Friday, November 08, 2013


Maybe it's because I'm getting older. I seem to be a lot more relaxed about...well...about just about everything!

The bills pile up and I sort of just say "Meh". The kids fight, and I initially yell, but then I get yelled at by one kid who says that I am not yelling enough at the offending child.

I seem to have a case of pickyourbattleitis.

It's not like life is any less busy, or that things aren't stressful. Our little nephew is due to come home from the hospital soon. I do have anxiety about how he'll do once he's home and away from some of the safety that being at a renowned children's hospital affords. I still get shivers of loss and sadness when I think about our sweet little niece, born and died on the same day, buried within jogging distance but etched in our hearts forever. School is going haltingly, at best, with a baby/toddler who eats EVERYTHING SHE GETS HER GRUBBY LITTLE HANDS ON and has now taken to screaming fits when she doesn't get her way (and she's not even terrible two yet!)...BUT, even with all of this weight, I seem to have a calmness I can't ever recall having. It might be the start of a withdrawing depression about the impending winter, but I don't think that's quite it.

Perhaps it's just that I've developed a common aspect of middle age (no, not an urge to go buy a sports car or wear leopard prints and mini skirts in a pathetic attempt to bring back youth) that I just didn't know about or care about until I was dragged into the 40's last year? I don't know. Can any of my 40+ aged friends out there tell me they felt/feel the same thing?

Maybe it's the fact that this past year has been the year from hell? It started out with the winter that never ended and the spring that changed everything: we found out about Laurencia. It continued on with what should have been a joyful reprieve from the sadness that would be Laurencia's birth and death: Benedict's birth, but he was born not breathing correctly and eventually suffered through one of the scariest birth defects and a lot of the complications that come with it (he is due to come home this weekend, thank GOD!). These are not my children but they are my nieces and nephew and our lives revolve around family and it affected us all so profoundly.

I just did it again, I sighed. I have to catch my breath when I think of everything my family has been through but I know we can do it because we did it, together.

Maybe that's where the peace comes from: from knowing that bad things happen but that we can get through them...with a lot of help from friends, family, neighbors, all of them, gifts from GOD, to help us get through the really awful, terrible, horrible, frightening, devastating times.

If you prayed for our family, I want to thank you. I think a lot of the peace I feel now is leftover prayer peace, brought to my heart from your words to God. I hope it flows into my family, siblings and their spouses too.

God bless us all and I look forward to a better year.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Laurencia Rachel/Victory of the Lamb

(Please read this disclaimer before you read this post!
Disclaimer: I don't blame people for calling her or any other person who's passed "an angel". I know they mean "angelic", as in: the visual picture they get of a pure spirit, no longer in need of a body. I know that they say this to bring comfort to the grieving family because maybe it would bring comfort to THEM if someone would try to reassure them in this way. I know that it's said in love and concern and empathy! PLEASE know that the post below was written in honesty and love for my baby niece and that her passing is a fresh wound on my heart. It's not mean to hurt anyone, just an expression of hope in the eternal for her and for all of us!)

Laurencia is on my mind today.

We moved pictures to a different file and so had to review all of the pictures I took from that day.

We have GREAT HOPE that she's in Heaven, playing with her cousins and Jesus and doing all of the things that are way more fun and great and joyful than anything we could imagine on this fallen earth...but she's not an angel.

Oh, I know so many people have visions of flying babies in Heaven, all white garments and light, and reflecting God's face and eternally happy and flying back and forth between Heaven and earth, or sitting on fluffy clouds and watching over or visiting us in our every day lives...but that's not what we believe. I hope I NEVER see her again, here on earth, because that would mean that she's not in Heaven and that would be awful (unless it's the end of time and she's coming to get me to go back with her!). I hope she's looking down on us and praying for us from her Heavenly post (and likely doing a fair amount of chuckling over some of the ridiculous things her family says and does) but, as a child of God in Heaven, it's not HER job to fly back and forth...that's the ANGELS' JOB!

Angels are created beings, separate creatures that are not, nor have they ever been of this earth. Angels are creatures of God who didn't get earthly parents to aid in their creation.

OH! I believe she's angelic, in that she's a creature of God and has a message for us (angel MEANS "messenger") but she's something altogether unique! The thing is, I understand why people say that she's an "angel now" but I don't believe it...she's SO MUCH MORE! She is Laurencia: named, created by God and her parents, a true victor over disease and death on this earth, a GRAND and VISIBLE message of God's love for us (though in the tiniest of mortal shells), and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pure of spirit, never having the chance to commit Actual Sin.

SHE was granted the mercy of never having the chance to say "no" to Jesus. Earthly life has a sort of "two edged sword" effect: we are fallen and need God's mercy and baptism to gain Heaven...but we have a "second chance" built into our fallen natures through baptism in His Holy Name!

 When I hear "she's an angel now", I think about how Lucifer was an angel! Yikes. Even ANGELS have the chance to turn away from God, and disobey Him, and end up...well, you know! BUT, they don't have the advantage of all of the loving, biological family of man! Laurencia had so many people aware of her existence and praying her into hope of Heaven. How many angels do you know have that? What a grace and what a gift her life is to us, stuck here on earth, trying to figure it all out, waiting until the day when she can usher us in and show us everything she's been up to and helped to prepare for us while SHE was waiting for US!

For now, though, we honor her earthly body by praying for her spirit and showing her body the respect it deserves, as it once held a true soul. She was a tabernacle of Glory for the Lord to exist inside, even for just a small amount of time here on earth, born here in life and born into Heaven on the very same day.

God bless my family and may God send his ANGELS to usher Laurencia into His loving arms without pause.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mawwiage, Vwat Bwessed Awwangement Vwat BWings Us Togevwah, Fowevwah

Well, twenty whole years have gone by and it seems like a blink of an eye to me. Approximately 7,300 kitchen butt slaps later, I love my hubs more than I did when I fell for his eyes and his big...heart :)

He says that he can't believe I've put up with him this long but I know who got the better deal O.o.

I think part of why we lasted so long is the ONE thing on the marriage inventory we did as marriage prep that the priest considered a potential "trouble spot":


:) So, I guess if that's what keeps us together (along with lots of laughs, travelling the same path, and lots of funny kids), than that's what it takes and that's the advice I'd give to someone who asks, "How did you stay together for so long?"...:

 Just be stubborn and stick together. It's simple, really:

Laugh a lot.
Try to get over yourself sometimes.
Take turns and play nicely together (oh wait, that's for the kids...but it works for marriage too so I'll keep it in there).
Always have a heart for your loved one.
Try to remember what attracted you in the first place.
You can never change anyone else. You can only change yourself and how you react to the other.
Don't stray from your vow to your spouse in ANYTHING.
It's you and him/her against the world: not you and your bff/sister/brother/mom/dad against your spouse.
If someone else tries to draw your attention away from your spouse, consider that person an enemy and guard your heart from them and direct it back to your spouse, even if you don't particularly LIKE them at the time.

For those who don't have the fortune to have found someone who is as interested in forever as you are, I have this advice: find someone who is, but tie up all of your loose ends and learn from your experience. Don't move on to the "next best thing" until you are REALLY sure that all the doors have been closed and that you know what drew you to the wrong person for you in the first place. If you repeat your mistakes, a LOT of people will be hurt, not just you and your new/old partner. :(

Back to Butch and our loveydoveysmoochysmoochyyoudrivemecrazywhattheheckiswrongwithyouIthinkyouaresoawesomeIcan'tbelieveyousaidthatwhatdidyoudoTHIStimeohmygoshyouaresoweirdIloveyou life.It's been really good and it's only going to get gooder. I can feel it in my soul.

Love you, hubs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Leading in Love

I have this biography of the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder that I'm reading for the 3rd time (I always like to read it when I'm reading her series to the kids, to sort out the real history v. her editing of her books.). 

There is a sense that Pa and Ma really and truly loved each other and modeled that love to their daughters so well, that it gives me hope for my own marriage. It's a timeless kind of marital love that, I imagine if you actually feel it, your marriage will last forever, summed up in this excerpt: 

"...The wagon rolled on and on, day after day, eastward. Ma's arms grew tired holding baby Freddie. Yet Laura remembered that in the mornings of this journey, Ma carefully combed out the girl's hair. Wherever Ma followed Pa, Ma's virtues followed her. Nice girls had their hair combed in the morning, she would say. Pa's eyes just followed the road, on and on. It was a curious thing about Ma and Pa. MA DID FOLLOW PA WHEREVER HE WENT, BUT PA NEVER WENT ANYWHERE THAT MA WOULDN'T FOLLOW..." 

I feel like Butch and I work like that. He respects my opinion and knows me enough to know that the path that he chooses will be one that I will always be willing to go along with him. 

We will celebrate 20 years of Marriage in July. :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Comin' Around Again

I get to squish and hug my baby. I do it a lot. Several times a day. I am reluctant to set her down and I lie to everyone and say "She NEEDS me so much." like I'm complaining.

Fact is: I need her. I need her and am using her and putting all my physical love on her like every mother should do for her little baby but maybe just a little more than I'm supposed to. It's a very good thing for her psyche that she's the 8th child in this house because I'm quite certain I would let her sleep right on my chest every time she needed a nap, if I could. Lately it's been a lot worse (or better?) with the hugging and snuggling thing. I rip her off of me when I go to lay her down because I know she'll cry a little bit before she goes to sleep. I HAVE to force her away from me or I'll just glue her to me and carry her around all day long and kill my back because it's a disease I have called "I'mgettingolderandmaynothaveanymorebabiesitis".

For the first time, I've been truly thinking about what it would be like if I did not have any more babies.

I have to say that I do not like that thought even one little bit.

It's not that I'm some kind of baby addict or that I REALLY DESIRE another baby right now...actually, another baby right now or even in a couple of years from now and the thought of all that comes WITH that baby totally exhausts me. It's just that, in those sweet moments where she clings to me like a monkey and I wrestle with the thought of letting her go v. holding on for dear life so she won't get a nap and won't learn to sleep or do anything ever on her own, I REALLY STOP AND THINK about "what if this is my last baby" and I struggle more each time.

She is the first baby that I am having a hard time with helping her act her age (whatever that means). I am not marking time by little things that she's learning or what she "should" be doing at a certain age or even taking note of what she IS doing at her current age. I am feeling so discombobulated about what a "baby" is and when they cross that threshold from "baby" to "toddler". I'm confused about how old she she 10 months? 11? When IS her 1st birthday? She's just a BABY!!!

I am usually marking that moment with SUCH relief. I am usually RUSHING to that moment because I usually absolutely can't STAND the baby phase! I tolerate it, think it's cute, but, for the most part, I really just like the toddler phase so much better and age 4 is the pinnacle of those years! Four is the best. I maintain that four rocks and always will...but with this little girl...

I was holding her for her evening nap today, and really just wanted to bring her downstairs, kick everyone out of the living room and just rest with her on my shoulder until she woke up but that was not a very practical thing to do. She needs to sleep in her own bed, where it's peaceful and quiet and comfortable for her and where she can go when I may not be home and she won't suffer from being away from me so much. I could afford the time to give in to the oldest child's separation anxiety, but not so much with the 8th one! Katrina was much less needy (maybe because I DID give in to the anxiety in the baby/toddler phase and just hung around her because I could?) as she grew and was probably a little more independent than most children/teens.

Today, I held my baby and, thinking of the mom who won't get to hold her little boy anymore after today, I couldn't let go. Every time I leaned forward to put her in her bed, she'd whimper and cling to me a little more, even as her eyes drooped shut. After about 10 minutes, I couldn't stand it anymore and couldn't make her suffer any more so I peeled her off of me and laid her down (of course, she started crying but stopped just a minute later), said "have a good rest" and left the room, crying harder than she ever could.

I get to hold my sweet, soft, slightly stinky and flaky skinned little girl.
Somewhere, some mom is trying to hold on to her sanity as she can't hold her sweet little baby anymore.

I get to have the comfort of my husband in my home to be my rock and my helper and my children's loving father.
Somewhere, some mom is lonely and scared and trying to be tough for her kids' sake but just needs a husband near to comfort her and be her solid ground and not be the cause of her fear and instability.

I get to watch my teenagers grow and laugh and be super funny and fight and make up and learn.
Somewhere, some mom is desperately trying to hold her family together but failing because of mental illness and the strife that comes from no family support and teenagers who are too far away to reach anymore.

I get to call my sisters and have them call me and rely on them for everything and do stuff for them because I love them so much and know that they don't have to do anything in return but they do.
Somewhere, someone is missing their sister and can't call her or have a ladies' night with her anymore and just aches to be able to giggle with her ONE MORE TIME.

I get to worry if this will be my last baby and get to hold her and snuggle her for as long as I want.
Somewhere, some want-to-be mom is in despair because she is physically able, but it's not possible to have her own baby without violating her morals.

Somewhere, someone is worried about their 13 and a half year old child and how to handle the teen years. They have memories of the time that child was born and grew and started to walk, talk, play with siblings and friends, develop talents and show love and humor.
I get to go to my grandma's grave and think about the babies that we lost and never got to really know. I have to wonder and question God and try to fit all of this into my small little brain and try to figure out what it all means and finally, in utter exhaustion and grief, just give it up to Him for a while because I'm too tired to even deal with it anymore.

I am coming out of my hidey hole a lot faster this time because of something someone very wise told me about.

When, in a weak moment, I confessed that I didn't even know if I believed in God, she paused and then asked me: "Was there ever a time in your life that you REALLY FELT GOD. That you KNEW He was there and was REAL?"

Yes. There were about three times in my life that I really and truly FELT God. Bizarre moments that sustained me for a while at the time, but were easily forgotten when the bad times come (because the bad times are so very very bad).

So, she told me that maybe I had to actually exercise my faith (my explanation of what she was asking me to do) by reaching back in my memory and holding on to those moments and actively believing in can see where this is going. :) She said that someone told her about "Fake it until you Make it." method of getting through depression and sad times.

That's what I've been doing these days. In between some of my zombie modes and my not-too-proud-of-myself modes, I've been reaching back there in my memory and trying to hold on to the few moments where I may have seen His face and trying to find Hope again.

I don't know if I'm going to be successful because it sure seems like there are a lot of very devastating things to face in the year 2013. I see portents of terrible things to come, everywhere I look. It's very easy to let the waves crash over me and just eventually drown but something keeps me swimming for the surface (I'm not proud to say that the "something" is usually ANGER) and I'm going to have to just go with it until some other, more virtuous motivation helps me up onto the beach.

Meanwhile, here's my happy thought picture for today. They were not dressed or fixed up for a pretty picture but it was a moment that was real. Veronika came up to Cecilia and kept letting Celia steal her pacifier to chew on it. Celia doesn't know that nuks are for sucking and that chewing on it might wreck the thing. She only knows that it feels good on her gums and emerging teeth so they played a game with it. Veronika laughed her head off, like she usually does, because she's feisty but not so uptight that she doesn't enjoy a good game with her baby cousin.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Off Kilter and Off the Grid

I wish, some days, that I could just fly to Galt's Gulch (which, according to that link, sort of actually exists? Weird) and just live free and easy with nobody wanting anything from me and me not wanting for anything except what I can earn by the work of my hands and trade. Some days, I wish I didn't even have the responsibility of faith (Like Ayn) and could just be a godless person who didn't have to apologize for who I am and what my thoughts are, no matter how messed up.

It's like I like the IDEA of faith but I'm not particularly feeling it right now and don't really want to. I'm looking in from the outside and I think that's a bad thing but I find myself not really wanting to care. I need a time out...and probably prayers for protection, or maybe not, since I probably deserve everything I could get from That Guy.. I'm going to go rogue for a while and pretend I'm talking to myself (I probably am, to tell the truth. Who reads blogs anymore? I don't.).

I'm going off that social networking site for a while, just to see if it helps me like people better. I don't particularly like the way I've been acting towards my fellow man lately...well, for the past few years, actually. Since I am coming off of a crap winter and not able to do much at all except hold and feed a baby and keep the other kids from killing each other, I suppose all of these feelings are explainable.

Nobody (especially me) likes a whiner.

To help myself feel human, I'm going to insert a picture in all of these blog posts. How about this?
She currently has blowout diapers and egg burps louder and stinkier than an old man's.  It's a super good thing she's so  goofy/cute.

So, here I am, wishing I could be a godless person with no conscience so I didn't have to put up with my first world problems of the day. That's so sick and pitiful. I would slap me if I were one of my friends. No, I would punch me in the face and then wrestle me to the ground and then smack me across the face a couple more times and then bash in all of my teeth and then maybe give me some hard drugs while I am getting all my teeth fixed or something.  

The good things and gifts I am well aware of are not enough to overcome the bad things. I'm talking about all of the bad and sick things in the world that kill a part of my soul every time I hear or see or click on a news article about it. I just can't pull out of the reality of that stuff. There is just such deprivation and sickness out there. It's not like I'm talking about North Korea or something, it's everywhere, in our own neighborhoods and everything. 

I'm going to the gulch.

I'm gonna go and pan for gold and make it into a pretty set of earrings to give to my stinky baby. I'm going to teach my kids how to grow things to sell so they can get other things and help build our cabin on the side of the mountain, near the stream where the fresh water flows so clear you can drink from it and the fish practically jump onto your hook. 

I'm checking out because I don't have energy or spirit for the fight anymore. I'm a coward and a meanie and a bum. 

I like blogging. I remember what it was like to write and accept people's glowing agreement and adulation in the comments but I'm just going to shut down comments and write for my own damned self for a while. Fair warning. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Before & Afters 2013

Everybody likes "before and after" pictures. Not everybody likes doing the work which leads to the "after" part of that. I do. I think I like putting off cleaning and sorting just so it can get REALLY bad so that the after just looks all that much better.

For 2013, my only "resolution" is to clean a major or minor hidey hole, junk drawer, room, closet, any space at all, every day until it's done. Of course, you know that will never happen. Once I "finish", it's back around again to where I started and over and over and over until I die or move and make some new messy spaces.

"Cleaning the house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it is snowing!" is a very true adage.

I figured I'd put my latest project in split screen pics here on my blog to make it easier to look at. I've been posting on that faceplace up until now but I feel like I'm cluttering up people's walls so this way, I can blog AND post pictures and peeps can come and look or pass.

My laundry room was painted a muddy brown color. I thought it was "rich" and "deep" when I first painted it. That was in 2002. It's been 11 years since I've painted that room??? Unbelievable, how time passes like that. I've painted every room in the house at least twice since then. It's about time the laundry room got some attention. It is passed through to get from the major meeting place in our house (the garage) to the guest/main bathroom (ew, THAT place needs next project, I think). It's pretty embarrassing to have people see the swatches of sawgrass green paint I briefly considered about 5 years ago on either side of the bathroom door, carved names from some naughty pencil, and lots of scratches and gouges from moving stuff and, one time, propping the broken door of the dryer shut against the wall with a 2x4. Yeah, living the classy life here at the Nielsen house! I never decorated the walls, beyond a painting of a dress in a corner of a small bedroom that my sister, Anna, painted in high school. I think I put it there because it was a picture of clothing and it's a laundry room.

That's just sad.

I didn't have much imagination for that room because IT'S A LAUNDRY ROOM! My doom! My nemesis! Laundry consumes this household and the machines constantly break down. I'd rather be at the dentist than in my laundry room. I'd rather prepare for major surgery than be in my laundry room...I think you get the idea.

I decided to change that and at least put it on my list of cabinets I need to straighten and purge. Here are the cabinets (three in a row, right above the dryer and washer) and the closet (opposite the dryer and washer):

cleaning products cabinet 1

laundry products and cord storage cabinet 2

paint cans for house cabinet 3

closet, all cleaned up and with space to spare: suitcase and duffel bags, bread machine, and bag of pieces of my wedding dress leftover from making christening gown with it

That all really needed to get done. It's hard to tell from my phone pictures here, but I got rid of a large garbage bag of GARBAGE and I added to the goodwill pile. I now have about 4 boxes/baskets of stuff to bring to goodwill but I've mostly just put a LOT of things where they actually belong throughout the house and garage and that's helped to ease the pressure from this cluttered space. Here's a before and after of the room. 

To be fair, I didn't take the after picture with the five loads of laundry that built up while I was cleaning and painting...but I did clear the floor of all of the clutter and now, that white storage container is next to the washer and there's even room for the carboy of apple wine I'm making, the vacuum cleaner and the steam mop over there where the utility sink used to be!

I was tired of the window being so open and exposed but I hate how dusty curtains are and how much light they block. I solved that problem by putting a teeny screw up there by the window lock and just hanging this mirror that I had over by the garage door before (it was behind the service door when the door was open so you couldn't use the mirror without risking getting knocked out every time someone wanted in! It's not an attractive view anyway but it's sort of creepy at night, as it's only a few feet to ground level and someone who wanted to be a peep could get a good show if I didn't feel like going into the bathroom to change while I was doing laundry. Hubba hubba bowchickawahwow.

You see how I utilized the doilies I found in my upstairs bathroom closet sort from the other day? They were so bright and cheerful. I'm pretty sure they were never actually used in a kitchen or anything. I think they were crocheted and then put away in someones "hope chest". I wish I could know who actually made them. For now, I'll just choose to imagine it was my great grandma or one of my great aunts. I found them in the farmhouse or had gotten them from when my Aunt Valencia died. Either way, they were from my dad's side of the family and they always make me smile.

Following is a picture of the top of the dryer before and after. I hate having things stored on the dryer. It makes the room look so cluttered and most things on there become dust collectors. Truthfully, I'll probably put my paper bag of recycle things on there but THAT'S IT! Behind the dryer and washer, I put some letter boards that I got from my aunt from the School Sisters. She's a "SSND" and goes to the mother house and gets old school supplies from the retired school nuns for me. She brings me a HUGE load of stuff at the beginning of the school year and there are always treasures there. This time, I got about 5 sets of these classroom letters. They are all very old and one set is so pretty, I'm pretty sure I'm going to frame them and put them on display throughout the house. This set was just whimsical and cute. It's probably from the later fifties or early sixties. I thought it would be fun to spell out "wash" and "dry" and the colors matched. They might get wrecked but I don't mind. I'd rather have something on display for a short while and enjoy it, than store it perfectly for years and never even see it.

 The "wash" word is right below the cabinet in the left hand picture, just to give an idea of where things are located. It's a very small space but I can fit quite a few laundry baskets on the floor. Ask me how I know that...go on...I dare ya.

This picture was hanging for YEARS in my parent's kitchen. I always loved it there and would have them hang it there again if I had my way. Mom brought it over a couple of years ago and I almost gave it back to her. It seemed odd to keep it at my house when it was so iconic in their kitchen. Mom showed me the back of the picture which reads: "Oct. 1972 to Laura Maria (my maiden name) from her great great aunt Harriet Larsen (her married name)"
So I found out that the picture was a gift for me when I was born. I love it. I'm glad I got it. It actually matches that room now and fits in perfectly with the old timey letters and doilies. I'm not one for an antique themed decor but when it is simple and sweet and makes me smile, it works for me. 

The lower right pic was taken with my back to that window, the door is the bathroom door and to the right of that is the door to the kitchen. Opposite the bathroom door is the door to the garage so it's a tight little space there and was a stinker to paint. Especially with kids running in and out of all of those doors all day and the baby in one of my arms while I was painting!
I'll leave this post with the bigger shots of the major before and after. I hope YOU are inspired to clean out a junk drawer, sort a bin of clothes, or otherwise de-hoard your home. My goal in all of this is to make room for PEOPLE, make space for GROWING, have room for PLAYING AND LEARNING, have time and adequate materials and space for COOKING and the proper space and materials for CLEANING and making our home healthy and happy in 2013!