My Thoughts on 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010 3 Comments A+ a-

Last January, I wrote about how I was going to dedicate one word to 2010 and that word was Authenticity.  As we’re about to embark on a new year, I’m forced to evaluate how I lived out that challenge.  As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t help but feel that I fell short of that goal.

As events unfolded in 2010, I found myself withdrawing more and spending more time in self-reflection.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I was able to convey my struggles and reflections as eloquently and as transparently as I would have liked.  As much as I like to be real and transparent with family, friends, and on the blog, I lacked the motivation to do so.  I’m a little discouraged that I wasn’t able to do follow through on my objective.

I then turned my thoughts to what word would have described this year and I kept coming back to Faith.  And perhaps not in the ways you might think.

2009 and early 2010 was the time in which I matured the most as a Christian.  I was so eager for Him, His words, His thoughts, His presence; I’ve never felt such a thirst for my Lord in all my 30 years.  It was unquenchable and I can’t tell you how much I grew and learned during that time. 

Then the Lord started challenging me, asking Jon and I to take leaps out of our comfort zone and into a full reliance on Him.  Even though I was sure that I was ready for those steps, I’m embarrassed to say that my actions proved otherwise. 

They were not steps or leaps borne of the Lord’s confidence, but with such fear and timidity.  With each new event, I found myself drifting further away from my daily quiet times and dependence on Him.  I worried over circumstances and depended more on our human weaknesses than my Lord’s strengths.

And yet, I’m still thankful and proud of the fact that no matter how we feared, we still obeyed Him and took the steps He asked of us, uncertain of where He was leading.  And perhaps, too, the year of spiritual maturity and growth sustained my Faith this year, when I walked more in the valleys than the mountain tops. 

While I wish I had shared the struggles of this year with you all in a more authentic way, I’m also very aware that God worked a different theme in my life this year.  I’m not done being refined by Him (and the refinement process is not fun, my friends), but I do hope that 2011 will bring more consistent quiet times with my Lord and I’m praying for the unquenchable thirst to return.  He and I are in the midst of talking about themes for 2011, and I wonder where He’ll walk me this year.

Happy Birthday, Rea-Rea!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 6 Comments A+ a-

Two years ago, she broke the mold and arrived 13 days early in a somewhat traumatic fashion.  Two years ago I cuddled the five pound, 10 oz bundle of baby girl, the only one of our children whose gender we didn’t find out before-hand, and marveled at the tiny preemie clothes that fit her.  It has been a whirlwind of two years as we got to know our second daughter, her quirks, her personality, the idiosyncrasies that make her distinctly Reagan.

ReaganLittleSisterCollageHappy Birthday to the Little Sister… who is determined to make her mark… who tries so very hard to prove herself… who feels that if Devyn and Hudson can do it, she can do it better… who will toe the line just to tease Hudson mercilessly… who will play dolls and house with Devyn or cars with Hudson… who not only takes it, but dishes it out.

ReaganBigSisterCollageHappy Birthday to the Big Sister… who acclimated to a newborn far better than I ever imagined… who brings blankets when she feels Ashlynn is cold… who plugs a cry with a pacifier and is more than willing to share her own… who insists on equal holding time… who whispers “Hi Baby” before sharing a kiss.

ReaganCollage2Happy Birthday to the Daughter… who shares an impish smile before doing something she knows is wrong… who glances over her shoulder as she tests the limit to see if we’re watching… who grabs our hands and begs for a dance… who will cuddle into our shoulder as she tires out… who pulls out her paci before leaning in for a gentle kiss… who astounds us with her extensive vocabulary… who can’t hide a thought or emotion from us with her expressive face… who brightens our lives just by existing.

ReaganCollage1Happy Birthday to the Girl…  who sings to herself or to her dolls… who will tell stories in her jibberish… who likes to “read” in bed before she falls asleep… who needs enough sleep, and to wake up on her own, or there is a price to pay… who needs a full tummy to stay in a good mood… who will wag her finger at her mother in a clear “Get that camera out of my face” way… who is hilarious… and bright… and temperamental… and feisty… and ours.

Happy Birthday, Reagan Jacqueline!  Life would be so boring without you!

Stopping for Small Moments

Monday, December 27, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

SistersMyHeart

Jon went back to work for the 1st time since Ashlynn was born today.  My house is a wreck.  There are piles of Christmas loot all over the house that need to find homes, I have approximately 3-4 loads of laundry to fold, I’ve yet to shower or get dressed today, and I’m relying a little to much on Devyn to be my little helper.  (If only she wasn’t so good at it!)  I was in the middle of loading the dishwasher when I peeked into the living room to this scene and my heart stopped.  This is what life is all about… a small moment of catching the love between two sisters.  I need to remember to stop for the small moments more often.

Labor of Love

Friday, December 24, 2010 0 Comments A+ a-

Labor of Love
by Andrew Peterson

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Glory to God In the Highest

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 0 Comments A+ a-

This was originally posted in December of 2007.

It was a dark night; there were fewer stars out tonight, hence less light to do his job. He looked out among the herd, mentally calculating the number of sheep. He smiled to himself, they were all there; he could relax once again. The glow of the fire highlighted the faces of the other men with him; some were dozing, trying to rest as they awaited their next rotation; others were warming their hands, rubbing them over and over as they chatted amongst themselves; and still others were keeping a wary eye over the herd. They had sent Cephas out to walk the perimeter, to ensure that a predator wasn't hiding among the hills or bushes, ready to snatch a wayward lamb.

He was a man of few words; conversation was rarely needed for the job he did. He bent down to scratch dirt-encrusted calves, wincing with each movement. He was tired, that was certain; they'd been out here for weeks and he'd almost reached his patience threshold. He was ready for a warm bath, a good night's sleep, and freshly-laundered clothes, but these would have to wait. Instead he turned his attention back to the herd and the black night. Again, he smiled. His might not be the most coveted of jobs but he enjoyed the stillness, the quiet the job brought. Not to mention the beauty of the night landscape. Off in the distance, the town of Bethlehem stood on a hill; various lamps and lights dotting the horizon. It was beautiful out here and he'd learned to enjoy such simple views.

Suddenly, in the distance, he heard a horn; a sound unlike anything he'd ever heard before. He glanced around the men, to see if they had heard it too, or to see if he really was losing his mind. Even the men that had been sleeping had risen to their feet, looking around to find what had woken them. There! The horn sounded off again. He searched the dark sky to see what was giving such melodious music. And then before his very eyes, there shone a bright light. He shielded his eyes, wondering how day had arrived so suddenly, where moments ago night still covered them. He could hear some of the men cowering on the ground, begging for their lives, asking Yahweh to save them. He was half-tempted to join them, this was unlike anything he'd ever experienced before. Then the sky was filled beautiful music, the words drifted over him.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!"

He fell to his knees as the sky filled with a heavenly choir. Angels, dozens of them, spread across the horizon; their light so bright he could barely look at them without his eyes burning. To the left and the right, angels stood with horns; their long, drawn-out notes punctuating each word.

"Joy to the earth; the Savior reigns!"

Who were these beings?! It was obvious that God had send this heavenly host, but why to sheep herders? What had he done to deserve such news, or to see such sights? He was humbled to his very core. An angel stepped forward, away from the others and came close to the men.

Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."

And with a final verse, a final truimphant blast of the horn, day returned to night and the men were left to talk amongst themselves. As the rest of them debated about what what they had seen and what they should do; he found himself too awed, too thunderstruck to join in. What had just happened here was nothing short of miracle. He heard a shout in the distance and turned to watch Cephas tripping over himself to reach the others.

"Did you see that?" he asked of the other herders. "Did you see that beautiful choir?"

Yes, they shook their heads; some still unbelieving what their eyes had seen. Cephas turned his head and with wide eyes asked, "What should we do?"

The herder came to his feet, grabbed his staff, and announced, "We go! We find this babe, the savior of the world and we rejoice!" With his announcement, he turned toward Bethlehem. As the men scrambled to join him on the trek, he smiled to himself. Never had his heart felt so light, so happy, so... so... so full of joy! A savior had been born! His Savior! What wonderful news for all the earth.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

A Sweet Snooze

Monday, December 20, 2010 6 Comments A+ a-

We took the kids to visit Santa this afternoon, and reactions were varied.

Devyn couldn't wait to sit on his lap and was more than willing to share with him what she wanted for Christmas... and what Hudson and Reagan wanted too. Heck, she even vouched for Ashlynn. Hudson wanted nothing to do with sitting on Santa's lap, but eventually ventured forward to at least share his Christmas wish. And Reagan wanted absolutely nothing to do with Santa, whatsoever. No sitting in his lap, no smile, and definitely no eye contact.

Ashlynn slept through her visit with St Nick, thus allowing the man in red a quick snooze with the two-week-old. And to commemorate her first visit with Santa, he reached into a pouch and pulled out her first Christmas bell. Overall, I'd consider it a successful visit.

A Great Man

Monday, December 20, 2010 3 Comments A+ a-

I've written about Jon's grandpa on a number of occasions on this blog.  I wrote about a fishing trip here, a generational legacy, and we've made numerous memories at his cabin.  If you follow my tweets, then you know where this post is headed.  But before I dive in, I feel like I need to relay the importance of Grandpa in our lives.  When I fell in love with Jon, I fell just as hard for Grandpa.  Jon is who he is today because of him; Grandpa's influence on Jon is written all over every area of his life.  Grandpa has left a distinguishable fingerprint on Jon, and in turn me.  He is a man of great strength, character, and faith.

Last Sunday, we celebrated Grandma and Grandpa 60th wedding anniversary, an anniversary few see or reach.  An example of marriage rooted in God and commitment.  Its a beautiful sight to behold, and I pray that Jon and I get to reach the same milestone.

Its amazing how fast life can change; less than a week later, Grandpa was in the ER not feeling well.  There were a number of different diagnoses, but one has floated to the surface and we have an official diagnosis of Acute Leukemia.  We're still waiting on which type of leukemia and how advanced the disease has spread.  We do know he's going in for surgery tonight to receive a port and is starting chemotherapy tomorrow.  Grandpa is looking to spend the next month in the hospital, receiving chemo for seven days, another medication for three days, then another round of chemo for seven days again.

We're asking for your prayers!  We're praying for wisdom for the doctors, peace for the family, strength and a desire to fight for Grandpa, and a positive attitude for all.  I know this, if anyone can beat this, its Grandpa.  He is one of the most stubborn, strong-willed men I've met and I pray those traits will serve him well through this valley.  He truly is one of the greats!

A Newborn Babe

Thursday, December 16, 2010 1 Comments A+ a-

Until I can find some time to put together some coherent thoughts, I’m reposting some of my favorite Christmas posts from previous years.  This was originally posted in December of last year, and I still love the picture Beth Moore created.  I pray it touches you too.  From Beth Moore's study, Jesus - 90 Days with the One and Only. Beth Moore is very clear, "... this is strictly fiction. I just invite you to imagine with me what Mary's first moments might have been like..." Enjoy.

Her body lay sapped of strength, her eyes were heavily closed, but her mind refused to give way to rest. She ached for her mother. She wondered if she yet believed her. She heard the labored breathing of the man sleeping a few feet from her. Only months before he was little more than a stranger to her. She knew only what she’d been told and what she could read in occasional shy glances. She had been told he was a good man. Over the last few days, she found out he was far more than a good man. No man, no matter how kind, could have done what he had done. She wondered how long it had been since he’s really rested.

A calf, only a few days old, awakened hungry and could not find its mother. The stir awakened the baby, who also squirmed to find His mother. Scarcely before she could move her tender frame toward the manger, He became to wail! She scooped Him in her arms, her long hair draping over His face, and she quietly slipped out of the gate. She gingerly sat down and leaned against the outside of the stable, propped the baby on her small lap, and taking a strip of linen and tying back her hair, she began to stare into His tiny face. She had not yet seen Him in the light.

She had never seen the moon so bright. The night was nearly as light as the day. Only hours old, His chin quivered, not from the cold, but from the sudden exposure of birth. His eyes were shaped like almonds and were as black as the deepest well. She held Him tightly and quietly hummed a song she’d learned as a child. She had been so frightened of this moment, so sure she would not know what to do. She had never held an infant so small, and He was God, wrapped in soft, infant flesh, with bones so fragile she felt like He could break. She had pictured this moment so many times. What would the Son of the Spirit look like? She never expected Him to look so normal, so common. Must have been the part He inherited from His mother. She was so sure she’d feel so terribly awkward. So afraid she’d drop Him – the Messiah – and God would be awfully sorry He had given Him to her! Instead, every fear, every doubt, every inadequacy was momentarily caught up in the indescribable rapture of a mother’s affection.

She remembered asking Elizabeth things she dared not ask her father and mother. Once when they were walking together at the end of the day, the wind blew her cousin’s robes against her, and like a curious teenager, Mary tried her hardest to catch a good glimpse of Elizabeth’s rounded middle. At the time she herself had no physical evidence that God’s promise was true. But she had enough faith to ask endless questions. What am I to do when He comes? Her cousin’s reply would remain forever etched upon Mary’s heart long after He had saved the world. He will tell you what He needs from you. Beyond what He needs, all He wants is for you to embrace Him and talk to Him.

She looked back into His delicate face and watched Him closely as He seemed to stare deeply into the moonlit sky. And she began to talk. “Sweet baby boy. Do You know who Your Daddy is? Do You know Your name? Do You know why You’re here? What do You see when You look out there? Can You see the stars? Do You remember their names? Do You think I’ll do ok? Will You love me too?” A tear dropped from her chin to His. He yawned and made such a funny expression she grinned, wiping her face on the yellowed rags she’d draped around Him. The fussing calf had obviously found its mother. Not a sound was coming from inside the stable. The earth stilled. The infant slept. She held the babe next to her face, and for just a moment, all the world was silent to the breath of God.

She closed her eyes and listened, stealing time like a hidden metronome, as high and as wide as she dared to think, but still she could not begin to comprehend. She, a common child of the most humble means who never read the Scriptures for herself, was embracing the incarnate Word. The fullness of the Godhead rested in her inexperienced arms, sleeping to the rhythm of her heart. This time she hummed a song she did not know, a song being sung by the choirs of angels hovering over her head but hidden from her carnal senses. The deafening hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts were silent to mortal ears except through the sounds of a young woman’s voice who had unknowingly given human notes to a Holy score. The glory of God filled the earth. Heaven hammered out a bridge, but one young woman sat completely unaware of all that swelled the atmosphere around her. The tiny baby boy had robbed her heart. “So, this is how it feels to be a mother,” she mused.

She crept back into the stable, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in the manger. Just down the path, the sun peeked gently over the roof of an inn full of barren souls who had made Him no room.

December Short Takes

Sunday, December 12, 2010 5 Comments A+ a-

Each year we give the kids approximately $10 to buy gifts for our family, and take them to our local dollar store; we feel it’s a great way to introduce them to the concept of giving.  We try to lead them to the general direction of items that might of interest to the recipient, but we never dictate what they should give.  Each child decides on their own what they want to give to each family member, which can lead to some interesting choices.

Devyn and I finished her shopping last week and we came down to the final person on her list… me.  We agreed that I’d wander around the front of the store while I let her pick out my gift by herself.  Approximately 15 minutes later she reappeared by my side with her hands behind her back, clutching her selection.  She had the most pleased expression on her face, and kept reminding me not to look. 

As I handed her the bills to pay for her gifts, I stood at the end of the register and let her finish her purchase.  And despite her best intentions to hide my gift from my eyes, I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse.  I had to bite my cheek quite hard to keep from smiling at the box of kleenex she’d chosen for me.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

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LookALikesAnyone care to wager a guess on who these precious babies are?

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Hudson ran to his room and grabbed the bag of presents from his closet, the hiding place he’d chosen for his gifts after our shopping trip.  He raced up to Reagan, rummaged through the bag, and pulled out the jump rope he’d chosen for Reagan.  He extended the jump rope to Reagan, as if to give it to her.  But when Reagan reached for her gift, he coyly pulled it away and shook his finger in her face.  “You gotta wait until Christmas, Reagan.”  Color her confused.

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MyHeartCollageMy beautiful girls… My beautiful kids… My cup overflows…

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Devyn: “Daddy, I can’t tell you what I bought you.  But I can tell you the color, its clear.”

Jon: “Um, let me guess, a tackle box.”

Devyn: “No Daddy!  I can’t tell you!  But it is fragile.”

Jon (turning to me): “Is it a b-e-e-r m-u-g?”  (We’re quickly approaching the point where we can’t spell things in front of her anymore.)

Devyn: “I can tell you its NOT a cup!”

Way to keep a secret Devyn Paige, we’ve never been more proud!

Her Arrival, Part 2

Thursday, December 09, 2010 16 Comments A+ a-

My sincere apologies, everyone!  I truly didn’t intend to be so cruel in my cliff-hanger…  I just saw how long the birth story was getting and thought that would be a great place to end it.  Please, no mutiny!  You can read the 1st part here.

Jon and I exchanged one look and both quickly shook our heads no at the suggestion of an ambulance.  “I’ll be able to get her there a lot faster than an ambulance could,” Jon reasoned.  And when Dr. Susie was reminded that Jon was First Responder Certified, she asked if he was prepared to birth a baby in the car.  Jon’s reply?  “I could if I have to, but I’d rather not.”  Dr. Susie finally relented the idea of an ambulance and shooed us out the door after we promised to head straight to the hospital, to which we laughed.  As if we had anywhere else we had to be.

We both had our cell phones out and dialing various family and friends before we reached the car.  I tried Mom, then a couple of sisters, only to reach their voicemails.  I finally got a hold of Christine and was only able to utter the words, “Seven centimeters.  Hospital now.  Please hurry!”  I called my friend, Cassie, who agree to pick the kids up from my parents house and Jon relayed that information to Mom, who was frantic to get to the hospital after missing out on Reagan’s birth.  Between calls and a couple of contractions, Jon and I made many jokes about the morning’s events on our way to the hospital.  And truth be told, I don’t think his driving was any different than how he normally drives.  Take that as you want.

BirthCollage1Jon dropped me and my purse off at the entrance and I made my way up to the Labor and Delivery floor.  I had to pause a couple of times in the hallways for the strong contractions, and thankfully no one bothered my by asking if they could help or if I was all right.  I would have walked a fine line between annoyed and mortified if they had.  Jon met me on the 3rd floor, and we were led to my room where we were given the same directions that I’d been given the two previous times before.  While in the bathroom changing, I had two intense contractions that almost made me cry out to Jon for help.  And if I could have talked, I probably would have.

Finally I was settled into the bed where I promptly asked for the epidural.  Don’t get me wrong, I realize that I was probably already at 8cm (much like I was when giving birth to Hudson) but I didn’t care.  I have no desire to feel pain and if I can go through birthing a child without it, I’ll gladly take the pain-free route.  Dr. Susie had obviously called ahead and given the nurses all the information they needed, as I suddenly had four nurses by my side, each one doing something different.  One administered an IV, one attached the monitors, another was already notifying the anesthesiologist that they were needed, etc.  It was like a well-oiled machine.

BirthCollage2Mom arrived, followed by Jon’s mom, then the requested anesthesiologist, and in the midst of receiving the best epidural of all four deliveries, I had THE most intense contraction.  I know that I squeezed Jon’s hand too hard, but in that moment, all I could think was, “Thank the lord, I won’t be feeling any more of those!”  I profusely thanked the the kind doctor for the lack of pain I was now feeling, and was instantly smiling again.  I no longer had to fear the idea of giving birth without one.

The next couple of hours blurred together as everyone who needed to be there arrived, even Courtney who had to drive from 55 miles away in less than 40 minutes.  Dr. Susie arrived and explained why she wasn’t checking my process again, that since I was Strep B Positive, the less she checked the less likely for infection or making things go faster than they already were going.  And even though all three youngest kids had tested positive and we were well-familiar with the process of antibiotics, she went through the explanation again.  In fact, soon after she explained why they were afraid of my water breaking and not having the antibiotics in my system for long enough time, my water broke on its own.  We were now 3 for 4 with water breaking naturally.

BirthCollage3As the wait lengthened, there was talk of lunch and whether or not they dared leave after their experience of leaving for dinner when I was giving birth to Devyn.  And just like with Devyn, Dr. Susie, Jon, and I assured them that they had plenty of time to grab some lunch.  Yet once everyone had gone to the cafeteria, Dr. Susie finally decided to check me and that’s when she announced that I was almost 10cm and ready to push.  And just like with Devyn, we were frantically calling everyone to let them know they should probably return as soon as possible.  Only this time, we weren’t getting a hold of anyone as the cafeteria had spotty reception, at best.  Finally, (finally!) we got a hold of someone and waited for them to arrive and Dr. Susie and the nurses moved everything into place as we prepared for Ashlynn’s arrival.

BirthCollage4About the time everyone got back to the room, Dr. Susie was already having me starting to practice pushing.  Just as she had Jon lean over and take a look at Baby’s head, I saw my husband turn as white as a sheet, bark an order at Courtney to “Take over!”, and sat down to catch his breath.  Suddenly all attention turned from me and to the father-of-four who had never gotten light-headed in the delivery room before.  He was ordered to put his head between his legs, and we were all surprised when he ran to the bathroom to empty the contents from his stomach.  When he returned and despite all his insistences that he was fine, a cold wash cloth was laid across his brow and a student nurse stood behind him.  Just in case.

The attention returned to the birth at hand and Dr. Susie kept asking if I had any urge to push.  Unfortunately, unlike the epidurals with the other three, this epidural had worked SO well, that I wasn’t feeling anything and we relied on the monitors to tell us when I was having contraction to help with pushing.  With Hudson I only had to push three times and with Reagan, I pushed once, so I was a little surprised that I had to work harder with Ashlynn.  I guess that’s what I get for making assumptions again.  (And yes, I’m very aware that many women have to push for a lot longer than the 10 minutes I had to push with Ashlynn; it was just a surprise based on my own frame of reference.  Ok, I’ll stop now.) 

BirthCollage5But finally… after three (almost four) weeks of false labor, excruciating back pain and pelvic pressure, after two visits to the hospital and another two to the doctor’s office, she was finally here.  All six pounds, eight ounces, and nineteen inches of her.  She’s currently laying beside me as I type out this birth story.  The older three are distracted from fighting over her by watching “Horton Hears a Who” and I’m awed that eight days ago, she was nestled snug inside me and now none of us can imagine life without her.  Welcome to this crazy life, Miss Ashlynn Rose!

Her Arrival, Part 1

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 10 Comments A+ a-

I felt the 1st contraction at 8:00am, while I put the finishing touches on Devyn’s hair.  I paused mid-brush and had to breathe through the pain, finally relaxing once I felt the contraction crest and then to start to ease.  “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself.  “That one really hurt!”  Then proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes getting the kids ready, out the door, and to my parent’s house so Devyn and Hudson could attend bible study with Nana.  Just as I pulled into the driveway, another strong contraction started and I was unable to move from the driver’s seat until it started to subside.

I unloaded the kids from the car and we made our way into the house, loaded down with the diaper bag, my laptop, and coats and shoes that had yet to be put on.  As we sat at the kitchen table admiring the new advent calendars that my parents had bought the kids, another contraction started and ended with my mom watching my face carefully.  I just waved my hand, indicating that it was nothing, probably more false labor.  However, within a matter of 10 minutes, I had three strong contractions and I finally said the words I’d been thinking out loud, “Mom, I’m not sure you should go to bible study today.”  And Mom was completely convinced after another contraction started within seconds of that announcement.

I called Jon and the doctor’s office, telling both that I needed to come in for a labor check.  You could hear the placating tones in everyone’s voices as they’d been dealing with my labor checks for a few weeks now.  Mom agreed to watch the kids for me, and Jon said he’d meet me there.  As I started driving away from my parents, I started making the needed calls to friends to be on stand-by, that I might just need them to watch Hudson and Reagan for me today after all.  I was so caught up in the urgency of the events that I’d forgotten to take out the kids carseats and flipped a U-turn to do just that.  Finally, a little over an hour after my first contraction, I was on my way to the doctor’s office.

Mom had wondered out loud if I was capable of driving myself to the doctor’s office and I assured her I was fine, that I wasn’t entirely convinced myself that I was experiencing the real deal.  There were a couple of smaller contractions on the way, but about two miles from the doctor’s office one contraction was so strong and so powerful that I contemplated pulling over to the side of the road until it was done.  One thing was certain, I was pretty sure I shouldn’t be driving.

When I finally got to the doctor’s office, Jon was already waiting inside, and I shot him a weak smile as I leaned against the front counter waiting for the next contraction to lessen.  I was called back to an exam room shortly after that where I sat second-guessing whether or not this was the real thing, yet cursing Jon when he told me that he fully expected to go back to work.  But when another contraction started, all doubt vanished.  These were simply taking my breath away.

I could hear my doctor talking to a patient in another exam room, and I could feel myself getting annoyed, wondering why they didn’t feel the same urgency as I did.  When the second contraction started easing, I looked at Jon and said, “If she’s not here in three minutes, you’re going to look for her.”  Jon’s response was to roll his eyes, but not long after, Dr. Susie walked into the room.  We went over the morning’s events and as I started to get into position for her to check my progress, the third contraction since I’d walked into the room started; Jon gripped my hand as I breathed my way through the worst of it.

I carefully watched Dr. Susie’s face as she examined me and the look on her face said it all, without a doubt I was being sent to the hospital.  “Jenn,” she started, “you’re definitely having a baby today.  You’re already seven centimeters.”  I breathed a sigh of relief at her words, happy that I wasn’t going home without my baby in my arms, relieved that I wouldn’t have to face induction after all. 

But Dr. Susie still look concerned and asked me again how fast the others had come, and when she frowned at my answers, I finally asked her if everything was ok.  She slowly nodded yes and said, “I’m just concerned about whether or not we have enough time to get to the hospital.  I think I should call you an ambulance.”

…to be continued…

Sisters

Sunday, December 05, 2010 5 Comments A+ a-

Loving the opposites in our youngest girls. Reagan with her blond curls, blue eyes, and light complexion. And Ashlynn our little dark beauty!

Now if we can just teach Reagan that fingers don't belong in Ashlynn's eyes, ears, mouth, or nose...

The Face We’ve Been Admiring

Friday, December 03, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

Picnik collage1

Just some quick peeks at the face we’ve been admiring the past few days!  And a few random thoughts to jot down for prosperity’s sake…

  • Overall, she is a really good baby.  She does have her fussy moments, usually between 3:00 and 5:00am, but that’s ok as nights will probably be our few times to be alone.
  • She has a full head of black hair, black eyebrows, and eye color that i have no doubt will be brown in a matter of months.  I am overjoyed as I’d completely given up hope on any of the kids having my coloring… and have bowed to Jon’s superior genes with blond, curly hair and blue eyes.
  • She instantly recognized Hudson’s voice and turned her head the first time she heard it.  It was amazing!
  • She is a great nurser and latched on immediately after birth.  I have no doubt that she played a major part in my milk coming in on the 2nd day. 
  • Ashlynn lost 8ozs in the hospital, bringing her discharge weight to an even 6lbs.  Nothing to be concerned about, and I have no doubt she’ll make it up in the days to come.
  • We see so much of Devyn in little Ashlynn’s face, but as the days pass, she’ll share a look or two that is definitely Reagan.  We believe Ashlynn has Devyn’s nose (courtesy of Uncle Brock) and Hudson’s lips (courtesy of Aunt Christine), and are having fun watching genetics play out.
  • The kids are doing ok, with Devyn stepping into her patient, big sister role seamlessly.  Hudson and Reagan have both taken to Ashlynn so well and now its a fight as to who gets to hold Miss A next.  In fact, don’t be surprised if you come to visit and Reagan won’t share.  In her words, “My baby.”

I’m thankful for a husband who is taking the new few weeks off to help the adjustment go easier; I’m thankful to the family and friends who were willing to watch the kids for us while we stayed in the hospital and got to bond with our newest little girl; and thankful to Jon’s mom who simply polished our house from top to bottom for us.  What a blessing to come home to!

I’ll be sure to share more later.  I’m especially looking forward to sharing Miss A’s birth story with you all, there was plenty of excitement as she arrived the fastest of all our babies.

She's Here!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 35 Comments A+ a-

Just when we thought she'd was content to stay where she was, she finally made her arrival.

Ashlynn Rose
December 1, 2010, 1:10pm
6lbs, 8ozs, and 19 inches

We think she looks very much like Devyn. I'm sure more pictures will be up shortly. Thanks for all your prayers!

The Update I Never Thought Would Be, 40+ Weeks

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 5 Comments A+ a-

0000IMG00237-20101130-1719

Here I sit, 40 weeks and 1 (almost 2) day pregnant.  I truly never thought I’d make it to this stage in the game.  I blame Reagan for arriving 2 weeks early, thus spoiling my ability to wait.  But it appears that Ashlynn is more like her older two siblings than Reagan.  Its ok, really it is, and I don’t mind the wait, so long as I have a plan in place.  I would much prefer to do this labor thing naturally and would appreciate all prayers, thoughts, and good wishes for my body to FINALLY go into real labor.  But since I had to be induced with Devyn, I’m fully prepared to go that route too.  Personally, I think she’s going to need a little coaxing to come out, but she could definitely prove me wrong.

How Far Along:

40 weeks and 1 day

Size of Baby:

The average newborn weighs about 7 1/2 pounds (a small pumpkin) and is about 20 inches long.

Total Weight Gain/Loss:

Since I’ve weighed the same these last two weeks, I feel I can say that my total weight gain has been 22 pounds.  Again this is not including the 5-7 pounds I never lost after having Reagan.  So I would say my weight gain is really between 27-29 pounds, which is pretty average for all my pregnancies.

Maternity Clothes:

I’m now yanking on all my shirts to make sure they’re covering every piece of skin possible.  I wish I’d invested in some maternity dresses and leggings.  Those would’ve helped a lot, I’m sure, and they look so comfortable too.

Gender:

Our baby girl, Ashlynn Rose.

Movement:

Still moving, still trying to break a rib or two.  She is most active at night, which often keeps me awake.

What I Miss:

Rolling over in bed without heaving my body up and over.  Seriously.

Sleep:

See the last two questions.

Symptoms:

I have been stuck at 4cm dilated for the past 3+ weeks, but she has moved from –2 to 0 station within the past week.  Yes!  Only 3 more stations to go!  (If this is utterly confusing to you, I’d like to direct you to this site.  This does not come without some warning, childbirth information will be seen.)

Best Moment This Week:

Date night with Jon.  Actually, once I finished date nights with the kids, Jon asked when it was his turn and tonight we had a wonderful dinner out, followed by Christmas shopping, and a delicious Peppermint Mocha Starbucks drink.  4 hours of alone time with my hubby, and don’t think I didn’t enjoy every single minute.

What I’m Looking Forward To:

Getting to meet this little girl, once and for all; getting to count her fingers and toes; getting to look into her face; and  getting to know this newest addition to our family.  We wonder if she’ll be Diva or Laidback after all the ups and downs she’s taken us through these past few weeks.

Here’s hoping that she makes her appearance sooner, rather than later.  And I’m still holding out hope that my body will finally go into labor on my own.

Hitch Hiker

Monday, November 29, 2010 5 Comments A+ a-

This is such a classic snapshot of my life with little ones.

Imagine my surprise when I looked down to see GI Joe hitching a ride from Strawberry Shortcake. I'm sure it had everything to do with the fact that Strawberry Shortcake's ride is faster and smoother than the Humvee.

A Picture Says 1,000 Words

Saturday, November 27, 2010 4 Comments A+ a-

watchedpotI know everyone is wondering.  Hope this answers any questions you might have.  And yes, I can still laugh about it.  For now.

A Disappointing Morning

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 7 Comments A+ a-

Jon and I were up early this morning, from 1:30-3:30am, tracking contractions that were coming every two to three minutes and lasting at least a minute long.  I sat in a hot bath, aching for relief and fighting back tears on some of them.  We debated back and forth between the two of us, do we go in for another labor check?  Or should we wait?  This was a game my body’s been playing with me for weeks now, a game I’m not too fond of, and since we were heading to the hospital in a few hours to be induced anyway, I decided to go with my gut and wait.  We crawled back into bed, fell asleep (as I usually do), and the contractions went away on their own (like they always do).

I was awake a few hours later, answering texts about whether or not I was excited that this was the day, the day we got to meet to Ashlynn.  I was cautiously excited, warmed at the idea of holding my newest baby girl by the end of the night, and hopped in the shower.  I’d been given explicit instructions to call the hospital’s number at 6:30 to make sure everything was still set for our induction.  Yes, this was a scheduled induction, but we were also the first on the list to be bumped off if anything came up.  I was toweling off and getting dressed, thinking about where to find the sheet of paper with the hospital’s phone number on it, when my phone rang.  My heart sank.  I knew instantly what that meant and the voice at the other end confirmed it, the Birthing Center was full and I was no longer going to be induced that morning.  “Ok,” I thought to myself, “a minor set-back.”  I listened to the rest of the voice’s instructions and waited eagerly for my doctor’s office to open at 8:00 to find out the next stage of the plan.

Jon took the kids so I could try to sleep for another hour, texted with a friend who had intimate knowledge of the Birthing Center’s busyness, and prepared myself that I was probably looking at another day or two or three before getting on the schedule again for a second chance at induction.

I’d just fallen asleep when the phone woke me and I recognized my doctor’s number.  Dr. Susie’s voice registered through the phone and I fell into instant shock as she relayed the unhappy news.  Not later today, like she’d originally hoped, not tomorrow, nor Thursday, nor Friday.  The Birthing Center was booked solid and we were now looking at the end of next week!  Shock kept all emotion from my voice and all feeling from my heart, until Dr. Susie started prying into my real thoughts about this change of plans and then the dam burst.  Suddenly I was drowning in a sea of disappointment, pity, sorrow, and disbelief.  We talked through my tears about some other ideas and she ended the call that she’d call back later, and that she wanted me to get some rest.

I called Jon into the room and relayed the horrible news, hiccupping and sobbing my way through the conversation.  It was an ugly cry to end all ugly cries; the kind that makes the skin blotchy and red, the kind that swells your eyes shut, and you can feel the beginnings of the pounding migraine that will be your punishment for allowing such a pity party.  I sent off some texts explaining the situation, laid the phone next to the pile of used tissues on my nightstand, and allowed Jon to pull me into his embrace to fall asleep. 

I didn’t answer a single call during the next few hours, not from my mom, my sisters, or friends.  Some texted and offered a coffee date or lunch date, Mom wanted to know if I wanted to see a movie, but the idea of going out in public was just too much for me.  I had much to process, the least of which was my overall disappointment that I wasn’t going to be holding my baby girl by nightfall. 

As I laid next to Hudson during his nap time, a fresh perspective and understanding seeped into my heart.  I read news of another blogger, who was due the day after me, that the son she’d borne this morning was on oxygen and she’d yet to hold or see him.  I remembered my own inner-turmoil when we first started discussing induction.  And somehow both Jon and I had known that this was going to happen.  When we finally emerged from the bedroom after Hudson’s nap, I was at complete peace with the circumstances. 

For whatever reason, God firmly shut the door to inducing Ashlynn’s arrival, there wasn’t a doubt to be had that this wasn’t of His hand and His plan.  And as much pain as I’m in, as much as I detest the contractions that are bringing slow, almost non-existent, progress, I also know that each day inside is another day for her to grow and be ready for life on the outside.  I can honestly say that as horrible as this morning was, I am now in agreement with the change of plans; plans that we obviously really have no control over in the first place.  Who knows what these next days will bring…  Will I finally hurdle that wall and go into labor on my own?  Will my water break?  Or will she need a little help like her oldest sister did at 10 days past my due date?  But if you want to pray that God will grant my body a break from the contractions, I certainly won’t stop you.

Stories to Bide the Time

Monday, November 22, 2010 6 Comments A+ a-

Story #1:
Grammy, Jon’s mom, created a new game with the kiddos that involves them trying to convince “Ashlynn” to come out and join them.  They’d chime in, “Come out Ashlynn” and she (Grammie) would respond, “No, I’m all warm and snug inside Mommy.”  Then they’d take turns trying to sweeten the deal…

Hudson:  “We have donuts!”

Hudson:  “We go camping and fishing too!  You’ll like it!”

Devyn:  “And we have pretty great Christmases too!”

Story #2:
Jon and I are currently reading this book and this book in our couples bible study.  Yesterday we curled up on our bed and read aloud the chapters, and Miss Paige decided to join us.  Out of nowhere, she interrupts us, “I know what married means.”

“Oh really?” I ask nonchalantly, and she shakes her head in affirmation.  I continue, “It means that two people fall in love, create a life together, buy a house, and have kids.” 

“But the honeymoon comes first!” she interrupts.

I don’t think I’ve seen Jon go as pale and sweat so fast at the same time before.  Poor guy!

Story #3:
On our way home from bible study, the on-again, off-again contractions were picking up and I was breathing through the worse of them.  Devyn pipes in from the backseat, “Uh oh, Mama has to go to the hospital again!”  Even they know my trips to the hospital for false labor is getting ridiculous.

Story #4:
Reagan has fallen in love with dolls and Barbies recently.  While I remember holding off Barbies as long as I could with Devyn, Reagan is another story.  Such are the perks of having an older sister.

Regardless, while she will play with them and we’ll take turns undressing and dressing them again, my absolute favorite is when she takes the doll, sniffs the bottom, and holds it out to me.  “Stinky!” she proclaims.

NewDesigns And lastly, check out the gallery for some new designs.  I feel so blessed to have stayed as busy as I have!

A Sunday Funny

Sunday, November 21, 2010 4 Comments A+ a-

Top 10 Signs You’ve Been Pregnant Too Long
  1. At your doctor's office, they're talking about inducing you. But it was the janitor in the elevator who suggested it first after taking one look at you.
  2. You won't be held accountable if you happen to punch the next person who says to you, "You don't look comfy," or "Are you sure it's not triplets?"
  3. Family and friends who were once interested and excited in your upcoming birth are bored with you.
  4. Even your husband is no longer interested in helping you out with that #1 method of getting labor going ....
  5. Braxton-Hicks contractions no longer phase you, and you wonder in the back of your mind if you'll glaze over real-labor contractions too and be surprised when the baby arrives while you're eating breakfast one morning.
  6. You are considering charging your baby rent. You could take it out of his or her future allowance.
  7. When you hear a friend's neighbor had her baby two weeks early, you scoff, "Showoff! Overachiever!"
  8. When people politely ask how you're doing, you tell them you feel you're going to burst -- and they believe you and take five steps backward.
  9. Everyone answers a call from you with “Are you in labor yet?”
  10. Your toddler son gets confused when you show him a real baby -- and it's not in your belly.

Coming Full Circle

Thursday, November 18, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

BirthdayBannerOn this, the eve of Devyn’s 6th birthday, I am overcome with emotion and memories.  The birth of our oldest runs like a movie reel in my head and I’m overwhelmed by the similarities between now and then.

Six years ago tonight, I cried myself to sleep as I’d been turned away from Labor & Delivery for my planned induction due to the fullness of their floor.  Six years later, I’m near tears as I deal with intense contractions and no progress to show for it.  Six years ago tonight, I wondered what it would be like to hold my baby girl for the first time.  Six years later, I’m wondering the same thing.  Six years ago tonight, I sat on the precipice of my life changing forever.  And six years later, I sit on the same precipice wondering when we get to meet this latest addition to our family, changing it forever.

The only difference between then and now is 10 days.  Devyn was born 10 days after her due date, and Ashlynn still has 10 days to go until her due date.  Its an ironic twist of fate, is it not?  As we celebrate the birth of one daughter, the daughter who ushered in this new stage of our life of being parents, we anxiously await the arrival of another daughter to complete our family.  Aside from the hormones of a pregnant lady, I can’t help but tear up at the extraordinary timing of our God.

 

DevynBirthdayCollageIt was truly a lightning bolt with the arrival of Miss Devyn Paige.  From the moment they laid that baby girl on my chest in 2004, a lightning bolt of love seized my heart and I haven’t been able to love any less since.  “Where did time go?” I whispered to Jon as we sifted through the pictures of birthdays past.  How on earth did my baby girl go from infant to school girl in the amount of time it took me catch my breath?

She is beauty personified, in every way imaginable.  The person that she is inside radiates from the core outward, and I have no idea how I was given the honor of being her mother.  She humbles me with her unwavering faith in God, even going so far as to ask Him for a darker hair color and showing no surprise when it happened.  Her patience far outweighs mine, as she continually exceeds my expectations in her role as Big Sister, Big Cousin, or Caring Friend.  She is everything I strive to be, but fall so very short.  And neither Jon nor I can take any credit for the girl she is becoming.  Her heart is good, it is pure, and she is such a joy in our lives.

Miss Devyn Paige, the day you came into our lives forever changed us.  We are thrilled and blessed to be your parents, and continually pray for the guidance and wisdom in shaping you into who God has called you to be.  Baby Girl, I admire your quiet confidence in all situations.  I adore that you refuse to go along with a crowd, always willing to invite others to join you, but doing what you want even if no one else does.  That, my love, is a trait I never acquired and I know it will serve you well.  Thank you for touching all those around you with your stories of unwavering faith, I pray that you will always be a light for Him.  We love you and are so thankful to call you “ours”.  Happy Birthday, my love!

Still Here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 5 Comments A+ a-

Yes, folks, I’m still here.  I’m still around, with no baby to hold.  Yet.

I had a number of friends check in yesterday, wondering how I was doing, how I was holding up, curious to see if something had happened since I hadn’t updated the blog in a few days.  It made me smile!  So many people who want to meet Miss Ashlynn and I can’t wait to share her with y’all too.

Labor always seems just out of reach for me.  Things will progress (and yes they are progressing, I’m just not sharing the nitty, gritty details on here or on Twitter) and labor will seem imminent, only to have the contractions back off again.  I told Jon that it seems like labor wants to start but is having a hard time getting a consistent pattern of contractions to do their job.

Yesterday I had a good, ugly cry in the doctor’s office, with Dr. Susie there.  It was born of both pain and discouragement.  Plus it wouldn’t be a pregnancy for me without at least one ugly cry. 

Yesterday the back pain was so unbearable, I thought it might be back labor.  And it may very well have been, but she thinks Ashlynn may be sunny-side up (which some of you may have no idea what I’m talking about but basically, she’s facing up instead of facing down and her head is rubbing again my tailbone) and gave me some exercises to try and turn her around to the correct position.  I can’t even being to describe how silly I feel moving around on all fours while I clean up the living room, but there you go.

In all of my pregnancies, with the exception of Reagan, I have tried numerous different ways to induce labor.  I’ve been fully aware that if my body isn’t ready to go into labor, then no matter what I try, it won’t.  I have drank red raspberry leaf tea until I could hardly stomach the taste any longer.  I even ingested a herb called black cohosh when I was overdue with Hudson.  Jon has rubbed peppermint oil into the pressure points above my ankles, even getting some into his eyes.  (That’s a great story for another time!)  I have walked up and down hills, eaten spicy foods of all kinds, and Dr. Susie even stripped my membranes once I was overdue with Hudson.  The only thing I have never tried, even when I was 10 days overdue with Devyn, was drink castor oil.  I realize it might be a fool-proof way to induce labor, but it just scares me and sounds entirely unpleasant.

I have tried everything on this list, with the exception of the castor oil, all to no avail.  And it appears that Ashlynn appears to be as comfortable as her two older siblings, so I may be in this thing for a while yet.  We’ll see, huh?  Good things come to those that wait.  And while I truly believe that, I can’t help but curse Reagan a little for her early arrival; such a false sense of hope to give her mother.

Apparently there’s still time to enter our Baby Pool, as you can see, my guess has already come and gone…

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Saturday, November 13, 2010 3 Comments A+ a-

I’ve been playing the Waiting Game for most of the week.  I seem to be in that time of my pregnancy where we sit around, do nothing, hurry up, and wait.  Truth be told, it hasn’t been fun and I’ve missed working up to the very end of my pregnancies.  Instead I’m in a new season, a new role, and it is requiring more patience of me.  Patience that I’m not sure I have.

Tuesday night found Jon, my mom, and I in the hospital for a few hours.  I’d been having contractions, right on top of the other, and they hurt.  Even as we walked into the hospital, Jon was pretty sure it wasn’t the real deal, but he knew better and indulged his hopeful wife.  I was checked and surprised to hear I’d progressed since my doctor appointment the week before and settled into bed wondering if this was THE night.  And while the monitors picked up some of the stronger contractions, and proved that I was in an-every-3-minute-pattern, they soon dissipated and we were sent home.

The next morning Reagan walked into our bedroom, crawled into bed with me, and asked for the Baby.  With a somewhat discouraged spirit, I lifted my shirt to show that Ashlynn was still inside.  And yet on the other hand, I was thankful for another day with Reagan as the baby.

Wednesday my parents indulged me with a lunch out for spicy Mexican food, some of the spiciest I’ve eaten in a long time, and long walks up and down a 3-block-long hill by my parents house.  Nothing.  No contractions, no backaches, nothing.  Although disappointed, I woke on Thursday morning with a new attitude and vowed to enjoy our first snowy day at home, which we did, complete with grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, and hot chocolate with marshmallows after playing in the snow.  It was a good day.  A day to sit and count my blessings.

Then on Thursday night the contractions picked up again, complete with back aches and incredible pelvic pain.  I begged Jon not to take the Nyquil he so desperately wanted, “just in case”.  And thought for certain I was in the early stages of labor.  The whole next day I focused on those contractions, some merely uncomfortable, some having to breathe through, and one even waking me from a nap.  I focused on getting to my weekly appointment, sure I’d hear that I’d progressed to 5cm and to get to the hospital. 

I was sorely disappointed to hear there was no progress at all, and unfortunately Jon was the scapegoat the entire way home.  I would much prefer no contractions at all if there’s no progress to be made, but unfortunately, when you’re on child #4, our bodies don’t work that way.  And so here I sit, determined to ignore every contraction, instead of focusing on them, until I can’t ignore them any more.

toesBut the biggest blessing of today?  The thing that truly lifted my spirits and revived my determination to be patient?  These beautiful toes  right here!

My dear friend Mandy told me last week that we needed a girls day, then proceeded to make pedicure appointments for today.  She listened patiently to me all week as I excitedly told her of each new sign pointing to impending labor, she encouraged me during every letdown, and kept reminding me that Ashlynn couldn’t arrive until after our pedicures.

It was two hours of girl talk, of being pampered, of commiserating with another woman the pangs of this waiting period.  And it was greatly appreciated!  I feel rejuvenated and rested; I’m thankful for a friend for knowing exactly what I needed, when I couldn’t see past my own disappointment. 

And to all the other women in my life who have patiently listened to my complaints, my hopeful calls, and texts, to the friends who have sent encouraging words my way, my heart thanks you too.  I’m so blessed by each one of you, and I’m undone by your love and support.

Now I’m going to finish up some designs while I admire my buffed, massaged, and polished toes.

A Day to be Content

Thursday, November 11, 2010 6 Comments A+ a-

The snow is falling outside, another 4-6 inches is expected, and Jon's been working since midnight. He'll be home around noon, sleep the sleep of the dead for several hours, wake up for dinner and some family time before heading out at midnight again. I don't say it as often as I should, but I am so thankful for the hard-working man that is my husband.

As for the rest of our family, we're currently cocooned inside next to the fire, a cup of hazelnut coffee in my lap, a bowl of oatmeal has filled my tummy, and the sounds of my girls playing in the basement are making my heart content. Soon Hudson will come home after having a sleepover at my parents house and the noise level will rise several decibels. Sigh. Life in our house on a snowy day is good, and comforting, and evokes a sense of contentment and thankfulness like no other.
  • I'm thankful for the roof over our heads, a fire in our hearth, and a picture window to watch the falling snow.
  • I'm thankful for the pleas of hot chocolate that I will soon be hearing from little voices.
  • I'm thankful for the food that I will mix together in our crockpot; the smells will make our cozy home even homier.
  • I'm thankful after a discouraging night of false labor, then I awoke with a new perspective on His timing for our little girl's arrival.
  • I'm thankful for conversations between young siblings as they play indoor games and color pictures.
  • I'm thankful for a body that continues to nurture and protect our growing babe.
Life is about finding the blessings in all the small things, even the gargling toddler standing next to me. Her facial expressions are cracking me up; her small white teeth showing as she drinks, then gargles her water. Even when life seems so uncertain in the security of Jon's job and the tightening of the state's budget, even when we play the waiting game for Ashlynn's arrival, I am determined to find contentment in the every day things.

And truth be told, I'm even thankful for a day that forces us to stop, cuddle up, and soak in each other. My God knew exactly what I needed today.

Decking The Halls Early

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9 Comments A+ a-

If you’re one of those people who refuse to acknowledge Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving, you may want to stay away from my blog during the next few weeks.  Due to the fact that I really have no idea when Ashlynn is coming, or how much time I’ll have between now and then, I’ve decided to upload my Christmas design now.

I’m loving the overall feel of the design, I may still make a few tweaks here and there as time allows.  But I’m loving how festive (and cold) it appears.  Plus, when I saw that Amanda had uploaded some new fonts and saw this font on there, I had to use the Pea Ashlyn font.  Seems all too appropriate right now.  Pretty soon (I hope), I’ll be able to include a picture of all four of my little darlings in here.

Here’s to one of my favorite holiday seasons (I just adore November through December), and hopefully the addition of a baby girl soon.  Enjoy!

Excuse me, does that say 6?!

Monday, November 08, 2010 5 Comments A+ a-

BirthdayCollage1

In spite of the fact that I just gave birth to Devyn Paige yesterday, yes, that candle does, in fact, have a number 6 on it.  I cannot get over the fact that my oldest, the beautiful girl that gave me the title “Mama” in the first place, is turning six years old this month.  I plan to have a whole post dedicated to her on her actual birthday, but today I just want to touch on a new phenomenon in our lives… the Friend birthday party.

After last year, Jon and I discussed the fact that we simply could not continue to combine all our family and friends for one birthday party and thus began our talks of dividing the two.  This was the first year that Devyn invited friends outside of our circle, the first time that Jon and I did not handpick her invite list from our circle of friends.  Devyn excitedly sat down with me one day and wrote out the list of friends she wanted to invite.  My eyes got wider as I realized we’d reached a new phase in our life.  One, she had to be the one to write down each name herself, painstakingly taking her time, and sounding out each name carefully.  And two, I had no idea who half these kids were, let alone whether or not I’d get along with their parents.  Sigh.  Our lives have changed.

The big day arrived, and with it, a new world of getting to know new friends, their parents, and a new dynamic to this growing-up thing.

BirthdayCollage3

 BirthdayCollage2

 BirthdayCollage4

36 Weeks and Counting…

Saturday, November 06, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

For those that are interested in playing, we have created a new ExpectNet game online for family and friends to guess when Ashlynn will make her arrival and her size.  You can click here to participate or go to www.expectnet.com and the title of the game is AshlynnRose.  If you play and know us in real life, we only ask that you refrain from using our last name or the name of our city when entering a guess.  There are hints listed to help you guess.  Uncle Josh (Jon’s brother) won the pools for both Devyn and Hudson, while Grammie (Jon’s mom) won the pool for Reagan’s birth. 

36WeeksCollageThese were taken at Devyn’s birthday party today, which was actually held 2 weeks early just in case Miss Ashlynn arrives early.  Her party deserves a post of its own, as it was the first time we invited her school friends.  What a surreal experience!

How Far Along:

36 Weeks and 5 Days

Size of Baby:

Between 6 lbs, 18.5 inches and 6.5 lbs, 19 inches.  Since Reagan was only 5lbs, 10ozs, and 18 inches long at 38 weeks, I know this to be only an estimate.

Total Weight Gain/Loss:

I didn’t gain a pound during these past four weeks.  In fact, I feel like my face looks a little thinner in this picture.

Maternity Clothes:

Oh definitely!  Now we’re at the point that I’m even rubber-banding my maternity jeans!

Gender:

Another beautiful girl!

Movement:

Things must be getting cramped in there, as Miss Ashlynn’s movements have definitely calmed down.

What I Miss:

Getting to hug my other Littles closely.  Every time one climbs into my lap for a hug, Ashlynn kicks the both of us.

Sleep:

I wish I were sleeping better but contractions wake me about 3 or 4x a night, which is usually then accompanied with a trip to the bathroom or the kitchen for a snack.

Symptoms:

The contractions are coming more often, and the intensity is starting to increase.  But at my last appointment (Wednesday) I’d only moved from 1cm to 1.5cm and from 20% to 30% effaced. 

Best Moment This Week:

Watching little hands splayed all over my tummy as the older three all vied for a spot to feel Ashlynn move.  I wish I’d had a camera in that moment.

What I’m Looking Forward To:

The anticipation is building, knowing that she could make her arrival at any time.

The Space In-Between*

Thursday, November 04, 2010 6 Comments A+ a-

Ashlynn is currently straining against the confines of her home.  Every so often an elbow pushes out the side of my belly, or a knee implants itself at the very top, and more often than not, she pushes with all of her might so that her bottom sticks out, just begging for a caress.  Most evenings are spent with the two of us at my laptop, the kids are in bed and she keeps me company while I work on blog designs.  Its her most active time and I smile to myself as I watch the various movements press against my skin.  No matter that she’s my fourth child, it never ceases to amaze me the miracle that has taken place inside my body.

Right now, we’re in this space in-between, she and I.  We play the waiting game as contractions grow more frequent and become stronger.  We sit here and wonder when the time will come for her to arrive and we can finally get to know each other on the outside of my womb.  Its a new place for me, one I haven’t really been in before and I find the contradicting emotions a bit much to handle. 

With the other three children, I worked up until the day they were born.  The only times I wondered constantly about whether or not I was going into labor where night times and the weekends.  The hours of the days were occupied with thoughts of work, of preparing my office for my maternity leave and therefore I was kept busy laying out plans and making sure that all my work was caught up.  Yet this fourth time around, I find myself being a stay-at-home-mother and yes, while I am busy, there’s an underlying anxiousness as the thought of Ashlynn’s arrival is constantly on my mind.  I can’t help but feel like I’m going a little stir-crazy as I analyze each contraction and pain.

Not to mention the fact that I was a bit spoiled by Reagan’s early arrival.  Devyn set a precedent by arriving 10 days past her due date.  After that experience, I always had the expectation that I’d go late.  And there was no disappointment when Hudson arrived four days past his due date, it had been expected.  When we found out we were pregnant with Reagan, again I naturally assumed that she’d come late like her siblings.  Only that expectation was shattered when she arrived almost two weeks early.  And therein lies the danger of having a child arrive early.  The very thought of going to full-term, let alone going over my due date, seems a little cruel to me.  I fear that I’ll come undone if Ashlynn decides to follow her older two siblings and arrive late.

So here we sit, the two of us, in the in-between.  In-between the anticipation, eagerness, and impatience of holding my baby girl and trying to savor these last moments of it being just her and I.  These last moments of having life grow and flourish inside my own body.  I’m very aware that my days of being pregnant are coming to an end, that this phase of my life is coming to a close.  Its a bittersweet heartache as I experience the aches and pains of pregnancy in the third trimester for the last time, the last time that my child moves within me.  And so as anxious and excited as I am to meet her, I’m also mourning the end of this era and trying to memorize these last days.  This space in-between is hard on my heart, but I’m doing my best to soak it in.

*alternately titled… This Time, Its Different, Part II

What They Said

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 2 Comments A+ a-

A post of links, nothing more.  I promise to write a more meaningful or updated post soon, but in the mean time I just had to share these links. 
  • I love what Elizabeth, from Motherhood is Not For Wimps, had to say in this post about how each child has a different mother, all wrapped up in the same woman.  It is so true!  I found myself nodding in agreement about so much of what she said, and laughing when she writes about mothering her third.  Love this post!

  • The idea share in this post by Raechel at Finding My Feet is ingenious!  I love everything about this idea!  The community, the sharing, reducing grocery bill costs, and most importantly, the idea of cooking less.  If anyone is open to creating our own dinner supper around her, let me know!

  • My sister, Courtney, posted the first in a series of giving thanks during this month.  I’m sharing it simply because so many of her thanksgivings and blessings resonate with me. 

  • And lastly, I just wanted to bring your attention to the fact that I’m offering discounted blog designs during the month of November.  I’ve also posted a number of new designs too, I am so blessed by this creative outlet in my life.  Head over to Munchkin Land Designs and check it out!
I’ll be back soon!  I have a doctor appointment today, and while I’m hoping for some progress with these contractions, I’m also trying to maintain a realistic expectation too.  25 days until Miss Ashlynn’s due date!!

Halloween 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010 2 Comments A+ a-

Oh dear me!  After a good hour of trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, the younger two are still going strong as we listen to the sugar high wearing off from their bedrooms.  The oldest is sound asleep, but not without a complete meltdown.  As with any night of fun, we knew the sugar crash was coming and boy, did it come!  We did have a great time with our Cheerleader, GI Joe, Cowgirl, and cousin, Elliana the Ladybug.  And I know some great memories were created tonight!

Halloween1 Cheerleader
 GI Joe
 Cowgirl
 Halloween2

PS  For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to take decent pictures at night.  These will just have to do!

This Time, Its Different, Part I

Friday, October 29, 2010 0 Comments A+ a-

There were so many firsts with this pregnancy.  Firsts that caught me completely off-guard, firsts that I experienced much heartache over, firsts that I rejoiced, just so many firsts.  You’d think that this being my fourth pregnancy, I’d have experienced it all.  But truth be told, none of the other pregnancies could have prepared me for the physical and emotional toll this pregnancy has taken me on.

I’d experienced morning sickness up to 22 weeks with Hudson, so I wasn’t completely surprised when the morning sickness when beyond that time with Ashlynn.  Did it suck?  Oh yeah, but I was prepare for it.  The heartburn, however, was a new experience and one I’m not too fond of.  Like another friend quoted from the movie Juno, its the kind of heartburn that “is radiating in my knee caps” and nothing, NOTHING, makes it go away.  I’ve never had it with the other three, at least not to this extent. 

Ashlynn has started jumping on my bladder, and while I’d heard other women complain about this sensation before, I hadn’t yet experienced this joy for myself.  Until this time.  And every time she uses my bladder as a trampoline, I physically jump in pain.  There’s no way to explain the jolt that runs through your body when this happens, or how you silently negotiate with the child within to please. stop. jumping. on. my. bladder.  Mommy will buy you a pony, if you do!

And I’ve had active babies before, but none of the three can compare to the activity level of Ashlynn.  It is a steady stream of moving, and the kicking, oh the kicking!  There are times I wonder that she hasn’t broken her own bag of waters herself, her kicks are that strong.  Another expectant mother and I were commiserating on the fact that it truly feels like these little ones are trying to break our ribs.  Its crazy!

These are just the physical differences between this pregnancy and the others, I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the emotional differences this pregnancy has had on me.  Stay tuned…

Faith Like a Child

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

CourtneyDevyn, who are your best friends right now?

Devyn:  Emma… Addy… Shyann… Oh, and of course God!

Courtney and I exchanged looks of wonderment and affection as we reflected on our growing-up little girl.  Devyn mistook the looks for teasing.

Devyn [in an indignant voice]:   What?!  I like God a lot!

***************

Grammie [swatting at the flies]:  Oh, I hate these things!  Why haven’t they died off yet?!

Hudson:  Grammie, don’t hate the flies.

Grammie:  Why not?

Hudson:  Cause Jesus made them!

***************

Nana:  I heard we get to watch you at ballet class.

Devyn:  Yes, and I’m going to invite my friends to come too.

Nana:  That will be fun!

Devyn:  I’m going to invite God too.

Nana:  That will be very special.

Devyn:  Yeah, I know.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 2 Comments A+ a-

 

Image-1111

My Day - Twitter Version

Monday, October 25, 2010 3 Comments A+ a-

: In 24 hours, Devyn asked when she was getting breasts, Hudson lifted his shirt to prove he had them too, Reagan repeated her new favorite word "No" over and over and over again, and I just found about 10 different smiley face stickers on my pillow. Life is good.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Miscellaneous Monday

Monday, October 25, 2010 4 Comments A+ a-

Its been a while since I last posted, mostly because life happened and ran away from me last week.  This week we have far less on our schedule and I’m looking forward to some down time at home.  I have a number of blog designs to complete, some bags to pack as we await Ashlynn’s arrival, baby clothes and blankets to wash, a birthday party to plan, and a waiting game to play.  But let me catch you up with the goings-on in Munchkin Land…
  • Last Tuesday was spent in the hospital monitoring Miss Ashlynn Rose.  Nights are usually when she is most active and will usually wake me 6-8 times a night with her movements.  When I woke at midnight with Hudson, I noticed a very distinct lack of movement.  I fell back asleep and woke again at 6:00am, again very aware there was little to no movement from our baby girl.  I drank a Pepsi, laid on my left side, and waited to count kicks.  Nothing.  At this point, you can imagine how scared I was and when I called the on-call doctor, I was immediately referred to the hospital for a non-stress test.  Long story short… one biophysical ultrasound (which Ashlynn aced in 5 minutes) and beautiful non-stress test strip later, we were finally released.  Her movements have definitely decreased in general, but I’m chalking it up to cramped quarters.

  • Our Wednesdays are going to be busy from the moment we wake to the moment we lay their sweet little heads down to sleep.  Mama apparently did not think this busy schedule through very well, but alas, it is what it is.  And I know that once Ashlynn arrives we’ll be homebound for a few months, which will more than make up for these busy days.  Wednesday mornings start when Devyn and Hudson go to bible study with my mom, they just love learning about the same things Nana is learning.  I then pick them up and rush Devyn off to school.  Once school is out, its a mad dash home to put on Devyn’s dancing clothes and then she’s off to ballet.  Ballet is out at 5:30 and Awanas starts at 6:00, so a quick change in the van and eating a sack dinner is the plan to get to Awanas in time.  Sigh.  My days of being a taxi cab driver have just begun, I’m afraid…
Miscellaneouscollage

  1. Jon’s mom is currently staying with us and gifted us with freshly painted walls.  We have lived with the white walls for over three years and I’m still awed at how homey our master bedroom finally feels.  Seriously, I could spend hours in there now, and truthfully, its where I prefer to do blog designs at night.  We also got a few prints made from our maternity photo shoot and now they have the honored place above our headboard.
  2. Last Thursday night was spent carving pumpkins with the kids.  Correction.  Mom and Dad did all the carving while the peanut gallery offered plenty of criticism and “helpful” hints.  Once we lit all the pumpkins on our porch, Reagan declared them, “Scary!” and ran back inside.
  3. Saturday included a play date with three of Devyn’s school friends.  Isabelle, Chloe, Shyann, and Devyn were all in the same preschool class last year and they’re all in the same kindergarten class this year.  Its so fun to see their friendship develop.  Our play date consisted of dress-up time, craft time, and we even made cookies together.  It. Was. Exhausting!  However, since I grew up in a family of four girls, I knew what to expect from the chatty, giggly girls.  Whereas Jon and his mom were wide-eyed in wonder at how much noise four girls could create.
  4. Mom, my grandmother, my sisters, and I attended the Taste of Home Cooking Expo on Saturday night together.  It was a great time of getting new recipes, watching cooking demonstrations, and just some giggly girl time of my own.  However, when Mom and Alli arrived home that night, they found a yard full of plastic pink flamingos.  The accompanying sign read that it was in support of Breast Cancer Awareness and that the birds would eventually “migrate” on their own.  It was such a cool idea!  And I loved watching Hudson trying to sneak up on the birds to pet them.
  • We’re currently doing Just For Women and Just For Men in our couples group and its been an excellent break of pace as we divide into the two groups for discussion of the various chapters.  Jon and I mused on the way home that even after 8 years of marriage, we still are learning new things about each other.  That’s a really good thing, right?  Last night ended with a video clip from YouTube about the differences between the male and female brains.  Needless, to say we were all laughing good-naturedly.

  • Friday night Jon and I went out on the town for one of our last date-nights before Ashlynn’s arrival.  We had a coupon for our local Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse.  (Its one of those places where they cook the food right in front of you.)  Jon tortured me by ordering an appetizer of Spicy Tuna Rolls (sushi) and ate them knowing full well I can’t partake at the moment.  Grrrr!  However it wasn’t until after dinner that we realized it was also the 13-year anniversary of when we started dating.  13 years of being with him, and still liking him, and still enjoying our date nights.  I consider myself a lucky girl!
I think that’s it… Hopefully since I have more down time this week, I’ll be able to update a little more.  Hope you’re having a relaxing Monday too!