Sunday Seven: Four

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness, doubled by wonder.
—G.K. Chesterton

Friday morning I got up when the house was still quiet, Nick and Valor still sleeping. I had words pushing through my consciousness and they begged to be written. I wrapped up in my favorite hoodie, tucked my feet in a pair of warm slippers, brewed coffee and escaped to my office and I wrote. Words always are circling in my head but the speed of life there are so many times they're lost without the time to jot them down. I'm so thankful for a husband who encourages my writing and allows me the time, when there is time to be had.

Why do mothers write?
Maybe they're drawn to poetry writing
because of it's semblance
to giving birth—
the seed
the silence
the attachment
the nurturing
the wait
setting it all free.*

Oh, and if you want to see what words I birthed on Friday, you can read it here: Indescribable Motherhood.

New book I'm reading — Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline by Catherine McNeil. For those of you who think I blast through books, I don't. I have about six I am reading at the same time. I start, switch, then go back. Maybe not the best way to read books, but that is just the stage of life I'm in now.

A favorite meal in our home are spring rolls. We recently discovered a spring roll bowl recipe that we've made twice in the last few weeks. So delish!

A friend so kindly gave us her son's train table since he has outgrown it. We surprised Valor with it Saturday evening – he was crazy excited! We then took Valor shopping for a few more train toys for his new table. It's been non-stop train playing at our house (Nick and I even got to drink hot mugs of coffee in another room while he played. Is this real life?!).

I'm feeling grateful for a rainy weekend. We stayed in most of the weekend, cozied up in our pjs. We snuggled, ate popcorn and watched (half) a movie as a family. Also, our lawn is now a vivid green that looks so lush!

The simple things in life often bring the biggest smiles. Valor discovered bubble wrap this past week. We spent quite a bit of time laughing and dancing around on the clear plastic bubbles. Yes, simple pleasures are best.

With all the rain, Valor and I (meaning me, while he followed behind undoing my work) took out all his playroom toys and reorganized it all! This was a major, multi-hour feat. I filled baskets with baby/younger toys and put them away on high shelves. These toys were a major culprit of the disaster condition of the playroom — they were enticing to dump in the middle of the rug, yet really weren't being played with. So here's to hoping out of sight, out of mind!

*From "On Poeming" Announcing the Thaw (Finishing Line Press 2014)

Indescribable Motherhood

Another friend announces her pregnancy and tears well-up in my eyes. You see motherhood is a bunch of opinions before it actually happens to you. There are so many nuances spoken about time escaping and how much motherhood changes you. There are so many things I want to tell this friend, but the breath holds tight in my lungs. Motherhood is indescribable. The only words that I can form are, this will forever change the greatest ways.


Throughout pregnancy I nodded my head and smiled, thinking I've got this! How much could things change? I've babysat a ton, I totally have a grip on what it will be like. My life will continue on the same trajectory. Or at least this is what I thought up until the moment life came crashing down and my body was sliced open, bearing the most beautiful baby.

Two plus years into this motherhood gig and if I wasn't living in my body, I wouldn't believe how different life is now.

Motherhood shattered my emotions. My heart is now filled with much more compassion and understanding. Tears come often when before I had tear ducts of steel. Who am I nowadays? My body is scarred from a surgery during pregnancy, c-section scar and now there is a soft pillow cushioning my once strong, flat stomach. My back aches and my posture is now slumped and tired. The physical changes are easy to point out, but the emotional changes are difficult to form into words. Finally I understand what those mamas were doing their best to explain stuttering throughout my pregnancy. They were attempting to describe the magic around motherhood. 

Motherhood is the hardest mountain I've ever climbed. The decisions are endless and at a young age they're so malleable, I don't want to mess up. I want to do my best raising a gentleman and a strong adult. This job is hard work — challenging and exhausting, wrapped up with great responsibility. Even though motherhood is the hardest, it is without comparison second to none. Because with great responsibility comes great reward.


So dear friend, there is practical advice I can share. Like our favorite sleep sack or I can offer pumping tips when returning to work. (Just ask me, I'll fill you in!) But I cannot even come close to touching the stars in describing the joy you are about to encounter. Just you wait. Motherhood is difficult to describe. Simply know there will be indescribable difficulties but overarching incomprehensible joy. You will find more love to give than you ever imagined was humanly possible. 

If I were to attempt to illustrate what is coming, this is what I would like to say: There is nothing in this life that can duplicate the vast emotional expanse formed by motherhood. Extreme joy comes from seeing through a child's fresh eyes in the world. I have learned so much from my two year old without words, simply through action, he has taught me to slow down and savor the simple and good life. Reminding me to smell the park flowers and to deliberately savor each bite of delicious food. Oh, and there is so, so much laughter. A child's laugher has the power to light up the night sky — simply the best sound on the planet. On a hard day remember that a little laughter can change the entire course, so get on the floor and belly laugh with your little.

I lived almost 29 years before having my son, yet I can hardly remember what it was like before him. Motherhood is life-altering in the best way as it stretches you beyond any confines. There is adventure and endless excuses to stay young forever. If motherhood were a cookie, these words only take one tiny bite out. Because sometimes motherhood is simply indescribable.

There will be hard days, but the things people have told you are true. The days are long, but the years are short. Enjoy the time you have, they grow up so fast. So fuel your days with prayer and coffee, but in time you will see they'll be powered with laughter and love. Congratulations friend and welcome into the indescribable village of motherhood.

Photo is from Valor's one year photoshoot, an oldie but a goodie. It totally encapsulates the visual of motherhood — the good life.

Sunday 7: 3

I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness —
it is right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude.
— Brene Brown

This past week for work I commuted downtown via train. Those days provided relaxing me time where I got to sit, not pay attention to traffic and simply read a book! Bonus, I took a few train photos and sent them to my crazy train loving kid!

I am not a boy, yet I am raising one to be a man. For those of you other clueless boy mamas, this book, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, really gives a glimpse into our kiddo's heads.

Each spring/summer season I look forward to our town's French Market. Valor's and my routine is to grab coffee, fresh hot kettle corn — they make it right there, and supplies for bruschetta. We jumped at the chance to meet friends and stroll the market this past week, and it did not disappoint.

This weekend a local farm, Klien Creek Farm, had their annual sheep sheering. The sun was shinning so Grammie, Valor and I all piled into the car to visit. There were baby lambs and calves that were so precious, as well as chickens roaming the property. Valor's favorite were the sheep, same as last year!

Roasted veggies with fresh chimichurri sauce — one highlight meal from this past week. Toss your favorite veggies with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast them until perfection in a 425 degree oven. Serve topped with a heavenly drizzle of sauce. Mmm!

Chimichurri Sauce
fresh cilantro
fresh flat-leaf parsley
fresh or dried oregano
garlic cloves
red onion
freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt & pepper
red pepper flakes — if you like a hint of heat
olive oil
red wine vinegar
Blend all the ingredients to taste in a food processor or blender. Keeps great sealed in the fridge for about a week.

He must have been pretty exhausted to sleep like that, right? He was! On Saturday night Valor slept 15 hours and I got to sleep 8.5 hours! That may not seem like much, but I do not remember the last time I personally got to sleep that long. I'm typically really excited if I even get 6-7 hours of sleep. Oh, God is good and He knew I needed that rest.

After church we tried a new restaurant, BenjYehuda. Nick and I both got falafels enveloped in fresh, hand-stretched pitas along with heaps of toppings — it was fabulous! Valor enjoyed a side order of falafel dipped in hummus. They dropped the falafel fresh for each order which is good practice and no wonder it was exceptional. We're scheming plans to go back soon!

Valor loves swinging in a rainbow hammock hung between two great trees in our backyard. This hammock is more than just a hammock, it reminds me of adventure and how much we have to be grateful for. Years ago Nick and I bought this hammock in Mexico at a cruise port. It was our very first cruise and we went with my whole family. It reminds me of climbing the Mayan ruins, ATV-ing and getting hundreds of bug bites in the Honduran jungle, snorkeling in Belize, and all the other special memories from that trip. I love how little souvenirs help us remember. To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live. —Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay

Sunday 7: 2

Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain,
the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one's voice. –Joseph B. Wirthlin

Many times when I share how long my daily commute is to people I can audibly hear them groan, but I have learned to embrace this time (and continue to remind myself, because sometimes I need it when traffic is heavy). It is two hours in my day that I can do whatever I want — listen to music, catch up with a friend on the phone, or listen to podcast. The majority of the time I spend binge listening to podcasts. A few of my favorites include: Coffee+Crumbs, God Centered Mom, Young House Love, A Couple Cooks, among a handful of others. If you're listening to a podcast you're crazy about, please share with me, I'm always in search for new content to devour.

Friday evening we celebrated my sister's birthday and ate one of our recent-favorite meals, bahn mi bowls.

The days are finally getting warmer and our daffodils are taking over. Looking out our back windows there is a sea of yellow. On Tuesday Nick cut a large bouquet of them for our kitchen counter — it was like having a piece of the sun inside. Seeing flowers in the house simply and easily brings a smile to my face.

Saturday afternoon's weather was more than perfect as we relaxed on the patio. Nick and I caught up on our busy week while Valor played with a few toys in between running back and forth to his sandbox. I see this becoming a routine for our little family this summer.

Seeing these two buddies together makes my heart leap for joy. They squeal with excitement and knock each other down with hugs when they get together. They have been friends since they were in the womb and I cannot wait to observe their developing friendship as the years move forward.

Easter Sunday — such a perfect day that started out with an egg hunt, easter basket and cinnamon bunny rolls for breakfast. At service we were reminded that hope is to the soul as oxygen is to the lungs. So thankful for the hope we have in Christ Jesus and the real reason for Easter! After church we spent the afternoon cooking out with my parents, sister and bro-in-law. The day closed as Valor unwrapped his first chocolate bunny and chomped down on the ears. Is anything cuter than a toddler face beaming and coated in chocolate?

Never in my life did I think I would be playing trains and discussing bugs, but here I am and wouldn't change it for a second! It is really precious to observe Valor's crazy obsession with trains and I am sure it tickles his Great-Grandpa who also loves trains. In his Easter package from his Great-Grandpa and Grama, he received this new shiny train which he has asked to bring with him to bed almost every night since he opened it.

Sunday Seven: 1

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy,
and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
—Willam Arthur Ward

Today is my first edition of Sunday Seven. If you didn't read my last post, this is my reminder of the blessings woven into my life — or a digital gratitude journal as some might call it. This will be my record of memories that bring a smile across my face, or things I simply want to remember. Life is incredibly short, which I am reminded of often, and we need to celebrate it!

In our home, there is constantly a project going on. Most recently we had to have our kitchen ceiling repaired as the newly installed drywall was cracking. Thankfully it was a quick fix with minimal drywall dust.

Monday I seized an opportunity, after work Valor and I ate a quick dinner and hurried to the playroom. I sat on the floor completely focused on him as he cooked up tacos and chocolate milk in his kitchen. His sweet-giving heart served me and made sure my plate was always full. While he cooked I thought about times when we have guests in our home, or simply when I walk in the door from work — my boy with a servant's heart says, "Take off your coat and shoes. Come in!" If I have drinks set out for guests, he quickly makes sure they have a napkin. Watching his tender heart develop is a huge blessing. As I sit watching him stir the pot of plastic tacos, I realize he is the living reflection of our Savior. What a beautiful reminder on a mundane Monday. God wants to take care of our needs and He will if we just sit down on the floor by his feet.

The Coffee+Crumbs Magic of Motherhood book was released this past Tuesday, and I read half of the book that same evening. It has made me laugh, cry and everything in between. For any mama this is an excellent read. Also, I am in love with the Coffee+Crumbs website and podcast. I look forward to each new essay published and podcast. This essay, She Gave Me The Eyes Of A Mother, is one of my all-time favorites.

After graduate school Nick accepted a weekend position in a hospital's geriatric psychiatric unit —which was okay at the time. But after becoming a family of three it was painfully obvious that this schedule was not to our benefit. We were simply ships passing in the night. His absence each weekend and many holidays was difficult. It often felt that work unfortunately came before our family. After four-plus years of this schedule, Nick was able to put in his resignation and this weekend was the first of freedom!

With Nick's new found freedom, we got to spend the weekend in Indiana celebrating my mother-in-law's and oldest nephew's birthdays.
I'm always on the hunt for a healthy, yummy and quick recipe. This one marks off all the checkboxes!  Add this one to your lunch menu for the busy work week, you won't regret it!

Blurry but oh so precious. This Palm Sunday was the first time Valor got to participate in the waving of the palm branches at church. It was very cute to see how excited he got when he saw me in the congregation and tried to jump out of line toward me.

Well, that's a wrap folks, my seven highlights from the past week. Writing them down and giving thanks will continue to remind me how much I have to be grateful for. There is so much good. I hope these Sunday Seven posts will help inspire you to count your blessings and join me in living your life in a constant state of gratitude.

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in ink.
— G.K. Chesterton

Treading Water

In the throws, I'm barley treading water. It's Sunday after 8:00 pm and I'm finally loading the breakfast (and lunch) dishes into the dishwasher. A pot of water is on the stove waiting for me to start cooking dinner. I sneak away from the meal prep to pack my laptop and files in preparation for work that starts in less than 10 hours. From the office I hear the water on the stove start to bubble and overflow like an angry volcano. Ugh, another mess to clean up.

Dinner is cooked. Our son is safely tucked into bed with a zoo-quantity of stuffed animals surrounding him. My husband and I collapse on the couch with our dinner plates. We are bone-tired and the workweek is looming. 

Monday morning comes, my thoughts and tears flow as one:
I am missing everything.
I want a weekend re-do.
I messed everything up.
I wished I focused more on him and less on the things I had to get done around the house.
Why do we even have to eat? Cooking takes so much time and makes a huge mess.
I wish I sat on the floor and played with him more.
I need more time.
It is not enough.

Recently for me being a career mama is all about treading water and full of regrets come Monday. The weekend checklists are long and somehow have become the main focus. But the heartbreak that rolls around with each Monday morning is not worth it. I'd rather have time with my boy in a dirty house if it erased the guilt and sadness each Monday morning. Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets.

Of course there was time spent with him, but the time not spent looms a little higher and darker. I am realizing it is easier to focus on the misses than wins. So I am going to be trying an experiment — I'm going to attempt a return to the blog world in a more consistent manner. It will be my way of reminding myself of the good in the midst of the hard — and a momento of the time we do spend together. 

For my fellow career mamas, you are not alone in your struggles — I am treading water next to you. Let's keep reminding one another to focus on the positive, to spend more time playing on the floor — who cares that the floor we are sitting on needs mopped. The days are long, but the years are painfully short. And don't forget to hug your cutie a bit longer at bedtime tonight, I know I will be!