Stablizing

After 9 months and two weeks I can say that a lot has changed since I became a mother of three children. The first two months were alright but as things went on I found myself getting overwhelmed, spread thin and lacking  in both alone time and space, and also in getting opportunity to creatively express myself.

The more kids that you have, the more you learn about yourself. I didn’t realize that I had needed creative outlet so badly because I always managed to have one, but now I know that it’s very important for my sanity. As an extrovert, making time to be alone was never apparent. Even as extroverted as I am, having little people on me or needing me 24/7 has shown me that I do value and need time completely by myself. Mostly, just for clarity of thought without distractions.

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As spring progressed, I found cultured foods helped my darker feelings, and then the warm weather hit and I was able to garden (my personal favorite creative outlet) which improved things even more.

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Ida learned to crawl and Eli started an iron supplement to help his sleep issues.

Before I knew it, despite some situational trials and very little sleep, I was feeling pretty normal and used to having three kids.  I mean, they even all play independently together.

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I’m not saying there aren’t super hard days and times when I’m nursing Ida back to sleep at night and right as she doses off in my arms Eli cries super loud and wakes her and he’s awake and she’s awake and there’s only one of me and I’m trying to wrangle them both in the pitch black dark of night and suddenly Avery needs to pee but is too sleepy to wake up all the way and get down from the bunk bed and is sitting, wriggling with his eyes closed. You know I have to get him to the bathroom quick and then comfort Eli back to sleep and then run into Ida’s room to start nursing her again til she calms down and falls asleep again.

But in general, I’ve got the logistics of taking three kids places, dealing with the destruction zone that is my home, always, and making sure they’re fed three tons of food per day.

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So basically I got this. I’m no longer freaking out all the time. I’m no longer 100% overwhelmed all.the.time. Now, this might all change in a couple weeks when Eli starts preschool and I have to get everybody up to get out the door.

Until then, I will pretend I have a grip.

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Hidden Cost of Kids

Kids are actually really cheap. I didn’t spend anything on my first until he was three, for clothes. I breastfeed, cloth diaper, thrift and have them play outside. Sure, food is a cost but I do baby led weaning so I don’t buy baby food, and once their older, I don’t buy any packaged kid food or packaged food at all really. There are, however, some hidden costs to raising kids that no one really talks about.

At least they’re cute.

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Now, feeding kids real food is expensive too, just not that much. Our family has more than doubled since it was just Shane and I but I haven’t even doubled the grocery budget yet.

But kids can be expensive, and this is how. You have to have a car big enough to fit your kids. I have three kids and we still squeeze them into my Corolla hatchback so that’s not a difference but we do have to have three carseats ($$) and two cars now because with three kids you have appointments, playdates, activities, etc, constantly, which means gas mo mo too.

But at least they’re cute.

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They are messy, so you spend time and money cleaning up after them.  Sure, I make my own cleaners but it seems like I’m always making more. Laundry detergent too. The dishwasher is always running, the laundry is always running and I’m always running.

At least they’re really cute.

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They break stuff CONSTANTLY. So yeah, I thrift dishes all the time. Don’t tell me to buy plastic. Eli broke four plastic cups in ONE WEEK once. He’s also broken upward of a dozen mason jars by throwing them off the deck after drinking out of them.

Fortunately, they’re cute.

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They do crazy destructive and expensive things. Like that one time last month when Eli flushed his shorts down the toilet and we spent $2,000 fixing it.

Still, so cute.

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They grow out of clothes every two months at most. So, that’s a lot of replacing.

At least they’re cute.

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Going out to eat is a hella lot more expensive with five people.

But that’s okay, because they’re super cute.

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You need lots more alcohol and chocolate to cope with the emotional stress of nonsleepers, teethers, emotional tantrumers and what not.

I’m okay with it, because they’re cuuuuute.

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Kids take up space. So you have to get a bigger dining room table, more beds, dressers, and space to store the ridiculous amount of food they eat. They never stop with the food. It is always.

That’s okay, they grow too fast and are soooo cute.

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They go through RIDICULOUS amounts of art supplies.

The drawings are pretty cute though (especially the Hulk boobs).

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You have to go out on lots more dates because mommy and daddy time is a lot sparser when you have three kids.

It’s alright, because having kids makes you fall in love your husband a bajillion times more since seeing him as a dad is totally dreamy.

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And those are a few of the hidden costs of having lots of kids. It’s okay, the rewards are much greater mostly. Except those days when all five of us are having a meltdown. That usually results in us having to spend money on ice cream cones or something.

Memories and the Mind

I’ve had a particular thought about a million times in my life. This thought is related to many many many memories of my mother. Her garden. And a flower called statice.

You see, when I was growing up we lived in a very old farmhouse. Because there were a million kids in our family we had to promptly put up a fence around an area in the yard to contain all the littles. I don’t know, maybe the fenced in area was already there. Yes, we called it ‘the fenced in area’ and it was dreamy. My mom, being the magical person she is, planted things, magical things all around this fence. The things I remember were lemon balm, bee balm, straw flower and statice, but there were many more than that.

This old, old, farmhouse had a slightly less old addition of a sun room. It was an awkward room because the windows from the kitchen looked into it, which makes sense because those windows used to look outside. It was even more awkward because the door to the root cellar basement was on the sunroom floor and there were at least three levels of the floor which were three different materials. Some wood, some linoleum and some concrete. We used the sunroom to house a lot of our crafty projects…aka, messes.

Though I don’t think my mom considers herself very crafty, I remember her picking flowers and hanging them in bunches with twine or yarn on nails along the sunroom windows to dry. She had a bunch of different wooden vine wreaths that she would tuck the dried flowers in. I don’t remember where she hung the wreaths or what they looked like after she was done but I do remember this. She was peaceful, she worked at a slow pace that meant she was really enjoying herself. She was expressing her creativity in a chaotic world of homeschooling SEVEN children. In that time she was actually probably pregnant or breastfeeding. I have these idyllic visions of her cutting her flowers from large plants saturated in golden sunlight with butterflies and bees lazily coming off the plants and hanging in the air about her, a small smile resting on her face. It was her world, her space, her project and she loved it.

My world with little children is chaotic but I pursue the things I love for this very reason. I want my children to remember me being happy. Enjoying doing things because I love them. In a world that views stay at home moms as lazy and where a lot of value is placed on high salaries, academic achievements and  career advancements, I hope I can instill in my children that there is value elsewhere. I don’t have to be quite as intentional as Shane because I am with my kids 24/7. He has a few hours before they sleep and so he spends time wrestling, taking them on errands, playing catch in the backyard or more recently, teaching Avery how to play video games with him. These are things he loves to do and he’s able to include at least the boys in a lot of them now.

For me, MY favorite thing. It’s gardening. My happy place. The boys often help me plant and dig but mostly they just play outside or in the hose while I work. They’re peaceful because I’m peaceful.

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Update on the Ole Garden

I keep forgetting to get on here and talk about gardening. I mean, I keep forgetting to get on here and talk about anything….three kids is no joke ya’ll.

Basically it’s like this. We have had more than ten inches of rain this month. More rain is coming too. So things are pretty soggy. There are only a couple kinds of plants in my garden that want this much water and comfrey is one of them.  Everything else is kinda upset about it.

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This is what it looks like as of right now. Very wet. Some of my collards are starting to really feel it.

My main bed (aka, the one that gets the most sun) is currently still filled up with a lot of the greens that have gone to seed.

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My lettuce is still doing awesome though.

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I also have lettuce, swiss chard and a little purple kale in another bed.

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Lush. This lettuce is less awesome than my romain in the other bed and is starting to bolt as well as bitter. I have a few rows of onions which i think are doing alright. I’m not sure what progress they should be at this point but given all the rain, they probably need some grace.

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All my kale is doing totally awesome though. In fact, my greens in general have been pretty fantastic.

 

IMG_20150528_142454As my pac choy started going to seed I harvested it and some lettuce and came up with SEVEN POUNDS of greens. That’s a lot. I had to give some away because I couldn’t fit it in my fridge.

Comfrey is coming up everywhere. I have a few massive plants from last year and then these little leaves just shooting up willy nilly like they own the place.

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This is lime thyme that came up from last year and just random comfrey taking over.

I’ve been pretty proactive mulching nitrogen loving plants with the comfrey leaves and stalks as they get out of control. Once the rain stops happening nonstop I’ll be dehydrating a lot of comfrey for salves and medicinal remedies.

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Another pop up plant that reseeded from last year is borage. I’m finding it everywhere! I can’t wait to see those purple star blooms.

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Can you see the borage plants hiding in with my soggy collards?

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You may have guessed it, that’s my super full and overflowing rain barrel. Two hundred and fifty gallons. Over and over again.

I also have cucumber and squashes going. Some of them just started blooming:)

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All dirty from the non stop rain.

Finally, I added a new little flower bed to work with bees and look pretty.

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Phlox, poppies and a little ground cover.

Anyway, things will get more interesting soon but for now I just eat a lot of greens. This year I am trying to fill in spaces better so that I weed less, get more production and pair plants with their seasonal best friends. It’s more planning but more food. My only problem is that I have a baby and especially with all the rain, it’s hard to get her comfortable outside with me (the boys are totally cool getting muddy) so I have to work mostly during naps. I imagine next year will be much easier because she’ll be walking.

 

 

Full of Life

I went through a few of the photos on my phone today and it’s been busy around here. Lots of good, lots of bad, lots of grace.

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This is a photo Avery took with my phone. It has little relevance to anything going on except that I think it’s a really great photo.

I’ve had a rough couple weeks but thanks to my phone photos, I’ve realized that mixed in with the bigger, bad things (car accident, stomach bug, plumbing issues), are some really lovely moments.

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Ida is a happy, baby girl. I recently decided that playing out in the front yard is really good for the neighborhood. I’ve had more neighbor interactions and feel generally more connected with the people on my street. Also, the boys love it.

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It’s like they know that it’s off limits most of the time (any time I can’t be outside with them) so they just freak out and run all over the place and tackle eachother and then have cute conversations before they get up.

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I love our quiet street. It’s a combination of original homeowners (been here 50+) years, new families like us and established families with teens.

I also love my garden. It’s harvest time for spring crops and I’ve been quite enjoying it.

IMG_20150509_161411That’s my Pac Choy. Very delicious. I’ve been putting it in every salad and also sometimes in my green smoothies but it’s finally starting to go to seed so I’ve been harvesting it by the head and they are glorious. I also made my first rhubarb harvest. I’ll be harvesting throughout the season but you have to harvest before new stalks will pop up.

IMG_20150504_182803I harvested the long stalks and the NEXT day, new leaves were uncurling from the base. Nature is amazing.

We’ve spent some time with family lately too. Shane’s grandparents stayed with us a couple weeks ago. This weekend his step sister graduated from highschool. The kids love grandparents of all kinds.

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I also thought it’d be a good chance to have another photo of the fam….which was good.

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The boys weren’t into it. In fact, Eli really couldn’t deal and we got this amazing outtake.

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Outtake are better than the ‘perfect’ picture in my opinion. haha

Finally, a shout out to my amazing husband who has kept me sort of sane lately. I wrecked his car the day before Mother’s day, just after my car had some costly repairs and I was pretty distraught. It was a hit and run and made me insecure about driving and also kinda left me traumatized. I’ve never been in a wreck before so it shook me up a bit. I had a throwing up little boy and on Mother’s Day I had to stay home from church to stay with the sick kids. I was pretty down about things and he got home from church, had a sitter (my amazing cousin Elise) watch all the kids while we went for a little retail therapy and some much needed food and drink…that I didn’t have to make haha. I know Mother’s Day is all about family but Shane knew that in this particular stage of motherhood, a break from kids is just what I needed.

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He’s the star of my show.

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So even though we have spent thousands of dollars in the past week on plumbing and car repair, at least all the things that matter are here with me and totally amazing.

 

 

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