Oh, Hello

So I promised in my last post that I’d come back here today and re-introduce myself as it’s been awhile and I’ve noticed a number of new faces lately.

So yes, uh, huh huh hi, hello, my name is Kari ;]

I’m originally from Missouri.

In college, I met a boy and he turned out to be not only stinking cute but also the love of my life. We celebrate nine years of marriage this summer and I’m so thankful I get to go through life with someone so fun and amazing by my side.

Seriously, this picture was taken Easter Sunday and I can’t stop staring at him and how handsome he looked. Here I am seven months pregnant and all chubby-ish and he’s just standing there smiling like he’s Magic Mike—I can’t get enough but I’ll stop ogling him via the internet now and move on ❤

IMG_20170416_103634_839Also, I have a two-year-old son who I completely adore 98% of the time. He’s hell-bent on destruction and completely insane but I realize where all of that came from and am rather partial to him.

IMG_20151023_095240And as before mentioned, I’m pregnant—baby #2 is coming this summer and I’ve spent the last 7 months warning her about her brother. I’m guessing she’ll be able to take him though because I have five brothers and I can take all of them at once…so she got dis ;]

I’ve lived in Massachusetts for the last nine years (thanks to Mr. Handsome up there).

Before I became a baby momma, I worked with my husband in aerospace. I say that because it makes me sound smart but really it was just a boring office job most of the time :]

I’m a Christian and write quite often about my faith.

I absolutely love bare feet, warm weather, and being outside. So I moved to New England (???). I cry like a baby from December through April because I have to stay inside or wear shoes. Everyone who lives anywhere near me is 1000% over hearing about it. I always swear I’ll have a better attitude at the start of each winter but I’m usually crying and complaining by the time the first flurries fly.

dsc_1356My husband and I love traveling and make trips a big priority in the way we budget and save money. If you think I cry about winter you should hear my husband cry about having to take a year off of traveling to have this baby ;] We’re both very restless, adventurous people and are always planning our next trip. Right now I’m dreaming of Ireland and Honolulu :]

img_20160917_174155.jpgIn 2013, we bought a dilapidated 1860s farmhouse thinking it was a good idea to remodel it ourselves. Ah hah hah hah…. we should have burnt it down. I’m just kidding… Four years and almost two kids later and we’re still working away (although we really are almost done and have enjoyed living here for the last 18 months).

DSC_0375I am mildly obsessed with leather bags, paper goods, capturing the perfect photograph, pasta, and like three people outside of my husband and son ;] No, I’m just kidding I seriously have at least five friends :]

So I hope that helps us get better acquainted for the moment. I would love to find out who’s reading this and what you’re like as well so go ahead and leave a comment introducing yourself if you like. I look forward to hearing from you ❤

—Kari

November.

Autumn dazzles and keeps us ever looking up, up, up at orange and red and golden leaves set aflame against New England’s cobalt skies. We rode our bikes into town the other day and soaked up the magic of crunching leaves and the whole world smelling like a big cup of hot tea.

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My son, two years old, stood in wonder beneath maple trees and watched as still and quiet as I’ve ever seen him as the leaves came raining down in a sharp breeze.

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This is the time of year when my wandering heart find its way home after hot summer days spent away camping and traveling and chasing the sun while she’s ours.

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Today I sit with my second cup of hot coffee and enjoy the smell of the house filled with dinner simmering on the stovetop. Tonight we’ll light a fire and gather around for a few quiet moments as a family before we slip to bed and start again tomorrow.

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I used to dread this time of year because it means a long, cold winter is soon upon us. But this time around I’m actually grateful for the cold giving me a reason to spend some slower, quieter days at home with my people.

Summer will come again and we will go outside and travel and play and chase all those glorious golden rays. But for now, for today, I’m happy right here with my hot cup of coffee and the smell of dinner on the stovetop.

Happy November 🙂

The Bigger Picture

Today I woke with the morning light spreading across a canvas of crisp blue winter sky. The one advantage of waking early with a little one is watching the sun wake up bright and ready for a new day too. The world looks full of hope first thing in the morning, with new light and new possibilities spreading before us.

For months now Darren has been building the chimney on our house. Day after day, brick after brick he worked away until we were finally able to sit in front of a crackling fire and smell the house filled with that wonderful wood and smoke aroma I love so much in winter.

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I learned something watching him lay brick, watching that same repetitive task done over and over again until something lasting finally took shape:

Life and all we hope to build unfolds slowly, brick by brick, day by day.

When I think about marriage or motherhood or staying home to raise a family, I often get mucked up in a romantic idea of how this big plan of mine is supposed to look. I forget though, that in the moment, day to day, things aren’t likely to look romantic or ideal at all.

I have to remind myself often, more so now in motherhood than ever before, that there is a bigger picture at hand. What I see and often get lost in day to day–the chores and messes and repetitive instruction of a little one–these are but bricks, small pieces of a much grander whole.

When I wash clothes and cook meals and sweep floors, I’m doing more than housework–I’m building a home and making this shell of a house feel like a home. When I kiss, and carry, discipline, and teach my little one–I’m more than babysitting; I’m raising a child who will become an adult who already carries with him an eternal soul. And so this daily work becomes a matter of eternal importance–forever, always, unending importance.

Darren bought a little plant for me at the store the other day. We were choosing paint for the cabinets when I saw a display of brand new succulents–I oohed and ahhd over them until we left with one :]

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I put the little plant on a window sill to sunbathe his way through winter. Today I noticed him sitting there in the morning light and thought what a pretty picture it would be–if it weren’t for the unfinished window trim messing everything up.

I took the picture anyway because it reminded me of this very thing I’m talking about–about the bigger picture and seeing beauty in the mess and unfinished work of life.

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So today I’m trying to stay focused on the long term and reminding myself over and over again that all these small things we do a million times over add up to a whole lifetime in the end.

The point is not so much what I’m doing today in and of itself but what today is helping me build for tomorrow. Bit by bit, brick by brick, I hope I can start to see the value and purpose in the tasks before me today so I may build something lasting and eternal for tomorrow.

Look Up

We just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, Darren and I. We sat trying to decide how to celebrate. All either of us wanted was to get away for a few days—away from work, and house remodeling, and life’s routine. We talked about Quebec City or Acadia or Niagara Falls. And we talked about fresh air, and crisp river water, and camp fires beneath the stars. And that’s when we decided camping would be the very best celebration this year. So we packed, and goodness, I’m amazed how much stuff it takes for us Americans to sleep on the ground properly. This was Roman’s first time camping in a tent and it takes as much stuff for one baby as it does for 8 adults I think. You should have seen our car, loaded down with tent, and pack n play, and bike rack, and a million other things to help nature out with our high maintenance ways. And then we were off, up to Vermont, to the woods and river and biking trails—up away from work and routine and all that wears us down these days. The sky was playing games and just starting to spit rain when we arrived. We moved fast, taunting nature back, and got our tent up just before the heavy rain came. We stay huddled together in our tent that evening watching Roman run from one end of the small space to the other. We made sandwiches for dinner and went to bed as soon as it was dark, listening to the sound of the rain beating against our little shelter all night long like a song. setup DSC_0468 We woke to a cool, foggy morning. We and everything else felt damp but how good it was to wake up with the sun and our baby boy snuggled between us on the floor. A crackling campfire was built and soon red potatoes and kale were cooking for breakfast. DSC_0330 I like the pace of nature and our pace in nature when we work with instead of against the morning light, and dew, and cool air wrapping around us before the heat of the day comes and pushes us back inside. So we took our time that morning, tasting our breakfast not just eating it. We took sauntering walks and breezy bike rides and looked at each other, not past to the next item of business. DSC_0763bikecarrierDSC_0815 DSC_0817 We filled our hearts, and lungs, and minds with all the good thing of nature and quiet time together. We held hands and held our son and snuggled close together around campfires at night. DSC_0436 One night, our last night, I walked back to our tent alone in the dark. I thought about the sweet days we had enjoyed and was sad to see them ending. I tried to soak up everything around me one last time–the smell of the woods, sound of the river, feel of the night air wrapping around me—and the stars, I thought—don’t forget to look up at the stars one last time for they look nothing like this back home with all the other lights hiding them. So I looked up at the night sky and all the millions and billions of tiny light freckles poking through from heaven to earth. How enchanting the night sky is and how mysterious. When I got back to the tent, Darren traded watching Roman with me and started to walk the dark path himself. I told him, “Don’t forget to look up” —and off he went with eyes to the sky. I watched him walk away and heard those words echo back to me in my head— “Don’t forget to look up.” momandrome DSC_0417 Don’t forget to look up. I have thought about that phrase many times over the last two weeks since camping. I’ve thought about it when the waves of life have washed our feet out from under us and brought us humbly to our knees. I’ve thought about those words when I’ve grown overwhelmed or discouraged and can’t find my way. Don’t forget to look up—not just to the stars, but to the God who made the stars. Look up to the God whose light shines through to us, not just in a million freckled bits of light but in our hearts and lives every day. Look up to the God who is present and in control and loves us even when we think perhaps he has forgotten. Don’t forget to look up—first, always, to the God who is there in every bit of light in the world, for he and he alone is The Light of the world. Look up.

Seasons.

Life is full of seasons, made up of seasons. There are seasons of abundance and joy and dry seasons when the soul is weary and parched. It reminds me of the land I grew up on in Missouri and the way we talked about the weather like it was money–because rain, too much or too little of it, could mean everything to a successful crop and harvest.

This winter season feels like the longest I’ve ever experienced. I usually declare it spring as soon as we’ve poked our toes across the line into March but there doesn’t seem much point in doing that this year with the snow still falling and forecasted as far out as we can see. This winter has been made up of long days cooped up in the house taking care of a baby and long nights waiting for Darren to get home from work and class. And I’m starting to feel a little parched, dried up, in need of some cleansing rain.

I’ve been discouraged, tired, overwhelmed. I’m ready to be done with winter, done with house remodeling, done with busy days that keep my little family from being together and enjoying each other.

I want to quit.

But I remembered yesterday, that life is made up of seasons–seasons of abundance and dry seasons without rain.

This discouragement, this weariness, this wanting to give up and walk away–this is just a season without rain. Seasons change. Winter, no matter how stubborn, always gives way to spring. The flowers always poke through, even if they must first poke up through the snow.

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I’m thankful that seasons come and go, ebb and flow in and out of life like the tide. I’m thankful that the longest, darkest night always gives way to dawn. But I’m even more thankful that right in the middle of the dark and dry spells, there is water and light and hope. There is God. And God doesn’t change, he doesn’t ebb and flow or fluctuate. I don’t need my life or circumstances to change in order to be refreshed–I can be refreshed right here in the desert by a God who always brings light and hope and renewal.

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Soon, the snow will melt. I will feel the sunshine on my skin and be able to go outside and stretch my legs. I can’t wait. But until then, I’m using these cooped up winter days to find the light and rain I need in my soul. This season will pass. I will look back at this winter and these first months as a mother and see this time I’m now in from a different vantage point. I have to remind myself of that–that this is a season. No matter how overwhelming a day or period may be, it will pass, it will change. And even when I’m in the middle of a long, discouraging stretch without change, God is always the same–always present, always renewing, always what my parched soul truly needs for actual, lasting change.

Setting the Tone at Home

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The other day I lay on the couch with my baby boy asleep on my chest. I have watched the seasons change and the world go by my living room window holding Roman there while he naps. The hot, sticky summer yielded to fall. Fall shed her gold and red robe of leaves and bowed to winter. Winter yields to no one. Spring is in hiding and I’m afraid, may never have the courage to stand in winter’s stubborn way.
Winter can be beautiful too, occasionally. That day the wind was blowing hard and the clouds were light and billowy and rolling end over end on their way out of town. The sky was deep-sea blue and the sun broke through. But still the snow fell—fell out of nowhere, fell in the sunshine and looked like glittering rain flitting through the light. It was magical, the sunlight and snow and fluffy fast clouds.

That day I drank my coffee hot and foamy instead of cold and dense. I sat and read and jotted some thoughts down on paper. I looked at my son and noticed his one-toothed smile and perfect little giggle.
I tell you all this because I’ve realized something lately: I’m usually too busy and distracted to notice the beauty all around me. Often, I have the living room blinds closed to keep the glare of the sun off the TV and I sit on the couch looking in at Netflix and housework instead of out at nature.

But that day was different. That day I decided to be still and quiet. I turned the TV off and put my phone down. I held my boy and lay there consciously watching the snow and clouds dance outside my window. I realized that I, more than anyone or anything else, set the tone in my home. I stay home full-time which means all day every day I am the one who determines how much TV, media, and noise is allowed in our house. And with that decision, I determine what my son is exposed to in the way of noise and distractions.

Already I’m an example to him and when I sit holding him with the TV on in the background while I scroll through endless feeds on my phone, I’m teaching him the art of distraction rather than of mindful concentration. I’m teaching him to fill his life with noise and motion rather than stillness and silence. What I do now is what I’m teaching him to do later.

If I want him to know how to sit still and play quietly, I need to show him by my actions how those things are done. If I want him to read and love stories, I need to read books myself and read to him. If I want him to love nature and spending more time playing outside than in, then I need to take him outside and show him what a beautifully intriguing world we live in. Just like I can’t eat junk food in front of him all day and expect him to love healthy food, so I can’t fill his environment with noise and distractions and expect him to want anything else.

10967813_10152645679501517_1705059145_n{Reading Anne of Green Gables together}

Sometimes the quiet drives me crazy when I’m home alone all day but I’m learning to be careful about my own need for noise and accidentally instilling that same need in my son. As a mom it’s my responsibility to teach and lead by example and that often means working on my own bad habits and growing myself into the same kind of person I would like my children to be; I can’t have expectations for them that I don’t live up to myself.

This is not just for my baby either; it’s benefited me as well. I’m enjoying the quiet and the peaceful feel our home has when it’s not filled with all the flashing lights and sounds of TV. I’m enjoying the things I notice and can concentrate on when I look away from my phone and at the world and people around me instead. I by no means think all TV and social media are bad, I’m just starting to recognize the ways I’m abusing good things and setting a bad example in the process. I’m learning to love the quiet and to live in that quiet rather than automatically drowning out my thoughts with background noise.

Good living takes discipline. It takes discipline and forethought to eat healthy meals. It takes discipline to sit down and read or to tap out words. It takes discipline to build strong, happy, healthy relationships. And I’m learning too that it takes discipline to manage the noise and distractions that come with our modern way of life, with cell phones and social media.

Every day I have a choice and an opportunity with the way I live, the home I build, the example I set. Each day is a new chance and building block but eventually those blocks add up from a foundation to a structure—so I must ask, what am I building today with this block? What will this house look like and how will I build and grow the people in it? It’s up to me, every day, one day at a time…and every single day and block counts towards the final structure.

I Wanted a Girl

One year ago today I found out I was having a little boy. I was disappointed. I had wanted a girl—deeply, almost desperately wanted a girl. It’s not that I don’t like boys just as much, but there’s just so many of them in my life. Five brothers. Loads of nephews. I love every man and boy in my life and wouldn’t trade any of them for a girl, but still…I wanted a daughter. I wanted some girl time. I wanted flowery dresses and mommy/daughter fun.

So when the ultrasound tech said with all kinds of enthusiasm, “It’s a boy!” I faked a smile and fought back tears. I pretended to be happy. I called my family and faked excitement as I gave them the news. And when all the calls and pretending were done, I sat in the car and cried. I felt horrible, selfish, and ungrateful. I had a perfectly healthy little boy growing away and all I could do was cry about not getting what I wanted. But it was more than that.

I felt like God had let me down.

This desire for a daughter was so deeply rooted in my heart that I honestly didn’t think God would deny me. And when he did, I felt like I was being taunted. Why had I wanted a girl so much if I was just going to be told no? Why couldn’t I will myself to want a son just as much as a daughter?

That night we went to dinner with Darren’s family to celebrate. We opened gifts of blue and cowboys and I felt a million miles away. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to celebrate. When we left the restaurant the whole sky was robed in pink with the sunset; and I thought again that God was making fun of me with the world dressed in pink. Darren and I went to the mall after that to buy the first outfit for our baby boy—blue jeans, blue shirt, blue, blue, blue.

When we finally got home, I lay in bed and cried. Was I spoiled and wallowing in my own disappointment at not getting what I wanted? Probably. I have friends who want children but have instead faced infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Though my heart hurts for them, I can’t pretend to understand what they’ve been through. And I’m sure I, with my perfectly healthy baby, must sound incredibly stupid and selfish complaining about something as simple as the specific gender of a child. I knew it then and I know it now and yet I couldn’t will myself to feel differently at the time.

But I have learned something since this day last year. I have learned from experience that sometimes what I want is not nearly as wonderful as what God wants to give me. Sometimes my plan isn’t best. Sometimes God withholds one thing to fill my heart and arms with something I didn’t even know I needed or wanted. God is, in fact, smarter than me.

The other night I sat on Roman’s nursery floor holding my sleeping boy in my arms. He was done eating, I could have put him to bed and gone to bed myself but I just couldn’t put him down. I wanted to hold and snuggle him because already he’s growing and changing so fast—it makes my heart hurt realizing I won’t always be able to snuggle him close in my arms. Once I had put him down and gone to bed, I lay there thinking about how I had once been disappointed over him, how I had thought I wanted something else. And I cried again, not out of disappointment, but out of disbelief that I had ever thought he wasn’t enough, wasn’t what I wanted. And I was thankful that God knew better and gave a gift I cannot deserve.

When I hold this child, this child who I once cried hot tears of disappointment over, I am thankful that God loves me enough to not always give me what I think I want. Somehow I think learned love is even better than love that comes naturally. When you have fought and worked for something, it means more to you than things simply given. I didn’t know if I would love my son as much as I would have loved a daughter, that’s the truth. But I can tell you, now that he’s here, I wouldn’t trade him for a dozen daughters and I can’t imagine loving any child more.

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Motherhood is Good

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There are two things you hear a lot when people find out you’re pregnant: “Kids are so much fun!” and “Your life is about to change” (dunn, dunn, dunnnnn). Both are true but the second probably doesn’t need to be said. I haven’t met anyone yet expecting a child who doesn’t already know–deeply, profoundly–that their life is about to change.

I remember standing in the bathroom early that Saturday morning waiting for the words “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant” to look back at me from that life altering little stick. I bought the fancy pants test just to be sure and it estimated how many weeks I had been pregnant too…3+ it said…so not only was I pregnant, I had been pregnant for nearly a month without realizing it at all. No one needed to knock on the bathroom door at that early weekend hour and tell me life was about to change, maybe remind me how to breathe, tell me it’s going to be ok, but the rest I already knew.

I snuck back in our bedroom all cool and casual-like, no big deal just a baby on board. Darren was still asleep so I sat the test on my nightstand and slipped back under the covers. When Darren got up I moved the test to his pillow and waited for him to come back. His face, his words, I’ll never forget. We were both happy. We wanted this. We spent the rest of the morning talking fast and excited about this amazing thing happening right before us.

Even with our joy and desire for this baby, there was still an almost suffocating sense of, “are we really doing this?” The feeling of no going back and the absolute permanence of change in our lives was undeniable. Even if we lost the baby, just having been pregnant and falling in love with a baby we wanted would leave us changed. There was simply no way to go back to who we were before that moment. And thankfully, no such loss happened. On a hot, sticky, middle of the summer day our long-anticipated baby boy was born. And certainly, after meeting him and holding him in our arms, a new level of change occurred and we knew again that no matter what happened from there, we would never be the people we were before that moment.

I used to be scared of this change; sometimes I still am. I am finding with each step into motherhood that the ominous warnings remain. Just wait, they say…

Until he teeths

Crawls

Walks

And a million other stepping-stones along the way.

And though I’m sure they don’t really mean it this way, I sometimes hear in each warning…

It gets harder

It gets worse

You’ll never be good enough

But though I am only a little over six months into this parenting journey and certainly realize how very much I have yet to learn, I want to say something:

Motherhood is good.

Yes, it’s hard.

Yes, it’s exhausting.

Yes, sometimes I lose my temper, get frustrated, overwhelmed, sometimes I cry, feel lonely.

But there are so many other times when my heart is full to overflowing. Truly, I have never been so happy or at peace in my whole life. I love being a mom. And I love being a mom even when it’s hard. A week ago I was up all night with a crying baby. I held him, paced his nursery floor, cried, prayed…nothing changed. I took him to the doctor the next morning and found out he had an ear infection. That was a hard night followed by a hard day but somehow it was also incredibly fulfilling. Do I like staying up all night with a crying baby? No. But I do love being a mother who can hold and comfort her child when he’s hurting.

I didn’t realize before I become a mother that somehow all those hard times would actually be some of the most beautiful opportunities to enter in to loving another person and growing as a person myself. I didn’t know how satisfying it would be. I was afraid of the warnings and the change because I didn’t have the knowledge of just how oddly good those hard times can be. I’m learning not to be afraid of the “just wait” and the “it gets harder.” I’m learning that even though motherhood is hard, the hard parts are also some of the best parts and there’s nothing to dread. I wouldn’t exchange that night of pacing his nursery floor for anything; not because I’m a martyr but because I got hold to him and love him and be his mother.

Sometimes I think people (probably unintentionally) make motherhood sound too hard, almost daunting. Yes, of course it’s hard, but I wish we heard more about how wonderful it is. I mean, truly wonderful. Satisfying. Fulfilling. Beautiful. Joyful. Magical. Heart so full of love its going to explode.

You might be surprised by just how easy motherhood is in so many ways :]

Not Alone

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My Boys Collage

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10735788_10152432829691517_710490961_nTonight I sat outside in the dark looking at the stars. I felt small here on earth looking at all the light poking through from up there. Roman was with me and fussed if ever I took my hand off of him. So I rested it on his head or chest and he quieted back to sleep with his mittened fingers wrapped around mine in the cold. He just wants to know I’m there, still holding onto him in the dark. Maybe that’s why I look at the stars, even though they make me feel small—I just want to know God is watching over me in the dark.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 {ESV}

The Wild Blue Sea

Baby Boy, you saw the ocean for the first time this week, heard the music of the tide pulling on and off the shore. You felt the briny air on your soft baby skin and watched the evening sun melt into the waves. I hope Darling, that your heart and soul and mind are as deep and wide and wild as the deep blue sea.

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“All good things are wild and free.” –Henry David Thoreau