Thursday, August 18, 2016

On July 11th, I began writing the following post...

July 11, 2016

For whatever reason, today I seem to be balancing on an emotional plank. The smallest little things today are inducing that familiar tightness in my throat, the sting of tears threatening to well up.

I brought Addison to daycare this morning and she didn't want to go. She only goes to daycare one day each week and she used to love it there, but hasn't yet settled in to her new classroom and new teacher. She "moved up" to the preschool-age room at daycare when she turned 3 1/2 years old and it just so happened that the timing coincided with her changing from 4 days/week at daycare to 1 day/week at daycare, a new babysitter at home during the week, the beginning of summer, and lots of vacation time, family time, etc. The other change that happened when summer started was that instead of Addison spending one day a week with Grandma and Grandpa, now Gavin spends one day a week with them instead, while Addi is at daycare. This is particularly tough on her as she treasures her time with them so much! When school starts again, she'll go back to spending one day with them again, and Gavin will return to school all week again. She had lots of changes at the same time... so the transition has been tough. Moving up with the older kids also means that she went from being the oldest one in her classroom to being the youngest and that also seems to have affected her. She had a hard time saying goodbye to me when I dropped her off there two weeks ago and her teacher had to hold her (crying and screaming) so that I could leave. Then of course, we had a week off because of the 4th of July holiday and I'm sure that didn't help us out at all either! When I brought her today, she seemed like she was going to be okay. She did tell me on the way there that she didn't want to go and we talked about it a bit, but she didn't seem upset - just voicing her feelings about it. However, the moment we walked past her old classroom to continue on toward her new classroom, she froze and wanted me to carry her. She didn't want to go. Again, a teacher (the Director, actually) had to take her from me and hold her while I left. Walking out of the daycare center while hearing her sobbing and saying "I want my Mommy" breaks my heart and I had to breathe deeply as I walked to my car to keep my tears at bay.      

I de-activated my facebook account again a day or two ago. For as long as I can remember (back to when I was probably 6 or 7) I can recall facing overwhelming feelings of being left out or not included. I know that everyone experiences that once in a while, but I do think I felt it more often and more intensely than the average person. I always felt like the one who didn't really belong or had to try harder to make and keep friends. I am not feeling bad for myself or looking for reassurance, for sure -  I'm just being real and open about my insecurities. We all have them, right? When I was a kid, I think this fear was largely based on my reality. I think I really was left out for a multitude of reasons... I wet my pants until I was at least 8 years old and I continued to wet my bed at night even beyond that. I know that as much as I tried to hide it at school, that's something you can't hide very well. I also remember when I was in middle school that it was a big deal to have new, designer-brand clothes and I didn't have them. I remember specifically being teased once for wearing clothes to school on free-dress days that my older sisters had worn to school previously. I remember being called out for wearing something that I had gotten at the church rummage sale that had previously belonged to one of my classmates. I think it's amazing and awesome that these days, upcycling, repurposing, and thrifting is something to be proud of. It wasn't so when I was a kid. The whole thrift-shopping, re-using, vintage-clothing wearing trend is now valued and considered to be cool, but it wasn't back then. I know that some of those experiences shaped the way that I behaved as a middle-schooler and even high-schooler and for sure influenced the way that I interacted socially. I would do anything at that time in my life to protect my chances of making and having friends. I know that I was not always honest about who I was and I was sometimes even willing to be whoever I needed to be in order to make and keep friends. I believe I grew out of that the summer between 8th and 9th grade, but some days, it creeps up to the surface and I have little glimpses of those feelings again. I think there are two significant factors in my life that have sort of drawn those self-doubts and insecurities to the surface...  one is being a parent, because there is just so darn much information out there about how to parent and I end up comparing myself to every other 30-40 year old mom I know.

The other thing... is Facebook. I make a conscious effort when I look at Facebook to not take everything personally... to just simply be happy for my friends and acquaintances when something great is happening in their lives, but no matter how hard I try, it often comes back to feeling "less than" and envious. When I see photos of friends of mine with other friends, I feel envious that they got to have a fun time together and either I wasn't included or I haven't had an experience like that with that friend. I start asking myself things like "I wonder why they didn't invite me? Why doesn't that friend ask us to go to the cabin with them? Why do all those girls have perfect, white teeth and gorgeously lush hair and I just can't get my hair to behave or just don't have teeth whitening in our budget right now? Why do they get to take their kids to the zoo, the park, the museum, the splash pad all week long and I have to go to work while my kids are at home with a babysitter? Am I a bad parent because I'm choosing to work instead of taking my kids to the splash pad? Are my kids right when they say I never play with them? Are they right when they say they never get to go anywhere fun or do anything fun and all their friends do? How do these people afford to go on a tropical beach vacation two or three times a year and we can barely seem to coordinate a road trip to Missouri to visit my sister? Why can't I seem to figure it out?  Why does everyone else seem to have it all figured out?"

  ...all these things I ask myself. All that self-doubt. All that jealousy and envy. All that measuring up. I try and I pray for my mind and heart to be happy with all that I have because I know I have SO very much to be thankful for, but I can't seem to really rid myself of these feelings of jealousy and self-doubt. I can't seem to get over that immediate reaction when I look at blogs of fun and uniquely designed homes, charming furnishings, perfectly executed kids craft projects, and facebook posts of fun times had between friends.

I have to think that it must be because I'm really feeling like I'm missing those things right now. I must need time with friends. I must need to cross some to-dos off of my at-home project list - get that room painted, get those shelves built, get that table refinished, etc. Some days I look at Facebook and honestly feel like crying because I feel "left out" of the fun, "left out" of the friendships, "left out" of the imaginary conversation where "how to have a perfect life" was discussed. I know logically that I DO have a nearly perfect life, but my heart can't seem to take hold of that knowledge and latch onto happiness and contentment. So, it's off of Facebook again.      

This weekend was our town's annual festival and the parade was Friday night. I know I can't be everywhere at once and I always want to be. I was a little sad that it didn't work out for me and Addison to walk in the parade with my coworkers representing our hospital... but I knew it wasn't what Addi would most enjoy and honestly, I kind of wanted to just watch the parade too. So, I sat with my sister and some friends and watched the parade. I was so busy watching Addi (she was nervous about getting lost, so she wanted to cling to me) that I didn't even get a chance to visit with the friends we were sitting with. Then I heard later that some of our friends who usually sit with us, chose to sit elsewhere along the parade route with some other friends. My initial and automatic gut feeling was "Why did they choose them over us?"  Talk about insecurity! Then I ran into some other friends who we don't see often enough and have sort of lost touch with these last few years. I learned that they sat with some other acquaintances of ours and that all-too-familiar pang of envy and self-doubt crept right back up. Gosh, it is embarrassing to admit that, but I am really focusing on being real. 

Anytime that I mention any of these insecurities to anyone who knows me, they don't believe me. They say things like "but you're so confident, but you seem to have it all figured out, but you have so many friends, but you're always busy doing something with friends".     

I have no specific reason why I feel so sensitive today, but could list a hundred possible factors...

August 18, 2016

So... I wrote that post two months ago and never published it. As I read over it today, I can't say that I'm completely over all of those feelings for sure. I still have insecurities for sure. I still struggle to decide how I "should" be spending my days sometimes when there are so many options out there. I often spend three straight days at home just caring for my family, cleaning house, doing yard work, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, etc. and then Sunday night comes and I feel badly that I didn't take the kids to the beach or the park or connect with friends for a zoo day. Then if I take the kids for the weekend to do something fun, I feel guilty that the laundry didn't get done and the refrigerator is empty, and the garden didn't get tended to, and the pears and peaches and cherries that I planned to make jam out of are going bad because I didn't take care of them. It's sort of a no-win situation.

Then I need to take a few moments to myself to reflect, to meditate, to think on all of it and I realize it's not a no-win, it is a win-win. Yes, I missed an opportunity (or several), but I missed it because I was taking advantage of other opportunities!  

Sometimes it just takes some quiet reflection to see the light.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Life in 99 Pictures

Life via Instagram. Do you Instagram?

top row:  blanket fort in our living room, friends at our school's annual fundraiser event, my beautiful mom and dad with my kids.
middle row: our old man house-cat snuggled up on our bed with our "little" wandering tom-cat who had just been returned home after wandering off for a few days to visit neighbors, my girl playing with a mustache bookmark, swimming at the hotel pool with the kids and friends on a day off school
third row:  kiddos snuggling in my bed, a bit of Addi's funny personality coming out as she wear's Daddy's Captain Morgan hat, Addi pretending to ride a snowmobile at a friend's house.

top row:  (video of kids riding 4-wheeler in our yard), Gavin is NOT a fan of Sushi but kudos to him for trying it on Gavin and Mom date night, our little wanderer getting comfy back at home.
middle row: Coloring at Pizza Hut, Eskimo style while the kids played in the snow in our front yard, painting hot air balloons at Cheers Pablo paint & sip event to benefit teen mental wellness.
third row:  paint pallet at Cheers Pablo, Dad pulled the kids in a sled behind our ranger for a trip up to the woods to take down hunting blinds and stands, kids riding 4-wheeler around our yard.

top row:  the peaceful, quiet that embraces me in my parents living room on a gray day, my new fave wall-hanging - I bought it for a friend, but couldn't let it go, My girl.
middle row: My boy trying something new - weaving on a cardboard loom, zuppa toscana cooking on the stove, a hot cup of coffee in my new mug that my sweet little boy painted for me.
third row:  Gavin and a friend building with Legos on a Lego Monday at our library, beautiful snow in our front yard, Me and my boy off on a winter camping adventure at Beaver Valley Camp.

top row:  Cliff and Gavin skiing at Welch Village, Gavin struggling through a LONG family hike at Kinnickinnic State Park, a beautiful winter day at the lakehouse.
middle row: My momma and me at the Sound of Music at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul, Our Christmas tree all dressed up, Choosing our Christmas Tree before the snow came!
third row:  The kids discovering their annual ornaments on Cliff's parents' Christmas Tree, Snuggling with my girl while she avoids nap at all costs, Superman Ice Cream following lunch at the South Fork Cafe.

top row:  A little archery practice in our shed this winter, I walked into Addi's bedroom to see this little set-up - apparently the animals were hungry and the girl (doll) was their lunch, Gavin made about 30 of these drawings of Vikings and they're nearly identical.
middle row: The Lincoln Log house that we build in Gavin's room, Family movie night - "Home", Gavin and his buddy watching "Into the Woods" at the Phipps Center for the Arts.
third row: My sister and I at dinner before "Into the Woods" at the Phipps Center for the Arts, Yum - that's all, Watching Annie with Gavin for his first time!

top row:  My boy reading to me - just learning, Snickers, Crocheting while wearing a Lumberjack Halloween costume.
middle row: My and Gavin's Jack-o-lanterns, Carving our pumpkins while dressed like a Lumberjack, CandyLand and the Minnesota Children's Museum with friends.
third row: Addi hiding under her bed for the fourth time in a row during one game of hide and seek, Watching Stella and Sam while home sick, leaf-printing with tempera paints.

top row:  Painting, Grandma stopped at our house to throw in a load of laundry on her way out to the field in her tractor, Corn harvest.
middle row: All smiles in the fall leaves, matching bed-head, when you pull out your planner at work and snow white falls out.
third row: Fall picnic in the soybean field while Dad takes a quick break from combining, it's scarf weather!, Cliff left this note with juice pouches for the kids and beer for me when he went on a hunting trip in Oregon.

top row:  My beautiful niece playing in the sandbox while we visited them in St. Louis, Gavin and a Chicken riding around my sister's yard on the electric gator, Addi playing in the sandbox at my sister's house.
middle row: Addi at my sister's house, a fun day on the Kinnickinnic River at Glen Park with friends, handsome guy at Glen Park.
third row: Gavin, A beautiful patina on a snail shell found while on a "treasure hunt" walk at the lakehouse, Addi playing on the beach at the lakehouse.

Top row: Fishing at the Lakehouse, a bounty of beautiful tomatoes from our garden, I love our neighbor's picturesque shed.
Middle row: Morning snuggles with Addi and her dolly, our college rodeo with friends, Addi balancing on a post at Glen Park
Bottom Row: Fun with my girl at Glen Park, quick picnic-style dinner next to the Granary while Dad takes a break from washing the combine, Yummy breakfast of fried egg with avocado, roasted garden tomatoes, and fresh basil
Top Row: A few minutes of "me" time on my patio with some pasta, wine, and a sunset, Getting Gavin off the bus on his first day of school (he stayed home sick on the actual first day), obligatory 1st Day of School photo before the fever and throwing up started.
Middle Row: Lunch out with friends at the Dish and the Spoon on school orientation day, my new "queen bee" t-shirt was a thoughtful gift from a good friend, Girls weekend with friends at the lakehouse.
Bottom Row: The kids' beach "treasures", girlfriends out for a sunset pontoon ride, my kids sorting out their precious beach finds. 

Top row: exploring the St. Croix River at Kinnickinnic State Park with our friends who graciously watched my kids for the day, Early morning silly faces in bed with Addi, Picking raspberries at Cliff's uncle's farm.
Middle row: picking raspberries, YUM, Golden raspberries.
Bottom Row: One of many slugs found while "creature hunting" for insects under rocks and logs, My nephew, my friend's son, and Addi looking for insects, Gavin and Addi with friend Dayton at the hotel pool on a summer day.

The 99 photos above represent the last six months for my family. an abbreviated format. I can get lost in memories just scrolling through these 99 photos. 

I love InstaGram.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Our Christmas Card

Merry Christmas! 

You are reading this letter, not because we have something profound to share, but because we value your friendship and want to nurture it! 

Our family life is at a point in time when much of our focus is directed inward… on each other, our own little family unit, and our home. It has been years since we had an abundance of “free time” to fill with motorcycle rides, fancy dinners out, crafty home projects and Pinterest finds, camping trips, and social gatherings. We occasionally miss those days, but know they’ll return again all too soon. Right now our reality sits within a much narrower focus... Marriage, Kids, Family, Farm and Work. I will turn 40 this next year and although that is only a number, it does carry a lot of meaning. It makes me think long and hard about what is important to me. 

This year, Cliff has dedicated an enormous amount of his energy to running our farm and creating the right balance between his roles as Dad, Husband, Farmer, Son, and Businessman. The kids are growing and changing from week to week and at times it feels like I can barely keep up and they were just babies yesterday, but then at other times I wish away these trials in hopes of a time when the kids are mature enough to be reasoned with. I’m working with great intention toward living in this moment and just loving on this family I’ve been blessed with. 

Gavin just turned 7 and he melts my heart. He is creative, thoughtful, intense, active, witty, artistic, mechanically-minded, loving, adrenaline-thirsty, introspective, and a little too smart for his own good. He loves drawing tiny complicated drawings and making up recipes in the kitchen. He loves creating and building gadgets and machines and systems. He loves riding his bike, roller-skating, and running up and down our road to and from Grandma and Grandpa’s. He loves building forts in the woods, helping Cliff on the farm, and hunting and bow-fishing with Cliff. He is really enjoying his new-found fluency in reading and recently started spending his down-time with his nose buried in a book. He loves riding his dirt bike, driving the lawn tractor, and virtually anything with a motor. He also loves giving back-rubs, making me a cup of coffee in the morning, and sharing love by serving.

Addison turned 3 in November and she is our little fireball. Everything she does, she does fiercely. She has a wild heart full of love, wonder and excitement. She has a voice that even at a whisper could still be heard over the sound of a thousand angels singing. She hugs with all her might until you nearly turn blue and she covers your entire face in kisses until she is satisfied that she has kissed you just right. If you ask her, she is never, ever, ever tired and she is almost always hungry. She holds her ground with the boys and plays tough with the best of them, but she loves everything that glitters, sparkles, or twirls! We are working toward her doing a few things more independently, and at the same time, wanting her to let us help her with some other things that she always insists on doing herself! She loves to play with her dolls, swing, play outside with us, “help” Cliff on the farm, color, play with play-dough, make her own sandwiches, and dress-up. She is opinionated and strong-willed, but there is still a bit of our little baby girl left in her too. 

This life we have chosen - these kids, this farm, our jobs, our parents, and our extended families… they keep us busy. Sometimes our laundry and our dishes pile up. Sometimes our gardens get overtaken with weeds. Often, we wish we could spend more time with friends. Sometimes we dream of a beach vacation (yeah!). But, beyond all those wishes, we find we are living a dream. We are blessed beyond measure with family who support us, friends who wait patiently for a window of time that we can spend together, a farm that is prosperous, and most of all, each other. So, from our crazy little piece of the world to yours, we wish you a season of celebrating what is important to you! 

With Much Love, Erin