Anniversary, Number 11

Friday, May 31, 2013 7 Comments A+ a-

collage2I feel every single one of the last 365 days.  Its hard to believe that a year ago we were headed to Steamboat Springs to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  It seems like yesterday and a hundred years ago, both at the same time.

On our way up to the cabin last Saturday, we discussed this past year.  It was a hard year.  Death and cancerFires and goodbyesAnxiety and depression.  There were floods, in our house, on his road, and in our lives.  Yep, the difference between where we were a year ago and where we are today, is like night and day.  We were euphoric and carefree at the ten year mark.  This year, we’re older and exhausted, but we’re also stronger.

When we mentioned how hard this year has been to Jon’s grandparents, his grandma said the exact same thing Jon said.  “Yep.  Some years are like that.  You have to take the bad with the good, and just keep going.”  And since his grandparents have been married 60+ years, that is advice I’ll hold near and dear to my heart.  Since his grandparents survived the death of their youngest girl at a year old, then surely, they know what they’re talking about when it comes to hard years.

I know this much…  I wouldn’t have made it this past year without Jon.  As usual, he was strong when I was weak.  He offered comfort and understanding.  He was there to snap me out of funks, and kept me grounded in reality.  Truth be told, we shared an amazing dance this year.  Each of us took turns being the strong one, while the other was allowed to grieve.  He made up for my weaknesses, and I stood in the gap when he needed rest.  And when I stop to think about it, when we can start anticipating each other’s steps like that, its there that I can see the beauty in the ashes of this past year. 

In the midst of reminiscing about this past year, Jon said, “I don’t expect easy years anymore, Jenn.  I think God gives us these trials and hardships for a reason.  It makes us pause and think about the things that really matter.  And it gives us an opportunity to say that even in this, He is good.”  I smiled.  Eleven years later, and he can still surprise me.  Yes, even in this year, God has been good to us.

Jonathan David, rarely does a day go by that I’m not reminded in some way of how fortunate I am to have you by my side.  Thank you for loving me, for anticipating my needs and meeting them.  Thank you for the strength in which you’ve led our family this year.  I continue to fall more in love with you as each year passes and that is a blessing I never expected when I said “I do” eleven years ago.  I thank God for you and the gift of our life together.  I am a blessed woman!  Happy anniversary, Babe!

Wordless Wednesday, Sob Edition

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 3 Comments A+ a-


Cabin Weekend Fun

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 2 Comments A+ a-


The first time I laid eyes on the family cabin, I was a senior in high school and the youth group went up to play “Capture the Flag” in a clearing at the top of the mountain.  It was my first hike up the winding dirt road, and we had a blast playing in the dark.  Afterwards, we warmed up in the cabin, and I sat on the floor, at Jon’s feet.  We weren’t dating yet, just friends… who liked to flirt…  But Iittle did I know how much this cabin would come to meant to me.

There’s a family tradition to head up to the cabin every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.  Its been crowded on more than one occasion, and I think this is the first time that we had the cabin to ourselves over the Memorial Day weekend.  Jon’s older brother and his family arrived Friday night, and stayed through Saturday evening.  Whereas, we arrived Saturday morning and stayed until Sunday afternoon.

It was the perfect weekend away.

LandonCollage1This is our nephew, Landon.  He is, without a doubt, the happiest baby I’ve ever seen or held.  I have never seen him without a smile on his face.  He actually seems to handle the chaos of older cousins well, taking it all in.  And the smiling.  And with the exception of Ashlynn, the Littles adore him.  Ashlynn, I fear, has some jealousy issues with Landon, as its quite clear she feels  he’s getting the attention that she’s used to getting herself.  Reagan loves the fact that she and Landon are the only two with blue eyes, and Devyn, well, as you can see, she loves any opportunity to hold a baby.

ReadingCornerThis is my favorite place in the cabin… I consider it the perfect reading corner.  Right next
to the wood stove.
Sorry2I love that the Littles spend their time either playing make-believe outside, or playing Sorry with me. I was a tad competitive. WallMeasurementsThis wall is so special to me.  All of the grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren, get measured on this wall. Its such a treasure!

HikingCollageSunday morning we woke up and took a hike to the top of the mountain.  I think my favorite part was when Hudson asked, “Mama?  Can we take a really long hike so we have a lot of family time together?” 

MountainsCollageAnd with views like these, any complaints are quickly hushed.  I know I’ve said it before, but I love this state.  I never feel closer to God than when I’m in the mountains.  Its such a small hint of His majesty. 

Lunch and a two hour nap later, we locked up the cabin and made our way back home.  We’re hoping to get back up to the cabin a lot this summer…  especially after last summer

I can breathe up there like I can’t down here.  There’s just something about being in the mountains, sitting on the deck with Jon and a beer, and watching the Littles play.  And I know Jon loves watching them explore where he once did the same when he was little.  Its always fun watching life come full circle.

It was a good weekend.  A really good weekend.

In That Moment

Friday, May 24, 2013 6 Comments A+ a-

Its that moment when my children join in singing one of our favorite worship songs.  Their off-key, yet sincere, voices rising to the top of our van.  Its that moment when Jon reaches his hand across the console to grip mine and squeeze.  Its that moment when my heart rises into my throat and tears threaten my eyes.  Because in that moment… no matter that I feel like I’m doing everything wrong and I question every parental decision… in that moment… I know we’re doing something right. 

My cup overflows.

Life These Days

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 5 Comments A+ a-

Oh my goodness!  What a difference a few days make…  I can officially say that I’ve turned a corner and my meds are working again.  Whew!  Actually, in the past week, I’ve taken an anti-anxiety pill a couple of days.  This is progress, friends.  My appetite is back, and I’m actually eating full meals again.   I actually lost 10 pounds during those three weeks, because when I’m stressed out or am anxious, I have no appetite.  None.  So the eating is a good sign, the lack of need for anxiety meds, and the fact that I’m just feeling like myself again.

Yesterday Hudson had “baseball” tryouts.  This is where the kids show up and show the coaches their skill levels so they can be appropriately placed on teams.  He did an amazing job, and its fun to see how far his skills have come since last summer.  We also had a Jerry McGuire moment.  The older kids had tryouts at the same time and one of their baseballs came flying over the fence and Hudson ran to grab it and throw it back.  It made me laugh to hear the awe in the big kids voices as they told him, “Good throw, Dude!” and “Wow!”  You can imagine Hudson walked away a little taller than normal.

Side note:  Don’t you just love kids confidence?!  I was biting the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing when I heard Hudson and another boy in line telling each other what great ball players they were.  “I’m a great hitter!"  “I am too!  And a great thrower too!”  Ha!

It sounds like summer starts for many at this end of this week, but no such luck here.  We have one more week and I, for one, can’t wait for summer.  I’m actually really looking forward to some quality time with the Littles.  This will be the first year that I feel Ashlynn is really old enough to do more things and be more active.  I have several hikes and swimming days planned.  I’m just looking forward to having them all together again for a few months.  Of course, our grocery bills will rise considerably, but it’ll be worth it.

Devyn has finally caught on to the whole bike riding thing.  Last year when Hudson took off on his two-wheeler, Devyn was a bit more cautious and really just stayed away from her bike most of the summer.  But within the past month, she finally got it.  Now its all she wants to do.  Actually, its all any of the LIttles want to do.  I won’t be at all surprised if Reagan is riding a two-wheeler by the end of the summer too.  Ahhhhh.  To be a kid again.

The last day of school is also our 11th wedding anniversary.  11 years.  Can someone explain to me how that’s even possible?!  We’ll actually celebrate 15 years together in October.  Seriously.  I can barely remember life before Jon.  After the rock he’s been this past month, I’m even more sure I’d be completely lost without him.  And now that I’m healthy again, it’ll be my turn to return the favor.  Jon’s boss is retiring at the end of the year and Jon has started debating whether or not he wants to apply for the junior foreman position.  I’m really ok with whatever decision he makes, but I know he’ll stress about it until everything is settled.

I’ve been having some vivid dreams lately that we find out I’m pregnant with #5.  So vivid, in fact, that I googled the failure rate of vasectomies.  Bad idea.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it is never a good idea to ask Dr. Google for answers.  Ha!

As far as Munchkin Land Designs is concerned, I’ve started working with a local programmer and I can’t begin to tell you how much stress this has lifted from my life.  We originally met him for computer repair, and local folks, if you ever want the name of someone who is fast, reliable, and affordable, let me know.  We’ve been to him several times and he is worth his weight in gold.  So much more affordable than Geek Squad.  But we’ve also started working on a few website projects together and I really can’t thank him enough for his time and efforts. 

Starting in June, I’m also going to start weekends off.  Wait, what’s that you say?!  Yeah…  Despite the occasional weekend off, every few months, I usually work every single day.  But that’s changing.  I will not be answering emails or working on drafts on Saturdays or Sundays.  This is really one of the best decisions I could have made for myself, my family, and yes, even my business.  This will be a really good thing!  And I’m also choosing to believe that God will provide enough clients for our NEEDS.

A week from Saturday, Ashlynn will be two and a half years old.  And her attitude seriously reflects that age.  She is absolutely the baby of the family, and knows it.  She cocks her head, bats her eyelashes, and we’re all butter in her hands.  From Daddy to Reagan, all of us will run to her beck and call.  Except that Mama is getting kind of tired of the “entitled” attitude and we’re starting to work on that.  Now if I could just get the rest of the family on board with the same game plan.  Lord, help me. 

I believe that’s catches y’all up with us!  Thank you SO much for your prayers these past few weeks!  I definitely felt cupped in His hands, grace, and protection.  I’m thrilled to be on the other side of that cliff.

Messy Life

Saturday, May 18, 2013 3 Comments A+ a-

I don’t know about you, but when I have friends coming over, I scramble to make the house presentable.  The clean, yet unfolded, laundry will get tossed on my bed, I wipe down the bathroom counters, take care of the pile of stuff that’s accumulated on the front table, run the vacuum, etc.  All the little niceties to help my friends feel welcome and at home.  And I’m not saying that’s bad…  What I am saying is that its not always real life.  Real life is messy.

A friend from high school moved about 10 minutes away from me last spring.  We weren’t close in high school, friends of course, but we ran in very different circles.  And when she found out they were moving home, she contacted me to help her find a rental home.  Honestly, I was happy for her that she was going to move closer to family, and I was looking forward to our sons having play dates.  But I had no intention of the friendship moving beyond that.

Lynn had other ideas.  And no matter how hard I tried to keep her at arm’s length, she pushed back.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want her friendship, its just that I’m used to saying goodbye to friends.  And it hurts less when you’re not close.  Silly, of course.  But never the less, the truth.  I just had a feeling that they wouldn’t be staying long.

Slowly but surely, Lynn eased her way into my life.  Homemade dinners when my grandma got sick with cancer, offers to babysit, a bottle of wine when Grandma died, play dates, and more.  Soon, more than a day didn’t go by without us talking to each other, texting, or having each other’s son over for play dates.  Hudson and Holden were two peas in a pod, and their instantaneous friendship gave us all the more reason to hang out together.

Then one day, for whatever reason, Lynn had taken my kids and our van for the day.  I forget the reason… it could’ve been a day to allow me catch up on design work, or it could have been for one of my dad’s cancer appointments.  But I came home and both to my horror and surprise, I had a completely clean vehicle!  Tired of hearing me complain how dirty my van was and how many times I kept saying I needed to clean it, she took it upon herself to clean it for me.  And this was no easy task, friends.  A minivan with four Littles who constantly leave behind school bags, snacks, clothing, is a nuclear wasteland.

And she gave me the beautiful gift of cleaning it for me. 

She doesn’t know this, but I drove away that day with tears in my eyes.  Tears of gratitude, tears of shock, tears of humility.  It was in that moment that I realized what its like to actually LIVE messy life with someone. 

During the next eight months, we grew closer than ever.  Holden became our fifth child on family outings, Hudson became their adopted child too.  There were days Lynn would show up and whisk Hudson away for an ice cream date with the family.  Food would show up in our fridge, there were school pick-ups and drop-offs, babystitting, poker nights, Corn Hole, bbqs, family dinners.  She and Holden would even come over for a play date and she’d pull up a seat on the couch and start folding laundry with me.

As the days grew closer to their moving date, she and I had many teary conversations.  It was Lynn that taught me how to embrace my mess, it was Lynn that taught me how to be a friend through the mess, it was Lynn that gave me a gift that I’d never experienced before with another woman.  It was a beautiful gift, and one that I’ll take with me into other friendships.

When we said our goodbyes, I thanked her again for pushing through my walls.  I sobbed the entire way home.  Its not that we won’t ever see them again, her family is still here, but Texas is too far to live messy life with someone. 

I think as women we’re so bent on projecting this face of who we want to be, of who people expect us to be.  And we forget HOW MESSY life really is.  There is hurt, pain, death, diseases, financial stress, there are dirty kitchen floors, counters needing wiped.  There’s the laundry to fold, beds to be made, bills to pay, dinner to cook.  Life is hard and life is messy.  And how wonderful it was to share the load with someone who understood that.  I’ve always been one to embrace the honesty and realness of friendships, but Lynn took it to a whole new level. 

And I will always be thankful for that.

My Meltdown

Sunday, May 12, 2013 23 Comments A+ a-

I’ve written this post over several days.  I’ve written, rewritten, deleted, added, and turned myself inside out trying convey what’s been happening in my life these past two weeks.  This post is far from perfect, but it needs to be written.  It needs to be journaled.  This space is about my life… All of it.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the scary.  Some may judge me for sharing so much with the internet, and that’s ok.  I understand if this makes you uncomfortable, and for that, I apologize.  But I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t share it here.

This space has been quiet over the past few weeks.  In fact, most of my social media has been quiet.  The fact of the matter is, while everyone is turning out thought-provoking posts, adding adorable pictures on Instagram, working on DIY tutorials, pinning on Pinterest, and Friending on Facebook, I’ve just been trying to breathe and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I wish I were kidding.  I wish I were over exaggerating.  But the day after my last post, I had a complete and total meltdown.
As in… sitting in my bathtub sobbing my guts out to Jon.  As in… I was having panic attacks several times a day.  The kind where I flushed hot, then cold, and then I couldn’t breathe because a freaking elephant was sitting on my chest.  As in… I wanted to curl up in the fetal position, pull the covers over my head, and sleep the day away.  As in… the highlight of my day was counting down the hours until bedtime.
It was the single most scary, darkest, and most painful time in my life.  And that’s saying something seeing as how I JUST talked about how bad my post-partum depression got after Hudson.  I was seconds away from turning into our local mental health hospital’s parking lot and admitting myself because I was certain that I was crazy and I just wanted some relief.
Yeah.  It was that bad.
Let me tell you something.  I’ve been dealing with depression long enough that when I’ve hit a rough patch, I can assure myself it’ll only last a couple of days, then the tide will turn again soon.  Only this time, the tide didn’t turn and I couldn’t see hope.  It was terrifying.
I waited a good six days before I received help.  And I’m happy to say the psychologist and doctor have upped my meds and I’m taking an anti-anxiety to bridge the panic attacks while my new dose reaches therapeutic levels.  I’ve never had panic attacks, so this is a brand-new symptom to deal with.  Yay! {sarcasm font}
The hardest part is that I don’t know where it came from…  I can’t pinpoint one trigger that could’ve sent me into this funk.  I have theories, my family and friends have theories, even my psychologist has theories.  And so best as I can tell, its probably a mixture of things…
First, let’s chat about Munchkin Land Designs.  Did you know that in the past two months, I’ve had three days off?  Three days.  And I can probably guarantee that I at least answered emails on those days.  I have zero balance in my life and I think this is a huge wake-up call that things need to change.  And fast.  Jon and I are discussing changes and working through the details.  But guess what?  I used to love designing, and I need to get back to that.  This frantic pace is no longer cutting it and my body has had enough.
Secondly, I’ve had a traumatic year.  There, I’ve admitted it and said it.  My grandmother died, one friend moved out-of-state, my dad was diagnosed and fought and beat cancer in the span of three months, my husband’s step-father died, and a second friend moved out-of-state.  Its been a long year of trauma and goodbyes.  And while I thought I was dealing with it all pretty well, I think this is clearly telling me that I have more to deal with.
And lastly, and while I don’t know your thoughts and opinions on spiritual warfare, since we believe in God, we also believe in Satan.  And there’s not a doubt in my mind that there’s an element of spiritual warfare in this situation.  I find it interesting that the day after I proclaim my birthright as the daughter of the King of Kings on this blog, that I was brought to my knees in despair. 
I feel like it was the perfect storm.  And my mind and body has brought it quickly to my attention that there are things I need to deal with in my life.  I’m lacking balance, I need to work through some grief, and I need to be on my knees even more than ever.  There may have been warning signs in the past, but I’m a procrastinator.  I tend to leave things on the shelves until I have no choice but to deal with them. 
Guess what?  I have NO CHOICE but to deal with this now.  Mind and body have made that plenty clear.
I’m doing ok.  I have moments, long periods of time, that I really feel like myself.  I have the energy and motivation and focus to deal with the day-to-day.  But just as fast, I can be back in the despair and it takes all I can to feed the Littles lunch, or get them to school.  Its in those moments that I cry out to God, wondering if I’m ever going to feel completely whole and good again.  There’s been a lot, A LOT, of praying these past few weeks.  Not to mention the utter fear and helplessness Jon felt. 
If you think of it, of me, I covet your prayers, my friends.  I pray that I will hear God’s instructions clearly and that I’ll lean on Him for strength and peace.  And someday… hopefully soon… this blog will return to fun posts again.  Its been a little too serious, even for my liking lately.  Ha! 
Just keeping it real, folks.  Keeping it real.