the happiest day of my life

We have friends who are getting married on Sunday and it has had me thinking a whole lot about our own wedding day. I tell every engaged couple that the happiest day of my life was the day after our wedding, after the gift opening, when it was just Rory and I wearing normal clothes, driving up to Lake Superior for our honeymoon. I realized at some point in the drive that all I had just signed up for was to live out the rest of my days with my best friend. And I had chosen a good guy. I knew it. The actual wedding day had been so full of emotion and feelings and a general sense of overwhelm. I cared what other people thought, I wanted to be sure everyone enjoyed everything. I carried the weight of 500 guests on my shoulders and the actual wedding was awesome, but intense and exhausting.

It was that next day sitting in the car together, beginning the rest of our normal lives, that I heaved a sigh of relief. And felt so glad that Rory and I were bound together for life. It just felt so good and right.

And now, almost 12 years later, Rory and I are living out our covenant vows in ways we never saw coming. These days we find ourselves taking Hattie to lots of appointments together and walking a road we wouldn't choose for our little girl. It's still full of uncertainties and there actually isn't anything concrete to report, but we've been to see her doctors a few times and will be going to see them again, running all sorts of tests. And each time we arrive in the waiting room and Rory signs us in and I entertain our kids I feel the same heave of relief, so glad that we are bound together for life.

It has me thinking about how important that decision is when you choose who you will marry. And how I would personally like to sit down with every young girl I know and explain what it means to marry a man. A man who carries the responsibility of his family on his shoulders, understanding his important role as a father and a husband. A man who carries the burden of providing for his family. A man who knows that he is the very most important part of passing on a living faith in Jesus to his children.

I'm just so glad that the Becca-in-a-white-dress, married Rory...a man who is fully invested in her and their family. When you get married it is hard to imagine what it might feel like when you "grow in love." But man I am feeling our roots growing deeper lately and it is amazing.

(And lest you think all is always perfect...I always like to link to this post I wrote on marriage counseling and how the Godly counsel we received for five months during our tenth year of marriage changed the foundation of our relationship in mighty and miraculous ways.)

the babymoon I can't wait for.

These are the darling flowers my sister-in-law Lisa brought to the hospital after Hattie was born. She's got all my favorites in there...

So we aren't going on a babymoon this time around. We usually take two nights and head to Lake Superior or last time we went to Lanesboro, but we're in a funny season now where leaving this farm is quite the ordeal, it is planting season, getting our kids situated and then us situated sounds sort of overwhelming plus we are still waiting for one little lamb to be born. Hard to leave written instructions for that one!

Honestly, life feels full enough and a while back I sincerely resigned that this is just not the season for getaways. We've brought these little people into the world, and I'm fine staying with them until they're all of an easier age for others (and they'd rather be with us too... and I'm fine with that.)

That said, I have been daydreaming lately of the getaway we have planned right around June 20th. I think about it quite often, actually. And it's because when we were on this getaway last time, my face mostly looked like this:
And my face looked that happy because this place was dreamy. I picked up the phone to order my food for every meal. I could order anything on the menu. And when it came, it looked like this:
This place was also dreamy because we chose to power down from the world while we were there. We never turned on the tv. I never checked my phone. I don't even remember Rory checking his laptop. We had just had a baby, and in a day of constant accessibility it seemed this was a great reason to tell others we were inaccessible.
We basically stayed in our room for two whole days, door closed. We napped (double bed!), we listened to The Burning Edge of Dawn and Floodplain albums on repeat, we soaked in our sweet baby Hattie Joy, we prayed so many tearful prayers of thanksgiving for her life. We welcomed each nurse that came in and offered to change her diaper and measured the time only by when it was time to order my next meal. A job that I felt very able to do, happy to order every single thing that sounded delicious on the menu.

I loved our stay at the hospital so much that I was weepy leaving. It was a holy time for us. And even on Hattie's first birthday I asked Rory if we could go eat at the hospital cafeteria because the food was so good. He politely declined, but even still when I see our little hospital I get all sentimental as if it were a fun resort where we enjoyed a super special weekend.

And now we get to go back! Sure I have to work real hard to be there. And sure that's going to hurt real bad. But after that part, the vacation part begins! The part with perfect crushed ice, magical platters of delicious prepared food. The part with uninterrupted naps, baby gazing, tuning the whole world out and focusing on the things that matter most: my man and my new baby.

I cannot wait.

a very normal mother's day...

This isn't about Mothers Day. This is about a typical day as a mother. Actually, more about the ebb and flow of life as a mother.

Yesterday I woke up with the kids. This isn't a great idea but I'm living large these days and find myself wide awake right around 2:30 in the morning for an hour or two. It makes me not quite ready for the day when it's time to get up. So I rolled out of bed and got Hattie and marched us downstairs where we ate breakfast for an hour. I'm not sure why it takes that long, but there were lots of needs and a counter full of dirty dishes that needed to be loaded into the waiting-to-be-unloaded dishwasher.

The kicker is that the whole time I just wanted to be in the shower. And I kept getting distracted from making my coffee. And I kept thinking about how hungry I was, but getting my eggs made seemed to be the last priority on the list.

The morning sort of just went from there. My kids needed me in every way possible. There were slivers that needed to be removed, spills at breakfast, scraped knees on the driveway. And I just wasn't ready for it. I wasn't ready for them. I still had my list of needs and none of them were getting met. No ones needs were getting met.

Now I want to pause right here and clarify one thing. It is okay to make kids wait. And it is okay to not meet their needs right in that very moment. But in this instance, I knew very well that it was my own lack of preparation for the day that was turning the whole day south. If I had just gotten up an hour before them I could have showered, put my contacts in, made my coffee, eaten my breakfast and read by Bible all before the kids woke up... and the entire trajectory of our day would have been set in a better direction.

At one point I was posting a picture on instagram and the kids ran upstairs to get bubble gum and that which quickly devolved into an Ivar-Elsie yelling spat about gum size that woke a sleeping Hattie. And the anger I felt in that moment was hot and furious. Because then I had a crabby baby all the rest of the day added to an already challenging day. But you know what? The whole gum suggestion was because I wanted some quiet to post a picture on my phone. Again, I have to own that one.

So last night I told Rory about the whole derailed day and we made a plan for me to get up and to be ready for the masses to wake up with their many needs. I took a shower, put my contacts in, got fully ready, drank my coffee, ate my breakfast and read my Bible. And when my kids came trickling downstairs I was able to meet them and help them get their day started right too. Today has been completely different from yesterday. I wanted a do-over and I got it. We're all enjoying this day much, much more.

It was a good lesson for me. Both days are sort of "typical." Some days I'm on my game. Other days I'm not. It is certain that the whole calling of motherhood is a refining calling, ridding a girl of her own selfishness and helping her to learn selflessness. Putting the needs of others above herself day after day is definitely not natural. It goes against everything in my human nature. But it is a high calling and I believe it is fully worthwhile. And it means that I really should just set an alarm and meet my own needs before I meet the needs of the masses.

Motherhood is good. Happy Mother's Day! And happy every other day that you pour yourself out as a mother.

we've got names!

This picture has nothing to do with this post. But the boys did camp out on Saturday night and stayed out the whole night. In our hearts, summer is here!

All throughout this pregnancy Elsie has said to me, "mom, bend your belly like this." And she shows me how to get my head lower to where her head is. Then she tells me, "I'm going to whisper a good name for the baby and you're not going to laugh because I'm not being funny." And then she tells me her latest idea of a name. Usually it is some combination of sounds and utterances that do sort of make a name. Like "Sambata" or "Ralla." Then I have to stand back up again and tell her that I hadn't ever thought of that name, but I do like it. I'll talk to Dad about it.

Baby names is a big topic around here. I told the kids one name that I LOVE for a girl and they both busted out laughing. So we went a different direction.

But this is very odd. When I was pregnant with Ivar, I was walking around Lake Harriet and I remember feeling very settled on four baby names. Rory and I had narrowed our choices down and the four we had chosen were Ivar, Elsie, Harriet and _____. (A boys name.)

I remember recounting them in that order before Ivar was born. And then with each birth I have been quietly surprised that they are coming out in the gender order that I felt were our four names. I try to remember that moment seven years ago, wondering if maybe that was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, filling me in on the gifts I was about to be given. Or if I just coincidentally recited the names as boy, girl, girl, boy. Time will tell!

Of course, this next baby could easily be a girl and we would be thrilled and grateful. A baby is a baby and a life is a life. We welcome this next child of ours with great enthusiasm and anticipation, believing God chose this specific life to join our family.

In terms of naming, this also means that we have our boys name set in stone (and have for seven years!), but have had a very hard time coming up with another girls name. Because we've already used up two we knew we loved. We have spent many car rides telling each other, "okay. we have to get serious about this. what names are we thinking if it is a girl?" And man we have been stumped. It has been really hard this time around. We've had a few contenders but nothing that we felt settled on.

Until a few days ago. And now we've got a beautiful name that I love so much that if this baby is a boy, we may just have to have another so I can use the girl name next. :)

battening down the hatches

I woke up yesterday and could tolerate clutter no more. I'm basically at the stage of nesting where I just want my house empty. This has happened with each pregnancy, but especially with these later babies who have older siblings who help make the clutter mess. And nothing is safe. Throw pillows annoy me. Couch cushions. All things used to build a fort start to bug me because they can be moved. Basically, I want my house glued down in its most pristine state.

Anyway. There is one person in our family who seems to messy up our house more than the others. And not with couch cushions and art supplies, but with silverware, clean dish towels, shoes and boxes of unused band aids. Not to point any fingers, but if we took a family vote for messiest member, Hattie would win the election. Yes, she's darling. But she's also quite destructive.
And we've been so slow on the draw with this one! For six months we've been complaining of the way she undoes the house thinking it was just a phase. But this phase doesn't seem to be passing anytime soon. So this week Rory has been screwing every cabinet and drawer we have with a child-proof latch and Hattie is not pleased. But everyone else is. Low book shelves have been emptied. Any bins without a lid have been placed up high. Our house has become terribly boring and I am strangely pleased. :)