Category Archives: Motherhood

Christmas and the New Year

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Christmas Market with my Mom

Christmas Market with my Mom

My mom gave me a wonderful present this year. On Christmas Eve, she made the kids deep clean the house for me. Not only did I get to stay in my room all day, but they also provided room service.

Flowers from my youngest

Flowers from my youngest

This was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. I didn’t have to stress about the house, and I could just enjoy finishing the hand-sewn labradors I was making for the kids. Libby (wearing an apron and often wielding a clipboard) periodically popped into my room to check on me (and to bring me candy).

Charlie inspecting the stockings

Charlie inspecting the stockings

After a long day of work, the house looked great–and the kids were exhausted. But they were in good spirits (it WAS Christmas Eve, after all) and Libby even left a bouquet of flowers, which she had paid for with her own hard-earned money, on my nightstand.

Christmas dinner with friends

Christmas dinner with friends

Christmas morning brought the usual controlled chaos. After walking and feeding the dogs, the kids could unwrap presents while the adults consumed Baileys & coffee and watch the sun rise.

Sweeties

Sweeties

The added blessing was having Grandma Nay here for Christmas. Even though she can drive me up a wall like no other person on earth (isn’t that a mother’s job?) it made the time richer, to have her with us.

Monkey hat

Monkey hat

Loved ones are always in our thoughts this time of year. I can’t help but think often of my Aunt Kathy, who spent two Christmases with us (and an entire month once). She arrived on Christmas Eve one year with her raggedy green knit cap, hiking boots and her beaming smile. 

Having a daughter who LOVES to read makes me proud!!!

Having a daughter who LOVES to read makes me proud!!!

Having epilepsy and short-term memory loss never stopped her. In fact, she was the first to make plans to come visit when we moved to Germany. She lost her fight with cancer 2 1/2 years ago, and Christmas hasn’t been the same since. She is with us in our memories though, and I’m thankful that she had the courage to get on an airplane and stay with us. I pray that we all have such courage as we ‘slide’ into a new year.

A subtle hint for William

A subtle hint for William

Let this be a year for taking heart, or ‘chin up,’ as Kathy would say, and living each moment to the fullest. Life is about relationships, and loving people how they are, even if they don’t fit into the neat little packages you have constructed for them.

Fab Four light up the world

The Fab Four light up the world on New Year’s Eve

Love fully, with flaws and all, because life is as fragile as it is fleeting.

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Creative Workouts at Home: Session 1

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Saturday was a lovely stay-at-home-day, but I didn’t want to miss out on the Crossfit workout our coach had posted. So I thought I would do a home-made workout, incorporating my long run.

The following 1 minute video shows what I came up with.

I call it the LabbyNo!

Enjoy!

Joyous

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Today is my fourth child’s tenth birthday, so there are a lot of emotions bubbling up this morning.

Birthday Morning Our House, Germany

Birthday Morning
Our House, Germany

Joy–because she truly is one of the joys of my life.

The Residence Garden Wurzburg, Germany

The Residence Garden
Wurzburg, Germany

If you have three kids and are ‘debating’ whether or not to have a fourth, let me give you some advice–go for it! The fourth child is the one that you can relax with and enjoy the most because by this time, you have the system down. And things always go better when you have some idea of what you’re doing.

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Sadness–because we no longer have any single-digit kids, which means our family has ‘graduated’ to a new level.

The Red Sea Israel

The Red Sea
Israel

Happiness–because we no longer have any single-digit kids, which means our family can do cool things we haven’t done before (Example: we can cross the border from Israel to Jordan on foot without taking a stroller).

Lake Garda Sirmione, Italy

Lake Garda
Sirmione, Italy

Nostalgia–I can’t help but think of the day she was born. Our friends came over to watch our then 1 year-old, our 4 year-old and our 6 year-old, while my husband, mom-in-law and I went to the hospital. It seems like I had JUST gotten the epidural when Libby came along.

The Louvre Paris

The Louvre
Paris

She was a go-getter from the start, having only 3 hours of labor. But as soon as she was born, they rushed her away because she was a meconium baby. I realize from the hundreds of birth stories I’ve heard over the years that this is NOT a big issue–that some women have their babies taken away for weeks due to serious medical issues, but for me, it was terrible.

The Colosseum Rome

The Colosseum
Rome

She was born, and they just swooped her away and put her little pink head in a bubble. It was three long hours before they could give her back to me.

St Vitts Cathedral Prague

St Vitts Cathedral
Prague

During that time, I was worried we had missed the most crucial bonding time ever. I didn’t have the chance to burn her little face into my memory. I didn’t have that initial feeling of satisfaction that comes when your newborn snuggles on your chest. The labor and delivery was over and done and eventually they handed me this little ‘stranger.’

Near Neuschwansteing Fussen, Germany

Near Neuschwanstein
Fussen, Germany

With my history of depression, the doctors were worried about me. I had them put a no-visitor sign on my door, and I even stayed an extra night (the Air Force hospital was GREAT). I wasn’t depressed though, I was simply trying to relish every quiet moment I could. And I wanted to get to know this new little person.

Navarre Beach Florida

Navarre Beach
Florida

We did bond, though it still worried me for a long time afterwards. Would I love her the same?

Mud Puddle Our Backyard Anchorage, Alaska

Mud Puddle
Our Backyard
Anchorage, Alaska

It seems silly now. She is the sparkle in my step, the joy of my life. She makes everything happy and shiny and fun. Even on her ‘worst’ day, she is a treasure.

Libby, Katie & Mama Anchorage, Alaska

Libby, Katie & Mama
December, 2003 Anchorage, Alaska

If you are reading this and you happen to be one of my other three children, don’t think that Libby is the ‘favorite.’ I love EACH of you more than words can describe–it’s just her birthday, so she gets her own post:)

This Morning Germany

November 2013
Germany

Libby is ten. And with my older two making plans for their futures, it makes me incredibly happy we had four. At least, as Libby tells me, she’ll be around the ‘longest.’ And someday, when the other kids leave the house, we can trade the minivan for a sports car, and we can zip around together. Mother & daughter. Our hearts bound together forever.

Happy Birthday Libby!

Happy Birthday Libby!

40

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Birthday Banner

I’ve run 4 marathons, but I’ve never run a 10k–until Sunday. The weather was sunny enough to make you happy, cool enough to keep you from wilting.

I’ve been worried that I haven’t been running enough miles, but the 10k gave me more confidence. I was actually passing people UNDER the age of 80 during the race and finished with a smile (and in 56 minutes).

It was a great way to begin my birthday week.

My Crossfit coach gave me a birthday present in the form of 50 burpees, 100 pushups and 150 walking lunges interspersed between sprints of varying lengths.

The good news is that now at age 40, I am healthier than I’ve ever been. And that is exactly how I wanted to begin this next phase of life.

But life is still life. My week has been filled with (mostly) a good kind of chaos, but chaos nonetheless. My actual birthday morning began by scrubbing the dog’s behind at 6:00 am. Then I spent half the morning finding his special food, which he wouldn’t eat anyway. Now we have an emergency vet appointment to find out why he’s not eating or drinking. Poor little thing.

But being at an emergency vet appointment isn’t how I envisioned spending my 40th birthday. Obviously, I love my fluffy little dog, and who cares about a birthday when he is miserable? It’s just not what I ‘planned.’

I’ve had to do all kinds of uncomfortable things this week–specifically, making several appointments in German, which is nearly as taxing to me mentally as burpees are physically.

All I want to do is stay home one day this week, but it doesn’t look like that will happen until Saturday, and even then I’ll have to leave for a few hours for my long run.  I look back on my ‘sick day’ last week with a warped kind of fondness because I got to lay on the couch and eat jello.

As a wife & mom & servant of God, I don’t write my own schedule. I have to interact with other human beings and figure out how I can best help them. I have to talk to God and actually obey Him when He tells me what path to take–and usually, that path isn’t the easy one.

So while my milestone birthday did not include a luxury vacation, it did include a date with my husband; a card from Libby that was so incredibly sweet it made me cry (and scared her a little); gorgeous earrings in my favorite color, and a ‘Mom’ necklace, bought with hard earned teenage money; lots of hugs & an old hat of mine (which I had loaned out); and a custom-made comic strip, with humor that always makes me laugh.

Libby's card made me cry!

Libby’s card made me cry!

Katie went over the top with my beautiful, elegant cake, and all the kids helped decorate to make my birthday morning (once I was done scrubbing the dog) special.

As much as I dreamed of escaping to a beach somewhere, this birthday has been the best one ever because of the pure and simple love that pours out from my family, even though I don’t deserve it.

40 birthdays behind me.

I look forward to 80 more.

Under the Rock Pile

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view

Today was stressful for no one particular reason. Rather, it was a lot of little things stacking up like bricks in a wall. The last ‘brick’ was more like a pebble, placed jovially atop the rapidly crumbling structure by one of my unfortunate children, and the whole thing collapsed.

Yes, I lost my cool.

It happens from time to time. I almost didn’t blog today because I was so out of sorts, but my daughter said that I should talk about my meltdown because, “It is such a rare occurrence.”

I’m glad it’s rare.

There was a time in my life when fits of anger would build inside me, and the only way to alleviate it was through yelling, since violence wasn’t my thing. It took many years to break the yelling habit. After all, many women I respected assured me that they, too, yelled at their kids. It was ‘normal.’ But something about that never sat right with me. I knew I wanted something different. I didn’t want to pass on the yelling gene to my own kids. Or heaven forbid, to watch my theoretical grandchildren become yellers.

This morning, I didn’t exactly yell–it was more of a verbal pounce, but in our sensitive house, it was the same as full-lunged bellowing. Afterwards I felt so badly, I went to my study to ‘be alone,’ which means praying and leaving a little puddle of tears on the floor.

Normally, I handle stress through running (which is also my time of prayer and contemplation) and proper nutrition. But lately I’ve been lacking both sunshine and sufficient exercise. And let’s face it–it’s hard, if not downright impossible to feel happy eating salad when it’s cold and dark outside! I’d rather cozy up with some gluten-free croissants drizzled with Nutella.

It is hard for me when there is no sunshine, and the puppy, cute as he is, pees on the brand-new rug after I’ve been outside with him for an hour.

I know there are worse things in life, and that the puppy IS a little glimpse of heaven; but even small doses of stress are toxic, and if you let stress build up, it can lead to a meltdown of nuclear proportions.

After “Mommy’s Time-Out” today, I emerged from my study to find a pink card on my pillow, a loving email from a concerned teen, and a pint of my favorite ice cream, wrapped up with a bow, sitting right outside my door. Sure, one of my kids was completely oblivious to the whole thing, but that’s okay too. My kids are so loving and so forgiving that I think they came through it unscathed.

In fact, it might be good for them to see me fail once in a while and for them to see me make amends when I’m wrong.

Sometimes we stumble.

The key is to get up and look ahead.

Because you can’t see clearly from under the rock pile.

I Remember Being Fourteen

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There were many changes in my life when I turned fourteen–a new school, the kind of friends who stay in your heart forever, and glimmers of adulthood. Now my oldest daughter is fourteen, and even though she has been taller than me for over a year, the number ’14’ seems so grown up.

Instead of needing a babysitter, she IS the babysitter.

When did that happen?

Katie amazes me with her wit, kindness and her ability to do mathematics (my own personal weakness).

She has changed in many ways over the years, but she still retains that lovely spiciness that can either be very very good or very very bad, depending upon how she utilizes it.

I am immensely proud of her and am thankful that of all the women in the world, God chose me to be her Mom.

Here is a video birthday card in honor of Katie’s fourteenth birthday.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! I love you!

Mom of Clark Kent

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early crossfit

One of my favorite ‘teenage-years’ memories is trying to kick my dad in the head on a routine basis.

Of course, we were in a dojo, wearing sparring gear, and we would both end up profusely sweating and laughing. I didn’t actually kick him in the head very often, but occasionally I could slip in a good double-roundhouse without the ‘old man’ noticing until it was too late.

I’m the old man now, or rather the old woman.

And we’re not doing Tae Kwon Do but CrossFit.

My son and I don’t kick each other during CrossFit, but we get to do fun stuff like carry each other across the room and do wheelbarrows. Even when we’re not teamed up, we still work out alongside each other, and I am consistently amazed by him.

Where does he get his super-strength?

Is it from the mere fact that he is a 15 year-old male?

How can a young man who eats so much pizza have such energy? I don’t understand.

After one or two tries, he just does things right. Under his mild-mannered persona is a guy who can do amazing things–like spring onto tall boxes in a single bound.

I am impressed by his hard work, dedication, and his ability to actually do this stuff.  

I am the proud mama.

But it leaves me to wonder: with Clark Kent in the house, which Mom am I?

The one from Kansas or Krypton? 

Perhaps after more CrossFit, I’ll start feeling less like Martha Kent and more like Lara Lor-Van.

I’d like to hit my 40s with some ‘super’ powers of my own!

Untethered

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Normally the first week after a marathon, I walk around the house like Frankenstein, and I have to descend the stairs backwards. The honor of carrying laundry baskets to the basement falls to the strongest of the Wellman offspring, or whomever happens to be in sight, which is why I don’t wear shoes in the house (it makes it easier to sneak up on them).

Historically, it takes a solid month before I can pick up the adjective ‘runner’ and apply it to myself.

Maybe I was still riding the ‘high’ of my fabulous 26.2 mile jaunt around the Fränkisches Seenland, but the day after the marathon, I found myself up bright and early and out the door to escort the kids to the kletterwald.

The last time I had chaperoned a trip to the high ropes course, I had a broken finger, so all I could do was sit below and snap pictures one-handed while balancing a cup of coffee on my knees. The kids had a blast, but frankly, it was less than fun for me (though the coffee was surprisingly good).

So this year, Frankenstein though I be, I was determined to join the fun at the high ropes. I was surprised to find I could scurry over rock walls, maneuver across spidery nets, zipline from tree to tree, and go up AND down ladders without too much trouble.

The fun was only increased by the fact that my buddy (another AWESOME homeschooling mom:) was harnessed up too.

But to be totally honest, I was in pain the next day, with my legs more zombie-like than before.

However, it only took two days before I felt good again, which considering my history, is nothing short of a miracle.

I have been running since the marathon, but I feel untethered not having a race in site. My calendar is frighteningly blank, and it scares me.

I fear that I’m going to fall off the training wagon and end up undoing the months of hard work. This sounds extremely shallow, but I fear gaining weight again–and I still have some to lose: not because of body image, but for the sake of my knees and feet, I want to lose at least 15 more pounds.

Well, okay, that’s not entirely true–I would like to have a flat stomach and for once in my life have thighs that don’t need their own zip codes. I simply feel better in my own skin when there is less of it flopping over my waistband.

Not having a plan scares the jeepers out of me because I know how utterly lazy and easily distracted I am. I’m like the kid who will happily do anything you ask, as long as it’s written out on a chart, and with the possibility of getting a gold star. But if there’s no chart and no promise of a sticker, the kid will sit there staring at the wall while twirling her pigtails, lost in her own daydreams.

So where is the gold star when there’s no race? I write philosophically about the joy of running, how it relieves stress, centers me and makes me a better wife and mother, but when I don’t have a race in mind, those dreamy notions easily get shoved aside until everyone in the house is begging, “Please, Mama–go for a run!”

Did I tell you? I tend to get cranky when I haven’t been running.

So, you find me a little lost today; and I think the only remedy is to make some new goals and to start filling up my calendar.

Does anyone else feel this way after meeting a big goal?

Hands-On Parenting

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I have so much to say, and such little time to say it! Literally, I have half an hour before I need to start the tofu!

Here goes…

Last week I meant to blog, but instead, I took my daughter to the health clinic to have her hands cleaned and x-rayed. I’m sure she will tell all about it in her own blog, and I don’t want to steal her thunder, so let’s just say: horses who don’t enjoy loading into trailers + ropes held by 13 year-old gloveless girls do not mix. 

She ended up having patches of skin filleted from her hands. It’s probably one of the most painful, most difficult spots to treat, right there in the pit between her thumb & forefinger.

Though she’s healing nicely, there are many things she can’t do: brush her hair, cook, make popcorn (on the stove), text her friends, play piano, and do her math. 

Should I be suspicious of that last item?

In all fairness to my incredible daughter, most of her schoolwork is on the computer, but math requires pencil-wielding, which is kind of painful at this point.

And so, my lesson this week is that of patience. She gets frustrated because she can’t do all the things she loves to do (including working with horses & going to the beach, should we get another hot day for it), and I get frustrated because, to be perfectly honest, I’m not used to this kind of workload.

Though I’m often helping to braid hair around this place, it’s been years since I ran a bath for a kid. And the cleaning & treating of my poor daughter’s wounds is time consuming. It’s not her fault (so don’t be upset when reading this, Katie!), and I am not in any way resentful, but because I’m typically such an unorganized person, I am really forced to plan my days better, which is really stretching my abilities.

The best part of this accident (if there is a good side to it) is that my daughter and I are spending a lot of time together; and together, we are learning patience and grace, even during difficult situations.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I have also done things like running (yes, my foot is totally better–hooray) and I did something weird called ‘biking,’ which is fodder for another blog.

As for the running, I’m still keeping in shape. I decided to shorten my long run today, and when I got home I had a funny conversation with Libby (my 8 year-old)

“How far did you run today?” she asked.

“16 miles,” I replied.

“You call that short?!”

I had to think about it…yeah, I do.

It is truly amazing what happens when you begin to run longer distances. It happens so gradually that you’re barely aware of it–kind of like how your kids grow taller, but you don’t often ‘see’ it, until they wake up one morning and you have to reach UP to hug them, and you think, “When did THAT happen?”

That’s how I felt about my ‘short’ run today.

And so, the church bell just tolled 3 times, meaning it’s a quarter till five, and I have to go fry up my tofu.

I am sure Katie will be blogging about her recent experience with the horses, and if you want to check out her blog, you can go to aufgehtsdaughter.com

Now it’s tofu-time, and I also feel the need to go hug my kids–even the ones who are taller than me. 

Gollum Fish Sticks

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There are a few things you should know about our family:

1) While we haven’t always had a nutritarian lifestyle, we now avoid processed foods.

2) Being a recovering Theater-major (and instead becoming an English Lit geek and writer), I have tried to instill in my children the idea that they must choose practical fields of study, which subsequently assures they spend every spare moment involved in some sort of creative ‘art.’ I suppose some apples don’t fall too far from the tree.

3) Though we don’t dress up as elves or wizards, we DO enjoy the Lord of the Rings books, movies, and the unabridged audio books on CD (which can last an entire road trip to Italy and back).

4) My eldest child wants to be a filmmaker.

5) I forced him to get braces so he can flash a Hollywood smile along with his “I’d like to thank my Mom” speech, as he accepts his academy awards (yes, there will be more than one award).

6) I can be boastful and slightly biased about my children (because they are awesome).

This is a little video William made in honor of his friend’s birthday. It is a parody of a Tyson commercial and is one of the funniest things I’ve seen–and I hope it’s not just my Mama-glasses tinting the view. 

Enjoy!