Yes, Christmas was 2 months ago. I think it’s taken me this long to recuperate from the travels and chaos that ensued. But, none-the-less, we survived another jam packed Christmas of visiting family and friends! That’s no easy feat.

Our travels were filled with the usual struggles one might face with a two-year-old, a 7 month old, and a giant two-year-old lab puppy. Reagan was blessed with an ear infection and spent the car ride screaming at the top of her lungs, which really wasn’t as horrible as it could have been. Cooper as a baby could out scream anyone, I’m pretty sure. The problem was I didn’t know she had an ear infection, and I couldn’t find a way to calm her down. I spent 3 1/2 hours sprawled out on the van floor, holding her hand, and trying not to spit all over her as I endlessly “shuuuuushhhhhed.”

Her cries created more issues as Cooper and Beau felt the need to chime in. Ryan and I looked at each other in awe. There’s not much to do in this situation except laugh at the sheer absurdity. Shortly after Reagan calmed down, I climbed all the way in the back to sit next to Cooper. Beau quickly took over shot gun.

I was immediately jealous of Beau’s spa-like existence in the front seat where he was comfortably laying while Ryan rubbed his head. So, I stared out the window like an angsty teenager. What a great start to Christmas vacation. My thoughts were soon interrupted by another out break of cries from Reagan. I made myself as comfortable as possible a top a stroller and other miscellaneous child-gear as I assumed the position of soothing. Time. Went. So. Slow.

Oh the sweet peace of arriving at our destination! Beau flew out of the car before the door was opened all the way, Cooper was chanting excitedly, and Reagan was calm. We had made it to the first stop.

Our break was lovely. I don’t think I slept more than three hours each night because of said ear infection, but it was lovely. We were spoiled with home-cooked meals and endless presents. The kids were spoiled by loving grandparents, and Ryan and I even got some time to ourselves. But as the week came to an end I began to dread the 3 hour car ride back home.

And I was right to dread it.

It all happened again, the sweet symphony of a whining dog and two children. I took a deep breath and climbed to the back of the vehicle. Let’s goooooo. (That’s how I pump myself up for any difficult parenting situation. Must be the athlete in me.) I started with Reagan – holding her hand, rubbing her hair, touching my cheek to hers, you name it I tried it. Finally, I pulled out my phone and played white noise for her. That did the trick!

I climbed in the very back with Cooper and held his hand and talked to him. And I really took it in this time. That little boy is growing up so fast before my eyes. His complete sentences never fail to amaze me. His personality is to die for, and I can’t believe how much he is teaching me. He loves to talk to me about Pride Rock and the Hyena’s. I don’t mind listening to it. Eventually, he dozed off but I lingered.

In the very back I could see everything so clearly. I could see my husband – the head of our family. The guy who has sacrificed so much for this dream of ours. The guy who goes along with so many of my crazy ideas. The guy who encourages me as a mother, but also as a person. He always reminds me that I’m not just a mom, and I’m so thankful for that.

And then there’s our dog. Beau. He grinds my gears like no other. He’s needy, and full of unbelievable energy. But wow, he is the best dog I could have ever asked for. He is so good with the babies. He’s best friends with Cooper. He lets Reagan claw his face. And he loves Ryan more than anything. He’s definitely a man’s best friend.

I watched Reagan sleeping peacefully in her car seat. This is something I can’t see from the front. But here in the back, I get the whole picture. Her slow breaths, chest rising and falling as she falls into complete relaxation. There is nothing more beautiful than a sleeping baby.

From that spot, way in the back of the van, I could see it all. This is my family, my chaos, my everything. I’m thankful for moments like this, moments that force me to slow down, that show me how beautiful this life really is.

Now, it’s burned into my memory – the rear view mirror where I could see Ryan’s face, the sleeping kids and restless dog, and the sun shining through the windows, illuminating the faces of these priceless gifts I’ve been given.

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  1. Such a beautiful story of love 💗. Amid the chaos you were able to see the real picture – a family, a dog and God’s guidance to bring calm.

  2. Keep putting these wonderful thoughts and pictures into your writings so you will never forget. These are priceless and well written.

  3. Beautiful, Mads! I love the rawness yet positive outlook on what could easily be taken into a negative direction when life throws obstacles at you. You are so strong and such a patient momma! Keep it up x

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