It's New Years Eve!
Tonight our plan is to get the kids to bed, cook up the stir fry Chinese food Josh found for us at the co op, and watch a new movie I downloaded from iTunes. Simple plans, but I am nonetheless very excited!!!

 This afternoon Josh took Logan to the school so Logan could play and Josh could do grades.  Meanwhile, Jack and I went to work making Grandma Pansy's Special K bars while Wyatt napped.

 They turned out so awesome! They are so delicious I might eat the entire pan before Josh and Logan even get home! 

 Once Wyatt woke up, he and Jack played "snow machine".

 Wyatt perches his feet on the bottom of his baby chair, and Jack zooms him all around the kitchen.

It usually ends in a crash, followed by giggles.  It makes me smile to watch as the older boys interact more and more with Wyatt.  They create games and rules and make each other laugh. It's pretty much the best.


I have been mulling over what the new year means, what my hopes & dreams are for 2014, any resolutions I might want to make... And I have come to the conclusion that I am just going to live it.  Take each day as it comes, make the most of it, and try to heal myself.

I think I am going to give 2014 a word though:


I feel like that should be enough to guide me toward the right decisions:
going to bed on time,
having quiet time...

Mostly I am anxious to see how 2014 unfolds for our family.  


Boys, Daddies, Guns & Moose Hunting

 Josh and our neighbor, Sol, decided to fire up the schools' snow machine and go moose hunting this fine Sunday morning.  It's partly cloudy & 17 degrees, so weatherwise, things have turned up.  Two days ago it was -42 degrees here with the windchill!

 The boys always get excited when Josh goes hunting.  

 They love to check out his gun (don't worry, it's not loaded!)

 and they love to talk about how when they're bigger they will go hunting with daddy.

 Josh packed some food, water & supplies in his back pack, brought his big gun for hunting moose and his small gun for bears (if necessary) and then got all geared up. 

 Layer upon layer to fight against the cold!

 The boys followed him around all morning like little puppies. 

 And then when it was time for him to go, they hugged him tight 

and wished him luck!

Good luck, babe! 
Hope it's a successful hunt!


Saturday Night

 It's Saturday night. The kids are tucked in bed, I'm watching The DaVinci Code on TV while eating Julie's recipe for delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and looking through pictures of my kids.

The one above is of a coloring sheet Logan colored for me when I was sick last week.  I love when the boys do thoughtful things like that.

 The last few days have been good. Not great, but good.  I am nearly well.  I finished my prednisone for the bronchitis and am hopeful that in a few days my cough will be gone altogether and then I can (finally!) quit taking my inhaler. Tomorrow marks three weeks since I was diagnosed with pneumonia and I'm tired of being sick!

I wish I trusted fully that I will get well. 
But my anxiety prevents me from fully believing I will heal.
I'm working on it!

One week from tonight I will be in Anchorage.

My mom is meeting me there for some much needed time together, and to escort me to my doctors' appointments.  I am anxious to get myself a primary care physician in Alaska.  I think it will ease a lot of my worries and make getting medical care easier as well. 

I am nervous to leave the kids. I hate that I need to. 

But if I'm being honest, I am very excited to see my mom and spend some time in civilization. 
 Shopping, eating out, going to the movies... 

 In the mean time, I am slowly finding my way back to myself.

Smiling more with this guy, laughing with the bigger guys, and enjoying date night with my best guy.

I am listening to music, lighting candles & finding joy in taking pictures again.  I am making beds, doing laundry & washing dishes.  I am talking on the phone, emailing and watching movies.   I am working everyday to get back to normal. And it feels really nice.

 I am hopeful that I will be well again emotionally. 
And I am excited to spend time with my boys again now that I am better physically.

 I am excited for New Years. 
We have Chinese food to make & yummy treats to eat. 
It's going to be great.  
I love the fresh-start-feeling of New Years.

I don't have any goals yet for the new year, but I think balance might be the word of 2014 for me.  Or maybe it will be trust. I need both more balance and more trust in my life.

 There are many habits I'd like to increase-- peaceful parenting, exercise, journaling, earlier bedtime... but I'm going to go easy on myself and just do what feels right each day.

I also hope to play more with my boys. 
It makes them so happy. 
And when I take the time to do it, it makes me so happy, too.  

Part of overcoming anxiety for me has meant staying in the moment. I am grateful I have these great boys to help me do that.  They continually pull me right back to the present.  Needing things, wanting attention and making me laugh.

They offer both great distraction and great comfort. 

Tomorrow Josh is hoping to go moose hunting, so I will get the boys all to myself.  I am hoping to play play-doh, write thank you notes for all our Christmas gifts, and read some Junie B to the twins.

It is finally my bedtime, so I am off to sleep.  
I pray tomorrow holds another good day for me.  
And that I get plenty of time with these little cherubs.


Hope on Christmas

So as most of you know, I have spent much of the fall struggling with anxiety, panic attacks and depression.  I have hated feeling this way.  Hated how tired, sad and scared I have been.  At times I have felt really hopeless.

One of the things I hate most about anxiety is that I find myself unable to read, which is one of my favorite hobbies.  Well yesterday my anxiety was nearly absent, and I found I was able to read again. So I picked up where I left off in my One Thousand Gifts book by Ann Voskamp.  

I swear to you, it was like God came and took a seat beside me on the couch.  He put his arm around me as I read the words and said to me (via Ann, the author) that it's safe to trust him.  That the medication will help, as will some lifestyle changes, but that also trusting Him will help ease my pain.  

My main fear is dying.  Along with that is the idea of any kind of future suffering. So the thought that I can trust God to see me through dark times, and trust God to know when my time on earth is up, is very comforting.  It's like I forgot.  Forgot how to trust, how to pray, how to relinquish control.  Ann reminds, "A good God plans everything. Everything."  His hand is in everything.

The main idea of the book is to welcome thanksgiving back into your daily life. Eucharisteo, which translates to "he gave thanks" is the act of living with gratitude.  She says this is how we make our way from an empty life to a full one.  The challenge is to come up with one thousand things, one thousand gifts, one thousand ways, that God has shown his love for you.  

184. Paper plates so I don't have to do dishes
185. Friends gathered for Thanksgiving
186. The twins wanting bedtime snuggles
187. Afternoons spent outside

316. A finished project
317. Sunlight streaming in my window
318. Christmas stockings

413. Being able to feed my kids
414. Holding hands with my husband
415. Dark chocolate
416. A break after a long day

Looking for and finding Him and His blessings in my everyday has been transformative.


My favorite song right now is Who I am 
by Hilary Weeks
(Thank you, Karen, for sharing her with me!)

I can feel myself breathe
Really breathe again
Gonna let myself dream
Truly dream again
I won't ever stop trying

This is my story
And I'm still writing
I'm uncovering strength
I've never felt before
There's a fire inside
That's never burned before

My fears are all dying
It's time to spread my wings
And start flying

This moment is mine and I'm gonna take it
Today is a gift and I will embrace it
I am strong and I believe that's who I'm meant to be
Every step that I take is lifting me higher
Every corner I turn the future is brighter
I am brave enough to face the storm
And still stand
That's who I am

It's not about the race
It's not about how fast I run
It's finding out what's inside
And who I can become
It's all about letting go and holding on
It's about taking chances
And staying strong

This moment is mine and I'm gonna take it
Today is a gift and I will embrace it
I am strong and I believe that's who I'm meant to be
Every step that I take is lifting me higher
Every corner I turn the future is brighter
I am brave enough to face the store
And still stand
That's who I am

This has been a really hard time in my life. But I have made it through. And I feel stronger for it.  

One thing I am finding helpful with battling anxiety (aside from modern medicine, hugs from my husband, and calling my mom!) is being in the moment.  Ann says, "Thanks makes now a sanctuary." I find it so true.  When I am looking, moment to moment, for ways God is enveloping me in his arms, I am better able to stay in the present, and I am better able to trust that He's there for me.

"The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, 
even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, 
they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world."
-Ann Voskamp

What a beautiful gift it was for me to find hope on Christmas.



Christmas Day

 We awoke this morning to find that Santa had indeed visited, brought toys, and even nibbled a few bites off the sugar cookies we made for him last night.

Logan began waking us up at 2:30am. It was a really windy night and he claimed he could hear Santa on the roof.  He woke me up again at 4am, telling me he saw bugs all over in his room. I think he was just wound up tight, so excited for the big day.

 Finally at 6:30am, we let the boys go downstairs to see what Santa had brought.  Wyatt got a car carrier,

 and Jack & Logan got Switch & Go Dino's.

 From us they got cap guns,


and Leap Frog books.

 Wyatt got legos from Aunt Julie,

 and some Melissa & Doug tools.

 They also got Cars from Grandma Woo Woo and candy from Grandma & Papa Carl.

 We got Wyatt a Leap Frog Tag reader, and he is so excited to have his own!

 Grandma Carol sent Despicable Me 2, which Logan was thrilled about (!!!)

 and Jack got Planes.  Wyatt got a set of CD's and we have ordered him a CD player so that all the boys can have music on in their playroom. They are pretty excited for it to get here, as am I!

 My mom got Wyatt a remote control firetruck that was a HUGE hit.

The whole morning the boys ran from toy to toy, trading and sharing and playing.

 This afternoon their sleep-deprivation from being awake off and on all night started to show, and bedtime couldn't come soon enough.

 They were asleep before I finished singing, and I am hopeful they will sleep soundly tonight, because mama needs some sleep!!!

 While the boys were eating breakfast Jack goes, "I can't believe we got this many toys!" And the crazy thing is, not all of it is even here!  With the weather we've been having, a lot of our mail has yet to make it here. We are waiting for gifts from at least four loved ones, so the next few weeks will be fun, with more gifts rolling in each day!

 This was Wyatt's first year to have cinnamon rolls.

 I was so proud of him when he started pulling it apart to eat it as it unrolled. 
Well done, son. Well done!

 My mom bought me this Willow Tree carving. I absolutely adore it, and it so beautifully symbolizes what she has meant to me the last few months.  Struggling as I have with anxiety, she has truly carried me through it.

Josh got left handed scissors, and a left handed spiral notebook from my parents. I got lotion and foot cream from them.  From his parents he got a variety of nuts which has delighted him and the boys to no end.  I told Wyatt what he was eating were called, "pistachios" and he said to me, "Actually, they are supposed to be called nuts." He cracks me up!

This is the card that came with my Willow Tree figurine set.  

During the holidays especially, it's important to feel that my loved ones are close, even if it's only metaphorically.  I miss my family, I miss some of our traditions. But knowing that we are in each others' hearts helps so much.

Overall, I would say it was a beautiful Christmas day, with plenty of down time, lots of yummy treats, and more than enough blessings!