Thursday, August 6, 2015

Summer Dreams...

As I sit here reflecting on the summer, it's raining outside, and it feels like fall. I grow a bit nostalgic when I think of the approaching fall, as that was my mother's favorite season. It's mine too. The changing leaves, the cool nights and mornings, the crisp air. Sweatshirts and football. All of it sounds great. But, I'm not going to get ahead of myself. This summer I have not felt compelled to sit at the computer. My heart and mind have been in the present, living in the moment, being with my children. I saw a posting on Facebook earlier this spring that read, "18 summers". That's how many we have until our children are off to college. And so, enjoy each other, we did. The boys kept busy with swim lessons, basketball camp, and Cub Scout camp for Christian. I sat and watched them grow, and become just a bit more independent as they would venture out to the neighbors house down the road or across the street to play. Walkie-Talkies have become a very good tool for us while they are out. This summer, we also took a family vacation to Florida with our very good friends and their two daughters. We stayed in a house together and loved it. It was a lot of work- getting the kiddos beach-ready every day. However, I know that we are making memories. And as I sit here and think of how Teddy loved the waves and how Christian loved the Boogie Board, and how Charlie enjoyed playing in the sand, I am pleased that we took the 19 hour trek (yes, 19 with stops!). Memories are many from that vacation. Little Miss Maggie, or "Lady Mags" as we call here, has a beautiful spirit. Her personality is starting to come through. At nearly 5 months old, she gives us so much joy with her smiles, giggles, and silliness. She will often giggle without any reason, and so I imagine her having some kind of private joke in her head, one that only she knows and she laughs about it out loud. Maggie was baptized on July 12th and it was a very touching baptism. We had it during Mass, and she was amazing. She didn't let out a single sound until our priest held her up and introduced her to the congregation, at which point it was perfect. I felt so moved on that day, so blessed to have been a part of her first sacrament. And now we are in August. The older boys started school yesterday. And I am again with two children at home. Charlie will be in kindergarten next year, and the thought of that right now makes me quite sad. He has been with me through so much. While my Mom was going through treatments, he would sometimes have to tag along. He would light up the waiting room in the radiation therapy office. I'm so grateful for that time. The time spent with him, watching as he not only gave me joy, but my mother, and those around us; a blessing for them to not have to focus on their treatment, if only for a few minutes. Thus, I am finding myself taking the time with him; time to sit and read with him or put together a puzzle. I try to focus on his long, detailed stories about his imaginary friends with interest, and ask questions. His imagination is such a gift. I love watching him play and interact with his sister very sweetly and lovingly as a big brother should. He holds her pacifier in her mouth when I can't get to her right away, and he talks to her and makes her giggle. I love those moments. We are really beginning to feel plugged in to our church community. Chad recently accepted the a spot on the parish council. We are both lectors. And, I have made a friend, who is my "Rosary buddy". She has 5 children, and one in Heaven, and I smile when I think about God's plan for me, and how He brought her and her family in to our lives. She and I have very similar city-turned-country girl stories and when we are together, I sometimes feel as though God is speaking to me right through her. We have a plan to say the rosary together once a week and it has been a huge blessing. Her daughters babysit for us, another added bonus. As I end this post, I hear the grain trucks loading up at the grain bins for one last time today. Chad, his Dad, and the farm hand have been hauling grain for about 3 weeks. Gotta make room in those bins for the coming harvest! Finally...we have kittens. Three of them. Chad's dad brought them here to be mousers. They like to antagonize Murphy through the windows and screen door. Ugh. There's also constant talk between Chad and I of bringing chickens to the farm yet this year...stay tuned...

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Reflection

We are approaching one year of living here at the farm. June 1st is the anniversary date. As we approach that date, I find myself reflecting on the past year. Where I am now and where I was, and even where I hope to be. I often hear the phrase, "Where has the time gone?" It seems so cliche at times, but in all honesty, right now I ponder that question often. Why is it that the older we get, the faster our lives seem to go? Before moving here, I may have had certain expectations of myself and what I could accomplish in a year's time. Heck, I maybe even romanticized the idea of living on a farm. (Picture a road side stand with me and kids selling homegrown vegetables, homemade salsas and homemade jams from our luscious garden. Oh, and fresh eggs from all of our free-range chickens. Also, me and Chad in the tractor riding off into the sunset.) So, none of that has happened...yet. There is no garden. There are no chickens. There are no farm fresh eggs. The tractor thing? I haven't even been IN the tractor. I haven't been on any of the cool farm equipment. And, if you ask me, I can't even tell you exactly where all of our land is. Truth: there are STILL UNPACKED BOXES in our garage. What is in them? I have no idea, but whatever it is, apparently we can live without it. TRUTH: there are unpacked totes in my boys bedrooms. Yes. TRUTH: Our house isn't even close to being "done". There is a back splash in the kitchen to be put in. There is trim that still needs to be hung, a storage bench in our mudroom that needs painting, an office in our basement that is full of junk and is far from being an office, and gutters. Oh, the gutters need to be replaced. Landscaping is just beginning. So, what the heck have we been doing? Well, it has not been very romantic on the farm. It's hard work. I really didn't know hard work until I have witnessed the hard work put in by my husband, his dad, and the farm hands. The time spent on the farm has left little time for much else in terms of getting our house "done". But, I know it will come. TRUTH: I don't LOVE it here. Not yet. I may never LOVE it. I like it. Some days I like it a lot. It's tough for me to be so far from stores, neighbors and such. Driving anywhere to do anything takes up atleast half of the day. I'm not complaining, just being truthful. It's an adjustment, still, even after nearly a year. While reading this, my dear reader, you may begin to think that I'm disappointed in this life. That my expectations were too high and I set myself up for disappointment. Well, I might have. I'm not disappointed though. We lost my mother this year after her 3 year battle with lung cancer. After moving to the farm, she began to go downhill, slowly at first, then rather quickly. I mention this NOT because I resent her for taking up so much of our time, but because I look at that time as a time for stewardship for us. Yes, things got pushed aside in order to care for her. However, being her caregivers was something that I would not change for anything. We were given the opportunity to be Jesus to her. Though that time was so very difficult, I know it made me grow, both in my faith, and in my relationship with my husband. After going through that time, I don't take anything for granted, and I do my best to live in the present. I thank God for that. So, instead of talking about what I DON'T have, and what I HAVEN'T accomplished, here is what I do have:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Margaret Marie Hanna

Hello friends, On Thursday, March 12th, 2015 at 7:39am, I gave birth to a BABY GIRL via csection. I am just now getting around to looking at the pictures of the event. Margaret (Maggie) was 7pounds, 15 ounces and 21 inches long. She was born with a full head of black hair and is the sweetest thing! We are so blessed and happy. These days are challenging as we are a bit sleep deprived, but more than anything, we just feel blessed. Her brothers absolutely love her. She is healthy, and I am recovering well from the surgery. Here are some pics of the big day and days after.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Baby Day is Almost Here!

I've been trying to come up with some ideas to blog about. It's been very difficult since my mom passed away in January. Before that, things were in a bit of a tailspin, and life was just full of emotion. Even now, there are many emotions as we are preparing to welcome our 4th child on March 12th, which is THIS THURSDAY! Right now I'm just busying myself with "getting ready" though, I know that my home will never really be in the pristine germ-free, dirt-free condition that I would like it to be in when baby comes home. There will always be clutter, there will always be dust, there will always be dirt. Hey, we live on a farm. We have a "Mud Room" for a reason- it's supposed to be dirty. Our farm is a mess right now. Meaning, the grounds. With the melting snow (not complaining that it's melting) a lot of mud gets tracked in. With a dog, three boys and a husband, well, mud is inevitable. But, it's ok. Being that spring is approaching, we are looking ahead to planting season. I'm so excited because this year, we are going to have a big garden. A big, farm garden, which has been my dream since we decided to move here. This will be my "baby" (next to our actual baby), and I'm excited at the possibilities that this garden gives us. Canning and freezing are at the top of my list. And you know what? I'm not afraid to fail at it. I'm ready to see what this soil can give us, and what, in turn, we can then give to others. I have a few words for my unborn child: I'm excited to meet you. Your Dad, brothers, and I cannot wait to see your little face and cuddle with you. Our family, we, are a bit nutty. We are silly. We love to laugh. We love to have fun. And, we are full of love. Our love for you has grown so much over the past 9 months, and it will continue to grow. My biggest wish for you is that you will love God, and you will know how special you are to Him. We are full of faith and we are full of hope. We cannot wait to get to know you and see the gift that God has blessed us with. I hope to be able to post a picture or 2 on this blog on Thursday. We will see how I am feeling.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Oh the Places You'll Go!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where you'll go...
Dr Seuss was a genius.
The only thing I would add to this quote is that God has really steered me in which direction I have gone in my life- even when I didn't realize it. He led me to Chad. He, through much prayer and discernment, led us to this new life here on the farm. He has led me to find qualities within myself that I didn't know I had.
And now, we're expecting a baby. Though I'm thrilled and grateful for this blessing, it wasn't always that way. I went through many emotions after finding out I was pregnant. I will always consider a baby a blessing, so I immediately felt blessed. But it took a while to get used to. Money is a big concern. And for me- my immediate thought was this: How can I care for 3 children, plus a newborn, plus and a mother who has stage IV lung cancer?
My mother is well right now, for the most part. But what about 6 months from now, when baby comes? What about a year from now? What about...??? When I let myself continue on that train of though, my head would spin. Worry, fear, and anxiety would set in, and I would cry. And cry. And cry. How could I be unhappy about having a baby? I wasn't unhappy. I was confused. I was emotional. Immediate morning sickness, headaches, and dizziness did NOT help this. And then I started to wonder, am I getting too old for a baby? I didn't feel this crappy with the boys. And we still have unpacked boxes in our garage from the move. And there is still so much to be done on this house. And...and...AHHHHH!!!
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted, but mostly, they're darked. But mostly they're darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And then, I took some deep breaths, and I let go.
I've had three c-sections. Three. And they are not easy. I did not choose to go that route. It just ended up that way. And they kind of scare me. And having a fourth one? Almost terrifying. And then there there's post-partum depression. I have that too. But, again, I've let go. Why? Because I know I will be taken care of. Because I can't hold on to feelings of anxiety and fear. And because I know enough about myself to know that God has equipped me with what I need to get through whatever lies ahead. And, at the end of it, there will be a baby. A new life. A new person to get to know. The snuggles. The giggles. Tiny fingers and toes. Baby grins. Many, many firsts. It all lies ahead too. How can I be anxious about that?
My one last source of anxiety has been this: what will others think about my pregnancy? I am NOT one to care about what people think of me. I used to be that person, but a wise person (whom I am married to) once told me, "If you are worried about what others think, that is a reflection on you. If you think others are going to think bad things about you and judge you, maybe it's because you do that to others." He was right. And once I stopped judging and caring what others do, I no longer cared about what others thought of me. But yet...with this pregnancy, those feelings crept back in. "You have 4 kids? Wow, you have your hands full." "Oh, another mouth to feed. Haven't you heard that there is an over-population problem in the world?" "Were you TRYING to have a baby?" "Were you TRYING for a girl?" "You are a brave woman." "You just moved, your mother is sick, are you crazy?" Yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm not going to say if these are actual comments/questions that people have asked me. Some are, but some are just thoughts in my head. I was really hung up on this. These intrusive questions. These judgements. They can be hurtful, even when people don't mean them to be. So, I was worried. Can I handle the judgment from others? What I found, once people started to find out about our fourth baby, is that I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone has been very excited for us and supportive. No judgi-ness. No negative comments. Just pleasantries and support. I still get some silly questions and comments, but they are usually from complete strangers, and I usually kind of blow them off, in the nicest way possible. Not long ago, my dental hygientist told me, in complete detail, HOW to conceive a girl. This, while she was cleaning my teeth. I have not gone to her since. That was just too much.
I share this to all who care to read this blog, for the same reason that I created this blog. Dear reader, this is NOT for you. This is for me. This is for my babies. This is for us. I want to look back one day on these words of struggle, and I want to reflect on where I was during this time. Where was my heart? Where was my spirit? Right now, I struggle as a mother. I struggle as a daughter, and as a wife, and as a sister. My dear children, one day, if/when you read this, know that you are a huge part of the journey. YOU are loved. YOU are wanted. YOU are what makes it great. Without the bad, there would be no good. And without God, this life, these treasures that I have in you, and the light of the joy that you bring into my life, would not be possible. And so for that, I am forever grateful. Forever full of joy, no matter what kind of stresses or struggles each day brings. Onward up many, a frightening creek. Though your arms will get sore and your sneakers may leak. Oh! The places you'll go!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Beware: Lots of pics!

This is our last month or so, in a nutshell, as seen in the pictures. We celebrated our first Independence Day here on the farm, complete with a few small fireworks and sparklers in our driveway. We had my sister down from Chicago for a weekend, where by she became the first person to fall into our pond. Fell. Right. In. I was expecting a child to be the first on in, but...oh no. My poor sis was the first. She handled it well. I think we all just laughed about it. During her visit, we all played in one of the grain bins. It was full of soy beans, and we even tasted a few. Not too bad! We had an awesome vacation in South Haven, Michigan. The lake water was perfect the first few days, and we got some good beach time in before it turned colder and choppy. We picked the best blueberries we've ever tasted. Before leaving, my husband got out his jack hammer to destroy our back steps. Just kidding- he doesn't his own a jack hammer- he rented one. But, the purpose of doing this is because it is unsafe and needs to be replaced. Oh, and there are drainage lines that are running underneath it that we needed to get to because those needed to be repaired as well. Let's just say that there's still a large trench in our driveway. It's a work in progress. When we returned from our vacation, it was time for the boys to start school. They started on 7/30. It's a year round school, so they get longer breaks during the year. With so many changes for us this year, I'm so proud of my boys for handling it so well. I, on the other hand, have had a hard time. I know it's what we need to do, and I'm happy with the school. I just miss them. Because I home schooled Christian for Kindergarten and 1st grade, he's been with me at home for a long time. So, this transition has been hard for both of us. I still get sad thinking about it. Am I the only Mom who feels this way? It was hard for him to get on the bus the first day. Teddy basically sprinted on and didn't look back. But, for Christian, it took a little more courage from both of us. I was so proud of him. So, this is where we are now. Two kids at school. How did that happen? Where did the time go?