Culture, Faith, Family

What Are You Known For?

A few nights ago, as I tucked my almost 7 year old daughter into bed, she engaged her usual stall tactic as I headed to her bedroom door.  She has a knack for asking deep questions at bedtime, although come to think of it, I’m not sure it’s as much a stall tactic as just her natural inclination.  Anyway, she stops me in my tracks with the question “Mom, what are you known for?”

Now, my sweet girl did not know that this is just the question I’ve been struggling with again lately.  You see, I really hate to admit it because I KNOW, comparisons are bad and unnecessary and a sucking black vortex into discontent, but I do fall into the comparison trap much more than I would like.  I find that social media can be a snare for me when I find myself in that place, especially Ye Olde Facebook.  I love to read blogs, and typically the ones I read are by women that encourage me in my faith in Christ and inspire me to step out on faith and change my perspective in a variety of ways. Yet those same women that encourage me on one blog earlier in the week can often be the same women I compare myself to later in the week.  A series of photos or status updates by people on Facebook that I am friends/acquaintances with can send me into a vulnerable flurry of doubts if I’m already feeling down, discouraged, frustrated, or just having an “off” day.

So this leads back to the question “What are you known for?”  I had been struggling because I was buying the lie our culture tells, both purposefully and accidentally at times, that being a mom isn’t enough.  That I need to be a mom AND have a career, that I need to be a mom AND an athlete, that I need to be a mom AND be recognized for whatever else pops into my head at the moment.  And ironically, when I’m not stressed or discouraged (and even sometimes when I am), I’m one of the first people to remind other women that being a mom is a calling.  For real- A CALLING.  I think we as moms often find ourselves downplaying the importance of what we do because we share the motherhood status with so many other women.  At least, I’ve found myself in that place.  There is truth that it is hard to feel something is special when it is common. But you know?  While motherhood may be a common, everyday role, it is also exciting, extraordinary, and yes, special.  Because not one of us, not one, parents exactly the same way, with exactly the same kids, in exactly the same circumstances.  God absolutely positively chose me to be the mother to my children, fitting us together to complete part of His puzzle.  Another mom would not fit in the exact way needed.  And if you are a mom reading this, He chose you in the same way.  Ironically, I feel entirely fulfilled in being a stay-at-home-mom who happens to also homeschool my children.  At least, I feel fulfilled until I let myself buy into that terrible lie that I shouldn’t be, that I should want more.

When my daughter asked the question, the first thing that popped into my head and out of my mouth was “I suppose I’m known for being your mom.”  She asked “What else?”, so I added that I enjoy writing and since I had something I had written published, that that could qualify (not that many beyond those close to me know that, but anyway).  But as I turned to head out of her room, I realized I was answering the question wrong.  I’m not going to lie and say I don’t want to be known for something sometimes.  Yet ultimately, I want to be known as a follower of Jesus.  I want HIM to be known.  And I want whatever gifts He has given me to glorify Him, not just serve as a well-liked status update or a chance to bask in a brief moment of glory.  And I took a minute more to tell her that.  Because if she can get that idea down now, on the cusp of turning 7, then her focus will be less on herself and more on Him- something her mama is working on.

Family, Random

The Struggle

My cursor keeps blinking as I sit here staring at the screen.  When it’s been awhile since I’ve written, I find it hard to organize all my thoughts and ideas that I’ve had over the past few months; all those moments where I’ve filed something away thinking “I’d like to write about that…”.

This past year has been a struggle.  It’s been a year full of lots of laughter and wonderful moments, but a struggle in many, many aspects.  There is, of course, the struggle of adjusting to having three children- I’m sorry, but for those of you that told me that going from one to two was hard but two to three was a breeze…you lie.  Or perhaps it was a breeze for you and truth be told, at first I thought it was for me,  but once my littlest started moving, it was all over.    We have a climber.  An adventurer.  A daredevil.  A child who at the age of 15 months has already fallen in love with the word “no” (and even though it sounds cute now I’m wary).  He also happens to have a great sense of humor, a terrific laugh, and a very sweet spirit most of the time.  So that helps when I feel my sanity fading.

The real struggle, though, has been in an area that was new to us- the world of food allergies. Food allergies were foreign to us and we were shocked when we discovered that they were the culprits of a horrible diaper rash that lasted from a week old to a couple of months old, congestion and slightly difficulty breathing, and major spit-up issues that required more clothing and clean-up than I ever imagined.

Because I was (and am) breastfeeding our littlest guy, those food allergies required a change in diet.  When the pediatrician told me at his two month well-child visit that I was going to have to cut out dairy (one of the most common allergens in babies), I literally cried on the way home.  What about pizza?!?  Milk chocolate?!? What on earth am I going to eat?  I’m one of those girls who loves dairy.  I’m the granddaughter of a former dairy farmer!  I began the journey of educating myself on what had casein in it, as simply cutting out milk isn’t sufficient.  Of course yogurt, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese and milk had to go.  But the myriad of foods that have some form of milk in them is remarkable.  And as I also cut out soy (due to that being a common allergen along with the dairy), I was quite overwhelmed at the number of foods now off limits (soy lecithin is in just about EVERYTHING).

After eight weeks or so of cutting out those two things, the rash finally went away, his congestion began to clear up, and the spitting up did get somewhat better.  But Mr. J did not end up fully symptom free.  This tormented me.  As a nursing mom, I was responsible for everything he ingested, and knowing that something I was consuming was causing him to be in pain or uncomfortable was very difficult emotionally.  At one point I was dairy, soy, egg, peanut, chocolate, and tomato free (only for a week or so with all of them but that week was a loooonnnnngggg one) in an attempt to narrow down possible causes.  Other times I took out gluten for a month, or avoided certain other foods for specific periods of time.

Thankfully, the older he got, the easier it became (unless out to dinner, at a potluck, or at a party) and the more his symptoms cleared.  Around six months, eczema became the most concerning symptom as it was more severe than I had ever seen from my kids or myself (we all have had quite minor eczema issues here and there).  I read everything I could find on food allergies and eczema, and I became pretty efficient at recipe substitutions.  I developed a decent taste for regular almond milk or coconut milk (still doesn’t beat dairy in my book) and rejoiced at discovering chocolate almond milk- which is pretty great and helps my need for a chocolate fix.  I found alternatives for yogurt and began making even more things from scratch, like cream of chicken soup.  Let me just say though, that I gave up on finding a cheese substitute that is worthwhile.  I miss cheese. Anyway, as J began eating solids, I was able to pinpoint a bit better what he seemed to react to, because we had really been shooting in the dark in many ways.  (We had not opted for allergy testing as one, it is SUPER expensive and we self-pay; two, the unreliability of it for a child at such a young age did not make the cost worth it; and three, his allergies didn’t appear severe enough to warrant a visit to the allergist, praise God.)

The eczema continued to be our biggest problem and was the source of many tears and much prayer.  I rejoice in being able to type “was” as a few weeks ago, it just started to clear up.  We hadn’t done anything different regarding food or lotions or such; I believe it was an answer to the many prayers that had been offered up.  I never understood how eczema could really cause so much difficulty but I have definite empathy for those that struggle with it as well as with food allergies.  Eczema can seriously interrupt a life, and serious food allergies, of course, can take a life.  And many people, myself included before J was born, just don’t understand.

All that to say, it’s been a journey.  A hard one honestly.  I don’t need to list every difficulty it has brought as this post is quite long enough already and this is a condensed version of our story, but I did want to share in case anyone comes across this that is facing something similar.  I’m hopeful that he will outgrow his allergies (dairy and peanut are definitely culprits).  And on the positive side, my formerly food-picky self is now eating things I never would have thought I would consume before, so that’s been a great part of this adventure.  But… when J has weaned, I am going to inhale a large pizza all by myself with a cheesecake for dessert to celebrate.



On Growing Up

Almost all of us have some specific remnant(s) of our childhood we carry with us, a symbol of our earliest years.  Things we can look at or sounds we hear that fill us with memories.  Pictures that take us back to sitting on logs near the woodpile in the backyard eating Sweet Sixteen powdered donuts with your grandpa; songs that take us back to that roller-skating birthday party where your biggest focus was not falling in front of the boy you liked.  Or a teddy bear that you named after Big Bird’s teddy bear when you were a preschooler that adored Sesame Street.  We are blessed (or sometimes feel cursed) by a beautiful flood of memories that can come rushing back by association in a matter of moments.

Sometimes those moments come with the realization that life is speeding by faster than you had truly realized.  Once you become a parent, the thing you may often hear the most is “before you know it, they’ll be grown.” And it’s true.  It really is.  As cliche as it sounds, you can just about “blink and those early days are gone.”  We may feel it strongly when our kids take their first steps, say their first words, start picking out their own clothes, or begin their first year of school.  Life is often measured in the “firsts”.  Tonight I was hit by a mack truck of realization that involved a first I hadn’t really thought about and in many ways, am not quite ready for.  It involves one of my daughter’s firsts- her first love really.

It can be argued that it was her father and I that occupy that “first love” place in her heart, and I suppose that is certainly true in many ways.  But Lulu… Lulu has always held a special place in her heart, and it’s Lulu that has consistently been the symbol of my little girl’s childhood.

Lulu is a lamb.  A lovely, lavender lamb that was given to us as a baby shower gift before my sweet girl was even born.  She was the top of the diaper cake made by my friend Melissa in response to the knowledge that the theme for Eila’s nursery was The Lion and the Lamb.  Because of this, we were blessed with many lambs.  It took a few months of course, but Lulu soon became Eila’s favorite.  From about six months onward, they were inseparable.

Like many beloved stuffed animals, blankies, and so forth, Lulu has gone everywhere with Eila- out of state to visit family, around town running errands, to offer comfort when Eila is scared or sad- Lulu is well-loved and well-traveled.  Therefore, in almost every single picture of Eila from babyhood on, Lulu is there, peeking out from Eila’s elbow.  She is like a member of the family- to the point that if I saw Lulu lying somewhere and I needed to move her, I felt almost guilty if I kicked her with my foot instead of gently picking her up and placing her down in a better location.  Sometimes Lulu can almost make you believe, like Sara Crewe did about her doll Emily in A Little Princess, that she is really alive and would move if you left the room.

Due to Lulu’s loved status, she has become quite worn over the years.  As threadbare as The Velveteen Rabbit and cuddled just as much if not more so, her stuffing began to poke through and she was on the verge of unraveling in many areas.  A kind friend at church offered to crochet lovely pastel colored patches to strengthen Lulu’s worn parts and those have so far held true.

Earlier, as Eila was downstairs playing and I was in her room putting some of her things away, I caught sight of Lulu lying there in the middle of the bed and my heart caught in my throat.  I realized that this was becoming the new normal.  Once always cuddled in Eila’s arms, Lulu is left behind on a more frequent basis.  Eila often says now she leaves her to keep her safe and preserve her from getting torn up and I know this is true.  But… I also know that her leaving Lulu behind is inevitable much like how she is slowly easing out of her childhood.  And Lulu is a tangible reminder of that.

I believe she will always have Lulu, whether she be in a box or on a shelf.  I think that Lulu will continue on with her through adolescence, into adulthood, and may make it to be played with by Eila’s children someday.  Even if she doesn’t, the thought of Lulu will, and is likely to spark many, many wonderful memories for my little girl.   As I looked at Lulu laying there, I was acutely aware that in a day or two, Eila will be starting first grade and that my sweet firstborn girl is a going to be a grown woman much sooner than I can imagine.  It was one of those cliche “blink-and-you-miss-it-moments” and it made me hug my daughter a little bit tighter that night as she clutched Lulu in their familiar embrace.



Faith, Family

Jude’s Birth Story: A Testimony of Praise. Part 2.

For the first part of Jude’s story, click here.

I left off in Part 1 with how my discouragement was starting to grow.  I mentioned that I had to fight the thoughts that were making their way into my mind, thoughts like “I can’t do this”, “This is never going to end”, and “If I transferred to the hospital now, I could have a c-section and just be done.”  I knew that I was just weary and that I needed to take those thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), but I was honestly struggling.  I am guessing it was around 9:15am or so at this point.  I was praying off and on and knew that others were praying for me.  It was at this point that Will posted on Facebook that I was getting tired and needed prayer. My mom had also sent out a request for prayer via email and the staff of the Yahweh Center had stopped during praise and worship at the weekly staff meeting to pray for us.  Prayer was going to be critical in the next hour or so.

God knew I needed encouragement, and He used my midwife at that moment to give it to me.  She looked at me and quoted the first half of Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things…”  and I finished it with …through Him who strengthens me.”  This was significant as it was the verse my mother had quoted to me ever since I was a little girl- my midwife didn’t know that.  I know this was one of the ways God let me know more directly that He was there with me.

My midwife asked me if there was anything going on mentally that I needed to discuss- I didn’t mention my thoughts of c-section at that point because I knew I didn’t really, truly want that, but I did share that I was just tired.  And afraid I wasn’t going to have the energy to do what I needed to do if (when) we were finally ready to push.I remember getting super antsy as I fought my own thoughts there in that pool.  I decided then that I could no longer try to rest.  I needed to DO something and I had the feeling that it was time to get out and have my baby.  I got out, started walking around, and felt a renewed sense of purpose.

Up until this point, my water hadn’t broken.  Like with my first two, we ended up breaking it to move things along (apparently my bag of waters is always super strong).  After my midwife broke my water, as with Asher’s birth although not quite as immediate and obvious, Jude was well on his way in descent and I was ready to push not too long afterward.  With Will behind me on the bed to help be my strength, we began to push.

My midwife worked with me to help me avoid tearing, and I could feel Jude trying to help by turning a bit as he began to crown.  But something wasn’t quite right.  He tried again to help as I pushed but still wasn’t fully coming out, even though they could see his head.  They continued to track his heartbeat with the doppler as they had throughout the entire labor, and at this last check, the results weren’t good.

It is here that things began to happen super quickly.  My midwife had me turn over onto my hands and knees and I could hear the urgency in her voice as she told me to PUSH.  Then, he was out.

I felt that familiar feeling of relief as he emerged and turned, ready to hold him.  But he wasn’t breathing.  He was grayish and floppy.

At this point, I’m not sure of anything other than seeing my midwife calmly and determinedly start applying oxygen while instructing me to pray and asking Will to call 911 in case they were needed.  I rubbed Jude’s chest as I prayed, asking the Lord to get my baby breathing.  I looked at Will’s face and could see the utter look of fear as he called 911 and looked at his baby.  I almost felt like I went on autopilot- it was scary, but somehow I felt that Jude was going to be fine.

Two minutes later, a very long two minutes in many ways while fast in others, Jude turned pink, started breathing on his own, and let out a beautiful, piercing cry that lasted awhile as he made up for lost time.  The EMTs arrived and I was thankful beyond words that they were not needed other than having me sign a form that we didn’t need transport to the hospital.  His first apgar at 1 minute after birth came in at a 3.  His second, five minutes after his birth, was a 9.

Still attached to me because we had not clamped and cut the cord yet, I delivered the placenta while helping Jude to begin nursing.  Will then cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing and all we could do was praise God that He had been the one to truly deliver our praise baby.  Jude means praise.  Our prayer all through the pregnancy had been that his birth would be a praise and a testimony to all those involved.  In talking (processing) with our midwife immediately afterward and on follow-up visits in the next couple of weeks, it was evident that God honored that prayer.  Jude is certainly our praise, and I am incredibly thankful that he is here with us.

After the birth, we learned that there had been a combination of factors going on.  Shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulder is not able to pass below the pubic bone, was a major factor that caused his distress and the drop in heart tones, also affecting his breathing once out.  His cord was also caught by the shoulder.  It appeared in examining the placenta that it had started to separate from the uterus, and the umbilical cord, instead of developing from the center of the placenta, had developed from the side.  Praise again that given all those factors, Jude is here lying in my lap making that sweet little sound with his lips that he is making.

We’ve been asked since his birth if we wish we had been in a hospital given the circumstances of his birth.  Our answer is a resounding “NO!”  If we had been in a hospital, the following scenarios would have been likely:  1) when my cervical lip came back, it is possible I would have been dubbed with the infamous failure to progress label and a c-section would have been pushed/recommended.  2) When Jude was born and not breathing, the cord would have been clamped and cut immediately and he would have been whisked away to the NICU, or at least, away from me and his father.

I am thankful for my midwife’s wisdom (and it is part of her usual practice anyway) of waiting until the cord stops pulsing before it is cut.  This allowed Jude to continue to receive the life-giving blood he was receiving as she applied oxygen.  He was able to hear my voice and feel my touch as he lay there.  She had what she needed to get him breathing- we didn’t need a hospital room for that.  The Lord used her mightily in that moment, and He heard our prayers.

We said from the beginning that doing a homebirth was a huge faith walk for us.  Little did we know how much of one it would be.  Of course, birth is always a faith walk really, wherever you choose to have your baby and however he or she arrives in your arms.

Jude Christian Adair was born at 10:37am, 8 lbs and 3.5 ounces.  21 inches long.  God is so very faithful- we have our praise baby to attest to that.  And we give Him all the glory.

Faith, Family

Jude’s Birth Story: A Testimony of Praise. Part 1.

For those of you that hang with me through my sporadic blogging, you may remember that we were planning a homebirth for the birth of our third child, who is lying here sleeping in my lap as I write this.  As I look down at him going through his series of “going into a deeper sleep-cycle” faces, my heart tightens to think things could have been very different.

Jude was “due” sometime around the first or second of March, and as it was with my first two babies, he took his time.  Unlike my first two, I experienced prodromal labor this go ’round.  The contractions started getting so regular at one point that we actually had my parents come and get our first two kiddos one night because we thought our little guy was on his way.  Or not, as we learned a couple hours later when the contractions ebbed off.  Finally, a few days of this happening off and on, March 5 rolled around.  I had an appointment with my midwife that morning and had my first internal check of the pregnancy (one more reason I love having a midwife instead of a doctor).  Because I had been experiencing prodromal labor, she asked if I would like her to sweep my membranes.  Essentially, sweeping the membranes can get labor going if it is “on the fence” like mine was, but this isn’t a guaranteed jumpstart.  For me, it seems to have worked.

As the evening of March 5 rolled around, it appeared that sweeping my membranes had effectively locked my contractions into a more regular and progressive pattern.  Within the past week or so, I had had a sneaking suspicion that little man was going to start his arrival in the middle of the night, requiring us to wake up not only our midwife and her assistant, but also my parents and our two oldest children.  Sure enough, around 9pm, I began to sense that Jude was getting started on his journey.  I waited an hour to see if the contractions were going to stop, and when they didn’t ease off, I called my midwife to give her the heads up that I would probably be calling her back later that night.  She advised me to try and get some sleep and requested that I call her when the contractions became too strong for me to sleep through. I woke up off and on but managed to get some rest until around 11pm.  I then got up with the realization that I was in pain and that I couldn’t stand lying down any longer.  I walked around awhile before deciding to wake up Will and begin calling everyone we needed to call.  I called my midwife around midnight, and then called my parents.  We gathered the kids’ things (they were going to be at my parents house during the birth) and got them downstairs.

My midwife arrived and was coming in right as my parents were heading out with the kids.  At this point contractions were starting to get more intense but were still somewhat manageable.  Once our midwife’s assistant arrived, she began setting up the birth pool upstairs in our baby’s room (one of the only rooms that would allow enough space to assemble the pool since we hadn’t put his furniture in yet).  My midwife regularly took my vitals and then checked to see how dilated I was.  I was at 5cms, so halfway there.   We all sat and watched a few Cosby Show episodes as I labored, often by hanging onto my husband during contractions.  It is somewhat surreal watching the Cosby Show at 3am.

As labor became increasingly intense, I was really hoping the birth pool would be ready soon.  It took quite a while to fill it- I’m not sure how long exactly because I was otherwise occupied but I know it took longer than an hour.  We watched Cosby until the birth pool was ready and my midwife was sure I was far enough along to get in, so that it wouldn’t slow down labor.  I was thrilled when I could get into the water because, while it didn’t take the pain away, it was relaxing and took some of the pressure off. I can’t exactly tell you how long I labored in the pool.  My midwife and her assistant continued to do periodic vitals checks and used the heart doppler periodically to make sure Jude was still doing well.  Like with my first birth, when the midwife checked me at one point we found that I had a bit of a cervical lip and had to wait for it to fully dilate.   I could see that it was getting light out and realized that my assumption that Jude’s birth would be quicker than Asher’s (my second child- his story is here) was not going to be a reality.  I remember getting out at one point, relieved, when it was discovered that I was at 10 centimeters and ready to push.  I ended up on my bed despite plans to do a waterbirth- it just felt better to me somehow.  Yet as we began the pushing process, we found that the cervical lip had come back and that I couldn’t push anymore.  There are no words for how discouraged I felt at that moment.  I was getting tired. My midwife recommended I get back in the pool and take time to allow my body to rest.  Will, the midwife, and her assistant were all continuously encouraging and made sure I stayed hydrated and had food to give me energy.  I was in the pool probably for another hour or so, attempting to rest between contractions but realizing that my mind was not having it.  I had to fight the thoughts that started coming as my weariness and discouragement grew. (See Part 2 here).


Holiday Traditions- Part 1

Since we are already halfway through the first week of November and Thanksgiving draws near (as does Christmas, according to Target and other stores I noted that have already decorated en masse), I thought I would share a list of holiday traditions we compiled at a recent MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting.  I’m going to condense the list down to 15 (or so) traditions, as it grew to become quite a few pages long!

A disclaimer before I start: don’t feel pressured to do all or any of these.  Different traditions work for different families.  You are not a terrible parent if you don’t have any specific traditions, or if you only do one or two.  Sometimes taking too many on causes us to forget why we are celebrating and becomes just one more thing to check off on our to-do list.  Also, never let yourself feel trapped by a tradition.  If it’s not working, change it or stop it.  If you miss it one year or are off by a day, it doesn’t ruin it (I speak to myself here as I have this crazy way of feeling like everything is messed up if I get off even a little bit.  I’m ridiculously melodramatic that way and am working on it.  Well, I’m asking God to work on it.)  This list is just meant to inspire anyone looking to incorporate some new traditions this year.

Anyway…despite our culture’s tendency to skip over Thanksgiving, our group started there and some of the ideas included:

1) A Give Thanks journal.  My family actually started doing this last year.  The idea is to have a notebook of some sort to record what each family member is thankful for each year.  My favorite moment when we started this last year involves my son, who was almost 2 at the time.  As we went around talking about what we were thankful for, his answer every time was “God”.  He said it so earnestly and yet so deadpan that it still makes me laugh to remember it.  It serves as a great way to look back at our blessings through the years.

2) Another fun idea related to the journal, but especially great for young children, is a Thanksgiving tree.  We did it for the first time this year- I cut out a tree shape from some brown construction paper and each day we cut out leaf shapes and write things we are thankful for on them before taping them to the tree.  Here is the one we have in process- definitely nothing fancy 🙂

3) Getting/putting up a Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.  We like to add on getting peppermint milkshakes from Chick-fil-A as part of this. 😉

4) Fruit of the Spirit in the Horn of Plenty (Cornucopia)- I love this idea. Nine days before Thanksgiving, place one piece of fruit in the horn to represent one fruit of the spirit (do this each day leading up to Thanksgiving).  I think it allows a wonderful (and visual) way to illustrate and discuss the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control).  From my understanding, they have horns of plenty at places such as Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc.  It also can make a pretty Thanksgiving centerpiece! 🙂

5)  Run the Table with Thanks- take a piece of muslin fabric and turn into a table runner (cut piece 12 wide x 36 long) and then sew a ½ inch hem around all edges.  Place in middle of table with a selection of fabric and permanent markers and ask guests to write something they are thankful for.  I don’t sew, unfortunately, but this could certainly be done without having to sew and sounds like a sweet idea and great way to include Thanksgiving guests or family at Thanksgiving gatherings.

So I was going to stop at 5 for Thanksgiving, but I need to add in a bonus which happens to be the best of all of them in my mind.

6) Serve as a family in some way.  Perhaps at a soup kitchen- to get even a remote idea of what it is to be hungry, one option may be to not eat yourself (or skip a meal) that day until done.  Serving others is a beautiful holiday tradition to incorporate and along those lines, another option is connecting with a group that is organizing an Invite a Troop to Thanksgiving event for those that are deployed and away from family for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes is one my family currently does as the collection week falls the week before Thanksgiving.  It’s a great way to help my kids give to other kids in need around the world.  Here’s a link if you want more info:  

So those are some of the top Thanksgiving traditions we shared about in our meeting.  If you have any to add, feel free to comment below!

Faith, Family

Ultrasound Rollercoaster

On Monday, Will and I prepared with excitement for our first ultrasound with Baby A.  As we drove to our appointment after dropping the kids off to stay with my mom (who had graciously agreed to take off some time from work to watch them), we discussed our hope that Baby A would be active enough during the ultrasound that we could watch him/her move around and that the tech would not only be able to get the shots and measurements she needed to get, but that we would be able to discover our little one’s gender.  I am a planner.  The thought of not knowing puts me into slight panic, as I want to get rooms painted, furniture prepared, and clothing situated.  Both Eila and Asher had graciously given their mother peace of mind during their respective ultrasounds 5 and 3 years ago, and I hoped and prayed their sibling would follow suit.

In our hurry to get out the door so we wouldn’t be late to our appointment, we decided it would be best to grab breakfast on the way rather than eat at home.  So Will and I stopped at Bojangles and I proceeded to get a cajun filet chicken biscuit.  I had joked with my MOPs group a few days prior about needing to eat or drink something that would get the baby moving and was advised orange juice and/or teddy grahams, but ended up with the biscuit.  I remember thinking, “maybe the spiciness will be effective”…I thought about adding on a sweet tea but decided that probably would be too much and that I should stick with the almost gallon of water they wanted me to drink 30 minutes prior to the appointment.  Looking back, this was probably a very good call, or the ultrasound may have been even more of a roller-coaster than it already was!

We arrived at our appointment and filled out the requisite paperwork.  My favorite part was being asked on one form “Describe your condition” to which I responded “pregnancy”.  The next question was then “How did you end up in this condition?” I left that blank.

We were called back quickly and I was so ready to see our little one that I didn’t even take the tech up on the opportunity to use the ladies room, despite the fact that I had consumed the prescribed amount of water on the way.  We got started and I was once again in awe of the technology that allows me to see our little one in the womb with the placement of an instrument on my stomach.  I don’t think I could ever be less than amazed by this process.  As we began to see our baby, I couldn’t help but tear up a little- we have never waited so long to see one of our children in utero before because with both Eila and Asher we had the initial 8-10 week scan.  I was thrilled, as was Will.

Our tech soon began to comment on how our little one was positioned in a way that was making it difficult for her to record the needed info.  Baby A (throughout the duration of the ultrasound) was head down with legs and bottom in the air hanging over the head.  But this does not mean Baby A was still.  Oh no.  Baby A decided it was a great day to prepare early for the USA gymnastics team and proceeded to perform somersaults and twists like I have never seen.  Neither of Baby A’s siblings were even close to as active as this little one was this day!  I seriously do not want to know what would have happened if I had consumed the sweet tea I considered buying that morning.  The cajun filet biscuit alone sent Baby A into joyous flips and headstands.

Ironically, my fear that the baby wouldn’t move enough became quickly laughable and then frustrating.  The tech managed to measure the head (which is measuring right where it should be), the kidneys, see the feet, get a shot of the face (but never could get a profile shot), etc.  As she tried to get the heart, she soon commented that she just couldn’t get an adequate view of all four chambers- she could see them, she thought, but couldn’t put down on paper that they were, in fact, all there, because she didn’t have the clear documentation needed.  Drat Baby A, slow down in there.

Also a challenge was the umbilical cord.  She wanted to be able to verify that the cord was a three vessel cord.  When that proved tricky, she decided to rest from that endeavor and aim to check out gender.  I was ready.  Earlier in the process, she had pointed out what appeared to be the tell-tale three white lines that would mean we had a little girl bouncing around in there.  After this, however, the tech kept commenting that she kept seeing a protrusion as Baby A danced around.  Hmm.  I didn’t give this much thought, as it was hard to see much of anything clearly- although I have to admit, with the way the baby was moving, it did cross my mind multiple times that we may be dealing with a little guy here.

I have never had such a determined tech, and thank God for her.  Even as the intercom kept beeping ever few minutes with “Code 99: Ultrasound”, reminding us that, yes, there were other people waiting, she patiently set her mind to confirm heart and cord.  At this point I went to the bathroom in hopes that Baby A would shift to a better position.  This didn’t seem to work.  The tech then went out of the room to ask the radiologist to come in and see if he could pinpoint 4 chambers.  While the tech was out of the room, Will and I sat and prayed that Baby A would give us the ability to have the three questions of heart, cord, and gender answered definitively.  Meanwhile, the tech reported that the radiologist said with the baby moving so much he didn’t see why he should come in and that we should just schedule a follow-up.

I’m feeling frustrated, and honestly guilty, as I want to kick myself over consuming that blooming biscuit (Will kept reminding me that the biscuit may have not had anything to do with it, but still).  As the tech decides to try for just a few more minutes, God generously answers our prayer and gives us 2 out of 3 answers.  First, a concrete 3 vessel cord shot.  Secondly, a moment where our little one goes spread-eagled (still upside-down) and indicates to us all that is it highly, highly likely that we are having a baby boy!

I did not realize how convinced I had been that it was a girl (I had been right with both of my other kids) until that moment.  I was stunned.  And I remained stunned as we left, knowing we would probably be coming back for one more ultrasound to confirm that there are, in fact, 4 miraculously beating chambers in our little one.  Even after this ultrasound went almost an hour and a half!

Needless to say, I had to do a paradigm shift as I processed that we are having a boy.  I had worked out everything in my head- from beds, to painting, to the fact that we would have more of a wardrobe in place because Eila has been ever so gentle on her clothes compared to Asher!  Don’t get me wrong- I am truly joyful and thankful that we are having a boy, and a healthy one at that (I’m not worried about the heart anyway, but after seeing little guy moving like that and hearing such a very strong heartbeat, I’m REALLY not worried).  But I did have to take some time to mourn the thought of a little girl.  There’s a reason the Bible says in Proverbs (chapter 16, verse 9) “The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.”  Or Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”  And amen for that, because His plans are certainly better than mine, and He knows that a second little boy is exactly the right thing for our family.

After the initial shock and need to re-lay some plans, I am growing just as excited by another little guy as I was another little girl.  But if for some reason, the belief that a child’s activity in the womb is a predictor for activity outside the womb proves true, please begin to pray for me now. 😉


I’m Not Going To Do That!

Once upon a time, a young woman was engaged to a young man.  As couples do, they were discussing future plans for homes, children, and life in general.  After tackling the question of how many kids they each hoped/wanted to plan for (as if they had complete control over that or something), the question of school came into play.  The young man said he thought it would be nice for their kids to be homeschooled.  And the young lady looked at him somewhat horrified, stating, “I’m not going to do that!”

Fast forward approximately 8 years, and it would appear the young lady was quite mistaken.  For here she sits typing this post and reviewing a variety of curriculums while reading The Well-Trained Mind and feeling quite overwhelmed by the number of options out there for homeschoolers.

I’ve technically been homeschooling (unofficially) for the past year, if not from birth, for I am learning that teaching your children in any fashion is a start.  When you answer your child’s questions, when you teach them their ABCs, how to count to 10, and so forth, that is an element of homeschooling.  I have spent time throughout the past couple of years engaging in ways to help my now 4 year old (and even my 2 year old) learn how to read, illustrating simple math skills, and using fun, everyday life moments to teach.  There is a wonderful freedom and beauty in it.  Which serves as a source of encouragement when I wig out about the years to come.

So what took me from “I’m Not Going To Do That!” to joining a homeschool co-op and exploring my teaching style and my kids’ learning styles as I prepare to dive deeper into this journey?  Well, there are many reasons really, but the biggest of them all is the Lord.  I genuinely believe He is calling me to it, in spite of my adamance years ago that I would never homeschool.  Yes, I have a Master’s in Social Work and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW),  and working as a child and family therapist was my calling for a time, but I do not feel a pull back to that.  Originally, I had thought I would resume being an LCSW once the kids were in school, but as the thought of homeschooling began to slowly take root, I realized that as crazy as it was, I wanted to homeschool my kids.  Even though the thoughts of teaching advanced math and chemistry scare me immensely.

Despite the fact that I had a great experience in public school, overall, that was (ahem) quite a few years ago now (even though I am still in the 90s in my mind).  (Disclaimer: There are some really great teachers out there and some wonderful things about public education- end disclaimer).  Overall, while our choice to homeschool our children is certainly affected by some of the negatives in the school system, the choice is primarily affected by the amazing opportunity to be able to gear lessons to my kids’ interests, to work with them on their level, to be able to experience a wider range of topics, to take field trips, to be able to interact with a variety of ages, and to know what my kids are learning and how they are perceiving it.

There is a part of me that is still terrified and not sure I can do it, but I do know that if God has called me to it, He will give me what I need to accomplish it.

And I will need grace.  A lot of grace!


Two Years Old and Counting…

Asher turned two in December.  Disregarding the fact that we are now into February (I think it has actually taken me this long to fully register (accept?) that he is two years old), I thought I would do a post about my little guy.

His party was small and low-key, a result of being born right before the holidays and wanting to keep things simple.  Asher had requested a Larry-Boy cake, so I did my best!

I wanted to find natural ways to dye the frosting the different colors, but didn’t have time to really experiment with the way it would look and taste, so went ahead and used dyes for most of it (I’m not a big artificial dye fan).  I did use blueberries though for the purple, and it worked great- and tasted really good too!

We always end up doing two celebrations- my parents like to do a little celebration at their house for the kids (just family) and then we have the actual birthday party with friends.

The four of us at my parents’ house.

I love watching my little guy grow and learn about life.  Asher is full of curiosity and loves climbing, hiding, looking at books, watching Veggietales movies and singing along with Veggietales songs.  He is loving and very sweet, but definitely all boy.  He is clumsy, often falling over nothing in his eagerness to get wherever he is going, and he has a pretty good arm on him!  I am amazed daily at the differences between Eila and Asher.  Asher is full-steam ahead, fearless, and ready for adventure almost everywhere.  He’s still in the “I love my mama” stage, but I can see him starting to shift over into daddy-adoration as he gets older.

He has begun using the potty, albeit infrequently.  But I love that he initiated this on his own and can say that as hard as it is to watch him grow so fast, I do welcome the potty-training milestone!  Asher has become quite the talker and his ability to express himself surprises me (although it probably shouldn’t considering he is surrounded by talkers in this family)!

Asher has the funniest sense of humor and loves to be the comedian in the group.  He also tends to be pretty stubborn and I have no idea where he gets that from…

God is growing him into such an amazing little man, and we are so proud of him- I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring!

Family, Random

Sunrise, Sunset Part 2

(starting where I left off in Sunrise, Sunset Part 1…)

After the couples massage, Will and me (is it “me” or “I”? “I” sounds better but I think “me” is grammatically correct…) relaxed a bit and got ready to go to dinner.  As nice as the massage was, I actually wish that it hadn’t been included in our bed and breakfast package.  It made things rather difficult because it was scheduled right in the middle of the day and prevented us from going to Ocracoke as we had planned.  Although, let me be clear…if that is my biggest problem, I am very blessed indeed.  It’s not a complaint, more of just an observation.

Anyway, that night for dinner we planned to go to the South Beach Grille.  I had discovered this restaurant through and after reading through many, many reviews, had scored a $25 gift certificate for $4.   I was a bit nervous because even after reading the reviews, I had no idea whether or not this place would be great or a bust.  Thankfully, my worries were all in vain (as they usually are) and the food was amazing.  Very fresh seafood, great service, and a lot of food for a reasonable price.  If we get the chance to go back to the OBX, we will definitely eat there again.

After dinner (and doing our nightly check-in by phone with the kids), we headed back to our B&B to enjoy our last evening in the OBX together.  We decided to grab some wine and sit outside by the fire pit.  But alas, the young couple who had used it the night before had used the last of the gas and we were out of luck.  It was then that we discovered the tree swing in the backyard, and I was ecstatic.  I love swings.  One of my favorite moments of our trip was Will pushing me on that swing behind that Victorian house with a canopy of stars overhead.  It was so much fun.

After playing some more in the backyard, we decided to head in and watch a movie before bed.  I was determined to get better sleep that night too because I knew I would be returning to the land of disrupted sleep soon enough.

Except…it wasn’t meant to be.  I can’t complain though, because the reason for not getting much sleep that night was that Will woke me around 6:00am (granted, I was kind of awake as that is near the time Asher often wakes) to ask if I wanted to go with him to watch the sun rise.  I quickly debated warm bed vs. sunrise, and the sunrise won, as we have never watched the sunrise together and with young children, the chance to do so doesn’t come along very often.  We dressed quickly and drove about a mile down the road to the waterfront.  We walked out on a pier and cuddled up under a blanket and enjoyed the beauty around us.

God gave us such an amazing world to experience.

Following the beautiful sunrise, we went back, showered, dressed, and ate breakfast.  We packed up our things, checked out of our room, and headed towards Jockey Ridge State Park, hoping to have a couple hours there before we had to head back towards home.  The sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge are incredible and are the tallest on the east coast.  Climbing them was actually an unexpected workout!

The view from the ground (Will took this of me at the top)…

And then, after the climb, we did this…

It was like playing in a giant sandbox, although unfortunately, sliding all the way down didn’t really work.  I discovered a way to do it in spurts, though.

Soon it was time to go home, and after grabbing a couple of sandwiches at a local sandwich shop, we were on our way.  It was hard to leave that “couple time” behind, but I was ready to see our kids again and step back into my mommy shoes.  We started our trip with a sunset and ended it with a sunrise, and while some may think the opposite would have been more fitting, I kind of like to think that it was the way it should be.  This trip we took to celebrate our 7th anniversary is only a blip in the time God has given us together- that last day didn’t mark the end of anything but the trip itself.  I’d rather look at that last day as the start to our next 7 years together.

And you know, we never did get to ride that tandem bike.  I guess we will have to go back!