motherhood. a short story.

I was determined not to let 2020 pass without adding something to this space. It’s been a year and a half and I had to reset my password and do a little refresher course on even using this platform. Last summer (July of 2019 to be exact) I was apologizing for dropping off the face of the internet world and blamed it on life getting busy. Occupying all my free time + mental capacity. Really, the only thing that’s different this time around, is that I’m not apologizing for my absence. This past year was heavy + weird for everyone in some way, our family no different. The biggest take away for me was how utterly terrible I am at time management. Three kids home full time and then a loving husband home for 8 months made me realize how much I depend on the time that said husband is away at work and two of said children are at school. That time is sacred to recharge in ways that require most everyone to leave me alone. Ha.

All of this is leading up to a tangent on motherhood. I bounce ideas around constantly on what I should write about. Not sure why I put so much pressure on this little pet project. It’s really just for fun. A digital journal for myself. There’s not a lot I’m an expert on (actually I don’t think I’m an expert on anything) but I’ve had a crack at motherhood for a decade now, so it’s at the very least an area I have a lot of material on.

I told my sister in law the other day that I should treat parenting like a job. A real -set an alarm, take a shower and get dressed and realize that I won’t accomplish any of my personal tasks until I “clock out” for the day- job, which if you are new here- that’s actually NEVER. You never clock out, but break begins after bedtime. If you are lucky. We still have a guy that likes to burn the midnight oil with us.

Another conversation with a different sister in law centered around self worth as a mother. Why is it so hard for us to see the value in the “work” that we do? Endlessly racking my brain (for what feels like years now) over what ELSE I can add to my plate to add purpose. Usually that thought process always ends up being about monetary gain- what can I do, aside from keeping humans alive- that will help pay the bills? There is no immediate need for me to financially support us, but I think it’s just one more thing I feel guilty about. I worked for years at dead end jobs and imagined what it would feel like to be home full time. It was never even on my radar until I was pregnant with Hayden (at 25 and having barely stepped foot in the work force) and it became not only on my radar but a plane ticket to Alaska. Hayden was 3 months old when I gave away most of my stuff and moved here to start a new relationship. A couple actually. A romantic relationship and a relationship with my daughter as a stay at home parent. What am I trying to prove? Who do I need to prove it to? Am I looking for a deeper meaning to my life to make up for the fact I didn’t go to college or choose a career path? Like that somehow would make me more significant?

Most days it’s a blessing and a curse all wrapped into one. It’s not even fathomable to me at this point to think about leaving them every day. I’ve spent the last decade being wrapped up in their every move. I have yet to master the art of my identity without them needing me every second. It’s simultaneously a gift, and self doubt that plays on a never ending loop in my mind. It’s the feeling that I’m someone meaningful, shaping three souls that will one day go out into the world on their own and contribute to society, but also constantly feeling like a dud. I struggle to help my 4th grader with her math. My kids are fluent in swear words. Bedtimes have never been strict and screen time is 100% a babysitter some days. There is no adventure school happening and the idea of homeschooling them full time is frightful. Social media usually adds to the anxiety of never measuring up. Tiny squares of aesthetically pleasing photos of mothers and their children with cute outfits doing crafts together. I share all this not as an invitation for my pity party- but because I miss the part where I don’t share these thoughts in a tiny caption and look at how many likes it gets. And for those that write captions so long you have to say- more in comments- I’m don’t read those. Nobody got time for that.

I forgot that sitting down to write a blog post didn’t lead me to endlessly scroll through a feed. My neck isn’t sore from being bent over staring at a tiny screen. Words flow faster on an actual keyboard. I used to spend time learning about my camera and editing. Now most photos sit in a folder labeled VSCO. If I’ve lost you at this point- this all circles back to self worth. Learning the balance of the pieces that are uniquely me and the pieces that make me a mother and wife. Not just a mother. Not just a wife. Just a homemaker. The word JUST creeps up in my vocabulary often. When asked what I do. When asked how my day was. When asked what I’ve been up to lately. I’m JUST a stay at home mom. Today was JUST the usual- nothing special. I’ve JUST been at home with the kids, ya know- same ol, same ol. I hear myself saying it and cringe. A response I can’t seem to shake. It’s not lost on me that this is a literal dream to many people.

My question is (talking to myself here folks): what needs to change in order for me to see that motherhood makes us more than worthy? Is there some form of meditation that can help with this? Because when you start making a list- motherhood is very similar to any other job. I’ve had plenty of stressful work environments, this being no different. Who do I file a complaint to when I find a used bandaid next to my scrambled eggs? There’s no clocking out at the end of a shift, in fact bathroom breaks aren’t even a guarantee of free time. No promotions or paid time off. Health benefits include someone sneezing directly into your eyes and mouth. We beat ourselves up and cry in the shower when we make mistakes and on top of it, take time for yourself and your libido when you get the chance because child birth doesn’t do your hormones any favors. Hayden and I recently binged the Hunger Games and I chuckled often. Three kids later and my fluctuating moods and hormones often feel like one of the games. Oh, you’re already exhausted from barely surviving the day? Here’s some acid rain and a tidal wave.

I think this is what’s labeled as “real life” on social media, sharing the not so pretty details. But really this is a post for solidarity- a shout out to all you mamas and more of a message in a bottle to myself. So that years from now when I go back through old blog posts, I’ll read this and be reminded that I’ve always been doing the work. I’m guessing by then I’ll have forgotten whatever hard phase we were struggling with. I know it’s valuable work. Respected work. Treasured. Appreciated. There isn’t a paycheck that comes with it, but I fully intend on cashing out when I’m old and grey and my kids repay me by showing me how to use my new cell phone.

Goodbye 2020, and cheers to all you mamas in the vortex of raising tiny humans. See you next year! > insert peace sign emoji <

hi. hello… ya, back here!

November.

The last time I graced you with my rambling thoughts. I wish I could say it’s because we’ve been occupied with something more exciting than just… life. We traveled over the winter holidays and saw friends and family- vowed to not do that again for a while- and then just let day to day tasks take over a bit.

Hayden finished second grade this spring. It was the first year that didn’t end in a complete meltdown. Perhaps it is the anticipation and excitement of third grade, or maybe it was the promise of sleepovers with her friends. Either way, summer is half way over and she’s already asked 700 times when back to school shopping commences. So far boys are still gross, she finally decided she’ll move out with friends when she’s old enough, she loves Judy Blume books and her iPad, Ā and cheese quesadillas are LIFE.

Reid is being enrolled as a kindergartener and about a month shy of his fifth birthday. He is still four, all the way four as he calls it. Not just a little four. šŸ™‚ For some reason, I’m struggling more with him beginning school than I did with Hayden. Believe me, I’m counting down the days until he doesn’t ask me 48 times a day if he can play with some friends. He’s always been my little love bug though, a real sensitive soul. Our right hand man, he’s quick to go with the flow. A social butterfly, and a bit of a prankster. Yet, I’m so nervous for him and will miss his spirit when he’s gone all day. Just another woe of motherhood I suppose.

Waylon, oh Waylon. He turns two this month and I can confidently say he’s our wildest. The kid has no fear and has some muscle to back up that determination. His scream will pierce your ear drums and without a second thought, he will squash his siblings with little to no effort. We’ve reached the age of him wanting some serious independence and for some reason, I forget this stage every time. Maybe because I mentally blocked it out once the other kids outgrew it. There are two levels with him most days. I want to sit on your lap and have all 6 of my softest blankets, or BEAST MODE. I had to seriously evaluate my fitness level and caffeine intake in order to keep up with this kid. We celebrated his second birthday this past Sunday, and both Andy and I are pleasantly happy to be past the baby stage. Potty training is on the horizon and there is no going back.

As for Andy and I, we are both constantly daydreaming of our next vacation and what project we should finish on the house. It has been the hottest summer in Alaska I have ever experienced, so for now, it’s just a matter of how many days can we spend on the lake?! Ā And we both continue to dabble in the oil industry. Hahaha. While Andy’s job consists of physical labor, a solid skillset in leading a crew, some serious number crunching and 12 hour days, mine is a little more lax.

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But it has kept my plate full, and allowed me another creative outlet all while being able to stay at home with the kids. While it’s fulfilling to be at home raising little humans, my personality craves something more. For years, I’ve kicked around the idea of a side gig. Something that kept me busy outside of changing diapers, folding socks and underwear and constantly looking for someone’s missing shoes. Years ago, I started using more natural approaches in our day to day, so it was an easy transition to open that part of our life up to others and help others try similar avenues. Plus, I made a whole slew of friends along the way. Which who knew as an adult would be so hard to do!

That about wraps it up. I’ve missed this part. This part where I dish random life stories to whoever is reading this thing still. Ā So for those still around, thanks and I’ll see you back here again. Sooner than later.

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almost there

Nearly three years ago, I shared the next photos. It showed my first attempts at capturing the northern lights and the small success I had with practice.

I took up photography as a hobby. I have no intention of pursuing anything outside of shooting for my own enjoyment and way to document our growing family. Mostly self taught, which consists of much trial and error, and steered on the right course by my mentor MachoTurbo who charges next to nothing. Sundays evolved into camera chats. I voiced my questions and ambitions with my shooting each week, and he kept me on the straight and narrow, leaving me with “assignments” in order to help hone my craft. Eventually, life would get in the way and neither one of us would have anything to bring to the table with pictures that week. Soon it just became a weekly catch up on the happenings and every once in a while, we had something photography related to talk about.

A couple weeks ago, Daylight Savings to be exact, the kids and I were dragging ourselves to 9 pm. The early sunset had seemed to suck out all of our energy, but when my sister in law texted to say that the northern lights were out and bright, we all needed to see for ourselves.

A giant glowing green rainbow stretched across the sky and we unanimously let out an “ooooooooooo, aaaaaaaaaa”. It only took a matter of minutes, and the light show was beginning to dissipate. I rushed inside to get my gear. With camera and tripod in hand, I turned off all the inside lights on my way back outside. We turned off the garage and porch lights and I felt an adrenaline rush to get my camera set up in time. In my madness, I managed to pinch the tender skin between my thumb and pointer finger while unsnapping the leg extensions on my tripod, and the next line of words I used was described by Reid as, ” a whooooooole lot of bad words.”

Suddenly, I was desperately trying to remember what settings I needed to use and took a few pictures to get it dialed in. I’ll leave out all the boring details, but all you really need to know is that in order to get a clear picture at night you set your camera up to have the shutter open for an extended period of time and it must stay perfectly still. Reason for the tripod. Also why the dog and both kids got hip checked a time or two to keep them away from my setup. Hayden was the only one who humored me after that. Sharky and Reid both decided they had better things to do.

My efforts paid off and I was pleased to have a couple more photos to add to my catalog of “attempts at the northern lights”. Hayden is old enough now to grasp the concept of what’s taking place, and even if my photos didn’t turn out, the experience with her was worth the time we spent outside. I have fond memories of star gazing as a kid, and it’s nothing short of magical that our children get to experience the northern lights in their lifetime. Something not everyone gets to do.

Far from perfect, but progress I’ll gladly accept. The thrill of the chase was enough to light a fire under me, and I’m hopeful to keep up the momentum with shooting. I’ll leave you with a somewhat unfocused photo of the Big Dipper and wish you all a happy Sunday.

scrapbook sunday: forty four

June!

The last time I blogged was the beginning of the summer, which just goes to show how busy of a season it became. I can’t guarantee that going forward, I’ll be any faster between posts, but I do have photos to share today.

I recently developed three rolls of film. I don’t shoot my film cameras often, and when I do, its months before I develop the pictures. A part that I have really come to love. Each roll is like an Easter egg. Who knows what it will contain. I’ve been letting the kids take over part of the rolls, I love to see what they come up with to shoot, and it’s been a learning curve for me to get back to basics. I’ll share what the kids have been shooting in a different post but today I’ll leave you my favorite shots. Enjoy.

diy: car air fresheners

It’s summer time and it seems like every time we plan a road trip with the kids, life gets in the way and we have a project or another matter to tend to. We have one we have been making some plans for and Andy and I are determined to make it happen before the end of the month. Any amount of time with all three of the munchkins doesn’t go without a few hiccups. Our little ones are actually great road warriors, but I was already mentally checking off in my head what oils I would be bringing for needed stress relief.

Lightbulb!

Diffusing is a major go to for mood in our house. While I don’t have a car diffuser (YET!) I had seen a few really cute ideas about making your own vent diffusers. Plus, who doesn’t love getting into a car that smells good?! It definitely distracts me from what is possibly living in my backseat that was left behind from my children. All you need is a few small craft supplies and you’re on your way to a better smelling car.

– felt

– small clothespins

– leather cord

– small poms

-hot glue gun

– scissors

– essential oils

I decided to go classic and used a basic tree cookie cutter to trace my shape on the felt, while it was folded in half, in order to give me two identical pieces. Cut a small piece of leather cord, and glue it inside the top before glueing the two pieces together.

So easy! These would make adorable gifts for people! Cut any shape you like and use 5-10 Ā drops of essential oils on the felt before placing in the car. I love that it’s reusable and just a cute way to add personality to my car. I found that placing it on my dash vent while my car warmed up made for a smelly treat when we were ready to take off! (This will obviously yield better results when it’s cold, and your warm defrost is on.)

Next up was the vent diffusers. I glued a single pom on a clothespin (making sure it was one that fit well on my vents) and made enough to have a few up front and then a few to place on the vents above the kids’ seats. While they work great while we have the air on, I realize in the summer with the windows open or driving without air going, they won’t be as effective. A USB diffuser would definitely be better suited for that.

But this a simple idea for our upcoming road trip. Place a few drops of your favorite essential oils on the poms and clip them onto your vents, and away you go! I’m definitely thinking of using the blend Peace and Calming for the vents by the kids. šŸ™‚

lemon blueberry granola bars

Snacks in our house are LIFE. They keep my kids from having to ask me for something to eat approximately 64 times a day. If we have a solid snack ration, they only ask me 27 times šŸ˜‰

Snacks brought trouble for the middle child. Being home all day meant he would burn through snacks, like a box of granola bars, in no time at all. The bigger issue though was the wrappers. ALL OVER THE HOUSE. I can’t tell you how many times he had his “snack privileges” revoked. I do realize I could remedy this by not buying them anymore, but I ate those delicious little suckers too, you know?!

Thanks to a few trial and errors, we found a great granola bar base recipe! Even better, they were a huge hit with the kids, and we’ve yet to go back to store bought!

Completely customizable. A short list of ingredients I can pronounce and feel good about. Less waste. SO DELICIOUS.

Reid’s favorite of course involves mini chocolate chips and peanut butter. But I always go for the zesty flavors! Using essential oils in recipes like this is perfect. You might even turn a nay sayer of lemon into a lover. Since essential oils are made from the rind of the fruit and not the juice, they aren’t acidic. It helps give it, in my opinion, a much mellower flavor. The usual complaint in our house is that lemon is overpowering. I won’t name the person who feels this way. (hint: it’s not myself or the kids) This also remedies any issue of consistency since you aren’t adding any extra liquid.

BASE RECIPE

1/3 cup sugar (I prefer coconut, simply for the taste)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 tsp vanilla extract

The rest is up to you! Swap out the vanilla extract for another flavor, use any combo of dried fruit and nuts, or maybe you’re strictly a chocolate and granola lover!

For my version, I used around 20 drops of Lemon essential oil and 1/2 cup dried blueberries.

Instructions:

1. PreheatĀ oven to 375. Add your rolled oats to an 8×8 square baking pan. Toast in oven for approx 8-10. I like to pull out and mix up every few minutes.

2. While your oats are toasting, make your topping. To a small saucepan, add sugar, honey and butter. Cook over medium heat until theĀ sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. When mixture is ready, remove from heat and add salt and vanilla (if using).

3. Once your oats are done, pour them into a bowl to cool, along with your pan. I use this same pan to put the finished product in. One less pan to wash! When the pan is cool enough to handle, line with parchment paper or foil.

4. To your slightly cool oats, add your sugar mixture. Make sure to evenly coat everything in your bowl. If you aren’t using mix-ins like chocolate, add these in at this point.

*For chocolate, wait 10-15 minutes before adding to oats.

5. Scoop into your prepared pan and press down evenly. I like to use the 8×8 since it makes for a thicker bar.

Chill for two hours. If you can wait! It’s commonĀ for us to only make it 45 minutes before we dig in. Slice your bars into whatever shape/sizing of your choosing. You can get 8 bars if sliced long, and for the kids I cut them shorter, making 12 in a batch.

They keep best if chilled. I slice up my parchment paper from the pan and use it to separate each bar in a container.

Now, we just open the fridge and pull out a bar. Easy peasy, LEMON squeezy. Let’s see what fun combinations you come up with!

oh, there she is.

It’s been fairly silent around here. Spring swept in and brought sunshine, and yard work and days spent soaking in every last bit of the gorgeous weather because it is short lived in these parts. A baby on the verge of walking, and who STILL does not favor sleep. School’s out and summer vacation is officially in gear. Also, the blonde haired middle one is back to exploring the neighborhood in his free time, with his naughty little yellow dog alongside of him. All of this and it seems my updates with you have taken a back burner.

This summer is shaping up to be one I want to document and share with you so I’m getting back in the swing of things to post more.

I also went out on a limb and opened another window into our lives and decided to share how I use essential oils with my family, and our journey to having a chemical free home. It’s work. Literally. I’m working from home, from this very screen, and sharing my love of all things oily with family and friends, and a whole lot of new people too. But it was also work trying to juggle the mix of personal accounts and “business” accounts. I had the thought that I could start a different blog and showcase exclusively on it how we are using products and essential oils to steer towards a greener home. It’s not as easy as throwing out all your current household products and purchasing toxic free ones. It takes time, and a budget and finding what works best for your family. Documenting all this on a site created just for that began. A separate Instagram account and hopes of perhaps being able to navigate it all on top of my own personal feeds and blog.

I’m here to say that it was a bust. Just a couple of weeks was all it took for me to realize that I was already overwhelmed and not able to pour time and quality into each endeavor. In order to achieve what I’m after, I need to scale back. When I sat down and looked at each project, my end game is simply showing people our lives. How we use essential oils for sleep support, hormonal support, sores muscles, boo boos, and skin irritations. Why diffusing is a much safer and cleaner way to make your home smell great. And slowly, we are ditching household products that are filled with harsh chemicals to natural products that are non toxic.

With that being said, you will see the occasional post here about such things. I’m not here to shamelessly plug products constantly, I’m just opening up that window for you to peek in. There are already a few projects posted on that site, so before it gets closed up, I’m going to share them here. I avoided A LOT of housework and holed up away from children in order to finish them, so I’m not letting them go to waste!

Thanks for sticking around friends and cheers to the start of summer!