give a little grace…

Grace upon grace. That is what I needed this morning. Because before then sun hit the horizon, it was all aboard the hot.mess.express at the Hummel household…

Daddy was out of town for work, so Murphy’s Law y’all.  Before we dive into the good stuff, here’s a little rundown of the first four hours of our day…

Little woke up like clockwork for her 5:30 AM feeding. She typically ALWAYS goes back to sleep for a couple of hours after this feed. So this mama was planning to have a solid hour of independence before big sister’s 7 AM wake-up call – which meant big plans for real clothes, fixed hair and at least one cup of coffee circulating through my system. N-O-P-E. Lakyn Lee had no interest in going back to sleep today.

The rock-n-play pacified her for a moment – almost long enough for me to wash my face. Which, thanks to @msrachelhollis, we all know is important right?!

Then it all broke loose. Baby wailing from the living room. Big sister calling out for “MAAAAMAAAA…” from bed because baby was being “too noisy” for her.  I glanced at the clock…6:30 AM. I didn’t even get to brush my teeth in peace.

Very, very contrary to my belief system surrounding screen time and meal time, I appeased said toddler at the kitchen counter with a bowl of cereal and PawPatrol on the iPad. Desperate times, friends.

Much to big sister’s dismay (because it was clearly a distraction from the adventures of Alex and Chase) I let the little continue to cry just long enough to pull on yesterday’s stretchy pants and a sweatshirt. So much for making myself semi-presentable for school drop-off…

Got baby changed and dressed and put in the carrier. Screaming continued.

Argued with toddler about her clothes (see picture below). Argued with toddler about her hair (see picture below). Argued with toddler about watching another PawPatrol (Ummm…that’s a no). 

Lopsided pigtails. High-water overalls. But she looked exactly like she wanted, and to a three-year-old that’s all that matters.

Meanwhile…baby still screaming.

Got everyone out the door and realized it was 35 degrees and no one had a coat. Opened the car door for toddler to get herself loaded into her carseat and buckled the baby into hers before heading back in for coats…and more coffee.

Got halfway down the driveway and realized I had not a) taken toddler to the bathroom or b) bushed her teeth. Kept driving because…baby still screaming. And there was a potty and a toothbrush at school…she could make it 30 miles.

Pulled out onto the highway. Toddler yells, “Mommy, LOOK!” While she had done the top clip of her seatbelt as she always does, I had neglected to buckle the bottom part. Probably my biggest #momfail of the morning. Pulled over. Got her buckled.

Got to school. Baby asleep!! All the praise hands. Unloaded everyone and got to the classroom. Toddler had a meltdown. Ran out the door and wrapped herself around my legs screaming. Teacher pried her off and I walked out the door with her yelling for her mommy. The definition of pure torture.

Got the baby in the car. Got myself in the car. I started crying. Then baby started crying. Every Hummel girl at that moment was crying.

Drove to Target. What else was there to do?

Baby cried all the way back to the nursing room, but after her mid-morning snack, all was right in her world again. Mama got herself a latte and headed to amble aimlessly through the throw pillows, blankets and candles…because can you really have too many?? For a brief moment, all was well…

Mama’s happy place.

The tranquility was short lived. One of us was crying again. Surprisingly, it wan’t me. Defeated, I walked toward the exit. But on my way out, a chance encounter completely changed my attitude and outlook for the day. A friend was walking in with her now 8-month-old daughter. She took one look at me and my screaming babe, wrapped her arms around me and said, “You’re doing great mama.”

It took everything I had to hold myself together. Four little words brought such reprieve and solidarity with another human. Another mama. Another warrior. She didn’t just say it, she meant it. 

The details of my day are really irrelevant. The point is, one kind gesture…one moment of grace…completely turned my day around. The rest of the day wasn’t easy. But the five minutes I spent with that friend reminded me that even in the moments I feel like we’re all falling apart…I’m still doing great at this mama gig. 

So give a little grace. To yourself, and to others. Because a little grace goes a long way.

This is Thirty-Two

Yesterday was a good day. Yesterday was a HARD day. Yesterday, I turned 32.

Yesterday — My sweet husband had to work, so I kissed him goodbye in a sleep-deprived stupor long before the sun came up. He got home just in time to jump in on the nightly bedtime routine and fall back into bed completely spent. I missed him. Not because it was my birthday, but because it was an ordinary day. And ordinary days are better with him by my side.

Yesterday — I spent the majority of the day at home alone caring for my 5-day-old baby (formal introduction coming soon). Which means all of the good things (like sleepy snuggles and afternoon snoozes) and all of the hard things (like an explosive baby blow-out all over the bed, which then meant the sheets needed washed).

Sweet baby snuggles.

Yesterday — I was essentially isolated from my older daughter (for the third day in a row) because she was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth earlier in the week. Explaining to a 3-year-old why she can’t stay at home with her mommy and daddy or give her newborn sister hugs & kisses is nothing short of brutal. My heart hurt for her this week in ways I didn’t know it could.

Yesterday — I was separated from my family who is in town because…well…a 5-day-old baby and a toddler with HF&M. And, my poor parents who took the brunt of caring for said toddler came down with their own case of the ick. So…no birthday hugs for this girl.

Yesterday — I ached. Physically, mentally and emotionally ached. Everywhere. Partly childbirth recovery. Partly sleep deprivation. But mostly a hectic, stressful week that looked absolutely noting like I had imagined our first week home with baby would look.

But yesterday — it  was so good. Because all of these really hard things….they are rooted in good things. Really good things.

Coffee and diamonds.

Like my husband — who kissed me goodbye before the sun kissed the morning sky (after the kind of sleepless night you have with a newborn). Yes, he was gone on my birthday. On what would have been our very first Saturday at home together as a family. But…he is providing for our family with a career in an industry he loves. His passion provides his paycheck, and that’s pretty rare. Also…he made sure that I felt not only loved  on my birthday, but also known. I woke up to a fresh pot of coffee, the sweetest card and a beautiful ring — baby band #3. Did I mention the coffee? Because he knew this mama would need a whole lot of #coffeeandjesus to get through the day. That’s love.

And this newborn baby — whoa. I started my day, also before the sun came up, feeding her from my own body (which was then demanded of me again and again throughout the day). I answered every cry and met every need. I cleaned up poop and spit-up and spilled milk. Because I am her mother. And that is a miracle that’s not lost on me. And through tired eyes, I got to watch the night turn into day and then the day turn back into night with her snuggled soundly on my chest. Holymoly I am #blessed.

And my Lexi girl — she had a long, hard week. Probably the hardest of all of us. Monday she woke up and her baby sister came into this world and everything changed just like that. Add on the awful discomfort of hand, foot and mouth and several days that she couldn’t be around her mama and sister…it was enough to make any person break, let alone a 3-year-old. But she is tough. So, so tough. I saw her resilient spirit more clearly this week than I ever have before. And it made me exponentially proud to be her mama.

And then there’s my family — Y’all. There are not enough good words in the world to describe them. Last weekend they loved, supported and comforted me through three days of agonizing pre-labor. They were there to welcome our sweet girl into this world and handle all-of-the-things I couldn’t. And my parents pretty much earned their Sainthood taking care of Lexi full-time so we could keep everyone at home as healthy as possible. Their love is supernatural and sacrificial. And even though our first week at home was not what I’d hoped…I am beyond words grateful for the incredible support and love that surrounded me each day. How lucky am I to bring my daughters into a family like that?

Every discomfort, every ache, every tear this week was so worth it. Because sometimes, the most beautiful things grow and flourish in the most difficult places.

So this is thirty-two. It’s not a birthday I will remember because there were extravagant gifts or a spectacular party. It wasn’t glamorous and there are no Instagram-worthy photos to commemorate the day. But it’s a day I will never forget, because it so perfectly embodied the hard stuff and the good stuff of this every-day life I get to live. And the humans I get to love through it all. And those things are far better than gifts and cake and parties any day of the week.

With Grace,

Jen

My Not-So-Typical, Stereotypical New Year’s Day Post

I have nothing against the typical “New Year, New You” blog posts being published this time of year.  They can be introspective and inspirational, no doubt. I’ve just never had the urge to actually write one. Probably because looking back on an entire year’s worth of thoughts and memories seems daunting, and making projections about the year to come feels a bit assuming.

But this was not the typical start to a new year. And for that reason…here I am. Writing my “not-so-typical” stereotypical New Year’s day post.

The thing is, today…I started to feel sorry for myself. In fact, just after tucking our toddler into bed (after a prolonged evening of arguing with her about eating her dinner, picking up her toys, not sucking her thumb, etc., etc.) …I declared to my husband that this was the worst start to a new year EVER. Yes, I said E.V.E.R. Dramatic much?

In my defense, it had been a long couple of days. Yesterday we got home late after five days on the road and a combined total of 30+ hours in the car in that timeframe. With a potty training toddler. I mean really, who signs up for that kind of misery?

So we got home, late, to frigid -10 degree temps.  And at some point during the day, the heater in our sow barn / farrowing room malfunctioned. So not only were the waterlines frozen (cutting off the water supply to all of our pigs), but one line actually busted right above a sow whose litter is not but two weeks old. Not. Ideal. We weren’t asking for a whole lot out of our New Year’s Eve, but that scenario did not make the top ten list of things we’d hoped to be doing.

This morning we all woke up with a barn mostly put back in order (thank you, husband). We decided since it was New Year’s day, we’d cook some cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Nope. Not gonna happen. Because the oven was mysteriously not working. And we had no food because we hadn’t been home since December 21st. Ok, nbd…we can improvise.

Fast forward a few hours. Husband commented that it felt a little cold in the house. Even though I had kind of thought the same thing, I basically told him to “toughen up and put another layer on.” Because I’m so empathetic. About an hour later, he realized that although our thermostat was set on 70, the actual temp. in the house had dropped into the low 60s. He was right…our house was getting cold. And sure enough…our furnace was out. As in Not. Working. At. All. Did I mention the temperature outside? Seriously.

So we get our cold, cranky toddler down for a nap thinking we’d call someone about the furnace, catch up on work and just reset. Then, out of nowhere, the smoke alarm outside her room started “chirping” like it had a low battery. But the smoke alarms are supposed to be hard wired into the house. So….yeah. Not sure about that one. To prevent an epic wake-up/meltdown, the hubs drug out the step stool to investigate. We could already hear her stirring. Then, it happened. Every smoke alarm in the house started SCREECHING this horrible sound proclaiming, “FIRE, FIRE!!” and that was that. She was no longer napping. And we had no clue what had just happened.

We survived the day with no furnace, no oven and malfunctioning smoke alarms. And there I sat feeling really tired and really cranky about our circumstances. Until…it was time for bedtime prayers with my daughter. And, as we usually do, we started lifting up in prayer those who are less fortunate than us. And then there I sat, eating crow, thinking of all the things I had to be thankful for in the middle of our chaos.

Instead of complaining about being exhausted from a long road trip with my family, I should have been thankful that…

  • We have a reliable vehicle that allows us to travel anywhere we want
  • We have family to visit who loves us and is excited to have us there
  • We have flexible jobs that allow us to travel on days we don’t have “off”

Instead of being upset that the barn heater quit and we had frozen water pipes, I should have remembered how lucky we are that…

  • My husband gets to pursue one of his greatest passions, regardless of the set-backs
  • We have alternatives to feed/water our pigs when needed, even if it takes a little extra effort

Instead of complaining about our oven not working and not getting cinnamon rolls for breakfast, I should have been thinking about how fortunate we are to…

  • Have a gas stove top and microwave that still allow us to cook food
  • Even have food…seriously…sometimes we forget
  • Have a fridge and pantry full of things to get us by until we figure things out

Instead of worrying so much about the furnace (even though yes, it is a big deal) I should have been so, so grateful that…

  • We have a wood-burning stove that can keep our house warm for the night
  • I have a a husband who worked diligently throughout the summer and fall to make sure we had enough firewood chopped for the winter…because a wood-burning stove is useless without wood
  • Even if we didn’t have the ability to heat our house, we’d have places we could go to keep warm until the furnace got fixed

These are just a few of the many, many things I know I overlook on the daily that, in all reality, I should be so thankful for. And even though it took a hard day (or two… or three) and a blog novel to get to this place…I’m here.

And I wanted to share incase your start to the new year wasn’t quite what you expected, either. Here’s to the next 364 days…not of better luck, but of greater perspective.

#ThankfulThursday

This week, I am thankful for the opportunity to teach my daughter the value of love, compassion and generosity. Guys…it is h.a.r.d. for a toddler to shop for things they like just to give them to someone else.

We chose a 2-4 year-old girl for our OCC box for a reason. To make it relatable.

As we made our way through the aisles, each item that was placed in the cart was followed by an exuberant “For me?!” from the front seat. Each time, I explained that we were picking out things to send to a little girl who didn’t have very much so we could share the love of Jesus with her at Christmas.

By the end of our little shopping excursion, my sweet babe’s questions had changed. Instead of asking insisting that each new thing was for her, she began asking questions about the little girl who would be receiving these treasures. What’s her name? Where’s her house? Who is she?

While I wish I had the answers to all her questions, today, seeing the budding spirit of compassion in my little girl was enough.

What have you been thankful for this week?

#ThankfulThursday

I’m not sure how, but my calendar says it’s November.

N-O-V-E-M-B-E-R.

Halloween is over and the “holiday crazies” can officially come out of hiding. Though I’m still in a state of sadness shock that time is passing so quickly, I’ve decided this holiday season to share a few things each Thursday that I am grateful for from the week. I hope in doing this I will not only become more aware of the ABUNDANT blessings in my life, but hopefully also encourage you to think about the blessings in yours.

So, here you have it.

This week I am thankful for progress on our barn renovation.

For ice cream dates on long road trips with my little.

For Papa’s who make their little girl’s world go ’round.

For the first snow of the season!!

For the first fire of the season (the up-side to snow!)

For new growth and new life.

And for gorgeous sunrises and simple living.

What are some of the things you’re grateful for this week?

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.        – Melody Beattie

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