Lately our life has been exceptionally full.  Travis is in the thick of soccer season, everything is in full swing at Church and we're just busy 24/7 with three kids.  Since Kindergarten has started, things have begun to feel a lot more "real" for me.  Translation?  My life feels out of control in just about every area.  The laundry has never felt so overwhelming, our house has never looked worse, I constantly feel behind in the groceries and cooking that needs to be done, and cleaning has turned into a curse word around me.  With Travis so busy right now, the bulk of all our house stuff and anything to do with the kids has fallen squarely on my (tired) shoulders.  To be clear, I have a wonderful husband who is extremely helpful to me and is a great Dad, but this is just his very busiest time of year.  His plate is equally full.  Until we get through it, I am flying solo with the kids most days and nights and while it was always challenging with two, throwing a newborn in the mix has taken the stress level up a few notches. There have been more meltdowns that I could count and most of them have been from me.  

But truly, this level of intensity is just a season.  It will get better and very soon I'll have my husband back at night an on the weekends.  I've just got to survive the next couple weeks.  I had a little getaway planned a few weeks ago but it fell through when the conference I was planning to attend, wouldn't allow nursing infants.  I can't even begin to tell you all my thoughts about that, but let's just say they aren't positive.  I was extremely disappointed and sad about it and so was Trav.  He knew I needed that time away so badly and as soon as we realized I would need to bow out from the group that was going, he suggested I take Walker and head to my parents' house instead.  He happened to have a pretty quiet weekend and we knew Ava and Carter were just as starved for time with him as I was.  In every way it was a win/win for everybody.  So I went.  Well, Walker and I went.  
He's my little traveling companion for the near future and I liked the idea of just one child to take care of for a few days! 

In classic fashion, Carter spiked a fever out of nowhere the night before I left while Travis was out of town at a soccer game.  Thankfully he was better by the morning and Travis told me to go anyway.  So Walker and I left on Friday morning after Ava went to school and as I pulled onto the highway, it wasn't long before the tears began to fall.  I'm sure it was a combination of pent up stress from the last few weeks, some regret about how I've handled some situations with the kids, and just an overwhelmed heart that needed some space to feel a little.  Maybe that's been one of my greatest challenges in this season.  When you're busy with three little ones all the live long day it can feel like there is no time to think, let alone work through emotions or feelings.  I'm sure I've been stuffing how I feel for quite some time and in the quiet of my car, it all came pouring out.  It was good for my soul and a sweet time to just tell the Lord all the thoughts on my mind and in my heart.  Motherhood will beat you up if you let it.  The guilt and the condemnation I can heap on my own self is ridiculous.  It's important to step back sometimes and just realize how many lies you've fallen for.  Being in the car gave me the time to do that.  I know I'm not a perfect Mom and I never will be, but I am a Mom who knows where my help comes from.  And no, as great as it was to go home to my parents, they aren't my ultimate source of strength but Jesus is.  
 So with one kid in tow, I arrived in Iowa on Friday afternoon and immediately met my sister and my nephew Sawyer, for a little shopping downtown.  As soon as I got out of the car and knew I had the weekend in front of me, I realized it was a good decision to come.  I miss having my parents close to me and now that my sister is a Mommy too, I really wish we lived close enough to do these kind of things more often.  I'd give my right arm to meet my sister (s) for lunch, to have my nephew (and hopefully some nieces someday too!) over to play, or to make dinner for my parents.  Especially with a busy husband, I have longed for this so much lately.  I was SO thankful for this chance to enjoy time with my family.  
 We had our boys in carriers and caught this funny little greeting in pictures! 
 Sawyer is 7 months old and Walker is 3 months old.
 Sawyer was intrigued first...
 And Jennie and I could not stop laughing! 
Showing a little forehead love! 
We were so tickled, they kept cracking smiles at each other and Sawyer kept reaching for Walker's hair!  Such fun to have little cousins that will be so close in age.  I can't wait to see them at Christmas and with Ava and Carter in the mix, there will be lots of chaos I'm sure!! 
We laughed that although they are 4 months apart, they are essentially the same size!  Walker is a tank and Sawyer is not.  Sawyer is just the slightest bit longer and his head is a little bigger, but they are going to be super close in size for awhile I think! 
 Of course we took the opportunity to dress up the littlest Hawkeyes in their jerseys for a little photo shoot.  I love this one.  "So, you're my cousin huh? Does your Mom hound you with a camera too?" 
 LOVE them!!!
 The "wrestling" has already begun! 
 Cutest little benchwarmers I've ever seen!
 At this point they were probably thinking the same thing, "Can you believe they're making us do this??  I'll start crying if you start crying.  Do you think that will work??" 
 Although my only pictures are of the babies, we really had the best time.  My Dad was returning from a fishing trip to Canada on Saturday, so my Mom and sister and I hit the stores up until he got back!  We did a little shopping that I never get to do when I'm in town with all of my kids and I totally scored on some great new things for ME!  I needed some wardrobe updates and I rarely have the chance to try things on and really look for what I want.  We shopped at a darling boutique that I will definitely go back to the next time I'm in town.  I loved it! I have no pictures from our day together but it was such a fun time with them.  We laughed a lot, bought some fun things, stopped for a cupcake and ordered take-out for dinner.  
Such a treat all around! 
Walker was so good while we were at Grammy and Grampy's and because he must really love his Mommy (and the chance to sleep without interruptions or noise) he slept for 8 hours the first night and 10 the next!!!!!  It was AMAZING!!!  For both of us.  I think the Lord gifted me with this big milestone while I was away, thankfully he has kept it up ever since we got back and I'm so grateful.  He was a happy boy and I was a happy Mama! 
 But then I told him we had to get packed up and head back home and this is how he felt about it!  
I get it buddy, I really do.  I was missing my big kids and Trav, but there was something so great about a break from reality for even a few nights.  We needed it.  Sometimes it's hard to face real life. 

I'm grateful that going home for me is only a few hours away and that I have parents who are always thrilled when I can come back, no matter how long I stay.  I don't know what the future holds or if I'll always be a drive away, but I do know that going home doesn't always mean the same thing for everyone or every season.  Sometimes going home means an hour at a coffee shop with no one but my thoughts.  Or some uninterrupted time with my Bible and a journal.  That's home for me no matter what life looks like.  I'm remembering now how critical it is with little ones to carve out some time to be "home" whenever you can.  Thankfully my husband knows me well enough by now to sense when I need a break and he is generous to help me get it.  But I also have to remind myself that ultimately the "break" I'm looking for or the strength my weary soul needs can't come from a shopping trip or dinner with my parents.  What I need is much deeper and is something only the Lord can give...

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

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