Ode to Motherhood

I somehow did it. My very first and very rough draft is complete. When I think about loss, losing my mom ranks high. Becoming a mom triggered a whole slew of loss, lessons and love for the woman who made me. I’ve spent years writing about it. This Mother’s Day is no exception. For those who have been kind enough to send me feedback, please keep sending it my way. In the meantime, an Ode to Motherhood.

Chapter 13: WTF? I’m pregnant.

About 4-months after the adoption failed, I started training for a half-marathon. It was just after the holidays in which in typical fashion I had overindulged in food and put exercise aside.

By this point in life, I had been running for a few years. A funny thing happened this time, though. My boobs hurt. As in, really hurt. At first, I thought that I’d jumped into training too hard. But, as the days progressed and the spasms in my boobs grew more frequent, I knew something was up. I was broken.

It wasn’t just my boobs. I was exhausted. I was exhausted when I ran and when I didn’t run. I was tired all day long and had no desire to get up in the morning. Granted, it was January in northern Wisconsin. It’s hard to be motivated about anything during this dark, sub-zero stretch of hell we call winter. But this was different.

After several weeks of enduring this excruciating pain, I decided to take a break from running for a few days. I thought maybe if I reset myself and started over it’d get better. Only it didn’t. It kept getting worse. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I shared my discomfort with my husband. He looked at me perplexed and then asked a very simple but loaded question, “You aren’t pregnant, are you?”

Time stopped. He knew I was not pregnant. I would know if I was pregnant. After all, I’d gone through years of trying to get pregnant. I’d undergone countless fertility tests, prayed to higher powers and visited multiple doctors. While my diagnosis wasn’t dire, I clearly didn’t get pregnant. We had just gone through a year of paperwork and tests to get approved to adopt in the state of Wisconsin, only to have it fail. This was in fact an extremely loaded question. Of course I wasn’t pregnant. Or… was I?

My mind began racing. I had a stash of pregnancy test strips under the sink. It’d be quite simple to do a quick test and put this rumor to rest. But a big part of me didn’t want to get my hopes up. I started to do the math in my head. Yes, my period was late. If I were a gambler, I’d be broke if I bet on the dates my period would hit. Sometimes it’d be weeks, other times months. Plus, with the stress of the holidays, it’d make sense I was late, right?

After several rounds of inner conversation that was slowly making me crazy, I decide to take a test. I’ve got nothing to lose. At least then I can rule out this particular crazy notion. I take the test. After a few minutes I glance at the test strip. I see a couple of lines and dismiss the notion. I knew I wasn’t pregnant.

Later that night, while nursing my sore boobs, I suddenly found my heart racing. I return to the bathroom and dig the test strip out of the garbage. Two lines. Is it possible that meant I was pregnant? I dig under the sink for the directions. They’re missing. I start to panic. How can I not remember if two or three lines mean I’m pregnant?!?!?!

Before you consider me a very dumb blond, remember the circumstances. Factor in that I had purchased these test strips three years ago in bulk on Amazon. They didn’t come in a pretty box. These strips didn’t have smiley faces or pink lines. They were test strips with multiple faint lines.

I immediately turn to Google looking for answers. After finding the directions online, my life changes in an instant.

“Honey…”

“Yeah?”

“I think I might be pregnant.”

Silence.  I can hear my husband carefully formulating a sentence in his brain before speaking, knowing the next words he speaks count.

“What do you mean you think you might be pregnant?”

“Well, this test says I’m pregnant, I think.”

“You think? Isn’t it a yes or a no?”

“Well sort of. But I’m guessing this test is expired.”

Chaos ensues. My husband runs to our local grocery store, the only spot in town with tests, and asks the clerk for a pregnancy test. Meantime, I Google what can cause a false positive. It’d appear that a rare form of cancer and a lot of urban myths are the only options. The sparkling optimist in me becomes convinced that I have cancer.

My husband returns home. “Well, either everyone in town tomorrow will know you’re pregnant, or a rumor will be floating around that I’m having an affair.” The joys of small-town living.

I begin guzzling water. Lots and lots of water. Three tests later, I’m starting to come to terms with the idea that I may, in fact, be pregnant. My husband is beaming and totally convinced this is the only possibility. I’d like to believe this miracle is real, but the pessimist in me refuses. I need scientific proof. Luckily, I have an awesome doctor and work at a rural hospital that can do same-day appointments.

Less than 24 hours later, I find myself lying on an ultrasound table at work, hearing a rapid pitter-patter, for the first time. It turns out that there actually was a logical explanation besides cancer for the nagging pain in my chest. His name is Jacob William Probst. At the time, I was six weeks pregnant.

In an instant, life changes but everything stays the same. I look down at my paunch and realize there’s an alien-looking create growing inside of me. That every decision I make in the coming months impacts the creation of another human being.

I’m humbled and overwhelmed and scared. Let’s face it. This didn’t happen overnight. I had come to terms with the idea of never having a baby. I’m old… in childbearing age. Did you know that if you are 35 and pregnant, that’s considered a geriatric pregnancy?

I’ve never quite understood why the marketing of that. Adult pregnancy, mature pregnancy, but geriatric? It is very similar to wedding dresses being about 2-sizes SMALLER than your normal size. Because seriously, what girl doesn’t want to feel old when she’s pregnant (as if you don’t feel old already) or fat on her wedding day.

I face the facts. I’m a plus-size, geriatric pregnant gal who was not planning to get pregnant this year. I had abandoned the prenatal vitamins and hadn’t exactly been alcohol free over the holidays. Plus, the sugar cookies. So many sugar cookies. I had just booked a trip to Washington D.C. for March and now this?

I confide with a few co-workers. Those closest know what a toll the adoption took on me. They get it. As I’m telling them the news, it finally hits me. I am actually pregnant. This is exactly what I wanted.

Or, was it? My pregnancy would be plagued with complications. An achy back and an uncontrollable bladder eventually led to a more serious diagnosis of pre-eclampsia.  In rural Wisconsin, this diagnosis played out in a 75-minute ambulance ride with three strange men, no shoes, and a heightened hormonal state. Our destination – the nearest trauma center equipped with a NICU.

It resulted in one of the most undramatic, dramatic results in my life. I never went into labor. I stabilized. After two nights of monitoring and Steve eating delicious looking take-out in front of me I was allowed to return home with strict orders of bedrest. I’d spend the next two weeks anxiously awaiting Jake’s arrival while also questioning if I was capable of becoming a mother.

Motherhood is a pivotal moment that plays out over the course of years. I’ll be frank, when Jake made his overly dramatic entrance into the world during an emergency c-section that involved him not only wrapping his umbilical cord around his neck but also somehow knotting it, I didn’t feel an immediate sense of joy. I was in utter shock.

Moments later he was placed on me to nurse. Splayed out on the table, I felt like a unique combo of a milking cow and Humpty Dumpty being stitched back together. I just wanted a full fat vanilla latte with extra whip cream.

Staring down at the little alien creature, I knew I was witness to a miracle. I was torn between sheer excitement of this incredible creature I just brought into the world and scared shitless of everything I could do wrong. In that moment, I needed my mom. Not my best friend or my sister or even the man who helped make Jake.

I knew giving birth would trigger the loss of my mother. I just didn’t know how lost I’d feel those first few weeks. Hormones and sleepless nights didn’t help. Unlike some incredible women I know, motherhood did not come natural to me. It was awkward and uncomfortable and extremely complicated. I quickly learn, motherhood is messy.

Messy and memorable. Somewhere in those sleepless nights, something clicked. I suddenly understood what it meant to love someone so selflessly that you’d sacrifice everything for them.

There’s something to be said about a love that fierce. I grew up in a house full of grace. I now understand why. My mother’s love was built around the notion that I was exactly who I needed to be – not perfect – but enough. My mother never tried to change me and constantly gave me freedom to make mistakes. To learn and grow and evolve into a young woman.

When Jake was born, I felt an unbelievable pressure to not mess it up. To make sure I raise him to be an incredible man. I now understand that I am not raising a child, but rather guiding a human being through life. Jake is his own person and to think I can change that is hilarious. I can guide and steer and pray and love, but at the end of the day Jake will become who he is destined to be. That’s humbling and scary and awesome all wrapped into one. To love someone enough to let them become who they are meant to be – that’s the greatest gift I can give as a mother. One I learned from the best.

If I could tell myself just one thing, it’d be motherhood is the ultimate test in vulnerability. Lots of it. The thing with motherhood is loving someone unconditionally comes at a cost. It is an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows. The more vulnerable and deep your love, the larger the tidal waves.  I never understood mamas who cried on the first day of school or became insomniacs in a quest to make sure their child was safe until I became one. 

I went into parenthood believing I’d be the best mother ever. As a perfectionist, I wanted to be a perfect mom, because I wanted Jake to have the best. What mother doesn’t? Here’s the thing, by day 1 I had failed on many fronts.

This seems obvious now but I didn’t know it then. I am raising a human. Humans are messy and complicated and contradictory. They make mistakes. They are frustrating and difficult and stubborn and that’s what makes them beautiful. Now, I just do my best every day to lead by example, love him, and set him free to be his own person. It is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. His teacher recently told us, Jake’s an incredible leader. He just sometimes leads in the wrong direction. I’ll admit, I was a bit embarrassed but bursting with pride and love.

Raising Jake has taught me, I’ll never be ready to parent a person but I was born to be a mom.  

Hello World. I’m eight!

Just another day on Moon Lake.

Jake here hijacking mom’s blog. This might be one of the last times I do this since I’m now getting old enough where I have an opinion about mom sharing every aspect of my life… But, that’s a battle for mom to fight next year. In the meantime, this weekend I turn 8. And wowza, what a year it has been.

Let’s see, where do I start? I guess mentioning that I survived a global pandemic is noteworthy. I never got COVID-19 and I was fortunate enough to live in a place remote enough, that school remained in-person all year long and I never felt unsafe. I masked when needed but also enjoyed life. I think my parents didn’t weather as well… and maybe had a few anxiety induced moments… but I somehow managed to come out unscathed.

I did miss a season of wrestling but dad’s been picking up the slack on that front wrestling with me almost daily. I’ve also discovered the fun and exciting world of WWE, which is not how the Tigers wrestle. This summer baseball resumed. Mom and dad were coach which was a bit of a buzzkill but I practiced ton and my team included every boy in my grade. We were an unruly 18-person team that managed to age my parents at least 2-3 years so I’d call it a success. I also had the last hit of the season, surprising our opponents with a successful left-handed bunt. Yes, I’m that cool.

Speaking of cool, I aced second grade. I scored in the 99th percentile for math and mastered spelling. I don’t love reading, primarily because I’m told I have to read, but I’m also good at that. In fact, one of my biggest challenges in second grade was being the coolest and most handsome kid in the class. When I told my mom that, I got a lesson on what it means to stay humble. I’m still working on that front but I think deep down my parents love my confidence.

We managed a few travels this past year. We hit up Universal Studio in Florida, in which I promptly rode a ride that freaked me out, resulting in me wanting to ride the calmer E.T. ride for the rest of the day. I swam in the ocean, collected sea shells and watched my first shuffleboard game. Over the winter, our Airbnb wasn’t as busy so we spent a lot of family time at the brown cabin and by spring, were busy hitting up the green cabin. There, I did plenty of tubing and wrestling and reading in my new hammock.

I’m still growing like crazy. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with growing pains. And, I eat like a horse. I love grapes and blueberries and strawberries and bananas and apples and oranges and peaches and well pretty much all fruit. I’ve been known to eat 4 bananas and 6 mini oranges during a growth spurt. But, better fruit than Doritos. (Although I love those as well. And Triscuits with spreadable cheese). Water is my beverage of choice but occasionally dad sneaks me an energy drink – Bang is pretty good. I learned about that on YouTube, my other addiction in life. I’ve had a chrome book for a year now and thanks to something called the Internet, the world is my oyster. I’ve learned a ton and been told more than once that I need to look at the source before believing everything I hear.

I have amazing friends. This summer, my daycare owner hosted a sleep over at her cabin. It was my first night away from mom and dad and to be honest, I didn’t miss them at all. I was happy to come home but man we had fun. I kayaked and drank mountain dew and swam and played games and stayed up way too late. The next day I was a zombie. My daycare also let me jump off a bridge into the Brule River and get ice cream at A&W lots. All in all, the perfect summer.

I’m still a bit stubborn and at times have to sit on the steps and think about what I’ve done (what does that even mean?). My parents tell me regularly that I’ll make a great lawyer someday because I’m very good at arguing. Frankly, I blame them. They are always telling me to use my words but then when I talk a lot then tell me to quit yammering.

Looking ahead, I’m gearing up for third grade with Mrs. Janigo. I’m looking forward to recess and lunch and even computer lab. We’re contemplating the Grand Canyon for Spring break pending this global pandemic. This year I also get to join basketball, which is another sport I’m confident I’ll dominate in. Other than that, I’m just making the most of living on Moon Lake!

Thriving Thirties Crisis Anyone?

C6ZvbbYWQAAkS-z

Another trip around the sun means I’m one step closer to the inevitable mid-life crisis that happens at 40. Or, at least that’s what I’ve been told. What baffles me, though, is nobody talks about the time between your quarter-life crisis and your mid-life crisis. That in-between time where so much happens your head spins. So this is a post about the unnamed, unknown crisis turned opportunity I’m calling the Thriving Thirties.

I was thinking this week, what a shitstorm of highs and lows, all in a decade. Ones you think you can anticipate, and in many cases long for, but society does a great job of masquerading into something else.

There is of course the biggie—my status. I went from girlfriend to fiancé to wife and now mother. Each time, I discovered my beliefs and understanding of what unconditional and unwavering love means were completely underrated. You hear about the sacrifice that comes with parenting, often when you are rolling your eyes at your parents, but experiencing it is a whole different ballgame. Talk about high highs and low lows. There really needs to be more about the tough days, because frankly I’ve never experienced something more challenging than raising a family.

My career took a backseat—something I never thought would happen. I changed jobs three times in my 30s, only to discover that while I know I want to make my mark in the world, I have no clue how to do it. Career advancement, which seemed to come so easily in my 20s, came to a screeching halt as I realized that living in a place I love, doesn’t always come with abundant economic opportunities. Guess what? I wouldn’t change a thing (other than my paycheck).

The lifelong learner in me had a near meltdown when I finally paid off my student loans and realized for the first time in 34 years I wasn’t attending or paying for continuing education. I opted to re-enroll for my 4th college degree creating a seamless transition from being a student to graduating at the same time my son enters school. And so the cycle continues.

And then there was the pursuit of happiness. Despite self-help books telling me that I could in fact wake up everyday and conquer the world and be happy, I seriously question the sanity of those so-called authors. Living the life that I want with those I want, where I want, means compromise. It means prioritizing and sacrificing and wiping boogers and changing diapers. It means long commutes, limited shopping, befriending Amazon Prime and fighting over things like uncrushed diet Mountain Dew cans scattered around the house. It means experiencing unmet dreams and acknowledging that sometimes life is bigger than your needs and wants.

Nobody warned me about the weight-gain that comes with an aging metabolism. Gone are the days of downing Dr. Pepper and munching on chips and Top the Tater while binge watching the latest season of Dawson’s Creek. Instead, I found myself hitting the pavement (literally) and crossing the finish line not once but ten times over the past six years, to barely maintain the weight gain that I’m lovingly calling my dirty thirty in honor of my attempts to do Beach Body at this size. The running highs and lows are a whole different post but if you had told me in my 20s, I’d have some of my heaviest and hardest conversations with myself wearing running shoes, I would have laughed.

My 30s did not result in endless afternoons hanging out at coffee shops chatting about the weather like the characters on Friends. Instead, it was spent scrambling to keep connections with lifelong friends on Facebook messenger and recognizing that many of those friendships would fade away, despite noble and in some cases knock down, drag down attempts to keep them. It was hard to let go at times but I find friendships now are easier—more based on common interests, shared values and day-to-day life experiences than the baggage of what you were once pegged to be.

And somewhere in all of this, I discovered that one of life’s greatest gifts arrived for me in my 30s. It frankly couldn’t have happened sooner. And, maybe I’ll change my mind after my next centennial crisis, but in this moment, I’m still a bit in awe.

I distinctly remember my quarter-life crisis. It played out like a bad after school special that left me leaving television news and moving to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It meant abandoning bad habits, facing my demons and acknowledging that the person I was trying to be, wasn’t me. But, then my 30s hit and I discovered that instead of trying to be someone or something, I could instead, just be me.

Better yet, I could embrace it. There’s something empowering about grabbing life and saying, I’m good enough. I wake up everyday and I do my best. Frankly, that’s enough. It may mean 175% some days or surviving on others. And that’s ok, despite the self-help books saying otherwise. It isn’t that I don’t care. It isn’t that I don’t embrace life and all of its complexities and know all too well that we never know when our ticket is going to come up. Instead, it is acknowledging that some of the best things in life happen, when you just let them be.

So in a long winded way, I discovered I know less in my 30s than my 20s. But this I know. At times I’m irritable and unbearable and cranky. I’m stubborn like my mother. I’m a bit odd. I crave meaningful connections but am an introvert. I love to try new things like roasting coffee and buying obscure plants that have no chance of survival (banana plants anyone) because it is fun to try and fail. I run races with mediocre times and battle the bulge, while still finding a way to love myself even though health blogs and beauty magazines tell me I’m obese. I tell really bad jokes and most times, people can’t even tell if I’m joking. I’m inpatient. I’m independent. I’m loyal. And the best thing is, all of this could change in a heartbeat because the thing I know most, is I’m a constant work-in-progress and that’s what makes me, me.

The Waiting Game

img_2561My son is potty training. I know every family’s experience is different. But, I think most parents can relate about the angst that comes the first time your son informs you he wants to wear big boy underwear. Jake decided to hit this milestone this week. That is – the wearing underwear. We’re still working on the whole going pee in the potty.

Don’t get me wrong. We spend a lot of time sitting on the potty. As in a lot. Just not a lot of time going. This sudden introduction of downtime in my daily routine has got me thinking a lot about the waiting game. So much of our life is spent waiting. We’re waiting for an appointment, or for a special event, or the weekend. We’re waiting for water to boil or our favorite show to come on television or that next great novel to be released. We wait and we wait.

Last night, I had things to do. But, Jake had other things in mind. He wanted to go potty. So I sat. And I waited. And my little one and I chatted. We talked about daycare, went over letters of the alphabet and talked about Santa. He told me about the green garbage truck he wanted for Christmas and about the snow he played with at daycare. And, after much adieu about nothing, he decided he was done trying.

As quickly as that, I was done waiting. But, I’m discovering that sometimes the best things happen while you are waiting. Soon, my little guy will be potty trained (I hope). Our somewhat forced, but uninterrupted time to chat about our day will be filled with other daily tasks. But, as I approach Thanksgiving, I can’t help but be grateful for these moments. These in-between, unexpected moments that occur while we’re waiting.

When my son finally hits this major milestone in the Probst household, we will celebrate. The waiting will finally be over. But for now, I’m just thankful I get to share these moments with him. I know others, in fact once me, that dream of this moment—wondering if they will ever even get to be a mom.

This Thanksgiving, I hope you all find a way to enjoy the in-between. The moments we often take for granted, despite knowing deep down that it is these very moments that make life living.

 

Running just as fast as I can…

Sometimes I find I enjoy writing racing recaps more than the race itself. But, these past few weeks are the exception to the rule. Eleven weeks ago, I began a journey to train for a 10k. I felt it’d be challenging enough, but much more realistic than attempting a half this fall. Surprisingly, it turns out I do in fact enjoy running when I match my skillset to a course length.

Birkie 5K (Note dad in background drinking Mountain Dew)

Perhaps it was the magical fall weather we’ve been having. Or, the shorter runs that made up this training schedule. I’m not sure which it was but regardless, I can honestly say I enjoyed this training. A couple weeks ago on a whim, I decided to throw a 5k into my running mix. My motivation—Jake. The Birkie race included a kid’s race that I thought my son would seriously enjoy. And, if I need to do a run anyway and was going to drive down to the Birkie trail for Jake, I might as well do my own 5k. Reality check – the Birkie course is solid hills. And, if you plan to run even a 5k, doing at least a couple of trail runs and perhaps even some training on hills would be wise. But, whatever. I had a blast. I finished in a decent time given the circumstances and more importantly, didn’t injure myself. I also got to immediately run another 1k with my son right after. It was one of those perfect falls days and Jake was on fire. Sure, he didn’t cross the finish line first. But like mom, he gave it everything he had and crossed the finish line with pride. He also got a sweet pair of socks out of the deal. Afterwards, we enjoyed some of my favorite pizza in the world at River’s Eatery in Cable

The race reminded me that in running, you reap what you sow. You really do get back what you put in. It also fueled me to complete my last few weeks of training honestly. By race day, I knew I was ready. On the evening of Whistlestop, my son had an opportunity to run another race.

The Loose Caboose
The Loose Caboose

The Loose Caboose included several hundred kids, free t-shirts, sheer and utter mayhem and a wooden whistle for every kid who crossed the finish line. Once again, Jake rocked the run. The proud mama in me loved every second of it.

Saturday morning, I was blessed with cloudy skies but no rain. It was a humid day but not overly hot. It was definitely a blessing compared to my spring half. Plus, I only had 6.2 miles to go this time. Don’t get me wrong, running 6.2 miles or any miles at my size does not come naturally or easy. But, in my mind, it seemed so much easier than the last Whistlestop.

I somehow missed the start of the race. I was chatting with a co-worker and frankly just lost track of time. It didn’t matter since my time didn’t start until I crossed the marker. And, with no time for nerves or stretching, I had no choice but to just push forward. Given the shorter time on the course, I removed all of my favorite love songs and country ballads from my playlist, leaving only upbeat bubble gum pop songs, the occasional rap (Baby Got Back) song and plenty of toe stomping country. Surprisingly, this type of music can in fact carry you through a race. Anyways, it was an uneventful race except for this – I ran. That’s right. To me, I always considered 15-minute miles sort of my tipping point. Slower than that, it was more of a waddle-jog. Faster averages meant I was actually running. This race, all of my miles were under 14-minutes. Granted, this was my first 10k and I had no PR to compare it to but what I do know is that while it wasn’t quite as fast as my 5k times, it was substantially better than the 15:49 per mile pace I did in one of my worse half-marathons ever this past spring.  It almost had to be.

My goal was to finish in 1:30 and I managed to do it in 1:26:02. For me, that felt pretty awesome. I learned a lot in this race, not so much about my personal willpower but rather my potential as a runner. And after all these years, I can finally say after this race I felt like an actual runner. Perhaps slow but not a jogger or waddler, just a novice runner trying to

Best medal ever!
Best medal ever!

find her way in a sea of spandex. At the finish, my son yammered on how about how “mommy ran super fast” and gave me the biggest hug ever. While I still wish both of these races had medals, that was a pretty awesome way to finish a morning run.

I’m excited to see what next season brings me. For sure, I’ve earned another new pair of Brooks. And, definitely a new pair of running sweats (especially since I decided to paint our guest room in my last pair and destroyed them) and some socks. I don’t know where I’ll run but the one thing I know today is I will run again. Not a bad way to end an otherwise uneventful year of running.

Wild, Free and Three!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hey folks – it is me Jake of Moon Lake stealing mom’s blog again because in just a few days I’ll be 3. I can’t believe another year has passed. That’s 1/3 of my life folks! It has been another year of whirlwind adventure.

Since writing last, I’ve taken up a new hobby. Talking. A lot. I often hear friends and family say wow, he’s talking so much more. I’m a bit bewildered by how surprised they are—after all, I have a lot of important information to share.

Did you know I’m a superhero who can also fly planes? Mom got me a batman cape. Then daycare got me a cape. And mom and dad found three capes at a garage sale for $1. Can you believe that? Anyways, I pretty much wear them everywhere I go. I definitely prefer being Batman but will fill-in as Robin or Superman if needed. I primarily leave those roles for my friends at daycare, though.

Yep. I’m still a full-time daycare kid. And yep, I’m still not potty trained. I did pee once on-demand for mom when she asked. But I did it on the floor instead of in the toilet. I needed to make a point. Not sure what that point is but I made it anyway. I’m sure I could be potty trained if I wanted to be but I like to keep mom and dad humble. So those two things haven’t changed much in the past year.

Mom and dad have to work harder to limit something called screen time for me. I don’t mind. I’d much rather be outside practicing my baseball swing or attempting to drown myself in Moon Lake. But sometimes when I’m really tired, I like to veg out in front of a few episodes of Super Why or Batman. Dad even let me watch the 60’s version of Batman. Since sharks are all the rage right now, the scene where a shark eats Batman’s leg is particularly entertaining.

I also find snacking on string cheese, crackers and watermelon while watching television quite satisfying. It used to be applesauce but mom put a stop to that saying something about needing new furniture. In my mind, I’m telling her you’re welcome since I know that’s just an excuse for her to buy stuff.

Speaking of buying stuff, my belongings are still primarily the product of garage sales and daycare friends. My entire wardrobe was pretty much worn by my buddy Nolan first. But, mom and dad keep saying the money is going towards my college fund instead so I guess I’m ok with that. Although, mom also talks about how I’m going to be QB1 or the next Steve Jobs… both of which are unlikely. I mean, have you seem my gene pool?

All of that said, mom and dad did make an effort this past year to show me there is life outside of Smiling Faces Daycare and Moon Lake Estates. I spent a lot of time with fish at the aquarium, hanging with family at the green cabin, exploring new trails, eating at new restaurants and flying jets at an air show. I also caught my first fish at take your kid fishing day… and it was a BIG one. It is so special it keeps getting bigger every time I talk about it. Dad has taken me out to a lot of timber sales where I get to play on super large, cool machinery. Mom stresses about that and instead takes me to bookstores and regular kid playgrounds. I don’t mind, though. She’s at least trying.

I’m still growing but not nearly as fast. I weight in at a solid 38 pounds and have passed the 3-foot marker. I survived my first cleaning at the dentist and am cavity free. Oh, and I managed to pick up and give strep and a number of other spreadable diseases to mom and dad. I do love to share. But, I’m healthy and happy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s the latest from Moon Lake. I’m not sure what comes next other than the promise of multiple cakes and cupcakes. Maybe some more toys. Hanging with mom and dad. Making new friends. Seeing new places. I’d say all in all, life is good on Moon Lake folks.

Until next time-
Jake from Moon Lake

Early Morning Resolution

Happy New Year! How are those resolutions treating you? I’d just like to go on record right now saying mine are slowly killing my will to live. Fourteen days ago, I started on a quest to factor me-time into everyday of my life to focus on wellness. My solution—wake up by 5:30 am everyday so that it wouldn’t cut into family, mommy, wife, friend or work time. On the flip side, the time once known as end of the day veg in front of Bravo time would go if needed due to being tired.

Let me backtrack one second and preface this resolution by telling you I am NOT a morning person. I cherish my sleep. I do best during regular business hours. The idea that I’d get up an hour early just to ensure I had enough time to hit the treadmill, lift weights, stretch or journal seemed a bit preposterous. But, last fall I started reading a lot by Brene Brown and this notion of creating habits to the point where the norm or your daily habit just is something you do versus something you think about. This theory resonated with me. After all, given how much I value sleep, I question whether I’d really get up early enough everyday to shower if it wasn’t something that had become part of my daily grooming routine.

In the past two weeks, I’ve hit the treadmill 8 times, completed yoga and cardio twice, completed a journal post and what I’m calling meditating once. To others, it may have appeared to seem like me staring at the wall in a zombie like stupor because I had stayed up too late the night before watching the Bachelorette but that’s neither here nor there. This mindful staring took place at 5:40 am. Today was the first time I missed my wellness time because I had an early morning work meeting. Surprisingly, I felt out of whack all day. And this excites me for a variety of reasons. If after a mere 12 days, not working on me in the morning seems unusual, imagine what will happen if I make it another week. Or, better yet, another month? I’m quite excited about the new found potential of this New Year’s Resolution.

Ultimately, I’d love for several things to happen with this experiment. First off, in 15 weeks from tomorrow, I’d love to finish the Journey’s Half-Marathon in Eagle River in under 3-hours. Second, in coming months I’d love to utilize some of this time to have a garden that doesn’t look like a Black Thumb Bomb was initiated within it. Finally, I’d love to write my way into closure on some lingering issues I need to just document on paper for my well-being and ability to live a more present and grateful life. Note, the goal here is to not lose weight. Obviously, this is another issue I come face-to-face with on a daily basis. But, I’m hoping that this experiment will help me understand how to form better habits when it comes to food. In other words, running my fastest half-marathon and creating a beautiful garden out of a pile of sand seemed easier in my mind than practicing portion control.

I share all of this with you just because I know by sharing this, I’ll likely continue on this journey. Or, at least that’s been the case with announcing blindly 5-years ago that I was going to run a half-marathon. If it hadn’t been for my very naïve public statement that I would do that, well I’m sure I wouldn’t have finished my first race and therefore never had the next five. So there you have it. A new year, a different me. We’ll see how that goes.

One last note…if you have 30-seconds, watch this ad. Then resume reading this post. (dramatic pause here).

In the grand scheme of things, this ad is a large online booking company trying to differentiate itself. I’m generally not a sucker for this type of marketing. But this ad, well it played on my first morning on my first day of getting up early. Before the tiger even came out, I was bawling on the treadmill. This might have been because of the early hour. But, I’d also like to believe that maybe, just maybe, this stupid commercial hit a heart string that many of my friends can relate too—the overwhelming love, sense of responsibility and desire to be an amazing mother. It sort of accompanies the bucket list of must do vacations with Jake before he’s too old and doesn’t think his mother is cool. This is a serious concern of mine. He already gives dad preferential treatment over me because I wipe his boogers and attempt to give him weekly baths. Anyways, at the end of the day, I think the underlining goal of this year’s resolution is that by finding me time and ways to improve the things that get me down, I can be a better mom. Now that’s something, I can get up at 5:30 am for daily.

 

I Dig Being Two!

IMG_1285I’m hijacking mom’s blog again in anticipation of my second birthday coming up on Saturday. Things have changed a ton since I last wrote. First, I’m communicating. My vocabulary includes a lot of body parts, food groups and demands. I’ve mastered the words mine, poo and no. And, while I still don’t get it, I have found if I add the word puh-lease to the end of everything, I pretty much get everything I want.

Mom says I’m in the height of terrible 2’s and have a bit of a temper. I’d say I’m more the vocal, independent type that knows what I want and how to get it. It’s the Sisu Fin in me so mom only has herself to thank for that.

I’m also very curious. This past week, I figured out that if I connect my step stool to my play kitchen, I can walk up the stool, use the kitchen as a step and finally gain access to the kitchen counters where there is all kinds of good stuff, including access to all of the food cupboards. Dad busted me and said he wasn’t sure if he should be angry or proud of the fact that I figured that out on my own. What can I say? I’m a natural problem solver.

I am obsessed with water and consider myself very brave. I love jumping off the dock, going for boat rides, dunking my head in the water and rolling around in circles in the tub… all of which makes my parents quite anxious. Seriously, you should see them. They are wound up so tight when I’m playing. They keep saying I’m going to drown, even though I sport a life jacket constantly. A couple weeks ago, I even went tubing at the cabin making me the youngest Probst to enter the world of water sports.

I still enjoy being read to but I’m much more into turning the pages and trying to figure out the names of things on my own. There are just so many words out there for me to learn. I’m not sure if wombat is a must know at two but I’m going with what mom and dad give me to read and soaking it all up like a sponge.

I waited a while to walk. I found crawling to be more effective. But, around Christmas that started to change. Now, I run and jump and walk all day long. I love stairs. Another thing that seemed to stress mom and dad out. Then again, everything seems to stress at least mom out. I love tackling dad. We roughhouse a ton. I frankly love it and dad is a wimp. But, it seems to get me into trouble at daycare sometimes. Turns out tackling dad and tackling infants aren’t the same thing. Go figure. In addition to running around, I love throwing balls and swinging bats. Oh and stroller and wagon rides. Pretty much anything outside where I’m moving is good. I’ve also taken up weeding. Mom taught me that. It doesn’t seem to make much sense since we never seem to be done but it passes time. And, only sometimes mom says what I’m pulling are actually plants versus weeds. Give me a break, I’m two.

I love food. I weigh in at over 32 pounds and have been called sturdy by more than one person. I like my food spicier than mom, although that doesn’t take much. Dad says I’m clearly a carnivore. But, I could live on graham crackers if given the opportunity. For the first few months of eating, I resisted cheese and refused to eat anything with cheese in or on it. It just seemed like such a cliché since I was born in Wisconsin. But, I have learned the errors of my way and now beg for cheese constantly. Joey loves when I get cheese. Especially the shredded kind since at least half of it ends up on the floor for her. She’s sort of a beggar. But I don’t mind. She’s my best bud.

I remain a full-time daycare kid. It works out pretty good. I think mom and dad feel a bit guilty so I’ve been told I’m a bit spoiled at times… But, I frankly wouldn’t want to be with my parents 24/7. They are sort of boring. All of my friends are at daycare, plus they got pet chickens and rabbits and all kinds of cool toys I don’t have at home. Did I mention the chickens? How cool is that? Rumor is I might be getting a chicken pen so I can have one (or more—we’re still negotiating that front) next summer just like mom had when she was growing up.

This past year included quite a few adventures. I went to the Children’s Museum, multiple zoos, countless festivals (mom’s obsessed), swimming in Lake Superior, cabin visits, shopping, the library, lots of restaurants, hiking, my first Big Top show and had my photo taken a ton (literally). I watched mom cross the finish line at several races. I also helped lead off the Blueberry Festival Parade since my dad is town supervisor. Dad forgot to mention it to mom so we were scrambling a bit but I ended up getting to throw bouncy balls. Plus, mom didn’t have time to get me a blueberry costume and dad wouldn’t let her die a diaper bright blue so that’s good. It was bad enough I had to be a ladybug (or as PR mom tried to spin it, Mr. Bug) for Halloween. Can’t wait to see how they will humiliate me this year.

All of that said, it was another good year on Moon Lake. It is hard to believe my age has doubled since I last wrote. I’m still not potty trained but I sleep a solid 11 hours nightly. I love my afternoon naps. The whole play hard, sleep hard seems to suit me well. This past month, my car seat flipped from backwards to forwards. I now see the world whiz by me in a whole different light. I have a hunch a lot of being two will be like this—seeing the world differently. I’m looking forward to it!

Until next time,

Jake from Moon Lake

The Ugly Truth: My Real Year-in-Review

stevebethThis fall I contacted the talented Hannah of Stonehouse Photo to do family photos. I envisioned a warm, sunny day along the shores of Lake Superior with vivid red maples and golden oaks gently blowing in the background creating a backdrop Hallmark would envy.

I should have known better. Instead, Lake Superior dealt up an early winter storm complete with 40 mile an hour winds whipping off the Lake pelting tiny icy shards of rain into our skin. A grey sky and thick fog camouflaged any hint of fall color. Our photo shoot lasted all of 10-minutes before we surrendered to Mother Nature and made a pact to try again next year.

If nothing else, we could at least check off laughing in the rain on the shores of Lake Superior off our bucket list. The excursion, while fleeting, pretty much sums up how much of my year went. This was a year of humbling blunders for me where things never really worked out how I anticipated. I think motherhood does that to a person. Every time I thought I had things figured out, Jake reminded me that I in fact have no clue what I’m doing.

This, coupled with balancing an unexpected (and at time unmanageable) freelance boom, job transition, relational surprises and a variety of random setbacks, made for an interesting and somewhat messy year. I won’t lie. At times it was difficult. Downright depressing, frustrating and emotionally exhausting.

This is new for me—definitely a tougher transition than I expected. I like order. I like schedules. I like making to do lists so I can check things off. Instead, I am a planner operating for the first time ever without a 5-year plan. Heck, at this moment I’d settle for a 5-week plan or actually remembering to get our daycare schedule consistently turned in on time.

If I wanted to be dishonest, this would be the part where I say but it was these moments that made the great moments that much sweeter. But, this isn’t the inside foil of a Dove chocolate folks. This is my life and this past year wasn’t that great or pretty.

But, I’m learning. I’m growing. Evolving. Discovering that perhaps for me, imperfection is quite possibly perfection in disguise. I just need to manage it a bit better.

This past year has taught me that sometimes messy is ok. The world does not in fact stop if you leave dirty dishes in the sink and instead stack blocks only to have your son sabotage your creation in an instant. Kind co-workers will in-fact pretend not to notice the handprints of oatmeal on your sleeve, the lingering smell of diaper cream on your hands despite washing them twice, or laugh in your face when you mention your need to go potty. Friends will not question your lack of logic or question your agenda as you navigate this turbulent chapter of adulthood of just figuring things out.

While complex and messy and scary at times, life really can be as simple and amazing as a great cup of coffee and 5-minutes of solitude on your deck rediscovering how lucky and blessed you truly are in life. It helps when this solitude is interrupted with a strong, genuine, unconditional bear hug and a deep belly giggle from your son. While this year was trying at times, it was less trying thanks to the amazing people I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by. They keep me grounded, remind me on the tough days that things will in fact get better, and love me for who I am. It is pretty awesome.

Most importantly, I’ve learned this year the great thing about life is it is always a work in progress and you always get another chance to get it right. So, here’s to getting it more right than wrong in 2015. Granted, I’m not exactly sure what all that will entail for me next year. Similar to last year, I have no real New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t anticipate any major self-improvements or earth shattering achievements other than continuing to do my best. I will also return to running with a goal of the Journeys Half-Marathon in Eagle River in May. I know by including this in the post, I will in fact cross the finish line. The question is can I break that 3-hour goal I set last year. As part of this, it’d be great to shed some weight and improve my overall health. Yes. I know this is a bit cliché on New Year’s but honestly, who doesn’t want to look and feel better?

Beyond that, who knows what the next 12-months or 12-minutes of life will bring. Realizing this is an achievement in itself for me. To everyone who has been a part of this past year of my life, thank you for taking this wild ride with me!

Dear Jake

Dear Jake,

I don’t scrapbook. I’ve discovered, despite my love for writing, I’m horrible at keeping up your baby book. But, like any new mom I managed to take lots of photos. I slapped them together in this video just in time for your birthday. I hope someday you can watch this and know you had an amazing first year surrounded by lots of people who love you.

It is crazy to think it has already been one-year. If I’ve learned anything this past year it is that I have no idea how to be a mother and that you have given me a new perspective on life. This past year you have taught me more than I could ever teach you.

A friend on Facebook (a social media tool that will be so old school by the time you can read this) recently posted a poem that came through on my feed this week that really hit home:

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

― William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

By all definitions, your dad and I strive to live an ordinary, grounded life. But, there is no doubt in my mind that we live in an extraordinary place surrounded by extraordinary people. You are one of those people.

I have no idea what the next year will hold for us. What I do know is that the first time you grabbed my finger, I truly understood the sheer force of unconditional love. I look forward to many, many more birthdays with you my little munchkin.

Love,

Mom