Posted in Being real, Homesteading, Mama life, The Rori Girl

What we’ve been up to

Well, it’s been a hot second since I’ve written a blog post. I feel like mothering a 3 month old is reason enough, so I’m not offering excuses. Just happy to have a moment to spend writing.

It’s been raining for legit almost 2 straight weeks here in the Twin Cities. The leaves are starting to turn, a pumpkin now graces our front stoop and the tea pantry is open for Autumn business. Ahh, Fall.

Over here at the old Brookes homestead, we’ve got 2 new beautiful trees in our backyard. Thanks to a generous grant, both were free and planted by volunteers! Mama likie! What a silver lining to the loss of a beautiful 100-year-old tree earlier this year. (Stinky emerald ash borer!) Looking forward to watching these li’l saplings grow.

IMG_9583.JPGAnd speaking of li’l saplings, someone is now 3 months old, weighing in at a stunning 14 pounds.

I took this photo moments before she started screaming. Welcome to bedtime meltdown, y’all!

Aurora’s favorite things now that she is 3 months old include:

  • “riding face out” when on laps or being held so she can look at everything
  • batting at her fish toy, turtle and froggie (which are suspended from her playmat)
  • kicking her legs (strong baby!)
  • watching Baby Einstein, especially the puppets
  • playing the “stick your tongue out” mimic game with Daddy
  • smiling at people that interact with her
  • anytime Mama lets her eat
  • anytime Mama lets her sleep ON her, NOT laying flat

Chunky monkey is enduring some changes in routine. We’ve implemented a new sleep/eating schedule that will hopefully yield us some overnight sleep (for baby but especially for tired Mama!). It’s been a rough going over the past week as Rori protests the new normal. But she’ll get over it, and Mama will persist in breaking some bad habits Mama picked up as she was learning to be a new mom. We’ll get there. But man, it’s been ROUGH.

For now, Rori says,

After screaming her head off whilst in her crib, suddenly all was well when Mama picked her up. (Punk kid!)

And Mama patiently persists in forcing the following to happen anyway:

Believe it or not, babies DO need sleep. 😛


Posted in Authentic joy, Being real, Homesteading, Thursday Wordsday

Minimalism: my spiritual act of worship

Hey all,

Around the Minnesota Brookes’ homestead, we are experiencing some lovely peace. It feels tangible, like something I’m steeping in at all times. Feels nice to just let go and float.

As baby sleeps and the days slip toward Fall, Mama Bear has renewed energy. So, what’s she been up to? Oh, a little of this and that: long walks around the neighborhood with the Rori girl, learning how to sneak in meals so to have fuel for the milk factory, folding laundry, and making space in my heart to let others be. (More on that later.)

Puttering around the house, the Holy Spirit directed my attention to the plethora of objects we have laying around. If I’m real honest, I am deeply convicted. I have collected too much stuff. And I’m learning why.

Whenever I feel unseen or uncelebrated, un-allowed to have joy, I treat myself. That is my pattern, my habitus. And that is really sad. I justify it, claiming the thrift stores are so much cheaper than retail. I hide it, literally, from my sweet husband who gently and repeatedly asks, “do you need it?” I’ve even gone so far as to drop very obvious hints to the generous givers in my life at super low moments. Yeah, I’m not proud of it. The sin of greed is deeply sown in my heart. (Let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we?)

I don’t want it in my soul anymore. It’s time to root that out, a little bit more seriously now. So, I’ve poked around cupboards and drawers, pulling out what hasn’t been used, what isn’t necessary, what doesn’t bring me life; and it dawned on me that there is a joy in owning less. And I’m drawn to that joy. Not only does less mean “less to clean” (hallelujah!), it also gives weight to what is kept. Decisions have been made. Things have been whittled away to their essence. And what is essential? Love.

“That’s a nice cliche, Jes, but how do I apply that?”

I’m figuring it out too. Here’s what I’m learning so far:

If I leave room in my house and own less stuff, others’ generosity means more. I can feel their love better. And I feel seen and provided for. So, I have a choice going forward. I can either worry I won’t be loved, scramble to treat myself and spend money on items that I don’t use, clutter my house and bring me only temporary happiness. OR. I can let go, trust God will see me & meet my needs, poking strangers/friends/family to be generous when I need a tangible thing, and slowly teaching me the very real joy in the intangible. I’m choosing the later.

I trust you, Papa. Make me more like You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!


Posted in Authentic joy, Celebration!, Loving Others, Thoughts

Some Very Tempered Birthday Love

I absolutely love the opportunity to spoil a person on their birthday. My Mama is really good at this. One of her lasting life lessons: the utter joy it is to see another person right where they are. Because that’s what celebrating a person’s birthday can be about. And every single creature on this planet has a unique way they’d like to be celebrated, because they are…wait for it…unique individuals.

Seems a bit of a, “duh!” but how hard it is to love a person the way they want to be loved! It demands that you set aside your own agenda, your own preferences, your own biases, even your assumptions and knowledge of the other person. Because people are constantly adapting and growing, and sometimes what we know of a person is old news. Trying to keep up can be exhausting. And being fully present, fully aware of who a person is at any given moment is a rare thing indeed.

Yeah, I’ve talked a big talk about celebrating others. I say I love to see people for who they are, but I get it so wrong…especially with the person I share a home with, my husband Nayt.

And today, on his birthday, he’ll probably cringe as he reads this. Because if 12 years together has taught me anything, it’s that this man I married is a private one. And despite my better intentions, I continue to embarrass him with my flamboyant style. I try to temper my love for him and package it in a way he’d prefer. But that is HARD! I will do my best today…

(clears throat, is aware of the irony that she is making public what Nayt would prefer remain private)

Ehem. Moving on.

Happy birthday to my favorite mountain man. I must publicly declare that I see bits of who you are: an adventurous soul who is open to challenge and seeks out the less-traveled road, a man unafraid to be intellectually cornered — hunting for all possibilities in each scenario, a diligent and sacrificial husband that constantly tries to meet his wife’s needs despite her often negative feedback (sorry, babe), and a loyal friend — once his friendship is gained, you will always have it. You are steadfast and true, Nayt. I am thrilled I get to love you. I pray God satisfies your every hunger, reigns victorious over your every battle and gifts you deep-rooted joy in the face of your hardships. Here’s to another year of adventure!

Mountain Man steps into the misty unknown. -Lake Superior May 2016




Posted in Mama life, The Rori Girl

2 months and counting!

“Oh hai! I’m getting so big!”

Miss Rori is now 2 months old. Her current favorite things are: looking up at her mobile, swinging, being in a carrier on Mama, being talked to by Mama & Daddy, cooing at stuff overhead, looking at her face in mirrors, breastmilk on demand and sleeping snoodled up in sleep sacks.

She’s a wiggly little bean who likes to be in constant motion and has learned to intentionally smile (much to everyone’s utter delight). We’ve yet to really engage in looking at books; Mama keeps trying! For now, life is full of: naps and cuddles, tummy time, hanging toys and lots of delicious, homegrown breastmilk to keep this girl growing.

Happy 2 months, Rori! We love you!

Melting hearts one grin at a time
Posted in Exploration and travel, Mama life, The Rori Girl

Walkabout town

The girl and I have had some fun getting out of the house this week. Walks around our neighborhood and the local parks have kept us moving. Mama enjoys escaping the house and the exercise. Baby enjoys being in motion and every once in awhile will wake up to stare at the trees overhead. Just in the past week, we’ve logged time at Elm Creek Nature Preserve, Lake Harriet, the Stone Arch Bridge, Mississippi River Trail and Cedar Lake Trail.

I’m personally looking forward to lots of lovely Fall walks together as the weather cools. Baby girl should be more and more alert as she gets bigger, but for now, walking with her is a guaranteed way to make her fall asleep! Thanks for the baby carriers and stroller, Grandma & Grandpa Brookes, Sara (& Pete & Charlotte) Peloquin and Lauren & Mo Moadeli! We are putting them to good use.

Posted in Media Mondays

A little gorgeous for your day

My husband, Nayt, is a technological aficionado and has outfitted our little home with cool gadgets that I barely know how to use. It’s sad how incompetent I am with truly basic IT things. As a stay-at-home-mama, I’m slowly learning how to operate our “smart” house. Lights that dim with a phone app, HVAC controlled over WiFi, TVs that turn on via voice command: what is this modern world coming to?

And now not a day goes by without me using our Amazon toys to play music from Spotify. So, baby girl and I have been listening to a lot of music throughout our home time these few weeks. An album that’s been on constant repeat is Yo Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone.

One of the first real conversations I had with Nayt was about this album. That conversation revealed our mutual love for gorgeous classical and instrumental music; an important building-block in our friendship. So important, in fact, that music from this very album was played at our wedding. Yeah, there’s a bit of nostalgia going on when I soak myself in the music.

This is one of my favorite pieces from the album: listen to the gorgeousness here


Posted in Authentic joy, Foliage Fridays, Homesteading

A bit of earth

This is a long overdue photographic update on the pollinator garden! Though some sneaky grasses stuck around, we do have some flowers popping up. It brings me great joy to see them cheerfully waving in the breeze out there amongst all the green. By no means is this a finished project. The bed needs a border to indicate the chaos is purposeful (and to deter foot and bike traffic through it). And I hope to slowly purchase some larger established perennials. The fact that we have anything springing up from packets of seeds sown last November is such a thrill.

So yes, it looks like a bed of weeds (and to be fair, it is). It doesn’t look like much. But it is my little “bit of earth” and I am very happy with it. Welcome bees and butterflies!


Posted in marking this day, The Rori Girl

28 days later…

And just like that, she’s 4 weeks old. Crazy.


I’m still wrapping my brain around the fact that 28 days ago was our first meeting. 4 weeks feels like such a short span of time and we’re still getting to know this brand new person. Sometimes I wish tiny humans came with instruction manuals. Wouldn’t that be so handy? Yet there is a sweetness in this blind discovery.

Thus far, Rori seems to be telling us a few essential things about herself:

  1. Sleeps – my number one priority in life
  2. Eats – you may have to wake me DURING eating because sleeping is awesome but if I’m going through a growth spurt or crabby, then all I want is FOOD! (Hmm, could Rori be a future emotional eater like her Mama?)  😉
  3. Cuddles – after I’m done eating (and you attempt to burp me), snuggle me on your chest so I can look at things while being swayed until #1 or #2 happens again

That’s it. That’s Miss Aurora’s life in a nutshell to date. It’s a simple life but keeps us real busy. I’m looking forward to discovering more about this little girl as she gets bigger.

Happy 4 weeks, Rori, may you continue to grow big and strong and show us who you are!





Posted in Being real, Media Mondays

The Hand Song

Last week, I was a bit tipsy from the postpartum hormonal cocktail. Steeping my tired self in a hot bath did wonders. And what’s a nice bath without chill tunes?

I revisited the now-ancient, self-titled Nickel Creek album (circa 2000, seriously why am I so old?). This album came out the year I was a Junior/Senior in high school. Teenage Jes wore the album out. So it comes as no shock that I found myself reflexively singing along long before I was conscious of it. 😛

And then The Hand Song started…and I couldn’t stop weeping. (Hello, postpartum hormones!)

I highly recommend taking a listen. Here are the lyrics:

The Hand Song by Nickel Creek

The boy only wanted to give mother something
And all of her roses had bloomed
Looking at him as he came rushing in with them
Knowing her roses were doomed
All she could see were some thorns buried deep
And tears that he cried as she tended his wounds
But she knew it was love
It was one she could understand
He was showing his love
And that’s how he hurt his hands


He still remembers that night as a child
On his mother’s knee
She held him close and she opened her Bible
And quietly started to read
Then seeing a picture of Jesus he cried out
“Mama, He’s got some scars just like me”

And he knew it was love
It was one he could understand
He was showing His love
And that’s how He hurt His hands

Now the boy’s grown and moved out on his own
When Uncle Sam comes along
A foreign affair but our young men were there
And luck had his number drawn
It wasn’t that long till our hero was gone
He gave to a friend what he’d learned from the cross

But they knew it was love
It was one they could understand
He was showing His love
And that’s how he hurt his hands

It was one they could understand
He was showing His love
And that’s how He hurt His hands
Posted in marking this day, New-to-me, Thoughts

Birthing a River

“Hello world, I’m Rori.”

Last week a miracle happened: a new human was coursed out into the wilds from secret depths. Aurora Riviere Brookes entered life outside her mama on July 6th, at 3:25-27am*

Over 23 hours, all 8 pounds, 15 ounces of her slowly bore down the pathway leading out of her hiding place. Mama felt the very faintest twinges and rumbles of “The Beginning” at 4:30am on the 5th. Things seemed to move slowly along until they weren’t anymore. By early afternoon there was no doubt, we were “In Labor.”

Such a bizarre thing to describe and experience as, for every woman, labor can take whatever form it needs to. Each woman’s fears and strengths are her tools to navigate what is happening to her body. And I doubt anyone is ever really prepared to face themselves in their raw, vulnerable state. Labor’s work was, for me, more mental than physical. I had to consciously choose to face myself. And then put aside judgment of what I discovered.

Easier said than done! 

Aurora (dawn, light, new beginning) was born at precisely the time she needed to be, in a moment that still comes as a surprise to her Mama. In that wee small hour, I felt no remarkable difference in the push that eventually brought her shoulders past the wall of my pelvic bone. I had no conscious knowledge that I had been actively trying to expel her through the final stages for a solid two hours. All I felt was exhaustion and weakness. I felt like there was no way I could get this River (Riviere, the French spelling) out of me. I had no more resources to bail me out at the last minute. It was just me, on a table with four women like the four winds, blowing encouragement across me: continue, stay, work, come…be vulnerable. And a subtle, unconscious hope that it would be over soon.

And then all of a sudden, the little I had brought to the table was enough. That will never not be a miracle to me.

God saw me in my raw, real, weak state and made that enough. 

And now she’s here: Aurora Riviere Brookes. A new beginning; this mighty girl who immediately taught her Mama the importance of resting after a long, long fight. And she is strong. Like a river, she knows where she is going and will bring life where she goes. 

And now we wait, and see who she becomes. And that is the greatest gift I could ever be given: to witness a journey from its source. There are no words, only (as Aslan the Lion would say),  “Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time.”



*Rori’s birth certificate will say 3:25am because that’s when the midwifery team says she arrived. However, Nayt is certain she arrived at 3:27. And I will always trust that Eagle Scout’s precision. 😉