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Have Mercy

Last week I was really stressed out and was experiencing consistent stomach pains. I was pretty sure they were stress-related but then thought for a moment, “Maybe it’s appendicitis! Maybe I’ll get to have an operation and stay at the hospital and sleep for a couple days! That would be amazing!”

So yeah, when appendicitis feels like your best-case scenario, life might be a little off-balance.

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(Brin snapped this photo of me this morning. I look tired. BECAUSE I AM.)

(Also, my eyebrows need some work.)

My mom hopped on a plane and made what we’re referring to as a Mercy Trip. She saw that I was drowning and she came to lend a hand. Bless her. She has been picking up the pieces of this house and my heart for the past week and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Life is so good, though, even though the days are frenzied.

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Picture day for Musical Theatre. So fun.

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This sweet kid, learning to read and write and ride horses.

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And THIS one. Home a bit for a few final months before Kindergarten. I hope she wears this hat on her first day of school.

 

 

 

Jen Wilson - Dude. I know the best-case-scenario in-the-hospital thing. REST. It’s priceless. I’m so glad your mom could come and give you some help!

Shannon popowich - My appendix burst a week after having my third baby…. It was the best morphin induced sleep of my life!!
Last week my mama came to help me too… Equally as great! :)

Susan - I felt like that many of times. Even with upcoming baby, I keep joking with Dana that my bi-annual vacation is coming up. Two days in the hospital with baby sounds amazing! This is a life of a busy mom. I can remember being eager to get home after baby and with my third I didn’t even spend the night. With our fourth, a good friend suggested to “soak it in” and it was fabulous being loved in by wonderful nurses! Leading up to birth I have fantasized about mandated bed rest, going away by myself, even early labor. Again, life as a busy mom. Know that you are not alone! Beside you are other amazing, beautiful, strong, tired moms. I read your blog and am amazed by your inner beauty and strength. Praying this “Mercy Trip” with your mom allows time for self-care, encouragement and love. I think you are amazing, for what it’s worth…, and more importantly, God knows you are amazing and doing a great work!

Things I Learned About Road-Biking

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1. Road bikers are nice to beginners. They are supportive and encouraging and cool.

2. If you have only ever been on one bike ride, signing up for a training weekend that has you do 110 km in two days MIGHT be a bit much.

3. But you’ll be glad you did it.

4. Even though by the end of the last ride it felt like you’d been the victim of a gynecological exam gone horribly wrong.

5. Clipping in and out of pedals is STILL kind of tricky. Especially at stop lights. I came 0.2 seconds from falling again, but narrowly missed a bail.

6. If you bike 110 km, you will be hungry, literally, for five days afterwards. Pass the  Costco-sized bag of Chicago Mix. Oh wait, no need. It’s already on my lap.

7. Supportive husbands are a necessity if you’re going to leave your family for hours-long bike rides. Thanks, Steve!

8. Shoot, I’m all out of Chicago Mix.

Angella - So proud of you!!

Lisa_Lu - WOO-HOO!!!! You did it! That’s so awesome!

I Can’t

I don’t really write anymore, which is lame. Writing is a good way for me to set my brain free, process my thoughts and unpack my feelings. Without an outlet, it’s all left swirling in my mind and oozing out of my ears at inopportune moments.

If I had been writing more regularly, here are a few things you would have heard about:

1. I worked really hard this past fall to lose some weight. Like, REALLY hard. Worked out every day, counted every morsel and I lost about 10 pounds. And while I felt good, better in my jeans, and pleased with my progress, it didn’t feel like a way I wanted to live long-term: keeping track of calories, feeling guilty if I only worked out five days a week instead of six.

The trouble is, as soon as I put my guard down and live a little (aka: not log every piece of food I eat, or, heaven forbid, have a cheese bun) I automatically gain five pounds. Not even kidding. FIVE POUNDS! Maybe it’s the gluten, maybe it’s the wine, but maybe it’s just me. Maybe that’s where my body was created to live…five pounds from where I want it to be. Is that bad? I don’t know. I still want to be active and healthy. And I DO want to be thin, too. But the layers of it all just run so deep for me: I spent a decade lost in a secret spiral of disordered eating and it’s so easy for me to slip back into a bad headspace. Don’t want to go there. Just trying to find the balance between striving for “better” but not beating the joy of life and food out of the everyday.

2. Then there’s my work. I carry around this guilt a lot of the time, and wear it like an invisible lead apron over my professional-looking attire. I just never imagined I would be a busy, working mom. I was going to stay home and love it and make egg-carton caterpillars. Then this amazing opportunity came along, I jumped at it, and I love my career. It’s so satisfying and has helped me find the parts of me that got lost along the way. But the whole balancing act? Of unpredictable work hours, crazy long days and nights, while simultaneously trying to carve out the time to be present for our girls, have food in the fridge (and, if we’re really lucky, on the table), help with homework, listen to their tales of friendship woes and triumphs, play and laugh with them….I am failing. How on earth are there supposed to be enough hours in the day to be a good mother, wife, friend, fitness enthusiast, home-cook, house cleaner, spiritual being, and semi-presentable for public viewing?! I cannot do it all, not even a little.

3. Spring break was LONG. Today on Facebook there were all these moms posting about how much they miss their kids now that they’re back at school and I was all, “We are VERY different. That’s OK. I think you are probably better than I am, but that is also OK.”

4. The wonderful woman who comes to swab our toilets and mop our floors twice a month is away on an extended holiday. We are officially living in squalor.

5. We went for a family hike last night down in the gully at the bottom of the orchard and when we came back we found nine ticks on Rolo, and one each on Steve, Mackie and Avelyn. Nature, MAN!

6. For Christmas I got a road bike and then somehow signed up for a 90 km bike race at the end of this summer. Since getting this new bike, I have learned to clip into pedals, and then also what it’s like to not be able to clip out of said pedals when you come to a stop and fall flat on your side-bum. While still clicked into your bike. Twice. There was no escape.

I have since gone on to figure it out a bit, gone on some great rides and am signed up for a weekend-long bike training camp. In four days. Hold me. I am a little freaked out, but also it’s invigorating to just commit to something, throw yourself in wholeheartedly and see where it leads. I am such a beginner, it’s laughable, but hey, it’s happening. Also, I wore bike shorts in public one time. It was kind of gross but I didn’t even care.

7. Everyone else I know is also super busy and stressed out. Why do we all live like this? Is it just the stage of life? Or are we all making kind of dumb choices? It’s all just going so fast!

8. I went to a 1920s Gatsby-themed murder mystery surprise party on a retired paddle wheeler. That was fun.

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Anyways, we are good. Asking Big Life Questions, making it through the days, breathing it all in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen Wilson - I worked in a bike shop for a number of years and saw men and women (but mostly men) of all shapes and sizes in bicycle shorts. Often. Bicycle shorts aren’t flattering, but don’t they feel 30x better than wearing anything else? They really do.

And for everything else. Life is hard. I’m struggling too. My kids are on spring break for 10 days starting Friday. I’m SO looking forward to not driving a million hours a day, but goodness, I’m not sure what to do with them!

Lisa - I’ve missed your writing! Glad to “hear your voice” again today. I love that you keep it real and write about these things that we all often struggle with.

Let go of the guilt. Eat cheese and be happy about it (because who Isn’t happy eating cheese?!) and have fun with the new adventure that is biking.

Amanda Franks - That party looks super fun. I may just have to come to the Valley for my 40th…

I just did a bible study, it’s not super intense theologically or loaded up with homework or anything. It’s based on the movie ‘Moms Night Out’. It’s called ‘Beautiful Mess: Motherhood for Every Moment’ and it totally speaks into the stage of life we are in. It changed my perspectives, helped me see the eternal in raising my kids, and helped me think through many of the same tough questions you were asking in this post. Best of all its not a template, or a cookie cutter solution or 10 steps to whatever. It’s a lot of encouragement and open ended questions for us each to find our way. I highly recommend it. As a working mom of 5 whose life did not go the way she planned, it was the life raft I needed.

Good luck with your bike race! I’m sure you’ll do splendidly.

Melanie - Gah. We are often in the same headspace are we not? As I read through this post I just kept nodding my head and saying “mmmhmm” over and over again. I want to lose the weight too but I find that when I am trying it is fine but it is ALL I AM DOING and everything else falls by the wayside. And do I want to be the kind of Mum who is so concerned with her weight that her daughters are always worried about their weight? No, I don’t. I’m pretty tiny, I admit this, but I have that baby weight around the middle I would like to get rid of so people stop asking when baby #4 is due. The answer is still: never. And when faced with the prospect of Spring Break this year I signed my two oldest girls up for a day camp. I felt really guilty over it but then I decided that since I spend all my time with them anyway that it was a good opportunity to try something new. Plus I was going to get lots of stuff done around the house with only one small child to look after. The verdict is that I got nothing done around the house but I did read two books and drink lots of tea so it was a successful Spring Break and I wasn’t sorry to see them go back to school/preschool. I’m so happy that you found the time to write something!

Sarah - Oh Amanda, we are thinking all the same thoughts as of late! All I keep repeating to myself is this nugget of wisdom I recently read: “You can have it all: just not all at once.” Love <3

alexa - It is hard to be a mom and work and fit in anything for yourself. I think we all struggle with it but all you can do is keep going and hope for the best.

I wanted to comment on the weight thing. I’ve been struggling to loose weight on and off for years now and one of the things that I read on myfitnesspal.com is that we have reserves in our body and that we burn off, we then lose the weight we want to lose and then our body packs those reserves back on (usually about 5 lb).

So the point they made was to go a few pounds further than you felt necessary because your body was going to put the reserves back on once you started to maintain and eat normally. They were much more sciencey about it but that was the gist. I guess I just wanted to say don’t blame yourself…you didn’t do anything wrong…your body is just taking care of its self.

Jese - I love your honesty Amanda, you are able to articulate many things that ring true for me. No one can do it all, i feel frustrated trying to do it too even though i know i can’t. sounds like you did a fantastic job with fitness, good for you! my house is usually a mess, i make dents in it my cleaning one or two things at a time when i get a minute. nothing is ever clean all at the same time. oh well! keep up with the blog! thanks for sharing

In the Air

Spring has miraculously come early in the Okanagan. Whereas February usually involves us trapped under a thick blanket of valley cloud that leaves my spirits drooping and sad, the sun has been shining and everything is awesome. We have been getting out for more walks, the kids are playing outside, and each breath of crisp spring air I take leaves me feeling revitalized and ready for more.

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With the glorious spring weather, my thoughts reluctantly also turn to spring cleaning. As the sun streams through my windows I see new dust bunnies, my fridge has expired salad dressings from 2004, the winter clothing should be sorted, and the whole house needs a good tending to.

BUT. Life is busy. Work is demanding, kids are being driven every which way to activities and play dates, and the good intentions of spring cleaning often fall by the wayside and I am left feeling defeated and overwhelmed.

I have found that tackling one little job and giving myself a high five about that is a better approach than unrealistically thinking I can get everything accomplished in a single afternoon. Another thing I have tried is lighting a Lampe Berger which helps to purify the air and adds a nice, gentle scent to the home which destroys odors from our dogs and the three smelly kids who also live here. So, on days when I don’t have time to tidy and organize, lighting the Lampe Berger makes me still feel like the home is a little cleaner and nicer.

 

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I had always seen ads for Lampe Berger and wondered what it was and how it worked, so was happy to try it out when they contacted me. They are also offering a lovely Lampe Berger starter kit for one lucky reader. Just leave a comment and I will randomly choose the winner on March 2, 2015.

 

 

Kristin - Me please! We need to smell better ;)

Arielle - This would be great for us😊

Sonia - Cool! Thanks for the opportunity to win this!

I always look forward to reading your new posts so it’s a nice added bonus! :)

Amber - Pick me! Ps love the pics. :-)

Becki Breece - Well if you’re willing to ship down south, my 900 Square feet of smelly hovel could sure use one of these

Tarra - Oh yes please, with my little mess makers I could definitely use something ;)

Karmyn - Hey Amanda,
Hope I’m not too late to “enter”! Love seeing your family growing!

Christine - We are smelly over here in Alberta too. But we are blizzarding and not enjoying the sunny beach. Hence the smelliness of being stuck indoors!

Chelsi - This would be lovely!

Ruth - I’d love it. I’ve been curious about the car models too.

Ani - I would love to try that. I’ve never heard of it!!

rachel joy - I wonder if I’m too late. Would love to try it out!

Heleen van der Vyver - Pick me! Pick me!💐

alexa - I’ve never heard of that before, but if it could relive the odors of the kids, dog and husband I’d love to try it out!

Carla - If I’m not too late….I’d love one!

Everything Old Is New Again

I don’t want to jinx it, but I have really just been enjoying my kids lately.

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That sounds bad, and implies that I don’t usually enjoy them, which isn’t true. But for the last eight years, the moments of enjoyment have often been outweighed by sisterly fighting, tantrums, and general grumpiness. I often felt knocked down by the collective force of all three girls and their huge, swirling personalities that took on a life of their own and curb-stomped my face.

Anyhoo. It’s been better, these days. They are actually playing. TOGETHER. And not clawing each other’s eyes out. And they are laughing. TOGETHER. And not punching each other in the neck.

It’s the little things.

As we enter this (hopefully long-lived) new phase, I have also really been enjoying introducing the girls to things that I loved as a child. We spent the Christmas holiday watching all sorts of old-school shows that I used to adore and got to relive my love for with the kids.

Here is my list of “Old Awesome Stuff That My Kids Like As Much As I Did When I Was Little”

1. A Christmas Story

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This was our go-to holiday classic when my brother and I were kids. I wasn’t sure if our girls would like it, since it’s set kind of in the olden days but they basically peed their pants laughing. I was so proud.

2. Family Matters

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Remember TGIF? When all the greatest shows were on back-to-back every Friday night and you’d pop some popcorn and hunker down for an evening of amazing television viewing? SO GOOD. My kids cracked up so hard at every Steve Urkel did and it was so fun to re-watch these episodes.

3. Full House

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This is on Netflix now (praise be) and the girls just eat it up. They love that it centers on three sisters and they see themselves in the characters. So fun!

In more recent development, we found this gem on Netflix and I was the one who peed laughing. It is hilarious! Really!

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So, basically, we watched a lot of TV in December, OK? But we watched it TOGETHER.