10 Ways I’m Finding Peace and Calm

Life is awesome with my sweet kids.

Life is crazy with my sweet kids.

kidsCrazy, as in fun, unpredictable, and wild, but also crazy, as in sometimes I go to the bathroom to cry for a bit because I feel overwhelmed.

I was waiting for things to get easier as Everett got a few months older, and they just weren’t. Ben got worried about how I was handling life in general and started googling “postpartum depression”.

I’d say, “I don’t really want to go out of the house. Ever.” And he’d say, “That’s a symptom of postpartum depression, you know.” He kept slipping in these helpful little reminders a few times a day, until I finally asked how exactly he knew so much about it, and that’s when he confessed to researching it. Definitely made me realize it was time to evaluate things.

But postpartum depression didn’t fit. I read about it myself, and it just wasn’t right. Then I learned about postpartum anxiety, and we started getting somewhere. I went to see my doctor, who agreed that something was going on, but felt it didn’t require medication at this point.

So I got busy researching and brainstorming, and have come up with a list of calming activities that I love a lot. I’m feeling better, but definitely have ups and downs. What I’m finding is an amazing collection of techniques which will be useful long after the postpartum issues have faded – these are just awesome habits for life – for anyone who’s feeling the pressure is getting to be a bit much.

Here are my favorites:

1) Go for a walk – EVERY SINGLE DAY.

So basic, I know, but this saves me. I noticed a pattern – panic on days when I didn’t walk, and cheerful on days when I did. So now I get out there every single morning, no matter what the weather is, and I never want to stop.

2) Essential oils

You hear about them everywhere. It’s because they’re wonderful. There’s no way of measuring how much they’re helping, but they smell amazing, and they bring a ton of enjoyment and sense of calm into my life. I’m using Lavender and Frankincense, as well as blends like Joy, Stress Away, Aligning, and At Peace. (I order from Young Living and Native American Nutritionals.)

3) Counseling

This has been so, so good. I happen to think everyone should go for counseling. I once read that a person’s worldview is pretty much formed by the time he or she is five years old!!! What?! Who has the skills to deal well with the world by the age of five? No one. Every single one of us has baggage and habits that are not working for us.

I’ve told Ben for a few years that I should go for counseling. I just never got around to it until now, and I’m so glad something finally pushed me over the edge. It’s been extremely helpful. (I called Recovery of Hope to get connected with a counselor.)

4) Colouring!

My counselor suggested colouring as relaxation therapy. She said she’s come across it a number of times, and as soon as she suggested it, this excitement jumped up inside me – I love colouring!! They actually make colouring books for adults! Color Me Calm is in my Amazon shopping cart, but for now, I’m exploring all of the free options on Pinterest.

color5) Breathing Techniques

There are a number of different techniques to try, but my favorite is the 4-7-8 one. Very simple – breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and breathe out very slowly for eight seconds. It puts me to sleep after only a few breathe cycles, but it’s also helpful for calming things down during the day.

6) Memorizing Verses

I’m writing verses on cards to take with me while I walk – anything to do with peace or rest! I want those amazing words ready in my mind whenever I need them, jumping into my thoughts at just the right moments. My friend once referred to it as giving the Holy Spirit more available data to use in directing our thoughts!

7) Massage

Ben missed his calling in life. He gives the best massages, and he enjoys doing it, so he’s happy to help out. Reflexology has been proven to be very helpful for postpartum anxiety, so a foot massage is always good! At this point, I haven’t started seeing a reflexologist, but I might yet if I need more help getting through this time.

8) Read Good Books

Right now I’m working on The Power of Positive Thinking. If I’m reading about it, I’m much more likely to think about it.

9) Know when to say “no”.

The other night as I was getting ready for bed, it suddenly hit me how much I was dreading my plans for the following day. I needed to stay home. Normally, I would have pushed through it, and kept my plans, but right now, I’m trying to be extra kind to myself, so if I don’t feel emotionally up to something, I’m not going to do it. I can’t afford to right now.

10) Do enjoyable things.

Eating strawberries (because that’s the only thing powerful enough to keep me away from a bag of chips!). Reading to my girls. Watching “West Wing” every single night. Weeding my flowerbed. Or letting the weeds grow, if that is more enjoyable in the moment. Getting on the floor for some stretches in the middle of the day. Drinking fresh carrot apple juice because I suddenly had a craving. Getting outside as much as I can, preferably with my camera.

Everett and BenWhatever might possibly seem like a good idea to bring a little bit of fun and enjoyment into the day. Usually I get too busy and run around until I’m tired and frazzled, but this will be the summer for going slow.

What do you do to bring peace and calm into your life?


What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

I’ve been thinking about Mary Poppins lately – you know her special word? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? It’s the word you say when you don’t know what to say.

Everett has his own personal version. It started out as an excited noise, and goes something like this: “Goy, goy, goy!!”

As Mary Poppins sings, “You need to find a way to say, precisely what you mean…”

I guess it expressed what he wanted to say so well, he started using it all the time. In a moment of discomfort the other day, he let out one big, loud “GOY!” in frustration.

And last night, as I was putting him to bed, all sleepy and relaxed, he let out a soft little “Goy, goy, goy…” as he settled into his crib.

“So when the cat has got your tongue, there’s no need for dismay!
Just summon up this word and then you’ve got a lot to say!”

Everett and Anika

Three Months In

I clearly remember the first time the thought crossed my mind that it might be fun to have a son.

We were driving along, listening to a cd, and Steven Curtis Chapman’s son was singing the Veggie Tales song “I Love My Lips”. In the middle of the song, Steven Curtis Chapman “calls” his son, and while they’re talking on the phone, he says to his dad, “I’m in the studio right now, just workin’ on this song.”

And suddenly, the thought flashed through my mind, “We could have a son, and he could play guitar, or maybe drums, and he’d call me, and we could talk on the phone!”

Ben teases me about this, and talks about how we’ll need to have a music room in our basement for when Everett starts playing drums and is in a band. Really, Everett doesn’t need to play guitar or drums, if he doesn’t want to, but I think it would be funny if he did, and my daydream came true!

In the meantime, he’s making many other dreams come true. He’s the sweetest baby, and we all love him like crazy.

EverettI really thought we would be a family of four. I thought we would do the girl thing, and that’s all we would know.

But I love how Everett balances things out. I love having a whole new dimension added to parenting. I love it that even though before he was born, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have him, it’s only taken a short time for everything to change, and now we wonder what we ever did without him.

I love it that our girls are learning what it’s like to have a brother. I love learning what it’s like to have a son. I love watching Ben with Everett.

If Everett is napping while we’re eating supper, I love it that there’s a huge, gaping hole already. We need him with us, otherwise something is just not right!

EverettBefore Everett was born, my sister said, “There’s just something about boys. It’s hard to describe the bond between mothers and sons.” And I smiled and nodded, but really I had no clue.

Some people say gender doesn’t make much difference when a baby is this small, but I disagree. I feel as though everything is different, and it’s amazing. I was so nervous about having a boy, and I couldn’t picture myself having a son, but now that he’s here, he’s just wonderful.:)

Everett and me

So Many Bodies in the House!

There are a number of kind, supportive people who have been asking about how things are going, and I realized the other day that since my post about how “knackered” I was, I haven’t really given you all an update.

It feels as though we’re getting used to our new “normal”. I’m getting some housework done, and the girls are getting their schoolwork done (although it’s hard to concentrate when you have a cute little brother distracting you…).


And this little guy is sleeping around nine hours a night, so we are discovering all over again that sleep is a beautiful, beautiful thing.


There are moments when I’m trying to get out the door with all three kiddies, and I’m suddenly struck by the fact that there are so many bodies to get out of the house! When they all need something at the same time, I wonder how women do it with 5+ children!! Having older kids makes it much easier in a lot of ways, but the needs are just different. Sometimes it’s hard to switch from hungry baby to temper tantrum to preteen character development in the span of five seconds.

There are the moments of feeling frazzled, but there are many, many more moments of feeling incredibly blessed – almost as though three beautiful, precious children is too much blessing for one mom to take in! I feel overwhelmed, in the best way possible.:)


Stop Growing!

I was scrolling through the photos on my phone, and realized there were a bunch of favorites that I haven’t shared around here….









He’s getting dangerously close to 3 months – where has my newborn baby gone??! I’m torn between crying because he’s growing up way too fast, and feeling excited about all the fun things to come!!

Anika keeps telling him, “Stop growing!!!” But we would be sad if he stayed a baby forever. So we keep trying to soak in these fun days, and squish his chubby thighs, and watch him grow!

What’s Next?

Kendra: “My massage therapist says I’m doing so well after having a baby, we can have as many babies as we want.”

Anika: “You should have three sets of twins.”

Ben: “Oh boy, Mommy and I better get to work on that.”

Anika (mischievously): “Good luck!!”

Kaylia (innocently): “We are NOT helping you with that.”

Ben: “Good.”

EverettAs sweet as our baby is, and as much as we love him, and think babies are the best thing ever, we also think our family is complete! We’re completely satisfied.:)

And so I find myself in an interesting place in my life. I’ve spent the last 12 years either longing for a baby, praying for one, anticipating the arrival of one, or caring for one. What most families do in a handful of years took a lot longer for us, but our family is finally complete.

I knew it was complete the day I started dreaming about the future – I’ve been stuck in “baby mode” for a long, long time. Because I wanted another baby so badly, my thoughts kept going back to that, rather than looking ahead to what the future might hold.

It is amazing to be set free!

And now I have no idea what comes next. I was longing for the impossible, and now it’s happened! How do you come up with new dreams after that?!

I went to see both my physio and massage therapists in the last couple of weeks, and both were amazed with how I’ve recovered from pregnancy and labor. They’ve both worked with me for a number of years, and know what issues I’ve dealt with in the past. Considering where I’ve come from, along with the fact that I had a difficult delivery with Everett, I’m doing really well.

When my labor started, Everett was face up, but part way through, he turned to the side, which is the hardest way to deliver a baby. In many cases, it just doesn’t work at all, leading to broken pelvic bones or C-sections. My physiotherapist said she’s only worked with one other woman who’s delivered a baby that way, and the woman suffered a lot of damage to her body.

This boggles my mind, because I wasn’t even supposed to be strong enough to have another baby! In addition to all that, I slipped a week before going into labor, and re-injured a bunch of muscles needed for getting this sweet baby out.

And yet everything went amazingly well! How is this even possible??!!

God is so amazing! Able to do more than we ask or imagine. I have absolutely no idea what adventure might be next for our family.

I daydream about getting strong enough for family bike rides, and playing soccer in the backyard, and we should really get a basketball hoop set up on our driveway…. I dream about hiking and camping and.. I don’t know, anything active that might pop into my head to do, with nothing holding me back! I’m not there yet, but anything seems possible!

Well, it did. Until I went for some kind of new Japanese massage last month. I like trying new things, and this type of massage was highly recommended, so I gave it a go. At the end of it, I asked the massage therapist what his assessment was of the issues in my body.

His answer: “There’s just not enough of you. You and I are both trying to live life, but there’s three times as much of me. You just don’t have the strength for doing what comes easily to someone like me. But that’s okay – you’ll just never be a bodybuilder.”

In a way, it was nice to hear that he didn’t think there was anything terribly wrong with me. And I’ve never wanted to be a bodybuilder. But I left feeling kind of deflated. I had thought anything was possible, but suddenly, I was seeing myself as small and weak and limited again.

I let those words sit in my head for a few weeks, but yesterday I decided to ask my regular massage therapist about it. I like his response much better!

His answer: “It depends on your mindset. It depends on how you exercise, how you eat, how you think, and what you want for your future. The things you want for your life are all within your grasp.” (He knows I don’t want to be a bodybuilder!)

And I started dreaming again. You see, I went to see Cirque du Soleil a few years ago, and there was one performer who was TINY!! She must have been well under 5 feet tall, but she was STRONG! She moved with such great fluidity, strength, grace, stability and confidence, she made me believe tiny bodies are capable of great things.

I don’t want to be a circus performer or anything, but I want to do the best with what I’ve got.

A friend of ours was recently lamenting over how his body started falling apart at 40. After listening to him for awhile, I informed him that my best years are still ahead of me. He laughed and laughed, but he didn’t know I was completely serious.

I spent my 20’s dealing with weakness and sickness. I’ve spent a good chunk of my 30’s figuring out how to work hard and trust God for healing, and I plan to spend many more years reaping the benefits of what I’ve learned and the great progress I’ve made.

Realistically, I know this body isn’t meant to last forever.

Culturally, I’ve already missed “the best years of my life”.

Forget that!!

I’m going to pretend I’m living in the culture my massage therapist told me about.

Somewhere in South America, there was a people group living in villages spaced widely apart in the mountains. They needed to get from village to village to trade things, and so they had many runners who would go back and forth between villages. The young men were amazing runners. The middle aged men were even better runners. But the old men? They could run far better than anyone else.

In their culture, they believed people got better with age.

I believe God made our bodies to work well, and sometimes things go wrong that we can’t control, but a lot of the time, we do our part to mess things up – through stress, food, lack of exercise, whatever. I’m ready to work hard, do my part, and stop messing up what God’s given me.

I want to be ready for whatever He sends my way. I want the strength to fully enjoy the life He’s blessing me with. That may not include miraculous health for as long as I live, but I’m going to do my part.

bikingAnd beyond that? I have absolutely no idea what comes next, and I’m so excited! Can’t wait to find out!



Worth It

So I wanted to call this post “I’m Not Sick, I’m Just Knackered”, but Ben wouldn’t let me. He said that because there are multiple (inappropriate) definitions for the word ” knackered”, I should stay away from it, even though I’m using it in the “exhausted” sense.

It’s not a word I normally use – it came up last week when I was googling “tired and achy 6 weeks postpartum” because I felt like I was having an endless case of the flu.

Turns out, this is a real thing. Some women reported feeling this way for five MONTHS!!! It can be dehydration, hormonal imbalance, vitamin deficiency, or just sleep deprivation. One woman summed it all up by saying, “You’re just knackered from having a baby!”

My doctor said pretty much the same thing, except he didn’t use the word “knackered”.

I’m going to blame lots of things on sleep deprivation. Like putting the cordless phone in the cutlery compartment of the dishwasher. Or asking Anika to put a cup of rice into the pot of boiling water on the stove…but I’d forgotten to put the water in.

So we’re sick or tired or knackered or whatever, but we love our baby!!! He’s growing like a (chubby, adorable) weed, and I need to stop denying the fact that he does not fit into his newborn sleepers anymore. Being able to fully extend his legs is probably important, so we need to move on to the next size of clothes!!


He’s developed dimples in both cheeks and elbows, and he’s started smiling all the time, much to our great delight.


Ben loves coaxing those smiles out as much as possible. Anika loves to hold him any chance she gets.


Kaylia’s favorite thing is making Everett ” talk” by moving his bottom lip with her finger, and saying things like, “I love my sisters! Yes, yes!” in a falsetto voice, with a southern accent, why, we are not sure.

And me? I watch him sleep and can hardly believe how beautiful he is!!!

He’s worth being exhausted for!:)


How Everett Became Everett

I love hearing how babies are named. I’m always fascinated with the process people go through to name a child. It’s kind of a big deal.

It’s the label they’ll carry for the rest of their life.

It’s the coming together of two parents to try and agree on what they like or don’t like in a name.

For some people, it’s the deep meaning and significance of what the name means.

And most of the time, it’s not something that comes easily. It’s a bit of a process, and I find that so interesting.

Everett was a bit of a process. He wasn’t going to be an Everett. The name Ben first chose from my list of possibilities was actually Zane. I loved it, because it means “Gift from God”. I thought it would be fairly awesome to be calling “Gift of God!!!” every time I was calling him to come in from playing outside.


We also knew we were going to use Alexander, because we needed something long and hefty with a short name like Zane, plus it means “Leader of the People”, which sounds strong and awesome, and makes me think of his dad, who tends to be a natural leader in whatever situation he finds himself in.:)

But we needed one more name, because Ben likes his babies to have three names, like he does.

When I came across Everett, Ben liked it right away, and I thought we were done. Zane Everett Alexander. Everett means “Brave and Strong”, and is a really old, classic name, but one that I had never heard before.

About a week later, Ben said, “I think I really like the name Everett. I think it should be the first name.” And I said, “Nope. He’s already a Zane in my mind. I can’t change it. He is just Zane.”

And Ben said, “Zane is a surfer name. What if he wants to be a lawyer or a doctor? I think Everett is a good name that will wear well, and stand the test of time.”

So I tried. I really, really tried to rename him in my head, but he was just Zane. And Ben just liked Everett best. It took a couple of months, but one night, I woke up at 3 am, and couldn’t go back to sleep. And suddenly I realized at 3 am that our baby was an Everett. He had finally become Everett in my mind. It just took awhile!;)

Then, a week before he was born, Ben said one night, “I think I’d like it if our son had my name.” And so once again, I had to rename him in my mind, and get rid of Surfer Zane completely. He’s still a gift from God, even if his name doesn’t state that!

He’s a brave, strong leader of the people, and his father’s favorite son. (Good thing he’s our only son, otherwise that meaning could get a little tricky!)

As I look back on that whole process, I feel thankful that I didn’t figure this out on my own! Ben was right, of course. Everett will wear well. And now that he’s here, he just is Everett.:)

First Days With Everett

Oh, life with a new baby! I was not prepared for this….

Everett I was not prepared for how much I would love him! I knew I would love him, obviously, but he’s just wonderful!:) I always used to say I wasn’t really a newborn kind of person. I’ve always loved my babies, but I’m not obsessed with newborns, in general. I have a friend who once said of her newborn baby, “These first days are going so fast! I want this cuddly stage to slow down!”

And inside I thought, “Oh, please, those first weeks cannot go fast enough!! They are HARD!” I kinda felt like I hit my stride around three months.

But something has happened to me – near the end of his first day, I thought, “This is going to go so fast! He’s growing up too quickly! We’re almost done the first day already!!!” And I find myself wanting to soak in every minute of him being so little, and the way he smells, and how he curls up against me.

Maybe it’s because I know it’s the last time we’ll have a newborn. Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit older, and a tiny bit smarter, and I’m learning to separate the good from the hard, and not lump all of it together, labeling it “hard”.

EverettEverettI was not prepared for the intensity of his sisters’ love!! Oh my word, they are frantic and eager about holding him! The begging and the fighting! He is most loved!

Anika and EverettKaylia and EverettAll threeI was not prepared for how amazing everyone would be. So many kind words and excitement for us, such cute gifts, and so much amazing food!! Our family is a pain to feed, with all the food allergies we’ve got going on around here, but people have been incredible. I feel spoiled rotten!;)

Kaylia and EverettAnika and EverettSo thanks to everyone for your support and excitement! We feel so blessed, in many different ways!

He’s Here!!

Hey, Friends!! We are feeling so incredibly thankful and blessed, and are delighted to share that our sweet baby boy was born at 3:41am this morning.

His name is Everett Alexander Benjamin, and he weighed in at 7 lbs 3 oz.


Thank you so much for all of the prayers and encouraging words during our time of waiting!

As my sister said, “He was just waiting to come on his birthday!”:)