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Room to Run

Last Sunday we moved Risky to a new pen/pasture at the same barn. Since the last month before Sawyer came until now, she’s been in her pen. It’s not a very big space, enough for her to move around, but really pretty cramped for an animal that was created to roam the land freely. She can be a royal pain to catch in the big pasture (30-40 acres), and she has been a little hard to keep weight on, so I have to be able to give her the extra feed she needs. I can’t get too far away from the baby to chase her down, and he gets super upset being stuck in the car. It’s been cold off and on, so wearing him is hard, because I don’t need him catching a chill.

I know why I penned her up.

Even knowing her need for extra food, and what my recovering body, and new baby, can handle, it has been hard to see her in that pen. She was stir crazy, even giving me a push at one point to let me know she wanted out the gate to go to the pasture. She would pace, and I could see the tracks she was wearing in the ground from pacing when I wasn’t there.

I spoke with the manager, and a couple of the ladies that board out there. Our facility is broken up into a variety of pens and pastures, and I knew that in one pasture the herd had been reduced by 2. Everyone agreed that Risky could move in over there, so we made the move.

She was one happy girl! She moved around the catch pen, and the horses came in. Lots of sniffing, and a little huffing at one another, and the only one upset to have a new companion was a pony mare. Risky just avoided her. Risky made her way toward the gate to her pasture, perked up her ears, raised her tail, and took off! She galloped across the pasture, stretching her legs, and enjoying the space her new freedom.

God created us all with a purpose, with dreams in our hearts, and things we like and dislike. When we try to fit in somewhere that doesn’t align with what God created us for, we go stir crazy…just like a horse confined to a space that is too small. Stretch your legs (expand your horizons!) and reach for what God has for you. The freedom and space you will find in Him is unlike anything this world has to offer.

Saturday Ramblings

It is Saturday, the first Saturday of 2015. One of my goals was to publish a blog post every Saturday. I didn’t write a post ahead of time, when I had topics galore stampeding through my mind. I waited until today.

Today, I have nothing. I have a blank space and nothing that feels worthy of wasting this space, or time.

So I am writing today just to put something out here. It has been an uneventful today – with the usual barn chores, cooking, cleaning (Ha! Who am I kidding? No cleaning took place here.) sports, and listening to the phone ring. Or waiting for it to ring. Or finding out it shut itself off and needs to be turned on. You know, whichever. Our life revolves around that little black phone.

Since I’m taking up a bit of time and space, I’ll share a recent highlight that made my day. Or my night, really.

We were heading to bed and I had Baby S in my arms. He’s a charming fellow, and he was looking up at me in that wide-eyed wonder – the kind that makes tired mommies feel heavenly. I smiled at him. He looked like he knew what was coming – nursing and bed time, such a wonderful combo! My dear husband said something and I chuckled. Baby S started giggling – the more he giggled, the more I giggled, the more he giggled. The two of us had a little fit of laughter together and in that moment, I felt like all was right with my world. I cling to those little moments that God gives me. Those moments make the ones where I’m tired, I feel frumpy & fat, and the day isn’t close to over, worth it.

Those little giggles. The smiles. The ear to ear grins. The talking a million miles an hour out of pure excitement moments. Those are what carry me through when these kids make me crazy. When I pray for strength, when I pray for rest, sometimes Jesus soothes my soul and I feel the weight lifted off my shoulder, but sometimes when I pray for those things, He tickles one of my littles and my eyes open to the blessings.

I pray you see your blessings for what they are – blessings, and that you have moments that ease and make the burdens worth bearing.

Another New Year!

It is almost 10pm (CST). In two hours we being a new year. This will be the 28th new year I have seen. (I don’t remember the early ones, just so we’re clear.)

In the last few years, I find myself feeling like today is a normal day. And then I wake up feeling like tomorrow is a normal day. And I cannot help but think, over and over on New Year’s Eve, that we feel like “this will be the year!” I’ve felt it before. I hear it all around me. This year I will _________________. I won’t let it get away from me. I won’t forget. I won’t slip. Whatever the ______________________ is, we focus on our strength/dedication/desire to make these goals happen, to achieve these dreams.

For several years it’s been heavy on my heart to deal with one day. I cannot make next year a good year. But I can make one day, a good day. I can read my bible, today. I can eat right, today. I can focus on parenting with purpose, today. I can empty the sink of dishes, today. I can workout, today. I can write, today. I can ride, today.

Tomorrow, well I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know what 365 tomorrows hold. I don’t have the strength for 365 tomorrows. I haven’t been given the grace for 365 tomorrows. But I have enough strength, and I’ve been given enough grace for today. I’ll let tomorrow worry about itself.

In this incredibly busy time in my life, I am reminded just how important it is to live in the here and now – to focus on today, and today only. It’s not always easy to not worry, but if I let too many days stack up on me, I drown in the fear. It paralyzes me.

And grace – I think we get the grace we need to pass out today. We get the grace for what we mess up today. But when I start taking too many days at a time, I don’t have enough grace for the mistakes the kids make, the words the husband says, the things that happen at work, etc. Because yesterday something hurt, and the day before something irritated me, and tomorrow something is going to make me sad, and today something was spilled. And all of that at one time is just too much. But if I just deal with today’s spill, and yesterday I dealt with that hurt, then tomorrow, I am fresh, and can receive from God what I need for that day.

And His grace for me is new every morning (Thank God, cause you and I both know I need it.)

So while you close one year and open a new one, remember, God didn’t ask you to take this year on head first. He just asked you to wake up and handle today. He is the one who holds yesterday, today, and tomorrow in hand, but that is not a task He shared with us. Today, that is what we were given, let’s make the most of each of our todays as we wake up to them. And let’s close them with grace and in peace each night as we lay our heads down.

God is Faithful

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. We hear it in church. We sing it in our songs.

God is faithful.

Sometimes that resonates within us, as something that is true and we know deep within that God is trustworthy.

Sometimes we walk through things that make us question if He is faithful or for us.

I’ve experienced both sides of this in my life, more than once. Tonight, however, I have spent the day reminded of God’s faithfulness. I’ll start from the beginning.

It’s been a long week. In fact, it’s been a long month. I’m feeling slightly worn out anyway, and Christmas brought with it the stress of how to get who what. It’s been a blessed year, but the budget is maxed out. Not that I’m here to cry woe is me. We’ve also battled some winter colds and over the weekend, our baby girl fought a tummy bug. Then, come Monday, she cropped up with a gnarly case of croup.

You never want your kids to be sick, and now with Christmas fast approaching, we were really hoping she’d get well quickly. Christmas Eve rolled around, only to find her still coughing the yucky croup cough and feeling puny. We missed Christmas Eve services at church, and then, to top it all off, her and I stayed home from Nana’s Christmas Eve celebration. It was a bummer for everyone.

That night, as we were settling kids down, it was apparent that she didn’t feel well, and night time has been the worst since she got croup. She wanted me to hold her, and the baby needed to nurse, and we were all trying to get in bed. She wouldn’t let her daddy comfort her, and he doesn’t quite have the equipment to nurse our littlest. So I settled in on the couch – one nursing, one sprawled out on me, for what I knew would be a long night.

The Christmas tree was just inches from me, the only light in the living room. And I prayed. I asked for my daughter to be well. But that wasn’t the focus of my prayer. I felt as if I was being consumed by exhaustion, and the thought that Christmas morning was the next thing to face really overwhelmed me. Kids can be so much fun in the middle of the chaos of a gift exchange – sparkling eyes, giggles, and excitement over the goodies. But kids can be loud, they are sometimes disappointed even when we’ve tried so hard to get the “right” thing, and they can take a living room from spotless to destroyed in 30 seconds on Christmas morning (or any morning, really).

Don’t think I’m all bah-humbug. But also know that I don’t handle exhaustion well. I am cranky, grouchy, mean and loud when I’m worn smooth out. And I prayed. I didn’t ask for a goodnight’s sleep – I didn’t have enough faith for that. I just asked for enough strength and grace to walk through Christmas morning with all of the joy I should have and none of the grumpiness that was fighting to take me over. Too many days with a sick girl and too many restless nights were taking their toll. I envisioned myself ruining Christmas morning with my own frayed emotions. And I didn’t want it to be so.

As the Christmas tree illuminated the room around me, and the faces of my two youngest kids glowed there, lying on me, I thanked God. I thanked Him for picking me. I thanked Him for giving me the strength to make it this far. And I cried. I cried because I don’t deserve the grace I’ve been given, I don’t deserve the sacrifice of Jesus, or any of my numerous blessings. And I tossed and turned through the night, waiting for the first light of day, waiting for the pitter-patter of little feet, waiting to see if our daughter would be feeling well.

It was crazy come morning, when I couldn’t lay on the couch another moment. We had to wake the kids up! Instead of taking the opportunity to sleep in, Mr. Wonderful and I woke the kids up at 6:15 and exclaimed “Merry Christmas” all through the house. Sleepy-eyed, they made their way to the front of the house. And when they were all seated around, we passed out gifts. And I enjoyed each moment. I cuddled our girl, nursed our boy, helped the big boys organize, and even made lunch, and my heart was full of joy and gratitude.

Maybe I should have focused on her healing, Lord knows it breaks my heart that she’s still not feeling the best. Maybe I should have asked for a full night’s rest. I don’t know. But I do know that I got what I asked for, I had the grace and peace to walk through a crazy day without losing it. And I am thankful that God is faithful in giving us grace when we sin, and in filling us with grace we need to walk through our days.

Merry Christmas!!

Sawyer’s Grand Entrance

First and foremost, this is my youngest son’s birth story. While I don’t suppose it’s going to be too terribly graphic in the language I use, it is still a birth story – complete with contractions, delivery, and placenta talk.

Our sweet boy joined us on the day that our pregnancy was 41 weeks along. From 39 weeks forward, I was a mess of anxious nerves and fear. The fear was whether or not I could handle one more thing. One more especially big thing – the care of a newborn. We are walking through an incredibly busy season in our lives, and quite frankly, I couldn’t see exactly how to fit in the feeds and diapers and cuddles and demands that come with a newborn. I was anxious to see his beautiful face and to kiss him and hold him, but the fear was so real, so present.

I always knew this boy would come during the dark hours, late night or early morning, it would be dark out. As a result, nighttime was not my friend during those final two weeks of our pregnancy. I would start contracting, sporadically, but it would happen. And that tingle of excitement would course through me, and my fear would be there, asking me if I was enough for this one, too. I would give the contractions an hour to even out, which they didn’t do, and I would take a hot shower and go to bed – almost with a sense of disappointment that I wasn’t meeting our son yet.

I met with the midwives when I was 40 weeks, and was gently reminded that if I wasn’t mentally ready, it would affect my ability to go into labor. So I spent the week from 40 to 41 weeks making sure that the house was ready, and that I was as ready as I could be. When I met with my midwives the following week, we talked about what steps we would take if I made it to 42 weeks – no fear mongering, no stress, no pressure at this talk. They just kindly explained the tests that would show us baby’s condition, the placenta’s condition, and whether it was safe to continue waiting, or if we should try harder to stimulate labor. We also talked about things I could do at home, from extra walking, to nipple stimulation, and we discussed a little “stretching and pulling” (a very mild membrane sweep). They also said that if my contractions started in the evening hours again, to do whatever kept them going. For me, this was mainly sitting on my exercise ball and rolling around in a figure-8 or side to side. No shower, no going to bed if I was contracting.

After weighing all of the options, I opted for the “stretching and pulling” and after visiting a little more with the ladies, I headed to the store. We had shopping to do. My dear hubby met me at the store and we shopped and ate and went home. Nothing was happening, and I was starting to think this baby would stay inside until forced out. Once the kids were in bed and I sat on my exercise ball, the same ol’ nighttime contractions started. I rolled around on my ball and kept thinking about meeting this baby. (At the time, we didn’t know he was a son!)

An hour into this and my dear husband started getting ready for bed. I didn’t want to stay up by myself and when he asked if I was coming to bed I told him, in no uncertain terms, “No, I’m having a baby tonight.” Course, he gave me the “Oh is it time now??” look, and when I told him I was just having the mild, non-regular contractions that I had every night, even he looked a little hopeless. He settled in on the couch to rest since I wasn’t in need of much support at the time. I was thankful he was close, though.

The hours ticked by. The same thoughts I had every night kept going through my mind. “If these contractions get 9 minutes apart, I’ll call Joy.” It was always “If they _________, I’ll call.” and that milestone never really happened. I knew I needed to call as soon as I thought it was really labor, because I deliver quickly. But it just seemed like another night of false labor. I used a timer on my phone and they weren’t consistent. They weren’t strong.

Around 2 am, I think, I took a hot shower, but I didn’t go to bed. My mild, non-alarming, non-regular contractions continued. That right there is when I should have called. I know that now, but at the time, I didn’t want to cost Joy her night’s rest for something that wasn’t going to result in our baby being born. Then, our work phone rang, we sent one of the guys on a call, and Jimmy decided to shower. I think that was about 3 am. I was ready to call it a night and go to bed. But just before he climbed in the shower, I had a profoundly stronger contraction. One that made me kind of hold my breath. I told him we would call when he got out of the shower, so he made it a quick one. I walked around the house, and did a few squats, and had a few mild contractions. Nevermind. We won’t call.

Now I’ve missed a whole night of sleep, only to go to work on Thursday, sleep deprived and cranky.

The very next thing that happened, was I held the table for dear life, squatted and begged in a not so coherent voice for my husband to make the call, which he did. This was a few minutes after 4 am. I could barely walk to our bedroom, and suddenly the contractions that were sometimes as much as 20 minutes apart were coming back to back and had become intense. Intense doesn’t even do these justice. I kind of panicked for a minute, and I questioned whether I could do this or not. I had less back labor than ever before, but the pain in the front, lower part of my abdomen/uterus was new to me and it scared me.

My sweet husband called his dad to come help with our daughter, who woke up with the commotion of things.

I squeezed all of the blood out of my husband’s hand holding it, and I was shaking. Joy came rushing in a short 25 minutes after we called her. She started getting things ready, and asking if my water had broke, and what had been happening. I shook my head about the water, and let Jimmy do most of the talking. I think. I wasn’t very mentally present, until I realized no one called Chesley. Joy handled that for us, too.

She asked if I felt like I needed to push yet, and I shook my head. Not yet.

Okay, now I do! And I pushed, and I felt that tingle of excitement mix with the pain and contractions, and I knew I’d meet this baby in just a moment’s time. I don’t know how many pushes it took to deliver him, but I do know that Joy expertly handed this brand new baby to his daddy, who was once more in awe. I wish I had a voice recorded of how he announced that we had a boy.

The surprise in his voice tickled me. He was so sure this baby was a girl, so confident – didn’t even know why we had a boy name picked out. And lo & behold, he was holding a squishy little boy.

Just like my previous two deliveries, I was on all fours, so Joy & Jessi kindly helped me get rolled over and then Jimmy handed me our son. Our perfect, chunky little boy. He nursed like a champ, and the next hour was completely peaceful. Chelsey arrived a little bit after the baby, and got some fantastic pictures of his daddy weighing him (9 lbs, 9 oz!!). I nursed him for a while, got in a quick shower, and got settled into bed.

Poppa got to meet the new boy, then, we woke up the two bigger boys that were home and they got to meet him and say hello to our birth team. Then, everyone climbed back into bed and settled in for a nap before the sun even came up.

(And he’s been here for 5 1/2 weeks now, and we are all adjusting beautifully, and I can do it. I can take care of him and all of my other jobs.)

Don’t Steal the Smiles

Our newest addition, a sweet boy born at 4:37 am on the 23rd of October, is 2 weeks old today. I cannot believe that 2 weeks have passed us by already. I find myself wishing that the time would slow down just a little. We are on the go a lot these days, and if it weren’t for baby-wearing, my poor boy would be more bonded with a swing or playpen than me at this point.

I took for granted the down time I had when my first three babies were born. I didn’t think much of it – even finding small reasons to just get out of the house. A trip to Wal-Mart a week after the baby is born isn’t anything compared to spending most of the day at the office the day after he was born.

These early days are a strange mix of bliss and chaos. He’s here, really here, and I am holding him and breathing in his sweet scent. I’m also forgetting essentials, leaving home with diapers for his big sister but not him, having massive blow out diapers just after he spit up so that I smell wretched at all times. The first few nights I got very little sleep (although I have to admit, I’m thankful for the longer stretches he’s giving me now).

Stinky, sleepy, a little cranky, and completely in love with this little fellow, and I just ask that if you see us out and about, don’t steal the smiles.

“Aw, it’s just gas, but how cute.”

I think I’ve written about this before. I know it’s been a big deal to me since my first was born. Don’t rob me of the joy that one little newborn smile brings me. I’m not thrilled that I smell horrible, or that my hair is dirty. I forgot to pack myself a clean shirt, and I just wrapped my little bundle up in a size 5 diaper so I could grab something for dinner instead of just racing home. I feel inept because every day I’ve forgotten something, and I’m only thankful that I nurse him or I might find myself somewhere without a bottle or the formula for it. (But this time, nursing came with some awful pain that I’d never been through before, more on this in another post.)

I am beyond thankful for this sweet boy. I love him completely, and with each of my kids, I’ve been surprised by how much and how quickly I’ve loved them. And along the way, someone inevitably blames those priceless smiles on gas. While I don’t believe gas has anything to do with it, even if it is just gas, don’t steal it from me. Those smiles make the fog we’re walking through a little easier to deal with. They make the moment a little brighter, and they remind me that all the chaos is really worth it.

Sharing a Barn

I have to admit, sharing a barn has not been my favorite thing until recently. If I had my choice, my girl would be in my backyard, and I’d walk out to take care of her twice a day, and never have to deal with other barn people. Just my horse, my kids, my husband, and I enjoying the days as they go by in an unrushed, pleasant fashion. But that’s not the world or reality that we live in.

Our days are often rushed (thank you wrecker business), and we are boarders at a medium-sized facility, where running into other boarders is unavoidable.

I was finding myself frustrated after many of these encounters. Honestly, people are rather cold and unfriendly, or full of advice that  I didn’t ask for, and that’s not why I go to the barn. I go to get away from all of those things!

I had an epiphany after two really awesome encounters with people who frustrated me the most. Horse people are just like non-horse people. Hang on, don’t get your feathers ruffled. I know the horse-lover gene makes us our own breed, but we really are the same as someone else, who is passionate about something else.

We have these critters that have captivated our minds and hearts, and we have many things we have tried – some have worked, some haven’t. Things for nutrition/diet, training/exercise, and things for pest control, pasture, sheds and/or stalls. The things that work, we cling to. The things that don’t, we avoid. Just like a non-horse person.

And when someone new comes around, we are afraid of recommendations we know won’t work, we are afraid of finding out we are doing it all wrong, we are afraid of being judged or criticized. We just want to do what works, and keeps our fuzzy, 4-legged baby happy, healthy, and sound.

Now, we also have seen things get horses, or the people who love them, hurt. So, when we start throwing out unwanted advice, we aren’t trying to judge or pick on someone. We want your horse to be happy, healthy, and sound too. And we want you to be safe. We all have those things about horses and their care that really get our attention, and we just can’t slow our mouths down sometimes. Our intentions are not meant to be mean, or hateful (in most cases).

As I was pondering this, and thanking God for the new grace/lens to look through, it made me realize it’s not just a horse people thing. It’s a mom thing, a dog people thing, an artist thing…really, it’s a people thing.

We don’t want to find out we are doing it all wrong. We have our things that work, things that didn’t, and things that we are too scared to try. And as we work through these things, we want people to understand, encourage, and standby us – sometimes without ever offering advice.

So, I’ m going to work on offering less advice, and just encouraging people in their efforts. I’m going to pray for the grace to overlook mistakes, the patience to listen without commenting unnecessarily, and the wisdom to recognize the times that God wants to use me to say something specific.

 

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