Self Care and Taking a Breath

Dear sisters,

I find myself so fascinated by this concept of self care. It’s all the rage right now, maybe because everyone is realizing how very wonderful it is. Instead of a Donna Meagle
TREAT YO’SELF day (which is also great), you can do something special and call it self care!

Moving, having a baby, travelling to see family over the holidays, everyone being sick for a month, these things kind of put me in survival mode. There were still plenty of wonderful days and memories to be had, but my over-arching feeling was one of tension, bracing for more illnesses, gritting my teeth and wearing Helen for naps in the airport, not sleeping much so both children were happy and settled. Recently, I’ve realized I don’t need to be bracing for anything, nothing to grit my teeth for! We are here, settled in Fort Collins, we have a fledgling community of friends and acquaintances that we’re getting to know better, and it’s time to take a breath. I wanted to stretch and enjoy my days a little more.

My first step in doing that was journaling. I wasn’t able to think this clearly about what I needed at first. So I started writing out thoughts.

From my first journal entry: “I have a feeling like my brain is turning to mush. I have so many thoughts throughout my day about my life/career/future as a family, etc. and I have no outlet, no way to sit and think them through before I move on to doing something new.” I share these thoughts with Kevin later in the day, so he can get a glimpse into my life at home. He fully agreed with this feeling. Life with two children feels hectic. We’re still figuring out how to communicate with each other about our own needs while parenting our children.

A journal, a book, and two Mennonite Hymnals. Good stuff.

The next step was to find time to read books that help me grow. I LOVE to read. My favorite app on my phone is probably Overdrive. When I’m rocking Helen to sleep, or nursing her, or snuggling with Calvin during Paw Patrol, I’m usually simultaneously reading something on my phone (or sometimes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram…). I love that my phone allows me to have those moments of “me time” while I’m home with the children, but looking at my phone so much also makes me feel fuzzy. I needed to carve out time to read a real book, think thoughts fully, and breathe.

Naptime is my time to do that. Very recently, I’ve managed to sync up Calvin’s nap with Helen’s mid-day nap, which is amazing. I realize I am pretty lucky to have a 2.5 year old boy that takes a 1-2 hour nap every day. He only falls asleep if I’m snuggling with him though, so it’s not perfect ;-). Helen usually goes down a bit after Cal and sleeps for 45 minutes to an hour. Just in the past week have I instituted this self care routine. I’ve done yoga that focuses on breathing and back pain (hello big baby problems). I’ve been reading a few books that help me as a parent and a person. I’ve baked and prepped delicious meals.

I really enjoyed this one! Some good strategies and reminders about how to lovingly set limits to keep yourself sane. Still in the positive parenting genre.
Food prep! Soup and bread and my daily cup of tea :-). This is one of my happy places.

Those are the successful days. Don’t be thinking I’ve got this all figured out. There are also those days where I get Helen down for a nap after Calvin falls asleep, settle into a hot bath and the SECOND I lean back to relax and read hear Calvin calling for me. There are days where Kevin is tired out from having to go to Calvin multiple times a night and we’re snippy all day. But overall, I feel like I’m living a fuller, lovelier life. I’m taking more delight in things.


Looking back, I think I’m kind of healing from the stress of having a baby, moving, losing our friends and sense of community back in La Crosse, realizing we’re so far from family. Kevin and I are very gung-ho people, we jump in and assume we can handle it. We did and we maintained a relative sense of happiness and security through the whole thing, but I can see how I tempered my emotions, locked myself down into survival mode to do it. Now I feel like I’m feeling and thinking in technicolor.

Enjoying a beautiful day, watching Cal play with a friend from across the street, chilling in the garage with my gal.

Sisters and friends, are you doing anything small or large to help yourself? Are you needing something and don’t know where to start? I hope you’re all finding little ways to breathe and treat yourself to something wonderful (even if it’s just reading a book for a few minutes).

Love to you all,


A Day in the Life: Staying home with two

Dear sisters,

I’ve thought of many different blog posts that I would love to post, but I’ll take baby steps back into blogging with this Day in the Life post. I enjoy reading other people’s posts in this format, it is fascinating and comforting to know how similar and different our lives are! So, here goes:

6am: Helen wakes up, PTL she’s finally sleeping past 5 or 5:30, it took a bit of time to get back to Mountain Time, Cal has been lying in his bed with Kevin for a while, waiting for his clock to turn yellow=time to get up! Cal comes in and asks me to go have breakfast with him in the middle of Helen’s diaper change, so Kevin and I swap children


7am: we’ve had our tea (Cal’s is milk with vanilla and honey) and gotten all of the pillows off of the couch to make a “snuggle zone” and had some breakfast, Kevin is getting ready to head off to work! I nurse Helen right about now and change the inevitable poopy diaper 20 minutes later


8am: Cal watches a video, usually some nursery rhyme songs or a paw patrol, etc, while I put Helen down for a nap. She’s been up a long time for her, so she falls asleep easily in my arms then gets laid on our bed. I go and snuggle with Cal while the video ends. Then we’re ready to play! He enjoys play time the most when I can focus just on him ;-).


8:50am: Helen’s awake from her nap! And ready to nurse. Cal pulls things out of our bathroom drawers while I nurse Helen.

9-10am: More play time! Then I realize Cal hasn’t really had much solid food for breakfast, a few bites of toast, a yogurt applesauce pouch, his milk tea and a bit of orange juice, so we go downstairs to have a mid morning lunch. Some plain noodles, grapes, carrots and cheese to snack on.


10:30am: Time for Helen to go down for another nap! Cal watches another video while this happens. If I try to keep him occupied with toys or something else he just starts yelling after he gets bored/runs into the room and wakes up helen, so TV time is our distraction of choice during naptime. I come back after getting her down around 10:45am and Cal and I play Settlers of Catan in his bedroom for awhile, and make a fort, then it’s time for his naptime. Around 11:15 he’s slowing down, so we read and cuddle and he falls asleep by 11:30am.


11:45am: Helen’s awake! I nurse her and rock her again, seeing if she’ll settle back into a longer nap, but no, the poop doesn’t stop for anyone, and she needs a diaper change. Helen and I hang out, cleaning up the kitchen, making some roasted broccoli for lunch, answering emails and the like.


Helen goes back down around 1:15pm, but as I’m rocking her, Calvin wakes up and calls for me. I try getting Helen down, but she doesn’t stay asleep, so both kids and I snuggle for a few song videos. Time to play again!

Cal insists he doesn’t want to leave the house at 1:45pm. But by 2:30 I’ve convinced him it would be fun to go to the farm! We head into town to visit the farm (one of the city parks has a farm in it!), but it’s closed on Tuesdays! Womp womp. We go to the Museum of Discovery instead, even though it’s gorgeous day outside (60!). Cal loves the museum,


Kevin meets us there at 3:20pm and we’re playing astronauts, we hang out there until 4:15pm, then head outside to walk in the park until 5.


We run around the baseball diamonds, enjoy the beautiful afternoon, then head out. Kevin and Calvin stop at the grocery store to get a few things, Helen and I head back for her to nurse. She slept a bit on me in the museum, but has been mostly napless this afternoon. That means she’s kind of a cranky baby.

5:40pm, Kevin and Calvin get home, start making dinner, Helen starts getting angry, I try putting her down to bed, but she won’t fall asleep, so I nurse her again. Turns out she was still hungry! Helen falls asleep by 6:15ish, we eat our dinner and get Cal ready for bed. By 7:30 I’m nursing Helen again and Cal is snuggling up with Kevin to fall asleep. Kevin and I are eating some fresh baked cookies (I keep a stash in the freezer) by 8 pm-ish and in bed by 9:00 pm after watching some Harry Potter and discussing our travel plans for 2018.

It’s not glamorous, not all of the pictures are even correctly focused, but it’s our life ;-). I’m enjoying the ups and downs of staying at home. I wouldn’t mind a part time job, but I haven’t found one that looks perfect yet. It might end up being me recording audiobooks more when Calvin goes to preschool in the fall! That’s a pretty great job I can do from home!

Hope you all are doing well and that each day has a few moments of joy in it!



Helen’s Birth Story

Dear sisters,

Birth stories are a tradition here. Find Calvin’s here, Thaddeus’s here, and Eve’s here.

It’s time to write up Helen’s birth story. I’ve had enough time to settle into being a stay at home mom to feel like I can use naptime for writing and there’s a bit of a calm before our storm of moving into our new house next week. More on that later.

Helen at 5 days old. Babies are pretty incredible.

_MG_5925 Continue reading “Helen’s Birth Story”

the summer of my (almost) content

Hello dear sisters.

It is August 10th and I have a rare day at home because I’ve been afflicted with a summer cold. Miriam is at her grandparents’ for the week, Eve is at daycare, and instead of being at work, here I am in my pajamas on the couch, blowing my nose and coughing. It’s strange to be sick in the summer–really, it shouldn’t be allowed–but at least I have some down time to write to you all, finally.

We are in the last few weeks of summer already, how did that happen? Of course it goes by too fast every year. Summer is a tough time of year for me. I’m still adjusting to working right through it without a break. Having been raised by two college professors gave me the skewed idea that summer means months of free time! For some, it does. For most of the parents I know, it doesn’t. Homer Simpson summed it up so perfectly:

Continue reading “the summer of my (almost) content”

Writing again to share…

Hello sisters,

This blog has been on a long hiatus. I don’t know how much I’ll be writing here in the future, now that I’m expecting another baby, but I know I enjoy looking back at these posts. A lot of big moments have been written about here (and little ones too, which is just as nice), but I thought I’d add another big one.

Kevin and I are moving again, to Fort Collins, Colorado. Now, some of you may be wondering, wait…Colorado is farther away from family and friends, and you’d be right! Kevin and I had been hoping to get back to the East Coast eventually. Being within driving distance of many of our loved ones would be lovely, but at the same time, permanent jobs in the field of ecology are also lovely!

Winter in Fort Collins
I think I may have to learn how to ski…

As Kevin’s post doc started winding down (and federal funding became less of a certainty…), he started applying to permanent jobs. There were lots of fish in the water, but the one that took his bait was Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service in Fort Collins, CO where he will be a spatial ecologist! It’s another big move, farther west. Kevin joked that in 10 years we’ll be in Japan at this rate. Continue reading “Writing again to share…”

ordinary days

Hi sisters.

This space has been pretty quiet as of late. I know I have been trying a little to scale back on my online socializing, in favor of face-to-face interaction. Still, I miss sharing bits of my everyday life with you all, and since we do not live close enough to hang out, I’m returning to this shared space.  Recently I took a few quick pictures on my phone and thought, hm, these aren’t anything special but I think together they give a little glimpse of what everyday life is like for my little family. Want to see?

Miriam doesn’t let me do her hair much but a few weeks ago I managed to do pigtails for her and Eve! I had to take a picture to commemorate the rare occasion.

My hairdresser

Eve continues to ask to do my hair, and I find it so adorable.

Nutella toast face

Speaking of adorable. My kids always want Nutella on their breakfast toast. I’m not a huge fan of this since it’s basically candy on bread. I have succeeded in only letting them have it on half of their bread, so…progress. Anyway, this is Eve’s face every morning, after finishing her Nutella toast.

President's Day

I had President’s Day off, and Miriam was at a day camp for the day, so I took Eve to a nearby playground for an hour or so in the morning. It’s nice to be with just one kid!

she asked to vacuum!

This! Look at my big kid, vacuuming! She asked to try it and quickly proclaimed that it was fun. Hooray for children doing housework! May it continue.

wearing dad's sweater

Eve asked to put on Krestia’s sweater and walked around the house for a bit, wearing it like a dress.

They grow so fast. Life goes slowly and fast all at the same time. What is it they say? The days are long but the years are short. Someday I will miss having these kids around. Right now, though, I’m trying to type this with Eve on my lap, and I’m going to step away from this screen to attend to them. Miss you all.




Eve’s birthday 

Hi sisters,

After the heartache of the past week and a half, here are a few photos from Eve’s birthday party. How thankful I am for my family that helped me learn to love beyond the boundaries around race, religion, gender, and sexuality that some people have been trying to draw in heartbreaking ways since the election.

Sustainance for the party ahead.
Grandpa made a big leaf pile. Eve helped keep it organized.
Miriam felt that there should have been gifts for her to celebrate her anniversary of becoming a big sister. So we made a crown for her.
Pose choices were all hers.

Happy birthday, dear Eve. You are loved abundantly. May you love abundantly.

Your aunt Janna.