It's amazing how my almost three-year-old teaches me how to be present in even the most simple moments.  To stop and look at the little details that I often miss, and to react in pure joy and amazement at the beauty surrounding me each day.  He teaches me to rest, to run, to be honest with how I feel, and to stop in wonder.

Thankful for the lessons I learn from him, and thankful I get to be his mama.


5 years...

Five years ago, today, Landon and I were married in front of his home on a cold fall day.  These past years of marriage have been full of love, laughter, fighting, crying, adventures, tough moments, beautiful moments, and so many memories.

We both have grown a lot since that moment we said "I do." We learned that marriage is hard work sometimes, and other times it's a breeze.  We learned that, even when you don't feel like loving, you still choose to love your partner because love is a choice.  We learned that communication is key for us, and it's something we always are going to work at.  We learned that we are an equal team, and the only argument we should be having is who gets to sacrifice for the other first.  We learned that when Christ is at the center of our relationship, we see our partner through eyes of unconditional love.

I love that Landon and I see eye-to-eye on pretty much everything, and if we don't, we figure out how to compromise.  We enjoy a lot of the same things, and we both have a drive towards simplicity and a restlessness to explore and travel.

I love that Landon writes me a note almost every morning he leaves for work.  He's not a writer, nor a man of many words, so he will stand there in the kitchen for 5 minutes thinking of something to write.  He loves me and knows that words mean a lot to me, and so he pushes himself to do something he normally wouldn't. That's one of the many reasons I love him.

I love that he has taken complete care of me through two rather rough pregnancies when I was so sick I couldn't get out of bed, or take care of our toddler at night.  He truly sacrificed his time and energy for me many, many times over.

I know that Landon loves and respects me more than anyone ever has, and I feel extremely valued by him.  He knows all of my struggles, and he accepts me as I am.  He tells me not to focus on the specs in my life that I seem to focus on, but to step back and see the bigger, beautiful things happening.

I really, truly enjoy marriage.  I get to travel through life with my best friend, and we get to watch each other grow, and we have a witness to our lives.  So much has happened in these first years of marriage...I am so excited to see what will happen in the coming years.

I remember feeling so excited, I couldn't hardly sleep that night before.
I remember waking up to a brilliant blue sky.
I remember dressing in a beautiful bedroom and peeking outside at the spot we would say our vows.
I remember walking through the tall grass to the little country bridge where you were waiting for me.
I remember hugging you, eyes wet, as I realized this was the day I never had to be parted from you again.
I remember waiting between the barn and the workshop as guests waited, and music played.
I remember the cold, oh how I remember it. But it didn't dampen our spirits.
I remember hearing "Northern Lights" by the Bowerbirds play as Autumn, Daniel, Hannah, and Ben walked down to aisle to stand with us.
I remember the moment of the song when it swelled and I turned the corner and walked toward you.
I remember shivering as I stood on the front step holding your hands.
I remember I couldn't stop smiling at you.
I remember my dad reading from his black, worn bible.
I remember vowing to love you always.
I remember the kiss.
I remember the joy of finally being yours.
I remember the joy of the reception, being surrounded by our dearest ones.
I remember hot apple cider and spiced cake.
I remember corn hole, hillbilly golf, and the smell of a warm fire.
I remember our first dance, and how you actually did a choreographed bit with me.
I remember smiling so much, my face hurt.
I remember running through a line of our dear ones as birdseed rained down.
I remember driving away in the old Buick, and cars following and honking in true Rife style.
I remember switching cars at the church, then driving off to start our lives together.


last hike...

After my grandpa's graveside service, our extended family gathered for one last walk around the farm together.  It was such a sweet time remembering so many years of memories.  I won't write a big explanation, just post some pictures instead.


saying goodbye...

I'm not good at goodbyes, or truly expressing how I feel in a single moment of time.  It takes time and thought to really understand my feelings, or else they come out in a blurting, jumbled mess.  I thought it would be simpler to write them down.

Yesterday my grandpa passed away.  It wasn't unexpected, but it was still sad.  After my grandma passed away when I was a teenager, I didn't see as much of grandpa as I had previously.  But as a child, I saw a lot of him and my grandma.  Reflecting on his life and my siblings and I growing up knowing him has brought up a lot of memories.  A lot of emotions come up, especially when I think of my grandma.  She was very dear to me and my sister and brothers, and we have a lot of good memories of her and grandpa and their farm in northern Indiana.  So the most logical thing I can think of to do, to properly pay my respects, is to list some of these memories here.

*The humming from grandpa's dentist office, and the smell of wood floors there.
*A styrofoam cup, half-full of coffee, with lipstick marks on it.
*A warm sweater hanging on an an office chair that spun around and around.
*Playing on the typewriter in grandma's office, and flipping through her rolodex.
*Leaning back in the dentist chair as grandpa checked for cavities.
*Grandma leaning against the door to the examination room, talking with my mom and dad while us kids got our exams.
*The slippery, wooden, curving staircase in the farmhouse.
*A bookshelf where many an afternoon was spent reading as adults talked downstairs.
*The smell of crackling bacon as grandpa stood making breakfast for us grandkids.
*Playing skip-bo on the farm table.
*Dressing up in grandma's jewelry and putting on her lipstick at her vanity.
*Hannah and I sitting with grandma watching Jaws and hearing her shudder at the scary parts.
*A bee sting, screaming, running to the farmhouse, and grandma running beside us.
*A deep smell of perfume as we were squeezed into a hug
*Sitting nervously on stage with my violin, and finding my grandparents in the crowd smiling at me
*Tweed jackets, and khaki pants
*A mole on a cheek, and a comment of "That's my beauty mark, like Marilyn Monroe."
*The scratchy, sweaty days making hay with grandpa at the wheel of his tractor.
*Riding in a green pickup truck on a wide bench.
*Painting a wooden fence with Hannah and grandma walking out to take our picture
*Watching bats fly in and out of the barn.
*Black angus cows.
*Hunting for mushrooms on chilly days.
*Hikes, forts, games, all in the woods for hours on end.
*Warmth from a wood burning stove.
*Whitewater rafting in Montana and watching grandpa smile as we paddled along the river.
*Wearing socks in an big pool with a rough bottom.
*A basement, so scary to little eyes, we barely dared going down there.
*Tubing down the toboggan run.
*Watching a truck take an evening drive, grandpa driving and grandma sitting beside.
*An old, out of tune piano in a sitting room.
*Monday night family dinners around a farm table.
*Postcards from Hawaii, Montana, Mexico, and other travels.
*A Bible verse made out in small letters on the back of an envelope.
*Pictures of grandpa holding his catch from fly fishing.
*Grandma's dancing eyes, and the crinkles at the corners.

Sometimes memories don't come as easily, and I shut my eyes and try hard to remember.  I am afraid I will forget one, or it will somehow slip away.  I am thankful for the ones I have though, and I am thankful to have known my grandparents, as some people aren't as fortunate.  As we all say final farewells this weekend, I will mentally take it all in, as we take final walks around the farm, as we stand at grandma's gravestone once again, as grandpa is laid to rest beside her, as family meets together in places where memories were made and years passed.


johann's home birth story...

I wanted to share Johann's home birth story since I shared Finn's on here almost 3 (can it be that long?) years ago.
Disclaimer: This happened 3 months go, so the specific details may be a bit fuzzy for me to remember. :)

This pregnancy and birth experience was totally different than Finn's.  We chose to plan a home birth with our second baby, and loved our experience.  Our midwife was amazing, and the level of care we received was unlike anything we had ever had before.  Choosing a home birth was a really great choice for our family, and I will never forget it.

Johann came on a rainy Wednesday morning on June 4th, 2014.  I had told Landon that if I could choose, I would pick a cloudy, rainy day to give birth since it seemed relaxing and calm.  We had decided to do a water birth, so we had our tub and all the equipment set up in our bedroom right beside the window.

After some off and on contractions on the 3rd, my water broke around 3am on the 4th. I texted my midwife since I wasn't exactly sure at the time if my water had broken and felt bad waking her up.  She called me back and we talked about things.  I tried to go back to sleep, but was so excited I couldn't manage to doze off.  Contractions were semi-regular, but nothing strong yet.  Landon had been going into work around 4:30am those days, so we decided he should go and I would call when things got more serious. (In hindsight, we should have started setting the equipment up and he should have stayed home.)  I called him at 5am and wanted him home. :)

My contractions were getting closer together and more intense, but still not strong enough I thought.  I was in touch with my midwife, and around 7am, she asked if I wanted her to come. She listened to me breathe through a contraction, and I told her I thought she could wait a while.  (Little did I know, she was already contacting her assistants and planning on driving down to hang out at a coffee shop right around the corner.  She could tell I was maybe a little further along than I thought.)

Meanwhile, Landon was rushing around filling the tub, getting Finn ready to go to a friend's house, and rushing to my side when I went through a contraction.  I would just like to stop here and say how amazing my husband is.  Not only did he fully support me through a challenging pregnancy, and encouraged me to eat well, and took care of me for 9 months, but he was a total champ during the birth day.  One thing we didn't realize was all the prep work that would need to be done on our end, and he was rather busy the whole morning.

My dear, lovely friend, Ballard came to pick up Finn around 7am, and I still remember her shouting up the stairs "Love you Leeum!" as she whisked Finn out for the whole day. (Another perfect thing was that Wednesday was Ballard's only day off of work and grad school, and we had been praying somehow I would give birth on a Wednesday.)

Around 7:15am, I texted all our close friends and family I was in labor and it may be happening later in the day.  Due to some miscommunication, the tub was still not ready for me to get in, and we had run out of hot water.  Poor Landon was boiling water on the stove, and running up to help me through contractions in between.  Around 8am, I got into the tub which felt amazing.  The rain was pouring outside, there were soft rolls of thunder, and my birth music was on.  I snacked on cheese and veggies, and tried to breathe through each contraction as they came on stronger and closer.

Landon called the midwife, who we had been in touch with off and on, and told her I was ready for her to come.  She and her assistants were only a few minutes away at a coffee shop, and they arrived around 8:30 or 8:45am.  I remember her walking in and looking at me, and saying "Yep, you're at a 10 for sure!" And I was thinking "Whaaat?"She asked if I wanted her to check me, and I said yes.  As she was checking me, she told me I could be pushing if I felt like it.  This took me by surprise as I never felt the overwhelming urge to push like I did with Finn.

The next half hour was a blur, but the contractions were strong, the assistants were so kind fanning me and giving me water, and my midwife was encouraging, direct, and so, so good at her job.  I pushed for awhile, changed positions, pushed his head out, then had to get out of the tub so my midwife could assist him out.  It all happened so fast it seems, and before I knew it, I was able to hold my baby boy as I knelt on the floor of our bedroom.  Johann Sailor was born at 9:48am, and Landon and I were so amazed at how fast he decided to come.  He was very healthy, and strong, and chubby, and the birth team did such a good job getting him checked out, and helping me get settled and tucked into my bed.  It was a fast and intense labor, but the whole experience was amazing for us.  We couldn't have had a more wonderful midwife and team, and it was such a treasure to be able to deliver our son in our home.

Some days, I tell Landon "I can't believe we have two kids!"  It seems so surreal.  The last three months have been a big adjustment, but every time I look down at my sweet Johann and see him smile, my heart melts.  It is such an honor to be mama to two amazing little boys.


hello, again...

Well, I'm back!  Here's a little peek at what my days are like now.  I have two boys!  Finn will be 3 soon, and Johann just turned 3 months!  Life has been all sorts of crazy/busy/fun/hard these days.  But it's been so amazing watching our family grow and change.

After burning out a bit with being pregnant and having a new baby, I took the spring and summer off from updating on here. While it was unintentional to leave this little corner of the internet all alone for awhile, it turned out to be a much-needed break.  It also allowed me to sort of refocus on what my goals are for this blog and using my time in general.

For the last few years, Landon and I have been aiming towards simplifying our life. 
We have realized our goal of a simple life is a journey, and one that's constantly evolving and adapting. I want to use this space and my time writing on here as an outlet for all the ideas and actions we take to get closer to our goal.  Because of that, I am going to aim to write with more intention and focus on how we are trying to practically live that out, alongside the usual family updates, of course.

Life is too short to waste, and I hope we can savor every minute of it! I can't wait to get back into writing here and there about how we are trying to do just that.



*I picked up some wonderful tulips at Whole Foods today.  They spruce up our table so much and remind me that Spring is really here, even when the weather doesn't seem to agree.

*I also splurged on an adorable onesie for our new wee one coming soon.  It's a sweat-shop-free ethically made garment, and I just love the print and color.  I snagged it from Whole Foods when we were there this morning.  Buying things for this next baby gets me so much more excited to meet him or her.

*Snacking on some delicious muffins while I relax this afternoon.  I found this amazing recipe and have used it many times over the past few months.  Flour-less, sugar-less, and pretty much just awesome.

*Excited to read this book!  My friend mentioned she picked it up from the library, and I gave it a shot as well even though it's a pretty new book and I figured I'd be out of luck.  They had it and I was so happy!  I love the author and how she writes, and after reading her last book, I can't wait to see what she writes in this one.

*Things are going well with life and pregnancy.  I am around 32 weeks now, and feeling pretty good overall.  The baby moves a lot, and it's amazing to think there is a wee one inside my tummy.  I have been busy gathering birth supplies, baby gear we need, and organizing the areas of our home that need some attention.  These next two months are going to fly by, I just know it!

Happy spring everyone!


thoughts on love...

I don't really care for Valentine's Day all that much.  It's become very commercialized, overdone, and cliché.  But...I love that it sort of forces me to reflect a little on love, my marriage, and what all that means to me.

This last year has proved so much different for Landon and I than we ever thought possible.  We hit a pretty low spot in our relationship back last late winter.  Having a child threw off a lot of our norms, we were "newly" married (less than 5 years) and still figuring each other out, and both of us being introverts and communicating in completely opposite ways made arguments less than productive.

After hearing some amazing friends share their story of how they got marriage counseling, we decided to seek some out for ourselves.  Best. Decision. Ever.  We are now in a completely better place than ever before.  We talk more, communicate more effectively, and I think I have fallen even deeper in love with Landon as a result.  Praise God!

So, in honor of Valentine's Day, here are some things Landon and I have learned along the way...with many more to come!

This pretty much overlaps on every aspect of marriage, whether it is non-verbal or any other sort of communication.  This one is key!  Keeping those lines open is so important for Landon and I.

*The only argument you should have is over who is going to sacrifice first.
This is the one phrase from our counselor that is burned into my brain.  And I love it!  As Landon and I have come to an understanding of mutuality in our marriage vs. the traditional view, this has proven so true for us.  It's not about who is in charge or who has the final word, it's about self-sacrifice on both sides.

*Talk through the hard things.
I have a bad habit of trying to will Landon to read my thoughts when I am frustrated. :)  I now know that's just not possible!  Now, we try to share how we are feeling, even if it may sting a little.  The more honest and open we are, the more fights we avoid.  Communication, folks.

*Find encouragement from other marriages.
We are so fortunate to be surrounded by a large group of people who have awesome marriages.  And the beautiful part?  They are all different and unique!  We love learning from and hearing couples that have got some things figured out.
We love how my boss and her husband seriously make each other laugh...like for real!  And they have been married twice as long as us.
-We love how our friends from small group finish each others' sentences and share stories like none other.
-We love how Landon's parents still go to high school basketball games on a Friday night even though they don't have any kids at home anymore.
-We love how some of our other friends from small group who have been married less than a year are cuddly and take little moments for a quick kiss or a quick hug.  It's a great reminder to keep doing those things even though we've been married a bit longer.

*Keep faith at the center of our marriage.
For us, this one is big.  Our faith plays a vital role in our relationship and we each are taking time to make sure we are focusing on a relationship with God.

We are looking forward to many more years of marriage, growing closer, and trying to be good examples for our kids.  It hasn't been easy, and it won't necessarily get easier, but we are bound and determined to stick it through together.

Happy Valentine's Day!!


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