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”

Chasing my summer baby

Dear sisters,

It feels strange and wonderful to be chasing (walking and sometimes running) after my baby. At the library I work at our storytimes for 9-23 month olds is called “Little Movers,” which describes Calvin perfectly.

Black and White

He is still my baby: still wants to be cuddled and nursed back to sleep in the middle of the night. When he wants me, he wants me RIGHT NOW, and has taken to hugging my legs, crying out, then biting my legs when I don’t pick him up fast enough. I’m teaching myself to think of him as my little toddler, not my baby, and encouraging his moments of independence. His happiest times are spent outside, walking/trotting around. People remark on how happy he is all the time; he smiles and chatters and laughs a lot. They’re getting to see him when he’s getting his way, enjoying the outdoors or exploring some place new. When he starts feeling cooped up in the house he becomes a little tyrant, wanting me or Kevin to always play, biting or whining til we cave. It’s not hard to give in to him, though it makes activities like preparing meals, writing emails (or blog posts..cough cough), doing the dishes or packing up for the day difficult.

Continue reading “Chasing my summer baby”

food, glorious food

Hi sisters.

I have felt my creative cooking energy returning with the influx of fresh produce with the start of summer. I thought I’d share with you what’s been happening in our kitchen recently.

My love affair with rhubarb continues. I’m so intrigued by it. It’s used mostly in desserts but it’s sour. I love that! I’ve been playing around with having it as the centerpiece of a dessert rather than always pairing it with something else. Recently I made this galette which turned out great, so I made it again. Caution: use less sugar than what is listed, if you want the nice sour flavor to come through. I used maybe 1/3 a cup the first time I made it and it was great. The second time I followed the recipe more closely (I probably added 1/2 cup, maybe more?) and it was a bit too sweet.

I also like to make rhubarb simple syrup for cocktails. It’s such a pretty light pink color and it adds a unique flavor to drinks. We made this cocktail with the simple syrup and enjoyed it (note: use less sugar for the syrup–you definitely don’t need a full cup!). You’ll notice that the cocktail and the galette both pair rhubarb with ginger–it’s a great combination.

All the rhubarb in all the things! Cocktails and galette.
All the rhubarb in all the things! Cocktails and galette.

Continue reading “food, glorious food”

Life lately

Hi sisters,

I wrote this post 2 weeks ago, so it feels a bit dated. Calvin is changing at such a quick pace, learning more expressions and saying words more clearly. But here is a bit of an update about our lives lately.

In May we enjoyed a visit from Mom and Dad over the week o13227595_10204553149748292_2012715915268047601_of my final Chamber Chorale concert for the season, so it was a wonderful time for them to be here!

I got to wear a “My Fair Lady” costume for our fundraising dinner/silent auction featuring songs from Lerner & Loewe. I got to sing “Without You” from My Fair Lady and it was a blast! Kevin got a lot of alone time with Calvin as Mom, Dad and I went to rehearsals and showed a family friend around town, which was sweet for him. Mom and Dad got to spend one entire afternoon watching Calvin while I went to work and I know they had a great time. It is so wonderful having family around. We’re looking forward to having some more visitors this summer! It makes us melancholy as we realize how far everyone is travelling. Where is the magical device we’ve all been waiting for that can transport us across countries? Continue reading “Life lately”

Calvin’s first year for posterity

Dear sisters,

Kevin and I have never been huge celebrators of things. Birthdays and anniversaries go by with smiles and sweet thoughts, sometimes a present or special meal, but usually we just celebrate the little things throughout the year. Moments when we have extra in our budget and can go get flowers for the yard, or when we’ve saved up enough to get a new laptop and can pull the trigger, or when we’re not too tired and seem to be working extra well together and everything clicks. Every once in awhile something comes along that feels extraordinary, worth celebrating to the max. Calvin turning one fit the bill. Continue reading “Calvin’s first year for posterity”