One month old, and a nursery.

   So my calendar informs me that our little man-child is one month old today, although I truly cannot believe it can be true.  I will spare you all the hormonal lamentations and cliche phrases about children growing like weeds and just say that WOW.  That really did fly by at a supersonic speed this time.  And they weren't lying when they said it goes faster with each one.  *sniff*

   And so in celebration of his one-month milestone, I thought I'd share a little peek into his room, which ironically, he spends almost zero time in.   He still sleeps in the cradle in our bedroom that Randy helped build (and sometimes our bed too, I'll just be honest) and I am just not even close to being ready to move him yet, so there he will remain for now.  But eventually, he will move into this room.

   I fixed up a nursery for Jocelyn but the second time around poor Charlotte just shared the already-existing girls' room (after she moved out of our room) and so this time around I was really wanting the chance to decorate a nursery again.  Because....BOY THINGS.  Fun, fun, fun.

   I wasn't originally planning on using navy but then I realized that it would just be the most practical choice.  The guest bedding was navy striped, and it would have been way too impractical to do away with the guest bed and make the entire room a nursery.  So since it would be a shared room and I didn't want to shop for new bedding, navy it was.  I still need something (headboard/wall art) for above the guest bed, so feel free to send suggestions my way.

  I wanted to stick with a fairly neutral theme, but then I decided to reuse the orange lamp I had sitting around and so little pops of orange were thrown in and of course it all became fairly colorful after that.  Oh well!  The love-of-color in me continues to leak out despite my best intentions.  

   One of the elements I KNEW I wanted (thanks to Pinterest) was a peg board above the changing table.  So Randy installed this nifty little number and I am just loving it for all the diaper station necessities.  

     It's not perfect and I'm sure it will continue to change as I add little things here and there (or maybe with just each Hobby Lobby run...that place is dangerous!!) but it works for now.  And it's not like he notices or anything. Ha.  The little alarm clock on the night stand doesn't work, but I wanted to use it anyway, so I just set it to the time he was born, and so it's frozen there forever.  Now if only we could make REAL time stand still......

   And please ignore the train.  The girls keep playing with it and I'll admit I have very little patience/reassembling skills and can hardly figure the thing out and so it looks a little preposterous here.  Why do they even make toys that you need a degree in engineering to decipher??!

   Our sweet William has quickly worked his way into the deepest parts of all of our hearts, and we can hardly imagine life without him.  I know I said I'd spare you all the cliches but I can hardly believe it's been a whole month since he entered our world.  I feel like his birth JUST HAPPENED.  

   The memories and emotions are still so raw and fresh in my mind.  I have said it before and I'll say it again....there is nothing on earth like the moment when your child is born.  This last labor was lightning quick and pure AGONY, but it was, like each of my births, incredible.  I beg for it to end quickly and as soon as it does, I want that moment to last forever.  But you can't have it both ways.  Time marches on, slowly, methodically, relentlessly.  But oh, that moment.........like the most euphoric high coursing through my veins that would make any narcotic seem like the cheapest substitute.

   I'm hoping for many, MANY more months and years with my little man, but in the meantime, I'm just grateful for each and every single day God gives me with this sweet boy.  

Oh my son, how you are loved.


Finding our groove.

   Well it took baby #3 to finally do something that I wish I would have done with all of my babies...a newborn photo shoot.  Taking baby pictures is always something I think I can just do on my own...and then of course never do.  What with all of the nursing and napping and recovering from labor and such.  It just never seems to happen and usually I just manage to eek out one or two good shots for the birth announcement and call it a day, missing out on that precious, brief, FLEETING stage of infancy.

   And so this time it was such a treat to have Kari from Kari Renee Photography  come over so I never even had to leave the comfort of our home, and capture our sweet William in his natural habitat.

   Of course he was sleeping peacefully for the first tiny bit of it and then we did some sibling ones and well....he was never quite very peaceful after that.  This poor guy puts up with a lot with his two loving sisters eager to shower him with affection at every turn.  I wished later (why is hindsight always so clear?!) that I had done all of the ones of him alone BEFORE letting the girls anywhere near him, but alas, alack.  What's done is done. 

    I am so grateful for how much they love their little brother, but I am getting a little anxious for them to find their new "groove" together after his arrival....they had been playing together so well before this new addition to our family took place and now it seems they know just how to get on each other's last nerve.  And consequently their mother's last nerve as well.  But I haven't given up hope.  I know that kinship is somewhere there still, buried deep beneath the uncertainty and insecurity Big Change brings, and they will find it again, in due time.

   I'm always a little hesitant to talk about how good of a baby he's been, because it always feels a little like bragging, and I don't like that.  But since he's been pretty much amazing since birth, than I can't really take any credit for that, can I?  And so it's not bragging.  It's just....reporting.  

   He is a good baby.  Basically sleeps and eats, with content awake times, long naps in the daytime, 6-7 hours of sleep at night.  But the strangest part is, even with such a good baby, I have had a rough time lately.  I have felt like my patience, motivation, inspiration and a lot of other things have called it quits.  Just up and left.  Just leaving me and my ragged, flawed self to try and fumble along and find a new "normal".

   Call it what you will.....post partum hormones, feeling cooped up inside and missing out on summer, restlessness, whatever it may be it hasn't been the easiest thing.  And I certainly can't blame the baby!  So I wrestle mostly with guilt over even feeling that way in the first place, and then a heaping second helping of guilt for not being the person I want to be, and then a third helping of guilt for not overcoming it all already for goodness sake.

   It's not that I expect to be perfect, or for my life to be, I just so badly want to do right by them, you know?  I want to be a good mom.  The best mom I can possibly be.  I want to be a great wife.  Keeping that fire lit and passions alive.  Running our home like a pro.  Or at least managing to keep the laundry going.  And I just feel like I have been striking out lately.  My patience feels paper thin, and the grace and mercy I want to embody and extend to my loved ones is as dried up as all of those flowers and house plants I keep killing off.

   And so I call on Jesus for help and I aim to recognize lies for what they are and I try not to let anything steal my joy....but sometimes I'm not successful.  The enemy is always seeking to kill, steal and destroy, and when he's working with a roller coaster of Mama Bear estrogen and emotions, he can do some serious damage in very little time.

   Of course everything looms so dark and discouraging and defeating in my mind and then when I try to put it into words it all seems so....silly?  But of course it's not silly.  The things that drag us down into the pit are a lot of things, but silly isn't one of them.  It's just that they seem so small when pulled out from the shadows and into the light.  As if they should have never been big enough to hurt us, but they were.  Or we let them.  Complete garbage and lies like:
I am not enough.
I never will be.
I am not important.
I have nothing to offer.

   And it seems so ridiculous and almost laughable that I should struggle at this stage of my life when my purpose and meaning is perhaps as clear as it will ever be.  I GREW A HUMAN WITH MY BODY AND BIRTHED IT OUT OF MY BODY AND NOW I'M USING MY BODY TO KEEP IT ALIVE.  Talk about definitive purpose.  But the enemy doesn't go on maternity leave.  And just like before, the lies are there, waiting.  Just waiting for the opportune moment for you to open the door and invite them in to tea. 

   But I have so much reason and purpose and value in fighting these lies now.  Not only for my sake, or my husband's, but for the three little souls who are looking up to me.  Watching, absorbing, imitating reflecting....soaking up my example and mimicking it to the world.  What a honor.  Slightly terrifying?  Definitely. But an honor nonetheless.  

Help me Jesus, not to fail them.  


Slow summer days.

“How many loved your moments of glad grace,  
And loved your beauty with love false or true;  
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,  
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.”

-W. B. Yeats

 Just a quote by another, slightly more famous William.  How strange that he would have written a poem about my husband without ever having met us.  I came across this quote the other day in a book I am reading and it struck so deep and true that I can hardly stop thinking about it.  

   I feel like our "story" is a quite long and complicated one, but in a strange sort of way, it can also be summed up in that quote.  And so perhaps I will memorize that and log it away for when people ask us for "our story" because that would certainly take a lot less time and brain power to say.  

    Not much to report on around here.  "Harvest season" (as far as the feed-making business is concerned) is in full swing, and so Randy has been putting in more hours in the truck and we have been putting in more hours well....at home.  Baby snuggling and feeding and attending to the needs of my little ladies has mostly filled my days lately.  William sleeps for 5-6 hour stretches at night and is either happy or sleeping during the day.  I'm spoiled rotten, I know.

   People from church have been bringing meals by, and I am convinced that is about 97.8% of the reason why things are going so well.  I get a little sweaty and nervous when I think about getting back into the grocery/cooking/cleanup routine of life again.  Can we just eat take out from now on?  Or hire a cook?  Those both sound like great options to me.

   Even though things have been going well, we still get a little stir-crazy being home so much.  Sometimes the girls play like Anne and Diana Berry and sometimes they more closely resemble Peter  Pan and captain Hook and mama's patience starts to wear paper-thin, so then we need to get a little more creative with our days.  Usually that looks something like an emergency call to Randy, and him taking one of them with him in the truck.  They usually fall asleep, so it's their nap for the day too, quality time with Daddy, and quiet time for Mama and whichever one is at home, all wrapped up in one convenient solution.  

So basically a win/win for EVERYONE. 
    I'm also starting to dig into the Explode the Code series with Jocelyn, hoping to accomplish preschool this fall.  Well, I guess it's the books leading up to the Explode the Code ones, called "Get Ready for the Code".  I am feeling like somewhat of a slacker, because my mom informs me that I was reading at the age of 4, and Jocelyn will turn 5 in December and we have a LOT of ground to cover.  But of course I was just desperate to keep up with everything my older sister was doing, and so maybe Charlotte will be my early learner.  I potty trained early too, for the same reason.  In any case, the clock is ticking and I can't just sit around forever hoping they will wake up one day for an insatiable thirst for learning.

   I have felt a stirring lately, and I'm not yet sure what all of it means.  I have these hopes and dreams and goals and ambitions and most of them I am too insecure about to even mention, but I have felt more motivation lately to at least take baby steps towards them and so that's....progress, I think? A sign, I hope?  Who knows.  

   It is so easy for me to fall into a pit of self-deprecation and jealousy over the fact that so many others seem to have already found "it".  Found their niche, found their multi-million dollar idea, found their groove, found their purpose.  Meanwhile, I have been floundering around for most of my 20's, just trying to figure out my way through life.  And now somehow we're supposed to protect, nurture, and raise our young while we are still machete-hacking our own way through the jungle?!  How does all of that work exactly?

   I am expecting to wake up this August on my 30th birthday and have it all figured out.  After all, everyone says the 30s are the best decade.  The time when you finally break free from all the insecurity and self-doubt of your 20s, and you chase your dreams and you make it happen.  I'm counting on that being true.  

And if it isn't, please don't break my bubble.

    Well it'd be a crying shame to waste all of my precious Grandma day on a blog post rambling mostly about nothing, so that's all for now.  What are some ways you "make it happen" or follow your dreams?  I'd love to hear. 


Welcome, sweet William--a birth story.

Welcome to our world, sweet William.

   Birth stories are always a little bit hard for me to write about....there is something so real and raw and brutal and beautiful about them.  It is the intersection of agony and joy, pain and relief, sorrow and celebration.   There is never a moment in your life more intense, vulnerable, and transforming as the moment when your child is born from your body, and I can't believe I have been blessed enough to experience it three times.

   And so I find it hard to write about my births, because it is difficult to assign mere words to something so profoundly....sacred.  But I also really enjoy capturing them on paper, because memories fade, and I want to remember as much of these moments as I can for the rest of my life.

The other reason it is hard for me to write about my birth stories is because I feel like in our culture today they have become so defining for some reason.  A long time ago, women just gave birth.  In different ways, in different settings, but we just gave birth.

   Today, you fall into all sorts of different categories according to how/where/in what way you give birth.  Natural birth, C-section, home birth, hospital birth...labels are handed out and placed on women when really, we all still just give birth.  No matter how or in what manner or way a new life comes to this earth, the fact still remains....a child is born.  And that is powerful and miraculous and special and deserves to be celebrated!

And so no matter what your story is, it is worth telling.

   I always hope for a natural, intervention-free birth, but I don't write a "birth plan" because I know that births can't really be "planned" as there are many things that are out of our control.  I was induced with Charlotte and although it wasn't my preference, I was OK with that, because it needed to happen for her safety.

   And this time around, it was looking like it would be the same story, with each day drawing me closer to the 42 week mark.  I had been feeling contractions on and off for a week and a half, but they never amounted to anything.  Being overdue wasn't even the hardest part....knowing that each day just took me closer to an induction WAS.

 The induction was scheduled for Thursday morning, June 25th, on my 11th day of being overdue.  Wednesday came, and I was still pregnant.  I was so discouraged, but tried not to lose sight of the fact that I would soon meet my son.  My SON.  That was my pot of gold at the end of this very long, uncomfortable, elephant-sized rainbow.  Perspective, people.

   I refused to sit at home worrying.  So I planned a fun day for Wednesday.  I took the girls with me to town and we did a little shopping at Target, with each of them choosing a special gift for baby brother.  We filled our tummies with burgers and fries at Red Robin before heading home, and it was a beautiful day, but it wasn't perfect.  I felt my patience wearing thin with them, and I felt so tired and huge and discouraged.

   That evening Randy took Jocelyn to Bible school, and I went out for a long walk with Charlotte.  While walking, I felt contractions but didn't even know what to take notice of because like I said before, I'd been having them for a long time! I ended up turning around early because I didn't feel like I could finish the 2 miles.  That's when I first thought..."Maybe, just MAYBE he'll come tonight!"  But I didn't let myself dwell on it.  I was too afraid of being disappointed again.

   After they got home from Bible school we planned to leave right away to take the girls to Grandma's for the night, so we would be able to leave straight for the hospital early the next morning for the induction.


   My sister's family came over around 10:00 pm to have a special time of prayer for us.  They prayed for a safe delivery and prayed specifically that I would be able to go into labor on my own, and avoid being induced.  I have to admit I was so touched by their thoughtfulness, but still felt doubtful. I mean, I only had what, like, 10 hours until the induction was scheduled.  What could possibly happen before then?

   But as soon as they said "Amen", I felt another contraction come.  And something about this one was different.  It was the one that carried a message with it.  The kind that said, "Your time is near".  And so I began to let myself hope, that maybe, just maybe, William would enter the world on his own.

   We said our goodbyes and took the girls to Grandma's.  When dropping them off, I had another contraction, and on the way home, another one.  And so that is when we decided, maybe we would go in that night, instead of in the morning.  Just to be safe.

  We arrived at the hospital at 11:00.  We checked in, and the contractions were already coming hard and fast and strong.  They prepared the birthing tub, and I leaned on Randy for support through each one.  As soon as I got in the water it calmed me.  My midwife turned down the lights and I just focused, clung to the side and to Randy, and tried to endure each one.

   This was where it got intense.  Things were escalating so quickly I knew I must be getting close, but I had no idea HOW close, and that was frightening.  I couldn't bear the thought of even being a few centimeters away.  Each contraction hit me like a tidal wave and at times, literally took my breath away.  Randy said at one time I was just struggling to get air....I would say that this was easily the most painful of my three births, most likely because things went SO fast.  I brokenly cried over and over, "I can't do this, I can't do this".  But that's the most incredible part of labor....you just DO IT.  You kind of have no other choice.  By the time the inescapable feeling came to push, it was a genuine relief.  I pushed 3 or 4 times, and he was here without any tearing or complications.  

My precious child, my son, was born.

    The whole thing only lasted 2.5 hours.  All that time of being overdue and waiting, waiting, waiting was slowly but surely preparing my body for his arrival.  And he certainly entered the world on his own terms!  In a hurry and everything, all 8lbs, 11oz and 21 inches of him.

He was perfect.

 I couldn't stop sobbing once he was in my arms.  The pain, the toil, the agony was over, and only joy remained.  I wanted that moment to last forever.  No drug in the world holds a candle to that high!  It is the most euphoric feeling I have ever experienced.  Why can't we have 300 babies again?!?!

   I have longed for a son.  And he was here!  Really, truly, finally here.  With eyes like his daddy and hair like his mama, and a velvety head both softer and sweeter than dozens of roses.  I held him close and we stayed attached, cord and all, for as long as we could.

   Grandma and Grandpa were his first visitors that night, but my heart ached to introduce him to his sisters!  What a lucky boy he is to have Jocelyn and Charlotte in his life.  I can't wait to watch them all become the best of friends.

   The next morning the girls came, and any worries I had about sibling jealousy were quieted as they showered him with kisses and hugs.  Jocelyn took to her role as "the oldest" immediately and with great possessiveness. Charlotte is a true second-born.  Loving him tenderly but still needing her own space and attention.  I can identify with her, being a 2nd child myself, with an older sister and younger brother.  I remember feeling jealousy when my younger brother came home from the hospital, with his special outfit and balloons.  That seems so strange me now that a child can feel that so young, but it motivates me to remember to meet their individual needs, and not just lump them all together, no matter how small they seem.

   Even weirder still is being able to remember when my parents were in this exact stage of life.  When my mom was 30, she had Shannon, me, and baby Shawn.  I will turn 30 in August and like mom, I have two little girls, and a baby boy.  My girls are younger at 4 and 3, while hers were 6 and 4 but it is still so strange to think of being exactly where my parents were at all those years ago.  My mom went on to have babies all throughout her 30s and into her 40s (her youngest was born at 43!) and I can hardly imagine what that must have been like.  But growing up I never felt like we were a burden to her, or something she just "endured".  She loved her children and raising her family and she did a great job.

 I only hope to do the same.

Sweet William we are so very, very glad you are here.  

   What a miracle you are.  I expected to be a little less in awe this time around, it being our 3rd child.  But it has been the opposite.  I feel more in awe and wonder at this whole indescribable gift of new life than ever before.  You were knit together in my womb by the Master's hand, and you are here now.  A brand-new person.  An arrow and a light to be raised up and sent forth into the darkness, and my heart bursts to think of the plans God has for you.  

You were a million times over, worth the wait.


Two very different 4ths.

It is always a little bit amazing to me how life can take us to different places.  

   Exactly one year ago today, we were on the beautiful island of Oahu celebrating our (belated) 5th anniversary, and boy oh boy am I glad we didn't decide to wait until our 6th!  For some reason a trip to Hawaii while huge and pregnant or with a newborn just doesn't sound quite as appealing.

   It honestly was the most incredible time.  Just the two of us without a care in the world, hiking to breathtaking views, kayaking the turquoise waters, strolling the white sands and generally feeling on top of the world.

    On the 4th that year we toured Pearl Harbor and felt awfully patriotic.  After that we found our way to Turtle Bay and swam in the ocean, enjoyed free concerts on the lawn, ordered burgers and fries from the food carts and watched the fireworks.

   It was easily one of the best weeks of my entire life, and I can't wait to go back someday (hopefully!!) and take the kids along and watch them get to fall in love with the island as much or more as we did.

    At first it was just a little bit hard for me, thinking of the 4th of July this year and how I would most likely just spend it indoors nursing a newborn.  But it has turned out to be such a lovely day.  My mother-in-law took the girls to the parade and Randy worked and my mom took her parents up to Portland so William and I had a quiet morning at home.  Now we're grilling and lounging and we may go see the fireworks, or we may just stay home and watch a movie.  Who knows.

   This year's holiday stands in stark contrast to the celebrations of last year, with all of the activity and excitement and beauty of the island, as opposed to the quiet and calm of staying indoors at home.  But I have come to realize I love this very different 4th just as much.  I have my family around me, I have a sweet baby to snuggle whose head feels like velvet and smells like Heaven, and I have next year, or the year after that, or a whole lot of other years to go to parades and fireworks and BBQs and the lake.  I will NOT have countless years of baby-holding.

   And so this year, when I just assumed I would "miss out" on the 4th of July, I realized I really didn't miss out on anything after all.

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