changing seasons, change of pace

The seasons are changing around here. Some things still remain the same. The children are all napping, two on my left and two, snugged on my right. The drip and hum of the diffuser provides a calming background noise, similar to a water fountain.

the littlest tosses and turns, i hold my breath that he doesn't kick his brother and wake him. 

I try to pinpoint exactly what has changed in this season. I'm able to keep house better. More energy to cook and play. The days don't always feel as if they have swallowed me whole anymore.

my thoughts drift to what it would be like to have another baby. no, can't go there. we are done.

These season gifts me with only two children at home full time. I long over the thought of what homeschooling could be. What would it look like. Ah, I'm probably too lazy, I think. I certainly would fail them. They do so well in school, their teachers agree.  My thoughts go to what is next after not having any littles at home. I know there is plenty to do still at home, but it doesn't seem to mean as much. Not as important as what could be.

The dog whines and softly barks in his sleep. What is he dreaming about? His legs are twitching. He is running. I smile.

I would like to start reading again. I don't know what I like to read anymore. It has been so long since I have read for joy. I wonder if there is still a love for it buried deep. Or maybe it's like riding a bike. You never really lose it. 

I have started shooting with my little film camera again. The Canon AE-1. The first roll I shot, I don't think the film caught when I loaded it. That was a sad moment when I realized it didn't wind but maybe three times and then click. Release. Oh well, on to the next roll. The beach moments will have to be imprinted in my mind only. 

Along with a change of pace- still plenty busy, I want to make mental notes to slow down. Notice the small stuff. Take joy in the mundane. Washing dishes, braiding the girls hair. Play tea with the boys' Olaf set, and they actually get it! I want to sing hymns as I fold the laundry and listen to the neighbor's wind chimes. Wind chimes always remind me of the summers spent in Nebraska with my Dad at my Nana and Popo's old large home. The one with the well in the front yard and the stairs trailing between the long overgrown grass. They had quite a few that would chime. Note to self, get a wind chime. 

Another thing I could devote some time to would be a garden. It's been a few years since our last. It was a baby garden, but we grew corn, strawberries, peppers - lots of peppers...we were suppose to have a variety of bell peppers and jalapeños but it turns out they were all jalapeños. We had hundreds. It made for a good laugh and lots to gift away. I think I will start planning our next garden. 

These are just some thoughts. If you made it thus far, thanks for reading. xx

 

Grief and healing

It's almost been two years since my step dad died. I don't talk about it with anyone still. There are times it gets brought up but find myself quite good at quickly shutting it down. Honestly I don't even like thinking about it. It's still all so fresh. The pain cuts so deeply still. The worried call from my youngest sister that Dad was missing. The door was unlocked and the pug was loose out front. 

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I listen to podcasts when i run in the morning and I remember listening to "Magic Lessons", I can't remember which episode. But they were talking about how you have to talk about your grief as part of your healing. It's a part of the process and it is absolutely necessary. Since I don't think I could possibly verbally talk about it with anyone actually able to understand me through my hot tears, I suppose writing about it is the next best thing. 

--

I had a nanny with my kids and I was running my usual errands when I got the call. I dropped what I was doing to drove 40 minutes to meet my sister. I told her to check the pool, all the rooms, the closets. Walk the streets. Call the police and I would call Mom. Mom had just left that morning to fly to New York with my other sister. 

I get to the house still quite optomistic and the police show up and ask so many questions. Ones that baffled me - obviously pointing to possible suicide or kidnapping...anyone wanting to harm him...it was surreal. I can't believe I was answering these questions, to a police officer. We searched for my Dad after getting information from going door to door to see if anyone had seen him. A little girl did when she was walking home from school. He was walking the dog. This was normal and confirmed what we had figured had happened. He was walking the dog...but then what? He had a form of Parkinson-ism my mom called it. Symptoms similar to Parkinson's, but not. He deteriorated quickly over the past 6 years. 

It was about 3 pm and I was still breastfeeding the boys. It had been about 6 hours at this point that I had last fed the boys and I was in so much pain and leaking. I decided to make the drive home to grab the boys and bring them back with me so I could be relieved for as long as I was away from home. By the time I had come back, it was getting dark and my sister had gathered neighbors and the police had pulled together a search and rescue group. By this point my aunts and brother made it up to help search for him as well. It was warm that day, but when the sun fell it quickly dropped in temperature. I remember thinking if he was lost somewhere or confused outside, he would be so cold. My heart broke. Worry was setting in that maybe things wouldn't turn out good. The police were still optimistic so I held on to that. My good friend Kristen and her mom came out to also help search. We drove the streets slowly and I just kept saying "he has to be here, he has to be okay'. We didn't stop searching through the night. The search and rescue left around 2 am with no luck. No leads from the dogs. It was heart breaking. I understood. But nevertheless, I wanted to beg them to stay. I felt like we were banging our heads on the wall. We weren't getting anywhere and I was so confused. Could someone take him? Why? I know this world is cruel, but no. I couldn't go there. 

We didn't stop looking. My mom and sister arrived that morning after taking a red eye. My youngest sister pulled together a huge search group through Facebook, hundreds of strangers came to help us look in the surrounding areas. I got calls from strangers with glimmers of hope, but it was quickly fading. Around noon, the police were able to conduct another search with the helicopter. It felt good to see so many people looking and helping us. We were bound to make progress.

I was on the photo with ABC News when my mom beeped in on the other line. I answered and I swear it was as if time completely stopped. She was trying not to lose it.

"They found him." She said. "He didn't make it."

In that moment I lost all control. Everything that I had holding it together was released. I think i threw the phone. I dropped the laptop and I even broke my mom's chair. I'm not sure how I did that. But i remember someone grabbing me on the floor and holding me as I just sobbed. How could it end this way? We tried so hard and we failed him. My mom got ahold of someone else in the house and they drove me just a block down the street to meet her and where they found his body. I couldn't. I could not believe this was happening. I wouldn't accept it. I was so angry at God. SO ANGRY. I never felt a pain like I did that day. He was gone and I failed him because I didn't find him. He was fucking one street over. For months I held deep anger and regret that I didn't think to look in the field. But I thought, why would he be in a field? It turns out, the dog got out of her harness, and what we assume had happened was she ran into the field and he followed. it's not the best terrain and he must had lost his footing and fell. The corinor said he had died in the early morning. It broke my heart once again that he had to have heard us searching for him. Calling his name. For HOURS and he couldn't do anything. I'm finding as I'm writing this that I'm still so angry. He must have felt so damn alone.

I was amazed at how quickly the person that comes to talk about the death and console the family came (who knew there was such a position?). Oddly by this point I had calmed down. In a matter of an hour. I was now feeling the pain in my hand from breaking the chair (sorry mom) and it was looking possibly broken. I was taking in all that was happening and we sat on the back porch with our immediate family and this guy that was telling us what would happen next. So surreal. What happened after that is such a blur. For weeks I had nightmares and I would cry in bed because that's the only time I had to myself. The girls were scared whenever they saw me sad, so I held it together. 

--

Even though this was super uncomfortable and painful to relive, I feel better. I feel like a weight has been lifted and I can breathe lighter. I haven't been able to fully mourn. I didn't want to. It was scary and painful and to experience such strong emotions again that I have no control over is terrifying to me. I did go through the stages in the first 6 months or so- the normal "denial, despair, anger..." and it became less painful around the year mark with just the every day to day thinking about him. But to actually tell someone (anyone reading this) what happened is huge. I'm grateful for this space.

-Months later, I was sitting in the parking lot of the post office when my mom called. She told me that they did a test on his brain that verified his illness and determined that he died from the disease. They said he would have experienced the same ending whether it was in the chair at home or with what he endured outside. In a huge sense- it was a relief. It was a silver lining that it wasn't caused from head trauma, or dehydration or hypothermia. A small piece of light. 

 

*I didn't proof read this, nor do I have plans to. This was for healing purposes and to clear up any questions that anyone may have had over the years, and I have so efficiently avoided. I want to thank everyone that sent meals and cards and flowers and even sweet messages that I didn't have the energy to reply to or send a proper thank you. They really made a very dark and sad time a bit brighter in knowing that others cared. 

beauty uniform

I've struggled a lot over the past few years with my identity. I know it's in Christ and Christ alone, but when it comes to how I used to dress or do my hair...it's completely different from a few years ago. Honestly, a lot of it has come as a transformation with coming to follow Christ. I see what beauty really is. It's not fake and it can't be injected into you. Not that I ever got to that point, but it is definitely the track I was on a few years ago. I shudder when I think about it now. The material things and looks used to mean so much. They used to hold so much weight.

Since having the twins, I feel like I've let myself go. But in reality, I think I've just let my old self go. It's nice to dress up and feel put together, but honestly I am so comfortable in a simple dress and Birkenstocks. Hair up in a top knot or just let it dry naturally curly. I rarely wear make up anymore because I feel like I have a mask on. If I do wear any, it's Arbonne's CC cream or this mineral foundation. If I could go back 6 years, I would tell myself to just love who you are. You are beautiful and young. Invest in people and books. The looks are not all that important after all. And your style will change in a few years to natural, hippy, granola anyways. Hey, you will shave your legs once a month and wash your hair once a week, and you will have a husband that loves you despite it all- actually, he will love you because of it all. 

I came across A Cup of Joe's "My Beauty Uniform" series. I am in awe and so encouraged that I am on a similar path. There is something to just loving your skin. Many of the ladies featured don't wear makeup, or if they do, it's minimal, like underage concealer. If I knew how to apply it without it being so obvious (my face has a lot of red) I would be all over that. The good Lord knows I could lighten the dark circles.  

But for now, my beauty regiment will be drinking plenty of water everyday, eating lots of fruit and veggies and exercise regularly, and getting plenty of beauty sleep when I can get it. I also use moonrise creek's day and night facial lotion along with my Clarisonic and  it has been a game changer.  I will say I recently did a SCOBY face mask with my home-brew Kombucha and it has done wonders with my skin. I can't wait to do it again in a few weeks. 

I also want to be aware of how much emphasis I put into my looks so my girls have a healthy outlook on what beauty looks like. We already talk about how beauty is on the inside. I remember growing up and primping before going to play soccer. I would get sweaty and I wasn't a girly girl either...but I remember so vividly my dad telling me "Come on Bri, this isn't a fashion show!" It makes me smile now. Back then I'm sure I rolled my eyes and thought he was being the most unreasonable dad ever. 

 

title and other things

It's stupid really. I have a really hard time putting this site to public. Or at least even letting anyone know it actually exists. Everything I am reading and other people likeminded as myself, are encouranging me to put it out there. But then I get stuck on dumb hang ups like...what exactly am I wanting this space to be? Who really cares to read about it anyways? Aren't blogs so five years ago? I have like, three blogs that I read. And that's because they are hilarious or oddly entertaining because they have like 7 kids or something. Or a mix of both.

As far as hangups go- my most current one is the title. T I T L E. I have considered putting just that in the little white box. I also thought "hey, just put your name. Boom. Done. But then I question if I want my name to even be on here. Dumb right? Who even cares? NO ONE IS READING THIS." Seriously, if I somehow, someday, I finally publish this site and I don't bother to come back and delete this post and you are in fact reading this, I'm sorry for wasting your time. lolsssss. 

So most recently, my inspirations are coming from reading this and then from reading this blog post (her whole blog is awesome) and then I really enjoy Jodi Mockabee's site (5 kids, not 7) and how she documents certain aspects of her life- homeschool and their adventures. But let's be honest, we don't hike. And reason being is I don't like bugs or large reptile creatures that can kill us. But they are adventurous and I enjoy reading it. So maybe I could like document our days at the park? The awesome blisters my children get from using the monkey bars? Super intriguing to read about. I know. (See my dilemma?)

I'm going down the rabbit hole here...back to what I want this site to be.

 

Maybe I just document my life as it is right now. For my own satisfaction and collection of my own memories and how I remember these years. We've all heard how quickly it goes by right? So that's where I was going with Mockabee's site. I love how she can look back on their life and adventures and remember how they did the raising kids thing. 

phew. Still with me?

So that's where I'm at right now. Also regretting the coffee I had at 4 pm. probably should go start a load of laundry and pick up the 30 matchbox cars off the floor. toodles.  

 

over promised

I've been really unsuccessful on ditching social media. There are times when I ask myself if I can actually abandon it entirely or if I just need a good break. I have however, spent a whole lot less time on it. I no longer just scroll to scroll. That feels good. But maybe I take back the "say no to social media forever" promise. Balance. Life is all about balance. Just like I can have cake every once in a while if I've been eating my veggies. But It can't be like balls to the wall- screw it. Give me all the cake. I've been there and I wasn't able to button my pants. My largest pair of pants at that. Balance. 

Instead of spending most of my time viewing other peoples life snippets, I've been flourishing with all that is going on in my own. My kids are growing up so fast. I know I said this already, but really. This weeks was a hard one. The boys moved from the nursery room at church to the big 2-3 year old class. I wasn't prepared for that one. Not sure where my brain was exactly. I shamelessly cried. Ugly face and all. It was like a sucker punch to the gut when I least expected it. I still get teary when I think about it. Then the girls got to upgrade to bikes without training wheels yesterday. It was such a mix of feelings. Proud of how well they are doing and how quickly they were just able to hop on their bikes with only two wheels, to complete sadness and inside I was really crying because how? How are they growing up. They were so little not that long ago. I can still picture their pudgy little hands and feet. Hay's curls bouncing with every step. 

I guess maybe because no one tells you that one day, you will just take their training wheels off and they will just get it. They will fly down the cul-de-sac like all they needed was a breeze to push them along.  I am currently charging my camera battery which has been dead for a good month, at least. I am going to be putting my phone away for a large portion of our summer. I am excited to force myself to pick up the real thing to document life, the perfectly imperfect. I want to look back in 5 years and see how amazing life is now.

Fleeting moments: a call to change

Lately in our home my heart has been desiring openness. It might be because Spring is officially here in California, or let's be honest, at 85 degree temps, it might be safe to say summer is inching it's way in and cutting Spring's glory short. Anyhow, spring cleaning has taken place. Moved furniture around, sold furniture and made piles of boxes filled with stuff that has accumulated over the years that I am just now getting to go through and give them a new home. It feels so refreshing and to finally have the energy to physically do this- glory to God! If only I didn't have a teeny tendency to hoard all the things, we might really be living a minimalist lifestyle. But I am working on it, so that counts, too. Right?

But back to where this cleaning out has brought me; I have come to realize other benefits that come with it. Sort of like when you do a whole body cleanse. I've never done a colonic but I have done a whole17 (I tried) and have even done a juice cleanse. But what I noticed when doing the cleanse was I felt lighter. I was able to think clearer and felt energized and even more at peace if that makes any sense. Well, the same effect is happening over here in our home. I no longer have to look past all the stuff crowding the walkways. Or the huge brown couch that took up the entire living room that we spent a fortune on and trekked with us to 4 different homes over the past 5 years- including when we moved across the country. Now, I am actually now able to see what is important. I am able to think clearer and breathe because almost everything has it's own place now. I'm not moving one thing from one counter to the next in hopes of one day having an ah-ha moment of "this is where it goes!" no. It goes in a box and then to Goodwill because you haven't used it once in a year. Maybe three. Pathetic, I know. It's something I'm working on and my husband has shown so much grace towards me in this department. Wonderful man he is. 

I digress. Along with breathing deeper and truly finding so much more joy in my days, I'm noticing how quickly the kids are growing. Oh my goodness- how much that truly breaks my heart. I have shed too many tears over these last few weeks with these new found revelations- ha - and my husband gives me the same look of sympathy every time and laughs at me. I know deep down, deeeeeep deep down, he shares my grief. 

I have looked into how I could possibly slow the process of them growing with no such luck. I have come to terms that I can only enjoy the time I am given with them. And what a blessing to be able to watch them grow up every single day! I don't take this gift for granted.

Or do I?

Lately I have noticed I have a stronger pull to social media. Not setting my phone down when my oldest has drawn a picture for me and is beaming with pride and accomplishment waiting to show me. It irks me to think about it now and actually makes my heart physically hurt and tears well up. Or when I look up from my phone to catch the end of all four littles playing and laughing together to come to the truth that they have been playing like that for the last 20 minutes! TWENTY MINUTES. Where did my time go? What was so worth scrolling on my phone to have missed those moments that are helping build a lifetime bond. I wish I could say this didn't happen for more than a few occasions. For this reason, I am deciding to step away from all of social media to focus on the beauty that I see right before me. This hasn't been an easy decision, because I so love documenting our life and sharing it with family and friends who may not get to see our family very often. But I have to do what is best for my family and myself. This is what is best. I'm not saying I will never return to social media, but I do know that this is a step that has been heavy on my heart for the past few weeks. I will continue to write here and document our days and anything that I feel is on my heart. A creative outlet of sorts- but with intention. I'm excited to be reminded of how beautiful my life is right in front of me. Sans phone.

inspiration

You know those artists where you peruse their work and you are just ignited on the inside? Like you literally feel your heart burning and shouting "yes. yes. amazing." So much inspiration it makes you physically itch with the desire to create? Create something that can possibly, just maybe- give you the same kind of burn when you look at your own work some day?

A few of the artists that I admire and often study their work and words are listed below.

Sharon Mckeeman

Yan Palmer

Deb Schwedhelm

Summer Murdock

I stumbled across a project that Summer and Deb are doing along with a few other talented people called The Sixty Second Photograph. As of late, I have been captivated by what video can bring that a photograph can't. I have been a bit obsessed with video since coming across some old cell phone videos that I took of my girls when they were little. Their laughs and cries that I swore I would never forget and hold close in my heart forever, brought me to tears. I had forgotten. The sweet voices that didn't quite pronounce words correctly. The belly laughs that came with such ease, because of the lack of processing that happens when trying to figure out if something is actually funny. Such innocence. It was a time that I really had become a blur of the past even though it was just a few short years ago. And I had a little piece of it sitting on my hard drive. What a gift. This will be my next project...exploring video and editing. 

Another inspiration I have been indulging in here and there is the book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. I'm reading it slowly, but I'm doing it. I'm soaking in every word and I can tell it's going to be read and then reread again, many, many times. If you are a procrastinator and get caught up in all the reasons why you can't create or why you aren't ready to show your work...read it. It's quickly becoming a favorite. I'm launching this site this week all because of this book. 

 

a call to be content

We rent in a very comfortable two story home that was built the year I was born. It has a beautiful back yard and a graciously large front yard that the kids plan in often. We have been renting this house for two years now, which was the plan. Actually the plan is to rent for about 3 years before we looked to purchase again, staying longer depending on the housing market. We foreclosed on our beautiful 5 bedroom, very large home with property 5 years ago. We were humbled when we moved into our first rental home that was close to 1,200 sq ft with no dishwasher and no air. The bottom of the old doors leading to the outside had a full half inch between the door to the ground. But we were grateful because we had applied to rent over 10 homes with each application returning denied when our notice to be out of the house was approaching very quickly. I remember crying to my husband why on earth every single home was denying us. Telling us that we were not fit to live in their homes.We weren't even applying in anything extravagant. He constantly reminded me that our plan was not His plan. We needed to wait. Finally, we were referred to a house in a not so great area that was going up for rent. We said we would take it after a quick walk through. God worked on both mine and my husband's heart during those 2 years. I think we had the most growth concerning material needs vs wants during that time.

For about the past year, I have been discontent at the home we are currently in. The one I once saw as the perfect upgrade from our Chrysolite house. Still modest, but it had air, (it has AIR) and a dishwasher! And the doors actually kept the heat in during the winter. Mind you, moving into this home, I was 28 weeks pregnant with twins. To top it off, our landlords are the sweetest people I have come to know and quickly became great friends. It was obviously this was the house the Lord had picked for us. We were humbled and very blessed during our two years at the other house, but this house and everything that came with it...it felt like the biggest blessing.

Fast forward to recently...I have started to become envious of other's beautiful homes. The work that they put into them and the changes they make, like beautiful wood floors, clean updated countertops, paint and furniture to fit there home just right. I knew it was something that created discontentment in my heart and I let it grow. I continued to water that seed of discontentment and began to look for new homes that could possibly fit the bill so we could do the same. Even though we agreed that we would still be renting for another year here. I could hear the Lord tell me to be still and content. He would graciously me how beautiful this home is. Our 360 view of the mountains. The perfect yard for our kids to run and run amuck. The park within walking distance. Great neighbors - as of now we actually don't have any neighbors on either side of us! What a brat I have been. I'm reminded of these blessings and I thank the Lord for his patience and kindness towards me and my ungratefulness. 

We here we are. Here I am. Renting and looking for contentment and being thankful. Constantly being chiseled and refined, by His grace and grace alone. 

 

ramblings

It has been beautiful in southern california these past few days. I take back all the nasty things I said about you. Even though your freeways are overcrowded and often times, strangers are just straight rude. But you sure know how to warm up right when we all start to get a little tired of the 60 degree temps. 

I am in awe of how quickly life changes. Seasons in life...Last year around this time, I was tirelessly drinking my third cup of coffee while planning the boys’ first birthday party. I would throw myself a pity party often thinking to myself and out loud “when is it going to get easier? When are they going to learn that sleep is goooood? Why is Grayson always crying? Why do they eat so much?” 

Now? Now, I sit outside and listen to the birds chirping and appreciating our backyard that I seemed to have missed or overlooked the past two years. There is a Jasmine plant that I am assuming is from the neighboring yard, but is climbing over the fence onto our trees. What a blessing.

I get to catch up on blogs that I used to read two years ago. The boys are napping and Bailey is getting dressed so she can blow bubbles (or dump bubbles, whichever comes first). I get to read books that I have bought over the course of the past two years but haven’t had the time to finish any of them. Life is good. This stage is good. It hurts my heart a little that we aren’t planning on having any more babies. Actually, we are planning on not having any more. There is a difference I think. It makes me sad. But then to think of the possibilities that we have ahead of us makes me happy, too.

We were able to go to the san diego zoo and the beach over spring break. A year ago? You couldn’t pay me to attempt that on my own. It was so liberating. It wasn’t easy by any means, but we all had so much fun. I am looking forward to doing more of that.  And photography and writing. Not sure it's going to go anywhere, or even if I want it to go anywhere...but I enjoy looking back at what was going on and where my mind and heart was at that point in time. 

side note, I am listening to tom petty on Pandora as I type, and Brown-eyed-girl came on. I instantly was transported to sitting in the car with my dad with the hot sun burning my skin, maybe when I was about 15 or 16 years old and I can literally hear him singing that song to me like he used to. I haven’t had that vivid of memory in…i don’t even know. Makes me smile as a few tears are falling, too. miss him.