Monday, December 29, 2014

Learning to Savor the Now

2014 is coming to an end. I can't quite figure out how I feel about this year. On one hand it has been the absolute hardest of my life and I have found myself questioning time and time again exactly HOW much God expects us to deal with before we completely break. On the other hand, I look back and I think of all the good, amazing things that have happened and I am overwhelmed with a flood of gratitude in my heart.
I've learned in this crazy roller coaster that we call life we have no choice but to accept the good with the bad. It's not always easy. Sometimes it even feels a bit unfair. But in the end it all amounts to be the same thing: life.
This was my first full year navigating my new role of mother, What a ride. I truly feel this is my calling in life and I pray that we will be able to continue to add to our little family, hopefully sooner rather than later. Jon and I have always had a home bursting with life as we have thrown ourselves into our breeding program, but Chase has brought a joy to our home we never even knew was possible.
He has come so far since his traumatic entrance into this world at an itty bitty 2lbs 9oz. As much as I'd love to take credit for his progress, he is undoubtedly his own person. I'm not sure what on Earth I did to deserve this sweet boy in my life but I am immensely and eternally thankful for him. He teaches me every day. Sometimes I feel under-qualified for this role. How can someone as simple as myself possibly teach him all he needs to know and give him all he needs to have? But on a constant basis I am reminded that I am not in this alone. We have an incredible family and support system there every step of the way. He is coming along just fine. He is delayed in some motor skills, as many preemies are. He is almost 15 months old. He is not crawling yet and only recently started army crawling. He is not walking yet but can cruise furniture with the best of them. He does not say words, but it is so very clear that he understands so much about the world around him and is so responsive. He will do all he needs to in his own time. Life is not a race, and he is teaching me how to slow down and just enjoy the ride. Someday he will walk, and talk and I will miss this time to just let him be a baby. Someday he will flash his grin my way and his sweet dimples will be hidden beneath a 5 o'clock shadow and I will wonder where the time went.
I am guilty of being caught up in my own rat race. It's not that I feel I must compete with those around me- I dropped out of that race a long time ago. I am a planner by nature and often times find myself so focused on the future that I lose sight of the now.
Losing Grandpa Albert this year was a blow I could not even fathom before. I have never felt a loss so deeply or had a void so gaping and empty before. He has been a pillar of light and knowledge in my life since the beginning. His influence and example bleed into every corner of my life. I've lost loved ones before, but never someone so present in my life. Every memory, every birthday, Christmas, Summer vacation, baptism, wedding.... everything that ever happened in our family, there he is. Not having him here in the flesh is honestly something that even now, seven months later feels foreign. I believe that this loss is one that we will never truly go back from. Things will never be the same but we are discovering a new normal. I feel his influence so strongly, possibly even stronger than when he was here with us. It has brought a new perspective on death and the eternal plan.
Yes, no doubt 2014 has been a roller coaster. It has brought the highest highs and the lowest lows my life has ever experienced. Through all the pain, the sorrow, the laughter, the smiles, the ache, and the joy one thing has never wavered and that is my love and appreciation for my family. I know everyone thinks their family is just the greatest but mine really is. For real. I look at all we've been through, all the tests and trials and nothing means more to me than not even having to question if I have their love and support. I don't know how people even make it though life without that. I have such a wonderful husband whose patience knows no bounds. We celebrated five years of marriage this month. He's put up with me for FIVE years! But even beyond Jon and Chase, my siblings, my mom, my grandma... they mean the world to me and there's no one I'd rather spend my time with.
So, I'm looking forward to 2015. I have high hopes for the next year. I am sure it will bring with it its own set of trials and triumphs. One thing I know for sure, is who will be standing with me in the end.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Teachers in Life

I believe we are all teachers and students in life. We learn from those around us and are generally unaware of how much we teach in return. Jon and I have learned a few things from each other over the last (almost) 6 years. I'm an awesome teacher *cue sarcasm* and sometimes wonder how Jon ever got by without me! (Okay, truthfully I'm just really darn lucky that he puts up with my super weird self.)

What I've Taught my Husband
* There absolutely is a right and wrong way to vacuum, and the lines left on the floor make or break it. They matter. In fact, if the lines are wrong, you might as well not even vacuum.
* Socks are indeed monogamous creatures. Even after several trips through the laundry through wear and tear and stains, with a little help they can find their original mate again. Promiscuity among socks is completely unacceptable.
* "whites" and "colors" are only the tip of the iceberg, laundry must be sorted down WAY beyond that. There's blacks/ dark blues, then there's reds/pinks/orange, whites, garments (they're separate. Always) lights (light grey. beige) and depending on the lot, there may be more. And never, under any circumstances, do towels get washed with clothes.
* There is a whole world of cheese out there beyond cheddar and mozzarella. We have had many lessons around the Harmon's cheese counter, and probably spent a small fortune in the process.
* Dishwashers are really just a formality. Dishes should be scrubbed completely clean by hand (with soap. and the only acceptable kind is blue Dawn.) rinsed well, and THEN put through the machine. Then put away.
* Gravy is not ever made from something in a packet. Ever. There is absolutely no excuse for such abominations.
* One does not simply go to CostCo "just to grab one thing" ever.

Really, it's only after you live with someone that you learn how weird YOU really are. I was horrified when Jon tried to put presents under our tree early one year, I mean who DOES that?! Doesn't the whole world know the must go under late Christmas Eve!? It's funny how when two worlds collide you discover that no, the whole universe does not do things exactly the same.

5 Years and Counting

December is such a magical time. I just love the holiday season, I always have. I guess it should be no surprise that our wedding anniversary falls into this time of the year as well. On Dec. 18th Jon and I celebrated five years of marriage together. I look back and seriously can not believe the things our marriage has withstood. Indeed we have had our share of trials, but with each other I am convinced we can get through absolutely anything. My heart is filled with gratitude and warmth when I think of the people we have in our lives who have taught us so much and lead by example. Grandparents, parents, siblings. We would not be the people we are now if it weren't for the people in our lives. I am thankful to have such fabulous family, both mine AND Jon's, who have supported us along the way.
We have been through a lot these last five years. No doubt we have seen our fair share of highs and lows and then some! We have moved several times, both in and out of state. We've ventured into business ownership without a clue as to what we are doing. We've had pets. We've had a son who spent two months in NICU. This year Jon supported me through the greatest loss my heart has ever felt when we lost Grandpa in May.
But here we are, together. And we've learned so much about each other, about life, about everything. I could not be more thankful to have such a wonderful man in my life. Jon truly lives a life of service and he is one of the most respectable, inspiring people I am privileged to know. And what a fabulous daddy he is to our little Chase. I love him more and more every day. There's no one else I'd rather take on eternity with.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Won't Give It Up. Will Not.

Jon and I live a pretty reasonably healthy lifestyle. This means taking many elements of daily life into our own hands and making choices that might be against the mainstream. I don't think everything we do is right, but it's right for us and that's what matters. 
Nutrition is very important to both of us, and we take our health pretty seriously. I started making our food a priority before I ever got pregnant with Chase, and then it just got bumped that much further up the list when we got that positive pregnancy test. 
Animal ethics also rank pretty high in our home. I am not opposed to eating meat at all. I LOVE me some steak, dangit. My kid is practically a carnivore. We also seem to eat a lot of dairy. Cheese and yogurt particularly, but also milk and ice cream. Because, yum. But how the animals are raised and treated is really important to us. Their quality of life matters and in many ways impacts the nutritional value of the food, anyway. 
We also try to a avoid harsh chemicals when realistic and tend to lean towards more alternative medicines, cleaning products, and solutions. 
Reusable products are also big in our house. From shopping bags to diapers to unpaper towels to ziplock bags, we opt for reusable/ washable versions almost every time. I feel a responsibility to do what little I can to cut back on the waste. 
Yes, many of our choices have labeled us "crunchy" but there are just a few things I am not willing to give up. So this is me, turning in my crunchy card. 

1. Tide. I'm borderline obsessed with Tide. I love how well it works, I REALLY love the smell. I intentionally use too much and never extra rinse, because I want to smell it all day. Yes, it's a chemical concoction that is probably slowly killing us all. I guess I could start cleaning with borax and lemon juice and hope for the best, but I never will. I even clean my living room rug with it. Hi, my name is Linsey and I am a Tide junkie. This isn't even a new thing. I remember when I was younger shopping with my mom I'd love to go down the laundry detergent aisle and sniiiiiiiif. Nothing has changed, except the addition of Downy Unstoppables, which also rank pretty high on my list. Little chemical beads that smell like happiness. Speaking of Downy... dryer sheets. No such thing as too many. 

2. CheezIts. We spend a good chunk on groceries every month. Raw whole milk, organic cheese, pasture raised eggs, local pasture raised meats, organic produce. But among the lentil chips and organic rice in the pantry, you will also find a CostCo sized box of bright orange artificial squares of cheesy cracker goodness. I will not stop. 

3. Buying new clothes. I know, thrifting is all the rage, and oh so eco friendly. I have bought plenty of things used, from furniture (I looooooove my old school hutch, even if it is still empty because I have no actual use for it) to cloth diapers, to a diaper bag. I did buy one pair of jeans secondhand. But, I can't bring myself to dig through the thrift store racks of clothes. I like the organized and uniform shopping experience of new clothes from stores I like. I've never been one to care about name brand this and that but I find my taste in clothes is quite specific and though I could care less about what's 'in style' I do know what I like and where to get it. 

4. Family cloth. (cloth toilet paper) It's a crunchy thing, and I will not conform! I am so on board with cloth diapers, and even 'mama cloth' but I draw the line at adult poop. I won't do it now. I won't do it later. I won't do it ever. No thank you, there's Charmin for that in this house. 

So that's it. I am turning in my crunchy card, because I can not give up my mainstream tastes and preferences. I am going to do sit on my bed, which smells strongly of Tide, feed my kid some CheezIts (because, yum) and take inventory of my DoTERRA bag, because I know I'm low on several. I am indeed a walking contradiction.