My Thankful for 2014

When Lydia was not yet one year old,  I started a tradition that I hope to continue with each of our children.  Instead of creating a Baby book by hand (I’ve never been much of a scrapbooker) I designed a photo book online.  A month or so ago, I continued this tradition with Abby.  This is really irrelevant to the rest of my post except to explain the pictures.  The pictures used in this post are taken from Abby’s little book.  Moving on.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, our family has taken time to reminisce on the past year and share some of the things for which we are the most grateful. Lydia’s favorites have been Sandy rides at Meijer, and the color pink. Some of Dan’s top blessings have been God’s provision for us with a new home and job, and Abby’s long awaited homecoming last December. Abby’s only “Thankful” has been food. Although, she is, in general, pretty happy about everything.

Today I thought I’d share one of my “Thankfuls”.

 photo IMG_8298_zpsce3ed10f.jpg

About a year and a half ago, we were still living on campus at Dan’s college, and I was pregnant with Abigail. Since we didn’t know why Lydia had been born early, we didn’t know whether or not Abby would follow in her footsteps. It was a struggle not to be anxious. Would Abby be born early? Would she be born earlier than Lydia? Would she be born too early to survive?

Frequently I would lay in bed at night praying over these questions and God would bring to mind Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” It felt like a Word from God assuring me good things for Baby, but not answering my questions about when she would be born.

 photo IMG_8300_zpsf8d6209f.jpg

As it turned out, Abby was born early. She was born earlier than Lydia, and she stayed in the hospital far longer. She had more issues to deal with and was a puzzle to the doctors. There were even nights I wondered if she would ever come home.

Finally, last Thanksgiving Day, Abby had two surgeries that allowed her to come home. Her surgeries were Thursday and we brought her home Sunday morning.

 photo IMG_8301_zps0d398421.jpg

Shortly after Abby came home, I was holding her one morning as I sat in my glider. She was asleep and I was praying for her and asking God what specific things I should be praying for her future. Among other things, I felt led to pray that Abby would bring joy to others. Abby wasn’t even smiling yet, and the prayer didn’t spring from anything I had observed in her character, only what I thought the Lord had in mind for her future.

Soon Abby learned to smile, and since then she has rarely stopped. Others have observed, and I agree, that she is simply the happiest baby we’ve ever met. A week or so ago, as we were tucking Abby in one night, Dan commented that, “Our family wouldn’t be the same without Abby. We have more joy because she’s here.”

 photo IMG_8304_zpsbbfe9207.jpg

This year, among a host of other things, I am thankful that God gave us Abby: that He created her and protected her, brought her home, and had a plan for her future. Even while I was laying pregnant in bed anxiously praying for an unknown future, God could already see far beyond the pregnancy, the hospital stay, and even past today. How reassuring it is to know that a good God holds our futures in His hands, and the futures of our most loved ones as well.

Pregnancy Update: The First 18 Weeks

Dan and I found out we were expecting Baby 3 while we were still camping out in the basement of some generous church friends. As God’s timing would have it, we found out we were pregnant only a few weeks after first hearing about the house that is now our home. It’s a good thing too, because I would have given up the house hunt if we had found out about Baby first! The timing was perfect, so, while the house buying process was going on, we began out hunt for a new doctor.

My last doctor was great, but she retired this summer. We called a couple of different offices and eventually chose a doctor who has turned out to be terrific. He has years of experience working with high risk and unique pregnancies, so mine was no surprise to him. At our first appointment we got our first glimpse of Baby 3 and a guess on the due date: April 20.

 photo 10_zps43543853.jpg

The first trimester wasn’t too bad for me, apart from the stress of trying to get settled on the house. I was sick for three weeks in a row with various viruses. Maybe I was feeling sick from the pregnancy too, but if so, those symptoms were masked by the other illnesses. My most obvious pregnancy symptoms were the cravings and aversions. Cheese and pickles were favorites, with random weird and short lived cravings like rice with soy sauce and tomatoes or chicken salad. As usual during my first trimesters, I couldn’t stand lentils or broccoli.

A couple of weeks after the first appointment we were back at the office again to check on Baby and start working on a game plan. Here is Baby at 12 weeks:

 photo 12_zps7065b3af.jpg

(That’s his/her head on the right side.)

There are a few things we’re going to try this time that may or may not help keep Baby from coming as early as Lydia and Abigail. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. One of those precautions is limited activity for me from 20 to 28 weeks.

Now, when you’re moving into a new house, preparing for Christmas, and anticipating another possible long NICU stay, there’s a lot to do. That’s part of what has kept us so busy lately. I’ve been working away at making some Christmas gifts a little every day. I’m happily making progress on unpacking and our goal is to be completely settled by next Tuesday. Of course Thanksgiving is coming and we’ll be hosting Dan’s family this year, but we’re keeping things simple and those present will all be pitching in to help with the meal. 🙂

The bulk of my extra time has been spent cooking and freezing meals for the time after Baby is born. If Baby spends as much time in the NICU as Lydia or Abigail, we hope to have enough meals to get us through most dinners and lunches without having to take the time to cook. We have three freezers right now (our chest freezer, the one on top of our refrigerator, and an upright some friends brought over a couple of nights ago). Two are packed full and I have two weeks left to finish my cooking!

Once twenty weeks hits, everything is going to stop. No more unpacking. No more cooking and freezing meals. No more running around like crazy buying things we need for the house. I have ten days left.

Our next Baby appointment was at 14 1/2 weeks, and here’s Baby:

 photo 14half_zps8b08d6ef.jpg

S/he is bent over like someone who fell asleep in school, and his/her arms are up behind his/her head.

So that leads me to another new decision for us. We’re hoping to be surprised with this baby, instead of finding out early if it’s a boy or girl. With ultrasounds every two or three weeks, it’s likely we might unintentionally find out, but the goal is to be surprised. That said, I will be referring to Baby as “he” from now on, even though we don’t know if he is a boy or girl yet.

During November I had a small surgery done that was another one of our attempts to keep Baby from coming as early. Afterwards, I had an appointment where we confirmed that everything was well and Baby was happily staying put.

 photo IMG_8259_zpsc84e16c5.jpg
 photo IMG_8260_zps9dfb2eed.jpg

Here’s Baby at seventeen and a half weeks:

 photo 17half_zps35df78cf.jpg

That’s a head-on picture with the head on the left. You can see the eyes and brain (kinda weird!), and everything looked good.
That brings us up to today. During the past few weeks I’ve felt the first little kicks and Baby is starting to take up my stomach and lung room. I have had a lot of energy, which has been great for getting all my preparations taken care of. But more recently I’ve been getting tired out more easily, so I’ve been having to take more breaks to rest, nap, or just prop my feet up.

Our next appointments are on December 5 (two weeks from tomorrow). The first will be the big 20-week ultrasound screening, and right afterwards we’ll be heading back to our doctor for another check up.

Whew! That felt like a lot. From here on our I’ll be able to update more frequently with any Baby news, pregnancy changes, and more pictures of our little Pumpkin.

Three Little Pumpkins

 photo IMG_8151_zps975a783a.jpg

The very weekend we moved into our new house, Dan bought Lydia a little pumpkin. As soon as fall hit and all of the stores had started putting out pumpkins, gourds, corn, and hay stalks, Lydia was fascinated. We thought it would be a fun treat to get her a little pumpkin of her own. We brought it home and put it on our fireplace mantle.

The Saturday when we moved all of our boxes into the garage, some sweet friends from church (who now live just around the corner from us) invited us over for dinner. As an extra treat, they gave us two pumpkins, one for each of the girls. Now we had three pumpkins. But do you know what? That’s ok.


 photo IMG_8277_zps9d3b3205.jpg

We’re having a baby!

No, we are not having multiple babies. Due to the nature of my pregnancies, we just get lots and lots of pictures of Baby 3.

Baby’s official due date is April 20.

(More details soon to come.)

The Story of Our House

 photo house_zpsea69a868.jpg

Back in August I shared the story of our housing hunt.  Today I’d like to share the story of our house.

It had been a long hunt so far when I started praying that we just wouldn’t even look at anymore until it was the “right one”. I was weary of getting my hopes up and then the crushing disappointment that usually followed: the house or neighborhood was no good, or someone else made a better offer.

There was a two-story home in a neighborhood that we liked so we went to go see it. The owners had kept it immaculate. Every inch was decorated to their style but, as they showed us around, it was hard to picture is as ours and not theirs. The price was within our range, but seemed high for the area. We prayed and talked about it. And we waited. We prayed more, talked more, asked our parents for advice. We walked around the neighborhood, talked to neighbors, and even went to look at it again.

It seemed like a good match. Everything in our minds said to go for it. I was desperate to finally end the hunt. But whenever we prayed, we felt unsure. It was confusing. Over and over we had prayed that when we found the right house we would know right away, and with this one we just weren’t sure. Again and again we tried to figure it out, but it just felt like God was giving us an unclear, “Maybe not.”

After a couple weeks with no changes and no new prospects, I started apartment hunting online. It just felt like we’d never find the right house. We still didn’t know if we should offer on the two-story, and we were waiting to see if maybe the price would come down. Then, one weekend, our Realtor took us to look at three more houses.

One was on a busy road. One was moldy-smelling and old. One was huge, but with a small yard. All were out of our price range. We prayed and again felt like God was saying, “Wait.”

At the end of the three viewings our Realtor asked me again what was wrong with the houses so far, what did I want that they didn’t have. I attempted to explain the things I wanted in a home, the most important things. Suddenly her face lit up as she said she had the home for us. We knew the owners, she told us, but she had to get their permission before telling us which house it was because it wasn’t even on the market yet.

Dan and I spent the ride home trying to guess who it could be. The next day he found out and emailed me. My first thought was, “I love that house, but Dan probably won’t want it.” To my surprise, he told me he had prayed and felt this might be our new house.

 photo livingroom_zps33e54d05.jpg

The next day we went for a visit and our friends showed us around. We loved it and had no question we wanted it to be our new home. The next weeks were so happy. We had found a house that we loved. It was bigger and more beautiful than anything we had expected to afford. It had a huge yard and was just down the road from a park. It was better than anything we had looked at so far and anything we had hoped or planned for.

Because the house wasn’t on the market yet, we were able to offer the asking price without any competition. The inspections and appraisals went forward and, after what seemed like a very long time to us, we closed on our own house.

Dan and I truly believe that, by praying about every home and trusting the Lord’s leading, God kept us from offering on the other houses because He had something better for us. And now we are enjoying the fruit of the waiting, the prayers, and the obedience, by getting settled in a house that really feels like a home. It’s not the starter house we had in mind. It’s a home we can imagine living in for a very long time.

 photo family_zps0cb4eb29.jpg

I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 40:1

Life Lately…

We’re back! Since I last posted the story of Dan’s new job, life has been a whirlwind. And, while things are still crazy, they are slowing at least enough for me to update you all on the past month and a half.

On September 24 we closed on our new house. Even though we had to wait for wood floors to be put in upstairs, we decided to move in anyway and camp out in the living room until they were done. Dan slept on an air mattress and the girls got a kick out of it every morning when it was time to deflate Daddy’s bed.

That Saturday we got a U-haul and moved all of our stuff into the garage, where it stayed for the next month before we could finally start unpacking.

 photo uhaul_zps8750f138.jpg photo uhaul2_zps546b9892.jpg

Every morning we enjoy the sunshine while we breakfast in our new breakfast nook. And Abby has been practicing her crawling skills by exploring every inch of the house (and eating anything she can find on the floor too).

 photo Abbyrolling_zpsfefdbf0b.jpg
 photo breakfastnook_zpsbb2191e8.jpg

In October, we celebrated the wedding of our friends, Aric and Hannah. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding. They are certainly a beautiful couple and we will miss them as Aric serves in the military out in California.

 photo church_zps068ff12c.jpg
 photo militaryweidding_zps1bdcbd4c.jpg
 photo ArikHannah_zps0748f32c.jpg

We have certainly been enjoying the fall weather, and having a yard of our very own. On Saturday we all spent a large chunk of the afternoon raking and playing outside.

 photo LydiaRaking_zps8bb1d8a2.jpg
 photo Abbyoutside_zpsd07f4823.jpg

And while Abby has been crawling all over the place, Lydia has been working on her memory verses, including the books of the Old Testament and Psalm 23:

Mostly we are just trying to get unpacked and settled so we can spend this winter together keeping cozy in our new home. We are so thankful for this house, for the changes in our lives lately, and for the way God brings everything together to create such a beautiful story.