Chill out, it’s Christmastime!

We’re keeping a low profile this holiday season. We planned on it ahead of time, knowing that we were due with our little turkey right around Thanksgiving. But add in multiple extra doctor’s visits for me and baby and unexpected hospital stays for me, and let’s just say, we are all exhausted! I do believe we are on the mend now, but although I’m feeling better, we’ve decided to slow down even more for Christmas than we had originally planned.

On a recent drive back from the hospital (it’s 2 hours each way so we’ve been in the car a lot!), I went through each calendar event on my phone for December, talked with my husband about them all, and deleted most of them. We picked the ones that would be the most meaningful for us, would be easy to navigate with the two littles and my post-surgery limitations, and ones we genuinely look forward to! Shocker, but you don’t have to say yes to those things that you don’t. In fact, it’s way more fun and easier to prioritize the stuff that does matter if it’s not surrounded by a bunch of things that don’t!

One of the “big” things we kept in our schedule was a trip to a local reindeer farm. We have been before and really enjoyed it. It’s small, easily walkable, uncluttered with people due to the required reservations this year, and we get to do all the fun stuff with our little guys! You can pet and feed reindeer, eat Christmas cookies and drink hot cocoa, and of course have a chat with Santa! We figured this would be our “one big trip” this year since we could do all of that in one spot.

We also chose to prioritize Christmas gatherings at each of our parent’s homes, which for us means three calendar events in different locations. But, I was able to connect with everyone early enough to prioritize their events on the calendar, and luckily it all on ended up being on different days and is doable without too much stress/crazy travel requirements! Whew!

Other things my family has chosen to prioritize this year…

  • Putting up some of our decorations, both inside and out. (Emphasis on some).
  • Christmas Eve Church Service at our church (no longer doing multiple services for everyone else)
  • Getting and decorating a small and reasonably-priced real tree locally. (Emphasis on local and reasonable- in the past I’ve forced the family to drive hours for the perfect tree-getting experience, which honestly turned out to be horrible and stressful).
  • Eating lots of Christmas cookies, candy canes, and drinking hot cocoa! (Note that I didn’t say “making” lots of cookies. We don’t have the space or energy for all that this year. And that’s ok! We’ll make some at Grandma’s, but we don’t have to make my entire Pinterest board of recipes. Also, the hot cocoa is a bulk box of good old Swiss Miss, not the fancy cocoa bombs I insisted on getting and spending way too much money on last year. Guess what? Nobody cares.)
  • Watching Christmas movies. At home.
  • Reading Christmas books. At home.
  • Christmas family photos and cards. Yep, I’ll still send out personalized cards, but not as many, not as fancy, and will be ordering them from somewhere I can pickup locally same-day this year. Also, we will do a mini photo session in a studio this year, which is way more affordable and less of a time commitment!
  • Christmas pajamas for a cozy, relaxed Christmas morning at home! The boys got new matching sets, and the rest of us will wear whatever’s comfy for us. (I used to stress out and drive to multiple stores to get everyone matching outfits for Christmas morning. Guess who appreciated that? Yep. Just me.)
  • Gifts. We are doing gifts for our immediate family, and some for our extended families, but we are bringing it down soooo many notches. (We used to spend a small fortune on Christmas! It’s just not necessary to buy expensive gifts to show our love. I’m realizing more and more lately how much the thought really does count! Some of my most appreciated gifts we received recently were homemade meals and snacks, and simply being thought of as we arrived home!)

Things we said no to this year…

  • Parades & Tree lightings (We used to travel to multiple events like this in every surrounding city)
  • Train trip to the city for shopping and various holiday festivities
  • Hosting Christmas brunch for my mom and siblings (I did enjoy this, and might resume another year, but it just isn’t feasible this time)
  • Friend’s parties (this one was a little harder to say no to, but we want to keep our brand new baby away from people and germs as much as possible)
  • Cooking – I’ll be bringing the same simple holiday dishes to each of our family’s gatherings. (Not trying new recipes. Not doing anything fancy.)
  • Making things (I just don’t love being crafty, so I’m not going to keep trying)
  • Baking all the things (I’ll do this again someday)
  • Gifts for everyone we know (I haven’t even finished shopping for my kids as I type this)

What is your Christmastime shaping up to be this year?! Are you keeping it simple? Are you doing all the things? I’m curious to know what changes you’ve made over the years to make things more enjoyable and less stressful!

And this is where my story ends…

… for now. We’ve had some amazing adventures since we loaded up and headed out west in our camper, which I plan to share at some point. But for now, I’m going to put my time and energy into getting ready for our new baby.

You know, I recently found myself saying “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have lots of different skills and some talents I enjoy using, but I don’t know what my real purpose is.” One night as I sat and stared at one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, it hit me. Yes, of course I know. I have always wanted to be a mother, and now that I am one, and am about to add another babe to the mix, I know exactly what my real purpose is without a doubt. I am going to be the absolute best mom I can be to my kids, and put all of myself into that job. It may not be a fancy career, and it may not be using my expensive degrees like I once imagined, and it may not pay me in dollars and cents, but I know my heart will be full and I will be forever blessed that I was able to spend all my time with my kids while they’re little.

So I’m done searching (for now). I’m done worrying about which skill or talent to hone in on to try to make myself feel useful or worthy or whatever else it was I was trying to prove. I am a mama, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a cousin, an aunt, a niece, am part of a church family, and I intend to make the most of my time with my people, and to be the best version of myself while doing so.

Will I still blog? I think so. Writing might never turn into a career for me, but I enjoy it and have found it incredibly freeing to share parts of my story I’ve not addressed in years. Will I be spending as much time on social media? I don’t plan on it. There are a few private groups I’m in on Facebook that really inspire me and encourage me. So when I’m checking in on those I’ll scroll a bit and check in on my page. Otherwise, I’ll likely post mostly on Instagram (and blogs on my website), most of which will be shared on my public fb page.

If you don’t hear from me and want to, you can find me at:, on IG and FB @livelikeadaylily, and if you’d like to contact me via email, feel free to message me at

Until next time, remember to live each day on purpose, and live like a daylily. ✌🏻

And then, something crazy happened…

It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to travel as much as possible – exploring our country and beyond. I had planned to live in an RV for at least a year after getting married in my dream life (providing I found someone to marry who was as crazy and adventurous as I am), checking out all the states before deciding which one we would claim and where to put roots down. Obviously life happens differently than we plan most of time, and this just wasn’t possible in the life I was currently living when we got married.

But, as I shared with you over these past several posts, grief changes you. Loss makes you realize what’s most important and what can kick rocks. And so, I pitched it to my husband.,, Let’s simplify completely when the oldest graduates. Let’s get rid of anything tying us down and stressing us out – businesses, possessions, people… yep, I said it, even some people had to go. Let’s move into an RV and travel the country for a while. Let’s spend quality time together, heal, explore, rest… It’s the perfect time to do it, as we only have a 2 year old in the home now, and we wouldn’t have to make any decisions about school for a while.

So, we started to think about it more… how could this work? Was this really possible? What kind of RV did we want? How were we going to be able to afford it? Would we get one that required a truck to pull it? If so, how would we afford a reliable truck in addition to the camper? But we kept planning, talking about what we’d do with our free time, what we’d like to see, and how that would change our lives. We bought a huge map of the US and put it on our living room wall. We started watching videos about National Parks. We researched campers, and then we went out and looked at some to get a better idea of what we would need, but we were not taking it too seriously at this point.

And then, something crazy happened. A dealership in our tiny town had a motorhome for sale (they didn’t even sell campers at this time), and it was the same dealership we bought our family car at a year before. So, we went and checked it out. It wasn’t what I had decided would be our best option, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity that seemed like it was meant to be to at least give it a chance. So, we left to think about it for a day or two. If it was truly meant to be and what we were supposed to do, we would know. We weren’t going to force it or fight God anymore with our life choices. We were going to trust Him to guide us. And boy did He make this one easy. We ended up making a crazy offer that they denied, said that’s fine and left to go get ice cream, and before we even got to Dairy Queen, they called and accepted our offer.

We traded our family car straight up for our camper, without any financing. Wait, what?!?! That’s what our family said, too. What are you going to do about a car now? Well, we didn’t know, but we felt with all of our hearts that we didn’t need to worry about it. And sure enough, we didn’t. Shortly after, we sold our motorcycle and used the money to buy an adorable mom wagon. It was perfect for us, it happened to match our RV perfectly, and it was also paid off. I named that car Ramsey (for Dave Ramsey to honor our debt free journey inspired by his work). I will never forget that experience. No car payments, and yet we had exactly what we needed and what we had hoped for at the same time.

My husband saying, “are you SURE you want to give up the family car”? right before we signed.

It was on our first “big” adventure with that RV to a beautiful beach in Michigan that I decided I was done fighting God for good. I couldn’t believe everything that was happening so perfectly, and although I could have been angry and bitter after losing Prudence, I went the other way. I had been brought back to the church and God in that trial, and one magnificent bright pink sky over the waters in Michigan that night finalized it for me. I felt like God was talking directly to me with that pink sky – the same pink I use as a reminder of Prudence. I sat there with tears streaming down my face, staring into the sky, and I knew my life was never going to be the same. Every sunset from then on would be there for me, to remind me that I’m not alone, and I never would be.

South Haven, Michigan

Just Go with It

So now my husband, my toddler, my maltipoo, and myself are all living with my mother. The toddler kept my mom busy for the next several weeks, as I couldn’t do much at all for him. She helped me get from one room to the next, fed us, and basically took care of everything while my husband worked on the farmhouse. Our oldest turned 18 during this time, had just graduated a semester early in December, and was planning to move out to San Diego in early February, so she was busy doing her own thing in between monumental milestones. It was a crazy time.

I decided to take this forced pause to heart and slow down and think about my priorities, how I was going to move forward with all these changes, and what I wanted to leave behind. I focused on staying positive, studying the Bible, journalling, learning about myself, and how to lose some bad habits and negative thinking. I also got rid of more physical possessions – my mom helped me go through my clothes yet again, but the biggest impact on me during this time was the non-physical changes I was making. I had to completely let go of control over most things I was used to doing my way. I had no idea where anything I owned was; how it was packed and stored was entirely in the hands of others. I couldn’t cook or clean or even shower without help. My days were at the mercy of someone else, and the only thing I could control was my attitude and how I reacted to everything. It wasn’t easy. In fact it was frustrating and extremely difficult, particularly dealing with all of these changes in the amount of pain I was in. But somehow we made it through.

When my doctor gave me the ok to bear weight on my leg again (after 5 weeks of being stuck in a chair), we made the move. We moved everything out of my mom’s (well, my husband and a few helpful folks did, anyway). And, because we didn’t have the farmhouse ready to move into, we moved ourselves into our RV in our driveway. Yep, we moved all of our possessions two times in two months (if you ask my husband he’ll say he moved everything at least five times), and moved into our RV in the middle of winter in the Midwest, with me barely able to walk. But we honestly felt like we were being led to do all of this, that everything was happening for a reason, and we should just go with it. So, we did!

It was a “God Thing”

Before we were even ready to put our house on the market (see previous post), a realtor contacted us with an offer sight-unseen. And then, it seemed like everything just started happening in an instant, out of our control.

At first we didn’t give the realtor much thought, but we continued working on getting ready to list the house and move out at some point. But the realtor was persistent and ended up bringing us back the number we wanted to see, so we accepted! We honestly couldn’t believe this was happening. We sold our ginormous home in the middle of a pandemic in Small Town USA for exactly what we needed to, and we hadn’t even listed it yet!

There was only one explanation for this. We were being led to do this. We were on the right path, making the right decisions for our family, and everything was coming together for us. This was without a doubt a “God Thing”, so we just went with it.

We had 30 days until closing, which enabled us to spend one last Christmas in our home (my stipulation for selling at this time), but that meant we had to move out almost immediately after the holidays. The house was still full of *so* much stuff, even after years of minimizing our possessions, so while my husband worked morning to night preparing the other house for move-in day, I tried to pack up our entire house with the help of my toddler. It was crazzzzzy. For all of us.

The house we were going to move back to “at some point” was literally torn down to the studs. In the midst of doing our expected renovations, we discovered that the house was Pre-Civil War era, and needed structural repairs, new plumbing, new electric, and so much more. Basically every room needed completely rebuilt. Oh, and the clock was ticking. At this point we had about two weeks to be completely moved out and into our new house place.

I started freaking out, especially when we got to the one week mark. I still had so much to pack, and my husband couldn’t help because he was focused on making sure we had somewhere to go. We were not even close to meeting either of these deadlines. So I decided to rent a U-haul for the week. This way, I could pack and load at the same time, and even if I didn’t get it all moved into the new house, it would at least be out of our old one and stored in one place. I was feeling good about my decision, and headed out to run a few errands, dropping off some donations and such the morning I was to pick up our rental truck. And then I fell.

I stepped out of the car in my driveway to check on something, and immediately went down. It happened so fast I didn’t even know what happened. But ultimately the ice won, and I lost. I couldn’t stand up. Luckily, my toddler was asleep in his car seat and the car was still on and heated, and I had grabbed my phone. I called my husband (who was at that exact moment moving a large granite countertop with my brother) and my mom, who was on her way shortly to help me pick up the truck. She made it over right away and covered me with a blanket as I stubbornly laid in the ice waiting for my husband. I was sure he could help me get into the car, but when he got there he confirmed that I was being ridiculous and he called 911 immediately. So, after lying on the ice for over 30 minutes, the EMTs got me loaded on the stretcher and into the ambulance, doing so on a sheet of ice on a downward slope in my driveway. It was terrifying, but they did an excellent job and I was safely transported to the hospital.

So we had exactly one week to pack and move into a house that had to be completely repaired and renovated, and now I’m in an ambulance on my way to the hospital. I knew I had broken something, because the pain wasn’t at a joint, but rather in the shin/calf area. This was not good. Then it got even worse. I found out that I needed to have surgery the next day, and that I would be in a wheelchair for at least 5-6 weeks before I could even bear weight with a walking boot. GREAT. How the heck was I going to move like that? Not to mention the house we were moving out of was 4 stories, and the house we were moving into had stairs to enter the main floor, and my bedroom and bathroom were both on the second floor.

At this point, I knew that I needed to trust that things would have to just go on without me. So my husband stayed at the hospital with me, my toddler stayed at my mom’s and we just tried to focus on what we could control in that moment. Our closing got pushed out a little bit due to something else we couldn’t control, which gave us a little extra time to get the house cleared out. Luckily we have an amazing church family, who came together and helped my husband pack and move almost everything in one morning… to my mom’s house.

Yep, I did what every self-respecting 39 year old woman with her own family would do at this point. I moved us (and our entire house of belongings) into my mom’s house.

Goodbye, Dream Home.

After Prudence died, my husband and I started planning a future together that prioritized what really mattered to us. We no longer wanted all the stress and responsibilities of owning and operating businesses in our small town. We didn’t want our lives to continue the way we had been going so far – my husband killing himself working nonstop, running from one business to the next, and me at home struggling with my step-daughter, being a first time mom to our little man, and now add grieving Prudence on top of all of that stress. It just wasn’t working for any of us.

Thankfully, we were on the same page, and our new dreams for our future together started making sense. I poured over podcasts about living simply, minimalism, becoming debt free, and gentle parenting. No matter what choices we made that got us here, I knew that we could find a way to a new life we could enjoy together, as long as we were willing to work together and say good riddance to everything bringing us down.

So, we dove in. We started talking about what would get rid of the most debt (and stress) the fastest, and there was one obvious choice – sell our home. It was a beautiful house with lots of baggage for me. My dad had lived there at one point, and I had moved in with him temporarily in one of my in-between college transfers. I had lots of memories there, and that house has always held a soft spot for me. It had been apartments for decades, but was renovated into a family home since I had lived there. After a tour many years ago, I declared that if I ever moved back to my hometown, I was going to own that house. So when my husband and I agreed to look at bigger houses together, we quite frankly forced that purchase. We put ourselves way out of our comfort zone and did whatever it took to buy that house. The entire three years we lived there were full of so much stress and uncertainty with the crazy-high mortgage payment and ridiculous utilities – not to mention maintenance costs on a turn of the century Victorian “mansion”.

I dove even further into minimizing, this time with a future of putting our house on the market in mind as I went room to room. Would I need this gigantic antique sideboard in a smaller home? Nope. What about three pianos? Obviously not necessary (spoiler alert, it wasn’t necessary in a large home either). I went through our entire home and put things in bins that I knew I wanted to keep, but didn’t need at the moment, took dozens of loads to a donation center, and sold, gave away, or pitched the rest. My husband turned his focus to working on our old farmhouse so we could move back there, and also to doing repairs and prep work on our house we were going to be putting up for sale.

We were on a mission, and we were going all-in together to recreate our life into something we both wanted: less stress, less responsibility, less debt, and more quality time together. Goodbye, dream home. We have new and better dreams now.

From Someone Who’s Been There

The next several months were full of doctor’s appointments and not much else for me. I enjoyed the fact that I could be home with Jude and go through my emotions alone. I did go to San Diego to visit a friend, and it ended up being a huge blessing that we scheduled it when we did, because it was right before Covid hit hard in the US and right before the March shutdown. We took pics of my baby bump at the beach, and that was the first time I posted and shared that I wasn’t going to hide this pregnancy on social media. At first, the main reason I stayed in was that I didn’t want people to approach me about my growing baby bump. I didn’t want people who didn’t know about Prudence’s diagnosis to congratulate me or ask questions about the pregnancy, and I didn’t want people who knew what was going on to approach me and have to answer them in public when I was just trying to get groceries or pick up mail, or whatever. But after lots of thoughts and prayers about it, I decided to be open and share my experiences. So I created a Caring Bridge website that I used to update a select group of our friends and family on doctor’s appointments, how I was feeling, and ultimately Prudence’s birth and then shortly thereafter, her death. I’m not going to copy and paste everything I shared on that website here, but if you would like to read it or share with someone you think it might help, please comment below, and I’ll send you the link and grant you access to Prudence’s private page.

If you or someone you know is going through a similar situation, here a few things I would recommend that helped me.

  • If you know someone who is experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss, ask them how you can support them. Please don’t be afraid to talk to them about their baby. Chances are they will be relieved you opened the door to discussion of their precious one. Here’s what I shared on Caring Bridge about this just couple of weeks before Prudence was born.

Right now I’m reading about the stages of grief… of course it’s different for everyone, but I noticed a common theme that I wanted to share with you all. I know you’re here because you care, and you want to do what you can to help us get through this. So here’s the deal. We want to talk about Prudence. We want to share her with you. Regardless of how long we have her, she’s our child, and we want to celebrate her life and the miracle that she is! So please don’t be afraid to ask about her, even after she is born and passes. Of course I have absolutely no idea what frame of mind I will be in at that time. Right now it still seems impossible that I am going to have to face her death so soon after her birth. No matter how many books I read or prayers I send up, I don’t think I will ever be prepared for that. But either way, I don’t want to be the mom I read about today who went to coffee with a friend shortly after losing her baby, and wasn’t even asked about her! She said it was like her friends wanted to pretend it didn’t happen so she didn’t have to be sad. But it IS sad, and it will continue to be sad, and we can’t pretend it isn’t happening, nor do we want to pretend that we didn’t go through it. All this to say, we love our dear Prudence, and we want to celebrate her, and will do so for as long as we can. So please don’t be afraid to congratulate us on her birth, or to ask about her once she’s gone. She’s our little girl and always will be, and we will continue to love her and want to share her.

  • Only share if/when you want to. This is your journey, and you don’t need to accommodate or please anyone else right now. Do what’s best for YOU. Period.
  • Get the book, A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby’s Life Is Expected to Be Brief by Amy Kuebelbeck and Deborah L. Davis. It’s not easy to read, but it is a big help to hear from others who have gone through this (and survived it).
  • Talk to someone. Whether it be your pastor, a genetic counselor, a palliative care nurse, a therapist, or any combination of the above. Get help. You will need it. I used all of these resources regularly, and I honestly think that’s why I am healed enough to be writing this today.
  • Don’t make big life-altering decisions right now, *but* don’t be afraid to consider how precious life is, and take the time to examine yours. This experience is one I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, but I learned and grew, and made some huge shifts in my life that are proving to be exactly what I needed all along. No one knows how short life is more than someone in your shoes. Don’t waste that lesson.
  • Make time for yourself to heal and grieve. If you have already been through this and didn’t have the support you needed, GET IT NOW! It is never too late to seek counselling or other types of grief support. My heart goes out to all of you who have reached out to me and shared that you wish you had shared your story at the time and been able to heal and grieve the way I am. To you lovely, amazing mothers, it’s not too late. You deserve to mourn and grieve and be comforted, no matter how long ago you lost your baby. Please get the support you need. Reach out to me anytime if you want to talk. My door is always open for you. ❤️

Finding out about Prudence

This post took me longer to write than usual. I thought a lot about how I wanted to tell Prudence’s story, I reread things I posted when it was happening, and I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and write a new post about it. This is probably partly because we’re nearing her birthday, so emotions are all over the place. I have decided not to put any pressure on myself to write in a certain way, or to post on a particular day, but rather to write as it feels good to write and share my story. If it fuels my soul, I’ll continue, but if it doesn’t, I won’t. (What a concept, right?) When I first started researching how to start a blog and a social media presence on FB and IG for one, I took note of all the rules. “Post consistently” was the common thread. I suppose if you’re trying to grow your business online, that is an important factor. But I’ve decided to instead focus on what is best for me and my heart in this process, and I’ll admit that it might end up looking fairly random. But I hope if reading my story inspires or encourages you in anyway, that the shift in schedule won’t deter you. At this point, I do plan to finish telling the full story of Prudence and how she completely changed the course of our lives before I end this series. And then I have some fun things in the works that I can’t wait to share with you. Without further ado… here’s when we found out we were pregnant with Prudence.

We found out we were pregnant (with no medical intervention this time) the day of our son’s One Year photo shoot. It was also the week we lost my grandma. We waited until we got through the funeral and everything, and then decided to announce our good news, hoping to bring a little joy back into our family by sharing early. We told the rest of our family on Thanksgiving, dressing our son in a onesie that said he was being promoted to big brother. To say we were excited was an understatement. And then, we found out something might be wrong.

We had gone in for a regular appointment, and they saw something in an ultrasound that made the nurse tear up and hug me, and the midwife refer me to a specialist at a larger facility. This did not look good. Three blood tests and lots of tears and fears later, we found out that we were having a little girl with Trisomy 13. Though some miracle children make it to adolescence with this genetic disorder, most don’t make it to 2, and many don’t survive birth. The doctors told me that most would terminate the pregnancy, and that would be the lowest risk option for me, so that is what they recommended. But I knew, without needing even a moment for consideration, that we were going to do everything in our power to give our little girl a chance. So I immediately said no, glanced at my husband who nodded in agreement, and asked to please support me in my decision. And they did. So we continued on with regular doctor’s appointments, had frequent talks with a genetic counselor, met with a palliative care specialist who specifically supports families likely to experience pregnancy or infant loss, and I did my best to stay positive and healthy.

We met with our pastor and his wife to plan the funeral – yes, we planned it while I was still pregnant. It was suggested in one of the resources I was given for people in our position to have some plans in place and make the tough decisions ahead of time. I also wanted to ask some questions about Heaven, because although I was attending church regularly (for the first time in my adult life), I still didn’t know if I actually believed. I doubted everything, but went through the motions, because I had finally found a pastor and church I liked. But at this point I realized, if I don’t believe in God, and if Heaven doesn’t exist, then where is my baby going when she dies? I told my pastor this fear, and that I would do whatever it takes to get to Heaven and see my baby again. He surprised me by telling me that I couldn’t become a Christian for someone else (even my own child), and I took all of this in, but still wasn’t entirely sure how to shift my beliefs in the way I needed to. I didn’t come to this realization until much later (but I did get there and will likely share that moment at some point).

I wasn’t entirely sure of anything at this point, other than the fact that this little baby was changing my life forever. I no longer cared about all the things that used to matter to me so much. I quite literally didn’t have the energy to worry about the small stuff anymore. I didn’t want to be around anyone other than my people (a very small circle of close friends and family), which was quite easy to accomplish because all of this was happening at the height of Covid. Since I couldn’t really go anywhere, and didn’t want to see anyone anyway, I started in on something I could do. I dove in and started decluttering my entire home (all 6000+ sq feet of it) like my life depended on it. And in some ways, I think it did. Simplifying my home was something I could do to keep me busy that would have a positive impact on my family. Even if everything else was out of my control, this was something I could do and see the benefits of almost immediately as I progressed through each drawer, closet, room… I figured if we did get our miracle and got to bring our baby home, our house would be much less cluttered with more space for our two young children, and if we lost her, our space would be a more peaceful place to rest and recover and mourn our loss. Decluttering, praying, and keeping to myself seemed to work to give me a small sense of comfort, so I did those things fervently and continued to hope for the best.

Gazelle Intense

My first year of being a mama was enlightening. I felt like I finally had a purpose and something worthwhile to put my energy into. I also had a little adventure buddy that was so fun to spend time with! I spent most of my time alone with my little man, going on walks, long drives, checking out local places like orchards, farms, and parks, and of course walking around Target. At this point, I had finally made some good like-minded friends in the area, so I had a playdate and time with other mamas usually at least once a week. My husband was juggling a gazillion things, so I did my best to stay busy and keep the little guy happy and healthy each day.

Another big focus for me at this time was getting rid of everything that didn’t help me to be a better mom, wife, and friend. I replaced bars with parks and coffee shops. Swapped lazy hungover Sunday mornings with church. I let go of people, places, and things that weren’t positive for me, and started working on letting go of perfectionism (that’s so tough and still something I’m working on!). I stopped listening to and watching things that made me anxious or depressed, and traded them with podcasts and blogs about minimalism, simple living, conscious parenting, debt-free living, etc. I became more and more convinced of the benefits of these things, and immediately started implementing what I was learning at home and in my life in general.

I sat my husband down and shared The Minimalists documentary with him, which by the way is a great place to start if you’re new to these concepts. We had been living the opposite of all of these things, filling our schedules to the max, spending money on buying things we didn’t need to fill a home that was much larger than necessary, and frankly far too expensive. My husband juggled multiple companies, dozens of employees, several rental units, and still did his best to be present for our teenager and our new baby. It was NUTS! I was filling my days with everything that was lighting me up, and he never had time to stop and breathe in between obligations, let alone make time for good quality friendships or take time for himself to fish or (fill in the blank with whatever it is he would have fun doing). He’s spent decades working this hard, I’m not even sure he knew what to do with his time other than work.

Fortunately, something clicked for us, and we got on the same page. We started selling off things we didn’t actually need: vehicles, boats, farm equipment, restaurant supplies… I even sold my little car that I loved, my VW Beetle Convertible. It was our only vehicle that we still made payments on, and it was getting a bit difficult to squeeze everyone in it at this point anyway, so it was the one to go. We shared a family vehicle, and (gasp), it was fine! We really dove in and as Dave Ramsey says, we were gazelle-intense, doing everything we could to minimize spending and maximize resources to reduce debt and liabilities. I got really into decluttering our things, taking dozens of boxes and bags out of our home most weeks, and then I’d get re-inspired and go through the same areas again! We were in this mode leading up to our little guy’s first birthday. And then, on the day of his one year photo shoot, we found out that we were going to have another baby!

Setting Boundaries

This post is part of a series I started a couple of months ago that talks about my struggles with unhealthy relationships, weight loss, starting over, marriage, step-parenting, infertility, pregnancy loss, unhealthy coping mechanisms, balancing work and home life, and more. I am sharing my story now in hopes that I will find some healing in the process, but I mostly want to help encourage someone else by sharing the real life tough stuff that a lot of people are afraid to talk about. I mentioned this previously, but if you’re new here, please know that my life is full of amazing goodness, too, even in the eye of the storm in these struggles, but for the purpose of this writing, I’m mostly focusing on the hard times… but keep reading! I am getting excited to share how I’ve learned to cope, what has given me balance, and some pretty great stuff that’s come out of the darkness. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.

The next several months shifted to prepare for the arrival of our healthy baby boy! We had been getting settled into our new home, and now we had a specific timeline for when things needed to be done and organized. I began sorting, rearranging, selling, donating, and buying things in preparation for this new chapter of our lives (hello, nesting!). My entire focus shifted to how to be the best, most present and focused mom, and how to have the most peaceful and loving home possible for my family. Has anyone ever achieved this with a teenage girl in their home? I’m mostly kidding, but wow was that a challenge! Needless to say, my struggles as a step-mom continued, and I might even argue that they intensified with the focus now shifting to a new arrival in our family. Luckily we now lived in a big enough house that we could keep to ourselves as needed, which honestly was the main thing that gave me an ounce of peace in our home during that time. I did my best to ignore all the drama, and tried to just keep myself focused on positive, stress-free things, and remained excited about my pregnancy and getting ready for our new big adventure!

One of my biggest struggles was finding a balance with my shop at this point. I had originally planned to bring the baby to work with me, envisioning this glorious, kid-friendly space that I could continue to run, while financially helping our family and pursuing my passions. But reality was hitting hard and fast that this business was not only not helping us financially, but it was beginning to put a stress on us. It was time to stop pouring our money into it, hoping to see a different outcome. I’ll never forget the day I decided I wasn’t going to be working there myself anymore. My main employee called in, and non of my fill-in options could cover, so I went in with my newborn baby. My mom had to come with me to help, because I had a doctor’s appointment that morning that I couldn’t cancel last minute. She didn’t know how to run the register, but without any other options, I left her and the baby there anyway. “Luckily” not even one customer had come in, so it didn’t matter that she couldn’t ring them up. I cried in frustration that entire morning. It had all been nothing but a waste of time and energy, so I put a sign on the door and closed for the rest of the day. I knew then that if I couldn’t afford to pay someone to run the shop for me completely, that it was time to say enough is enough and cut my losses.

So, I gave it one last effort. I put all of our products for sale on a new website, ran insane sales, started a delivery service, and gave my employee the opportunity to see if this was going to work without me. But it just didn’t work. We were paying all of the bills with money from our other business, not even making enough sales to pay one person to work there (and at one point I had 6 employees!). So, I clearanced everything out, basically gave away all of my inventory, and walked away. At least I tried, right? I was sincerely trying to add value to our little town by opening up a unique, fun, and helpful space to shop for eclectic gifts and organic foods, where you could also play music, hang out and read, listen to a record, do yoga, create, learn, and be inspired. I created the type of space that I so desired and missed from my past lives in bigger cities. But ultimately, I had hit my wall. I hadn’t just run out of money to keep throwing at it, I was also completely out of energy to give. I was no longer passionate or lit up about it at all, and I had gotten really burnt out with all the failed attempts at trying to refresh and revive the store. But once I made the decision to close and gave the bad news to my employee, I felt relief and peace for the first time in a very long while.

Finally I could just put my focus and energy into my family, which now included a beautiful, healthy baby boy, a teenage step-daughter, a husband who worked at even more businesses than he did when this story all started, a bratty and jealous maltipoo, and four indoor orange cats. My life was still a complete circus, but this is when I started setting boundaries, making positive changes, and figuring out what was most important to me. Oh, and if it isn’t glaringly obvious, I had completely stopped drinking and smoking and doing all of the unhealthy stuff I was doing before getting pregnant, instead finding contentment with yoga, playing and listening to music, spending time with my new mama friends, reading, binge watching Netflix, decluttering, organizing, and surrounding myself with positive people, including my new church family. These habits became my norm, and while I reintroduced the occasional microbrew or glass of dry red, my main focus was on being healthy and present for my new baby. Letting go of hard alcohol (for the most part – I’ll have a very rare margarita here and there) was a huge eye-opener for me, probably the best change I made and more impactful than I would have cared to admit at the time. When you’re pregnant and can’t drink to hide your pain, you have to find new ways to deal. My baby boy changed my life forever the moment I knew he existed, causing me to want to be the best version of myself I could be, so that I could be the best mom possible to this little miracle man.