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

Well, I have not been overly successful in my endeavor to share a weekly post of gratitude — but it’s not for a lack of it. Rather, some weeks I’ve just found myself too busy living in the gratitude to stop and write about it. Not a bad problem to have. 

This time last week, we were just getting settled into our Airbnb for a long weekend in Vegas. For Kade’s 40th birthday (back in August) I surprised him with 8 tickets to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. #BucketList y’all.

So…what I’m thankful for this week is the world’s best friends and family who took the time (and spent the money) to come to Vegas with us and celebrate four decades of this guy being awesome. You guys are cooler than a ride on the New York-New York roller coaster at night. And that is seriously cool. 

#ThankfulThursday

You might (or might not) have noticed I missed last week’s #ThankfulThursday post. And that, incidentally, is the very thing I am thankful for this week — an electronically unplugged  holiday. Where being a little more disconnected from the world allowed a little more space for connection with the people around me.

No internet (i.e., no work), erratic cell service (i.e., no mobile apps) and in fact, we became so disconnected that we even forgot to take pictures the entire four days we were together.

That’s a lie…we took one.

And Lexi wasn’t even in it because she was napping. (Also, she spent the entirety of Thanksgiving day in her PJs. #momwin or #momfail …I’ll let you decide.)

So, yeah. Totally, completely thankful.

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