Three Big Feelings and an update on Millie’s garden

Three big feelings: Anxiety, Anger, Guilt

13March21 NOTE: I had originally published this article 1March21. It was incomplete, and once I realized it, I restored the complete version. Oops!

It’s been four months since Mon Amour (MA) arrived safely into our arms.  Four months.  I can’t believe it.  We are truly blessed to have him.  And yet, I feel like a completely different mother than I was with Mon Cœur (MC) as a newborn. And I know, deep down, that a lot of these lingering anxieties and other big feelings that I’m having all circle back to Millie and what once was, what isn’t now and what will never be.

Anxious:

Ever since his safe arrival into our world, I have felt a little bit overprotective, a bit jumpy at any little thing.  

He’s asleep, peacefully in his swing.  I have to go over and check that he’s breathing.  

He was drooling, congested, coughing, and sneezing – perfectly normal infant reflexes.  Is he ill? 

Driving down the road, he’s coughing – again, completely normal newborn reflex.  Then it gets quiet.  I begin to silently loose my cool.  I ask, “MC, is MA asleep?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Okay…what color are his lips?” 

Who asks these questions? What has happened to me?

He has 10 green dirty diapers one day, then doesn’t have any for five days.  FIVE days. What is wrong?

And although all of the above is considered normal, it was different from MC’s infancy (or what I can remember), and I have this nagging fear of losing MA.  Now that he is four months old and a stout little man, I don’t feel the anxiety as regularly.

Anger:

Even though we have MA, I still fight with feelings of anger and confusion over Millie.  When I am told I “have three children and that’s enough” – they don’t see my heart that’s broken and the love that I want to share with my three but there are only two with me – and I want to scream.   I know what my heart wants, although it’s too early to make any decisions.  Yes, I have three and I should be grateful for what I have. 

What we planned – three kids, and what we have- two kids here with us and one we carry in our hearts, are two very different things. To people we know, they know we have three, and we remember Millie together in our conversations. 

To those I’m just meeting, they see two, they think two, they ask the obvious, and I have determined to be honest.  I tell people I have three, “even though you only see two.”

But our three and actually raising three children are very different.  We will raise two and be grateful for that, yet we will always have a sadness that lingers like a shadow for not being able to watch Millie grow along with MC and MA.

Read more about these conflicting feelings in a previous blog post.

When I loose my patience or feel overwhelmed with MC and MA, I get angry because I feel like less of a mother.  Maybe I can’t handle three, maybe I didn’t deserve three.  When I spend too much time trying to build content for the blog, and not enough time playing or reading or doing with MC and MA, I feel angry and guilty.

Guilt:

I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt sometimes. Guilt for not reading enough to MA, not playing enough with him, not spending enough one on one time with MC, not saying the perfect thing, telling MC a whole list of things that “We can’t do because of MA.”  We are all human, and sometimes it takes a near drowning in this feeling to remember we are all human.

I think the strongest guilt I feel is perhaps when I am trying to capture a picture or a video of an activity we are doing, so that I may share it.  Sometimes I feel I am in front of my device(s) more than I am present with the kids, all for the sake of sharing in a post, and that does not sit well with me.  I am still struggling to find a balance in living our best life and how to document and share what is most relevant to my small, but growing reader base.

Still Grateful:

Even though I sometimes feel anger and bitterness about not having Millie, I feel so lucky, so blessed to have MA.  I also have chosen rationalize our tragedy by believing that Millie was meant to comfort my Dad…

If people need comfort in Heaven.  Do they? I wouldn’t believe so, based on the advertisement of the place, it sounds like a utopia all the time…but…perhaps.

Whenever people see MC and MA, they wonder aloud “Are they always this….happy, content, good (or insert any other positive child attribute here)?”  And I always say that we hit the baby lottery.  We did.  MC and MA are pretty perfect.  MA has coos that will put hearts in my eyes and make me weak in the knees.  MC makes observations that make me laugh until I cry and that melt my heart.  When I hear her playing with Chou chou in the early mornings and I hear her playful squealing as they roll and tumble, I think this is the life.  Despite not having Millie with us, we really are blessed to have MC and MA and a whole village of people that love and care for us.

Millie’s Garden:

 

The other day, the yard had dried out enough for us to throw on our boots and slosh, slop our way through Millie’s garden in search of signs for spring.  We were not disappointed.  

Our daffodils, narcissus, and tulips are all peeking up out of the ground.  The phlox are spreading slowly and even flowering intermittently.  The camellias are resting, they bloomed all through winter for us.  Our sedum is creeping, crawling, spreading.  Many had warned that in our zone a gardenia would not survive, we have been lucky – it seems to be doing well, despite the ice and snow our region has had this winter.

I am looking forward to Spring’s arrival and walking the garden, watching life return to it, and playing and picnicking with MC and MA on warmer, drier days.

For previous garden updates, check out the links below:

  • You can read about our Summer updates here;
  • Spring and summer additions here;
  • Our nursery haul here;
  • December additions here;
  • Fall additions here;
  • The end of week one progress here;
  • Check out the grotto in progress here;
  • Read about the chopping of our cherry tree here;
  • And see what we started with in our before pictures here.

 

Three updates to February’s gratefulness challenge

February is such a strange month for me. It is a month where we could experience freezing, frigid weather or we could have days tricking us into thinking that it is springtime.

Many customs worldwide, including Groundhog Day, la Chandeleur and Mardi Gras, make us feel superstitiously hopeful for the days of Spring to arrive. The days get a little longer, although I know we still have some Winter ahead before we can expect Spring.

Personally, February is a month full of losses, too – I started to list them out here, and we literally have a handful of family, including my dad, who have gone before us.


Yesterday was a wash for me – literally – I didn’t check anything off my to do list. But I had the opportunity to do something bigger. My uncle came over and he helped repair our hot water heater, as one of the elements had gone bad. Typically, this would have been something I had called Daddy for. I was freaking out about the impending ice storm, the loss of power that would surely happen, and all the household chores requiring hot water that I wanted to do before said loss of power.

My uncle put his whole day on hold, came over, and in just a couple of hours was able to fix our hot water heater like it was new. That’s something Daddy would have done, too. I stood close by while he worked, offering help when I knew I could and staying out of the way and observing the process otherwise. I always loved helping Daddy because I was learning something new and getting quality time with him. I enjoyed the same yesterday, as I learned about how the water heater worked and was able to visit a little, too.

Despite not tackling anything on my list, I was grateful for the time I had with my uncle yesterday. And getting back to the post, that’s what I’ve made this whole month about – practicing gratitudes and sharing out. I knew what a strange and bittersweet month it was for me, and I hoped that I could make a positive impact on others who may be feeling the same.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

Albert Schweitzer

Gratefulness challenge updates

We (I say we, because I know there is at least one other person who has taken this challenge with me – thank you!) are two weeks plus into February’s challenge. What is gratefulness if it’s not shared?  I think it always brightens someone’s day, and who doesn’t need that? Here’s a quick update on how I’m making it happen, the two-way feel-good vibes, and who I’m reaching out to.

Making it happen: 

Brain dump 

I made a cheat sheet, and that has really helped me give specific examples of why I am grateful to the person I am thanking.  It has given me the intention to reach out to those people and helped me find the words as I send them my note of gratitude.

Cheating a little 

Let’s be real here.  Some days I did not send a gratitude note.  I spent the day with the kids, I was in a funk, or I chose a shower and self care over reaching out.  And I gave myself the grace to do or be all of those things. 

A routine of being intentional

After missing a couple of days a few times, I decided to make choosing a person part of my morning routine. By setting the intention to contact that person that day, it has helped me to get caught up and even ahead.

Feel good vibes:

Some letters I’ve been able to sneak deliver, or I’ve sent through the mail and it’s been a happy surprise for recipients.  Others have been out-of-the-blue texts.  It’s helped me reach out to people I haven’t talked to in a while, and it’s been nice to reconnect.  

I feel good just knowing that I am sharing my appreciation to these people.  It’s been very gratifying and a positive boost for me to touch base.  

Whether it was an act of service, or having a positive mindset, something specific that was said or shared, all of these people in some way have positively affected me.

Recipients:

I have such a variety of people that I have or will be reaching out to – ranging from family to friends, pastors to colleagues, and doctors to influencers – these people have all in some way shaped, influenced, or otherwise inspired me to be the person I am today.  

They helped me in my season of grief with the passing of my father and Millie, they have inspired me to go after my dreams or they have shown me what it means to have grace (I’m trying!).


How is your February going? Are you leaning more into Winter or Spring?

Read more about my “bujourney” here:

Reminder! February’s Gratefulness Challenge

Hi friends!  I can’t believe we have made it through the first month of 2021, and that February is tomorrow. I feel a little ahead of the curve, I posted my February gratefulness challenge over a week ago, and we’ve got our valentines already made, addressed and ready to go in the mail tomorrow. More on that glittery goodness later. I thought a little reminder might be nice if you are joining me in this challenge!

January recap

In my bullet journal, I like to log some sort of gratefulness each day.  For January, I focused on laughter with the quote:

“A good laugh is sunshine in the house.”

William Makepeace Thackeray

Isn’t that the truth, though? When there’s a little bit of light-heartedness and laughter in the house, everything feels a little warmer and brighter. I will admit, this is something I need to work on – sometimes I am just a little too serious.

Mon Cœur (MC) has always been verbal, and now she’s really entertaining and astonishing me with her witticisms.  This month it was pretty easy to laugh with all that she said. When I felt I was being a little too serious, she was always close by with something to lighten the mood. Here are a few snippets I never want to forget:

In the kitchen, while Chou chou and I are fixing lunch, MC approached me.

“I would like some S-T-H-A-O, please.”

Me: “What does that spell?”

Whispering, “Candy!”

She picks up on us spelling words when we are talking about something S-E-C-R-E-T that we don’t want her to hear.  She understands this, and most of the time, unless we spell out the whole darn sentence, she gets it anyway, through the context of the rest of the phrase.  Now, she is applying this method of spelling out words, and perhaps wanted me to know she wanted candy, without Chou chou knowing!

While washing her hands, I asked “Do you want to sing the ABCs or Happy Birthday?”

“It’s just an hour! Not a minute!”

Well, now I know! She’s got a concept of time, but it’s still very nebulous to her.  When I ask her the last time she washed her hands, she’ll say, “Friday!” and it’s a Monday.   She knows her time, days, and holidays, although how they all fit together are still a mystery, and I love when she responds with a totally crazy answer that is still absolutely in the correct context.

After asking me to W-A-T-C-H, while Chou chou and I were having a conversation, I responded, “You may watch one show.”

“I make the deals, not you!”

Oh really?! She’s pretty assertive, and so it was funny when she thought she might get the upper hand on screen time.  We all had a good laugh, a good roaring belly laugh, and then Chouchou reminded MC who wears the pants around here. ME.

While she was playing in the kitchen, MC started counting, “One, two…Five, six, eleventeen, thirteen, nine, ten!”

Chouchou told her, “You know how to count – One, two, three…”

MC interrupting: “Don’t organize me, I’m counting!”

Linguistics is a mysterious and amazing field.  MC has a vast vocabulary although sometimes I find myself struggling to understand her particular word choice…Like why did she say organizing?  And when someone is mad…why does she say they are curious? She’s still figuring it out and I love listening to her as she shares her thoughts on her world.

Just yesterday, we were in her cabin playing and she grabbed the magic 8 ball (Chou chou’s childhood one – remember those?!), and with her serious voice (yes, she has a serious voice), she begins asking, “How do you…?”

And I looked at her in awe, thinking to myself, “Girl, you know how to use this!” But she must have seen confusion in my eyes, because she looked at me, and said, “Mom- you ask this thing questions!” and she went back to asking her question, “Is Olaf here?…(looks at the ball)…nope!”

February’s challenge

I really enjoyed January’s daily notes which I shared above. For February, I am planning on noting daily gratitudes for others based around the quote:

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

Albert Schweitzer

As an introvert, keeping in touch with people and reaching out are not at the top of my priority list.  I think it’s super important, though, especially now, to reach out and tell people how much they mean and the impact that they’ve made in my life.  It’s a boost for me, thinking positively about the people in my life, and it’s a boost for them, hearing personally (out of the blue) what impact they have made on me.

Tomorrow, I will begin a personal challenge to reach out to at least one person a day to express my gratitude for them.  I hope you’ll join me and touch base with those who have touched your life.  

Read more about my “bujourney” here:

February’s Gratefulness Challenge

For this shortest month of the year, I am proposing a daily challenge to my reading community!

I’ve talked before about how I log my gratefulness daily in my bullet journal, and how recently I have tried to put a spin on each day’s log by embracing a monthly theme. For January, I tried to note something each day that made me laugh or smile.

For February, I am planning on noting daily gratitudes for others based around the quote below:

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

Albert Schweitzer

I think in some ways this daily gratitude log will be easier than months past…I can start the day thinking of someone to whom I’m grateful. Or, perhaps something will remind me of a person who I feel lucky to have in my life. After 37 years, I feel like I am surrounded by more than 28 people who have lifted me up, who have lighted the flame.

I am going to try my best to reach out to these people throughout the month to let them know that grateful I am to them, because, who couldn’t use a little sunshine?

I’ll keep you posted on this month’s progress!

Are you with me? Will you note a person to whom you are thankful everyday? Maybe even reach out to that person to share your thanks?

Read my previous posts on bullet journals here:

Six lessons I’ve learned while beginning my bullet journal journey

On new beginnings and bullet journaling

Six lessons learned while beginning my Bullet Journal Journey

I was so excited to start my new bullet journal in October, and with the new freedom of a DIY format, and expecting Mon Amour at the end of October, I went ahead and mapped out my pages through the monthly view for December.  As I have been filling pages, I have learned different ways that I want to format the journal and organize my calendar and daily snapshots.  Below are six lessons I’ve learned while bullet journaling these past three months.

1. Plan just far enough ahead.  

I was so, so, so excited to begin bullet journaling, that I planned for a few months in advance.  Even though I didn’t change much, what I did change, changed drastically.  

Layout options for calendar views aren’t numerous, which is totally okay.  However, the weekly layout options as well as how I wanted to track and plan for my blog did end up evolving, and I could choose to either stick it out through the pages already designed, or get out the white-out and re-do the pages.  

I picked my battles – weekly layouts I stuck with (too much re-doing there), however I did change the one page layout for blog planning, and that has helped my planning. As I began January, I mapped out my monthly pages, and then decided to do the weekly spreads, well…weekly.  

A note on doing the layouts monthly – I did initially forget some of the monthly spreads – the kids’ milestones, and my daily gratitude, so I made a quick simple sticky to remind me of my monthly layouts and their order, and stuck that on the first monthly page for February.

Speaking of daily gratitudes, I love this idea, and yet I wanted to change it up for January.  I felt like I was being a little too serious and wanted to lighten up and laugh and smile more.  So for this month, my guiding quote is “A good laugh is sunshine in the house.” -William Makepeace Thackeray.  Each day I try to note one mini event that made me laugh or smile.  

2. Layouts matter. 

Be mindful of your spacing.  I am so glad I made a spacing key and counted and divided space for columns and rows in advance.  This is absolutely a time saver.  

I mentioned changing weekly layouts – I went from vertical columns for days to a horizontal day planner with a dedicated space for events, work schedules, three daily priority items, and a small memory I don’t want to forget (like when Chouchou gave me a spa day and said, “You deserve this.”).  

I like having the dedicated space for particular information, because then I know exactly where to look when planning for the day and what sort of tasks I can try to accomplish, given work schedules and planned events.

3. Keep it simple. 

I had started with a habit tracker…and decided that on top of trying to summarize milestones, memories, and gratitudes at the end of the day as well as lining up tomorrow’s tasks, the habit tracker was redundant.  Additionally, with the new blog layout, I was tracking publishing dates for the blog and my Instagram, which was one of the “habits” I was already tracking.  

Other habits?  Read thirty minutes a day? with a newborn? HA!  that was a habit I never started.  Meditation? with a newborn? HA! I chose sleep.

I do still have layouts where sometimes I feel I struggle or they overlap: the daily gratitudes, MC and MA’s milestones, and daily memories.  Sometimes I can’t think of something for each space, and after a few minutes of mentally rewinding through my day, if I can’t come up with a concrete memory for the day, I give myself the grace to just move on.  

4. Take the time to reflect and grow.  

It’s nice daily, to take a chunk of time, and instead of getting lost online, take a moment to think about what I did that day, what we as a family did that day. Taking this time to recap the day and focus on the positive helps me keep a positive, grateful mindset.

I think this is so important. Also, I am investing the time daily to write down daily milestones, so it makes sense to go back and read through and make a short summary.  This will also be a huge time saver when we go to write their birthday letters and say what they did throughout the year.  

Taking time to focus on a monthly goal and action steps as well as weekly affirmations will help keep me focused and stay positive as life happens week by week and month by month.

5. Color helps organize – (see number 3, though).

I keep my journal mainly in black ink.  However, I have one color designated for work schedules, one for events, and one for birthdays.  By choosing colors for each of these bits of information, I can simply write a name in green (it’s his/her birthday) or write a time in mauve (that’s Chouchou’s work shift).  Event information (time/event) are jotted in purple.

The pops of color are nice and allow me to jot minimal information.  I also like to use these same colors to make other information stand out – whether it be in an inspirational quote, or a note for one of my daily milestones, gratitudes, or memories.

6. Brain dumps are more effective than habit trackers.  

Goodness gracious, habit trackers could be good for some people, I suppose.  I have concluded they are not good for me, though. I forgot about them mostly in the first month, then struggled to catch up, then dropped it.  They’re not for me, at least right now.  I like to have a dedicated page where I can just literally “dump” my thoughts at the beginning of the month.  Anyone else have a million thoughts swirling through their head right now?  It’s nice to give them the space on the page, and create a little mental space to breathe.


After my first bullet journal post, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from others how they had been inspired to start their own journals.  I was humbled and so excited to hear from you all!  

I would love to hear from you: what lesson have you learned since starting your journal?