Lately

P1140229Lately, our family of four has been continuing to evolve our normal.  Our kids are growing and changing daily, simultaneously exhausting and frustrating while filling our hearts and giving us such delight that I sometimes think I will burst.  As I wrestle one child or another to bed (usually H), I often wish that he would just go to sleep!  But as soon as his precious blue eyes close and his little body is limp in my arms, I wonder how I could ever be frustrated with this darling boy.

These children and my husband are such treasures.  In a world that is as scary as ours, I constantly hear or meet people whose spouse or children are either taken from them or are profoundly hurting, and it terrifies me.  I have never known such intense anxiety as I have known since becoming a parent.  That saying about having children is like having your heart walk around outside of your body is absolutely true.  It is a constant struggle to remember that my family really belongs to the Lord, and all that I can do is love them well and leave the rest up to Him.  Much, much easier said than done.

P1130924The kids love each other so much, most of the time.  They each light up when they see the other, and now that H is full on crawling and can cruise around furniture, he is forever trying to play with anything J has, and vice versa.  It’s so precious to watch them together and I really hope they will be friends growing up, but I know that conflict will be aplenty, especially once H is able to retaliate when his sister does something not his liking.

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I cannot figure out why this picture won’t turn.

Life is not always rosy in our house; I am often frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, and tired.  When the house is a mess and the kids are screaming and I just want some alone time, I am still so thankful for this beautiful life (and for a husband who will give me a reprieve and let me catch my breath before I go nuts!!).

Hiding in the Light

My dad gave me a copy of Rifqua Bary’s story, Hiding in the Light, last year, and I just now got around to reading it.  It’s the true story of Bary’s escape from her Ohio home at age 16 and the events leading and following her flight.

Bary was born into a very conservative Muslim family in Sri Lanka and moved to the United States as a young girl.  She suffered physical, sexual, and verbal abuse at the hands of her family, and at the age of 12 she met Jesus.  After her conversion, she managed to hide her new faith for four years, but when her father found out, he threatened to kill her.  It was then that Bary fled to Florida and found refuge in the home of new friends.  A dramatic and public court battle ensued which led to Bary returning to Ohio in foster care and finally ended when she turned 18.  And although the court battle has ended, Rifqua still lives in relative anonymity to protect her physical safety.

Hiding in the Light is a well written story  and a quick read (I finished it in one day… even with interruptions from little children!).  The author has an incredible testimony of faith in Christ and her’s is a story well worth reading.

I Am Malala

I debated whether or not to write this review, since lately I’ve only reviewed books through Blogging for Books, but in the end, I decided that this book and the message that it delivers is too important to not say anything about it.

I’d seen Malala Yousafzai make the rounds on late night talk shows and after hearing the tiniest bit about her, thought she was probably a cool kid, but didn’t look any further into her story.  Well, Andrew bought me her book I Am Malala for Christmas and I gobbled it up in about two days.  Though it isn’t the best narrative I’ve ever read (it’s choppy in some places and the way it is written can sound awkward to the Western ear), the story is so so good.

Malala is a Pakistani teen who was shot in the face by the Taliban for being vocal about children’s, and specifically, girls’  rights to education.  She tells of her childhood and the brave example that her father has been, championing education and being an advocate for girls in an extraordinarily conservative culture, and how it all led to the eventual attempt on her life and moving to England.

One of the tests of a good book, in my opinion, is how it challenges your thinking and causes self-reflection.  And after reading this, I thought about how courageous Malala is, though she is still so young.  She is still essentially a child, something highlighted by her squabbling with her brothers and friends, but her bravery is astounding.  And I couldn’t help but think that I am probably not as courageous as she.  Probably because the older we (I) get, the more we (I) realize we (I) have to lose.

In a country and season where there is a lot of fear mongering going on, this was a most refreshing read and gave a lot of food for thought.

Plumdog

I recently read Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark, a really sweet little book that is essentially the diary of an English dog.  It’s cute and lighthearded and a quick read, not to mention beautifully illustrated.  It is such a pretty book!  Plum is the main character and she actually has her own blog that is totally adorable.

This book would make a good stocking stuffer for any dog lovers you are buying for this Christmas!

I received this book for free as part of the Blogging for Books Program; all opinions are 100% mine.

Five Stars

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber is, hands down, the best book I have read in a very long time.  Bolz-Weber is the pastor of a Denver church called House for All Sinners and Saints, and quite the departure from any pastor I’ve ever heard/read.  She is a former stand up comedian, who is sarcastic and sometimes profane.  And, wow, she and this book were exactly what I needed.

I grew up in a tradition that preached about the danger of legalism, while still handing out a pretty long list of “dos and don’ts”.  So partly out of my natural desire to please those in authority, and partly because I love rules and order, I never really learned how to be a “good Christian” without being legalistic.  And I never ever learned to appreciate liturgy.  I thought it was only for Catholics and was devoid of real meaning.  But after reading this book, I think differently and can see some stunning beauty in it.

In Accidental Saints, Bolz-Weber tells a collection of stories centered around the parishoners she pastors and the outpouring of God’s great grace on herself and those she leads.  It’s fantastic.  There are so many excerpts that I’d like to post that it would border on copyright infringement.  Honestly, something in every chapter spoke to my heart.  And while I don’t agree with Pastor Bolz-Weber on every theological, political, or moral issue, I don’t have to.  I think that’s part of the beauty of her book.  We don’t have to look alike, or see eye to eye on everything to be able to learn from each other.

And so I give an enthusiastic five stars to Accidental Saints.  Go grab a copy.

I received this book for free as part of the Blogging for Books Program through WaterBrook Multnomah.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can pierce the heart.

I really wish that I were the kind of person who was secure enough in who (and Whose) I am to not let the opinions of others hurt me.  But I’m not.  The truth is, I have many insecurities and although my feelings don’t get severely hurt often, they do get hurt.

A few days ago, my feelings were seriously hurt in an online setting, and to approach the person who hurt me would probably only escalate things.  So I’m trying to let it go.  But it’s hard.  I don’t hold any malice toward this person and it’s possible that she wasn’t trying to be hurtful, but I’m still having a hard time moving on.  Last night I ate my feelings (Chocolate Therapy by Ben & Jerry’s and a glass of wine), which really did make me feel better temporarily.  I’m hoping that writing about it will be a more lasting therapeutic exercise.

I guess it’s good to be hurt every once in a while, because it serves as a reminder that words carry weight.  They have the power to build up or tear down, and encourage or destroy.  And I want to be one who encourages.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”  Psalm 19:14

Bye Bye, Hair!

I cut my hair a few years ago and fully intended to send it to Locks of Love—I even put it in an envelope and addressed it!  But, sadly, it never made it to the post office because the envelope mysteriously vanished.  My hair was long enough again to donate this summer, so right before my maternity leave ended, my wonderful stylist chopped it all off!

In the end, I decided against Locks of Love and chose the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program, but both are worthy causes.

Triathlon

One of my “30 before 30” goals was to complete a triathlon, and I thought it would be a great incentive to get back in shape after Hudson was born.  So even before he was born, I knew that I would be doing one at Moss Park on October 3.  When I told Andrew my goal, he said that he would join me, which was great!  We could train together and stay together during the race, and just push each other to do our best.

I started exercising regularly again when Hudson was about 3 months old, which gave me about 8 weeks to train for the tri.  I never was able to complete all three (or even two) of the events back to back in my training, but I knew that if Andrew was with me, he would keep me accountable during the race and I would finish.  We had no time goals.  We just wanted to cross the finish line (and not be last).  And we did it!  We were 28 out of 35 and finished in just under two hours, but we did it!!

So in case you missed my Instagram posts, here are my pictures from the day.

God Gave Us Sleep

God Gave Us Sleep is a sweet book by Lisa Tawn Bergren, author of God Gave Us You, and several others.  The story opens with Mama Bear calling in Little Cub from playtime to begin her evening routine, and addresses why we need to sleep, bad dreams, and a busy mind, as well as how we feel when we don’t get enough sleep.

I don’t think that this book alone will solve a parent’s bedtime troubles, but it does serve as a good jumping off point to talk about issues that present themselves at bedtime, and is just a cute story in and of itself.  God Gave Us Sleep is available at Amazon.com.

I received this book for free as part of the Blogging for Books program through WaterBrook Multnomah.  All opinions are 100% mine.

And Baby Makes Four: A Birth Story

Our precious, lively boy arrived over four months ago and I am just now putting “pen to paper” to relive the day.  My memory has clouded a bit with the details/timing, but I think you’ll get the idea of what happened. ;)

The morning of April 28, a Tuesday, began uneventfully.  We got up, had breakfast, and Andrew left for a dentist appointment before going to work while Jane and I got ready for swimming lessons.  I had just sat down at the computer to check something when I saw an e-mail from Jane’s swim instructor cancelling lessons because of inclement weather.  Shucks!  We were really looking forward to our Mommy and Me lesson!  Well, 15 minutes later I was still at the computer when I felt a little leak.  Oh, boy!  Maybe my water broke! Run to the restroom and am confused.  There’s not much fluid, but I really don’t think I had an accident. 8:45 AM

So I called the midwife telling her what happened.  No contractions yet, and maybe my water broke?  She said that it was probably my water, to take it easy and she would check on me later.

About the same time, I texted Andrew to call me as soon as he was finished with the dentist.  That appointment felt like it took forever!!  When he finally called back, he asked if he was going to be staying home today.  And I said yes!  So he came home and we just tried to enjoy our very last day as a family of four.

My contractions started about the time Andrew came home (an hour after my water broke), but they were very irregular.  We decided to go on a walk at 1145 which helped to strengthen the contractions (and put Jane to sleep).  By the time we finished the walk, my contractions were between 2 and 6 minutes apart lasting 30-45 seconds.  I don’t remember how long we walked, but it wasn’t a really long or intense walk, but we did return hungry, so Andrew went to get lunch at Chipotle.  1:00 PM

Just look at that belly.

Just look at that belly.

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We had decided while we were walking that Andrew’s parents should plan to come get Jane around 3, hoping that my contractions would be more intense and that Hudson would be well on his way by then.  Well, 3:00 came and though the contractions were stronger, I was still feeling pretty good and it was so hard to say goodbye to Jane.  We tried to take one last picture as a family of 3, but they all turned out really blurry and out of focus.  I held it together to say goodbye to Jane since I didn’t want her to get upset, but once she rode away, I did shed a few tears.

Callie had been checking in on me all day, but by 4:30, I was getting frustrated.  The contractions were every 4-15 minutes, lasting 20-30 seconds.  If I stayed up and active they were closer together, but by this point I was starting to get tired.  Callie told me to rest and that she would give me a massage when she got to the house.  So Andrew and I passed the time by reading, playing cards, and watching The Office.

Callie got to the house around 8 and gave me a nice massage, then I ate dinner that Andrew had picked up (Panera & Publix), and drank a glass of red wine.  By this time, it was 10:30, so Andrew and I headed to bed to try to rest and Callie laid down on the couch.  My contractions had finally started to intensify, thanks to being able to relax, so it was pretty difficult to sleep, but I did manage to doze off for about 30 minutes.  Andrew took a good nap, but every time he moved it really annoyed me, and it seemed that he only moved when I was contracting.  11:45 PM

I had had enough by this time so I woke Andrew up and had him get Callie.  She checked me and said I was 8 cm.  She called her backup midwife, and we texted the birth photographer to come over.  Midnight.

There is a mix up between my chiropractor and Andrew now.  Her first name is the same as the photographer and Andrew asks her to come instead.  When we realize the mistake, I immediately text her back apologizing.  This really stinks because she had already left her house, so she had to turn around.  I’m sorry, Dr. Spaulding!!!

Get in the tub.  12:50 AM

I got out of the tub at one point to use the bathroom, but while I was up I had the urge to push, so I actually started pushing on the toilet, but then got back in the water.  I was determined to have a water baby this time.

At some point I yell at Hudson to just get out!!

I originally wanted to catch him, but then told Callie I couldn’t.  I needed all of my strength and focus to push.  So she asked Andrew if he’d like to catch.  He didn’t really know, if he wanted to, but she helped him catch our son.

April 29 at 3:33 AM

He is here.

Perfection.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you, Hudson.”

e-93I stayed in the water for a little bit before handing Hudson to Andrew so that I could get out.  When I stood up, I could barely walk.  Callie later told me that my hips had prolapsed.  I eventually made it to the bed and started to nurse Hudson while waiting for the placenta.  Callie kept encouraging me to push when I got the urge, but I was sick of pushing.  So then she had to threaten me with going to the hospital for a retained placenta.  I pushed.  It was delivered.  No hospital.

e-104Between the stitches (small tear), newborn exam, and shower, Andrew and I didn’t get to bed until about 8, right after my mom came over to drop off a meal before work.  So we were completely exhausted, but completely in love with our precious boy and so very thankful for a healthy and safe delivery and such a wonderful midwife and birth team.

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Photo credits: Erin Miller Photography