Category Archives: From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family

Oh Baby.

I wasn’t completely honest in my post yesterday. I do in fact know one of the reasons I am feeling low right now. My heart is heavy because I am not pregnant with a baby that I was actively trying not to have. Say what? Maybe it is hormones or maybe it is the pure sweetness Anna brings into my life (along with her siblings requests for another, smaller baby), but I am going through a bit of a “I want another baby, what’s a fourth, why not” kind of delirium right now.

I experienced something like this when Sofia was around six months old but held off getting kinda accidentally pregnant with Charlie until she was 13 months. I had no such whimsies after Charlie. He was the worst. Seriously. The. Worst. I love the little man he became but he basically cried for the first year of his life. He had, so I thought, cured me of ever wanting another baby. And, as you have heard, after the initial shock and dismay of finding out I was really, completely, not at all on purpose pregnant with Anna, I fell in love with her. What I may not have told you is that I have basically had baby fever since Anna was born. Ahem, I’m sure it had nothing to do with watching “Call the Midwife” when she was an infant.

How do people make these decisions? I know that many people struggle to get pregnant so this “how many babies should I have” question is replaced with the  heart wrenching question, “why can’t I please just have one?”. But for me, my husband seems to spontaneously impregnate me with a mere look so the questions is, when should we stop?

My husband is very good at dialoging with me about this question. Poor man has had a lot of practice in the past year.

H: Maybe we don’t have enough money to have a fourth?

S: Deciding to have a a baby shouldn’t have to do with finances.

H: Maybe we don’t have enough space in our small three bedroom for a fourth?

S: People have been fitting larger families into smaller spaces for thousands of years.

H: I think that some of our family would disapprove of the decision to have a fourth.

S: It’s not any of their business.

H: Maybe I would go insane?

S: That is a valid point.

H: But maybe we should get pregnant right now okay?

S: Maybe not just yet Heather.

So where are we at? Well, what Steve said, “maybe not just yet”. Or what I seem to be looking for with hopeful eyes on a monthly basis, another wonderful accident.

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Filed under From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, Uncategorized

Choices

Almost every parent I know has weekly, if not daily, conversations with their children about whether the child is making good choices or bad choices.

Parent: “Is it a good choice or a bad choice to not wear your helmet when riding your bike?”

Child: “A bad choice”

Parent: “Why?”

Child: “I don’t know.”

Parent (if you used to be a nurse on a neurosciences ward): “Could you have gotten hit by a car, smashed your head, and ended up in the hospital with limited brain function and no possibility of ever riding a bike again?”

Child: “Yes mommy.”

All our choices, whether good or bad, have consequences, whether seen or unseen. This is a lesson we strive to teach our children through these conversations and through encouragement for making good choices, and discipline for making bad choices.

What I have been realizing lately is that I need to have more of these conversations with myself because whether I am three or thirty, my choices have consequences and, as with most choices, mine have a ripple effect on those around me.  I have been making some bad choices for myself lately. Simple bad choices like staying up too late to finish a book or veering too frequently from my no refined sugars policy are starting to take their toll. These choices have led to extreme fatigue, irritability, impatience, nausea, headaches and less productivity. But of course I never take this out on my family. Ha! Rather, because of my bad choices I am unable to love my husband as well as he deserves or give my children the patience they require. Bad choices = Bad Consequences

It is time for mama to start leading by example and making good choices for herself. Maybe that will have a ripple effect too.

 

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Filed under From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family

Impulse Buys and Kitchen Pizazz

I am somewhat prone to impulse buys, particularly interior decor items like wall art, vases, trays etc. I am drawn to beautiful things and have too often bought objects which, though beautiful, are not necessary, practical, or even in keeping with the style of my home. It doesn’t take me long to realize this after buying the object but by that time I am stuck with the bill and an increasing surplus of stuff. And though I like beautiful objects, I distinctly do not like a build up of “stuff” in my house so off to Value Village it goes.

Why am I mentioning this? Partly because money matters are a bit stressful after a renovation which (like most do) went over budget, and partly because there is still a bit more money I want to spend on accessories for the kitchen. My goal is to thoughtfully consider what would be beautiful, what would be in keeping with the rest of my decor, and what would not completely annoy me to have sitting on my counter at all times.

And so, as I thoughtfully consider whether I want some artwork leaning against, or attached to my back splash, and what artwork that might be, here are some pictures of kitchens that are given an extra dose of pizazz through art displays:

kitchenartcoffee

These people speak my language. You can buy prints like this on Etsy or make them yourself.

kitchenartcountradelectic

kitchenartcountryleaves

kitchenartcountrymod

kitchenartcountryscene

Such a necessary pop of colour in an all white kitchen.

Beautiful kitchen design with black cabinets.

kitchenartorangescene

 

kitchenartwallmodern

These pictures aren’t against the back splash like in the other kitchens but what a stunning display. Love!

So what do you think? Would you, could you have art on your counter space?

 

 

 

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Filed under From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Famous

Growing up, I never  felt like I truly excelled at anything I did. I was pretty good at a few things, like academics, but I didn’t excel. I was surround by those who did excel, or at least who made themselves known through their boisterous personalities. As siblings are apt do to, I compared myself with my brother and sister. My sister was a track star, a leader among her peers, and a “A” student. My brother was an amazing basketball player and later became an extraordinary guitar player. But what did I excel at? Sports? Certainly not. Music? I was mediocre at best. Academics. I did well, but not as well as others.

I have spent my whole life comparing myself to others and feeling sub par. What I have also only lately admitted out loud is that I still compare myself, to my siblings in particular, and feel myself coming up short. They are known for what they do. My sister is a super chic fashionista as well as an incredibly talented writer. She writes on her popular blog and is also asked to write articles for other big online publications.  My brother is an influential pastor, a super smart guy, and the author of three books. I love them half to death and I am proud of who they are, of what they do, and that it is acknowledged by others. It feels too exposing to call myself jealous, but I think that is the word it comes down to.

The problem you see, is that I want to be famous too (yes Michelle and Chris, you are pretty much famous in my eyes).  It is such a declaration of vanity to say those words out loud but in my silly little heart I have always wanted to be of note. Through my teenage years and into my early twenties my hoped for notoriety was viewed as a future of working as a nurse with a missions agency and following in the great footsteps of those missionaries whose stories I had spent years pouring over.  And now, as a blogger and a decorator…can you guess? Stats through the roof! A feature in a design magazine! A list of people who want to hire little ol’ me!

It is incredibly embarrassing to write these things, these (previously) secret thoughts, but this blog is how I unfold my personal baggage, and I believe in transparency. I don’t think that these desires are bad, but they do bring up bad feelings in me, because they are unmet desires which tie in with a life long feeling of never having excelled.

I love to write on this blog. I love to decorate. But I’m going to ruin it for myself if I pile up unrealistic expectations about what it means to be successful. I think it is time to start putting aside my inane need to be “famous” and switch my focus to doing these things because I enjoy them. I am not a decorator or a blogger foremost in my life. Foremost, I am a mother of three beautiful children, a wife of an amazing man, and a child of a great God. And I know that to these most important individuals, my excelling in life has nothing to do with stats.

So I’m going to keep blogging my little head off because I enjoy it. I’m going to keep developing a small decorating business because it’s fun. But I’m also going to try to see my success through a different, more forgiving lens.

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Moving Upward and Making Changes

In the past two weeks I have been overwhelmed by the love and care I have received from my friends, both in person, and via words of prayer and encouragement over the internet. I am thankful to let you know that I have been trudging upwards out of the pit over the past week. Periods of depression are not uncommon for me though this was the worst I have experienced since finding out I was pregnant with Anna (love you baby girl!). I am blessed to have my mental health issues mostly well controlled through medication and thankful that during those dark periods of time I always know, even when I feel almost hopeless, that I will come out of it.

After the lethargy of the past week I was struck with a wave of energy over the weekend. You may have noticed that I have not posted any projects from my own house in a long time. Not because they have not been happening! This past weekend I spent copious amounts of time working on DIY projects for finishing up the new decor of Sofia and Charlie’s shared bedroom (almost done!) and as I write a contractor is tearing out my kitchen counters. I am looking forward to sharing some pictures and projects once it is all done.

Since last posting pictures of my home these three rooms have changed greatly:

sofiasroom

100_1684

2015-07-25 09.53.11

Can’t wait to show you what they look like now…okay, as in right now my kitchen is still in shambles but it is getting there. Hopefully I’ll have pictures of the kid’s room up sometime next week. Fingers crossed for another productive weekend!

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Filed under At home, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, General, Uncategorized

Coping with Sundecks

Everyone has different coping mechanisms. For me, when I’m taking a break from the curled up in a ball crying phase, I cope (probably more effectively) by blogging. It is not uncommon for me to stop mid cry and ask my husband something like, “would you prefer a settee or chairs for the balcony?” Because that is where my obsessive compulsive brain has been going lately when not walking in rounds of negative self talk.

Currently we live next door to a construction site and we spent last summer with our balcony door closed, trying to escape the clouds of dust caused by the combination of drought and the copious amount of sand loading going on next door. This summer I’m determined to pretty up the space and not have it just be my children’s dirty out door “playpen”. I want an adult space where Steve and I can go to relax and enjoy the sun set and the frog’s song once we’ve put the kids down.

I get annoyed by all the large and luxurious patios and backyards shown in design magazines around this time of year. If you live in Vancouver or anywhere within spitting distance you are lucky to have a square of grass much less a sprawling backyard. Thank goodness for the internet! I set to searching online for inspiring small space outdoor decorating, focusing mostly on small sundecks since that is what I am personally looking to decorate. Here are some of the fantastic spaces I found.

smalldeckdesignblackandwhite

Sophisticated Monochromatic

smalldecdecorparis

Parisian Petite

smalldedecordesk

Outdoor office

smalldeddecorcustom

Zen Spa Space

smalldeddecorglobal

Global comfort

smalldecdecorcountry

Country chic

smalldecdecorlargelounge

Cozy cocoon

smalldecdecorlounge

Modern Bohemian

smalldecdecoronthefloor

A colourful retreat

smalldeckdecorgreen

A classic look

smalldeckdesign

Garden retreat

Colour me inspired! I hope you are inspired too! I’m planning on choosing a few of the pictures over the next few weeks and doing some blogs on “how to get the look”. If I had a larger, more interactive reading pool for my blog I would ask you to pick your favorites so I can search out the product for you but alas, I am a small fry. However, if you do see a look you really fancy give me a shout and I’ll make sure to include it in one of my blog posts.

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Filed under At home, Decorating Projects, Eye Candy, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, General, Mental Health, Therapy

A love letter from the pit

Are you familiar with the Bernstein Bears stories? Each story has a little “proverb” at the beginning. If this were a Bernstein Bears story, the proverb would say this, “when life, depression, and hormones collide, mommy takes daddy on a rough ride”.

This post is a love letter to my husband. To help him understand. Because he doesn’t, and he feels frustrated. He wants me to speak words, to help him understand. But I can’t speak just now. Maybe you have a loved one who goes through periods of depression. Maybe my words can help you understand too.

Dearest husband,

You are a light in my life. I may not have survived previous episodes of such darkness if it were not for your strength and commitment to God and family. Right now my mind is in a dark place. You have a beautiful unclouded mind, seldom touched by waves of depression and you provide a solid foundation for our family. I am thankful that God gave you to me because, especially in times like this, I need your strength. I need it but I struggle to ask for it. You ask me to use words, to ask for help, to tell you what I need you to do, but words almost feel impossible right now. I don’t want to need help. I want to be strong. It is hard to admit weakness even when it blatantly obvious to anyone looking.

I am quiet and I hide because my mind is loud. With every request my mouth speaks and every task my inactivity leads you to do, my mind beats me down. I want to help, to do normal life stuff, but my whole body feels weighed down. It looks like laziness. It even feels like laziness. But I can’t get out. My mind is merciless in its accusations in regards to how I am letting you and our children down.

The children scream and bounce around and I feel unable to cope with it because it merges with the noise in my mind and overwhelms me. I love you all so much but I feel unable to be the wife and mother I want to be and this feeling only ads to the accusations in my head. You ask me to make simple decisions and to do simple things. The fact that I feel so incapable to do these things makes me feel like crumbling.

My mind it clutched by fear about how you perceive me. Do you find me lazy, selfish, infantile? Does this present state of being cause you to dislike me? To be angry with me? These are the questions that attack my brain and cause me to avoid your eyes. I feel ashamed of myself in your presence because I so love you and admire your strength. I don’t want to cause you trouble or inconvenience. I only want to love you and our family well and bring richness into your life, but right now I can’t be that person.

They say depression is an illness, so consider me sick right now. In need. I need you. I can’t speak the words. I don’t know how to ask for the help I need. I’m sorry my silence frustrates you. I do love you. This time will pass, please be patient. You will get your wife back soon.

Love, Your Heather

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Filed under From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, Mental Health

Strength in Weakness

My family has been going through a very difficult time during the last couple of weeks. Though the current heartache is a burden my whole family bears, the cause of it is not my secret to share with you, so I won’t go into details.

When my husband broke the news to me my first words were, “I”m going to be strong.” Because I’m not. I fall apart in these situations. And I was strong, for days. And I took pride in this strength, though like a good Christian girl I told my husband, “God is giving me lots of strength”.

As it turns out, I am not strong, though God does continue to carry me. The wear and tear of trying to be “strong” has left me overwhelmed and depressed. My form of being strong was hitting the situation head on whilst emotionally avoiding the reality. Now that the most emergent phase of the situation has passed I am less busy and have more time to feel. After all, you can only go on pretending that a situation doesn’t break your heart for so long before you have to face reality and let the tears flow. Sometimes a period of depression is suited to the situation.

I obviously don’t like feeling so low, and I know it is hard on my husband. I don’t feel hope for the future though I know, by God’s grace, it exists. I don’t feel strong anymore, like I did before, but I know I am still being strengthened. Maybe the most real act of strength is letting God carry you in weakness.

I’m going to let myself be sad now in the knowledge that this feeling won’t last forever. There is always hope. For me, and for my family.

 

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You Rocked My World Baby Girl

When I found out I was pregnant with Anna I was devastated and sunk into a deep depression for several weeks. With a grateful heart I think back to the day God gave me a dream of myself holding a baby girl, and with that dream a certainty that I was pregnant with a girl and her name would be Anna. I was grateful then because this knowledge drew me up out of my depression and gave me an excitement about the life growing inside of me. I am thankful now because Anna’s birth and presence in my life has rocked my whole world.

Growing up I was never the girl who couldn’t wait to have children. I just figured it was something that would “happen to me” after I got married and due to a lot of experience babysitting, the idea simply seemed tiring. Truthfully, we got pregnant with Sofia so that I could get a break from my stressful work situation. We had Charlie because two was the number we had planned on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, but over the years since becoming a mother, I have struggled with a desire for more (not more kids FYI). In my head I was always thinking of what came next after this tiring, trying, stage of infancy and toddlerhood: going back to nursing, beginning a career in interior design, sleeping….Instead of enjoying the stage of life I was in, I was dreaming it away and letting discontent affect my interactions with my children. My sense of entitlement (to my own space, to my own career, to my own dreams) resulted in less than favorable attitudes towards my children at times.

But like I said, having Anna has rocked my world and I can see it as nothing other than a giant, God initiated change of heart. Anna is the sweetest baby you could ever meet (God knew what I could handle!). Her presence in our family has softened me, but also my children. Their sweetness towards her, and delight in her, helps to remind me that my two older children have potential for great kindness (a reminder I need when they are screaming at each other). Both Sofia and Charlie take great pride in the responsibilities I give them in regard to Anna: “Sofia, please take away the toy Anna has, it’s too small” or “Charlie, protect Anna (in her stroller) from bad guys while mommy is in the toilet stall”. Having Anna in our family has given many opportunities for praising Sofia and Charlie which are affirming to them and encouraging to me.

At a deeper heart level, having Anna has helped to bring focus and purpose to my life. Instead of spending my time dreaming about the future, I am spending more time being present with, and delighted by my children whilst enjoying the crazy fun they bring to my life. I still struggle at times with a sense of entitlement to “self” but I am aware of it and praying through it. Becoming pregnant with Anna blew all my plans out of the water but since having her I have been holding much more loosely to my own plans and approaching life with more of a hands open, God knows best attitude.

Does Anna sleep well? No. Am I tired? Yes. Do I sometimes lose my cool with my children? Yes. But my heart is thankful and I have been finding a contentedness in this stage of life that I did not think possible. As has been the theme in my life, it is better than expected. So much better.

Might a fourth make it even sweeter? If God gives and poor planning prevails 🙂 My heart is open.

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Filed under At home, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, General, Uncategorized

You Know You’re a Mom When

You know you’re a mom when…

You begin calling your husband “daddy”

You stay up until 9pm watching Netflix and call it a wild night

You consider putting make-up on in the car an occupational hazard

You know you’re a mom when…

You call getting four hours of sleep in a row a “good night”

You can sing along to all the lyrics from “Frozen”

You become used to random people catching glimpses of your boobs

You know you’re a mom when…

You resort to washing yourself with baby wipes

You consider castoffs and crusts to be lunch

You can’t shake the feeling that you smell like poop (oh wait, what’s that on your sleeve…)

You know you’re a mom when…

You hear your baby crying when no one else can hear it

You ache when they fall and hurt themselves

You have busy hands, full arms, and a warm heart

 

 

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Filed under From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, Humour at Home