Wednesday, April 30, 2014

grateful heart

raining for days..

I just discovered a great link up yesterday over at this blog and am so excited to join in. One of my focuses
this year has been to do all things without complaining or arguing, so this challenge, called Grateful Heart, fits in perfectly. Of course, I am not one but TWO days behind, but lets get started anyway, shall we?

This week I am grateful for:

My parents. They have sacrificed so much for me and my sisters over the years, and just this week they found out they have an opportunity to move back to Japan. My mom grew up in Japan, and some of the best years of my childhood were spent there, so this is very exciting. It's home for them, and I can't wait to see what my parents can do free of kids. (My youngest sister graduates from high school this year.)

My teething baby. I may not be grateful for the teething, but one of the two teeth Elliot has been working on FINALLY poked through on Monday, so there is some relief, anyway. Poor guy has had a rough couple of nights but he is a perpetually happy baby. When he was teething for the first time, I didn't even know about it. He never fussed or cried. One morning he smiled at me, and there was a tooth! He is quite different from his sister who, well, lets just say is a little more dramatic. ;)

Lastly, I am so grateful for my husband, Andrew. He works out of town 4 1/2 days a week, some days from 6 am to midnight, just to provide for our little family. He is someone I admire, and who encourages me in everything I do. We will be married four years this June! Time really does fly.

What are you grateful for this week?

Ember Grey.

Thanks to Emily for this link-up!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

my son

I have wanted to write Elliot's birth story down since he was born, but never have. I'm sure I can't even remember all of the important details at this point--almost a year later--but there are a few things I have been thinking about this week, and I want to share them.

Both of my children were born around two weeks past their due dates. Eve was born in a hospital, induced, and Elliot was born naturally at home. The experiences could not be any more unlike each other. Eve was in the NICU for almost a week after she was born, while Elliot was sleeping in my arms immediately after his birth. Eve was born after 27 hours of labor, Elliot after 3. However, when Eve was born, she was alert and very observant. She was looking around and studying this new place (so I have been told, I didn't see her for a few hours after her birth), while Elliot was silent.

Elliot was sort of stuck on his way out of the birthing canal. One of his arms was behind his body rather than in front. His shoulders are somewhat broad, and this made it difficult for him to come out. Of course, we didn't know this at the time, and I probably pushed harder than I would have needed to, only to push him into my pelvic bone, I guess. Anyway. After a bit of no success, my midwife had me flip over on to all fours which seemed like THE WORST IDEA EVER at the time, but sure enough, he was born within minutes.

When Elliot was born, he was silent, and his coloring was off. He wasn't moving, he wasn't trying to breathe. Of course, the umbilical cord was still connected so he was getting his oxygen, but the mood was tense. I don't remember a lot of what was going on, but Andrew was behind me, and I think he was praying. My midwife was holding Elliot, encouraging him to become alert, rubbing his back, doing all of the things she had said she would do if need be--all of the things I didn't think she would need to do because why would my baby need to be resuscitated? That wasn't a part of my birth plan...

Throughout my pregnancy, and I believe this is because I had a miscarriage before getting pregnant with Elliot, I had sort of surrendered control--not entirely, but almost--of the baby's life. I remember praying, "Lord, I thank you for this chance to be pregnant again, but if you want this child to be with you instead, let Your will be done, and not mine." In retrospect, I have no idea why I was praying those prayers, but they just kept coming out. I was so afraid of losing another baby, but knew I had to put my trust in Him regardless of my fear. So when Elliot was born and he was deep purple, looking totally lifeless, I guess I wasn't really surprised, because I had prepared myself for another loss. It sounds so sad, and it was, but I wasn't sad. I was sort of paralyzed. I was staring at Elliot's face, saying, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus," over and over again, not really knowing what to think.

After some time, who really knows how long, Elliot gasped for air, and he was all right. He was so purple because of bruising--he had been pressed up against my bones for so long, trying to come out, that his entire face was just bruised up. I truly couldn't believe it! Amazingly, during this whole period of time, I didn't once even think to look down and see if I had given birth to a baby boy or girl (we wanted the gender to be a surprise). My midwife finally said, "By the way, I don't tell you what you had. You have to check for yourself!" I laughed, and told Andrew we had a boy, which, of course, he already knew. I was the only one so out of it, I didn't even think to look. Incredible.

As Elliot nears his first birthday, I can't help but think about this year, and what a complete and total joy he has been. What a blessing he is! Today I was reading in Genesis about Abraham, and about his test from the Lord. The story of Abraham nearly sacrificing his son, Isaac, has always been an emotional one to read, but now as a mom of a little boy, the story just came to life in an entirely new way. Just as Abraham is about to slay his son, the Lord says, "Do not lay a hand on the boy...Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." (Gen. 22:12) Wow. This story in the Bible just reminds me so much of Elliot's birth. I feel that, like Abraham, I did not withhold Elliot from the Lord, without even realizing it, probably. I watched the Lord breathe Elliot's first breath into him, and saw, right in front of my face, my son open his eyes for the first time.

There really isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel so, so fortunate to have Elliot here, and to be his mom. He is such a precious gift, and it never feels like work to care for him. We are blessed to know you, little boy, and so thankful for this first year we have spent with you!

Monday, April 28, 2014

April Showers

It's projected to rain all week which is totally fine in my book. The ground needs it, my garden needs it... I don't know if the kids will be too happy stuck inside all week, but they will live. 

I have some goals for the week- I want to box up any things around the house that we won't be using from now until September (our intended moving month), and get the house ready for showing to potential buyers. As of now, I think we are going to try and sell the house by ourselves. When we bought this house, we came from a rental place so we have no experience selling, but I have been doing some research and I think we can handle it. And of course, if it's too much, we will just call our realtor friend and have her list the property for us. 

Over the weekend, I painted the kids' room and it looks sooooo nice! Now I want to paint everything, but there is just no need for that. There will be plenty to paint at the farm house, I just need to be patient. 

Ideally, we will have the house ready to sell by the end of May. We can buy the farm house sooner than September if need be, but we want to be here in the cities for the month of August because we have a family reunion planned. We can't reschedule everyones flights, and we can't expect people to drive three hours from the airport to the country... although they may have to next time. ;)

Anyway. Happy Monday! Here's to a productive week. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Eve's 3rd Birthday

photo by joe lemke
I thought it would be fun to share a few photos of Eve's third birthday party. She celebrated her actual birthday on April 18th in Japan. I don't have any photos of that day, but over the weekend before Eve left, we had a little joint party with her close friend Lilly, who also turned three recently (March 11th). It was a blast! We had lots of treats, a couple of (poorly executed) games (my fault), and the best company. It has been such a joy to watch this little friendship blossom through the years, and to see their individual personalities begin to emerge. Parenting is a pretty special experience.

Lots of photos after the jump!  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Well, it happened really quickly. It doesn't even feel real yet. But Andrew called the owners of the farm house this morning to tell them about our interest in the place. We are having a family reunion here in the city mid August, and wouldn't be able to move before then, but as far as I can tell (from the text Andrew sent me this morning), we need to start thinking about putting our house on the market. This is crazy! Just... Wow.

This house we are in now has been such a perfect place for our family. We have the best neighbors, so much space, and so much freedom here, but the thought of a new adventure out of the city is so thrilling. 

Here are a couple of snapshots from last weekend. Could this really be home soon?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My three year old daughter is in Japan with my in-laws. Elliot and I are so jealous! The late night skype conversations have been great, but we do miss having Eve around.

Until she comes home, I guess it's just you and me, little boy. 


Over the weekend, my husband and I looked at a small house in western Minnesota. A small house on a ten acre farm, I might add. To add some perspective, my husband was born in Tokyo, one of the busiest and most populated cities on the planet. I was born in St. Paul, the capital of this state, and lived a portion of my life in Tokyo as well. We are straight up city kids! Why on earth would we be looking at a farm house?!

I guess we aren't exactly 100% sure why we looked at the house either. But it just felt... right. Simplifying feels right. Stepping out of the ordinary feels right. Becoming less and less distracted feels absolutely right.

This year we have had several goals: to get out of debt, to get rid of unnecessary things around the house, to stick to a frugal budget, I had a personal goal to get rid of 1/2 of my clothing (which I did, I think before the new year even began?), etc. We have been marking these goals off of the list, and it has been awesome. I always say that this year (so far) has been very little talking, and just a lot of doing. (It probably doesn't hurt that Andrew and I both work 12 hour days and spend a minimum of 4 days apart every week, so there isn't a whole lot of talking going on. But yeah.) We motivate each other, I think, and life with less clutter feels so good.

Earlier this year I began looking into what it would take to start up a self-sustaining farm. I spent a lot of time researching how to make this happen here in the city, and on our .25 acre lot, it just wasn't going to work. I shelved the idea and plotted out my three small gardens instead, and started sketching out the design of a chicken coop that I was planning to build in our garage. I have had successful gardens for 4 years now, so that isn't anything new, but the chickens were to be a new adventure. Then Andrew got a new job working in the country. Then he met this family selling their small farm that is literally equipped with everything we would need to become self-sustained! Quite a coincidence, right?

I have been feeling weighed down by my selfishness this year---by my earthly passions and by the things that distract me from what matters. It seems extreme, but like with smoking years ago, I had to just quit cold turkey. I am not a person who can have a cigarette here or there and not become addicted. I get addicted to absolutely everything. I'm honestly probably addicted to the thought of moving to a farm at this point! But in all seriousness, this place was perfect. Far away from the city, close enough to town in case we need anything, a little run down but not falling apart... just perfect. It needs inhabitants and a little tlc.

At this point, I'm not sure what God has in store for us. We are doing our very best to seek first His Kingdom, are working hard at everything we do, and are waiting patiently for guidance on this one. Moving to a farm would in no way be easier, but a simpler life with less electronic distraction, less emotional distraction... for me, anyway, sounds so, so great. I love to be challenged, and doing my part to maintain a small farm house would be an incredible challenge! And wow, what an amazing place to raise children.

I'm hoping to use this blog space to keep these thoughts somewhat collected, and to provide my future self with a timeline of the events yet to come. We'll see what happens.