A Letter to My Youngest

Luxe,

I sit here and reflect on your first year and feel so incredibly blessed to have you in my life. I know that your sister and Daddy would say the same thing. When Daddy and I named you Luxe, little did we know that you would resemble every facet of its meaning. I envisioned a blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby, but I believe God either honored our choice in creating your personality or inspired us to name you that for the little person He already knew you to be.

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Pardon the blurry mommy in this photo. It’s really hard to find a good photographer around here. (I only say that because it was Daddy. ;-))

 

Either way, you are a little bundle of perpetual light. You radiate sweetness. You convey feeling with just a look. Your little smile lights up a room. And even your skin seems to glow from a light within. What your big sister has in spunk, you have in charm.

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You are my cuddlebug baby. You don’t ever get enough hugs and kisses. More are always welcome and you give them as freely as you take. I love to watch you engage people. It’s intriguing to me how effortlessly you do it without words. I’ll never forget how funny it was that one of the college-age boys had you at a church function amidst about 8 of his peers and each one of them was putty in your hands. All it takes is that adorable smile and those eyes. Those captivating eyes.

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It’s your first birthday and, even though it sounds so cliché, I don’t know where the time went. I was with you every single day and that was the fastest year I’ve ever experienced. I wanted more time.

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You bring so much sunshine into our lives, Luxe.

 

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And I’m a privileged mother to have been blessed with a baby as sweet as you. Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Love,
Mommy

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An Inspirational Crow

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I saw a crow yesterday. I was loading groceries into the trunk of my car as it hopped right by. Crows are nothing special where I’m from—in fact, they’re kind of an annoyance with their screeching “Caw’s.” However, I guess I had never seen one close or, rather, never taken the time to look and it struck me how beautiful their color is. I had never noticed that crows are not merely black, but painted with hues of blue and purple that sparkle in the sun. The artistry and creativity of our Creator cannot be fathomed. It is always inspiring. And being able to see the beauty in what we have always classified as something plain or simple is a blessing. It might not be that plain or simple at all. Then, a thought popped into my head: “There is beauty in the black.” I’ll admit…it made me a little emotional because then the moment ceased being about me spotting a crow. Perhaps this crow was meant for me.

None of us get through life without “being in the black” sometimes. We’ve all had our fair share of darkness in different ways and in different places of our journeys. Goodness knows I’ve had mine and I know with certainty there will be more. During hardship, it’s very difficult to find or see the beauty in it. It’s only when I get to a better place that I can look back and see how it changed me. However, when those seasons pass and I come out on the other side of the struggle, I’m stronger. I’m better. I’m wiser. Able to see more clearly the abundance of things money can’t buy in my life and marvel at the love of my Father. Like that crow with the tinge of blue and purple upon it’s feathers, I have bruises. But I’m still beautiful.

That crow was no coincidence. There’s beauty in the black.

“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:10-12

Milestones

This morning, I dropped my baby off at school for her first day of kindergarten.

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I haven’t cried…yet. Luxe isn’t allowing me a chance to. However, I feel like a piece of my heart broke off and stayed at school with her. I can’t wait to pick her up so I can hear about her day.

That Band-Aid on her arm is from a booster shot she had to get on Monday. We got her a little stuffed Husky dog named Slush for moral support. However, I only thought she had to get one shot. They informed us there were 2 for this visit.

Let the meltdown commence. She was bawling before the first needle prick.

Taegan doesn’t like to show weakness, so we walked back out to the parking lot where my mom waited with Luxe with a red face and wounded pride sporting Band-Aids on both shoulders. My mom hugged Taegan and said, “You’re so brave! Such a big, strong girl!”

Taegan sourly replied, “Actually, I cried…”

We got her buckled in and had to chuckle. It’s rough being 5 and beating yourself up because you failed to meet your own self-imposed definition of brave.

But, she is brave. Brave without even realizing the risks she takes.

For instance, a week ago, the farmer had some dry cows with the milk cows. She knows they’re dry because he writes a big “D” on them with a hot-pink paint stick. We have a dry cow pasture where all the expecting mothers usually reside, but he had been letting these few come in the barn with the milk cows to eat grain, but not get milked.

Well, he walks out the other day to find them corralled off in a separate pin that leads to the dry cow pasture. Taegan, our little wisp of a girl, had sorted the dry cows out of the herd and put them where she thought they ought to go. Dry cows need to be in the dry cow pasture, so, by golly, they’re going in there tonight!

Usually, the farmer gets angry when he finds Taegan in the holding pin with the cows. It’s dangerous. She knows that. As he started to get mad, he realized what she’d done and just had to stare in shock for a minute.

“Daddy, we gotta get these dry cows in with the rest of them.”

“Ummm…yep, we do…,” he said.

Her grandma has given her the moniker “Little Pol” around here. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the show, “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” but it’s Taegan’s absolute favorite. She DVR’s it and watches the reruns over and over and over. He’s a veterinarian who has a HUGE clientele in Michigan and does a lot of work on–you guessed it–cattle. Taegan has been known to perform procedures on her calves. The other day, one had a “twisted stomach”, so she was caught getting it on it’s back and rolling it over. The calf was perfectly fine, but it took one for the team.

That being said, I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up this morning and, with hardly a thought, she said, “A vet.”

It’s funny because right now, knowing Taegan, I can’t picture her doing anything else. That would be perfect for her.

Today is the first day of her academic career. It’s a milestone that begins a channeling of all this intelligence into more specific things. She’ll continue to learn more about what interests her and what doesn’t. Starting now. Kindergarten, to this mama, is the first step in the journey of growing up. And the farmer and I get to walk that journey for a while with Taegan, our little spirited, capable, determined daughter. We’re so proud and so blessed.

I’ve Been A Little Busy…

Today I’m playing catch up since it’s been about 3 months. Everything’s been going good here on the farm. The farmer had a good spring crop of rye and wheat that was cut, baled, and wrapped. Now, he’s playing chicken with the rain trying to get the hay fields cut all the while planting sorghum-sudan grass BMR, which will eventually be put into baleage for the milk cows. Ideally, the farmer likes to have a 2-3 day stretch of no rain for putting up hay. So far, the rain has just continued to keep on coming. But, that’s ok. Without rain, this grass wouldn’t grow and that’s the good stuff our cows will eat during the winter months. The farmer planted this two weeks ago.

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Early this morning, it looks like this:

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Green with a side of rainy.

And without rain, none of my honey-do’s would get done.

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Painting Luxe’s room a color called Baby Toes. So fitting.

In other news, my husband has very eclectic farming attire.

In the meantime, I spend a lot of my time inside with Luxe. Unfortunately, this means I don’t get to snap photos of the farmer and Taegan out and about doing what dairy farmers do, but that is also ok. I’m enjoying this season with Luxe knowing all too well that it is a short one. When I reflect back to Taegan’s babyhood, I remember saying things like, “I can’t wait til’ she talks,” “I can’t wait til’ she walks,” “I can’t wait for her to experience this or that.” Not necessarily wishing the time away; just wanting to get to know her. Wanting to show her the world and get her take on it.

That has not been the case with Luxe. Knowing that she could quite possibly be my last has me savoring the little things. Telling time to slow down. All the while, she is growing at lightening speed and I am helpless to stop it.

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Since my last post, she has started eating everything. And I mean everything. The child has a taste for things that have a little kick to them. We’ve been eating on some chili for the last two nights and the baby can’t get enough. I was a little worried about this, but she leans toward me–mouth wide open like a little bird– and whines if I’m a little slow about giving her some. If I’m eating anything and I don’t offer her some, the waterworks begin. I am now that mom that sneaks food while hiding behind the pantry door. So far, the only things that have had an ill effect on her were bananas and rice cereal.

Also, since my last post, Taegan has turned 5 and graduated from preschool. She starts kindergarten in the fall. I’m really proud of her. She’s reading or attempting to read everything in sight, enjoys adding and subtracting, and has started singing in church, which fills this mama’s heart with pure joy. This also causes Luxe to sometimes “sing,” as well, which causes me to have trouble singing because I can’t stop laughing. We don’t use instruments at our church, so Luxe is a very audible participant if she so chooses.

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Her sheepish look after her teacher announced she counted to 193.

Luxe turned 6 months old a couple of weeks ago, so I took some photos with some backgrounds I had bought a long time ago. They turned out so cute!

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Her family nicknames are “Luxey Poo” or “Tweet-Tweet.” She is my sunshine baby with a smile for everyone. It doesn’t matter how cranky someone in our household might be one day–she’ll charm that bad mood away in a flash.

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She doesn’t encounter anyone she won’t smile at and enjoys any kind of play that involves hugs and kisses.

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With every month, we see a new facet of Luxe’s personality. This month has shown us a little bit of her feisty side, especially in church. I walk in with a sweet, smiley little angel and end the service with a tiger by the tail. Luxe rarely cries; she just hollers or shrieks. Too much sitting mixed with getting hangry brings out this little banshee that will definitely be a high soprano if we can channel it into something more positive.

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She adds something to this family that we couldn’t imagine being without now.

Just last weekend was the fair in our small community. Taegan knew which calf she wanted to show pretty much from the day it was born. No ordinary Jersey would do. No horse is better than a paint horse in her eyes, so naturally no cow would be better than a “paint” cow.

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I am in love with this photo. She doesn’t know I’m taking it and there’s something about Taegan’s wistful little look that speaks to my soul. She’s breathtakingly beautiful. It’s hard to articulate what I feel upon looking at it. All I know is it causes me to flash forward to her all grown up and in that flash forwarded moment, a woman stands where that little girl is and I can’t help but cry.She makes photography art for me like no one else can. I could stare at it for hours and feel all kinds of things.

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She caught me. She named her calf Luxe because, naturally, there is no better name in the world to her right now. She bestowed upon the little heifer the highest honor she could think of.

She and her cousins had such a good time working their calves here on the farm and then taking them up to the fair. Aunt Tanna always takes this activity upon herself and the kids love it.

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It is A LOT of work and I always admire how selfless she is about getting her kids and any other niece or nephew that’s interested involved.

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Taegan had to show off her showmanship trophy.

This is Kalyssa, Tanna’s daughter, showing her calf, Lollipop.

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This is Foster, Tanna’s son, with his calf, Krider, who actually won Grand Champion!

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If you’re tired, just lay down in the hay with your calf. That’s what Taegan and Emmy decided to do.

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They all were thoroughly worn out, but they had a great time.

And Taegan’s not ready to hang up Luxe’s halter just yet. (Are you confused yet?)

As reigning show calf, she has a duty to continue being walked around the farm on display. Around 7 this morning I looked out the window to see this:

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It’s rough being a show calf, but somebody’s gotta do it.

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Brought to you today by Breauna Krider 🙂

Finding Balance: A Mother of Two

After the initial love-drunk happiness of bringing a baby into the world occurs, reality inevitably sets in. And it sets in hard. Your body is trying to recover. Your hormones are completely jacked. Breastfeeding ties you down. I absolutely dreaded it because it hurt so bad. It doesn’t help when your oldest daughter still rarely sleeps through the night and still manages to wake up at the crack of dawn ready for her waffles. Pronto.

Daddy would take care of it, but still…I was awake.

A few nights of 3-4 hours of sleep–if I was lucky–turned this momma into an exhausted, impatient crank. I could barely muster enough energy to tend to Luxe’s basic needs let alone a demanding 4-year-old’s need for play and attention. The farmer did the best he could to keep her occupied, but he works long, hard hours when it’s cold and wasn’t able to take her with him everywhere. She was stuck inside with me and if I did get a spare moment, the last thing I wanted to do was play.

I’ll be honest, Taegan and I went through a very rough patch there for a little over a month and I didn’t know if we would ever be the same again. She adored Luxe, was always up for a chance to hold her, and would jump to help me do something for her, but her relationship with me was deteriorating.

I was no longer “her best friend,” I didn’t “love her anymore,” and I was just plain “mean.” It broke my heart that we had come to this, but I didn’t know what to do. About the time I would sit down for a game of Candyland, Luxe would wake up crying wanting to be fed. And to the chair I would go for a good 40 minutes.

Oh, the guilt…I was drowning in piles of guilt. If I cried about one thing the majority of the time to the farmer, it was the guilt. Taking care of Luxe while Taegan had to occupy herself. Playing with Taegan while Luxe was in her swing, all alone in her room. Taegan watching too much TV because I didn”t have time to play. Dishes piling up in the sink. Laundry coming out of my ears. House at a level of uncleanliness it had never reached before. Taegan running a fever and trying to keep her away from Luxe. Luxe catching what Taegan had and being miserable. Being cranky with Taegan for being a typical 4-year-old sometimes. Oh, a husband? I have a husband? When did he come along? I was cranky with him, too, for trying to run interference with Taegan and not helping me. And I was so very sad that I barely got to see him–let alone converse–anymore.

I wasn’t certain that this family would be ok again.

Call it dramatic, but it was my worry at the time. The first month or two was not enjoyable. I felt like a total failure. As a mother, as a wife, and at just life in general. I had to stop trying to be and do everything and pick some priorities. Carving out some time for Taegan was first on my list.

By two months, Luxe was sleeping through the night consistently. I started feeling a little bit more like myself again and committed to doing at least one thing a day with Taegan that she really enjoyed. Playing a board game. Reading books. Baking. Working on flashcards. Really just whatever gave Taegan and I a little one-on-one.

I also instituted a remote corner of the kitchen called “The Naughty Spot” to break some bad habits she had acquired in her experiments on “How To Get Negative Attention.” One warning. If behavior continued, Naughty Spot it was. Never before has anything been as effective because Taegan is SUPER strong-willed, but hates being isolated from the group. To her, that’s the worst part of the punishment. Being alone is not something she enjoys.

This is also why she doesn’t sleep through the night. If she and Luxe want to share a room when Luxe gets older, I will be all about it.

Naturally, my commitment to time with Taegan brought us both back together. I knew that it would, but it was so hard with a bitsy one to make that time. So many other things needed my time, as well. But, you know what happened? Spending that time doing something Taegan enjoyed brought out a helper in my little girl. Before I knew it, she wanted to help me do the things around the house that needed doing. If I was making the bed, she was on the other side trying her best to copy what I was doing. If I was folding laundry, she was sorting socks or digging through the pile for all the washcloths because they’re the easiest thing to fold. If I was unloading the dishwasher, she was putting all the silverware away. I’m on the lookout for a child-size pair of rubber gloves because she really wants to help me wash dishes.

Now, as she’s helping me, once in a while she’ll look at me and say, “Mommy, we’re spending time together.” To her, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing because she just enjoys the person she’s doing it with.

And don’t think I don’t realize how special this time spent is. I can see, even at this young age, what I’m preparing her for. Life on her own as a woman, sister, mother, daughter, wife, friend.

I needed to find balance and by now, I’ve pretty well figured out how to juggle it all.  Spending more time with Taegan has helped make her patient with me during the times that I can’t give her my undivided attention. Luxe is starting to really show her personality and requires a lot less of my time. The farmer and I still haven’t been on a date, but look forward to the time of evening when it’s just us.

I still feel guilty sometimes. There’s still days when mental exhaustion makes me want to just sit and stare at a wall, but I had those days before kids, so I must not be too bad off.

Luxe grows more independent with each passing month and I continue to watch my oldest change and evolve into her own person. She’s now folding all of her own clothes and putting them away in the correct drawers. Little things that bring a nostalgic tear if I stop to think about it.

Having two has made me painfully aware of how fast Taegan grew up and still continues to. But, I am immeasurably blessed because I get to watch. Not just her but another little girl who will be her own person, as well. The first couple of months was tough. We had to learn how to be a family of four. The dynamic changed and we had to learn our new places.

I’ll have to continue to be patient with them and they’ll have to be patient with me because we’re all learning. Grown-ups get it wrong sometimes, too, and I’ve had to swallow my pride a few times and apologize to Taegan. One thing I’m not sorry about. It fostered forgiveness and love. It proved to Taegan that Mommy doesn’t have too much pride to admit when she doesn’t have it all together.  Sometimes a sincere apology is all that’s needed to reinforce a bond and begin anew.

I’ve had a lot moments up to this point where I’ve had to take a deep breath and say “This too shall pass” to myself.

All the while knowing that it will. Every bit of it. And I’ll look at them when they’re grown and know that what passed was time well spent.

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Taegan, almost 5 Luxe, 3 months