Brianna is the daughter-in-law of my friend Marianne. I have never met Brianna but had heard many women speak highly of her and the love she has for God and her family. You will find Brianna’s life quite interesting – full of adorable mom-moment and sprinkled with joy! I hope you are blessed by reading, Inspiring Women: Life With Brianna
Inspiring Women: Life with Brianna
Really? Is Cindy Henson asking if I can write for her blog? That was my initial response. What am I going to say? What do I have to offer? Maybe just a funny story…but here it goes!
A Little About Me
Hi. I am an American. Don’t judge. I grew up in lower Michigan with two sisters, and a hard-working mother and father. Life was packed with sporting events, school dances, girl parties, camp, and getting into trouble. I thought it was the time of my life. I am energized by people, and I strive to make everyone around me happy. This can also get me in trouble.
When it was time to apply for universities, I decided to pick the furthest one away from home. Lake Superior State University in the smallest town- Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. How fun and different I thought! My parents were separating after 21 years of marriage, and it was time for a change.
I joined the Athletic Training program. This was right up my alley. Who wouldn’t want to travel with a pro sports team and work with athletes? The program had an Athletic Training club, and they were selling t-shirts for a fundraiser. I jumped into the seat next to this quiet Canadian guy, to help sell shirts outside of the cafeteria. It was then that my entire life changed. Being the bubbly, curious and “slightly” loud American girl that I am, I began asking this quiet English mannered gentleman questions about himself. The conversation quickly ended with “mind your own business.”
Hmm. Okay. I do love a challenge, and I can be overly competitive at times.
He found that out after playing on a broomball team together. If you’ve never played or heard of broomball, get yourself a pair of knee pads and go find a team!
Well, that quiet English man is now my best friend. We got married in April 2012 on some black rocks off of Lake Superior.
We were only together for 2 years, and we told ourselves the marriage rush was to get my Canadian residency so that I could legally live in Canada. To be honest, I wasn’t sure we really even liked each other at the time. Sounds funny, but I remember praying to God asking if I was doing the right thing. God placed me in this family because he knew I needed to be surrounded by strong Christian believers to keep my free spirit grounded. My husband Ben does exactly that.
Ben and I have been married 6 years. With the lords help our love for each other has grown each year, and I am so thankful for that. We have three busy and very silly boys, Jackson (5), Charlie (3), and Harrison (1). Three years ago we bought a house on Harmony River. It’s on an acre lot with plenty of space for activities.
I fell in love with the mountains and the water that surrounded it.
Ben wanted enough land to have a garden and to do seasonal hunting and fishing. We both agreed this would be the ideal spot to raise our family. The house was built in the late 40’s, and although it wasn’t pretty on the inside, we agreed it had potential, and we would put our little touches on it when we had the extra money.
On the back half of our property sits a rustic cabin, a few smaller buildings for storage, and an old lopsided matching boathouse on the river. In the past three years, we have turned the cabin turned into a Bed and Breakfast, and it is fully functioning. We have rented it out to guests on Airbnb for the past two years. What a perfect stay at home job for a mom! Here’s our link if your interested in checking out the cabin or wanting to book a vacation for next summer. Click here: Harmony’s Hideaway
The shed in the far back was used to raise dogs by previous owners. Ben fixed it up, and we decided to get chickens. This was a big step for me because I have a fear of birds. It’s the creepy raptor feet.
I love animals, but chickens are gross.
We began to name them and start collecting different birds. It became entertaining and a great conversation starter for our cabin renters. I may be starting to sound like the crazy chicken lady – but they serve their purpose. I wanted the hormone-free fresh eggs. Our little hobby of having chickens expanded into getting ducks and rabbits. The ducks have a home in the pond next to our house and the rabbits…. well they will end up being Christmas dinner this year.
This life is not what I had in mind. Remember, I wanted to travel with professional athletes. This life that I’m living surpasses my expectations and is more than I thought I would ever have. I sit on my porch and look out to Lake Superior as I hear the laughter and a bit of fighting from the boys playing behind me, and I think:
How come I have been SO blessed to have all of this?
I feel like I hit a home run with three healthy boys and a perfect (in my eyes) husband. This home has everything we need.
The more we are surrounded by nature and live a simple life in the country the more we see how great our God is. The busyness of the city, the temptations, and the technologies were clouding my mind. After moving out of the city, we joined a small church, and I’ve grown close to other moms and learned so much from the older and younger ladies within the chapel. Living in the country, we’re able to be thankful for our apple tree in our yard, (honestly the best apple tree) the fresh vegetables in our garden and the beauty of the wild animals that come to visit… sometimes visit more than I’d like.
A Typical Day
A day in the life of a stay-at-home mom. This should be one of the highest paying jobs. Even though I don’t see a paycheck every other week, I am grateful for the opportunity to be home with my kids. The dirty little hands that wrap around my neck followed by a slobbery kiss on my chin from our teething 1-year-old is my kind of paycheck.
As soon as we rise, the first thing I do is let out our 6-year-old Labrador Retriever, Zoey. She won’t leave me alone until she has been let outside to pee and had her breakfast.
The three kids wake each other up and immediately are following me asking, “what’s for breakfast?” I put on the kettle for tea or make a pot of coffee. While the kids are having breakfast, I prepare Jackson and Ben’s lunch. Ben likes a big breakfast every morning, and lately, I’m struggling to make everyone different food, so I’m starting to ask for some helping hands in the kitchen. Jackson is very slow to eat and get dressed because he doesn’t stop talking. I’ve turned into a military mom in order for him to make the bus to school. Ben is busy taking care of feeding and watering the animals each morning which is a huge help.
Jackson is in senior kindergarten and attending school full time this year. School is 9:00-3:30, a big day for a 4-year-old filled with songs, activities, stories, playtime, and food. It’s so sweet to see him learn and explore with his new friends.
I’m truly grateful for the teachers and their patience.
Once Jackson is off to school, I can have a minute to breathe and finish a cold breakfast or re-heat my cup of coffee for the second time. I don’t mind.
Now I can spend one on one time with the other two boys. Charlie is currently potty training, so I’m following him around asking if he has to poop every 15 minutes. Harrison seems to always find the dogs dish and is splashing in the water.
Morning chores start and its time to clean the kitchen, tidy up the house, start a load of laundry and pull the meat out of the freezer for dinner. Around 11:00 we head outside to get some fresh air and make our way to the cabin. Our cabin renters check out by 11:00 am, and its time to change the bedding, and clean it for our next guests. This can seem like a full-time job when we have most people just stopping in for a night. Similar to running a hotel business.
We’ve hosted some of the coolest people, and I’m thankful for this opportunity.
Charlie loves to talk to the chickens and ducks as he collects the eggs. Farm animals and chores are not my favorite, but I do see the therapeutic benefits of raising kids around animals. After lunch, I’m counting down the minutes till nap time. This is where I recharge. I try and get a 30-minute workout in, a shower, quiet time with God, and then start dinner before Jackson and Ben get home.
In the afternoon, we may sneak over to Harmony Beach and let the kids burn some energy before we eat. The dinner table we sit at has been passed down to Ben. It was his great grandfather’s table and can sit up to 12 people. Eating with kids is always interesting, and I typically end up waiting on the family, sharing my plate with our youngest and cleaning up messes during and after the meal. Zoey happily assists in cleaning up after meals. After dinner, I’m ready for something sweet. I love to bake! The boys are super cute in the kitchen, and even though they make more of a mess helping and it takes us twice as long, I find it very important to include them when I can.
With three boys, comes a lot of fighting, jumping, screaming, eating, farting and laughter. Usually in that order. Bedtime is a wonderful time. Teeth are brushed, the storybook is read, and lights are out! Now, mom and dad can enjoy the quiet.
I have learned that making quality time for your spouse is so important.
Having three kids can make you forget who you are because you’re so focused on taking care of their needs. Your husband can quickly be put on the back burner and turn into a roommate. I’m speaking from my short six years of experience, but here’s something I’ve learned: serve your husband, spend quality time together and keep that love alive!
If you’re still reading this, thank you. I’ve never been able to tell a short story. This will be my favorite section because I believe we can find joy in all things.
I think it’s important to find the little things in everyday life that make you happy.
Maybe you can relate.
My husbands hardworking hands * our tri of boys * our old red house on the river *family bonfires * supportive church family and friends * team sports, sounds in nature * babies * baby anything * the change of seasons * fresh coffee * Ben’s homemade berry-apple jams and wines * Ben’s homemade maple syrup * popping open a bottle of kombucha * fresh sourdough bread * the American flag * dancing * singing in the car by myself * shopping with my mom * laughing so hard you cant stop * family time at camp ABK * picking blueberries in WAWA * telling old stories * digging your toes in the sand * seeing old people dance * watching old people hold hands.
And a few more…
* the sound of water lapping against a dock * serving company *getting all green lights when your running late * eating anything from your own garden * kicking snow and slush off your tire flaps in someones driveway (awesome) * coming home to your bed after a long trip * minimizing * serving and watching your family eat a hot meal that you’ve been working on all afternoon * Sunday afternoon naps * watching my boys fish * close parking spots at the mall when your Christmas shopping * guessing the time on the dot * baby falling asleep on your chest (Ahh….) * learning something new * our dodge grand caravan with stow-away seats * Christmas morning.
And a couple more..
* hugs from my Dad * that moment when you’re at the top of a roller coaster * long weekends * finding money in a coat pocket * sitting in a long line at on the International Bridge and picking the fastest moving lane * a post-workout high * and starting home businesses! Whew.
I could go on, but I want to share my real joy.
My real joy and passion in life is exercise and making people happy.
I’ve combined these two and started an In-Home Fitness business. Live Well Lifestyles is an opportunity for me to use my bachelor degree in Athletic Training and focus on women and moms struggling with pregnancy, postpartum and finding time to live a healthy well-balanced life, in our area. We will be taking new clients on December 1st, 2018!
Here’s a sneak peek at our website: inhomefitness.ca
I feel like I’m living the dream! Life is so good, and I feel so blessed with our little family and each day we spend together. We have our struggles, but at the end of the day, I don’t have anything to complain about.
Taking a look into the feature. My dream is to have all our boys get married and watch them raise a strong family of believers in Christ. How beautiful would that be?
I do dream of our kids having a relationship with my side of the family and for them to know their American grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. My family is spread out through Virginia, Alaska and lower Michigan. We get to see them about once a year, but that’s not much.
Kids are a true blessing, but ever since we had our boys, I have been struggling with my health. Pregnancy and breastfeeding for the last five years have depleted my body from all nutrients, thrown my hormones out of whack, stripped the calcium from my teeth and has resulted in low thyroid, adrenal fatigue, dermatitis, seasonal allergies, many food allergies and very little sleep.
I knew I’d be sleep deprived but no one told me all these other things happened to your body.
Right now, at least two types of healing exist in our society. The first approach I tried takes a mechanistic approach to illness. I was put on steroids, antibiotics, other suppressive treatments which temporarily cured the symptoms. An easy fix, but the doctor has no clue what the root cause was. A month or two later after finishing the medicine, the symptoms would reappear.
The second option I tried was naturopathic medicine. Instead of suppressing the symptom, the licensed naturopathic doctor looks at a person as a whole and acts to stimulate the healing even before disease or illness is apparent. With diet changes, vitamin/mineral supplements, and doing my best to reduce my stress level, I feel that my energy levels have increased and my skin is starting to clear up!
Moments with God
God, our creator, is present always. Good, bad, and every step of the way, in all situations he is with us. I find it fascinating how he has perfect timing and how he puts people into your lives for a reason. I have been through many spiritual battles, and throughout these battles, I have seen God’s forgiveness, his love, and healing.
A few years ago, I joined a bible study with the young mom’s group in Goulais. Since then I’ve found reading to be contagious, especially bible studies. After five years at University, I considered myself an anti-reader. But now the more I read, the more I want to know.
The Lord listens and answers our prayers.
Last June I was 39 weeks pregnant with the anticipation of our third son. I was going through the worst pain of hand foot and mouth disease. Exhausted from taking care of our kids who were dealing with the same thing, I desperately needed time with God.
Ben was dreading the labour and the days leading up to it.
I kept praying, “God, please keep this baby healthy and make it a FAST and easy delivery.” The day after my due date, I began having small contractions. With excitement, I started doing jump squats in the living room trying to get baby to move downward. Ben came home that afternoon after getting a call stating my water had broke. We live about 30 minutes away from the hospital, and I told him we need to load the kids in the van and head to town. He wasn’t sure where the kid’s shoes were, and honestly I didn’t care who was wearing shoes.
The contractions were getting stronger. As we pulled out of the driveway onto the highway, I rolled down the windows to help control my breathing. The strong fresh air in my face was the perfect distraction. We may have been speeding now, and as we reached the top of the mile hill on HWY 17, I urged for him to pull over. My awesome midwife was on the phone and wanted us to keep driving. Of course, she would say that. But that wasn’t happening. I told her we were pulling over and Ben is going to deliver this baby.
Thankfully, we just invested in a Dodge Grand Caravan with a fancy DVD player. The kids were more than happy to be watching, The Muppets in Manhattan movie in the back seat.
As my controlled husband walked around the van, he opened the door and delivered our precious son.
Ben placed the baby on my chest and removed his work shirt to wrap around Harrison. Our midwife arrived only two minutes after, to check his breathing and cut the cord. Thanks to the Lord, we have a perfectly healthy boy. Yes, I prayed for a fast and easy delivery, and he answered my prayer. After my mother in law Marianne Ayton calmed down, she was quick to think of nicknames for Harrison. For the past year, he has been called Roadside Harry or Highway Harry.
I’m continually leaning on the Lord for strength and wisdom as we raise our kids. We can’t do it without him. I will continue to make him a priority, praise him in the morning, worship him, pray during the good and bad times and give thanks, for he is good!
I loved Inspiring Women: Life With Brianna, with her joys in motherhood and her struggles. Would you like to read about a mom who shared her most difficult mom-moments and how God spoke to her heart after a meltdown? Read, Life with Laura.
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Katie Shaw, Heart’s Content says
Yep chickens = dinosaurs. It’s true!
Lol love that Katie🤣
Erica gap-toothed Stempky says
If only there were more Anna’s ❤️❤️❤️
I agree! Brianna is a breath of fresh air🙂