#Thankful365

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A year and a half ago I started a project that I called “One Year of Thankful”. It was so good. Every day I chose one thing that I was thankful for, and I took a picture. I kept those pictures in an album on my Facebook page and still look through it to remember what went on that year. It was hard to believe when the year ended (on my 27th birthday) and I didn’t “have to” keep taking pictures.

Day 366 I told Dan, “Do you know what I’m thankful for today? I’m thankful that I don’t have to edit or upload any more pictures!”

Yes, the project was great, but the uploading pictures was so time consuming that I couldn’t keep it going.

Well, November hit and suddenly everyone was talking about Thanksgiving. I love hearing what people are thankful for. I love it even more when there are pictures. And, as wonderful as this season is, I don’t want to limit my thanksgiving for this month alone.

Seven months have passed since “One Year of Thankful” ended and some things have changed. Namely, I have a smartphone. I’m so old-school I’ve never even had texting, much less a phone that doesn’t flip or slide open! But I recently discovered a new phone plan that cut my bill in half and with it I got my first smart phone. So I set myself up an Instagram account and I’m taking advantage of my new technology to launch a new thankfulness project, #thankful365. Starting on Thanksgiving Day, I’ll be back to posting my thankful pictures (almost) every day. I’m not committing to every day right now because, well, life happens, and I’m going to go ahead and let life take it’s priority over blog projects. Also, I’m not putting a one-year limit on this one. AND, I’m not necessarily going to try to do this alone.

I’m inviting you to join me. Post what you’re thankful for and give it the #thankful365. I’d have so much fun seeing your pictures too.

So here we go, one more week until Thanksgiving day with all it’s goodies, and one more week before I start another journey of becoming more thankful. Will you join me?

Tummy Lovin’

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Would you believe it if I told you Paul weighs over 15 pounds already? We love having such a big boy, well, big for us at least. Paul is about the size that Lydia and Abby were around one year old, but he’s only five months old. Although, it’s hard to believe we’ve had him in our home for almost half of a year already. This month Paul started showing more of his personality and preferences.

First of all, I mentioned last month that Paul had rolled from his tummy to his back. A few days later, Paul rolled from his back to his tummy and he’s been all-tummy-all-the-time ever since. No matter where you put him, he immediately flips over onto his tummy and holds his head up. When we lay him down for a nap or at bedtime he flops onto his belly and goes to sleep. On top of tummy-loving, Paul is a finger-loving baby. He loves to suck and chew on his chubby little fingers and hands. Sometimes it’s a thumb, sometimes a middle and ring finger, sometimes a whole fist. Paul doesn’t seem to have a favorite finger-sucking combo, or even a preference for his right or left hand, but he does love to suck.

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He’s still our happy Little Man. Paul is the most content of our babies so far. He spends a lot of his days on a blanket on the floor, or in a bouncy seat, or his jungle (when he’s not napping) and he’s usually just fine with that. BUT, if someone will hold Paul and talk to him a little, his whole face will just beam with delight. He’ll “talk” your ear off, carry on long conversations with coos and squeals, and get anyone laughing with his cute little chuckles. At nighttime, while he doesn’t always go to bed as early as we’d like, he sleeps like a champ all night long. When he does wake up before morning, he’ll just suck on his pacifier and go back to sleep. I usually get him up at 7 to feed him and he’ll keep his two-hour nap routine, but he doesn’t always want to eat at the two-hour mark anymore. During the evenings he’ll stretch out the schedule, because that’s when he gets held the most and, if he’s being held, he’s extremely content and will hold off on eating for hours. Sometimes lately he’ll get into a “chill” mood where he just wants to sit with Mommy, not eat, just sit and look around and relax.

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Last night I tucked Paul in for the night and came back downstairs only to hear him cry and cry. Finally I went up to get him. He wouldn’t eat, so I just held him in my arms and he just stayed there quietly staring at me for several minutes. I soaked it up, knowing my days of snuggling him might be limited…I’m not sure he’s going to wait until 21 months to walk like his sisters! But part of me thinks (and hopes) he might just always be a snuggler and that’s ok with me! With his big eyes and charming smile Paul is overwhelmingly cute and delightfully sweet. We just love our Little Man.

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“Mommy, Will You Snuggle Me?”

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For several weeks now, Lydia has wanted me to snuggle with her at night. After we tuck her in and say goodnight she cries out earnestly, “Mommy, will you snuggle me?”. It’s often late and there is always much to do. I need to go downstairs, wash dishes, clean the dining room, pack Dan’s lunch, wash diapers, feed Paul, sometimes go for a run, and on a good night, spend a little time with Dan. Oh, and we try to get to bed early ourselves. The members of this family need their sleep.

But I usually try to rest with Lydia for just a little while. It’s never long enough for her, but at least it’s a little time with Mommy before the last “goodnight”. Saying, “goodnight” is always a challenge for Lydia.

A couple of weeks ago I had a hard day. It was the sort of day that leaves me worn out before lunch time, and ready to cry by nap time. By the time Dan came home from work we were all a mess, Mommy, the worst, was tired and emotional. I had already given myself a time-out earlier in the day to take a few minutes alone in my room to pray and think and try to be calm and practical instead of irritable and emotional.

Something happened, I don’t remember what, but I timed myself out again, after sending Lydia to her room to wait for me. She must have done something wrong and it sure seemed like a big deal at the time, but it must not have been anything too serious or surely I would remember what it was today.

Well I was a mess. I was frustrated with Lydia, frustrated with myself, and crying like a three-year-old having a temper tantrum. It is not good when you act younger than your children and you’re trying to parent! So I took my time-out and prayed, “God help! I’m a mess! What should I do?”. And the answer came:

“Ask for forgiveness”.

So I did. I went into Lydia’s room and told her I was sorry for getting frustrated and emotional, asking her to forgive me. We talked for a while. I cried. She told me she loved me. I asked for a hug.

I needed a hug.

She gave me a hug and then waited while I held on. After a short while she asked, “Mommy, why are you still hugging me?”

That caught me by surprise. I needed a snuggle and Lydia always wants snuggling, so I told her, “Mommy needs to snuggle right now. Will you snuggle me?”

“Ok, but only for a little while”.

“What?” My little girl didn’t want to snuggle? “Why only for a little while?”

“We have to go eat dinner soon”.

In that moment, I saw what I’d been doing to my daughter. As emotional and worn out as I was, I really felt like I needed to be held and loved by my daughter. How many nights had she expressed the same urgent need to be loved and snuggled by me, and I had said, “Ok, but only for a little while”? How many times had she graciously agreed to “just a little” snuggling so I could hurry off and do my chores.

That day, Lydia snuggled me, probably for longer than “just a little while”. And that night, I snuggled her back. Now I make it a bigger priority to snuggle with her at night for more than “just a little while”. I try not to rush off too soon. And if Lydia falls asleep before I get to snuggle her, I sneak into her room and give her a short snuggle. Not because she asks for it, and not because she’ll even know I came. Just because I love her.

Mommy Chronicles

Because some days are just worth remembering…

A couple of weeks ago, Lydia and Abby had doctor appointments. I remember when Lydia was the only baby in our home and she had appointments. It would take a grand hour and a half out of our day, which felt like a huge chunk of time. With three, things sure have changed. Partway through this adventure-of-a-day, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much was involved in one little appointment. So here I am, documenting for my own future entertainment someday when life is either far easier and more peaceful or (more likely) even more chaotic.

Planning for the appointment started the day before as we prepared to get the kids to bed extra early. We were all going to be getting up early the next day so we ate our dinner and cleaned up quickly, put the kids in their pajamas, and tucked them in to bed. That’s where our troubles began…

Every night we wash a load of diapers, since we use cloth and don’t have enough to make it longer than a day (with two kids in diapers). I promptly started the load at 7:00, right after the final diaper changes for the night. Sometime later we realized the washer wasn’t washing. The switch was on, washer plugged in, lid down, and the tub was filled with water but the washer wasn’t washing. Some quick Youtube searching allowed us to diagnose our problem: the lid switch was coming unglued.

Can I interject an important truth here? I have a college education as a mechanical engineer. Most people think that means I can fix stuff, anything really. That is not the case. A mechanical engineer can do math, solve mathy problems, create complicated Excel sheets, and design parts. No fixing. No repairing. And no diagnosing. My dad does that, not me. (and as an extra side note, either of our dad’s could have fixed this problem in no time flat, I’m sure of it).

Now Dan has his training in Math and Physics with a lot of experience in programming. There is not a single math, physics, or programming course that teaches you how to repair household appliances. Although, Dan and I could quickly sit down with our skills and calculate the time and cost comparison of fixing a part, paying someone to fix the part, buying a new washing machine, or using a laundromat until one of our dads makes a trip down to fix the part.

Well, the diapers needed to be washed and we had a big day coming so we found a useful Youtube video and started tackling the repair. Things went great. We got the washer apart, found the switch, duct-taped it back together (whatever works, right?) and began the process of reassembling the washer.

Then our sweet girls, who always go to sleep without any problems, both started crying. Lydia was beside herself in tears although no one knew why. We interrupted our repair to snuggle her back to peace only to have Abby start crying, wake Lydia up, and the whole episode began again. Then Paul, who was sitting happily in his bouncy seat, started crying too. We struggled through the repair process for a little while and finally took a break to calm the criers and feed the baby.

The rest of the night was just an upsetting mix of crying and unsuccessful attempts to put the washing machine back together. It was terrible. But, we did it, and finally everyone was asleep. The diapers got washed. Dan’s lunch was packed. Clothes were laid out for the next day. We made it to bed two or three hours later than we had planned.

The next morning I had planned to get up at 5 to feed Paul, so naturally he woke up hungry at 4:30. Oh well. I fed him and took a power nap before getting up and getting the girls ready. Much to Dan’s surprise, we made it to the parking lot of his work more than ten minutes early. The kids were quiet in the back seat so we just sat and enjoyed a few minutes more of peace before saying goodbye for the day. Then it was my turn to take over the driving.

I don’t really enjoy driving. In fact, I really don’t enjoy driving especially on busy or new roads. I tend to be a pretty cautious driver and my greatest weakness is not trusting any of the other drivers to do what their supposed to do. I’m also terrible with directions and can get lost going just about anywhere. Driving is one of my scariest responsibilities as a Mommy. So when I have to drive, Dan always prays for me first. Then I pray for me. Then I tell all the kids they have to be quiet because “Mommy is driving”. I pray every time I have to get on an entrance ramp, make a turn where there’s not a stop light, or think I might be going wrong direction. I also avoid lane changes at all costs even if it means driving ten miles below the speed limit because I’m “stuck” behind a slow truck or bus.

Dan, on the other hand, is an excellent “down state driver”. He can handle traffic, construction, detours, and makes lane changes like it’s his job. He has a wonderful sense of direction and can get anywhere without asking for help even if he’s never been there before and even if he’s “lost”. He can find our car in the parking lot without a problem. He can talk and listen and dodge potholes, watch for street signs, pass slow drivers, avoid fast drivers, keep track of what our kids are doing in the back seat, and sing along to the radio all at the same time. For this, and many other reasons, Dan always drives when we’re together.

We were made for each other.

So as Dan headed in to his work building, the girls and I prayed for my driving and I began reviewing the directions Dan had given me to get home. (He’s also very good at giving directions.)

Potholes. The last thing Dan told me before going in to work was that there were horrific potholes on the highway that would definitely give me a flat tire if I hit them. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, I was supposed to dodge potholes We prayed for that too.

I was a nervous wreck driving home. It took half an hour and I still had another hour and a half of driving ahead of me for the day. At least the kids were being quiet. I did it though, I dodged those nasty potholes and thanked God for every single one we passed successfully. We made it home and I unloaded the kids. Now, breakfast.

After breakfast we had our daily “Bible Time”, prayed (for all the driving yet to come) and sang a Bible memory song. Then I packed the diaper bag, and repacked all the kids into the car.

Would you believe we actually made it to the doctor early? Not only were we early, we were 40 minutes early. Well, I guess I needn’t have worried about the rush hour traffic after all. I fed Paul and gave the girls some last minute snacks. Maybe I was trying to give them one last little boost before the big weigh-in. When you’re only 3rd percentile, every ounce counts. 🙂

The doctor appointment went remarkable well (everyone is growing and developing at a pleasing rate). I was feeling like a pretty good mom and even made a lane change on the way home to pass a slow truck. Now you all know how monumental that is, so you know I was feeling good.

Somewhere along here I had the brilliant idea, since we had the car for the day, to stop and get Dan a Father’s day gift on the way to pick him up from work. So when we got home I took a few minutes to research the cheapest place to get a Wiffle Ball and bat. It turned out that Dick’s was the place to go and, as it turns out, there is a Dick’s conveniently located right on the way to Dan’s work. Success.

We took our time eating lunch and then everyone got a half hour nap before we got back into the car. Prayed for Mom’s driving, And off we went. During the ten minute drive to Dick’s I tried to explain to Lydia what a surprise is and that we were going to get a present for Daddy for Sunday. Since it was for Sunday, she was not to say a word to him about it. Did I really believe that would work? Well, I was hopeful.

Finding a Wiffle ball set at Dick’s was more involved than I expected, and I was sad to learn that they no longer sell the balls in a set. You have to buy every single ball individually for $2 each. Ridiculous. We decided to just get the bat and ball and order more balls online. I was grateful there weren’t more people in the store to judge my parenting as Lydia ran chaotically through the kayaks yelling to me that there were purple life jackets. We survived the checkout line, even with its walls of colorful toys and candy and playground balls (honestly, who thought that was a good idea?) and made it through the checkout and back to the car with time to spare. I hid the bat and ball in the trunk and Lydia and I talked some more about surprises.

Then it was back to dodging potholes. I was a little less confident this time and decided to patiently follow the slow truck in front of me for the few miles to Dan’s work. I realized I didn’t have to worry as much about the potholes if I just followed the path of the car in front of me. That seemed to work well and soon enough we were finally safe in Dan’s work parking lot. I fed Paul and Dan came out promptly at 3:00.

Now, there are some days when, as a stay at home Mom with three, I feel like I don’t accomplish much. Dan comes home and asks what I did and I say, “I got the kids dressed and fed, did laundry, and cooked dinner. That’s all.” But this day trumped all days. “How was your day?”, he asked me. “Great! We didn’t do anything but go to the doctor, eat, and take short naps. BUT, I didn’t get lost, wasn’t late, and didn’t hit a single pothole!” And my husband, who knows me well, congratulated me and gave me a hug.

Now, as a side note so you are not all left hanging…I never heard Lydia say a single word to Dan about the Wiffle ball and bat. I snuck it into the house, and, at Lydia’s request, we made Dan a card to go with it. On Sunday we triumphantly brought out our surprise and gave it to Dan. He read the card, admired the bat, and than confessed, “Lydia told me about the bat.”

“What?!?”

“Several times…and I saw it when you opened the closet a couple of days ago.”

Good thing Dan doesn’t really like surprises. 🙂

The Little Man Song

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Ever since we realized how much reflux was bothering Paul, we’ve been holding him almost all the time. His favorite position is to be snuggled upright on his belly, as you can see from the pictures, and he is held like this nearly 24/7. As much as we love snuggling our Big Guy, it makes it pretty hard to do much of anything else (like sleep!) and that can get hard on the attitude at times. A few days ago, as I was holding Paul, this song popped into my head and we’ve been singing it to him, and ourselves, ever since as a reminder of how short this season is and how we’ll miss it when it’s over. One time as I was singing to Paul and making up lots of new verses, Dan listened in for while. He mentioned afterward that he might take a video of my singing and play it at Paul’s wedding one day. I nearly cried just thinking about it. He’s already growing up so fast! So we vetoed that idea but decided to share it on the blog for memory’s sake. Here is a sampling of the many verses we like to sing…

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Little Man, Little Man
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
You are my favorite Little Man,
Little Man.

Little Man, you are so sweet,
from your fingers to your feet.
Someday you’ll be just like your dad
And that will make me very glad.
(Not holding you then will make me sad)
Little Man.

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Little Man, Little Man
I’ll hold you now and give you love
And when you’re big, you’ll give me hugs.
Little Man.

I’ll hold you like this for a while
I really want to see your smile.
I know you love to be held this way
So chores can wait another day.
Little Man.

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Little Man, Little Man
From your head down to your toes
I love you, you should always know.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can
You are my favorite Little Man,
My Little Man.

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When Dan read this he was extremely disappointed that I re-ordered some of the words from our most commonly sung versions of the song. So for the sake of our own reminiscing twenty years from now, here are our most common verses in their truest form:

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
From your sweet hair to your feet,
Little Man you are so sweet.
Little Man.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
From your head down to your toes
I love you, you should always know.
Little Man.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
I’ll snuggle you and give you love
And when you’re big you’ll give me hugs.
Little Man.

He Called Me Susie

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It was a warm summer day when Dan drove down winding roads to take me to meet his grandparents for the first time. I was nervous. Meeting Dan’s parents hadn’t been to nerve-wracking because we had grown up attending the same church and I had known who they were for most of my life, but I had never met Dan’s grandparents before. What if they didn’t like me? The only thing I really knew about them was that Dan’s “Gramma” was the biggest University of Michigan football fan ever. Once when Dan was little, Gramma Dexter’s…enthusiasm…during a televised football game had scared Dan enough to make him cry. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this visit. I was planning to attend the University of Michigan myself, so at least I had that going for me.

Dan called ahead to let Gramma and Grampa know we were on our way. I could hear Grampa’s voice through the cell phone as Dan told them he was bringing his friend to meet them, the one they had heard all about. “Heh? So we finally get to meet Susie?” Grampa asked. He was teasing, but for several months he continued to refer to me as Susie.

We pulled up to the house at last and a short, smiley lady welcomed us into her home. I needn’t have worried about Gramma and Grampa not liking me. They welcomed me in like family. Grampa gifted me with a small stained-glass University of Michigan ornament that he had made himself. “You made this?” I asked in surprise. He pointed out the light above the kitchen island. The stained glass light fixture was also blue and maize. “Gramma saw one of these lights in a store and wanted it. I looked at the price tag and said, ‘I could make that'”. So he did.

Dan and I were treated to an impromptu dinner of steak and potatoes and I felt right at home sitting at that island and watching blue and maize candles burn in their centerpiece as we chatted with Dan’s grandparents. Time flew by and all-to-soon, it was time to leave.

We enjoyed several more visits to Gramma and Grampa over the years as Dan and I went from being friends, to dating, engaged, and married, eventually bringing the great-grandkids for visits whenever we were in the area. But I will never forget that first visit when even Grampa’s teasing made me feel like family and the months that followed when he would always call me Susie.

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Dan’s Grampa has had several health problems and knew his time on earth was coming to an end, so it wasn’t uncommon to hear talk about his final plans and what he wanted for his funeral. On one occasion, I learned that Grampa had a certain song he had adopted as his own and would often sing for others at church. When I found out he wanted to show a video of himself singing this song at his funeral, I told Dan, “I have to ask him to sing it for me the next time we’re up. I don’t want the first time I hear him sing be at his funeral.”

Sure enough, on the next trip up, we made our way to that cozy little home and I asked Grampa to sing for me while Gramma played the organ. For someone who had long struggled with almost every health problem you could imagine, and for someone who loved Jesus, the song was perfect:

If this earthly tabernacle should be dissolved today
I’d trade it for a finer one, that would not pass away.
But till the day arrives when it’s time for moving out
Tis such sweet peace to know the Lord still lives in this old house.

The sweetest fellowship I’ve known has fortified these walls
And peace has reigned since he’s been walking up and down these halls.
With snow upon the rooftop now and these hinges near worn out
It’s such a joy to know the Lord still lives in this old house.

To him it’s been a dwelling place where he kept my hand in his
To me a home away from home, is all it really is.
It sure ain’t fine and fancy and all I can boast about
Is after all these years the Lord still lives in this old house.

Now there were times he had the right, just to up and move away
And there were times and days I knew it took God’s amazing grace to stay.
But he never left this old building once, that’s why I can sing and shout
Cause after all these years the Lord still lives in this old house.

To him it’s been a dwelling place where he kept my hand in his
To me a home away from home, is all it really is.
And it sure ain’t fine and fancy and all that I can boast about
Is after all the years the Lord still lives in this old house.

After all these years the Lord … Still lives in this old house.

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Grampa passed away two weeks ago.

In the time I have known him, Grampa has spent many weeks in the hospital. He always came home again. That’s just how it was with Grampa. He kept fighting and kept working as long as he could. Dan and I used to have a small reclining couch that was given to us from Gramma and Grampa’s house. More than once I cried in Dan’s arms, curled up on that couch, thinking for sure this visit to the hospital would be Grampa’s last. Many times I wondered if he would make it to our wedding, or until we had our baby, or until that baby came home from the NICU, or until he could meet his tiny grandchild. But every other time Grampa recovered and made it home again. He kept loving us, teasing us, and remaining cheerful through a lot of pain and difficulty.

Grampa would often connect with our little ones because they all had to be hooked up to wires, poked and prodded, and needed help breathing. It’s true, Grampa’s loud voice scared both Lydia and Abby the first time they each met him, but once they were placed on his chest they curled up snug and happy. One of the saddest parts for Dan and I in saying goodbye to Grampa now is that he never got to meet Paul. We only pray that Paul will also come to love Jesus so that he can meet Grampa in heaven.

A week and a half ago, Dan and I took the kids in a whirlwind trip up North to attend Grampa’s funeral. Although the goodbyes were heart-wrenching and I couldn’t stop crying for most of that afternoon, I looked at that “old house” of Grampa’s and knew he wasn’t there anymore. He wasn’t hurting or sad at all. He finally got to go home to Jesus. It’s only those of us left down here who have to suffer the sadness of the goodbye. When the time came for the casket to be lowered into the grave I just kept thinking, “Grampa doesn’t even want that old body anymore. Good riddance!” No more hospital stays, dialysis, breathing assistance, medications, cancer, heart attacks, surgery…

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There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to end this post because it feels like another goodbye. Day-to-day, Dan and I don’t feel the depth of the loss because we didn’t see Grampa that often, but at moments the reality sinks in and it’s just so hard to believe he’s gone. Only Lydia has been able to fully appreciate the victory in Grampa’s death as she has reminded us a number of times, “He’s in heaven with Jesus”. Grampa’s hope for eternity was in Jesus. He arranged his funeral to be reminder after reminder of the hope he had in Christ and the message that was shared was indeed the Gospel.

We all will die someday and we will have to account for our actions on this earth. The only hope of heaven is because Jesus died on the cross. Although he was buried, he rose again and offers enteral life to all who will repent and believe in him.

The Lord no longer lives in Grampa’s “old house”, but Grampa has gone up to live in a new heavenly mansion.

Grampa, if you could read this now, I’d want to thank you for welcoming me into your family. Thank you for teasing me and calling me Susie, for encouraging me when I was hurt, for making me laugh sometimes when I was crying. Thank you for loving us so much, for loving Lydia and Abigail and Paul, even though you never got to meet him. Thank you for singing for me before your funeral. Thank you for keeping your youthfulness and sense of humor even when you were suffering far more than you ever let on. Thank you for loving Jesus and for not being afraid to die. We love you and we miss you. Until eternity.

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The View from My Window

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This is the view from my bedroom window. In fact, this is the exact view I see when I’m resting with my head on my pillow at nap time. A few days ago I was getting ready for my afternoon nap. The girls were settling down in their room and Paul was sleeping a few feet away from me in his bassinet, but I couldn’t fall asleep right away. So I opened my eyes and watched the trees blowing in the wind.

The sky was a beautiful springtime blue and everything looked warm in the sunshine. Although the trees were still bare of any leaves, and they were waving in the strong winds, they were glowing a cozy golden brown. I watched the peaceful scene for a while thinking about how nice it is that springtime has finally come. It sure felt like a long winter this year.

Suddenly a change came over the scene so abruptly that at first I didn’t know what had happened. I must have been getting sleepy and paying less attention to the trees when I looked out the window and saw everything changed. The trees were black. The sky was grey. The wind sounded harsh, and the warm glow of spring had gone. I wondered, at first, if it had been my imagination, but after a couple minutes the warmth returned and I realized that the change had only come from a cloud passing in front of the sun. It was just the shadow of the cloud that made that awful change from my warm spring scene to that cold, harsh one.

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I lay in bed for a while watching the scene change back and fourth and I was suddenly struck by a parallel to my own life.

We have been basking in the warmth of having a new baby at home. Everything is full of newness, hope, and cozy time together. I am a bit like that tree basking in the new spring sun under that bright spring sky.

Of course, with a new baby comes its own share of challenges: sleepless nights, loads of laundry, and adjusting to life with three Littles. After the months of waiting and resting and limiting my activity, recovering from labor and delivery, and living through days on far less sleep, I feel a little bit like those bare tree branches being blown back and forth by the strong gusts of wind.

As I lay in my comfy bed and listened to that wind blowing, I realized that I couldn’t do anything to change the color of the sky, the warmth of the sun, or the strength of the wind. But I do have control over one thing. I can choose to be the dark, cold tree branches hidden from the sun. Or, I can choose to be the warm, glowing branches, golden under those springtime rays. Of course, it’s easy to be cold and short (especially with my toddlers) when I feel stretched thin and sleep-deprived, when the house is messier than normal, and I don’t have any kind of predictable routine. In fact, I can’t be warm and glowing on my own strength. I need the sun for that.

But if I will stay abiding in Jesus I can reflect His warmth, His gentleness and patience, His love and kindness, even when my branches are bare and the wind is blowing hard.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to my home as we adjust to having our little Paul at home with us. This applies to any situation in life that comes with its share of blessings and hardships. It’s a good lesson in bearing with our trials and reflecting the light of Christ. And it’s a lesson I can remember every time I look out my bedroom window.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”
Galatians 2:22-23

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10 Things I’m Looking Forward to When Baby Comes

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Yesterday Baby reached the 28-week milestone we weren’t sure we would get to celebrate. Because I think it’s interesting, I’ve included the picture of me when Abby was 28 weeks (on the left) and the picture of me at 28 weeks with Baby 3 (on the right). We are still:

3 days from when Abby was born
19 days from when Lydia was born
27 days from our goal

A little while ago I shared some of the reasons I love being pregnant, but I’m also excited for when Baby is born, whenever that may be. So today I’m sharing some of the things I am most looking forward to (in no particular order). But, we’d be happy to wait another month before enjoying these!

1. Meeting Baby

I am so excited watch the story of Baby’s birth unfold, to find out his/her length and weight. Will s/he have hair? Will it be curly? Will Baby look like me or Dan (or neither)? When will Baby come? So many questions will finally be answered when we get to meet our little bundle.

2. Being able to breath again

I always have trouble breathing from pretty early on in my pregnancies. Maybe it’s Baby’s position or maybe I have little lungs, but without doing any physical activity I’ll struggle to breath. During church I’m constantly changing positions, leaning forward, backward, to the side, getting up to go the the bathroom, anything to get a little more air. After Baby is born, it is always nice to breath freely again.

3. Doing my job again

Dan has been doing a fantastic job with the housework and taking care of the girls, but I’m ready to have my job back. I’m partly afraid I’m going to get so used to his doing everything that it becomes a habit I have to break. Someday I’ll be the one to wash the dishes, give the kiddos baths, and change the sheets again. And while I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed with work when that time comes, at least I’ll be able to give Dan back some freedom in the evenings!

4. Choosing a name

We have two boy names and two girl names and we probably won’t narrow it down any more than that until we actually get to meet him/her. I used to think it was strange if people didn’t have the name picked out earlier in the pregnancy, but when Lydia surprised us and we hadn’t finalized our name, my perspective changed. Now it feels strange to pick out a name before seeing Baby.

5. Exercise

As much as I like taking it easy, I’m eager to move again. I love going for walks. After Baby is born, Dan usually becomes my coach and helps me figure out what sort of exercising I can do to get some strength back and feel fit again. As a nice perk, I will fit in to more than two pairs of my pants.

6. Bringing Baby home

Whether Baby stays in the hospital for months, weeks, or days (I vote for the latter), bringing Baby home is always super exciting and super special.

7. The first time holding him/her

Oh how I hope this will be the same day s/he is born, but even if it’s not, it’s always special that first time we get to hold him/her.

8. Meals from church!

I have to be honest here. When Lydia came home from the hospital, we got two weeks of delicious dinners delivered right to our home by families from our church. When the meals were over, I thought to myself, “I can’t wait until the next baby comes home!”. We eat better during those two weeks than any other time.

9. Having Dan around

My favorite part of being married is that I get to see Dan every day. Most of our relationship before we were married was long-distance, or we were both too swamped with heavy college work loads to see each other. I’ve never fully recovered, so anytime Dan is around is a happy time for me. Dan also has a gift of being the most amazing support person during labor and delivery, and in the days that follow. He just knows how to be sweet and helpful, and what to do and say to make me feel loved. I’m not sure what kind of time Dan will take off when Baby is born or when Baby comes home, but I’m looking forward to having him around on those days.

10. Finding out if it’s a boy or girl

This is the first time we’re going to be surprised, and I’m pretty excited for the moment labor ends and I get to hear our doctor announce if it’s a boy or girl.

The Perfect Wedding Cake

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When Dan and I started planning our wedding, we had no idea what we wanted for a wedding cake. A friend of ours had experience at making cakes and was eager to help us with ours. So, we scheduled a meeting. The four of us all sat down together: my Mom, Dan, the cake-maker, and myself. As we began talking we realized we didn’t really have any idea what we wanted.

“It should be white.”

“Should there be some purple in it?”

“I like ribbons…”

“Flowers are nice”

After only a few minutes we decided to reschedule another meeting after we had come to a more concrete idea of what we actually wanted. Weeks passed and we put very little thought into the cake. Our meeting arrived and we sat down and essentially designed our cake on the spot.

“White. With swirls, I like swirls on the sides.”

“How about some roses?”

“What flavor? What filling?”

In a very half-hazard way, we designed our cake. It was three tiers, all white with swirls on the sides and roses lining the edges. They were small at the top and grew larger at the bottom. There would be a raspberry filling in the middle because that’s what sounded good at the time (and it was conveniently close to purple).

The only part of the cake I was sure about was the cake topper. I had picked it out myself early in our engagement and everyone gave their approval. Apart from the topper, I had almost no idea if the cake would even look decent…or wedding-y.

I remember the first time I saw the cake. It was morning, and sky was perfectly clear as I walked through the parking lot and into the gym where are reception was going to be. It must have been the day of the wedding, so all the decorations were in place. The gym was a sea of white with purple accents and delicate white roses were scattered everywhere. In the middle of the gym was a round table, and there on a small platform, was our wedding cake.

It was perfect. I couldn’t have designed a better cake for our wedding and for us if I had actually known what I was doing. The cake was simple, beautiful, elegant, and it even tasted delicious.

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Sometimes our marriage feels a lot like our wedding cake. Dan and I each came into it with our own ideas of what it should look like. We had plans that failed, expectations that have never been fulfilled. There were probably only two major things I was sure of when we got married:

1) Dan was the man I wanted to marry.

2) Jesus was the center of our relationship and we wanted Him to stay there.

I guess Jesus is a bit like our cake topper. He stays, but anything else can change (and most other things have changed). Marriage has held so much that we never expected. School changes. Job changes. Babies…early babies! Those crazy newborn months. And housing changes (and more and more housing changes). Sometimes our whole lives feel a bit disorganized. Sometimes they feel chaotic or downright out of control. But ultimately, Jesus is at the center of our marriage, and God is the one creating and perfecting our story. God is our marriage “cake-maker”.

Often we just see the messy cake-making process. But sometimes we get a little glimpse into the beauty that God is perfecting. This Thursday Dan and I will celebrate four years of marriage. Four years of chaos and four years of trusting Jesus.

We’re going to celebrate by having an extended weekend packed full of fun and friends and a nice, long date. So there will be updates and pictures and lots of sharing up ahead, but for now I’m just reflecting on the goodness of our God and the sweet results a marriage receives when Jesus is at the center.

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Love, Laughter, and Bloopers

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Last week I took the girls outside for a brief photo shoot before posting Abby’s latest update. Lydia wanted to be in on the fun, so I took pictures while the girls played together. It was sweet. Afterward I realized that I had taken some pretty funny pictures, and some cute ones too.

Mind if I share?

Few things make my heart happier than watching these two talk to each other, play together, and just love on each other.

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Sometimes I’m not sure they’re BOTH enjoying themselves.

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And sometimes I KNOW they’re not both enjoying themselves.

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Sometimes they just need some alone time.

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Sometimes bad things happen when I’m not around.

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But these two forgive quickly. Then they’re back to sharing secrets.

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Maybe I was just in a wedding mood, but this one reminds me of bridal party shots where all the girls are talking and laughing. Don’t grow up too fast girls!

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Maybe we can duplicate this one at the a wedding too. 🙂

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Abby has a tendency to bite fingers, eat faces, and poke people in the eye.

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And sometimes she just won’t smile.

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I love my girls. And all our squishy selfies too.

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