Category Archives: Musings

Boldly Talking About Babies

31 Days of Living Boldly | A Simple Haven

This is day 22 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

When it comes to talking about trying to get pregnant, I generally keep my cards pretty close. Probably out of self-preservation, because talking a lot about wanting to have a baby can feel pretty vulnerable.

What if it takes a while? What if it doesn’t happen at all?

Fertility issues are real and hard and I’ve experienced a (small) taste of waiting to conceive a baby.

So while close friends knew when we were trying to get pregnant with Bun–which I was glad for when I needed moral support for the better part of a year that it took–I wasn’t in a big hurry to tell the world when we started trying for baby #3.

Until I remembered my One Word for 2014: Bold.

And suddenly it felt so right to tell people we were hoping for, going to try for, another baby. It still felt risky to put my cards out there; the what ifs never go away.

But I decided I’d rather have people know and hoping with us. And mourning with us, if it ever came to that.

So I told you here that I’d love to have another baby this year.  Then I got pregnant. And I considered boldness again: when do we share the news?

I used to make fun of people who couldn't read pregnancy tests. This time, I needed to take three to get conclusive results. I retract my heckling.

I used to make fun of people who can’t read pregnancy tests. This time, I took three to get conclusive results. I retract my heckling.

Everyone seems to roll differently here: there’s the text everyone after you take the test approach. The wait to see the heartbeat at 9ish weeks plan. Or the no sharing until the first trimester is over.

This being our 3rd child, we did not have a clear plan. Ultimately, we did a random assortment of the first two and everyone pretty much knew before the end of the first trimester.

I know that can feel risky to some, especially those who have lost babies.

But I’ve also seen moms of multiple miscarriages share news of their pregnancy on the early side–so that friends would be able to better understand and support them if anything did happen to the baby.

Over the last year or so, I’ve seen friends miscarry at nine weeks, thirteen weeks, and sixteen weeks. I know a momma who delivered a baby and spent only a few hours with her alive. I know another momma who lost her little guy when he was four.

All of this makes me realize: Boldness is not about how much you say you want a baby or when tell people you’re pregnant. Boldness is always just about living in hope and not fear.

Fear will always be an option. Something can always happen. Children are no safer outside the womb than inside it.

But even after tragedy, hope is an option too. I’m thankful for people who are living that way and encourage others as they do.

Does talking about wanting a baby or being pregnant feel bold to you?

P.S. You might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldness in the Face of Insecurity

Boldness and Insecurity | A Simple Haven

This is day 20 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To read the other posts, go here. Welcome!

Dum-da-dum. Insecurity. No one’s favorite topic.

But in a series on Living Boldly, I couldn’t leave this one alone.  Because it is insecurities that can stop us from being bold, from living in hope.

I’m no expert, but it seems to me that insecurities stem from fears.

We fear people’s opinions of us (or our homemaking/decorating/cooking abilities), so we feel insecure about inviting folks over. We fear disappointment/hurt/betrayal in relationships so we feel insecure about opening up. We fear not being physically attractive, so we work to hide our perceived flaws.

Let’s camp out on that last one for a minute.

I am 30ish weeks pregnant with baby #3 (still taking name suggestions). Pregnancy, while amazing and miraculous and beautiful, also comes with its pitfalls. I’ll spare you tales of the gorier ones.

However, I will say that I apparently posses a perfect storm of bad genes, small veins, and extra sensitivity to hormonal changes. So for the second time, I’m dealing with a pretty gnarly display of spider and varicose veins.

FYI, it’s not attractive. It’s also rather painful. The support stockings help. (Not attractive either).

And since the pain is relatively manageable, I’m really just left to wallow in the reality that at 32 I have the legs of an 80 year old woman.

Yes, it will probably get a little better after I birth this kid. Yes, there are procedures that can help if I really want to go down that road. Yes, it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of carrying this little life. Yes, I know that my worth and true beauty does not rest my physical appearance.

But no, I did not embrace shorts-season this year. At least not at first.

At first, I held onto capris and leggings as long as possible. I felt safer and less exposed. Come June, I also started to feel hot.

So I decided to practice what I was preaching to myself about living boldly in 2014 and wear those darn leg-revealing clothes.

And you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.

No one made horrified remarks and hid their eyes. My husband didn’t love me any less or think I was any less attractive. My friends probably didn’t even notice or didn’t say anything if they did. 

Bottom line? People who truly love me aren’t going to treat me differently because of physical flaws. And I don’t have to fixate on things that aren’t essential to who I am.

Pretty basic truths but ones I needed reminding of this year.

For me, boldness in the face of insecurities looks like hoping in what God says is true of me despite fears about what other people will think.

What does boldness in the face of insecurity look like for you?

P.S. You might also want to check out my blogging-friend Emily’s series, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us. It compliments a series on boldness well :).

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Boldy Making Friends When You Might Be Moving

Boldly Making Friends When You Might Be Moving  A Simple Haven

This is day 14 in a 31 day series on Living Boldly. To rest the other posts, go here. Welcome!

I told you that I hope for honest, authentic relationships where we bear each other’s burdens and share in one another’s joys. Maybe your hopes are similar.

Well, what if you know you’ll eventually move? Or might move?

Do you continue to invest in the people in your community, spending the time and effort needed to grow those relationships? Or do you check out, pull back, “guard your heart” from getting broken quite so badly when the move eventually happens?

As someone who’s moved 11 times in 8 years, I’ve wrestled with these questions a bit.

But I’ve decided that any pain that comes with leaving is worth the joy of dear friendships.

Yes, It’s Hard

The deeper the friendships, the more it hurts to leave. Boy do I know about that.

Our three years in Dallas was by far the longest we’d lived anywhere. And the friends we made there truly felt like family.

Then we moved. In the middle of winter. To a Midwestern farm town where we knew no one. And I was very, very pregnant with #2. Then my husband had double foot surgery and started grad school. (Cue sad violins).

It was all pretty pitiful. It was also pretty amazing to see how God provided for us during that time. But that’s another story.

But It’s Worth the Effort

Yes, it was a hard season. Yes, I missed my friends in Texas desperately. No, I didn’t always feel like “putting myself out there” and making new ones.

Full disclosure: every time we move, I whine to Hubs about how I don’t want to make new friends/what if no one wants to be my friend? He’s gotten very good at reassuring me.

But at that point, I had also determined that even if we weren’t here in Farm Town long (Lord, I hoped we wouldn’t be here long), I needed to live in community with others while I was here.

Because I believe we were made to go through life’s hills and valleys with other people. Because life is richer when shared with friends. Because I really, really needed people to bring me meals after I had my baby. (Ahem. Cough).

Because anyway, what’s the alternative?

Shallow friendships. No one truly knowing you. Missing out on the blessing of knowing and learning from new friends.

Bummer if/when you move? Totally. But bigger bummer if you miss out on the friendships that could have been.

Have you ever left friends behind? Or struggled with how much to invest in a new place?

PS, Are you moving any time soon? If so, go grab a copy of my free eBook, The Homemaker’s Manifesto: Loving the Home You Have. It’s a quick encouragement to make the most of your new place. 🙂

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31 Days of Living Boldly :: Day 1

31 Days of Living Boldly | A Simple Haven

Welcome to 31 Days of Living Boldly!

Scroll on down to read Day 1. I’ll be adding the links to the other days as they’re up!

{Living Boldly at Home}

Day 2 :: Bold Homemaking

Day 3 :: Boldly Loving Your Home

Day 4 :: Living Boldly at Home Around the Web

Day 5 :: This Might Not Work

Day 6 :: Boldly Purging 

Day 7 :: Boldly Making Progress

Day 8 :: Boldly Saying Yes to Hospitality

Day 9 :: Boldness and Food for Company

Day 10 & 11 :: Boldly Getting to Know Your Neighbors

{Boldness in Relationships}

Day 12 :: Boldness in Relationships + Weekend Links

Day 13 :: What I’m Hoping for in Relationships

Day 14 :: Boldly Making Friends When You Might Be Moving

Day 15 :: Boldly Believing the Best in Friendships

Day 16 & 17 :: Taking Initiative, Despite Fears

{Boldness in Daily Life}

Day 18 & 19 :: On Being Safe

Day 20 :: Bold in the Face of Insecurity

Day 21 :: Encouragement Toward Living Boldly

Day 22 :: Boldly Talking About Babies

Day 23 :: Boldly Asking

{Boldness in Parenting}

Days 24-27 :: Boldness in Parenting: Keeping My Eyes on Hopes, Not Fears

Day 28 & 29 :: Parenting Choices That Have Felt Bold

Day 30 & 31 :: What Bold Parenting Has Done For Me

Day 1 :: Boldness Defined

Boldness. It probably brings a myriad of images to mind. Here’s how I’m defining it:

31 Days of Living Boldly | A Simple Haven

In lieu of big goals and resolutions for 2014, I chose one word to be the theme of my year: Bold.

I wasn’t sure what a commitment to boldness was going to look like, but it felt right. It felt like an exciting experiment, actually.

An Experiment

What if…

I chose to act in hope instead of in fear? In small, everyday situations as much as in big momentous ones?

I chose to believe that–given that I’m acting with some shred of wisdom as well as boldness–the worst that can happen really isn’t that bad? That my anxieties are often more unfounded than not?

What would happen? Would I be pleasantly surprised by the results of bolder actions? Or would I fall on my face?

A Disclaimer

Because we all have different hopes and fears, acting boldly will look differently for each of us. My version of bold isn’t going to be the same as yours.

In fact, you may laugh at some examples of how I’ve attempted to live boldly this year–either because you’d never fear what I fear or because you think I’m crazy for doing what I did.

(It’s ok. Laugh on).

But it’s not the specifics that matter most. It’s the general principle: acting in HOPE, despite the presence of FEAR.

I’m planning to be pretty darn honest with you about my life this month. And that feels bold to me.

However, I’m trusting that the hope that has carried me through this past year will carry me through the month of October.

For me, that hope is based in the trust there’s a good God who loves me and will somehow bring good even from the mess, the hard parts, the junk.

A Spoiler

Spoiler alert: my year of living boldly ends well.

At least so far.  But I’ve only got three months left, right?

Turns out boldness is good for my soul. It opens doors to amazing experiences, builds faith, is healthy for relationships, and helps me shake off perfectionism.

This month, we’ll chat about boldness at home, in relationships, in parenting, and in life in general.

It’s my hope that by the end of October, hope will seem bigger and fear smaller.

Any thoughts on boldness? And will you be doing a 31 days series? Please share if so! 🙂

 

 

 

 

A Peak into Our Adventure

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Though we’ve been back from our big trip for a couple of weeks, other travels, hosting company, and a bad stomach bug have kept me from fully returning to normal life.

So our trip is still on my mind, especially as my kids remind me of our adventures and as I share them with friends who ask.

To record them all in one place and to satisfy any curiosity there may be (?) about what did and how we did it–here’s a little peak into our adventures.

A Peak into Our Canada Extravaganza

Day 1: Departure

Acquired expedited passport (a minor miracle–tip: call your Congressman and plead your case) then drove six hours to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Arrived at 2am and slept at some friends’ house. Sounds crazy but amazingly it went well.

Bun's handmade  passport for Hubs.

Bun’s handmade passport for Hubs.

Days 2-4: Montreal

Drove 14ish (it should have been less, but Toronto’s traffic was insane) hours to Montreal. Arrived at our hotel, which was apparently hosting prom night.

Wrangling my children and luggage amidst gussied-up teenagers was weird. Hubs was concerned our hotel neighbors would make a ruckus and keep us up, but my money was on our room being the source of ruckus. In any case, I had about three noise machines going and we all slept fine.

On the way up Mt.   in Montreal

On the way up Mt. Royal in Montreal

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We spent and day and a half in Montreal. Highlights: Mt. Royal (note: do not attempt to summit it pregnant, on foot, with a double stroller), Atwater Farmer’s Market, the old city, that nap I took at the hotel, and the kids’ train in a local park (Bun’s fav).

Low points: The emergence of my son’s feral cat persona and the impact it had on our restaurant options. Being attacked by angry birds in a park; it was both unprovoked and completely horrifying.

At the beginning of the hike, when we had no idea how far up we had to go.

At the beginning of the hike, when we had no idea how far up we had to go. Thank you, Daddy, for pushing and for knowing when we needed to turn back.

Top of Mt. Royal

Top of Mt. Royal

Attempt number 35 to preserve my son's life that day.

Attempt number 35 to preserve my son’s life that day.

Days 4-5: Quebec City

Thankfully, Quebec City is only 2.5 hours from Montreal. So after a brief driving tour of the city and a stop at the farmer’s market, we were off to spend the rest of the day in Quebec City.

Quick impressions: older and “frencher” than Montreal. Felt a bit European. Stellar crepes. Completely awesome.

Keeping it real: my son threw a stainless steel water bottle at another family’s table in a restaurant our first night there. Mercifully, they also had small children, no one was hurt, and after a good night’s sleep, we had our happy Buckaroo back the next day.

Exploring parks in Quebec City

Exploring parks in Quebec City

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Picking flower, playing, and a picnic in a park. Pretty perfect.

Picking flower, playing, and a picnic in a park. Pretty perfect.

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Days 6-9: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Epiphany: they don’t call it “New Scotland” for nothing. It looks so much like the Highlands I’ve seen in pictures.

Thankful for: our two bedroom cabin, which meant–holla!–no sleeping next to babies and we got to cook and eat in. The short walk to the beach. The fact that our children are undeterred by frigid waters and rain–the beach was their favorite thing regardless. A lovely afternoon by myself in a coffee shop. My kids are champion nappers. Watching the World Cup as a family.

Living dangerously: taking our son on a two and a half hour whale-watching boat trip during lunch/nap time with only (really, really, lame) gas station snacks to sustain us all.

Miracle: the whale trip went really well. The kids behaved, the scenery was amazing, and Canadian chips were a surprisingly satisfying lunch.

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Bun was pretty excited to spot some whales. Or be let out of the car. Either way.

Bun was pretty excited to spot some whales. Or be let out of the car. Either way.

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I can hardly believe this is straight off my camera, no editing.

I can hardly believe this is straight off my camera, no editing.

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This is how I'm choosing to remember our four+ hour hike. ;) So thankful they love each other so much.

This is how I’m choosing to remember our four+ hour hike. 😉 So thankful they love each other so much.

Ain't nobody happy we still have 2 more hours of walking. But kids! The view! Wasn't it worth it?!

Ain’t nobody happy we still have 2 more hours of walking. But kids! The view! Wasn’t it worth it?!

Canadian lupines, in honor of Miss Rumphius

Canadian lupines, in honor of Miss Rumphius

Days 10-16: Bar Harbor, Maine

Best vacation spot ever: mountains, beach, lakes, a cute little town, and a well-stocked grocery store. We stayed in a cabin in the woods, where the kids could explore and I went to sleep each night to the sound of the wind in the trees.

Trip-planning tip: if you decide to tackle a long road trip with small children, plan to spend a chunk of time in once spot on the back half. Even if everyone is crazy pants for the first half, you’ll have the consistency of the last part to look forward to. It worked really well for us.

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Bridges built by the Rockefellers. FYI, if you want to live dangerously, take a toddler on a two-hour carriage tour of these roads.

Bridges built by the Rockefellers. FYI, if you want to live dangerously, take a toddler on a two-hour carriage tour of these roads.

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Whew! You made it! 🙂

Ok, so tell me: what adventures (near, far, or in-between) have you had this summer?

 

Beauty Found :: Saugatuck, MI

Beauty Found :: Saugatuck, MI | A Simple Haven

Besides the farm down the street, the fantastic children’s museum, and the coffee shop that lets you open a tab, one of my favorite aspects of Farm Town is its proximity to Michigan.

While we’ve only traveled there a couple times, it’s my new favorite summer getaway spot. Specifically, Saugatuck. And apparently, it’s everyone else’s favorite getaway spot, too.

This past weekend, Hubs and I were able to take a trip there–sans babies–to celebrate our ten year anniversary. Woohoo!

Fun fact: Since I apparently still look 18 (I actually got carded when buying spray paint last year), people often think we got married ridiculously young when we tell them we’ve been married that long. But I digress. And I also don’t think I look 18.

Our weekend was a fabulous celebration of being married for a decade and a nice reprieve from a busy season of life.

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We stayed in a great B&B, wandered around Saugatuck’s cute, artsy downtown, took a day trip to Holland, hiked in the woods, watched the sunset on the beach, and ate fabulous food. (Though at this point, any food I don’t have to cook myself seems pretty fabulous).

I’m so thankful for dear friends who watched our littles so we could go. And I’m determined to get back as soon as I can.

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Maybe it was having these all over the place or maybe I'm just a pregnant super-smeller, but I swear the air in Saugatuck smells amazing.

Maybe it was having these all over the place or maybe I’m just a pregnant super-smeller, but I swear the air in Saugatuck smells amazing.

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Downtown Holland, where I found the perfect pregnant-or-not dress for summer at the local fair trade shop.

Downtown Holland, where I found the perfect pregnant-or-not dress for summer at the local fair trade shop.

Hubs & I at our B&B, with said dress :)

Hubs & I at our B&B, with said dress 🙂

Antique shop on the way out of town; home to fabulous blue glass finds and Mitch, the sweet owner

Antique shop on the way out of town; home to fabulous blue glass finds and Mitch, the sweet owner

Unscheduled, uninterrupted time to sit with Hubs and watch this. Priceless.

Unscheduled, uninterrupted time to sit with Hubs and watch this. Priceless.

 

7 Things I Learned This May

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Spring was slow in coming this year and while my roses are still a little behind, the pool has opened and we’re all wearing shorts and eating Popsicles. So it must nearly be summer.

I’ll be honest: this May has been an adventure in survival mode. Between being newly pregnant, chasing two littles, and Hubs starting summer school, life at my casa hasn’t been measuring up to anyone’s normal standards.

My laundry room is permanently home to a Mt. Vesuvius of laundry, our diet is dominated by frozen pizzas, my daughter has watched nearly every episode of Little Bear on Amazon Prime, and my son calls the television “Emma” (because after Little Bear, we keep watching the 2009 BBC version).

Reading makes me nauseous most of the time, so what I’ve learned this May has been gleaned from daily life–in my few coherent moments.

What I Learned This May

1.) Survival mode is just for a season.

At least that’s what I tell myself. The way I’ve been operating lately isn’t ideal, but it’s the best I can do given my present circumstances.

And these circumstances will change. Hopefully sooner rather than later. But until then, I’m trusting that the best I can do will be ok.

Our bedroom, post magical cleaning

Our bedroom, post magical cleaning

2.) Hiring help is sometimes the best thing.

This month, we tried out a monthly cleaning service. It was utterly magical. In a few hours, our house was pristine. And while it hasn’t stayed pristine, that deep cleaning should hold us over for a good while.

I don’t know if we’ll figure out a place in our monthly budget to keep doing it, but I’m grateful for the one-time experience.

3.) Accepting help from friends is always the best thing.

Some friends have taken pity on me in my first trimester woes and have watched my babies, brought me pregnancy survival kits, and offered other help. I’m so glad I learned to accept help back when I was pregnant with Bun, because it’s been such a blessing.

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4.) Some pregnancy tests really are hard to read. Or they take a long time to show results. Or they’re not that sensitive.

Or: Don’t buy the Walgreen’s brand pregnancy tests.

5.) Notes from the Pregnant Lady’s couch: Nacho Libre is funnier than I remembered. Dan in Real Life is just as good the tenth time. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty way exceeded my expectations.

6.) For me, planning vacations is basically planning where I want to eat.

With our two week trip to Canada quickly approaching, I’ve started to mine Trip Advisor and Canadian friends’ brains for good spots. And I get more excited with each menu I peruse.

Do you have any family-friendly recs in Montreal, Quebec City, Cape Breton Island, or Bar Harbor, Maine? 🙂

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7.) Grace is always there, it just comes in different forms.

Honestly, the timing of this pregnancy initially freaked me out a little.

Yes, we were “trying,” but when I did the math and checked the calendar, I realized that: I’d be in my first trimester during a season of an unusual amount of solo parenting (Hubs working late + summer school), our Canada Extravaganza also falls within first trimester yuckiness, and Hubs has a (unchangeable) school trip scheduled near baby’s due date.

And yet, miraculously, I’ve not been worrying. I’ve seen God provide for us enough in the past to know that He’s fully able to do it again. That doesn’t mean it will all be cake, but I do think it means it will all somehow be ok.

Which in my experience generally means He’ll either give me grace in the form of help from others, the strength to do what I didn’t think I could, or a better/different perspective on the situation.

And thus concludes my pregnancy-dominated list of learnings.  Let’s talk about something else now. What have you learned this month, be it deep, fluffy, or somewhere in between? 🙂

As usual, linking up with the other lovely folks at Chatting at the Sky!

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting ASH!

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Close

Happy Friday! I’m joining Lisa-Jo and the Five Minute Friday bunch and writing on the topic of close. Will you join me and read, write, or both for five (ish) minutes? Here’s how it works:

    1. Write for 5 minutes – no editing, no over-thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Invite others to join in.
    3. And then: go visit the person who linked up before you and drop them a note!

While moving as much as I have hasn’t been easy, one of the perks is that I now have friends in most of the lower 48. I’m exaggerating, but not by a ton.

And you know what’s awesome? Most of these friends are the sort that I could just pick right back up with tomorrow.

The kind where you may not be current on what exactly their husband does for a living or how many pets they have or if they’re still teaching preschool–but you can jump right into their current struggles, joys, and dreams. You know, heart stuff.

I’m so grateful for these friendships.

Some favorite friends in Dallas...now living in CO, MI, IL, and East Africa

Some favorite friends in Dallas…now living in CO, MI, IL, TX, and East Africa

Now, moving alone hasn’t given me close friends.  When Hubs and I lived in each place, we had to do the (sometimes uncomfortable) work of putting ourselves out there, initiating with people, and investing in relationships. I had to be honest, invite others to be honest, ask forgiveness, and freely give it.

Sometimes friendships got hard, awkward, or just a little messy.

But investing in authentic relationships is something I can’t remember ever regretting.

And as I look forward at our summer plans, it brings a smile to think that I’ll be seeing friends in Chicago who we’ve known for ten years but haven’t lived near for about nine.

And we’ll stay with dear friends in Michigan who we knew in Dallas before any of us had kids.  And on the tail end of our Canada Extravaganza (more on that later), we’ll be meeting friends in Maine who live in New Hampshire, but who we got to know in Texas.

When we get home, we’ll be hosting more friends from Texas, but also ones from Canada who I met via the wonderful world of blogging.

I’m not physically close to any of these people. But thankfully, so thankfully, we’ve got relationships that can be picked right back up despite distance and time.

Here’s to summer travels and long-distance friends. 🙂