Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: A Day to Remember the Fallen

If you would ask me on any given day what Memorial Day means to me, I'd be guilty in responding with a hoop and a hollar that it is the unofficial start to summer and a day off of work if we go to school past the holiday. I'm not proud of that, so please don't throw things at me. I'll try to justify it by saying that once I finally get to the weekend, I find time to reflect on what the day really means to me and so many others across our country.

I know there are people who make it very clear that Memorial Day and Veteran's Day are different holidays. One is for remembering those we've lost. One is for remembering those who have fought. And while I can completely understand the sentiment, and grieve with those who have lost loved ones that have gone to war, I would be doing an injustice to those who came home or those who are still fighting if I didn't acknowledge their sacrifices as well. However, for today's sake, I want to focus on those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

I've known many soldiers throughout the years. Some are friends. Some are family. Some are family of my friends, and so forth. One particular man stands out in my mind on this day because he is the only one that I know personally that has paid the ultimate sacrifice. BJay Leusink and I didn't "go way back". We didn't hang out on Friday nights. We weren't part of the same crowd. But we went to school together. He wrestled with my brother. He was a good friend to many and from what I remember, very well respected.

So when I got the phone call from my mom one day in May, seven years ago, that a former classmate had been killed in the line of duty, my heart sunk. It sunk for his new wife, his mama and his dad whom I imagined falling to their knees as they saw uniformed officers walk to their doorsteps with heavy hearts to deliver news that their loved one wouldn't be coming home. It broke my heart. It still breaks my heart to this day.

At his funeral, I was amazed at the number of people who came to pay their respects. It was so large that it couldn't even be held at a church, but instead in the high school gym where BJay spent so many hours of his life. I listened to family and friends speak of his life- not who he was as a soldier, but who he was as a person. They spoke about their favorite memories of him.

 You see, these soldiers give up those normal, day to day happenings that we so often take for granted. While we are spending our moments watching our kids ride their bikes, going out for supper or to movies, hitting the gym or having a fire in our backyard, these men and women are fighting and putting their lives on the line so that we can do these things. We don't have to feel afraid the way so many men, women and children do in other countries. And we have these soldiers to thank for that.

No matter what feelings you have about the politics of having our men and women in other countries, set them aside today. Let's focus on paying tribute to those who don't have to risk their lives, but do. Don't take for granted the freedoms you have. Hug a soldier today. Find a family whose separated from their mom or dad, husband or wife and tell them how much you appreciate the sacrifices they make as well. Send a care package to soldiers overseas. Whatever you do, don't take for granted what you have and why you have it. Don't ever forget the ones who laid down their lives to defend yours. Enjoy your barbeques and parades, but please, please raise your glass to remember those who've sacrificed for us. Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sawyer Keith: A Birth Story (4 years later)

Lucky for this wee boy, 4 years is a lot closer to now than 7 so hopefully I will be able to recall a little more about that amazing time in our lives. When Carter was about three years old, Dan was ready to start trying for another. I on the other hand, was a little apprehensive. I was fresh out of college, teaching preschool with no benefits or salary and a super high student loan payment. I was dragging my feet on deciding to have another one, but after a whole lot of convincing, I decided that there would never be a "right" time to start trying and I didn't want to be stuck trying to have a baby in the middle of a school year with no paid time off, so I agreed that we could start trying that summer.

My pregnancy seemed to go a lot smoother and a whole lot quicker than the last. I was never sick. I didn't have carpal tunnel or ridiculous feelings that I wouldn't love this baby. It was glorious. We chose to wait to tell our family until about the 12 week mark. A few months before we found out we were expecting, my brother and his then fiance had gotten engaged and soon found out they were pregnant. Unfortunately, the joy of finding out I was going to be an aunt was premature upon hearing the news that my soon to be sister in law had lost the baby and had to have a D&C. I'll never forget sitting next to her in her hospital bed as she realized she would never get to meet this little one. It was heart wrenching.

Not long after, very close to when we found out, they told us they were expecting again! We were all cautiously optimistic and excitedly awaiting her arrival as we planned and prepared for Casey and Amy's wedding. I really didn't want to rain on her parade, and we decided that it would be best to wait for the wedding to be over before we let out the good news. It was so hard to keep that information top secret!! However, one of my favorite memories would have to be at Casey and Amy's wedding. Our good friends, Joe and Melissa, were the only ones there that knew we were expecting, and keeping this information a secret was going to be tricky.....especially because margaritas were going to be involved. I remember filling in the bartender and asking her very politely if there was a way she could give me a virgin margarita anytime I would order one. Now, my mother doesn't drink much, if ever. She's been known to sip on a wine cooler and put half of it in the fridge for another night. So when I held on to my "margarita" during the dance and my mom took it out of my hand to have a sip, I about died. I will never forget the look on her face all scrunched up like she had just bitten into a lemon. "Oh my word, Mandi. That's so strong." That's my mom for ya!

As we continued on our little pregnancy train, 3 more ladies hopped on board and now every single one of my sisters-in-law were pregnant, as well as my best friend. I was elated. It wasn't until after Sawyer was born that I realized how little you get to love up other babies when you are trying to love up your own, but now that they are all older, I wouldn't have traded having them all grow up together for the world!

When we were close to the half way point, Dan and I began having very serious conversations about my career and where I wanted to be. I loved the kids I taught in preschool, but I just knew in my heart that I belonged with older kids. So we made the very difficult decision to leave the preschool at the end of the year and substitute teach the following year so I could get my foot in the door. Not having a job and having a new baby at the same time was a terrifying experience. I didn't know what would happen, but  I knew God would provide.

I wrapped up my final year of  preschool and a few days later, I was back in the hospital, waiting to meet my second son. I remember having far less jitters and anxiety as I had had the first time. The anxiety of loving this one the same never crossed my mind. I was in a familiar place, with familiar people. In that room were all the people I had trusted to take care of all my babies and myself during my pregnancies, labors, deliveries and after they were born. They all hold such a special place in my heart. Belinda, my midwife- Binky as we called her, has been my rock throughout all my pregnancies. Knowing she isn't there anymore has pretty much sealed the deal that I am done having children. I absolutely love her. Joining her in the room were my surgeon, Dr. Steltzer, my pediatrician, Dr. Jongewaard, my anesthesiologist, my mom, Dan, and many more doctors and nurses.
Ready to roll!

The OR no longer felt like a foreign or scary place. Were c-sections the way I pictured welcoming my babies into the world? Absolutely not. I know there are risks. I know there are more things that could go wrong, but I trusted this team with my life and that of my son's, and I couldn't have been happier to have them in the room with me. Going to Sioux Falls to have a VBack just wasn't an option. I was elated that there were mere moments before I was going to kiss my baby boy's face and welcome him into the world, telling him "Happy Birthday beautiful baby. Everyone is here for you!"

He was absolutely perfect. Sawyer Keith Wolfswinkel. He was the spitting image of his brother. Same weight and length and his features mirrored Carter's at birth almost to a tee. I felt like I had been transported to that same OR, 3 years before, welcoming his brother into the world. And yet, he was different. He was his own person. I knew that God was going to do big things with him and in him. In those moments I looked into his deep blue eyes and imagined what his personality would be like. How would he be like his siblings or his dad or me? What things would be completely his own?

But again, they gently pulled him away from my grip and wrapped him up into a warm blanket to get all his stats. They wheeled me into recovery and I remember thinking how blessed we were. Three healthy deliveries. Three healthy babies. I know not everyone is so lucky to be able to hold their babies in their arms right after they are born, so I didn't complain about the 30 minutes that I had to wait to hold him in my arms again. It gave me ample time to sit with my mom and gush over his little fingers and toes and his beautiful blue eyes.

We spent the next four days in the hospital drinking in his magical baby scent. It brought me to tears to watch Jaedyn and Carter proudly hold him in their arms. Jaedyn seemed so much older this time. Three years had past, and to me it felt like she was growing right before my very eyes. I watched her hold his head up and lay her finger in his because she knew he would close his tiny hand around it. When she thought no one was looking, she too inhaled his baby magic and whispered big sister secrets in his ear. They were such proud siblings!

It's crazy to me that when you welcome a new baby into your family, it's as if they'd been there all along. He just fits so perfectly into our little family. He was the missing piece that we had waited nine long months to welcome into our home. His personality complements everyone elses. He's our stubborn, independent child. He likes doing things his way and on his timeline. While there are moments I wish that he would let me zip his jacket or pour his milk or put his clothes on, I know that those are the makings of someone who will stand on his own two feet. I pray that these traits will help him to be a leader and take a stand for what he knows is right. I'm praying that this personality that can seem very exhausting to us at times will allow him not to be swayed by peer pressure as a teenager. For now, we are enjoying every single moment of this "last" baby.

I put that in quotes because I know that I'm not in control of that. While Dan and I finally feel very much at peace with our family of five, we know that God's plans don't always align with ours. So for now, we are going to savor every last moment he brings. I loved every stage of my kids growing up. I was always excited for them to start new things. I never cried when they went to school or stayed dry through the night for the first time. I didn't shed a tear for their first sleepover or the first time they could tie their shoes without my help. I was always so excited for them because they were so excited. And while I'm still excited to watch Sawyer grow up, I'm increasingly more aware that this time is fleeting. I don't get to do it again. So I welcome every cuddle, hug, and kiss. Every single moment that makes him who he is right now at this very moment. I drink it up. I do the same with Carter and Jaedyn too. I'm realizing that time is going by way too fast for my liking. I'm not ready for Jaedyn to be in double digits, and yet it will be here in 3 short months.

God is good. He continues to bless us. He continues to provide. I'm so excited to see what He has in store for my kids. I'm so blessed to be able to help guide them. What an honor it is to be given such an amazing mission.....their MAMA. Happy Birthday sweet baby boy. We love you to the moon and back.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Switching Gears and Awakening the Beast

And by beast..I mean the 3 month long chaotic rollercoaster ride that has already been unleashed. I've been complaining for quite some time about Iowa weather. I keep nudging my husband to start looking for jobs in Florida. I could live in a place where everyone has a pool and sunshine and beach sunsets are the norm. I really could. Alas, we live in Iowa where you can have a blizzard on Monday and run through the sprinkler on Friday.

Sometimes I forget that the cooler temps actually keep me sane in that my students aren't chomping at the bit to be done with school or that my children's activities aren't stacked up one on top of another. Sanity has gone out the window this week. I can't find my brain and I'm starting to think it may never return. It started Saturday. I completely forgot Jaedyn had softball camp, one that I had already paid $15 dollars for mind you. I didn't recall that information until Monday.Poor Jaedyn tried to make me feel better by telling me that it was totally fine that I had forgotten about the camp. I think she was taking one for the team, though. Either that or it's such a common occurence anymore that it doesn't even phase her. Either way, I'm okay with this being one of those things she tells her husband she will do differently than I did. Then,  I went to buy Jaedyn new tennis shoes since she was starting to look a little homeless with a hole the size of a walnut above her big toe. Low and behold, she is NOT a size 3.5. She is in fact a 5. Mother of the year right here. Monday, I forgot to go in for my 6 month checkup with my surgeon. Seriously. It's starting to get ridiculous.

I've decided that Spring is just a figment of my imagination and that it doesn't even exist in the Midwest. I'm going to start calling it Sprummer. Sprummer has finally decided to show up. I'm enjoying shorts, flip flops, leaving the house with no coat and recess duty for starters. And with warmer temperatures, schedules get ridiculously crazy around here. Carter is almost done with soccer already, which I am actually completely okay with considering he asks his coach to keep him on the sidelines most of the time. His idea of a successful game is if he "played" for a total of 5 minutes and if Oscar scored a goal. That's it. Serious. So we are ready for that to be over with. Softball started this past week for Jaedyn and will start for Carter next week. Their schedules are loaded up beings that we are a traveling team, so our month of June will be spent watching ball, and I'm okay with that too except for that I'll only make it to half of their games since they usually play at different locations so I will be going alone when they both have them on the same night. I'm just praying that broken ankles won't be an issue and that I am completely self-sufficient this summer. That'd sure be nice!

I'm not going to lie, though. I love this time of the year when the gears shift from cuddling at home on the couch, fuzzy socks and hot chocolate to flip flops, pool days, trampolines and fires. This is the time of year when my friends that live far away come home, and I'm able to catch up and soak in those few precious moments that I get to spend with them in the year. Those are bliss, by the way. Last weekend, I got to love up my good friend's twins. This week, I got to enjoy my Lee's company (twice!). While Dan is gone on his guys' weekend, my good friend Drew is back from NYC to keep me company tonight! I couldn't be more excited! Icing on the cake? Brent and Ashley are coming home next weekend and I get to love up Maveric for the first time! I am feeling super blessed right now!

We are starting to fill up our weekends with memories we hope to make, friends we get to catch up with, and babies and littles to love up. Our weeks will fill in those weekend gaps with practice, ball games, pool dates, coffee breaks and chalk sketches. Which reminds me. The Wolfswinkels have made our summer bucketlist. We hope to actually cross them off this year!

*Catch fireflies
*Many campfires
*Plant a garden
*Purge crap we don't need
*Fireworks at mom's house on 4th of July with good friends
*Blog more
*Drive-inn movies
*Go to the Paullina pit to swim
*Picnics in the park
*Park hop to different towns
*Go to the zoo
*Spend a weekend or a few Sunday afternoons at Yankton
*Read for fun
*Hit up a Twin's game
*Water balloon wars
*Mother/Daughter back to school shopping in the cities
*Farmer's Market trips
*Perfect a homemade salsa and sangria recipe
*Cloud watch
*Visit friends who don't live close
*Write letters to my kids in their Mama and Me books
*Have some Top Che dinner competitions
*Have a Summer Olympics with our friends
*Hot tubbin
*Organize pictures
*Watch sunsets by a beach
*Lie on blankets/trampoline and look at the stars
*Projector movie nights outside
*Road trip
*Strawberry picking
*Karaoke night
*Teach my kids night games and play them
*Practice taking pictures and editing
*Friend BBQs
*Pool dates
*Run a 5K for a student with cancer
*Run a Color Vibe on the year anniversary of my broken ankle
*Camp on the trampoline
*Moon walks with my kids

Hokey Pete's that's a long list! I better hop to it. What are your plans?!

Here are some fun things that we did last year in the one week we excelled at summer!
Ran my first 5K in Madrid, IA with a good friend in 103 degree heat. Yowzers!

Our only picnic in the park

Slip n Sliding at Grandma's

Pool dates

Strawberry picking

My last hours of freedom

Sunday, May 12, 2013

No Matter What

I don't know about you, but being a mom is friggen hard work. In the day and age of pinterest, blogging, facebook, and other types of social media, it is easy to play the comparison least for me it is. So and so is spectacular at making holidays a big deal. This mom is ALWAYS playing with her kids. This one won't come along on girl's night because she wants to put her kids to bed. That one lets her kids get ridiculously messy and then actually LAUGHS about it. Most of the time, I welcome other blogs and points of view. I like getting ideas for things I can do with my kids. Ideas that may make me a "better mom".

 Other times, I feel very defeated. I feel like saying, "Mandi, you suck at this whole mom thing big time." While other moms are doing amazing things and making their kids grow up healthy and happy and respectful and responsible, I'm over hear yelling, "WHY AREN'T YOU PEOPLE FLUSHING THE POTTY" or "PICK UP YOUR CLOTHES, I'M NOT YOUR MAID", "WERE YOU BORN IN A BARN" or my favorite "YOU DRIVE ME TO DRINK." (Oh okay...too much??)

Parenting is a hard job, and I'm not very good at it. It's definitely not because I don't love my children. It's very much the opposite. I love them so much that when I think of it too often, I get all sentimental. Tears well up and I get very overwhelmed at all the things I'm doing to screw them up. But sometimes...sometimes, I get distracted. I get distracted by things like my job, me time, Facebook, other blogs, working out. I try to be present and calm and patient and nuturing, but that's a hard thing to do when you are juggling so many balls in the air. But those are all just excuses really.

I vent about a lot of things, and I know that venting can turn ugly and resentment can develop instead of the peace that was supposed to come from spilling your guts. After awhile, all of the overwhelming things of our day to day lives start to pile up until I eventually just lose it in a big and bad way. I'm a yeller. When I've lost it, you'll find me yelling at my kids for something that would make a "normal" mom say.."I'm picking my battles. This one isn't it." I reflect back on most mornings full of regret and shame that I talked to my kids that way and sent them to school probably feeling pretty crummy about themselves.

That's when my ugly inner voice starts to say things that make question whether or not I should have ever been a parent. What the heck is wrong with you? Why are you so snappy and impatient? Your kids are going to grow up and say, "I'm not going to do this the way my mom did it." You are ruining them. That inner voice is a mean, nasty, b word. She's not kind, and when she comes out, it's hard to shut her up.

Let me tell you something. Your inner voice is a dick. Pardon my French, but she is. Don't listen to her. She likes to make you feel bad. But on a good day....when your brain has been fed enough and has been well rested, you may be able to overcome that inner voice and remind it that you are in fact a good mother. THAT voice may tell you, "Just apologize. Say your sorry. Keep showing up."

I don't know about your mom, but mine was not perfect. I know there were times she yelled at us and made mistakes. But you know what? I don't remember many of them, but I do remember MANY of the things my mom did to show us she loved us. She worked in the evenings when we were not in school so that she could be with us all day. She made us our favorite meals and always put lots and lots of thought into our birthday gifts. She sang a song every morning to wake me up in the gentlest way possible. She would come home at night from work when we were sleeping and kiss us on the forehead every single night when she thought we were sleeping.

You see, she just showed up. She didn't do everything right, but we hardly knew when she was doing it wrong. She made sure we knew she loved us with her whole heart. When I came home one night, my junior year of high school, sat my parents down and told them I was pregnant, my mom cried with me, held my terrified hand, and told me we would get through this together. That she loved me no matter what.

Now that I'm a parent. I get it. I get how you can love your kids with every sense of your being and still make mistakes..daily. The hardest thing I have to do is forgive myself. Every day is a new start. A new chance to do things right or be better than I was yesterday. I worry about whether or not my kids are learning how to treat other people right. If they are showing enough love to everyone they meet. I spend a lot of time worrying if I'm a good enough example of how I want them to turn out. I don't know much, really, but one thing I do know is that I love my matter what. It isn't followed with a but and it is forever chances. I took this next little part from a blogger over at Rants From Mommyland, and it seems very fitting in my life right now. In fact, most of my post was inspired by her.

Jaedyn, Carter and Sawyer.....I love you.....

When you’re good.
When you don’t listen.
At 3am when you’re up for the fourth time.
When you’re being sweet.
When you hit your sister.
When it takes you 400 tries to just go to sleep.
When you are so deep in a tantrum that you can’t even hear me.
When you’re angry and defiant.
When you forget to flush.
In sickness and in health.
Even lice.
When you forget every single thing that you are supposed to remember.
If you decide you’re suddenly too cool to play with the toys we spent five years collecting for you.
When you hit a home run!
If you’re mean to other people.
If other people are mean to you.
If you fail a class.
If you have no friends.
If you have too many friends and I hate all of them.
If you’re fat.
If you’re beautiful (AND YOU ARE).
If you crash our car.
If I find weed in your sock drawer.
If you never call me back and always ask for money.
Gay or straight.
If you never come home on break.
If you totally f*&k everything up.
If you do things that astound even your grandparents.
If you disapprove of how we live.
If you choose someone who is the complete opposite of me.
If I lose you.
If I’m lost.
It does not matter.

Lately, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the the uncertain future my kids have. I feel like there is so much more that they have to deal with and harder choices they will have to make. What if they make the wrong choices and pick the wrong friends? They are growing up so fast, and in these fleeting moments, I know I will still worry whether or not I'm doing a good enough job raising them. I will not, however, lower my expectations for my children to love others, be kind always, and to work hard for what they want. I also know that in the midst of trying to be a good mom and hold them accountable for these things, I will yell. I will make mistakes, and they will make mistakes. We will say we're sorry and try again. All I can promise is that I will keep trying to be a better mom, and I will never stop showing up.

70 years from now, when I am either long gone or nearing the finish line, I hope my kids will remember how much we loved them with our whole matter what.

Happy Mother's Day to all those who love a child or hope to love their own someday. You are amazing women. Keep showing up.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Carter: A Birth Story (7 years later)

I remember when I had Jaedyn, so many people would stop me in church, at school, in the grocery store, and what have you and remind me that these moments are fleeting. "Enjoy them because they are gone too fast." They would tell me. I don't think I really grasped that with Jaedyn. Being a mom in high school was hard work, and I had so many other things going on that enjoying much of anything was daunting.

With Carter, however, we were "ready". Ready as any set of parents with one of them prepping for a do-over. This time, I was going to soak in every moment, remember every second, register every milestone in the most reliable part of my brain......What I didn't do was journal everything I wanted to remember. I wish I had. I foolishly thought those moments were too good to forget, and it would all come back to me at the drop of the hat when I wanted to regale everyone with stories of my children's births. Unfortunately, my pre-alzheimer's brain is in full swing, and while I wish I had every detail to lay out on here, I do not. I can't even tell you what time my boys were born. HORRIBLE! So without further adieu, I will spill whatever I can remember, so that maybe when pre-alzheimer's turns into the real deal, I will have something to tell regardless of whether I can actually remember it.

Dan and I got married in May of 2005. Jaedyn was on the better half of one and would be turning two in a few months, and I was finishing up my freshman year of college. Dan and I had decided that we didn't want our kids to be five years apart and that it didn't really matter when we started to try. Knowing that I was going to be a teacher, and still being in college, we decided to start trying in August, just three short months after we had been married. Sometimes I feel very guilty even admitting that Dan and I never had any issues getting pregnant with either of our boys. I was pregnant right away, wonderfully timed (so I thought) so that Baby Wolfswinkel would be born in May, right as I was finishing up my Sophmore year of college.

If people didn't think we were crazy for getting married the week before finals, they definitely thought we were nuts for having a baby two days before the end of the semester. What can you do? This is how we roll. For the record, we would go on to buy a house and move in May of my Junior year. I know. Dumb.

We weren't very good at keeping this one a secret. We were super excited to announce his/her arrival. We decorated cheap, plastic dollar store frames with scrapbook paper and stickers to say "Reserved for Baby Wolfswinkel- Coming May 2006". It was a magical do-over moment, much happier than the slew of tears I remember when telling my parents I was pregnant with Jaedyn. Poor little lady does have happy stories, I promise. Jaedyn was incredibly excited to be a big sister and thoroughly enjoyed tagging along to doctor's appointments and ultrasounds.

My pregnancy was perfect, for the most part. I was never sick, and knowing that we had planned this pregnancy made me cherish each kick and hiccup I felt that much more. I was super excited that we were going to have the "Perfect, American boy and one girl".  As the months passed by, I became quite anxious. I started feeling the dreaded second baby syndrome and the horomones firmly planted themselves into my pregnancy for quite some time. They are horribly mean and incredibly exhausting. I began to cry at any given moment, weeping to my husband that I just didn't think we should keep this baby. There was just no way I could possibly love another human being the way I loved my daughter. It wasn't fair to this child. It was for the best if we gave him to a family that could love him the way he deserved. Countless times I would have this conversation with Dan, and countless times he would call my mom and tell her he needed her bum planted on my couch pronto. He couldn't deal with these hormones any more than I could, and I suppose he felt as though moms know best.

Eventually those feelings subsided somewhat, and in their place, carpal tunnel syndrome wreaked havoc on my hands. Miserable, painful syndrome it was, indeed. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. After many braxton hicks contractions, many sleepless nights due to both normal pregnancy and carpal tunnel, and a false alarm trip to the hospital for back labor, we were closing in on Baby Wolfswinkel's arrival.

Jaedyn had been an emergency c-section, and since Sioux Center is too small of a hospital to do a V-back delivery, I knew I would be scheduling my c-section for my baby. At the time, it was very convenient. We couldn't schedule it for Monday because Jaedyn had a program I wanted to attend, so we scheduled it for a Wednesday morning. Thankfully, I didn't let the reality of a normal c-section sink in until the night before my delivery. I had been given such a terrifying birth story just hours before I went to sleep for the last time as a mother of one. I still don't understand why moms want to tell such horribly scary stories to mothers-to-be so close to their due date. I'm sure I've said some of them myself, but I'm definitely more aware of the nightmares and anxiety it can give a mother now that it's happened to me.

A fellow college student and mother of 5 told me that she had a friend who had a scheduled cesarean delivery a few years back. She told me to make sure I hold completely still because if the fluid from the spinal shot goes in the wrong vertebrae, I wouldn't be able to move for a good 24 hours, and I would have the worst headache on the face of the earth. Talk about mind numbing information. I was so thankful that I had an anesthesiologist who made me feel so comfortable.

Dan was working the night shift at Pella at the time, and so my mom swung through Orange City and picked me up to take me to the hospital. We had dropped Jaedyn off at Robin's and said our goodbyes the night before, and now there were only 14 miles and a couple of hours between me and the little man who would make me a mom for the second time. Upon arrival, I realized that with a scheduled c-section, there comes a lot more prep than an emergency c-section. We had to get me into a gown, do a few things I don't care to remember, and sit down with the anesthesiologist to discuss how this would all play out. I'm fairly certain, this staff has never seen someone shake in such a violent way in anticipation for getting a needle to their back. I think they covered me with 3 heated blankets and tried to talk me off the ledge. (I may have said I think we'll just keep him in here a few too many times.)

To add insult to injury, Dan wasn't allowed into the operating room until I had been given my spinal. Apparently too many daddy's have fainted upon watching this "monstrous" needle go into their wive's backs. I also didn't get to hug my mom, so I became extra friendly with my nurse Alicia, who was miraculously able to calm my nerves by telling me that she had just found out she was pregnant with her first baby. Thankfully, all the fluid was put in the proper spaces, and there were no life altering migraines that followed. It was the weirdest feeling I've ever experienced to lose all feeling in every region of my body below "the ladies". I remember panicking when I thought I may never get that feeling back. The pictures my mom took of me were priceless. I was white as a ghost, and the anesthesiologist was rubbing my head, telling me everything was going to be alright. In that moment, I felt like he was an adopted grandfather walking me through one of the most important moments of my life. He will never know how grateful I am for keeping me sane in those moments when my mom and Dan were in the other room.

Doctors and nurses began pouring in. I didn't realize how many people were really involved in delivering a baby until I counted 15 people in the operating room including my mom, Dan and myself. It was overwhelming. The clipped up a blue sheet in front of my face so I wouldn't have to witness the cutting and pulling and prodding of my stomach in a million different directions. I can remember thinking that we would be waiting here for 15 minutes before we met him, but within half a minute, one of the nurses held up a mirror and told us to watch the miracle that was the birth of Carter Dean Wolfswinkel.

In the moments that followed, this perfect 7 lb. 13 oz little bundle of perfection was placed in my arms. He was pink and perfect and crying. It was heaven. I pulled him closer to my face as I kissed him over and over and over and let my tears roll down his face. In that moment, I forgot anyone else existed. In that moment, there was Carter and Dan and me. There were just the three of us, crying, smiling, laughing and kissing.

 As they cleaned him up and wheeled me into recovery, I remember feeling a tinge of sadness as I realized that he was no longer physically apart of my body. He was now exposed to the world, and all the outside elements that I couldn't protect him from like I could when he was cuddled up, warm inside my belly. I longed to hold him and to breathe in the scent of newborn baby. It ranks as one of the top ten most amazing scents in my book.

When I got back to my room, they placed him in my arms and I could have sworn his eyes locked with mine, and somewhere he was telling me "This is where I belong. Right here. In your arms." Eventually there was just Dan, myself, and this beautiful baby boy, all alone in our room. We soaked in his newness. His ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. We gently rubbed our hands over his soft baby legs and held our finger in his hands so his tiny little fingers would close around it. I remember thinking how my heart was going to burst with happiness. That there was no greater feeling than being a mommy. I remember thinking that this was exactly what God had placed me on this earth for.To love these littles with every part of my being.

I don't know what else to add to his story other than it's raw, sacred ground. It's a memory that I want ingrained in my mind forever. Seven years later, these feelings haven't ended. There are moments when my mommy brain is about ready to explode, when I feel like I've had more than enough "boy" moments than I can handle, and then in the next breath, I'm looking at his handsome blue eyes, and feeling so incredibly grateful that God trusted me enough to be his mom.

Happy Birthday Carter Dean! You've brought us more joy than you will ever possibly know!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Just Workin on My Fitness

Holy's been a few weeks since I've been up in here. I have a lot of ideas in my head, but then the weather got nice, and I was freed from my home to play outside and enjoy the sunshine. Then God reminded me we live in Iowa so after an 80 degree day, God blessed us with snow and the naughty words my phone said "Feels like 19 degrees". So inside we go. It's starting to warm up a bit again, but I'm forseeing some rain in the forecast, and so we'll see what the next few weeks bring! 

As the weather gets nicer, my workout routines have been getting more consistent. I don't know why I feel like it needs to be nice considering the majority of my workouts are inside, but it does something for my mental being and motivation. I thought I'd share what I'm doing in hopes to inspire somebody (chuckle chuckle). Bahahaha! Just kidding. What that should say is HOLD MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE. :) Okay. I said it. I need a swift kick in the ars most days. It's why my friend Dawn needs to come with me to CX and zumba or I find something "more important" that needs my attention. Amy also needs to hold me accountable to get up at 4:45 am.....(yep, I said that) three days a week so I'll workout too. It doesn't get done without them.

I'm telling you what....I need my girls. At this point in the game, I'm about as codependent as they come. I'm ashamed to admit that, but it's true. I like shameless truth-telling. I wish I had the motivation and self-control to workout on my own and eat right, but I'm just not there yet. I may not be a skinny minny or the most knowledgeable person to learn from, but I've "been there, done that, and tried it all". I've been where a lot of you are, and I'm still there. I'm not a success story....yet, but I will be. And until I have one to share, I'll just let you know what I'm doing right at this very minute. I'll share with you the things that are "working" for me and that are sending me in the right direction. Most importantly, I'm reminding myself at how far I've come....maybe not in pounds, but in actions. Here you go:

As far as exercise goes, I'm a rock star. I don't have a rockin body, but regardless, rock star I am. If there's anything I've learned it's that I loathe most forms of exercise. At least I used to. Let's be honest don't put your heart into something you hate so FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE. For me, my soul mate exercise is zumba. I love dancing, and I love that I can suck at it and still love it. When you can laugh at yourself and still enjoy something, I call that success. Running is something that I can't quite say "I love" yet, at least not when I'm doing it, but at the end of every run I always say how great I feel. I always feel stronger, and that trumps how I'm feeling in the moment any day. I also love that this is something I can do by myself. It clears my head, allows me to listen to my favorite jams and just let go for 30 minutes. Now if I can stop being terrified to try it again since my accident, we'll be set. I have also been trying to throw in some lifting and toning as well. I've been told that the more muscle I have, the more calories I will burn, and since I am nearly 50% body fat (I wish I was joking. I seriously can't believe I just typed that), I'm in major need of some muscle gain. Plus, I'd like some Jillian Michaels' arms. For real. Finally, I try to devote an hour of my time to Body Flow (yoga, tai chi, pilates) on Saturdays just to get de-clutter. (The 10 minutes of "nap" time at the end is totally why I go. Not joking. )

I'll tell you that my schedule is always changing. I usually have something going on for my kids or school, etc, and nothing is ever set in stone, but here is what I try to abide by. I've learned I NEED to schedule it in or it won't happen. Here it goes:

Monday- Morning Walk/Adding in running after school soon!
Tuesday- CX Works and Zumba
Wednesday- Body Pump/Afternoon run
Thursday- CX Works and Zumba
Friday- Morning Walk/Afternoon Run
Saturday- Body Pump/CX Works/Body Flow
Sunday-Rest or short walk

I am by no means consistent yet, and this is totally a goal I'm working towards. I've had a heck of a time losing weight even on this fitness regime, but I attribute that part to my loyalty of chips and queso and not to my exercise. Once I get my act together in nutrition land, I should be set. ;) In any event, I feel a whole lot better when I'm doing this, and my ankle thanks me too! It helps my ankle from getting stiff and sore, so if this is what I have to be it.

At this point, I've got no pointers on the nutrition aspect. I know that weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% fitness. Well I've got the 20% covered, and I'm trying to work on my nutrition. It's the whole self-control thing. Seriously. I love food. End of story. I'm working on easy recipes, planning ahead and seriously getting on top of this self-control. I know HOW to do it, I just am not doing it. Anyone who's conquered this feat is welcome to give me some pointers because I don't know what the h my problem is.

Another thing that Amy and I have done to keep us motivated is make a dream board. It is large and in charge and doesn't fit nice in my house, but I look at it, times a day and I remember that I want to look good and feel good. I've made goals and rewards for myself and hopefully, this will do the trick. It's working so far, at least as far as keeping my workouts consistent.

On the left, I have mini clothespins (walmart) that represent the pounds I have to lose. When I lose them, I transfer them up top so I have a visual of where I am. The middle has a bunch of magazine clippings, motivational quotes and things that help me see where I want to be. On the right, I have written down my rewards for every 10 pounds I lose so I have something to work towards. At the bottom is a calendar that plans out my workouts. Amy and I got little red tabs from Walmart that we put on the calendar each day that we workout. Once we both hit 30 workouts, we reward ourselves with a healthy dinner and a movie. It's a win-win. I'm enjoying this so far!

Well that's all folks. Thanks for sticking with me. Like I said, I'm not a success story yet, but I know what it feels like to fail time and time again. What I've learned is that I'm a warrior. I haven't given up. Two years of actively working out and I've lost a total of 7 pounds. It's not story-worth at all, but it's real, and I know a lot of you are struggling with this too. Here's my motivation for the day: DON'T GIVE UP. EVER. Someday we'll be a success story. Hold me accountable people. I'm a rebel. I like to jump off the wagon. Keep me buckled in.

Peace out. :)