Our fall tradition

Though this post always looks strangely similar to the one last year, I will share anyway.  More for me than anyone else.  We made sure to schedule this fall adventure to the pumpkin patch BEFORE the newest member of the Jorgenson family joins the world this coming Friday!  My sister was such a trooper and didn’t complain one single bit traipsing her nine month pregnant self around muddy fields.

Audrey, rockin’ her big 80’s hair, just because she can
Rylee taking Finn for his cow train ride – how is my ‘baby’ old enough to go without his mama!?
the big four, taking up the whole quad teeter-totter
girlie cousins, taking their first shared ride in the cow train
taking a tractor trailer ride to get pumpkins
Kyler ADORES this little cousin!
finding the perfect mud puddles
my little (big) pumpkin
the ever famous, ever growing cousin photo
be still my heart, I could not possibly love this man any more…


this pretty much sums up how Phineas felt about the day
this was the part where we bribed him with two peanut butter cookies…









4-H fun!

Our summer has been even more fun than we’d hoped given our recent entrance into the wide world that is 4-H.  When we dropped in at the open house last September we were still living in our little house, our kids praying and dreaming for some space to climb trees and raise some animals.  We met a super sweet lady who had a dairy goat farm and we were hooked.  She was passionate about kids and animals.  She had a wealth of knowledge about something we were interested in and a heart to share it.  That last sentence probably sums up a good deal of all that is 4-H.

We decided to jump in and join the goat group even though we had no hopes of having goats in our little yard.  I sort of figured we’d live vicariously through the ones who did have goats and we’d learn a lot in the process.  My goodness are we ever glad we did.  Our kids have grown in their confidence and abilities in ways I never expected.  The look on their faces walking away with ribbons for participation and good work was priceless.  The friendship they’ve found there has been of even greater value.

We started into the world of fairs and showing animals with a small community fair this year.  It was quite possibly the best day of our summer.  My face hurt from smiling by the day’s end.  The icing on the cake was that my grandpa planned his trip out to visit to correlate with the fair.  So he got to see his great-grands do their first show.

There were no rides, just old fashioned games like potato sack races and climb-the-greased-pole.  The food was cheap and the pace was slow.  It was the best induction into the realm of showing animals and projects and such.  Little did we know when we started this adventure that we would move this year and be able to have our own goats!  We enjoy them more than we even thought we would.  They are wonderful companions and pets!

My fab five baby picks (after 4 kids!)

I was pondering the other day what kid stuff I would choose if I had to pick 5 favorite things.  After four babies in six years, there are a few things that I really love.  Some I discovered later into the game and some have been around from the start.

1.  Phil and Ted Stroller (with double ‘jump seat’ attachment) – This is my newest discovery but it still makes the list because it is so wonderful that I’ve sold every other stroller that was taking up space in our garage since this one is so top notch.  It has options for every possible baby/kid scenario.  It is incredibly lightweight, it folds up so small that it takes up a fraction of the space in back of my van compared to my other recent strollers (the Joovy Caboose and the InStep double baby jogger).  We often go out without a stroller, but when we need one, this one fits the bill in every way.

sept 09 089

2.  Ring Sling style baby carrier (like the one I bought from this darling Etsy shop) – I’ve been through about 12 different baby carriers.  Most have been sold on Craigslist.  The only remaining ones around here are an Ergo, a Baby Bjorn and my ring sling.  The ring sling is so easy to nestle a newborn in and so quick and easy to slip a growing baby into for a hip carry.  Mine is a deep cranberry Tencel material and it still feeling positively yummy.  It packs up super small (which has become one top priority criteria these days!).

3.  Food.  Dinners I mean.  Okay, so it’s not a baby or kid product.  But there is something completely magical about getting to dinner time and having someone bring you food when you have a new baby.  Or in the months/years that follow when the days are still quite chaotic and exhausting, opening your freezer to find….real food.  Not a frozen pizza or corn dogs.  Food that nourishes and leaves you feeling full and good.  Food that you made.  Food that your friend who has five kids made you and brought to your freezer.  Food that Dream Dinners made or maybe the deli at Costco made?  Yes, that kind of food.  Absolutely priceless.  (And diet coke has been my long-standing unhealthy vice/coping beverage since day one as a mama.)

4.  Swaddling blankets and special blankies.  The first for new babes who startle themselves awake.  The Miracle Blanket saved our life more than once when we were going crazy with fussy babies.  It is weird looking and expensive but worth it’s weight in gold.  The second for all our kids has helped in them sleeping on their own.  They have all had a blanket that was special and smelled like their smell that they would snuggle with to sleep as they got older.

5.  A diaper bag that is organized,  functional and easy to clean.  I had to delete the word ‘cute’ because honestly, it wasn’t on my list.   For our first three kids, this was the Eddie Bauer diaper bag backpack.  It worked so hard for me it didn’t matter that it wasn’t pretty or trendy.  It held loads of clothes covered with bodily fluids of every kind.  It was big enough to hold snacks and baby supplies and serve as my ‘purse’ even once we had three kids.  It was small enough to fit under the stroller.  It was black and waterproof.  Need I say more?  I love that backpack.  But for baby four I did splurge and get a darling pink camo Wendy Bellisimo diaper bag that I have had such fun using the past year!

The things I didn’t need that I bought?  The list is long but on the top of it would be the giant carseat stroller combo thing.  I would have just needed a good carseat and then maybe the cheap little carseat carrier stroller if at all.  Also things like bottle warmers, powder scented bags for dirty diapers, a swing/bouncy seat/baby rocker (none of our kids spent much time in any of the above no matter how hard we tried).

And all the baby toiletries I thought I needed!  I had lotions, creams, washes and products up the wazoo.  And now, we just use Burt’s Bees Baby Wash for all 4 kids and some apricot oil if their skin is dry.  Same for baby medicines, holy cow we used to have a baby medicine for EVERYTHING.  And we shelled out doses of Tylenol like it was candy.  Last year I threw it all in the trash (since it was expired anyway!).  And now we have homeopathic tablets we use as needed and give a dose of Tylenol every once in a blue moon.

My how things change!  I am continually amazed at how simple things can be, how much we can do without (whether it is voluntary or involuntary) and how my perspective on parenting is ever evolving.  Just when I think something is worked out…it isn’t.  There is no “I have arrived”,  there is simply “We’re at least on the road” and doing our best every day (which on days like today means getting really, really dirty and laughing till we scream…and drinking diet coke…and eating tamales from the freezer that I bought from a darling little Mexican girl at a garage sale).

Thinking about life

Last year around this time we were welcoming another little person into our family.  She was the physical, tangible picture of what God was doing in our life.  We had walked through a season of great pain, many intangible losses and just disillusionment with life in general.  I believed that Audrey’s birth would mark a new season of rebirth and renewal, which it did.  But when autumn came and Chris found out he would need to find a new job after working at the same place for 10 years the ‘new season’ took a drastically different look than we’d planned.   As always, there was more to the story than we could see and though it seemed impossible some days, we continued to put one foot in front of the other and walked the road before us.

We’re still walking.  And learning.  And growing.  The more all those things take place, the more amazed I am at who God is and what He can do.  I’m only 31.  I realize I’ve got so much more to take in.  But wow, as I learn to let go and just be the me that I was made to be, it sure feels good.  A couple years ago I sensed God whispering to deep places in my heart about children and family and trusting Him instead of making a plan that I would hold fast to unless He could wrestle it away from my white knuckles.

What He was saying to me about the treasure, the gift beyond any other, the blessing, the inheritance that children were was a message I hadn’t grown up hearing-not inside or outside of the church.  It first seemed something I might like to keep to myself (except for the living out of it was hard to keep a secret….babies are hard to miss) because it was so counter culture.

In the back yard a few weeks ago I was watching the kids all play and was overwhelmed at the thought that came into my mind.  What would my life look if I said ‘no-thank-you-to-more-gifts’?  I would like every other kind of good thing and blessing-money, vacation time, friends, etc.-except for children.

Maybe I would have nicer cars.

Maybe I would have a yearly vacation to Hawaii.

Maybe I would have the satisfaction of a full time job that pays well.

Maybe I wouldn’t have stretch marks and I’d still look good in a bikini.

Maybe I would have free time every weekend to pursue hobbies and get my nails done.

Maybe I would be well rested, not be addicted to coffee and know what 8 hours of sleep feels like.

Yes.  Maybe those things.

But then no one (including me) would be blessed by a little girl whose smile can make your whole day.  No one would get to laugh at the antics of a long haired, brown eyed little boy who loves everyone he meets.  No one would have taught me just what ‘the end of my rope’ means.  No one would have drawn love out of my heart that I didn’t even know existed.  So much would be missing my heart hurts just thinking about it.

I love watching  as our kids grow and learn and become the people they were created to be.

I love how much their presence has transformed the way we experience life.

They truly are a gift.

How did I get here?

Sometimes I feel like life fast forwards and I am not sure how I end up where I am.  After a fairly smooth transition to life with four kids, Audrey got sick in November and hasn’t slept well since her 4 days in the hospital.  Since Chris works long hours, I am the only one up with Audrey.  Without sleep, life gets more blurry for me.  The ‘fast forwards’ happen more often and my head spins.

For instance, I don’t think I ever would have imagined myself at a McDonald’s on a Sunday morning at 9:00.  I even had the bit of brilliance to go through their drive thru to get my cheap, rather gross coffee so that I wouldn’t have to wait in line inside with the kids.  Then we pulled around and ran inside where I watched them play in the play area for over an hour.

Did I mention I was still in my pajamas?  And so was Caleb-bright red footie pj’s with yellow rain boots over them.  Rylee as well was still in jammies I’m fairly sure.  Really it was only this morning and already the memory is so foggy.  We had a great time for the most part.  One of my children gets overwhelmed by that loud environment even when no other kids are present and took breaks to cry in my lap.  But the other three did have fun.

In the same way, I just folded and put away every stitch of clothes that we all own.  But somehow there are clothes in a big pile filthy dirty in front of the washer as well as clothes in every hamper.  How did one 6 year old manage to get pooped on by a chicken wearing three different shirts in two days? How is this possible?  How did time move so quickly?

Similarly, days ago I bought plants for the yard and somehow 4 days passed without me noticing and they were drying out and so tonight I  rather desperately dug holes with my bare hands, since it was pitch dark and I couldn’t find the shovel, knowing that the week starts tomorrow and it would be even harder to get them in the ground.  Just thinking about that makes me sigh.  Is it really the start of the week when your husband is working both weekend days and they have felt just exactly like any old Monday through Friday?

Strange to me this not having weekends.  I have had a far harder time adjusting to that than I expected.  Full time mama of four duty Monday through Sunday.  Not easy.  Adding in 26 little chicks?  Slightly insane actually.  But no regrets there, truly none.  The kids are happy.  They bring so much laughter and so many smiles.  If I can just stop ‘trying’ and keep slowing down to enjoy the moments as they come.  Why in the world is that so hard?

It seems to me I’ve let go of so much.  The little things that don’t really matter.  Showers.  Clean fingernails.  Getting out of jammies…..no, not the kids, me-don’t worry my kids do usually shower and get dressed.  And the big things that also don’t really matter, or at least they shouldn’t.  Perfection.  Appearance.  The invisible, unspoken “Mom Standard”.  But there is still so much in the way.

Big sigh.

Trying to breath in deeply.  Trying to give up my hopes of a detailed clean car that doesn’t stink like who-knows-what.  Thankful to have a car that is paid for and full of gas and cheerios.

Trying to realize I can’t clean the cobwebs or scrub the (white!) cabinet doors in the kitchen.  Thankful to have beautiful children to smear food on the cabinets and who don’t even know what a cobweb is.

Trying to keep exercising and eating better to lose (even a bit of) baby weight.  Thankful for a husband who loves me as I am.

Trying to catch brief moments with my husband that loves me so well while he is away from us so much.  Incredibly thankful he has a job and works so hard to provide for us.

Trying to not try quite so hard but to keep letting go.  Remembering these words that I love tonight:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Rylee’s party

Rylee with puppies
Rylee with puppies
Cousin Isaac watching puppies
Cousin Isaac watching puppies
Our own Davy Crocket!
Our own Davy Crocket!

Rylee with Payton on the cart
Rylee with Payton on the cart
Rylee on a horse
Rylee on a horse
Mama and Kyler riding a horse-he was so brave!
Mama and Kyler riding a horse-he was so brave!
The boys had more fun running and playing with toy guns than riding horses or playing with puppies!
The boys had more fun running and playing with toy guns than riding horses or playing with puppies!
A treasure (candy) search in the hay pile
A treasure (candy) search in the hay pile
The birthday girl and her horse cupcakes
The birthday girl and her horse cupcakes

Our friends Mark and Holly opened up their home to us today to make Rylee’s party so special.  She has been talking to strangers at the grocery store, to anyone who will listen about her upcoming party with so much anticipation.  It was everything she’d hoped for.  Thank you!

Holly and Audrey
Holly and Audrey

This sweet girl?

Who, me?
Who, me?

You wouldn’t think that this sweet little girl would scream through the whole night would you?  If you knew that she had an ear infection in both ears (one eardrum was perforated as it had ruptured in the night) you might have a different opinion.  Karissa and I were grateful to find out today that Audrey’s fever, pain, and restlessness had nothing to do with her kidneys.  However, anytime your baby is hurting it is hard on everyone, but especially mama.  I love how Karissa so lovingly nurtures all of our children especially when they are sick.  She has an amazing amount of grace, mercy, love, and energy for our children when they are hurting.  I am so grateful she is the mother of my babies!

God, gojis and grace

Given my very short couple of hours of sleep last night, truly the above are what have sustained me thus far today and I know will be what get us all to dinner/daddy time tonight.  And the fact that my sister is bringing us dinner tonight, that too.

Caleb is fairly frustrated with his lack of mobility. The novelty of the black cast has worn off. However, today was one of our most fun mornings in a really long time. Strange so, me with a screaming baby up most of the night quite tired and Kyler with a bad cold and Rylee with very sore six year old molars coming in and Caleb limping around getting used to his lame foot. I prayed this morning for grace today. I’m learning. Really slowly.

Instead of praying for things to go smoothly and perfectly, they never do anyway, I asked for the right responses. Responses that model love and patience instead of anger and frustration. In fact I think it went something like this….”I know my kids will misbehave and won’t do everything I ask them to, I am not responsible for their bad behavior-but I am responsible for my bad responses.” Today, an extra heap of grace was needed. I asked in the dark hours before the sun came up to somehow be an extension of God’s love despite my seemingly useless condition. I don’t understand how but I am so grateful that he listens and answers when I whisper quiet words or when I shout in desperation. He loved my children well today and I feel as though I had very little to do with it.

Caleb and Rylee decorating "Gertie"
Rylee hanging her cheerio string for the birds
Rylee hanging her cheerio string for the birds

Caleb looking for a place for his bird string to hang
Caleb looking for a place for his bird string to hang
Rylee with the angel girls
Rylee with the angel girls

I’m not sure which is more funny to me, Caleb’s outfit-Lightening McQueen pajamas in midday, a silk train necktie, a Target bag wrapping his cast or Rylee taking her ‘girls for a walk’ around the culdesac-she sure loves taking care of people, even when they are 3 feet tall and plastic!

As for the goji berries, I am so without sleep that I am trying to take a good amount of vitamins and supplements to try and restore my body despite it all. They really are perky little things even if they taste kind of crummy!