Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dear Little One--The Little Things

Dear Little One,

I haven't chronicled much of your life here on the blog yet in spite of my best intentions. Why, you might ask?

Well, my hands have been full, but not nearly as full as my heart. There's been so much to write about but so little time time to do so. Because really, would I rather write about you or sit down with your sweet head snuggled up on my chest while I stroke your back and smell your sweet baby hair? Option #2 clearly wins out almost every time.

What can I say... I adore you. Not just in an, "Oh, look at that cute little baby!" kind of way. Nope, this is the fierce, determined, heart bursting out of my chest kind of adoration.

Right now I'm sitting on a chair in front of your swing just watching you sleep, unsure of how long I have to write. As much as I'm excited to have a few minutes to sit and pour out some thoughts, it's hard for me to not just pluck you up from your peaceful sleep and cradle you in my arms.

But, the other day your siblings were reading stories from their childhood on my blog and they both insisted that I write more about you so you have fun stories to read some day as well. So here I am.

Just in case I never get to chronicle the nitty gritty details of the past five months let me give you a quick recap:

You sleep a lot. Your preferred sleeping position is curled up on someone's chest. As much as you like sleep, you also like to wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason.

You seem to always just want to be where your people are. Sometimes you are fussy, but you are usually content as long as you've got one of us nearby. Just like your mama, you're not a big fan of being anywhere by yourself.

Spit up. Let's talk about this. It's a little out of control sweet boy. You spit up. All. The. Time. We soak through a huge stack of burpies and blankets each and every day. Some days I think all I do is snuggle you, feed you, change you, and wipe up spit up. Actually, some days that really is all I do... or at least that was the case early on. I don't have that luxury as much now that you're getting older. It turns out other people in the house sometimes need me too!

This picture was taken by Eroica when you were one
month old. It captures the intensity of your eyes so well!
Your eyes. You have the biggest, brightest, most beautiful blue eyes. I get so lost in them. I seriously feel like I could just stare at you all day long. And your sweet little smile. Don't get me started!

Well, you have now woken up so I'm going to have to end this here. I just wanted to take a few minutes to capture a few of the little things that I hope never to forget. These days can be so long sometimes, but they are oh-so sweet. I'm beyond grateful for you sweet Little One. So. Very. Grateful.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dear Little One-- A Labor of Love (Your Birth Story Part 1)

On Wednesday November 9th, the night before you were born, your daddy and I crawled into bed and spent some time discussing how lovely it would be to have you outside of my womb, as the discomforts of pregnancy had taken quite the toll on me--and therefore, everyone else as well. 

Little did I know that would be the last conversation we would have until our lives would forever be changed by your impending grand entry into this world.

If you're not a fan of reading about birth stories or bodily fluids, feel free to wait for future updates, as the rest of this post will contain the story of the day you were born, and well, that's hard to do without including at least a few of the messy details. 

Your Birth Story

I bolted out of bed at 5 am feeling like something was off. As soon as I stood up I found myself stepping in a puddle of liquid so I waddled to the bathroom. "Oh great, let's add complete loss of all bladder control to our list of lovely pregnancy symptoms," I thought to myself. After about 15 minutes of trying to clean myself up to no avail I realized that there was a good chance that I didn't actually lose control of my bladder. So I made my way back into the bedroom and turned the light on and told your daddy, "I think my water just broke." To which he replied, "That means hospital, right?" "Yes, not only does that mean hospital, but that means baby. Wake the kids up and have them help pack."

You see, I had made packing lists for everyone (the day before), but I hadn't yet actually packed our hospital bags because we still had 3 weeks and 2 days until your due date. So we all scurried around while I showered and tried in vain to control the copious amount of liquid that kept making its way to the ground. Let me tell you, it's not a one time event like what you see in the movies!

A friend of ours came over to watch the big kids (she, as a well seasoned mother of 7 already had her bag packed) and Daddy and I eventually made it out the door and somewhat leisurely made our way toward the hospital which is about an hour away. It was nothing like I'd pictured that moment to be like. 

I was convinced that you were going to be born on the side of the road in the middle of a snow storm, Or, I would have fretted all night about whether or not it was "time to go". I had pictured a miserable drive as I was attempting to breathe through contractions while daddy would be speeding along praying he wouldn't have to deliver you in the car. 

Instead, we left our house about 6:30 am after a full night's sleep and leisurely made our way toward the hospital. The skies were blue and the sun shined brightly in the sky. I think it was an unheard of November high of 64 degrees. It was a beautiful day! I made a few phone calls on the way up, including one to the hospital. I let them know that my water broke and that you were still breech, as that combination would mean that you would be born via c-section. As much as I'd hoped for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) I marvelled at the thought of meeting you in just a few short hours!

We settled into a beautiful birthing suite and the doctor on call came in to confirm your position via ultrasound. With one swipe of the wand she looked up at me and said, "He's head down, fully engaged, right where he should be. Would you like a VBAC?"

I excitedly told her I would love a VBAC and she and I discussed how this day might unfold. Daddy and I settled in for the long haul, clueless as to what we needed to do next, except to sit and wait.

So we did. We made some more phone calls, watched t.v., walked the halls, and waited impatiently for the contractions to come. They were slow and irregular, which was a problem because I was put on an "invisible time clock" the moment my water broke. They don't like you to go more than 24 hours after your water breaks before giving birth to reduce the chance of infection.

I watched the clock tick on without my contractions picking up. My cervix wasn't dilated and it didn't appear that labor was going to start on its own, so the doctor tried a minimally invasive technique (Foley bulb) to help me along. Then we waited some more. Early evening my contractions started to become more intense and slightly more regular, but not regular enough to be considered "active labor". This really threw me off because it was so painful. If this wasn't active labor, I couldn't imagine what "real labor" would be like!

Finally, around 10:00 pm, nearly 18 hours after my water broke, the nurse was trying to hook me back up to the monitor after I had gone to the bathroom. She was having trouble getting your heartbeat to stay on the monitor (as had been the case all day), but then she suddenly got a little more forceful with her words telling me that I needed to turn to the other side "for the baby". She was asking me to do this during a painful contraction which I thought was odd, as the nurses had all previously just let me be while contracting. This happened a couple of times in a row but it was a new-to-me nurse, so I thought maybe she just had a different style than my previous nurse. The doctor came in and during the next contraction she was also telling me to position myself differently "for the baby". I was confused, but did my best to comply, as clearly they were seeing something I wasn't.

Soon the doctor was checking my cervix so we could make a plan for how to proceed for the remainder of the evening. Suddenly she and the nurse started to exchange words in hushed tones. Next thing I knew the nurse was putting an oxygen mask on my face. The moments that followed were all a bit of a blur, but I recall the doctor looking at my husband and telling him that we had an emergency situation on our hands and that she suspected that you and I would both be okay, but we needed to get you out. Now.

She looked at me and told me that your cord had slipped out of my cervix, so as your head was bearing down you were cutting off your oxygen supply with every contraction. She hopped up onto my bed and explained that she was going to continue to hold your head up off of the cord and they were going to have to put me under general anesthesia, but that everything should be fine. Next thing I knew there was a flurry of nurses in my room, unhooking cords, hooking up monitors and moving my bed toward the surgical suite.

At that point I realized all I could do was breathe. I closed my eyes and focused on one breath in, one breath out, wondering what would be the last thing I would remember. I asked the doctor how long it would be before I would wake up so I could see you, but she didn't answer. I was trying desperately not to panic because I knew that wouldn't help you and it wouldn't change anything. All of my visions of minimal interventions, of holding you as soon as you were born and nursing you right away flew out the window. I just wanted you to be here. Safe and healthy.

In mere moments, I heard a code come over the loud speaker, I felt bright lights on me, and I heard equipment beeping. People were scurrying all about the operating room, each doing their job as if they were seasoned actors in a well choreographed parade.

The anesthesiologist was on my left hand side, talking to me each step of the way about what was going on. I don't remember a thing he said, but I remember his presence being a calming one. I grabbed onto his hairy arm and held on for dear life as I was being told to scoot from my bed to the gurney, all while people were poking and prodding and prepping me in a hasty fashion. It was overwhelming.

At one point they were trying to do some very uncomfortable things to me that I was instinctively fighting against and I finally heard the scary blissful exchange of words between the doctor and the anesthesiologist that indicated it was time for me go under general anesthesia.

I prayed that my next memory would be that of you, safe and healthy in my arms.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Perspective— Learning to love the little things


It's a little word with a big impact. 

I recently began feeling a little down when I realized that I have no big plans or dreams for 2017. I have no resolutions in mind. No lofty goals. No huge projects to tackle. Nothing.  

In years past I've entered the new year determined to do all the things

Not this year. This year I simply want to savor all the good things that are already in my life. I want to be—not do

I want to be present. 

To be joyful. 


I want to be mindful of all of the good things that God has already placed around me. I want to find joy in the everyday circumstances of this beautiful life I live. I want to count my blessings.

Somewhere along the way I feel like I've lost my sense of gratitude. And with it went my optimism. And my joy. I let the aching of this life overshadow the beauty that is all around me.

That's what happens when you focus on the negative instead of the positive. In 2017 I need to re-focus. I need to choose to look at life from a different perspective.

I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of
moms about perspective last March.

This is a doodle I created as I was preparing
for that talk. 
I'm sure there will be future years where I will set big goals. There will be years I dream big dreams. God willing, there will be years I set out to influence the world.   

This year, while it isn't the only thing I want to accomplish, I am choosing to focus on one goal and one goal only. 

I want to learn to love the little things. The simple, every day, beautiful things. 

As I find the time to write this year I will share glimpses of the everyday people, objects, and moments that make life amazing—even if it means I have to work harder to look at things from a different angle to find the beauty through the mess and the mundane. 

Today I am grateful for perspective, for it is through a right perspective that I can see God's hand at work—even in the little things. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Dear Little One-- My hopes for the future in the midst of chaos

Dear Little One, 
Today is November 8th, 2016. You are blissfully unaware of the current state of our nation, and frankly, I'm a little jealous. If you want to know what this post was all about, do a quick search on the 2016 election. Better yet, watch some of the debates. It's like a three ring circus around here.
I don't yet know how the circus will end, as the newest ringmaster has not yet been revealed, but he or she will be by the time you enter this world. Either way, I feel like I can say with confidence that you are entering a far different world than the one I grew up in. Even one different than the one your older siblings have been born into.
Your siblings went with us to the
polling place as we cast our first
ballots in a non vote by mail
But that's what happens. Times change. People change. Culture changes. And here we are just trying to navigate our way through the troubled waters, unsure what lies around the river bend.    

In time I will do my best to teach you all about politics, because politics are important. But, it is my sincere hope that some way, somehow, I will do it in such a way that will help you to understand that people are more important than policies, that souls are more valuable than soundbites, and that living in faith is better than living in fear. 

If this election has taught me anything, it is that our world is anything but predictable and stable. 

I have no idea how much time I am granted here on Earth. When all is said and done, I haven't a clue what difference my life will have made. Goodness gracious, I don't even know what tomorrow will bring! But, I do know one thing— my greatest legacy will not be in the vote that I cast today. It will not be in the person I did or didn't sway to see my political point of view. I am utterly convinced that the greatest contribution I will make to this world will be through who I point to Jesus, and through the legacy I will leave behind through you and your siblings. 

I have so many hopes and dreams for you. 

Dear sweet Little One, I pray that you will grow up to be a man of faith, a man of character, and a man of wisdom. I pray that you will be strong, kind, and courageous. I pray that you will be selfless and compassionate looking out first for the best interest of others, especially those who are unable to speak up for themselves. I pray that you will be able to see past the colors red and blue, and be a force to help bring people together instead of tear people apart. I pray that you will be a man who leads. As you grow I hope you will lead your peers, your classmates, your family and who knows, maybe even someday your country, in a way that honors God and people.

But until then, I pray that you will flip head down and that you will ease up on simultaneously punching my esophagus and kicking my bladder. 

One thing at a time. 

I realize that a lot of who you will become rests on my shoulders. No pressure, right? I pray that I will be the kind of mama who is somehow able to instill these things in you. I pray that I can gently guide your heart, mind, and soul toward becoming the man that I hope for you to be. 

It's with a heavy heart for our country and a hopeful countenance for the future that I find myself writing this letter to you tonight. I pray that your hope (and mine) is built on nothing less than Jesus's blood and righteousness, because in the end, everything else is sinking sand. 



p.s. If this post seems a bit scattered, just know that it is a reflection of the state of my weary heart and mind. And it resembles the state of our country. We are all tired and worn out and disheartened. Sometimes, that's just the way life is, but there always seem to be brighter day and clearer skies ahead. I look forward with the greatest anticipation to meeting you face-to-face... my hoped for bright spot in the midst of all of the chaos that surrounds me!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Mini Tour of Whitehall, Wisconson

Welcome to a mini tour of my new town!

              As you enter Whitehall, Wisconsin, this is the sign that will greet you. A great place to live and work indeed!

This town LOVES their Kwik Trip!
It's the go to place for milk, eggs, and bananas.
It's kind of like a really big 7-11, only with good prices
and a better selection. It has lots of drinks, a mini bakery
and some hot foods. It's also where you get gas and the
bonus is that it's open 24 hours. I like to call this Grand Central
 Station because you are almost guarenteed to run
into someone you know any time you go into Kwik Trip.    

The football field is where you will find
much of the town on Friday nights in the
fall. There is plenty of small town pride
for the Norsemen!
I just love this quiant little train station in the center of town. It makes me want to take a trip through the beautiful fall foliage and discover the beauty the rest of this state has to offer before the snow starts to fall. 

The whole town knows when it's straight up noon because the
fire station tests it's alarm system. 
Though the town itself is only 1,558 people, as
the county seat it feels much bigger.
Many of Trempealeau County's services
are located here

Three of the four vets that own this clinic go to our
church. The former vet goes to our church. The founding vet (I
think he was the founder anyway) used to go to our church
but is now in a care facility. There are lots of animals
(big and small) to take care of in this area, especially cows!
This is the kind of town that boasts toilet
paper throughout the town during
homecoming week. My understanding is
that you aren't supposed to TP public
property and you aren't supposed to get
caught. Other than that, TP away! 

This is the entrance to First Baptist Church. Our family is so
excited to be a part of the ministry here!

This is such a delightful, friendly, caring group of people
and we are excited about the future of this church!
The public library operates in a small store
front on Main Street. It's not big, but it has a
good inter-library system.
I've had many people ask if I would continue Robyn's
Nest Bakery in Whitehall, but really, there is no
need. Sweet Temptations is a delightful bakery and
cafe that services the town well. Though, they do have
an amazing ice cream flavor that I'm dying to try
with my Brown Butter Salted Caramel Chocolate
Chip Cookies
. I'm pretty sure the combination of
flavors is going to be life-changing.

That'll be another post for another day though, I'm sure! 
We are homeschooling our kids this year (one year, one
kid at a time we say!), but we hear great things about the
Whitehall schools. The average class size is 15-20 kids,
and the elementary through high school kids are all
educated on the same campus, though they have their individual spaces. 

The city itself is only 2.8 square miles, but
the county has hundreds of miles of snow mobile
and bike routes. If I'm understanding it correctly,
it's not actual trails, just designated routes for
enjoying these activities.

The town itself is 2.8 square miles and is surrounded by other similarly sized small towns. While the footprint and popoulation of any given town in this area is not large, this seems to be an area dotted with thriving farming communities, not small towns that are delapadated or depressed. There is one chain restaurant in Whitehall (Subway), and a few other eating establishments (see chamber of commerce list for some local businesses), but the whole town closes down pretty early. 

It kind of feels like a step back in time.  

Every road we turn down outside of the city limits seems to have rolling green hills and barns standing alongside tall silos. It really is breathtakingly beautiful. I especially love seeing the Amish farms scattered through the hillsides with their plain clothes hanging from the clothesline, and watching their horse drawn buggies clicking and clacking through the town.

We are currently 2,000 miles from Oregon, the only home 3 of the 4 (or, rather 4 of the 5) of us had ever known. It's more than a little surreal to think that we up and moved across the country in less than a month. But we did. Here we are. And lo and behold, it's already starting to feel like home.