Black and White: Week 1

Wow, I really go in spurts with blogging. I’m going to try to post my favorite capture of each week.

This photo was from last week when we celebrated the twins first birthday. At this stage of life it’s nearly impossible to get both of them in the frame and clear. So here is twin beauty, a little hazy and unclear but beautiful just the same.

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New Children’s Book: March 2019

im. not. a writer.

she said.

what are you?

im. a feeler.

what does feeling have anything to do with it?

it. has. EVERYTHING. to. do. with.it

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The other night as my husband and I were finishing story time with our three boys my mind was bursting with many differing thoughts. I asked him: “do you think writers feel emotions deeper.” 

It’s funny, how we can be engaged in mundane tasks and all of sudden feel the need to release a deep thought to find out what others think. His response “I don’t know, why?” with a quizzical expression on his face. 

I replied with: “A moving and powerful story isn’t made with correction punctuation and following all the rules, but rather it is made by telling the story that provokes emotions within you.”

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After thinking about this more, I wrote the piece above. And I feel that it is in the heart of all artists. Art is feeling, its the expression of feeling. The more vulnerable we are to our sense of feelings the more our art reflects what is happening in our life and who we are. 

We, all art in different ways, some through a canvas and paintbrush, others through the art of cutting wood and stacking it in neat, distinct piles. But, lets be honest, it goes back to being vulnerable. When we create, explore, emit feeling we are embracing vulnerability. 

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I had been taught and observed that to practice any amount of vulnerability was to adhere to weakness. I later learned that some individuals chose to not feel or expose themselves to vulnerability as a means of survival, which in essence prohibits them from feeling true joy and unconditional love. 

At first when learning to be vulnerable, after spending sometime shoving it away and banning its existence from your life, its fearful, downright fearful. But just like love, the act of feeling vulnerable isn’t in itself fear, but rather the repercussions, the falling out the love, the possibility of pain or backlash is what creates the fear in us. 

And so the idea of my next children’s book was born. Out of embracing vulnerability, feeling and grieving loss and learning from the best teachers that walk our earth, our children. They don’t think twice about what to express and not to express, they just feel and they express and make peace with all that comes with each and every step of our journey. 

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Each obstacle we meet and each trial we endure is meant for us, for our journey. And last year when we had to say goodbye to a tiny, loving baby boy nephew we questioned, we mourned, we lost, we stumbled, we fell and we broke.

But.

We also were given the chance, to love harder, to cry more openly, to embrace our roles, to reach for dreams, to grow closer to each other and to embrace being vulnerable, so that every aspect we are granted in life, we can absorb more and give more. 

We are here to give our gifts, share them with each other and impact someone else’s journey. My heart aches for all of you mothers and fathers out there who didn’t get to hold your child in your arms, or held them for such a short time. I know that ache is your companion as you journey through the remaining chapters here on earth, and despite knowing its there, I do not know what it feels like. I cannot imagine it. Cannot. 

I can envision my nephew, happy and carefree in his place in heaven, sending us reminders, that we will find peace, that our ache will ebb and our sadness will remain, but happy moments and days will ease it. And that no matter which corner of this earth we call our home, he will be there with us, for we will always carry him in out hearts. 

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The book tells this story, of carrying him in our hearts, of finding reminders in the beauty of nature of him. Explored through the innocence of children, it brings to the life the other side of loss. The acceptance and peace that slowly comes, and the thoughts that he is in a better place. And that when we welcome sunshine back into our hearts and try to walk our journey through our children, we think of him skipping and running through the meadow.

Oliver’s Meadow.

Releasing March 2, 2019.

Thank you for joining us on this journey, please share with all of those who are grieving their loss and missing those little loved ones. 

Moving North to Alaska

 

We’ve been talking about moving to Alaska for about a year, and dreamed about it even longer. When my hubby got a call with a job offer we jumped at the opportunity, so excited yet nervous about the trip. I put together a blog post with tips from our trip for any of you thinking of moving or even driving to Alaska.

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1.) Make sure you have a proper documents:

  For adults (over 18) you need to have a passport, and for children you will need a birth certificate.

2.) Restrictions 

There are restrictions on what can be taken across the border into Canada. For example, guns are prohibited, some may go with the proper paperwork (please see border website for more info). Other items they will ask about include plants, fresh fruits and vegetables and other weapons. Allow extra time for border crossing in case you need.

3.) Plan for gas cost

We drive a Yukon and pulled a 13 foot trailer nearly filled. At best we averaged 9 miles to the gallon, so we filled up nearly every 250 miles. Gas tends to be more expensive in Canada, $1.12 a liter so about $4.48 a gallon, and in some parts of Canada closer to $6. Our total gas cost for the trip was about $1,200. Also we carried two- five gallon gas cans because in the Yukon territory there is a stretch where you can drive further than there are gas stations.

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4.) Bring EXTRA supplies.

We were only 40 miles out of Fargo, ND when one of your trailer tires blew, thankfully we had several spares so we were able to put one on and keep traveling. Other items we brought were tire jack, battery pack, tires, tools, gas cans and wire in case we needed to rewire trailer lights. 

5.) Currency exchange

Obviously a big portion of the trip is through Canada meaning a change of currency. We were going to exchange cash but instead put many of our transactions on a card because then we wouldn’t have to exchange it twice. Some places in Canada accepted US money such as Starbucks and a grocery store, but not all of them gave change with the exchange rate. 

6.) Time

We had awesome weather, in the beginning of April. Although there was snow for most of the way, the roads were clear and we didn’t get any weather on the way there. However, allow for extra time because it can be slow going especially when you reach the Alaskan Highway because the road gets very bumpy and rough in some places. 

7.) Navigation

With our phone plan we could not use the GPS feature in Canada. But with a map and the signs posted we were able to find our way. Check your phone plan to see if you have text and talk internationally. 

8.) If you can set out on this adventure with the intention of stopping to soak in the Liard Hotsprings and off on the random turnoffs for photos as well as those really small towns that have darling giftshops.

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Shop opening June 5th

We have settled in here in Alaska, our new adventurous home. Well, frankly to be honest we haven’t gotten out much, with all the rain and snow in this spring season.

However, we are still enjoying ourselves and are so excited for the summer season to arrive.

GILS will launch June 5 and YOU guys NEED to be here for it! We have so many goodies for you, from soap dishes, moccasin boots, dishcloths, wall hangs and tote bags.

Both the BOLD and EARTH collection have modern and practical gifts for your space and others.

Here at GILS we generally make one of a kind items, sometimes having enough supplies for more than one product. Will you do me a favor and please inquire after anything that captures your interest? Also give a holler if you don’t see something that you would like too!

I will be using Shopify for the store, will link it to this blog once we are live.

YOU GUYS are GREAT and I hope you have an AMAZING day!

Thanks for following along with the reopening, can’t wait to hear from all of you!

Twin Tips

Awhile ago on my Instagram I had posted that since having twins I have learned SO much about two babies, life and myself. It is amazing to think that this is a continuous learning experience and that it really has just begun. So here are the answers to your questions:

DSC_0901In the first 3 months, how many diapers have you used for the twins? 

So I actually kept track the first month, we went through 640 diapers (not including our eldest son). Thats ALOT of diapers and ALOT of time spent changing them! I know the next two months were not as much, but I would estimate we used about 300 for month two and 300 for month three, so all in all I would say about 1240. Kinda crazy, right?!

How much sleep do you get at night?

Sometimes it varies! For the last five months, the longest stretch of sleep I have gotten at a time was four hours, but sometimes as little as an hour and a half. When one gets up to feed I wake the other one up. Sometimes I fall asleep feeding in the chair and have NO IDEA how much time passes. Yeah Im like a walking testimony that sleep is essentially irrelevant. KIDDING, a nap is on the TOP of my Christmas list.

How do you get your grocery shopping done? 

So, I VERY vividly remember my first trip out with these three rascals. I went to Aldi in Monticello, which was my first mistake (I’ve never been to this one before) when the twins were about three months old. I fed them right before I went in the store and thought, perfect, they will probably sleep. Well they sure didn’t do that. In fact my eldest had about one hour nap, so he was kinda upset to be awoken to go into the grocery store. Needless to say all three screamed almost the whole trip and I had many curious glances, but hey I was there to get groceries same as anyone else! This AMAZING lady helped me unload my cart and told me “You go grocery shopping again, YOU GO MOMMA.”

So we got the grocery shop done, and now we usually time it for when dad is home and can come!

P.S. I looked pretty awesome pushing my semi of a stroller and pulling a cart behind me, took up most of the aisle!

Do you think you’ll remember these days?

Sadly no, it is SUCH A BLUR! These boys seem so big and we have moved twice since they have been born. I can hardly remember when they were newborns, but I am thankful for all the photos I have taken over the course of these months.

What was your reaction when you found out you were having twins?

The moment was actually pretty comical. So, my hubby never came to an ultrasound with our firstborn because he was in school and couldn’t miss. I wanted him to come to one because I think they are rather cool. The week before going to the appointment I had been telling him that I have a feeling about this pregnancy, that something is off, either there isn’t a baby or maybe there is two! He brushed it off (trust me I’m kind of a worry wart!). And so we are at the appointment and the Dr did the ultrasound and we were all there, and she scanned and she said ok here is what I am seeing, and she says “There are two babies!” I looked at my husband and said “I TOLD YOU SO!”

So the first reaction was that, followed by elation, wonder, worry and doubts! But since that moment it has been a non-stop amazing filled journey.

Do you strictly nurse? And are you able to do both at once? Do you keep them on the same nap schedule?

I have strictly nursed, once had to supplement for a few days when I got the flu and lost my milk cause I couldn’t eat anything. They started on oatmeal about a month ago to give them a little more fill. I have nursed them a handful of times at the same time, but I need to be home in the comfort because I can’t bother with a cover. Now the rocking chair prob wouldn’t fit us all to position them. They mostly take naps at the same time during the days and get laid down at nighttime together.

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How often does my hair get washed? 

Probably about every third day, it not top on the priority list..LOL

It has been fun to swap stories with other twin moms and one mom summed it up pretty good. “Being the mom of twins is an exhaustive and wonderful existence.”

I think the biggest difference that I have noticed is that I feel that I don’t get to just hold my babies very often. By this I mean usually if I am holding them they are eating or getting changed, because the house still needs to get taken care of and life goes on.

It has been nothing short of a miracle to have healthy twins and to watch them grow and learn from them. I am looking forward to all the moments to come of raising these precious boys and I am so thankful that I was chosen to be mom to these two precious boys.

Our Angel Oliver Robert

Words seem so inadequate for some of the events and happenings that cross our paths. Sometimes the beauty of photographs fail to capture those raw feelings that we experience so strongly and long before fading off till they are just barely there.

Six months ago on the 14th of March our brother (my hubby’s brother) and his wife were given a son, twelve weeks early just a small one pound and thirteen ounces. He only came for 14 minutes, a short 14 minutes his heart beat before God swept down and took him in his arms to bring this sweet angel to heaven.

Our hearts beat hollow, raw and ragged as we held this angel in our arms, trying to imagine how we would already have to say goodbye when we were just starting to say hello. Our minds couldn’t wrap around the notion that our brother and his wife in their 20s already were bearing this arduous and difficult trial so early on.

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At the time I was five months pregnant, with two healthy babies already wiggling and kicking around, feeling guilty that they couldn’t keep their love here on Earth, that they had to give them up so soon and how unfair it all seemed and still does.

But we have so much comfort that in those few months he spent in his momma’s belly and those fourteen minutes here on earth he didn’t know pain or hardships, only the purest, unconditional and life-changing love from his mother, father and big sister. There is something so amazingly healing and whole to think of a child’s life composed of whispers and hugs of love and the readings of books and the sweet melodies of songs. A life of peace for our angel, and it is only through these thoughts that we are slowly able to keep moving, knowing that he has landed into Heaven, so precious, so perfect.

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Dear Oliver,

We ALL miss you, but your momma, dad and sister most of all. Your photos grace the table in the living room, a magnet on the fridge. And your tiny footprints and handprints sit about the table, a forever reminder of your sweet soul. Somedays are better than others, and sometimes we ache so much for one more turn to hold you, to visit you and to dream of your future. The other day we went out to the cemetery, I am ashamed to say I have not seen your headstone yet. I brought out the twins to see you and we met your momma, dad and sister there. Your stone is beautiful with “Forever in our Hearts” written on, such a simple phrase but oh such meaning it has. We sent four lanterns to you in Heaven, we MISS you, we LOVE you, keep watching over us and thank you for teaching us so much about life in your short time you were here. You and the twins would of been the same age, got muddy at Grandpa’s Farm together and played tractors and cars. You would of gone to school same time, gotten your drivers license just months apart and graduated together. So many togethers to think about and so many happenings you will be missed. But, my dear I am betting that Heaven is wonderful and that you are enjoying Great Grandma and Grandpa Haataja. Although I know there is nothing more you would want then to hear your momma and dad cooing at you, your sister playing mother hen to you and to play with Grandma and Grandpa and your cousins. 

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Your memory lives on my dear sweet boy, when we feel the breeze rustle the falling leaves of the season and we hear the sweet melody of it, we know you are there letting us know you are home and reminding us that we will see you again someday.

We love you sweet boy,

Aunt Linds

*Some of the photos were taken by Becky Wikman and Tiffany Haataja

Family Photos 2017

So, as much as I love taking pictures, family pictures are not my favorite. Everyone gets dressed up in starchy clothes and doesn’t cooperate. However, now with three kiddos I cannot take the photos and be in them at the same time.

I decided that my hubby and I should take the boys on a trip up to Duluth to see Lake Superior and try to find a photographer who could take them there. And we found her, Greta Keranen Photography, based out of Menahga (this is about 2.5 hours north of the cities). Her Facebook page is here.

One part of family photos that I do like is color coordinating the outfits. I found BumsNRoses on Instagram (click here). She creates gorgeous clothes for babies. I decided on a blue and white stripe linen romper for the twins and a mustard yellow linen romper for our oldest.  I then found a mauve pink dress and shawl for me and my hubby was in jeans and a white button up. I like to dress up for family photos, but I also like to wear clothes that are “us.”

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We traveled up to Duluth and went a few miles north and found this gorgeous spot to pull off and take photos.

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The spot was incredible and G loved throwing rocks in the water, the day was absolutely gorgeous with the warm sun but a cool breeze, like a dream.

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They turned out absolutely beautiful and dream-like. Greta has amazing talent, she transforms an afternoon into beautiful memories. I am so glad we hired her and that we accomplished family photos this year!

Grandpa’s Farm: Children’s Book

 

In one of my previous blog posts I had written of adventures that I wanted to embark on this year of 2017. This year has brought many challenges and surprises.

I finally finished writing my book, Grandpa’s Farm. This is a self-published children’s book that was inspired by my eldest son’s love for his grandma and grandpa’s farm. Over the course of this past spring and summer my son has spent numerous hours on the farm, playing with the animals and working right alongside grandpa completing projects (well he might have been making more messes than helping).

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I sent my completed words to labeled. ak, a graphic designer who lives in the state of Alaska. I had hired the owner, Mara Parks on a previous occasion to create a logo. We were both excited to collaborate on this project together. She did an amazing job, brought everything I had envisioned into the illustrations of this book. Together we worked through completing the book and getting it uploaded for printing. I would recommend her again and again for any of your graphic designer needs including, illustrations and logos for your business.

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She has an Etsy page.

As well as an Instagram page.

After we completed the book I decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund a larger volume of book printings as well as the ability to buy ISBN numbers that are unique to my book. The campaign is currently underway, with 27 days left. If you donate $15 you have given the minimum amount to attain the bronze level. This means you will receive a softcover copy of the book. The next level or silver requires that you donate $30, giving you a hardcover copy. The top level or gold gives you a signed hardcover copy with a requirement of $50. You can access the campaign here.

This has been such a fun project for me to work on, and it is so extremely exciting to see it through to the end and to be able to print it. Check out the book and let me know what you think. Also please share this with anyone you think that may have an interest in it.

Our Twins have arrived!

I was so extremely blessed to carry our sweet wonderful twins till 36 weeks and 6 days. They were born on Friday, June 16th 2017 at 9:04 and 9:05 in the morning. They are two beautiful boys who we named Ira John and Orr Philip (middle names are their grandpas).

The pregnancy had been healthy and the birth went well, both boys came out screaming and were pink. However, we were not prepared for the seven day NICU stay that followed.

After they were born they were put on CPAP machines to help clear the fluid out of their lungs. They were able to breathe on their own but needed that little bit of extra help. That Friday the nurses focused on them getting their breathing more regulated. I was extremely nauseous and dizzy after the C-section but they were able to wheel me down in my bed so that I could do skin to skin with them for one whole hour.

The next day, Saturday they got off the CPAP machine and we started working on feeding. We got them on a schedule of eating every three hours, they mostly took my breastmilk from bottle, but we did try some nursing.

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It was hard and sad to not be able to have them in my room during my hospital stay. But, that hardest part was being discharged from the hospital and not being able to bring my babies home. I was discharged Monday and they stayed till Friday.

I spent most of the days at the hospital and the nights at home. My hubby was there a few days, my mother came a day and also my sister. I was so happy that I didn’t have to do it by myself.

Each day the boys seems to learn a little more and get stronger. They did need feeding tubes because they were getting so tired eating all on their own. They also had to go under the lights because of jaundice.

The days seems to slowly pass as we waited in anticipation for their discharge date. One week after they were born that day finally came! They are now home and we are enjoying them to the fullest!

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