One Week Left.

I’m still here. Still alive. Currently being swallowed by boxes and garbage bags and plastic tubs and useless junk and HOW DID WE ACQUIRE SO MANY THINGS.

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We’ve have given away sooo much stuff. Probably too much. I have a feeling we’re going to get into our new house and regret giving some things away. Like our dining room table, our drier, Jonah’s bedroom set, the double stroller I didn’t feel like fixing, all of my food storage containers. It’s a bit much. But it feels good to be down to the bare minimum right now.

Real talk, though. I’m stressed to the MAX. And it’s not like I feel stressed or out of control, but I keep having these moments where I’m totally delusional. I’m so tired and have so many things on my mind, sometimes I start talking and Zach’s like, “What just came out of your mouth?” and I’m like, “I have no idea!” It’s crazy train ticket for one over here these days.

I’m looking forward to getting settled in our new place and I’m trying not to think about the fact that we’re going to have to pack it all up again in about 6 months when our house is finished. People tell me moving down the street is worse that moving across the country, but I’m trying not to believe it. Surely nothing can be worse than trying to find a month to month rental from 12 hours away?? SURELY.

So that’s where we’re at. Frantically trying to throw the last things into boxes so we can be on our way. This week is all about getting shots and cavities filled, Anna’s getting her tongue tie clipped (HOLD ME.) and all of that fun medical stuff before we have the annoying health insurance lag. Moving is annoying in so many ways, but we’re so excited.

So who’s in the Springfield, Massachusetts area? Let’s hang out this summer, eh?

Also. Follow me on instagram (@klavalley) for your daily dose of LaValley moving fun. It’s mostly just photos of boxes and Anna right now, but she’s cute so that makes up for it, right?

We’re Moving!

The path that brought us to this announcement is such an amazing story of failure and grace. I could probably write an entire book about it. But first … the big news.

The LaValleys are Moving

Man that feels good to get that out in the open. We’ve been planning this move for about six weeks now and it’s nice to finally be able to tell everyone! We’re so stinking excited. In about a month, we’ll be packing up our family of five and making the 14 hour drive to Springfield, Massachusetts — Zach’s hometown. He’s just accepted the position of associate pastor at his home church and while this is something that we swore we’d never do again, we’re thrilled to be in ministry again. Never thought I’d see myself writing those words again. We’re confident that this is the next step in our adventure and exactly where God is leading us. I’ll share the whole story some other time (or maybe I’ll actually write that book?) but for now you can just be excited with us.

WE’RE MOVING OUT THE BASEMENT! It’s such a bittersweet thing to say goodbye to this little home on the bottom floor of my parents’ house. I’m definitely going to cry a thousand tears when we pack up that moving van and say goodbye to my parents and siblings. We’re so happy to be going where God is leading, but it’s not without its sacrifices and sadness. That’s the thing about marrying somebody from a different state. You will always be pulled in two different directions and you can’t say hello without a sad goodbye. But we won’t focus on the sadness right now. 

Knoxville has been an incredible learning experience for us. We’ve learned so much about who we are individually and who we are together and who we are as parents. When we got here, we had ONE KID and he was only two. And now we have THREE. We had two babies here and we’ve only been here a little over two years. That’s some crazy. Knoxville will forever have a piece of my heart and I know that sounds so lame and cheesy, but I don’t care. This has been such a short chapter of our lives, but definitely the most enriching so far.

So please forgive me if I get even more lame at blogging regularly. I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment. Because you know…as if HAVING A BABY wasn’t a big enough transition for one year, we’re going throw a huge move in the mix, just to shake things up. Cringe face. If I have your phone number, please excuse my face-in-the-carpet selfies that I will inevitably send your way. If I don’t have your phone number, but you follow me on instagram, please forgive the overgramming of the moving process. Sometimes a little instagram break is all I need to get motivated again.

Alright. Let’s do this, team. Tennessee to Massachusetts in less than a month. It’s happening.

When You’re Not A Mom on Mother’s Day

The first time I cried on Mother’s Day was in 2009. We were in our first year of marriage and just a few weeks prior, I thought I was pregnant. We were sure. I remember the night I told Zach that I was 90% sure we were going to be parents. He reached over and put his hand on my belly and we laughed. We were so excited. I took a test the next day. Negative. I took a test the next dayNegative. I thought maybe they were faulty tests. I’d never been late even a day and now I was a week late. It didn’t make sense. I made an appointment to go to the pregnancy care center to get a more reliable test done. The morning of my appointment, I woke up with extremely painful cramps and a small pool of blood. I was horrified. Sobbing uncontrollably. I thought I was having a miscarriage. That’s how sure I was that we were pregnant. I went to the doctor later that day and she could neither confirm or deny that I had been pregnant. She said it was highly possible, but even if I was, it was a chemical pregnancy that never would’ve survived. Whatever it was, I was devastated. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to be a mom until that moment : the moment it was ripped away from me.

When You're Not a Mom On Mother's Day

I don’t know why we fooled ourselves into thinking we would get pregnant easily. Doctors had been telling me for years that I never would have kids. That my body was broken. That it would take a miracle. So that Spring, as Mother’s Day came around, I was a mess. My sister in law was beautifully pregnant, her belly was growing, and everyone in our lives were thrilled. They congratulated her and wished her Happy Mother’s Day and said things to me like, “You’re next!” Wink wink. Elbow shove. They didn’t know the torture that was going on inside of me. I was so excited to be an aunt, but I was green with envy. It almost hurt too much to even see her.

The second time I cried on Mother’s Day was in 2010. We’d been actively trying for over a year to get pregnant. We did all the tricks. We ate all the things. We prayed. We cried. Every month was agony. Sex was a passionless chore. A few months in, I couldn’t stand telling Zach that the test was negative again, so I stopped telling him. I would secretly buy pregnancy tests and take them without him knowing. When the “not pregnant” words popped up, I would sit on the bathroom floor, biting a towel so he wouldn’t hear me sobbing. When my brother in law called to tell us they were expecting their first baby, I ran to the bathroom, climbed in the shower, bit a washcloth, and sobbed into my knees. Thirty seconds later, Zach was there in the shower with me, fully clothed, holding me while I cried. I hated how jealous I felt. I hated that I couldn’t be happy for my family and friends that were getting pregnant all around me. I hated that I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. I hated everything. Mother’s Day that year was awful. They gave out flowers in church. I didn’t get one. The woman handing them out winked and said, “Maybe next year, honey!” She meant well. But it broke me.

Little did I know, baby Jonah was on his way. Almost exactly one month later, I would take a pregnancy test and break the sound barrier when the word “pregnant” popped up. I didn’t know. All I knew was my pain and my envy. All I knew was that everyone around me was experiencing something that I never would. All I knew was my brokenness.

My infertility journey was so short that I really don’t feel like I qualify to even say one word on the subject. I was able to conceive naturally and have three beautiful babies. I don’t for one second take that for granted or pretend to be an expert on infertility. I’m not. But I know what it’s like to be childless on Mother’s Day. I know how it feels to crave children. To feel like your children are out there, somewhere in your body, somewhere in the world, but you’re not allowed to hold them yet. I know how it feels to watch your friends have babies, and then second babies, and then third babies, while your womb is still empty. That pain is familiar to me and it always will be. Even now, as my third baby sleeps on my chest, I can feel that distance that I felt five years ago, and then again three years ago, when we struggled for a second time. That pain is so tangible I can taste it. I wish I could pack it up in a box and never feel it again, but that kind of sorrow never leaves you.

If your arms are empty this Mother’s Day, whether it’s because of infertility, or because your child passed away, or because you just haven’t found that person to settle down with yet, please know that I see you. I could offer you words of encouragement and tell you to hang on and that your time is coming and that you’ll be a mom soon, but I won’t do that. I won’t tell you that you’ll be able to have kids, or that you can adopt, or that “heaven just needed another angel.” But I can assure you that you aren’t forgotten. I know you’re lonely. I know you’re afraid. I know you’re jealous and angry and confused. I know you don’t want to go to church tomorrow. I know that no one knows what to say and you’re tired of the looks of pity and trite Christian sayings. I know your arms are painfully empty and no gifts or words or blog posts can fill them. I just want you to know that I see you and I see your pain.

If you have a loved one who is childless on Mother’s Day, please refrain from making promises that you can’t fill. “Your time is coming!”, “You’re next!”, “You’ll be a mom next year!”, “God has a special plan and a special baby just for you.” Please don’t ask her to babysit and for goodness sakes, give her a dang flower! It’s not your job to fix her, it’s your job to love her and acknowledge her pain without promising that it will go away.

The next time I cried on Mother’s Day was in 2011. I woke up early in the morning because my four month old in the bassinet by my bed, was hungry. I picked him up and snuggled him close. It was still dark, the house was super quiet, and Zach was still sleeping next to me. It was such a moment for me. This little baby was mine. He was mine. I was a mother. On Mother’s Day. And so I cried a few happy tears. I tried to say a little “thank you” prayer, but I was so overwhelmed with gratitude, that I couldn’t even think the words.

I can’t promise you that you’ll be a mom next Mother’s Day, but I hope that you will. I hope that your empty arms will be full soon. But even more, I hope that you know that right now, in your brokenness, you are seen and you are loved.

Find Him in the Margin

There are a few things that have taken a backseat since I started having babies four years ago. Reading, having straight hair (because straightening this thick curly mane takes at least an hour), buying new clothes for myself, aaaand taking time to read the Bible and pray. I’m such a heathen. It’s not something that I intentionally decided to do, but over time, my priorities shifted far away from making time for my faith. The shift in priorities absolutely affected my life in ways that I didn’t even realize until I started prioritizing my spiritual life again.

FIND HIM IN THE MARGIN

A few months ago, I had a “come to Jesus” moment where I realized how far I’d walked away from my faith. I was so comfortable with where I was at and told myself things like, “Jesus will always be there.” “He gets it. He knows what it’s like to be tired.” “Jesus knows what’s up.” And that made me feel better about the fact that I had turned away from Him. I got lazy. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know there are seasons of life when you don’t take as much time to pray and read the Bible and walk the walk and talk the talk and that’s ok. I truly believe that we are given grace in those seasons and we can always turn things around and get our priorities back in line. But the longer you rest in that season, the harder it is to change. Complacency is a dangerous trap.

I’m in that season right now. I have a new baby with two other kids that need me nonstop. The only time I get a break these days is when the older two are asleep for the night and the baby takes a nap before the all night nursing buffet begins. I’m stretched so thin. I haven’t found the three kids balance. Something always needs to be cleaned, no matter how much laundry I do every day, the hamper is still full when I go to bed, meals need to be cooked, dishes need to be washed, diapers need to be changed, more diapers need to be changed … it’s truly an endless cycle. But I’ve learned to find the margin.

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I have to fight for my margin : that blank space in the day where I can sit and be with Jesus. It doesn’t always look the same. In fact, it’s different every single day. Sometimes I find that margin when the boys are taking a nap and I’m feeding Anna. Sometimes the margin is when Zach is watching the kids so I can cook dinner. Sometimes I find it in the shower. Sometimes the margin is in the middle of the night when Anna is restless and cranky and wants to eat, but won’t eat, and all I can do is cry out to Jesus and ask him for grace. No matter what, though, I have to find the margin. Every day.

My first instinct is to use that blank space to browse my social media, to respond to comments, to send an e-mail, to watch another episode of Parenthood, to sleep, to read, to whatever. It’s not easy to choose the hard thing and for me, reading the Bible and praying is the hard thing. It’s not the easy thing. It’s not the brainless thing. But it’s the thing my soul and my heart and my brain need.

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It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of having small children. It’s easy to say “I don’t have time.” But  I know and you know that time is not the problem. Distraction is. Why do we convince ourselves that everything else is more important than sitting with our Creator? Nothing is more important and it’s crucial to the survival of this mama’s heart. Find your margin. It will look different every day, but you have to find it. Whether it’s 10 minutes, or 5 minutes, or 30 seconds, find it, cherish it and fight for it. You need it. He’ll be waiting for you there.

 

Do The Boys Like The Baby?

Everyone keeps asking me, “How are the boys adjusting to having a new baby?” “Do the boys like the baby?” Seems like people are somewhat concerned about Jonah and Emery liking Anna, but no one has asked me if like her. What about my feelings? Just kidding. I like her. But still. No one asked.

To answer the question. The boys love her. I wasn’t worried about Jonah, since he’s been through this new baby thing before and he’s such a sweet little guy. But Emery, on the other hand…. he’s certifiable. Like … he bangs his head against things just to make people laugh. (I keep telling everyone to stop laughing at him, but it’s really quite hilarious.) He’s such a beast. One day when Zach and I were daydreaming about what our kids would be when they grow up, Zach said, “And Emery will be …. the one that ends up in prison.” Hahaha. We have high expectations for that one, let me tell you. But you guys. He’s a roller coaster. He’s so stinking cute. Since he could sit up on his own, strangers have crossed rooms to talk to him and be around him. He’s hilarious. But he is as rotten as they come. Like, look you in the eye and do the thing you just told him not to do rotten. I’m told he’s exactly like I was a child, but I can’t imagine ever being such a sinner at such a young age. heh. Anyway. All that to say, I was a little worried about bringing my tiny little girl around such a force of nature.

But Emery has completely shocked me with how much he loves his little sister. Every single morning, he wakes up, and when I go into their room to get him out of the crib he says, “EE-na! EE-na!”. He runs over to wherever she is and grabs her toes or says, “Huk?” (Hug) and lays his head on her chest. So much love.

When she cries, he scrunches up his face in an empathetic expression and looks at me and yells “HYING!” (crying). And he’ll keep yelling until I pick her up and show that I’m actually an attentive mother. I don’t think he trusts me with her yet. “Mama! Hying! Mama! Ee-na! MAMAAAAA!” Heaven forbid I finish using the bathroom before I pick up my despondent child.

But also, he sits on her. And one day we were all on the bed together and he took a pillow and put it over her face and tried to sit on the pillow. Naturally, I freaked out. I scared him and I’m ok with that. He also bit her foot and made her cry harder than she’s ever cried before. Oye. We can’t leave the two of them alone even for a second because Emery just doesn’t get it. But he loves her in such a sweet little Emery way. It’s heart breaking.

Jonah is as sweet as ever. He always wants to hold her and put a blanket on her. He gets really defensive when family members joke about taking her home with them. It’s not a funny joke to him. She must be in his sight at all times or he’s asking about her. If I come up the stairs in the morning without her, his first words are, “Where’s Anna?” If we get out of the car and he doesn’t see me bring her carseat in, he yells a panicked, “Where’s Anna!?” It’s adorable. If she’s crying, “Mom! Feed Anna! She wants the boob!” He pushes Emery away from her and makes sure she’s safe from his beastly antics. He’s an amazing older brother. And so far, he’s the only one that can get her to really smile. I think they’re going to have a really sweet bond as they grow up.

IMG_5755They’ve been so amazing. Better than I could’ve hoped for. They’re doing so much better than I am at this transition. I could be doing a much better job of making time for them. I feel like they have to entertain themselves a lot more than they should and I feel guilty about that. I have a lot less patience and sitting down to play or read with them has to be a self discipline now. I forget, or get caught up with housework, or just want a second to not be touched or talked to. I’m not proud of my inattentiveness, but I also know that they’re gonna be just fine. Allowing myself to feel guilty will just make things worse so I’m giving myself lots of grace. I mean, I must be doing something right for them to love each other so much, right? I’ll just keep telling myself that.

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