is hard to go back to using anything else. So, if you like good yarn, natural fibers, and natural dyes (I am getting there), then you are going to spend a pretty penny on your yarn.

I bought some great cotton-linen blend yarn over a year ago and made a cardigan for myself, that then sat in a drawer. So this week I decided to rip the whole thing apart and make sweaters for my two kids. Recycling yarn is an excellent way to save some money, and reuse something that isn't getting any wear. Also, handmade pieces are pretty easy to take apart. I am thinking I have enough yardage for two short-sleeve spring sweaters for them. It was a great activity for Chlo and me to do together since she loves to pull at yarn already. I wrapped the yarn around a chunk of cardboard I had sitting around, tied them into little hanks, soaked them, and once they are dry I will wind them into balls and knit with them. This whole process takes a bit of time, but it can save a bit of money.



Oh, and I am keeping track of this project on my instagram feed, for anyone interested in recycling yarn. Check out #recycledspringsweaters , because I am really not too great with getting too creative with my hashtags.

3 / Stick to a fiber budget. I am giving myself $50 a month to put towards any materials or supplies  I might need. To some this might sound ridiculously stingy, and to others this might sound really extravagant. Because I have a whole lot of fabric, I am mostly using this on bits or tools I need to finish a project, rather than the bulk of the materials. I hope this is going to help me use what I have stashed (sooo much fabric), and really encourage me to make the most out of what I have. I want to make more quilts, so this month money went towards batting, and backing for this quilt, and some more yarn to make some socks for my brother (since most of my yarn is a bit feminine or bulky right now).

 4 / Take some time once a week to work on a quickie. This past week, after I had my kids in bed, I threw together this quick little doll. I have been wanting to make a "baby doll" for a bit now, and while this one needs a little work (i should have lined his entire head, which is made from an old sweater, with batting or muslin to make it more rigid and less likely to loose shape.). This doll was made with all used materials, minus his linen face, and embroidery thread used to sew his face on. I would like to make more of these and put them in my shop sometime soon. But, I have many little quickies I want to work on, and once a week it feels good to sit down and make something from start to finish.

and everything about this doll makes me laugh.


Do you have any "fiber resolutions"? Or anything that you would like to change this year about how you use materials or recycle things that you own?



4/52



A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe: talking to me about all things make-believe, while looking quite"grown".

Gregor: sitting with his Pop, and listening to music.


Favorites from week three:

 This weekly portrait post, featuring sweet kiddos and beautiful knits - a perfect combo.

This lovely collection of wintery photos, full of library visits, and warm light, and cold nights.


I have had a hard time finding time to read blogs, or write anything for my own. I have bits of paper tucked around the house, with notes on them; ideas I have scribbled for blog posts that I mean to elaborate on and develop, but they have been neglected and pushed to the side in favor of doing things like cleaning up the kitchen, or folding laundry, or even doing something I find relaxing, like knitting while listening to an audio-book. I sometimes get to read some blogs on my phone while I am nursing Gregor, but commenting is always tough to do from the phone touch-screen. I am not feeling bad or guilty about any of this, I mean, when it comes down to it, this is just a blog. No biggie. However, I do enjoy writing here, and reading and commenting on my favorite blogs, and I would like to do it regularly. So, all this to say, sometimes it can be hard to carve out time to do what you enjoy, and to ask if anyone has any tips or tricks on how to do it?  


Joining in with sweet Jodi.






3/52



A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe: spending hours playing with play-doh at the kitchen counter. This sculpture was, "a skateboard, with play-doh on top of it."

Gregor: on top of the same kitchen counter, babbling to me while I work on lunch.


Favorites from this past week:

Blowing raspberries / Being worn / Being fed

Linking up with Jodi.




FIBER FRIDAY


Alright, so, can we make this a thing? There are "music mondays", and "throwback thursdays", and "selfie sundays", and I even stumbled across "eggplant friday" recently (seriously, at your own risk guys... i was totally caught off-guard by this one!). Anyway, quilting, knitting, sewing, and pretty much anything that involves fiber has been an interest of mine since I was a kid. I used to sew with my mother, cross-stitch, make little gifts out of fabric and yarn I would find around the house My mother taught me how to crochet when I was pretty young and i remember making small blankets for dolls.  When I was in my twenties I taught myself how to knit, and I have been knitting ever since. I found it to be a very soothing hobby, and something that I could busy my hands with while reading textbooks for school, or tending bar when I did that for a while.  A couple years back I decided to start making quilts, and I have been really having fun doing that. A year ago my husband bought me a knitting machine for Christmas, and I was all like... what do I do with this?! It is super intimidating, but super awesome, and the most thoughtful, and ridiculously expensive, gift anyone has ever given me. It took me a year to finally figure the damn thing out, and when I say "figure it out", I mean I can only do the most basic of stitches and things with it. It is a really amazing machine, and I am hoping to use it more over the next year. 

So, yeah, I have a lot of fiber and fabric, and more pots around me than I have hands to put in them. I figured I would start blogging about what I have been working on, or something that I came across that I found inspiring,  just to document it for myself, and maybe to inspire whoever lurks around these parts now-a-days (hopefully there are some who might enjoy this kind of thing, and I am not boring my entire little blog audience).


1 / Well, this week I started working on a new quilt. I have been in love with the idea of a "God's Eye" design, and have seen some really pretty ones out there. I like how simple it is, and now that mine is coming together I am afraid it is looking a little too simple for my liking. I am thinking of adding some applique to it, which would be a first for me. I am thinking something floral... maybe in peach, or purple? I have been following Kate Oliver (the "Rock that Nap" lady), and she has been featuring beautiful purple crepe myrtle in her photos lately... which is really inspiring me and has me thinking of using the quilt as a canvas for some pretty floral applique.

2 / A really simple, bulky, color-blocked scarf that I am thinking of adding tassels or pom-poms to. I came accross this pom-pom tutorial today (through the storq newsletter of all places!). I think a couple really fun pom-poms might really make this scarf feel fun.

3 / This is some yarn I have in my stash from years ago when I had first started knitting. I was really overwhelmed by the cost of my new hobby; I had very little money to spend... yarn is not cheap, and I was really gravitating towards super-great quality stuff... all silk, alpaca, and linen. So, since I was already really into thrift-ing, I started to buy sweaters from thrift-stores, pull them apart, and recycle the yarn. I would often mix these yarns with others that I had and use them to make really big and chunky scarves. I just discovered the woolful podcast, this week. If you knit, or sew, or do anything that involves fiber, you need to check this out. It has beem so inspiring to hear people talk about their passion for fiber art. On episode 2 there is an interview with Jerome Sevilla, where he talks about recycling yarn. I need to start doing this again. I forgot how much I enjoyed the process of destructing sweaters, prepping the yarn, and then knitting something new out of something old.


Alright, so that is a bit of what has been going on with me this past week, when it comes to fiber. I hope to share a little bit each week, or most weeks. Please feel free to share what you are working on, or anything fun you came across in the comments - I'd love to hear about it! Have a great week!

2/52



A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe: fresh after her bath; our bathroom gets the prettiest light in the house.

Gregor: finds his hands, and feet, to be an endless source of entertainment these days.


And, as promised, here are a couple of my favorites from this past week:

Two little ones asleep in bed, a portrait of all things tranquil / an adorable little girl in a blue romper, with eyes to match.


Joining in with Jodi.




BITS OF THE WEEKEND







a few photos taken with my phone over the weekend:

1. I knit a tiny newborn hat as a gift, from some leftover yarn (no, I am not pregnant).
2. The most delicious pecan coffee cake that my Father's sweet wife brought us! It was the best coffee cake I have ever had and we nibbled away at it all weekend.
3. Pop-pop, Grandma Julie, and Gregor.
4. A very organized little artist
5. One of my many cups of coffee from this weekend, and a the beginning of a color-blocked knit scarf. I'm really trying to work on using up my yarn-stash.
6. Sitting in the mini-van, in the rain with the kids up in the front seat, a diet coke for me, a slushie for her, breastmilk for him.

It was a slow weekend. Gregor has been sick and blowing-out diapers (although it seems like he is on the mend this morning - I hope!) Christian has been working, a lot. It has been rainy enough to keep the kids and myself indoors, painting and coloring with the new art supplied that Pop-pop and Grandma Julie brought for Chloe, and knitting warm things. While I love staying home and have plenty of projects around the house to keep me busy, by last night I could tell that Chloe and myself were both experiencing a little cabin fever. There are very few places I want to take a sick baby however, so I decided that the Sonic Drive-thru would have to do. We all sat in the front seats, listening to the oldies station, sharing an order of fries, and pretending the mini-van was a space ship. Never underestimate the magic of a huge diet cherry fountain soda, a toasty mini-van, and good tunes to lift your mood. 

This week I have a little list of things to do around the house and some projects for my little etsy shop that I'm excited to get working on. I'm feeling I need a little sugar detox, a good house cleaning, and to go through all of our closets to get rid of anything that hasn't been worn during the past year. Oh, and I have been reading this book - the second book I have read by Liane Moriaty. It is light, fiction literature, without being too chick-lit-ish. It has been perfect reading during late night diaper changes and feedings. 

Hope you had a great weekend, and that getting back into the grind of things isn't too tough. Take your vitamins friends!!!


1/52








A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Chloe : getting creative with her new paints

Gregor : napping sweetly, after a very long and sleepless night.

Back to the weekly portrait! Hooray! I have tried doing this over the past couple years, but last year I sort of took a hiatus from blogging and never followed through, despite how much I really love having these portraits of my children. 

A couple weeks back Christian was putting together a collection of photos for a digital picture frame that he would give as a gift. He sorted through all my photos on my computer and random memory cards to find the portraits I had taken of Chloe (this proved to be quite a task - you have no idea how digitally disorganized I am!). While he sorted through, we found ourselves reminiscing and reflecting on these past three years: watching Chloe grow up, seeing our family grow from three to four, remembering little things about days, not too far into the past, that we might have forgotten for just a moment. It made me really happy to have that disorganized mess of digital photos.

So this year, I start again. I am going to use my "real camera", as we call it around here (I have a Nikon D3200), and shoot on manual mode (i am nowhere near being a professional, but going to try to learn!), and post one a week of each of my children. I am also going to put aside a couple dollars every week so that when I reach the end of the year I can make these portraits into a really nice coffee table book... for that coffee table I will have someday.

I link up with Jodi each week, and after this week I will also link to some of my favorite portraits from the previous week. If you are interested in participating you can check out Jodi's blog right here.


RESOLUTIONS: 2015

first dirty mirror selfie of 2015

First of all - Happy New Year! I hope that your holidays were full of all things warm and pleasant, and that 2015 is treating you well. I rang in the new year at work, and spent the day with the kids while Christian worked. It was a good, slow, day with lots of sunshine, coffee, and Chinese food for dinner; in a word - perfect.

I hate to say that I am jumping on the new-years-resolution-wagon, because I know, I know, everyone always makes these resolutions, only to wind up ditching the gym the second week of January. And if something is so important, that you feel the need to make a resolution, why wait until the new year, why not just start working towards your goal immediately?

I have no good arguments against these valid points, but I will say there is something very motivating about the phrase "new year". Also, I like making lists, and I really love reading other people's lists (I find them so inspiring and funny). And well, these are all goals I have been trying to work on anyway - no, I didn't just pull them out of my butt on January first. So it is just as well for me to put them into writing, as it makes it feel more official, tack them onto my mirror, and hopefully use these resolutions, or goals, to focus my mind, my attitude, and how I spend my time. 

welcoming in the new year.
I have decided that they can be broken down into two lists:  one of "more" and one of "less". Thinking of goals this way makes it simple , easier to remember, and more attainable because there is no end result placed on any of them... just "more" or "less" which will hopefully result in a happier, healthier, and more pleasant version of myself. 

so...

MORE:

waking up earlier than my kids,
regular exercise,
celebrating family member's achievements (even if celebrating just means grabbing fries and a slushie together),
reading more books to my kids and to myself,
writing,
knitting,
quilting,
making and buying handmade gifts,
veggies,
water,
general taking care of myself - you know, remembering to shave under both armpits, eat breakfast, and stuff,
taking time to be kind to others.

LESS:
complaining,
putting myself, and others, down... even if only in my mind,
fear,
sugar,
shopping at target (note that I did not say "no shopping at target").

I think that is sufficient for 2015. I don't think I really wrote down any resolutions last year, even though I feel that 2014 was a fairly good year (some days were bleh, some days were kick-ass-bliss). I am ready for a new year, and for some new focus, and for making more good happen each day. I hope many good things happen in your days, this year, as well. 

Did you make any resolutions? How do you come up with yours? Do you physically write them down? If so, do you hang them somewhere that you will see them each day?




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