I am a creative mother of three little boys that I will lovingly refer to as my 'house monkeys' in my blog. I'm married to my best friend. I'm inspired by color, light, music, worship and great friendships. I believe in acceptance, authenticity, transparency and learning. I am a collaborator, a creator of beautiful things and technology is a tool I embrace with my uncontrollable curiosity.
I seek freedom, travel, art and beautiful conversations.
It was a rainy weekend. The kind that either has you baking something delicious, organizing the cupboards or snuggling in for a nap. That was me, I did all those things. The nap was the best part!
It is football season. I don’t know about you, but the sound of football and the commentators voice makes me want to nap. Maybe you enjoy watching football, I never really have, to each there own. The social aspect of it, the food, that’s another story. I enjoy all of that.
Anyway, I’m not here to write about football. But, I do want to catch up! It’s been a while since I’ve dedicated some time to writing and I think that happened for a few reasons.
For some reason I lost my confidence as a blogger/writer. I’m not sure why. It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just something I went through. Many of us lose our confidence, almost everyday, and that’s okay. What matters is that we regroup and refocus, that we re-examine our abilities and our goals, and that we explore our why.
I stopped writing because I stopped prioritizing my writing. I stopped because life is busy. Most importantly I lost my courage to hit ‘publish’. I was full of excuses.
For a long time I would talk about what I wanted to do, to write and have my own voice on this blog, but so often I felt it had to be perfect to hit publish. I felt like it had to resonate deeply with others or had to have the approval of others. The truth is, it doesn’t need any of that. It only needs to be my words, my truth, and my voice.
I’ve done a great deal of self-improvement over the last year. From a new dedication to movement, to a new exciting financial independence (FI) path and an incredible season at the beautiful Minnesota lakes country. The lakes truly make Minnesota what is is, I think most of us can agree.
But now, we’re entering a season of cold air, blowing leaves, rain and soon… snow. I know! I said it.
It’s true, summer is my favorite season, but I appreciate the seasons. I get bored easily and so the seasons keep me looking ahead to what’s next. In this case, a few more fires, sweaters, raking leaves, making homemade soups, using my new bread machine (mmm carbs) and flannel sheets.
I went for a few walks this weekend because it has been gorgeous in Minnesota this October. I took a few photos of the season to share.
The house monkeys are hungry so I must go prepare dinner, but I’ll be back. I promise I won’t take a 2-year hiatus again.
Sometimes, moms hearts leak. That’s right, I said that. They freaking leak.
As parents, we do our best. We work hard, we change sheets, wipe butts and kiss boo boo’s. We do these things and we hope for the best. The best albeit is relatively different for everyone, naturally this, among other things define our parental identity.
We have an identity outside of parenthood too though. We’re employees, sisters, wives, friends… we have dreams and desires. We have ideas and what if moments. If we’re lucky enough, all of this exists together in a harmonious balance. But, sometimes stuff goes wrong. Then, we grip to what we need and we again hope for the best. We pray for what we can’t control and when we can we extend our hands to help others.
Grief can trigger that. That need to join hands. The need to slow down and appreciate everything you have and everyone in your life.
Our beautiful 4-year old boy, Cooper, had an MRI last week. His second one since we learned he has NF1, (Neurofibromatosis Type 1.) We learned he had NF1 when he was still just a baby. We knew this disease was something he would have his whole life and that we would have to watch for concerns.
There are essentially two approaches you can take to caring for NF1. You can live your life and ‘hope for the best’ go to the doctor like you or I would if there are fevers, falls, and/or other concerns.
Or you can do occasional MRI scans to watch for areas of concern. Since it’s been almost 3 years since our last scan, our geneticist recommended we do another scan to compare to the data on his first scan when he was just a baby.
I’ve been impatiently waiting for his geneticist to call me back all week and today, she finally called.
I was at the lake. I took today off to float in the beautiful lake and take in as many sun rays as possible before the college students return, footballs are flying and the midwest fall sets in. My phone rang.
She told me there are no visible gliomas. That’s good, I think. But when comparing the data to his first scan there is increased T2 signal within the cerebellar white matter prominent in the basal ganglia.
Friends, I do not know my brain terms. This is gibberish to me.
Essentially she’s referring him to a Pediatric Neurologist in Minneapolis. She said he may request that Cooper have an MRI every 6-months rather than every year or two. She also said she has some concern about the increased white matter entering into his brain.
Let me tell you… Nothing makes my heart want to leak more than the thought of something happening to one of my little people. We all cope with difficult news differently. As many of you know, I’m also a mom to a special little boy with Williams Syndrome. Doctors appointments, scans and trips to Minneapolis are nothing new to us. But we also, naturally, felt like now we did that… and now we shouldn’t have to anymore. I mean that makes sense to me?! That’s fair right? But life’s not fair, life’s a circus. I tell my kids that all the time. So why shouldn’t it apply to everyone?
This is a setback. It’s not the results I wanted. I know it’s not what my husband wanted. But we still don’t know anything more either. We know there is an increased T2 signal and increased white matter leading into his brain. Whatever that means. What I know for sure though is that our special little man is strong, determined, so-so funny, beautiful and amazingly sweet and imaginative. I’m so lucky to be his mom. He blesses our lives everyday and I will continue to clean his chubby cheeks and say our bedtime prayers each night. Tonight, a few extra prayers for his health are in order.
I had an ah-ha moment this weekend. Not just like, ‘hmmm…. interesting, but more like, ‘That’s me! I do that and I need to stop it, type of ah-ha moment.
They say good things come in three’s and that’s what happened with this message.
I’m often challenged and inspired by the messages at Life Church and this week was no exception. Here’s a short cliff-notes version of Sunday’s message from Pastor Patrick Herzog:
It’s unhealthy to make decisions based on thoughts and decisions that aren’t based on God’s truth. When we wake up in the morning the loudest voice is our feelings. When that feeling controls you, it takes little or no effort to think or act on your feelings. We need to make an effort to focus on the truth. Things can be up and down, but we have a God that is faithful. What he says or promises is more important than what I’m feeling or seeing. I need to remind myself:
When that feeling comes over you, it takes little or no effort to think or act on them. We need to make an effort to focus on the truth. Things can be up-and-down, but we have a God that is faithful. What he says or promises is more important than what I’m feeling or seeing. I need to remind myself:
‘I will not be controlled by the feelings in my soul, instead I will stand firm in the truth and live in his grace.’
Wait, what? I’m not supposed to believe my feelings? Obviously, I get that this isn’t rocket science. I’ve just never stopped to give it much thought. Like he said, it’s easy and takes little to no effort to simply believe your thoughts and act on them. It takes more effort to make a conscious decision to challenge those thoughts and focus on the truth. It’s a decision, a daily decision and a dedication to live a life of truth.
After sharing this with my husband, he said, “Yes! That’s why whenever I feel down’s I listen to You Say by Lauren Daigle. My thought was… say what? So he pulled the song up and we listened to it. It’s one of those songs that you just relate to. In a world where we are all yearning for more personal engagement, usually feel like we are never getting it right or doing enough, we need to remind ourselves of who we really are. We need to remind ourselves to make an effort to focus on the truth.
Now, if all of that didn’t already speak to me… during a meeting at work today, my colleague told me about a book called No Ego by Cy Wakeman. She started to share with me how this Reality Based Leadership speaker teaches others on becoming great by recapturing the emotional waste and upcycling it into results. Seriously… mind-blown. If you can’t tell, ah-ha moments really excite me. I don’t have moments like this often where something so simple, yet effective just really resonates with me. I couldn’t help myself, I immediately started telling her everything else I’d recently learned/heard about this exact thing. This was leadership based, not christian based, but both had to do with focusing on the truth and not allowing your emotions and temporary thoughts to make big decisions for you.
I get that this may not resonate with everyone that reads this, but if it helps even one of you, it was worth it. I found great peace in this and am committed to making a conscious effort to no longer believe everything I think, but rather to focus on what is real and what is the true. I’ll listen to the song mentioned above. I’ll read books, like Cy Wakemans… and I’ll continue to learn and grow so I too can live and be great.
A friend recently asked me this question — what makes you tick?
I thought for a short time and felt challenged by this question. I knew answers. But I didn’t know THE answer. I know what makes me want to wake up in the morning. What makes me love my life. But what gives me my purpose and makes me want to grow? She presses on,
What do you really do for yourself?
Nothing I said would call off the dogs. She challenged me to dig deeper, to find a way to give to myself more than I do currently. It’s true – I don’t give to myself enough, whether it be the time to relax or the latitude to recognize i’m not perfect and I never will be. I’m a doer. I’m a helper. I give my time to others freely and those contributions give me a sense of accomplishment and in a way, helps me (like most) feel needed in this big world.
What do you do for you that really makes you tick?
Crap… I’m good at a lot of things, (you might be thinking, damn she needs some humble pie, but I really am good at a lot of things and I recognize my talents) but, why oh why do I suck at taking care of myself? I really am awful at it.
I need to lose weight, get more sleep and exercise… and I really need to care about needing those things more. My diet is rushed and I attempt healthy only some days. The others days sound a little like dire hunger overtaking great intent. I’ll do better…. I really do know better.
Writing makes me tick.
Yet, most days honestly, I feel way too exhausted to use my brain anymore after leaving work. If this sounds like an excuse, it is. But it’s also really true. Most people feel the urge to write or use their creativity most first thing in the morning, before any social media, emails or tiny humans have entered their day. I’ve read this advice from great writers, ahem, Elizabeth Gilbert, but still I don’t. I stay up late and watch mind-numbing television that does nil for my mental or physical health. Yet, it relaxes me to not have to think, do or care about anything for just a short time. I need that sometimes. I love TV and I don’t anticipate giving that up anytime soon, but if I cut back and go to bed early — maybe, just maybe that would give me the motivation to get up early and practice this morning creativity and writing.
Writers often say, “I don’t know what I think until I write it.” That’s so true for me. Throughout the day when I find myself explaining things, sometimes one thought overtaking another, the thoughts are formulating quicker than I can literally communicate them. I know I need to slow down. I know I need to focus and sometimes quietly to myself I make a wish to write it instead. Yes, it takes more time, but it’s so much more methodical and peaceful. It’s not rushed or misunderstood… It’s just words as they should be, preferred to be.
I just fed my boys lunch. We went to three different parks this morning after I gave them each of them a hair cut. They all somewhat tolerated it. But the middle one screamed a lot all morning. It often brought me back to that question – what makes you tick?
I can tell you what doesn’t make me tick and that is that blood curdling cry coming out of my little boy. No pedicure, massage, candle-lit bath or time at the lake can regrow the death of those brain cells after those screams. Only this… maybe. The chance to spill out the words that have been dancing around my head since I’ve last chosen to take the time to really write. Words tripping over each other like an annoyed mom trying to simply walk across the kitchen, ahem, me.
I want to be a better mom. One that doesn’t get frustrated with my kids so much, but I can’t be that. I’m just not that person. I get frustrated and I sometimes even raise my voice so they might actually listen to understand that I am indeed serious about them wearing clothes while they eat, sleep, you name it, function in the real world. I have to be okay with who I am as a mom, wife, employee, friend… because this is me. I can try to be better and make better decision and somedays I might even succeed at that, but some days I’m not going to and that’s okay too.
Creativity and freedom of expression… makes me tick.
Some say creativity is a curse. Some says it’s a gift. It’s freaking both. The gift of creativity helps me out in life, often. It’s helped my career, my family, personal relationships, but it’s also demanded my time in all of those same places. It’s created more work for me when my body says, rest. It’s created complications in projects that are intended to be quite simple. It’s the need for better, for something different than the average that shrieks inside me. Why can’t I just do ordinary and be fine with that? Because I just can’t… and when I am okay with it, I’m really very tired. I need to rest and take some much-needed me time.
But let’s be real, sometimes that isn’t realistic. Sometimes life goes on despite the need for some rejuvenation. And sometimes, I really suck at stopping and giving myself that time, even when I can. Because slowing down, stopping even, means getting behind. It means work, chores, time away from people I care about, it all builds up… and I can’t stand feeling behind. It feels unsafe, uncertain and unsatisfying.
But the reward of rest and renewed creativity comes with a cost and it’s worth investing in. It makes me feel inspired, increases my self-worth, confidence and hope.
It’s Mothers Day. I plan to spend the day with my tiny humans and my mom. Tomorrow, I give myself permission to just not accomplish anything, but let’s be real, I’m not sure I’ll take it. I’m just not built that way.
But here’s to trying. Happy Mothers day, friends!
If you have any questions for me, please contact Kerri Kava at 1MinnesotaMom@gmail.com or on social media at:
Our adventures consist of finding the water, wherever that may be. On the pontoon, state parks or even the pool. My little fishies love the water and having fun. And like Ed Sheeran says, the memories are ours to keep!
My mom loves Black eyed susies. When we drove by this field, it was a must stop. The whole field was full of them. She loved it. It’s the simple things!
Cooper thinks he can drive the pontoon. He’s not wrong. It’s not real complicated in the middle of the lake…
We love the Clay County Fair. It may not be in our town, but it is definitely the fair we cherish and never miss. This fair is the epitome of small town fair fun. From the animals, tractors, food, and the midway, it all makes it worth the trip. And of course, I can go into full momarazzi mode.
This picture says it all. Mac: legit smile. Yay, I’m at the fair! Carter: Cheese, the cows are waiting in the very NEXT building! Cooper: What is even going on right now? I’m extremely cool.
Our first stop is always those germ infested critters.
What’s up, Kernel Sanders.
Whatever this is, it’s fantastic. I want chicken strips like this one…
Keep up, Mac Daddy.
Do you mind? I’m trying to be on display here. Take it easy, sheep. You didn’t get a ribbon.
This one even bosses around sheep. I love how the sheep looks annoyed, but willing to listen just the same.
This little piggy went to the market.
Hey, Mr. Ed
The tractor parade is a must see for this guy. Carter’s favorite part of the fair is the tractors. We stop whatever we’re doing and head over for this annual event.
We grabbed ice cream prior to the tractor parade. Since these are some giant ice cream shakes, we all share a couple of them. The face below is what happens when your turn is over and it’s time to share. The dramatics of two three year olds could probably win an Emmy.
But this face was so happy to get his turn. Don’t feel bad for Mac, he got the ice cream back real soon. No Mac Daddies were too sad for this post.
Tractor nut. He asked for pictures in front of the tractors he liked best.
Good choice, buddy.
Flying high, like a big big boy.
We sent our kids in the crazy house. They came out just as crazy, so that didn’t work.
They were a pretty big fan of this ride.
Carter made a new friend and got a little squished on the scrambler. Good times. Everyone must get squished on the scrambler at least once in their life.
I forgot to mention Saturday was a scorcher, so the sprinkler was a must.
We had a blast. We made some great memories and I’m excited to take these little house monkeys back again next year.
What we hoped to be the last day of the program, Carter woke up to a letter of encouragement from dad. He read it out loud and I think it helped him get ready for the day. We drove to Fargo for the 9th time in two weeks with high hopes of graduating from the program. We are ready for a break from the intensity that is eating under the microscope and timers. But more excitedly, ready to move on to eating at home, which was the end goal all along.
The first session of the day was hard. For breakfast he had:
A sausage patty
a bowl of cereal with milk
He ate, but not fast enough. The sessions are timed to increase the feeding speed. He eating more variety, but he over chews and takes him a really long time to eat a whole meal. Given the average school lunch is 15 minutes (too short) we need him to speed up if he’s going to gain nutrition and have a full tummy. Despite not ‘beating his timer’ as we call it, I was so very proud of him because if he wouldn’t have picked apples he would have beat his timer. Fresh apple slices take way more time to chew than mandarin oranges or peaches from a can. So even though he didn’t ‘pass’ we hopped in the elevator and I gave him the biggest high-five and hug because I still cannot believe what he is eating.
Even though he did well, he couldn’t play iPad. He could read, but he opted for a nap. Lunch time was another big challenge. We grabbed his food from the cafeteria, which still had no air conditioning for the short-term. Apparently the air conditioning was still under repair. It was hot and sticky and the food choices were limited.
Hamburger with ketchup (no gluten free buns available)
He didn’t make his 30 minute timer this time either. This meal was actually one of the hardest meals. After 30 minutes the rule says I need to leave the table. This was hard because he said,
‘No, Mom don’t leave me!’
I swallowed my emotions and left the room… I watched the remaining 30 minutes (sessions are capped at 60 minutes) from the viewing room. I talked with his team and how to move forward. Since Carter is eating everything, just slowly they feel he is ready to go home since they know we are dedicated to following through with the same rules the program applies. We prepared to discharge, but Carter had one more ‘snack’ session at 4 p.m. He had:
A Cheese Stick
He beat this timer with no issues. Which was great to end on a successful session. He was so proud. One of his team members said he could have a popsicle if he beat his timer. Since he accomplished this, he played out his secret handshake with one of his favorite team members and remembered his reward, below:
After we left, Carter got to go to Party City to get a new collection of bouncy balls that Mom and Dad promised him after graduating. All of the packages were removed from the rack so he could choose the best one. I think he made a solid choice with his ‘Mega Value 40 Bounce Balls’ which are all mixed in to his bounce ball collection already.
Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of this program. While it was ‘intense’ as the program is appropriately titled, it was worth it. The crying, the gagging, the rocking, it’s less and less every time he eats. Yesterday, we visited the mall and he ate a taco for the first time. Last week we visited Zorbaz and he ate nachos. We went to a family picnic and he ate several different salads and even brisket. There are still a lot of foods he doesn’t love, but what matters is that he is now willing to try them and eats what is put in front of him. There is still some queuing, but he’s doing a great job and we are really proud of him.
This is another unique challenge that he has overcome. He’s learned to teach his sensory processing disorder who’s really in charge. The best part is when he eats something new and says,