Blessings from Babies

Every pregnancy is different. Or so I’ve been told. My first two were very similar: sick, tired, crabby and torturous. This one… pretty much the opposite.

When my daughter turned two, my son turned four and life became more enjoyable. It was like a sigh of relief after two years of chaos and managing sibling jealousy issues, potty training, nursing, sleep challenges for my oldest… but when she turned two it all seemed to get better. And I went from never wanting another baby, to needing one more.

After almost a year of convincing my husband how awesome it would be, we were almost there. Then we suffered loss after loss after challenge for a year and a half or so. It was one thing after the other and the dream of a tiny sweet baby, one more completing person for our family, was slipping away… lost in the darkness of constant rain. I didn’t know that we would ever get to where we are now… pregnant with baby #3.

Pregnancy number three has been a blessing. It’s almost as if this is where and when we are supposed to be, even if we had wanted to be here sooner. I have never felt so amazing while making a small person. Time is flying by with a six year old and four year old to play with. Having kids old enough to know what a baby is and be enthusiastic and so loving is a huge difference from having a 18 month old and wondering how they will feel with a new baby to take away the attention.

I feel like our path is a blessed one- which is weird to say considering all the loss and hard times we have had recently. There were times I didn’t want to go through the motions of a normal life when it felt like anything but. There were days where it was exhausting to try to smile until I felt like smiling or pretend to be excited about events… when really I’d prefer to just stay in bed all day hiding from the next bad thing that was coming. But we made it through that rough patch. I know rough times will always be around, but this feels like a lull in the storm.

Feeling that tiny person kick around in my tummy the last week has reminded me how incredible life is. From tiny cells a new person is forming- tiny ears, toes, fingers, lips, and a heart that beats on it’s own. Probably a spunky, independent little person with huge ideas of their own (that’s judging by our first two sweet babies). I’m sure we’re in for a wild ride, but if I’ve gained anything from the past year and a half, it’s to enjoy the small beautiful moments. Like a tiny person saying hello from the inside. 🙂


So I’m reading this book about World War 2. I’ve read quite a few books about this event, but this one’s perspective was different. It’s about a small town in France (which was occupied by the Germans during the war) and their view on what was going on.

All radios were confiscated when their country was taken over. There was no communication or way of being informed of events besides illegally distributed papers (and people caught dispersing these were executed immediately). Soldiers moved into or took over the local homes in the area, as well as the hotel. Citizens were given ration cards, and only received the food the soldiers residing in their town did not want.

The good news is most of the families had gardens, farm animals and skills to survive without depending on things like a grocery story. Small towns like these didn’t have that option, but instead had a butcher to visit, neighbors or the market to collect goods from and relied on their own ability to grow, then preserve their own goods.

As the war continues in the book, there is less and less food to go around. The woman in the book only really has food when the German captain, who is staying in her home, brings home food to share with them. The food she grows, preserves/cans, dries,etc is enough to barely carry them through the winter. There’s only homemade soap she trades with a neighbor to get, she saves yarn from old sweaters/blankets to knit clothing they need (she seriously knits underwear so they have some to wear. Sounds comfy, huh? Better than nothing I guess!), and their electricity is shut off so they rely solely on candles and the fireplace for light/heat.

I can’t help thinking to myself how we would do in a similar situation. Where we live we are dependent on grocery stores for all of our food. Sure… in the summer there’s farmer’s markets we could buy from, but in the winter we are dependent on the barges that bring our food up from the Lower 48. We are taught to be prepared to be self-sufficient. Our pantries are generally stocked, at our house we have alternative heat from our fire place, a back up generator and fuel stored to run it. A small camping stove with fuel. Water stored. But that is not a long term plan. It’s for an emergency…. a few days. A week. These people were in this survival mode situation for years. With the added tension of having enemy armed soldiers roaming their streets and living in their homes.

I can’t help but think of how utterly helpless most people would be if they lost cell service and with it their information source and communication (and calculator- who could live without that). We are so dependent on others for everything. It’s convenient and, yes, our lives are so much easier, but what would you do if you didn’t have your phone? The internet? The news? What if that was all gone… even without the addition of war. Scary stuff my friends. Scary thoughts.

I’m grateful I have some basic homesteading/homemaking skills, but the idea of having to rely on them to keep my family ALIVE is terrifying. To do it for ‘fun’, like heading to the cabin, is one thing… survival is another. I don’t know what my point to all this rambling thought is- again this is the babble my husband would be forced to act like he was listening to if he was home, but he’s not… so you’re welcome!

My advice (which is obviously what you’re all reading this for) would be to check out what you have at your home. How long can you go without needing something from the store? How much water would you have if your tap didn’t work? How would you cook without electricity or natural gas coming in? If you had heirloom seeds saved at home, would you know what to do with them? Do you have a sewing kit at home? First aid kit? Just some ideas. And if these questions leave you feeling panicked, or at the very least, concerned- GOOD  NEWS! You have time to learn and gather ideas on how to be self-sufficient for your family. There’s 1.75 million blogs and articles on how to be ready to provide for yourselves. Just get googling! And maybe printing… so you can reference in case of the aforementioned emergency. 🙂

PS> If you want to read a super good book about women in World War 2, here is the link. It’s amazing and heartbreaking and thought provoking…


Blurry Vision

I feel like I’m floating. I’ve always been goal oriented with short term, long term and super long term goals. So is my hubby. It works well… but now I feel like most of those goals were checked off the list or changed… and I need new ones.

Everything feels up in the air. We’ve been stuck in this period of grieving and can’t seem to pull out of it. It reminds me of when you step in that super gooey sticky mud and every time you shift your weight to move forward, you feel your foot sinking down further and the air sucking in around it, making it impossible to pull out of it. I guess our grief has been compounded by more grief, making a tough life changing event grow.

My husband said it best the other day when he asked who is he supposed to call now? Dad’s gone, my Gramps (who was incredible to talk to and always got you to find your own answer, just by asking the right questions) is gone, his mom has been gone for ten years… I obviously volunteered myself, but he told me that was a given and he did that already. It just is this big hole that can’t be filled. And to make it worse, it just doesn’t end. Taking care of the property, selling items, moving all his dad’s special things, figuring out trust details and how to get it all divided but still have money to pay the taxes in January… it’s all a big tangled web of details to sort through. For example, we sold the house finally and thought it was done… then after Vince leaves to go hunting a letter comes saying more people need more documents to be able to transfer records. Then today (after Vince is back at work) another letter about another detail someone needs. Just doesn’t end.

I guess once we’ve settled all those things, maybe we can start to regain our normal.Or our new normal I guess. It’s been impossible to do anything but distract ourselves by keeping busy and then losing it privately in the quiet moments. It’s like we need a whole new set of goals and dreams, because the previous ones involved people who are gone now. My brain feels like a video that’s frozen but kind of moving from the current scene to the next- know what I mean? Sort of shaking and not able to go backwards or forwards.

Our current ‘normal’ can’t be our long term normal. I’m a hot mess that’s one coffee spill away from a crying session. I’m fine and happy one day, getting stuff done and working out- being amazing- then a few days letter… hot mess Mama has returned. It’s like a roller coaster of emotions that I didn’t expect to be so largely present by now. But it is. Popping up it’s head every now and then, just to remind me my loved ones are missing from our lives here.

Today I was flipping through this ‘count your blessings’ type book I bought myself to try and inspire some self-reliance/recovery. This page with this super cool poem popped out at me. It’s by an ‘unknown’ author, but I’ll share it here:

“God didn’t promise days without pain.

Laughter without sorrow. Sun without rain.

But he did promise strength for the day,

Comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it”

Pretty good, right? Funny because my Gramps told me ‘God made us a lot of promises. He better keep up his end of the deal!’. Maybe me wishing for some of Gramps’s words of wisdom came in the form of this today. I’ll go with that for now.

Small voices in my head.

It’s constant. The small voices in my head. Except they are not only in my head, they are all around me, all the time. My children NEVER stop talking. Ever. Until they are asleep… and then they even talk in their sleep.

I know I am blessed to have two happy, healthy kiddos who have great vocabularies, communication skills and imaginations, but I’d like, maybe, five minutes of no talking. No. Talking. Five seems like a really high goal, so maybe…. we will start with one minute. Probably still unrealistic.

From the moment G wakes up she is in her room singing, talking to her babies and telling stories about her life. It starts around 7am and continues until she passed out around 7:30. And she’s only three and a half. I cannot even imagine where this mania is heading.

My son is loud. I mean LOUD. And he gets really excited and does this stuttering type thing… where he repeats things like ‘and then’ twenty times before spitting out what he wants to say. And gets louder each repetition.

The two of them together means one is always trying to talk over the other. Then getting mad because they want to be the only speaker. Not that it matters because the adults are doing their best to talk to each other. We do a lot of verbalizing at our house. It’s a lot. All. The. Time.

Today we went to a Fall Festival in our community. It was super crowded and pretty fun. The kids had a ton of fun playing with their long lost friend ‘Baby Lux’ who is now not an actual baby anymore and in reality is only 9 months younger than G. And has his own baby sister now. Anyway, they ran, raced, built castles with rocks, rode rides, ate dogs on a stick and had an awesome time. We got in the car and both kids melted down into whining, crying messes UNTIL… they both were silent. Looked back and guess what?! Napping had commenced.

And it was silent for an hour. I’m paying for that silence now as they are racing around my house doing ‘hot laps’ when we should be going to bed. And S did just tell G that she is’ the meanest little sister I ever had’ because she stole his Batman and ran away with it while laughing manically.But I have to tell you… it was worth it. Absolutely worth it.

Walmart+ Me+Two Minors=….

The Walmart. How I hate that I love you.

I needed to go to the store and Walmart has the items I needed for my preschool event this week. All the items, in one spot. Considering my wild child three year old and my exhausted from adjusting to kindergarten boy were accompanying me, we had to go with the one stop shop. I really need a car babysitter for moments like these. Or grocery delivery services.

The debate began about who was going to walk and who wanted to ride. Exhausted five year old wanted to ride. Wild child obviously would never be riding. Way too restrictive for her. There happened to be a ‘car-cart’ upon entering and both kids happily hopped up. As soon as I mentioned the ‘b’ word (buckle up) wild child hopped right back down, refusing to ride. And my poor big boy was squeezed into those tiny buckles. I know… I should let him walk… but two walking is too much. They become small-medium sized tornadoes and I have to abandon cart and leave. No time for that tonight- I needed to get my list done. And this Mama is tired after wrangling small people at preschool all day.

Off we go with wild child snagging things to throw in the cart and my big boy just being awesome and chatting away about his day. We picked up plates, napkins, bowls, tablecloths,etc from the party section… and then it went downhill fast. The toy section is way too close to the party time section. G-Mae (aka wild child. Aka threenager) spotted the ‘boo-tiful Bawbies!’ and ran off to adopt one. Sawyer some sort of new barbie sized Batman and started going on about Batman excitedly. After wrangling her back over to our cart we speed walked/ran with the cart to the food area.

While G-Mae waltzed and hip hopped around the other shoppers, only narrowly escaping being run over by a cart once and tripping one lady (who thankfully did not fall down, but it was close), I managed to gather up all the required food items. With only two additional items my kindergartner ‘needed’ for lunches. G-Mae veered to the cookies while we were getting apples (WHY do they put the bakery by the produce?!?) and possibly sampled one out of a box that was not closed properly. I mean… they do give away cookies at most box store bakeries… maybe this was her silent rebellion against Walmart not giving them away. Who knows? More realistic is the girl wanted a cookie. Saw a cookie. Got a cookie. Threenagers.

Forgot to get paper, so back to the other side of the store we go. Almost done and G-mae plops down to the ground. It’s her signature move for when she needs to go to the bathroom. Some kids dance. Some kids wiggle. My daughter sits down on the ground physically preventing (or so she thinks) any urine from escaping. Off to the bathroom we go. This Walmart trip was never going to end.

Check out time…. finally. Seriously. We were there for forever and a day. Went in during the afternoon and it was night when we got out. Kind of. The good news is we got a very, very careful checker. Another translation for ‘careful’ could be insanely sloooooowww. She was very nice, and talked to the kids, but it took long enough for wild child to knock everything over on the impulse purchase shelf (fun game for me), then I put her in the cart and she reached over and wildly spun the bagging wheel, and then pushed off the register so the cart went flying forward.

One trip to the Walmart. One exhausted Mama. Two wild childs. See you in a few months Walmart. It will be that long before I forget how ridiculous this visit was. motherhood



September has me like, whoa.

Dude. This month is creeping by. It isn’t even halfway over and it feels like we are at least 41 days into September.

Also. Alaska. Global warming. Me not using full sentences. These are all things that seem to be happening to me this month. My garden is hanging in there somehow… because temps have been hovering in the upper ’60s. Abnormal. For sure.

Homework in kindergarten is pretty amazing. Switching to a new licensing program for my preschool is not (thanks State of Alaska for dumping off your expense onto the municipality… glad we could help you out). My daughter finding her BFF in preschool class is insanely beautiful. My son finding out his BFF from preschool is still his BFF in kindergarten is also incredible.

My husband has been in and out of the area on various hunting  attempts. Now he is off tomorrow for a week long adventure off the Denali Highway. Praying he comes home with some meat. Mama’s hungry. Just kidding about that, but we eat only game meat and the occasional chicken breast around here. Chicken of the woods is my preferred (some people call them grouse or ptarmigan) fowl choice, but that isn’t always an option. This year has been good for bird hunting though.

We said goodbye to my father’s in law’s house of 20 years last week. That was tough… but also a relief. We had a lot of memories there and it was always a place of comfort, respite and one of those homes you can feel the love radiating out of as soon as you pull up. You don’t even have to get out of the car and you feel welcome. I hope the next family makes as many beautiful memories as we have… and that they don’t notice if ‘someone’ acquires a few Irises here and there. I don’t know who would do that, but just saying. And now I have one less lawn to mow and house to check on. Good timing because my spare time got really short this month. This never ending month. OH September.

Two more weeks and I’m breaking out Halloween paraphernalia.Just to celebrate it not being September anymore! Good luck. Hang in there friends.


Batteries are not for eating.

Last weekend before kindergarten begins. We went to the lake to enjoy the gift of sunshine and squeeze in a little more fun. Broke out the homemade slip ‘n slide, whipped up some healthy smoothies and were getting ready to pop over and visit the neighbors (Aunt and Uncle). Then, it happened.

He was supposed to be changing his clothes (his were wet from slipping and sliding) and I hear a choking noise… and a panicked ‘Oh no. Mama! Mama! I just swallowed a battery. Am I going to die? Am I going to die?’. He popped the back off of his sisters little key chain phone, somehow managed to get the small button battery out of the back and then ‘needed to know what it tasted like’. Unfortunately, he had some spit to swallow and that battery went right down the hatch.

I did what most moms do in an emergency like this: called my mom. She said ‘Get in the car and get him to the hospital RIGHT. NOW.’ So we did that. We loaded up the dogs and kids and booked it to the closest emergency room, almost an hour away. In the mean time S is freaking out in the car, my mom is freaking out waiting for us at the hospital, and G (who is three) was trying to talk everyone down. My husband was about 7 driving hours away at work and started packing up when he heard the news.

We were brought back right away at the ER. Not a good sign. They did an x-ray and then the doctor said the surgeon was on his way down. I said,’ Wait. What? Surgeon?’. She explained that these are the worst kind of batteries- the only kind they really worry about- and can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Great. Two days before kindergarten emergency surgery.

After a few hours of the doctor wavering on her surgery recommendation based on the opinions of experts in internal medicine, pediatric surgery and his pediatrician they decided it would be okay to wait for a day, with laxatives and see if he passed it by himself. And gave us things to look for as far as signs it was leaking or stuck. Great times. So off we go back to the cabin (since all our stuff was there) to wait for poop. I didn’t realize how much poop would become a part of my life after having kids. Heads up for those of you without kids.

We loaded little man up with his favorite snacks and laxative to get things moving. Daddy got there about four hours after we got home from the hospital, just in time to help smoosh through poop looking for a tiny battery. No luck that night or early the next morning.

The good news is after we ran and got coffee/looked for moose, we came home and S had to poop, but didn’t tell us. A little bit later we discovered the battery had been sitting in the bathroom in a small bowl (that fits on the toilet to catch poop. That’s apparently a product. We own two now. Just in case you need it.) and had a giant poop dance! Hallelujah!

You’d think that’s the end of the story right? Lesson is ‘we only put food and drink in our mouth’, right? NOPE! Not the end. Kindergarten started and in the excitement I forgot to tell his new teacher about the incident. So when Sawyer had blood in his stool at school, they didn’t think it was important to relay that information, or as the nurse said ‘We can’t believe everything five year olds tell us.” Well… if that’s the case, maybe school nurse isn’t the job for you. Just saying.

Good news is I’m now on the nurse’s call list if something happens to my kid. I also got to meet the principal and share my concerns. And the teacher was so apologetic. And I will be communicating directly with her if there’s a similar incident. More good news: our pediatrician said it’s probably just from passing a foreign body, and if it happens again to bring him in. No repeats yet.

His best buddy at school (I drive them home from school, his mom takes them there in the mornings) told me not to worry. ‘He solved that problem, Ms. Kiri. He just isn’t going to poop anymore.’ We will see how that goes.

So let’s all remember: we only put FOOD and DRINK in our mouths. Food. Or. Drink.


Kindergarten Blues

And it begins.

The last week has been filled with sickness (both G and me), injuries, bickering, cuddles, laughter, book reading, and school excitement. My kids may have slept in my bed the last two nights. All three of us. Plus two dogs. Hey! Last few nights before my little baby boy is a big kindergartener! So whatever. Judge away… I don’t care.

I’m in such blue mood. Maybe even… gray. (gasp!) I know… it’s not my normal. I just don’t deal well with change and I know our world is about to do just that. My first little tiny baby boy, who made me suffer through 30 hours of labor, six months of pumping because he was not a good nurser, who said his first word of ‘mama’ at 6 months old, 16 months of waiting for him to walk (he may have thought he was a dog for the first 15 months or so… since he had no friends around, just the dog. He was a really fast crawler), three years of him not wanting to share mom by having her be the teacher at preschool, three and a half years of him injuring his little sister, five and a half years of hilarious entertainment… and now he is going to go off to spend his days with other people.  Ugh.

I’ve been trying to pep talk myself back up. Look at all the beautiful posts on Facebook of the older kids going back to school and how excited they are (kindergarten starts later here, so the older kiddos started today) AND how excited the moms are. The kids get to go off with their friends and learn and play and do kid things, the parents are off drinking margaritas or coffee or whatever,  or hiking around the beautiful mountains we have as a playground here. Just think, self, in a few years you’ll feel the same way- your back to school color will be yellow, not blue…. Ugh… really more like gray.

I know if my husband was here, or even in good cell phone range so I could have a conversation with him without having to repeat every sentence three times, he would be so excited!! S is going off to big kid school. I can have alone time with my little lady every day! We can go to a movie after my morning class is over or go do girly things like pedicures (So what if I only get them every five years? That totally could be a new thing?!) or bake or… fold laundry without a sword wielding ninja to destroy my piles. The list is somewhat unlimited.

But then I think… what?! No ninja sneaking around my house all day. Nobody to set traps on all the door knobs. Or let the dogs in when they are barking like idiots and just went outside. No little man voice saying ‘You know what Mama? You’re my favorite girl!’ or ‘Can I just cuddle you Mama?’ or hearing him say the words on his favorite movies just as the characters are saying them (okay… that literally drives me crazy, but now it will be gone!!!).  Kindergarten. How did we get here already?

Alright. I’m pulling it together. It’s not like he’s moving away. He’s just going to school for the day. I’m sure he’ll be fine, right? I can attempt to be fine, right?  And G is going to love it. That’s for sure.

PS We apparently are watching Toy Story 3. How am I the only one in tears at the end of it? Not a good choice for today.


Planning Your Funeral

My Gramps planned his own funeral.

I guess that’s a ‘perk’ of knowing you’re sick and the end is truly imminent.

When I was five or six I was down in Washington with my Grandparents. We used to go down there every summer for a week or two to stay with them and our cousins. It was a great bonding time and I am eternally thankful for that gift. We are all close to this day.

The incident I’m referring to took place in the car driving down the coast. We were talking about how hot it was, which led to how far away the sun was and the Earth moved around the sun. I vividly remember this moment… standing up in the backseat of the car leaning up to the front to chat with them (100% safe… well back then). My Gramps says, ‘and then one day the sun will explode and our planet will be eaten up by fire’. Nonchalantly, like no big deal. I burst into tears (similar to how the sun will soon burst into flames) and was inconsolable.

Thinking back on it, regardless of how it ends, the one thing we know for sure is life on Earth, most definitely does end. Gramps knew that always, but even more so with a diagnosis of a terminal illness and even, at one point, a time frame of 30 days to live. Not to worry- my stubborn genes may have come a little from him, as he lived another year after that.

In that year he planned a beautiful service. His favorite hymns were sang. His daughters, granddaughters, nephew, cousin and even my Grams spoke. A favorite lesson was shared. And we all ate cake. They put red roses in a vase up front, symbolizing each year Grams and Gramps were married. The Pastor leading the service wore Grandpa’s prayer shawl. We saw faces I had grown up getting hugs from every time we visited. We listened to beautiful stories about how Gramps had changed people’s lives. It was amazing.

Of course, in the end, we all returned home. To the house that was once filled every summer with the laughter of five rambunctious cousins, one enabling Grandpa, and one smiling Grandma- probably soaking it all up. I would hear the echoes of my brother’s footsteps coming up the stairs during a wild game of hide ‘n seek. I could feel the intensity of sneaking into the attic to hear Becky read scary stories. And hear the giggles of all us girls sleeping on the hide-a-bed in the living room.I even did one quick lap around hidden porch, for old time’s sake, barefoot and running as fast as I could.

Know what else I could feel? Grandpa’s love surrounding us all. Like he was there, lifting us up. Like he always has. Like he always will.cousins

My July Blog. Yah… I know. It’s August.

July update. Because I suck at blogging. As we all know.

Just got back from celebrating my Grandma’s 80th birthday!! We had a fancy tea at a tea house for all the girls- and it was amazing. I haven’t been ‘to tea’ since I was little… and my sweet G got to come with us too. The food, atmosphere and company were perfect. I have been blessed with positive, loving, encouraging and a little bit stubborn women in my life. Being surrounded by strong female role models has really helped shape who I am and, hopefully, who I will help my kids to become.

After that we had games with prizes. My mom was in charge of this department. We played some classics: drop the clothespin in a jar, cotton ball toss and keep the balloon up. Prizes were awesome- my mom excels at buying great gifts and prizes. It’s so fun! Followed that up with a delicious Sunday bar. My cousin excels at putting together things like that. We had so many topping choices, lots of ice cream and even fancy adult sauces. Yum! She bought some of it from – check it out. Cool stuff!

Our happy birthday weekend was frequently paused by visits to the hospital. My Grandpa was dying. He has been fighting MDS for the last five years. Last summer they told us he had a month to live. It’s been a year. Then he came down with pneumonia and that was it. He landed in the hospital where we discovered his kidneys were quickly declining and the afternoon of my Grams’s birthday, he had made it to his goal: her special day. And was ready to go on to Heaven.

The gift of being able to say goodbye, give him one last hug, kiss and hear him say ‘I love you too’ is indescribable. If you haven’t lost someone suddenly, without warning, you don’t realize what a gift this is. To see him exhausted, unable to sleep because he was in such pain and having a hard time breathing, to hear him asking why it was taking so long for him to die and that he didn’t think it would be this hard to go… it’s a gift. It’s a hard one to take, impossible to think of it as something helpful- but it helped me to let him go. To know it was time for him.

My poor little man is going to think everyone is going to leave him. Can we say abandonment issues? Although, in a large development, a bit after I told him that Great Gramps (who he wanted to play with all weekend, but never got to) had to go to Heaven, he looks up at the sky and says ‘Great Grandpa. I forgive you for leaving for Heaven. I will not see you there because I am not going. I am staying with my Mama forever.’ I remember feeling that way when my Aunt Cindy died suddenly when I was a kid. Like you never know who might be next and definitely didn’t want to be alone or away from my Mom. It was scary. I hope S and G don’t have to say goodbye to anybody else for a long time.

He has given and given and given his whole life. He has been the strong one for his family of ladies. Now, as my Grandma said to him sitting on his bed at the hospital, it is our turn to be strong. And take care of each other. And we will do that. We will be okay.

We will continue to plan parties, play games with fun prizes, go to tea and celebrate milestones- because that is who we are. And we are that because of him. And my Grams. And they are that because of their parents. Our tribute to their legacies is to continue on and make our children’s lives as amazing as ours are, as our parents are, grandparents are and great-grandparents were. To remember in happiness. We had more good than bad- more smiles than tears- and now we are here. And here is all we have. With each other.