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Friday, November 18, 2011

That Warm Feeling

A week or so ago it really hit me. My dad could have been dead just a few short months ago. The mind processes things in such a weird way. It's not that the reality was not there for me, but it was if I was somehow insulated. My body went into auto-pilot. I often hear cancer described as a battle, and this is exactly what I feel we have experienced. Immediately after hearing the news we put our game faces on and prepared for war. There were moments I cried, but I think the reality of death really never set in. As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season it really sunk in how different this time could have been if even one thing had been done differently. I guess what I really want to say is how grateful I am that once again my dad will be sitting at the head of the table as we eat our Thanksgiving meal. I get teary eyed thinking about our family getting cozy by the fire to watch a favorite Christmas movie. My heart floods with joy to think that my dad and I can once again enjoy our traditional Christmas Eve midnight service. My children will gather around papa another year decorating the tree and marveling at the lights. A lot of people say it, and I think it sometimes loses meaning, but I don't need anything for Christmas, but the wonderful intangibles I have been so richly blessed with. Our traditions bring me more joy than any store bought gift could ever bring.
I know we will all die one day. This body is finite, but I believe that the experiences we are given on this earth are God ordained, and through the trials and tears He delights in our joy just as much as we delight in Him. I am grateful for one more year with the people I love. I am grateful that my daddy is with us today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All for His Glory

I am the proud mommy of a 7 month old. Wait! What??!!! This could not be possible. I just gave birth to him around yesterday, right? I would also like to note I am also the proud mommy of a 6 year old and 3 year old. I am still trying to figure out when they grew up. I seriously just bought pants, how could they have shrunk 3 inches. They just don't make pants like they used to. Am I right?
Seriously, this year is flying by. It is has been fraught with trials and tribulations, but also permeated with sweet, sweet love. My little Isaac is such a joy. He is so different from his siblings, and yet he fits right in with them. He has been fairly mobile since about 4 1/2 months. He really hit a good crawl around 5 months so I have been very busy since then. I was not prepared for such early mobility. He started pulling up around 6 months so we'll see if walking is in the not too distant future. He has really developed a sense of humor. He knows when he is getting into something he shouldn't. Chris or I will just look at him and he will burst into giggles. I could not imagine life without this little guy. Our family life is that much richer with him around.
My precious Kaylie is thriving in her homeschooling and dance this year. I think I am learning more. It is definitely a lesson in patience, but I love learning with her. She is so intelligent. Home school is not without its challenges, but it has been a delight to watch her learn and discover. She asks questions all the time, and offers many great insights. I love her so dearly.
She is also becoming quite the little ballerina and tapper. She has her first performance this weekend at a holiday market. She is very excited and very nervous. I cannot wait to see her perform. My baby is growing up!
My sweet Micah has become quite the wordsmith. We always thought he would be the quiet one, but this past year has seen an explosion in his language skills. A not so welcome side effect is an increase in his argumentative skills. Ah 3 year olds. He really is a sweetheart. He is extremely loveable and also quite the comedienne He's even made his first best friend in life, which means we spend a lot of time outside playing with his buddy.

I continue growing and adjusting in my role as part time stay at home mom. I'd like to say I've got it all together and I never have meltdowns. Hmmm I think I'm learning that it's just one day at a time. I'm also learning I need Jesus for EVERYTHING. I thought I knew that, but I learn it a little more everyday.

After a brief stint with a second job at Starbucks, Chris and I both felt we needed him to be home more. It was a huge leap of faith, and I was concerned about making ends meet, but I was so tired I had no will to fight it anymore. His last day was last week, and he and I set off for a much needed getaway. While finances had been tight, I had set aside some planned commissions from work so we could take our first trip without kids since we had Kaylie. It was only two days, but it was just what we needed to recharge our batteries and reconnect. Right before we left Chris received a call to set up an interview with a potential employer. We've been praying a lot about this lately, but I have had so many disappointments I didn't want to get my hopes up. Yesterday Chris interviewed and was offered the job. Not only is the pay better, but it is so close to home that we will save a significant amount just from the extra gas and tolls we will not be paying. I kept remembering the verse in Psalms 8 that say What is man that You are mindful of him? I am truly humbled. I have had several one sided shouting matches with God in my frustrations. Of course when I step back into my right mind I am reminded of His sovereignty. Who I am next to Him is really nothing, yet He chooses to bless me. He chooses to care. It may not happen when or how I want it. In the end it's not about me. All things for His glory. I am grateful.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writer's Block

When I was younger I used to write a lot. It was mostly private journals and poetry fueled by a lot of teen angst. Granted some of it may seem silly now, but it was an outlet. I cherished my writing more than anything in the world. I still have every journal and tablet I set my pen to. I'm not sure any of my thoughts were Pulitzer prize winners. In fact most of it was pretty raw, but it was me. Life has happened. I don't blame or regret any of the twists or turn that have come. I love my husband and my children more than anything, but sometimes I feel like that part of me is dead. Okay maybe dead is a strong term. From time to time I still feel the embers burning in the deepest parts of me, but life require me to be completely present and I often find my old passion seems a waste or an excess my mind has no time to fuel any longer. I have tried to force myself to just write, feverishly putting pen to paper in hopes maybe one spark of inspiration, one small transference of my innermost dreams will make its way out. Instead I find a jumbled mess of words that are more akin to this lament than anything even remotely inspired.

I have enjoyed blogging, but yet I still feel something lacking. In the advance of the digital age it is all too common for any person anywhere to throw out one's thought and words, sometimes with very little thought. Not that I am looking for one, but I feel blogging has become very "niche" oriented. Unfortunately I do not find myself to excel at any one thing that I feel I am even qualified to sound authoritative on. I am a mom, yes. I can cook, yes. I am not necessarily a health guru. I'm not up on all the latest thrifting mom fashions. I can't tell you how to coupon to the extreme and spend $5 on your groceries. I've decided that while photography is awesome, my funds are limited to buy all the fancy equipment so I can simply post my awesome pictures. (By the way a lot of you do have awesome pictures.)
This just leaves me as a plain old blogger. Plain text is SO 20th century.

I miss those old writing days. I miss the way I felt after spilling my heart onto a piece of paper!
What is wrong with me? I have not found how to effectively carry out the practical side of life without stifling the words that are trying to bubble up from within me.
Is this what they call writer's block?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Night

It's just another weeknight, me sitting on the couch alone, waiting for Chris to get off of work. It kind of seems silly to me sometimes. I could just go to bed, and catch some extra sleep, God knows I could always use it. It's just that even though the time is brief, it seems those extra few moments we can see each other keep me going the rest of the time.
This has been one of the hardest seasons of my life. I have a great respect for women who have given the ultimate sacrifice as their men go off to serve their country. I always felt I wasn't nearly strong enough to do that. While my sacrifice is not nearly that, I truly feel great emptiness while Chris is out working two jobs. I was remembering back to those carefree days when it was just us. We could do what we wanted when we wanted. Our responsibilities were not as great. We had limitless time to talk, share our dreams, laugh, and have fun. Now my days are filled with diaper changes, discipline, Veggie Tales, endless explanations of why we don't do this or why we should do this. The last date we were able to steal away was a quick lunch at a Five Guys burger joint. We quickly try to rehash our days in the 20 minutes we have for dinner and the brief moments before our heads hit the pillow for the night. I do not regret my life. There is no other man on earth I would want to do this life with. I love my children, oh how I love them. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are my inheritance and I do and will continue to reap great rewards just from their lives on this earth.
I guess tonight I am just feeling a little lonely, and praying hard this season is short because I would like to have him home more again.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birth, What Have You Done to Me?


I've kind of become obsessed with everything birth related lately. Is this common for others who experience the joy of midwife care and conclude with a natural birth experience? In this crazy sort of way I want to go back and revisit my own birth experience. It seems like crazy talk, believe me I know. I guess that oxytocin really does a number on the brain. It's just that it all happened so quickly. My life was forever changed, and now I live vicariously reading other people's birth stories. I read up on everything birth related. All of the latest articles on hospital birth statistic, home birth statistics, you name it, if its birth related I want to know.
In reality I know I am nowhere near ready to attempt another pregnancy. The Lord knows I could use a few full nights of rest. I really felt Isaac would be the completion of our little family, yet sometimes I feel a twinge of sadness that this is it. It took me 5 years to build up the courage to do things differently, and its hard to accept not experiencing it all again.

I am really not here to blog about whether or not to have another baby. I believe that will work itself out in due time. I guess what I'm really wondering is if this new found love of all things birth will subside? Is it a new passion, a calling? Perhaps it's just something that comes with the empowerment of delivering in my time, my way. I just know I have such a burning desire to see all women realize the power God has placed within them. I want women to see that birthing children is not simply a burden that must be masked or rushed through just to get the end result. It is an awesome journey, that is bigger than you, and yet you were given every capability to see it through. I want women to learn to trust their instincts, and stop letting doctors make decisions that are of more benefit to themselves that the patient.

I'm not looking for a career right now. I definitely have a full plate at the moment. I would love to hear from other mamas who have taken this journey. Did you find yourself enthralled with birth after your own delivery? Did you sometimes feel sad that it was over? I might be the only crazy one there. I don't know what the future holds. I may never hold a professional career as a midwife, doula, or birth educator, but I do know that the story is forever on my heart. I guess we will just have to wait and see!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Six


Six years. I have been so busy with Isaac and just trying to keep my wits about me with three, I woke up and realized my little girl is turning six on Sunday. As I was up tonight cleaning and preparing for her party all of my emotions and sentiments welled up inside. In the still quiet house my own thoughts became a lot louder and clearer than they are most days.
She's growing up. Yes I know it's only 6. For some reason this is harder than 5 for me. Perhaps it is because this is the year she would have started school if we had chosen not to homeschool. Perhaps it is the fact the Chris and I were reminiscing a few days ago about the last 10 years we have spent since we met. In many ways it seems like a lifetime ago, we have grown and changed so much, yet I can't even believe 10 years could have passed. I asked him if he realized that in 10 more years we would have a 16 year old? At times that seems so distant, but in reality I don't want to think about it because I know how fast time will fly. I always tell Kaylie how it was like only yesterday that I held her in my arms, a fresh, newborn babe. She always laughs and says I am silly. "It seems like a long time growing up for me," she always tells me. I know there is no sense arguing. She is right. It was one of those things we never really experience until we are there.

I sat down to write this and I don't really feel like it went the direction I wanted. What I meant to say is that I love my Kaylie Joyce so very much. A new love I had never known was birthed in me the day I birthed her. I was so proud to call her mine. As she was my first, she has graciously allowed me to grow with her, as I make the common first time parenting mistakes. I have continuously been in awe of her intelligence, beauty, and inner strength. She has a strong mind, and while this can be a challenge, I would not have it any other way. I see Christ molding her and working in her heart. I feel excitement to watch her walk the path He has laid out for her, and sometimes I feel sadness. If there is one thing I am learning it is that my children are gifts on loan to me. One day I will have to let her go fulfill the plans God has for her life. Knowing this only makes our time that much more sacred.

Kaylie I have loved every moment being your mom. I look forward to many more birthdays, many more experiences, and many more memories. What a wonderful treasure you are to me. I will do my very best in the coming year to hold onto each moment. I will work on my patience. I know you are growing, and life is never easy as you try to figure everything out. I know your little brother can drive you crazy, but thank you for caring about his safety and well being at all times. Know that you mean the world to him, and as you grow he will stick up for you in a heartbeat in any situation. I have also loved watching you with Isaac. Having you with me the night I brought him into this world was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You were a strong little girl, and you have watched over your little brother with such love and grace. I know this has created a special bond between the two of you that will last a lifetime. Thank you for always being you.
You have pushed me out of my comfort zone on numerous occasions, and I appreciate that more than you will ever know.
Happy Birthday my sweet, precious Kaylie bear! I love you more than you will ever know.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spent

I wish I had something inspiring to say. Alas I do not. I never realized how difficult it is to be sick with three kids. Coordinating naps has not worked out. In a moment when I think I can catch a quick nap and recharge, a cry comes from the crib, WWIII breaks out over some coveted toy, or I remember something I needed to do. Here I am though writing instead of sleeping. I think I have some pent up emotion from they day I needed to let it out. It's sort of like having an adult conversation, albeit one-sided, but I'll take what I can get these days.
This cold is beating me down. I wish I could say I've been a patient, soft spoken mom. Oh how I wish. The tired side of me is enough to make even me cringe. Sometimes it is work to cherish the moments that you know will pass quickly. It can be hard enough taking care of yourself with young ones even on your best days. Throw in feeling icky and I start feeling like a washed up, faded version of my former self.

I love my kids. I am ever so grateful to be a mom. I realize that days like this are but a small speck in the spectrum of our lives. Right now I'm just tired. I need some good sleep, and if the weather could drop down below 100, well that would be welcome too.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Great Homeschooling Adventure



What on earth am I doing? Who am I? What have I become? Should we wear our hair in long braids and don ankle length skirts? Has the dog been fed? These are just a sample of the questions that rattle around in my brain as I undertake the great task of homeschooling my first child. Sorry, the question about the dog is just the way my scatterbrained mind works these days. And seriously please let no offense be taken on the long skirt note. I happen to love Little House on the Prairie, and if that's your style more power to you, it's just not mine.
Anyway back to all of those burning questions. The idea of homeschooling seemed fine and dandy until I woke up one morning and realized it was staring me smack dab in the middle of the face. Oh yeah did i mentioned it happened right around the time my third child just made his entrance into the world, and my middle son is at a less than cooperative stage right now.
It really is such a daunting responsibility. This is my child's education, and I can't take it lightly. She can't just be my personal experiement. This is where personal ideology and reality meet, or the proverbial "rubber meets the road." It seems it's time to buck up, put my big girl panties on and make it happen.

Ok with all of that hysteria out of the way let me say I really am excited to be embarking on this great adventure. I started working with Kaylie this past year on math and phonics, but we will start a more structured schedule in a couple of weeks. I use structured loosely because the whole point of homeschooling was to allow freedom to learn. My free styling thought process has been tamed somewhat by three children that have completely different personalities and learning styles, but if there is one thing I believe still, it is that learning should be fun. I never set out to home school simply to shelter my kids from the outside world. In fact it is quite the opposite. I want my kids out there experiencing things first hand. I just feel in these delicate years I want to be the one fielding there questions and guiding them along the experience.
I also realized that I couldn't do this alone. It is something I am learning day by day. I need help! I want my kids to have a wide variety of social experience even if it is not in the traditional school setting. My first step was to enroll Kaylie in a ballet and tap class. I want her to have an outlet for her energy and creativity. I want to give her the chance to bond with some other girls her own age. This seemed like the perfect combination. Even with this I felt we needed some more support. I searched high and low for a good support group. There was only one close to me that had any information readily accessible. They invited me to attend their first meeting of the year/open house. I was quite nervous. I really didn't know what to expect. My greatest fear was walking into a group of awkward, coolot wearing, straight laced people. I know I am ebarrassed to even write this now. I know I sound so close minded, but it was a genuine fear. I was more afraid they would reject me because I did not fit the right home school mold.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a diverse group of people who seem to each have their own styles and approaches to education. They come together to share ideas and be a support to one another. I loved this. We haven't officially joined, but I plan on attending the next meeting, and I think we will be joining soon.

I hope to make time to chronicle my homeschooling adventure. It is scary, but I think anything worth something in life gives you those butterflies in the beginning. Now I am just waiting for this weather to cool down so we can take school outside. Won't that be great!

Any readers out there home school, thought about homeschooling, want to home school, tried it and hated it? I would love to hear your thoughts, questions, concerns.

***Side note: I really did not mean to offend anyone with my narrow minded view of "typical" home schooling families. Every family has a different way of raising children and I respect that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Will Hold On

Another day, another hot one.
This feeling, being lost in obscurity.
The bank account tells another story,
Than the one You've told my heart.
Sometimes it's hard to hold onto faith
In a world that desires not to affirm Your truth.
I will hold on. I will hold on.
I will trust You.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Falling on the Rock

I sat with my dad at the hospital tonight as we ride this long bumpy road to recovery. My heart aches as I listen to nurses rattle off long lists of pills he needs to take, only because I wish I had just one that would make it all go away. My dad is strong, not because he will just grin and bear it, no he is so much stronger than this. I witnessed the most beautiful expression of love tonight. In a particularly tense moment of pain we laid hands on dad. Through the tears he whispered truth reaffirming his trust in the Lord. Declaring the goodness and sovereignty of our Father. He fell completely on the Rock. Yes this man is my father and I am proud to be his daughter.

Psalm 18:2
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold

Sunday, July 31, 2011

So We Continue

It is amazing how life can change so drastically in split seconds. I am still adjusting to a new outlook on life. Since dad's diagnosis I have stepped back and took stock of many things in life. Many things change, but one thing has remained constant. This is my ever present need to trust only in God and rely solely on the life giving power of Jesus Christ.
We have so much to be thankful for. Dad finished the first round of chemo last Tuesday. He has done so well. Even many of the nurses thought he looked just a little too well to be in the oncology ward. The downside to this was dad was feeling a bit stir crazy. He's never been one to sit around. Just a month ago he was cutting down a giant tree in their backyard. Probably not the best idea in hindsight knowing what we know now, but never the less you can see he's always working hard. After a week in the hospital he was ready to be home. The doctor was obviously very cautious about sending him home too early. The risk of infection was still too great. Thursday his blood counts were looking a lot better. On Friday the doctor gave him the green light to head home after one more platelet transfusion. We are all elated. He is still healing and working through some of the side effects of the chemo, but he is a trooper. He will go for an appointment on Monday to check his blood levels again. He should start the second phase of treatment in August. Please continue to pray for his complete healing. I also ask for prayer for renewed strength and energy. Please pray for continued encouragement from the Holy Spirit and friends as the enemy loves to come in when we aren't feeling at our best and speak lies and bring discouragement.
In other great news my parents will celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary on Monday. What a testament of God's love and faithfulness! That is one thing I love about these two. They stick it out through thick and thin. My mom stayed at that hospital every night with my dad. I heard many people comment that maybe she should just go home for a night, but she was not going to leave his side. I know he would do the same for her. I am proud to call them my parents and proud of the representation they are on this earth of the love Jesus has for His people.
I would also like to ask all those who pray to continue to remember our family in prayer. There has been a lot of craziness in life and experiencing all of these things with three young children in tow is not the easiest. Chris has been an awesome husband and taken on a second job so I can be home with the kids. While I am forever grateful for his hard work, it is still difficult as I was spoiled to having his great help in the evenings. The kids also miss having him home more. We are working through this season with joy and perseverance, but sometimes the joy takes a little extra effort!
I appreciate every prayer and kind word that has been spoken to me and my family during this season. It has been an experience that has impacted me and made my love grow deeper for the family of God.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

When God's Ways are Not Our Ways

I am still scratching my head. How did we go from sitting at a chik-fil-a with the kids on a Saturday to a leukemia diagnosis on Monday? The human mind was not made to process these whirlwinds of change. For those who are completely lost a brief summary:
Saturday my mom called to tell us she was taking my dad to the ER. He had been drained all week and started having chest pains and feeling winded. Heart disease runs in his family so he worried he was either having a heart attack or at least some serious blockage. While this was not welcome news to me, I felt prepared for this. My grandfather is in his 80's and survived two heart attacks while still putting right along. I knew this wouldn't be easy, but I knew he was doing the right thing by going in early. I figured they would get this fixed and he'd be back on his merry way in no time.

We all rushed up to the ER and crammed into the tiny room. They had drawn blood and noticed it was low. They were talking transfusion to get him back up to par. Still nothing seemed weird at this point. A Dr. showed up and said he was their to look at the blood results and he would be back with us. After a really short period he was back. He started explaining the results of the blood test. My dad's red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets were all dangerously low. He was told he basically had no immune system. I'm just trying to process what this has to do with having a heart attack when I hear the word Leukemia thrown out. Wait what is he talking about? Did he not realize we were here for chest pains? He obviously had the wrong room. It is amazing how many thoughts flash through your head in a single moment when life delivers you a swift slap to the face. I didn't want to appear weak, but my eyes flooded with tears. This was my daddy, the guy who's always strong, nothing unexpected happens to him. Immediately the Lord spoke to my spirit, Crystal, you know I am good right? Of course I do, but God can't I just have a moment? This kept impressing on my spirit. I felt that we should begin to pray. I knew it was God's desire for us to to acknowledge His goodness no matter what the circumstance no matter what the outcome. So we set the stage for what was to come. I am sorry Satan, but you have already lost this first battle, God is good and you will not convince us otherwise.

They had to take a bone marrow biopsy Sunday to confirm what they suspected. Late Monday the doctor delivered the preliminary results which confirmed acute leukemia. He wanted to begin treatment right away. The prognosis is good because he caught this very early, but the window is short. We were told if he had waited even a month, he could have been dead. If you asked anyone they would never see a blessing in a family history of heart disease. For once I do. If my dad had no history of heart disease he probably wouldn't have taken those chest pains as seriously. He probably would have attributed his tiredness to a cold or virus coming on. While the chest pains ended up being related to the anemia from his blood, God used those warning flags to preserve his life.

I am still processing all of this. I anticipate many blogs to come as we fight this fight together. My dad has at least two weeks in the hospital while they begin the first rounds of treatment. The biggest goal is to build his immunity back up. It is a miracle that he has not caught anything the week prior as he went about his normal life working and being around people.

It may sounds strange, but this has been one of the hardest , but sweetest weeks of my life. As we lean heavily on the Lord and each other it has built such a sweet sense of unity. I have enjoyed just sitting and talking with my dad. Suddenly a lot of life's silly distractions just don't seem that important.
I love my dad so very much. I believe my heart hurt more because I did not want to see him walk through any pain. All night Saturday I thought about being a little girl again. The times that were simple and unmarred by the hormones and drama that the teenage years bring. I thought about the many times my dad needed to tell me something important, something I might not really understand. He would sit me on his lap. Sometimes he cried, but he was always a source of strength. I miss those days sometimes. I learned so much about the great character of my dad just being with him. Now we are at a point where we need an even greater Father, our sweet Father God to hold us both on His lap. His ways are not our ways, but He is faithful to hold us when we just can't quite understand and be a source of strength.

We have appreciated so many people who have visited and sent comments and prayers. We continue to enjoy visitors but ask that anyone who is sick refrain from coming at this time. Even a common cold could be dangerous with his current immunity levels. We have also been asked by the doctors not to allow any flowers, plants, or fresh fruits and vegetables in the room due to the bacteria they can harbor. Cards and prayers are always welcome.

We are standing in faith that God will bring complete healing to my dad's body. I am believing that he will come out not only healed but completely rejuvinated in mind, body, and spirit.
If you take anything with you today please let it be that God is a good God. He remains the same no matter what the circumstance or what the outcome. He does not change. Blessed be His name!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oh Sleep....Will We Ever Meet Again?

I can't lie. Lack of sleep is really starting to catch up to me. Isaac will be 14 weeks old this Saturday and he still does not sleep through the night. There was one blessed night two weeks ago. He slept until 6am. I never knew how refreshing uninterrupted sleep until 6am could be. I was excited and hopeful. Perhaps, I thought, we are on the downward slope. My optimism was quickly dashed the next night when he made up for it by waking up at 2am and 4am. Isaac is such a sweethart and I know it takes longer for some babies to get to that point. Nevertheless I started to calculate how long it has really been for me considering I did not sleep through the night during the last months of pregnancy, and I am going on 6 months now. It really starts to not only come down to quantity but quality. On the weekends Chris has really tried to let me sleep a little longer, but the interruptions really make a difference. I am getting a first hand glimpse of how effective sleep deprivation could be as a means of torture.
One day I will care about taking the time to really fix my hair, one day I'll be up early just to exercise, one day my mind will be a little more than mush.

Seriously though, I am enjoying the journey, even if I'm a little groggy along the way. Isaac continues to be such a joy. I haven't weighed him since his two month check-up, but he is definitely over 14 lbs. He just started rolling over, but he has been scooting himself across a blanket for a couple of weeks. He is such a cuddle bug. His smile melts my heart everyday. I love to watch his siblings interact with him. They love him so much.

I am learning to embrace the challenges of being a part time stay at home mom of three kids. While things are definitely tight with me working less, I have gained something so much more. I used to go to bed feeling like maybe I hadn't done enough with the kids. What if I woke up one morning and they were all grown up, and all I had was regret for not taking the time to really enjoy their lives? Each day is not perfect, and I struggle to adapt, but I feel like each day is truly seized. I am so grateful for each day I am given to watch my kids grow, and to grow with them.
I suppose there are many more years ahead to catch up on sleep.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

From the Mom Who Never Wanted to Breastfeed

Isaac will be 12 weeks tomorrow and I am proud to say he has never have had a drop of formula touch his little lips. At almost 14 pounds he is a happy, healthy little guy who loves nothing more than to take time out from a crazy day and be close to nurse.
I'm not here to argue the benefits of formula or breastfeeding. The last thing people respond well to is a perceived judgmental attack. No, this is just my story, my experience as a mama who never really wanted to breastfeed, yet here I am with my third baby and I have reached a pivotal milestone in my motherhood journey. It is a personal milestone. Isaac is the first child I will have exclusively breastfed for this long, and while we're at it I figure, why stop?
When I found out I was pregnant with Kaylie I wasn't really sure how I felt about breastfeeding. Obviously in our society it wasn't something I was around a lot. I felt it was surely not possible to exclusively breastfeed. It just seemed so restrictive. I wouldn't want to admit it, but secretly I wasn't ready to give up my freedom and have the breast ready at a baby's beck and call. I thought I might give it a try, and maybe use some formula as well. I look back now and realize the reason I failed at breastfeeding was that I was never truly committed. My heart wasn't there. Breastfeeding is not something you can casually give a try, it is a commitment to riding out the hardships that occur those first few weeks.. It is believing that beyond those early inconveniences lies a bond that will be sweeter than you ever imagined. I did try to breastfeed Kaylie, but I had not prepared the support I would need to see it through. At the first sign of hardship I jumped on the formula bandwagon. I quickly took offense at any le leche league ad I saw. I would think to myself how preachy these people were. Did they really think I didn't love my child as much because I formula fed? I will be the first to say that anyone can love their children deeply no matter how they feed their children. My mother tried desperately to breastfeed me, but for medical reasons I needed more nutrition than her body could give. I have no doubt she loved me very deeply even as she fed me with a bottle. What I have learned is that breastfeeding creates a beautiful bond that is not only beneficial for baby in terms of development, but it gives a whole new layer of meaning to giving your life for your child.
None of my attempts at breastfeeding have been easy. I tried a little harder with Micah, but an early return to work made it difficult to build the supply I needed to make it work. I remember the first night I realized I really had no milk to give him anymore. I was surprised at the heartbreak I felt. When I had Isaac I was determined to make it work.
The first couple of weeks I really had to work on Isaac's latch. I purposed I would stick with it, and did not allow any formula in the house those weeks. You do not know how tempting it is to make a bottle when you are tired at 2am and trying to get a baby latched on.
Like I said I am not here to preach, but share an experience. I can honestly so I am so happy to have made it 3 months already. I know many breastfeeding pros out there may look at this number as small, but to me it is an accomplishment. As I take time at work to pump I feel a sense of pride knowing I can do something for my baby even when we are apart. It makes me feel closer to him. I love coming home and seeing his eyes light up. He is so happy to get close and nurse after a long day. I have found once past those early days, breastfeeding is the easiest thing I have done. I don't miss washing bottles. I love that I can comfort him wherever we are. I used to be very self conscious about feeding in public. I'm still not one to just whip them out and start feeding, there are a lot of creepy people out there, but I have mastered the use of the nursing cape with whatever is available. I love being able to feed and go right back to sleep. Most importantly I love how close we are. As I bonded with Kaylie and Micah I had a lot of hidden selfishness I had to work through. In God's grace I have a deep abiding bond with both of them. With number 3 I have finally realized the benefit of what was initially perceived as short term sacrifice. A little perseverance and patience in the beginning can pay off with a lifetime of love. Isn't that what the whole experience of parenting is all about?
I am happy to say the only time we have issue with Isaac's latch is when he can't stop smiling, and I'm okay with that!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Satisfaction

As I sit here with a two month old staring into my eyes , melting my heart with sweet coos, I strain to imagine what life was like before all of this. I love how seamlessly God knits our new little ones into our hearts and family. Isaac has been more than a joy to each of us, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the opportunity to be home. Yes this is true even if there were and still are those moments that I believe I have reached my wits end.
Monday I will go back to work part time, two days a week. I have cried many tears over this. I am grateful it is not full time. I keep reminding myself that two days is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and yet as I sit nursing Isaac and listen to my children laugh as they play and enjoy their fleeting youth, I realize two days is everything to me.
I feel I have grown leaps and bounds in just two months. I have learned more about myself. I have learned more about my children. I have grown closer to Chris. Most importantly I have learned to rely completely and wholly on my Savior Jesus Christ .
There don't seem to be a lot of immediate rewards for sitting up with a baby at 3 am, wiping butts, wearing spit up in lieu of hair gel, and refereeing sibling spats. Yes, not always immediate, but something about mothering has put me in touch with the eternal. It is such a beautiful parallel to the walk with the Lord. When I'm just not feeling the mommy thing some days, I think about legacy. When I go into the workplace I may be the most awesome worker around. I may reach all the coveted achievements, but in the end I am replaceable. In the end no one will remember me for those accomplishments. Then I think about my children, ah MY children. I am shaping and molding for the future, creating deep ties that bind. I am praying and believing for their little lives to be changed, and that they will go out as salt and light in a dark world.
What a journey it is, and I am loving it. I pray for grace as things change a bit again. I know that He is more than willing to give it. I also know that only He knows the deepest desires of my heart, and with God all things are possible!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Humbling

I must say being a mother is the most humbling experience. I realize on a daily basis that it is not all about me. Without Jesus I can't do this thing.
Some days I feel like a failure, but I will just keep getting back up because that's what makes a winner in this life.
I will try my hardest and when I come up short, I've got grace to pick up the slack.
Thank you Jesus!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Juggling

I really thought I would have more time to write here once I was home. I am laughing at myself as I write that. Who am I kidding? Staying home with three kids under the age of five has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. I really do love having this time with them, and I am not missing the work world. We are definitely still adjusting to a routine. I feel like I am always just staying ahead enough to keep from wiping out completely . It is like being on a treadmill that speeds up at regular intervals.
Chris continues to tell me not to be so hard on myself, that this is all still new and things will settle down soon enough. I will continue to try and believe him. I am lucky that he is there with an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on as I continue to hash all of this out.
I have found my greatest challenge to be an adorable little 2 1/2 year old boy that has more energy pulsing through his veins than I can keep up with. Micah has hit that age where constant arms length supervision is a must. He has figured out that when nursing I am kind of out of commission for a bit. He deems these as the best times to flush whole roles of toilet paper down the toilet, help himself to a snack (this is usually something messy like yogurt), and go treasure hunting in his sisters room. Those off you who have little brothers know what kind of mess this leads to.
Nevertheless we are still alive and well. I am learning and grateful for the time God has given me with my children. Every moment I want to tear my hair out I remember what great patience and love God deals with me. Of course at the end of a long day when the two oldest shower me with hugs and I love you's, or when Isaac finishes eating and gives me a huge gummy smile, my heart melts.
Maybe juggling can be fun, once you get the hang of it.
Yes it is all worth it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Woman Who Changed the World

The smell of bacon, eggs, toast, and Folgers, that's a memory I will carry for the rest of my life. It will always be a reminder of childhood and waking up in my grandparents house, running into the kitchen, and seeing them sitting together reading the Word of God and praying together at the breakfast table. At the time the importance did not sink into my childhood brain. It was just what they did. It was who they were. Little did I know there sat a man and woman in a small town changing the world.

Today Grandma Zola went home to be with Jesus and our Heavenly Father. She battled cancer for years, and the toll it took only increased after my grandfather died. I thought I was prepared. I had expected the phone call to come at any moment in the last few days, but when it did I still broke down in sobs. Grandma was a giant of the faith. When she put her faith in God, there was no turning back. She did what she said, and said what she meant. She was a stubborn lady, a streak that runs fairly deep in our family. I am grateful for that though. She loved like no other. Her home was open to everyone. The woman was a prayer warrior. I remember she prayed about everything. Oh how she loved family. Her desire was that every person she meet come to know the love of her Savior. She touched an entire town and people who have gone out into the world to share that message, all because she was faithful.

I love her so much. There were many a times her love for me came in the form of discipline. I could have quite the sassy mouth. I am grateful for her correction. She always had her eye on the end result which was good character and integrity. She was quick to back up the discipline with love and encouragement. Her inheritance was many faithful, children,grandchildren , and great grand children.

Today grandma stepped into eternity with her Savior. She has been reunited with so many loved ones. I cannot even imagine the joy she is feeling. She is in the place she prepared her life for, as she sought to prepare those around her. As Hebrews 13:14 says
For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
I just get excited as I think about the reality and truth behind this. It is not some fairytale we conjure in our minds, but truth. Our time on earth is so short, but like grandma, everything we do should be with an eye on eternity. With that mindset we love more, we serve more, and we give more because it is not about this city made with man's hands, but the city we seek made by God.

I wanted to share some random memories I have. They are the precious gems I will carry with me for the rest of my journey.

  1. Biscuits and gravy. Grandma made the best and she always made sure to have them when we were around.
  2. Apricot preserves. The food list could get pretty long, but the apricot preserves were great on the biscuits.
  3. Naps. She was always trying to get the grand kids to take naps. She would get cots out, and play a record I think was called Airplane to Sleepy Town.
  4. Chicken foot. She and my grandpa loved playing a variation of dominoes called chicken foot. They would get so competitive, and then she would start laughing so hard by the end.
  5. Readers Digest. She had so many dating back to the 1970's. I always wondered what she did with all of those.
  6. Her backyard. Grandma was constantly trying to get us away from the TV and outside to play. She would give us old boxes from their plumbing business and tell us to be creative. Grandma was ahead of her time trying to beat the childhood obesity epidemic! :)
  7. Lunch. Whenever we were there visiting everyone would come in from work for lunch. I have some great memories sitting around her dining room table with everyone.
  8. Pow-wows. This is what grandma called pep talks she would give us before we went out to a restaurant. This is where she admonished us to behave and be Christ like examples while we were in public. Not sure if I always accomplished that one.
  9. Sunday School. Grandmas taught the ladies Sunday School class. She was a great teacher.
  10. Kisses. Whenever we walked in the door she would grab our face and plant the biggest kiss on the cheek.
There are so many memories, it is hard to condense them into one post. I will miss her more than anything, but today she is free. Knowing this it is hard to want anything less

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Mom on the Block

Okay so I'm not a new mom, but I am new to this whole stay at home mom thing. As a working woman I have tried to squeeze time in with the kids every moment I could while balancing all of the other spinning plates in life. All I wanted was more time, and now I have that. I have to be honest this is all a bit intimidating to me. Now I find myself trying to decide how I want to balance that time. What is the right ratio of time spent home working on chores, getting out of the house, trying to fit in time building relationships with other moms, and of course squeezing in some me time? I guess I feel like now that I'm home I should be able to keep the house spotless and do it all so to speak. I know this is not the reality. Since I'm still in the postpartum recovery period I am trying to take it slow and build up to a good routine.

Any other mom's out there make the transition from full time career to full time mom after having multiple children? What worked for you? Was it difficult moving from adult conversation 8 hours a day to being home with kids 24 hours a day? I truly am excited for the opportunity to be with my children. It has been on my heart for awhile now. I also know it will not be without its challenges, and I am eager to find a support group of other moms.
Any stories, advice, and comments are welcome!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Birth of Isaac Timothy Medrano Part 2

As we headed toward the birth center I kept my eye on the clock. I kept anticipating the next contraction, but as we neared 5 minutes I had nothing. It was so strange. I started feeling almost normal. I started to worry. I told Chris over and over again how sure I was that they were going to take one look at me and send me home. I was already embarrassed that I, a third time mom, would make such a mistake in assessing my own progress. It took us about 20 minutes to get there, and the whole way no contractions. As we pulled into the birthing center I saw everyone's cars, and I wanted to just turn around and go home. Oh well there was no turning back. I would have to face the music no matter what the outcome. Ann was getting out of her car. As I got out I suddenly doubled over with another contraction. It may sound crazy, but even in all that pain I was so relieved. One of or birth assistants, Michelle, asked me if I wanted to use the restroom first. I wasn't really sure where we were at with progress, but that seemed like a good idea. While in the bathroom, the contractions started picking up again. I hobbled my way to the room where Ann was getting the birth tub ready. She asked if I wanted to labor on the bed for awhile or get in. I think I was already stripping from the waist down to get in before she even finished her sentence. We did decide to go ahead and check my progress before I got in. I was dilated to a 6. Hallelujah! I hadn't imagined this labor. It was for real and we were going to have a baby! It's hard for me to describe the pain of contractions. They were rough, and I sometimes felt like my insides were turning inside out, but at the same time they were so much better than contractions from pitocin. Even though each contraction progressively became more intense, I felt in control. This was a good feeling. In the hospital I always felt like I was spinning out of control. I would start to dread each contraction, anticipating the pain instead of taking them one at a time.
I slipped into the tub which felt absolutely amazing. How had I ever done this any other way? I mentally assessed the situation. If I was at a 6, I figured I had a good 1-2 hours to mentally prepare for the pushing. This was the part that terrified me the most. I feared the sensation of the baby dropping down, and literally feeling every move as he progressed down the birth canal. I dreaded the "ring of fire" I had heard so many women talk about during natural labor.
I settled in and the next contraction started to come. Kaylie had woken up and wanted to be in the room. We had discussed it and decided it would be a good experience for her as long as she felt comfortable. She came and sat by the tub and held my hand as I worked through a contraction. The water definitely helped as I was able to float through the contraction. Suddenly things started picking up. Chris came to hold my other hand and I started feeling a lot of pressure with each contraction. I told Ann who gently reminded me to relax my whole lower body and allow my baby to come down. She was such a reassuring presence. I believe I had a few contractions come one right after the other. Now I realize I was transitioning. She told me to turn so she could see my baby coming down. What!!!!??? I had only been there about 30 minutes. There is no way he can be coming down. I am not ready to push yet. I haven't had my time to relax, labor, and prepare for this moment. I know a lot of women would give anything for a short labor, and of course looking back I am gad as well. It is still strange when you have prepared yourself for the long haul, and all of a sudden it is all coming down on you at once. It is a bit intense. I thought Kaylie would want to leave the room at this point, but she was steadfast by me. With Chris supporting me from the back, Ann gently instructed me to follow her instructions. "We're not here to blast this baby out," was something she reminded me. This is so different than a hospital. Most of the time we are encouraged to push as hard as we can by nurses and doctors. With an epidural that is not a problem. There is no inhibition, but that forceful pushing is what so often leads to horrible tears and unwanted cuts. What happened next I attribute to cementing my belief that a good midwife coached birth is beyond compare.
I felt the head ready to crown. I must admit in that moment I freaked out. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to push that out of such a small area. I wanted to jump out and run, but what could I do? She told me to give a gentle push when I felt the next contraction. My mind wondered when I would know it was right, but suddenly my body instinctively took over. I pushed until she told me to breathe. We did this several times and I wondered if he would ever come out. Little did I know those controlled pushes, and breaks to breathe allowed the perineum to slowly stretch and accommodate Isaac's head. Suddenly I felt it, the ring of fire. I can't lie here and say it was pleasant, but then I immediately felt something I had never felt with Kaylie or Micah. I felt his little body leaving mine. It was weird but I'm told the only yell I gave was as his shoulders came out. The cord was wrapped around his neck a couple of timeS, but Ann quickly unwrapped it, and brought Isaac to my chest. In that moment I was awestruck. I had done it. In about 3 hours I had crossed the threshold I had feared for so long. I had a warm, blue eyed little baby staring back at me from my chest. Ann later told me it had to be the Lord that kept my from contractions from coming on the ride there or we probably would have been delivering a baby on the side of the road. Isaac was here fully alert and surrounded by so much love. Kaylie was beyond thrilled. It was such an amazing experience. She never once flinched. She kept telling us that it was the best day of her life. Chris cut the cord and we were allowed to spend time bonding with our precious son. This is perhaps what I loved most about the experience. Our birth team made sure this experience was about us. We were never rushed. Isaac was allowed to be with us at all times, and family was able to be close. It was amazing.
When I finally was out of the birth tub Ann checked me for tears. There was only a small little "skid mark" as she called it. We believe it occurred when his shoulder came out because that was the only cry I had made during pushing. It did not require stitches, which was a huge relief!
I truly did not believe it was possible for me not to tear. With Micah, the doctor told me I would probably at least tear where the scar was from my episiotomy.
I credit Ann with her awesome coaching skills. She was there at each turn instilling confidence that my body was made to do this. I also must credit the other to amazing women on the birth team. Michelle and Jenee' were so wonderful and encouraging. I could not have asked for a better birth.

The birth of Isaac has brought our family even closer. In the days that have followed I have been filled with so much emotion. In a weird way I am sad it is over. I remember hearing many women who chose to use midwives rave about their experience. I sometimes felt they were overly dogmatic. Now that I have experienced the difference between a hospital and the care of a midwife, I am starting to understand where they were coming from. This birth changed my life. It opened me to a whole new dimension of love and sacrifice as a mother. It caused me to surrender to God in a whole new way. It truly ushered in a gentle beginning for our little Isaac. He has been so peaceful and content. He has been with us every hour since his birth. His brother and sister just love him to pieces, and I credit that with them being an active part of this pregnancy and his birth. After the birth we napped on the big bed in the birth room. All of our children were piled on just like being at home. It was so wonderful.

I find myself still processing the experience, as I am sure will be the case in the weeks to come. I cannot say enough good things about the Gentle Beginnings Birth Center staff. Ann changed my view on all things birth. I was constantly challenged to re-asses my previous mind set. I find myself getting a little teary just thinking I won't be going to see them for regular appointments. I am lucky that they have built such a great community that allows women to stay connected even after birth.

I leave you with a quote I have heard many times before, but it speaks so clearly to me when it comes to natural childbirth.

"We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong." -Laura Stavoe Harm



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coming Soon.....

The Birth Story of Isaac Timothy Medrano

Our baby boy Isaac joined us Saturday at approximately 1:30 in the morning. He weighed 7lbs. 14oz. and was 20 inches long. I told my midwife I did not even know it was possible for me to birth babies less than 8lbs! It has been quite the whirlwind. I am presently gathering my thoughts to write his story out. Please check back soon as it will probably be posted in pieces.
Isaac and family are doing very well. He has been such a joy and a blessing to our family. We appreciate every kind word of encouragement, prayer, and the help we have received. I look forward to sharing our continuing journey with you.

The Birth of Isaac Timothy Medrano Part 1


As I sit down to start writing this story my heart is flooded with emotion. It is a story that is beating to get out of my chest, yet when I try to write it, it is hard to adequately convey every sense, every emotion that I have felt over the past few days since the birth of Isaac. I am still easily moved to tears which can make it hard to gather my thoughts into a cohesive sentence, not to mention it is hard to see the screen through blurry contacts. Please bear with me as I tell my tale a little bit at a time.

As we drove to the the birth center yesterday for my first postpartum check up, my mind raced back to our first visit with Ann and Gentle Beginnings almost 9 months ago. It seems almost like a lifetime ago. Our lives have changed so much. I remember feeling a little scared and a little excited at the prospect of taking a different path for this pregnancy. As we sat in the waiting room I battled between the part of me that wanted to play it safe and stick with the norm, and the deep womanly intuition in me that knew if I did not take this chance I would regret it the rest of my life.
I had so many doubts and so many questions then, but that day as we drove towards the clinic for what would be one of the last few visits for this pregnancy's journey, every doubt and every question had been washed away in a moment that changed my life forever.

Friday I spent a leisurely day with the kids. I was so glad I had taken Chris' advice and stayed home from work. Little did I know how important that day of rest and time with the kids would be. I didn't really have any abnormal contractions. I would get the same light braxton-hicks like contractions. I was tired, but that was nothing new from the past month. When Chris got home we decided we would grab dinner out and then spend the evening watching a movie. At home I made some brownies and we finished Finding Nemo with the kids. Chris and I even proceeded to get into a small argument about something silly. I'm still amazed about how normal things can be right before your body throws you into the ride of your life.

I was still frustrated at Chris which kept me from noticing a steady stream of light contractions that began to come on. I laid down to rest, but slowly started noticing an increase in intensity. All I could think was, great now I have to break my carefully planned wall of silence and tell Chris. When I did tell him I started crying about how scared I was. It really hit me that this was it, no turning back now. He just smiled and said, "I love you, I guess my plan worked to get this labor started." I tried my best to give a smart comment about how this didn't change how I felt, but another contraction hit. Suddenly I knew I wasn't up for playing the game anymore. Chris is always my rock, and I knew I needed him now more than ever. We started timing contractions. They were still about 9 minutes apart and only lasting 45 seconds. This was at about 10:30. They started getting closer together. I was really hesitant about calling the Ann. I didn't want to be that lady who gets everyone up late at night only for a false alarm. I also knew my body. My labors have been fairly quick, and I didn't want to deliver this baby en-route to the birth center. I told Chris just to text her. Awesome midwife that she is Ann called me within a minute. I have never known a doctor to do that! She sat with me on the phone through a contraction. She said from the length of it she would suggest I take a warm bath. If it wasn't time that should slow things down so I could rest. If this was the real deal things would get more intense. I poured a bath and got in. While the warm water felt good, it was hard to get comfortable in a small tub between contractions. I stuck it out as long as I could and decided I needed to get out and labor on the bed. I had Chris start my birth play list. Things definitely started to rev up. As I look back on this time it is one of my most precious memories. The kids were in bed. Chris did some last minute laundry while I tried to relax. Every time a contraction would come, he would quickly come over to rub my lower back and whisper encouragement to me There was so much love, it was a sweet presence in the room. Even though I was starting to battle some intense pain I loved this time with just Chris, the Lord, and I. Knowing there was no safety net for the pain, I really started to dig deep and visualize each contraction like waves, surrendering to the work they were doing in me to bring this baby out. I had no choice but to fully trust in the Lord, and believe He made this body to do the work. The pace started to pick up. We were at about 5 minutes apart with each contraction lasting over a minute long. After one ended I decided I should walk downstairs and rehydrate. I made a pit stop in the bathroom and then was hit with side splitting contraction. It had been less that 2 minutes since the last one. I made my way upstairs to lay down on the bed and was hit again. I told Chris I really thought we should head out. He called Ann and told her I was ready to go. It was about 12:50 in the morning by this point. Chris made sure everything was ready and got the kids up. As I walked to the car my only thought was how will I ever make the car ride with these contractions coming so close together. I may die before we arrive.
No turning back now. We were loaded up and on our way.

Friday, April 1, 2011

40 Weeks

I sit here today very hopeful, very expectant, and yes still very pregnant. Congratulations Isaac, you and your brother made it to the 10 month club. They are only proving my theory that boy's just want to be comfortable.
At the advice of my midwife and Chris, I decided to make yesterday my last day of work. I promised myself I wouldn't cry this time around the first time I put on a pair of shoes and my feet had swollen to the point they felt too tight. I guess that is what I get for making unrealistic promises. It may have been at this point that Chris was tipped off to the fact that maybe I needed some time to rest. Trying to keep a "normal" routine with my two children that starts at about 5am gets really difficult at this point in pregnancy.
I left work yesterday not knowing if I would even be back. If business does not warrant a part time position at the end of my leave, I very well could unemployed for the time in almost 8 years. While this is a choice I made with full understanding of the possibilities, I still felt a twinge of fear yesterday as I walked out the door. Here I was finally taking the leap of faith I had desired for so long. I felt like one of those cartoon characters in an old Warner Bros. flick who runs out over a canyon only to look and down and realize there is nothing between you and impending doom but air. Of course this is not the truth, but it's just what I was feeling in the moment. I quietly worried last night if I had decided to take leave too early. What if Isaac takes another week and I could have had just a few more days of pay. What if, what if, what if.
I woke up this morning with a sweet reminder that there is something between me over the canyon and the impending doom below. God proves himself time and time again to be faithful right where I am. It's still strange for me to understand how He does not tire of my questions and little faith. I must say I am very glad He never does.

I have been able to spend a relaxing day enjoying time with my kids. It is the first day in awhile that I have not speculated or agonized over when things would fall into place. I have used the time to do some things around the house, but I am also using the time to pause, reflect, and enjoy the treasures God has entrusted me with.

May the weekend bring you new reminders of God's faithfulness. May your hearts be filled with hope and expectancy. I hope to introduce you to the newest member of our family in the next few days!

Friday, March 18, 2011

He Restores The Years

Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the knawing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
Joel 2:25
I had a vivid dream last night. It was not about a specific instance, but it was one of those abstract dreams that brings back the reminders and feelings of past events. My first thoughts when I awoke were to flash back ten years ago. Ten years, has it really been that long?
I remembered my life at this very season ten years ago. I was seventeen. I thought I knew everything. The reality was I was a broken down mess. Every month my parents were finding out some new piece of news about me, and it was never good. I was running around with men I had no business associating with at my age, and putting myself into many dangerous situations. Each night I went to bed heartbroken, because even though I knew it all, deep inside the aching empitness dug its roots into my heart. The Saviour I had once so eagerly given my heart to at a young age seemed far and distant. At the time I was too blind to realize it was not He who had left. I had just stopped letting Him fill the seemingly unquenchable desire to be loved and accepted.
In the midst of it all I remember feeling I had run too far in the opposite direction. Surely even if I gave in, even if I surrendered, there would be years of punishment awaiting me.
How easily I forgot the message of the cross, a sweet message of grace and restoration.
There came a point when my legs could not carry me any farther. A point I reazlied that as I fell down God was waiting there to catch me.
It is ten years later. Instead of facing a spring of death and despair as I did so long ago, I eagerly await the birth of my child, a gift of life. I have been given a great earthly love, a man God has chosen to walk the journey of life with me. I have been given three children, an inheritance from the Lord. I have a home that is never lacking for our basic needs. Most importantly I have been restored to the love of my Saviour in whom there is no shadow of turning. I have peace.
The road of restoration was not all roses. I have still had many lessons to learn over the past ten years. If you are to read the beginning of Joel 2 Israel had experienced great devastation as a consequence for their actions, though consequences differ greatly from punishment. Consequences offer us the path to learning and change. The road to healing is often started in brokeness. Ten years later I can attest to the truth in verse 25. He is faithful to make up for the years the locust has eaten.
Thank God for His great goodness and grace!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Patty's Day Baby


Dear Isaac,
I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but yesterday I was pretty tired and ready to do whatever it took to bring on labor. I am sorry because I really don't mind you snuggled inside. What can I say? The end of pregnancy makes every mama a little crazy. I just want you to know I have settled down, and am doing everything I can not to let outside influences affect our last days being this close together.
I did briefly think it would be cool if you decided to be a Saint Patty's Day baby. I'm not sure why. I never really celebrate, and I almost always forget to wear something green. You would be the perfect reason to celebrate, and I would be sure never to forget Saint Patrick's day again.
Your sister loves almost any holiday. She made sure she was decked out in green. If you decided to make an appearance today, she would make us stop at the store on the way to the birth center just to buy a green hat or onesie. Yup she is just cool like that.
We can't wait to meet you, to hug you, and to kiss your little face.
I've given up trying to make sure everything is perfect because I know you honestly won't care. I will better serve you by maintaing my sanity and being ready to hold you, love you, and provide all the attention you need to feel wanted and secure.
So take as long as you need little one. I won't rush you. If you do decided to surprise me late into the evening, we'll toast your arrival with some green kool-aid and mark the first Saint Patrick's Day I have ever celebrated.
Much love,
mama

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sunny Side Up!

We found out today that Isaac decided to take a posterior position in the womb. This explains all of the knots and lumps I have been feeling near the top of my belly and under the rib cage. As my midwife checked me today she exclaimed, "All I feel are hands and feet!"

This is my first time to experience this. I have to admit when she first told me I felt a twinge of fear. I had really started to come to peace with my impending labor, and this heightened those anxieties I thought were finally calm. I know that the possibility of more painful back labor is increased when the baby is in this position. I was given some exercises to perform in hopes of encouraging him to move. I hope that with these and some prayer we will see positive results.

If there is anything this whole pregnancy has taught me it is to let go of preconceived ideas and expectations. As I sit here writing I realize that posterior or anterior God's hand is resting on Isaac and upon me. He is not letting go.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Baby Shower Time

Things always change by the time you get to your third baby. You've been down the road before. You've honed your skills on what items are necessary and those that are frivolous. I almost feel guilty for how practical I look at things when it comes to this child. Please don't get me wrong, I am very excited to welcome Isaac into the world. He will have his own unique personality and purpose. I just knew that having one child of each gender already, there were few things we really had to buy. Due to compact space we have for our growing family, we would not be able to put a lot into a specific nursery theme. In spite of these things I wanted Isaac to be able to look back and know that he was still celebrated, and just as an important in his arrival has his brother and sister.

Chris and my best friend Alyson came together and did just that yesterday. I am amazed that even some 200 miles apart they coordinated together so well. It was a wonderful shower, and it warmed my heart to have friends and family celebrate with us. We received some really awesome gifts that will replace some of our current baby items that are shall we say a bit worn.

Thanks to our new computer I am happy to finally include some pictures our happy day.





The guys lent their "expert" baby shower decorating skills.

I was impressed that when put in charge of picking out a cake, Chris decided petit fours would be an appropriate choice for a shower. Any men reading, please do not revoke his man card. His other pass times include sports, video games, and action flicks.

Micah gave his seal of approval to all of the snacks.

The lovely Alyson...aka best friend a girl could ask for.

On some demented note they decided a game involving eating baby food would be exciting. Of course none of the planners participated. I was surprised at how competitive this game became! It also has me rethinking feeding jar food to Isaac. Some of this stuff is just awful.

Can you see my excitement???!!! Many of you heard my my desperate cry for help via facebook. Now should the baby come overnight, Chris will not be forced to ride by horseback to the nearest general store for diapers.


My practical side was thrilled to receive several packs of nursing pads. Are you starting to see how having multiple children changes you?Here is my pretty princess, preparing to be a big sister once again. She has paved the way bravely for her siblings, by bearing with me as I have worked through all the trials and errors of parenthood. I couldn't imagine my life without her, and I know she will be a great little helper.

Thank you to everyone who came in the middle of your weekend to show love and support. We are down to the last few weeks or maybe days, and I look forward to introducing our newest member to each of you very soon!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Own Worst Enemy

It is 2:30 in the morning, and instead of treasuring every last moment of sleep before nightly feedings start up, I am awake battling the great nemesis of the third trimester....heartburn.
I should have known that Taco Bueno for lunch and a hamburger at dinner were not the most ideal foods to cram down my increasingly cramped digestive system. I mean seriously Crystal, this is not your first rodeo. Why is it that with all our human skills in reasoning we so often can't get past the first impulsive thought that comes into the head even when the tried and true consequences will be ever so close behind? Ugh! Can I blame pregnancy hormones on this one? Am I out of free passes on that one?

I will try to look on the bright side. Thank you mother nature for giving me a warm up to the sleepless nights to come. Thank you for the sweet nudge to re-evaluate each choice before I make those impulsive decisions again. Thank you again for reminding me that this is not all about me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring is Here....Almost

Time is flying by for me. I still cannot believe that there was snow on the ground a month ago. Alas time is marching on and spring is at our doorstep. This can only mean one thing in my life and that is chaos. My work is in the concrete and landscape industry, so as soon as a beautiful day hits, we are swamped. I'm sure my co-workers are especially appreciative of the fact that my baby is due in the spring right smack dab in the middle of the madness. Oh well what can you do? I tend to become stressed when I cannot fix something. When I combine work stress with baby preparation stress it can be a bit maddening. I am just learning that sometimes I have to step back and refocus my priorities from a big picture point of view.


I realize I am not great at posting pictures. Belly shots are not really my thing. Almost all of my pregnancy photos are taken by my mom when I'm not paying attention. I'm sure if you visit her facebook you will find a few of me in all my ballooning glory. Of course I realize maybe it would be nice to share some of family and general happenings in our lives. As soon as I am home more I am going to make this a priority.


A couple of weeks ago we took our last outing out of state before the baby comes. It's not like we are constantly going out of state, but we thought it would be nice to take a short get away before the baby arrived. We headed across the red river to the Oklahoma City area to visit some dear friends. While we were there they completely blessed us with a toyota 4runner. We have been a 1 car family ever since we've had kids. We haven't had two cars since we were first married. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to know that I will not be stranded at home once the baby arrives. Where Chris is working now, it just wouldn't make sense for me to drive him to work everyday. The gas and tolls would be crazy. Thanks to the wonderful, beautiful Alyson we have a new car, well new to us, that will fit three children and a big yellow lab perfectly. I know I shouldn't be surprised, but I am still constantly amazed at the goodness of God in meeting the needs we have at just the right time. I can also only pray that he blesses those who have blessed us in ways they cannot possibly imagine.


Chris is still doing so well at his new job. I cannot say how proud I am of him. He really bounced back from a tough situation. He has really garnered favor in his department, and there is already the possibility that he could be looking at a new opportunity in the near future. It makes me happy to see him excelling and actually enjoying what he does.


Well we are at the 36 week mark, actually by the time I post this I will be inching closer to 37. Things are going fairly well. The last two weeks I was stricken with what we are pretty sure was a case of PUPPP's. For those unfamiliar just google, but basically it is a rash from hell. Basically there is usually not much to do but wait it out until delivery. I used every cream and potion imaginable. I decided to try some baby rash cream called butt paste. It has actually helped it start to clear up, that along with a lot of prayer. I am happy to say this week has been so much better. Other than the frustration of maneuvering off of the bed or off a couch, I am feeling pretty good. This weekend will be a small baby shower with a few friends and family to celebrate Issac. The mountian of baby clothes were washed and put away this past weekend. Chris has been immensley helpful keeping us on task and reminding me to not stress out. I think after this week I will go ahead and get a bag ready for myself and the kids to take to the birthing center. Any suggestions on what I should bring from other mom's who have gone the birth center route? I know I won't be there overnight, unless I am laboring overnight, but I'm just wondering what comforts might be nice to have. This is the first time I will be allowed to eat and drink while laboring. While I am not sure if I will be in the mood or not, any ideas for good foods to keep on hand?


I hope to post some pictures in the next post. We finally decided it was time to get a new computer. Now I can upload pictures without wanting to tear my hair out. If for some reason the baby comes between now and my next post, I will try and post a short update soon after.
Have a wonderful week dear readers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bittersweet

I had my first vivid labor dream last night. I will be 36 weeks pregnant in one week, and this is the first dream I have had about having this baby. I always dream in great detail, even if it's crazy details, I can even tell you the direction we were driving our car in. Anyway it brought to the forefront of my mind that this will all be over soon. It's not just that this pregnancy will be over. I think we have both mututally decided that after this child our family will be complete. In the past I never felt quite sure, so the routines of pregnancy and child rearing seemed a little open ended. It's weird to think that these will most likely be my last few weeks to ever feel a baby kick and roll around inside of me.

While I know our child raising days are far from over, this puts sort of a bookend to the experience. It only reaffirms that life is just a series of seasons that are constantly changing. At times I look forward to the day that I will no longer change diapers. I would be lying if I did not say the thought of leisurly eating in a restaurant without trying to keep the kids from bouncing off the walls did not excite me a bit. Yet at the same time these moments are precious and fleeting. There is nothing like feeling the warmth of a newborn snuggled close to your chest. I can think of few experiences that compare to your doctor or midwife handing you your baby as he/she takes their first gulps of breath in this world. Even when I am thoroughly annoyed with my rambunctious boy bouncing in the booth of a restaurant, nothing can hold a candle to when he stops, bends down thoughtfully and says, "I love you mommy," and plants a slobbery kiss on my lips. I also wake up to realize my baby girl is turning into a beautiful young lady right before my eyes. My heart aches just a bit that all those little dresses and hats have seen their last days with us. Once the princess phase has passed we will pack that chapter away for good. I can only pray that something better than Justin Bieber is waiting in the wings when my daughter becomes a tween.

Yes these days are bittersweet, but that is what makes them all the more exciting and special, and I am doing my best to capture each day as it comes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Letting Go of Fear

As the birth of Isaac draws closer I cannot deny that I feel twinges of excitement laced with fear. There is a part of me that jumps with excitement for the climax of this spiritual journey I have been on. In quiet moments my mind begins to race as all of the unknown possibilities present themselves. It is fear pure and simple. A driving force that causes so many of us to stumble or be held back in many areas of our lives. While lying in bed a few nights ago I began to cry because I was afraid. I felt alone. No matter how many voices of comfort I will surround myself with in this journey, the labor is one that I must surrender to deep within myself. It is a place that only I and God know about. Perhaps my confidence is a bit shaky in myself. As I searched for some words of comfort from other mother's stories I came across this piece written by a midwife. As I read it tears were already welling up. It spoke so much to the reasons why I chose this, and gave me the reassurance that I can and will see it through.

Labor is challenging, a powerful process marking the miracle of bringing forth a new life and a new being onto this planet. It is a rite of passage, a psycho spiritual training ground for both mother and child. The laboring woman must put aside her own comfort and learn to surrender to a process so intense that it threatens to consume her. She must have the willingness and openness to dive deep within herself and find the stamina to endure, to focus, and to trust. She may have to stretch beyond her own perceived limitations in order to experience this act of creation in the now.
How many mothers' eyes have filled with tears as they asked "When will it be over?" only to be told to "take each contraction as it comes, be with it, and let it go, for as long as it takes." As she copes with the successive waves of contraction she develops patience and persistence. She forms a bond with this child she is birthing that is all the deeper because it has been forged with hard work and sweat and tears. It may be the most difficult work she has ever done. It is a labor of love and the most precious gift she can give to herself and her baby.
At some point during labor, many women may come face to face with some form of fear: fear of pain, fear of the inability to cope, and at a deeper level, fear of death. It may be that some part of her ego must "die" in order to get out of her own way and surrender control to the instinctual part of her being that knows how to give birth.
When a woman is able to release into her own intuitive consciousness, she gives birth to the spirit of the "Divine Mother" within, opening herself up to experience birth at a profound spiritual level. -
Shelly Girard, BS, LMT, LM, CPM

I know there are some women who have birthed naturally and not walked away with a positive experience. I believe often this comes when it was not their choice, or circumstances and people did not allow them to feel confident and in control. Fear was the driving force.
This has caused me to take a good hard look at myself. I find more confidence grows as I surrender to letting go. Fear is paralyzing. It does not allow one to move and flow with the changing of tides. Fear in itself can be deathly.

As a believer I must realize that in God there is no fear. This baby will come, and fear is not going to push that back any farther. Releasing fear allows the all encompassing peace and love of God to rush in and bring encouragement. Even in a place where patience is being tested and character is being chiseled, God is working in the secret place and bringing forth new life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Take a Pill

Last month I came down with a cold. Of course this is nothing unusual during the winter months where more people are confined indoors. I am usually miserable when I have a cold, but being pregnant and all I am resigned to whatever homeopathic remedies are available plus time.
I am never one to overmedicate as it is. I have found that the older I get the less nyquil and decongestants I choose to take. Honestly they only make me feel slightly better, and as most medical journals will tell you the only tried and true method to end a viral infection like this is time. I cannot tell you how many people came up to me after only three days of being sick asking if I had been to the doctor yet to get some antibiotics. Seriously people!!!??? I had been sick for three days. No matter how many articles come out people still do not udnerstand that the majority of cold like symptoms are viral, and you cannot treat what is not bacterial with an antibiotic. Sadly many doctors are willing to write out a script just to get people moving. It usually takes about ten days for an antibiotic to work as it is which is usually the point that most cold symptoms start to alleviate. This only reinforces the placebo effect.

Why I am writing this? I am no hippie or anything. I believe doctors can be great and are a valuable asset to our society. I also believe we have become to pill happy as a nation. Our quest for convenience has made us forget that usually the symptoms of common illnesses are our bodies way of telling us it may be time to slow down and rest. REST???!!!! That is ridiculous with work, a cell phone that never shuts down, and a world wide network to keep up with who wants to rest? It seems so much easier to pop a pill. Of course when you read the side effects of many prescriptions you will soon realize a whole host of problems can arise just from taking a pill. The answer to most of these side effects is obviously another pill. Hmmm conspiracy?
Ok I won't go there because I don't know all the answers, but sometimes it seems a bit suspicious.

I for one try to keep my prescription intake to a minimal level as well as my children's. I have had wonderful results with allowing my children to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and let many viral infections resolve naturally. There are times I will take them to the doctor. I will never let them suffer unecessarily when a medication is truly necessary. Overall they are very happy healthy kids who are rarely sick.

We have been given wonderfully designed bodies by God which have many amazing disease fighting mechanisms built in.
I am not advocating not seeing a doctor if you have a serious health condition or symptoms that persist past ten days. I am just asking that you take a step back when illness strikes and evaluate the situation from a hollistic point of view. Could diet or lifestyle also be playing roles in a weakened immune system?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Tribute to My Momma

Fifty years ago today my mother made her grand entrance into this world followed shortly by her twin sister Marla. It is really hard for me to believe my mom is 50. Seriously the woman has Benjamin Button syndrome and is aging in reverse. She worries about getting older but in a room full of other people her age she doesn't look like she could be past her 30's. When she is out with my kids people often refer to them as her children and are shocked to learn that they are in fact her grandchildren. So mom don't even fret about today, if there is indeed a fountain of youth, you have found it.

I could say a lot of things about my mom. People have often thought she was simply a quiet unassuming housewife, but I'm sorry to tell them they were all wrong.
My mom has always been the ideal mom. She stayed home to take care of use, chaffeured us here and there, ate lunch with us at school, had dinner ready on the dot, and supported and loved her husband in everything he did. She sacrificed a lot during those years. She dealt with a lot of grief from people, especially in the ministry, who did not understand or appreciate her giftings. She never became angry or bitter. To this day her heart is always for reconcilitation and restoration in relationships. She reaches out to those who other people forget. She gives of her time to be there for others. She truly is the Proverbs 31 woman.

Life was good for us kids. Unfortunately as I grew older my opinionated, feminist tendencies began to come out. While I had enjoyed the fruits of my mothers labor and sacrifices, I despised the thought of being a stay at home mom. I couldn't understand how she could be happy and content being home raising a family. My teenage years in the house were a little...well strained for lack of a better word.
My mother has always been a God fearing woman and she did her best raising us and praying for us, but I of course felt the need to break free of the shackles that I felt were strict and legalistic. I am ashamed of the many times I know she went to bed in tears because of things I said. No matter what she stood by me and prayed for me and loved me. We learned a lot from each other. It was probably not until I was engaged to Chris that things started to change in our relationship
My first year of marriage really changed our relationship. She become my closest friend and confidant. In many ways we met each other half way. I finally realized that my immaturity had blinded me to many of the things only a mother can see.
My mom met me by softening and letting me air some of my views which she would correct if neccessary with truth and love.
She really stepped out of her comfort zone, and did what she had to love and not lose her children.

I love that about my mother. She has not been afraid to grow and change through the years. Don't get me wrong, this woman will never compromise her core beliefs and principles, but she speaks the truth in love. People know that she can be trusted. Experience has taught her not to judge quickly, and she is reaping the benefits of that. She has allowed her love to spill outside the church walls without reservation. She is a godly woman who gets up at 4am to be on her knees before the Lord praying for her family and friends.

My mother is an excellent grandmother. She has been such a blessing to us watching Kaylie and Micah when I had to work. She has gone out of her way to not just watch them, but to take them places and do things I would do if I could be home. They truly feel like her home is their home. She has been patient enough to once again put up with the messes and behavior hiccups that come with two children, and she doesn't bat an eye. Because of her I don't worry about whether my kids are getting good care. The best part is they are in a place where they feel loved.

Here's to a woman of God, a beloved daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. We always joke together that her life is just starting as she has started to really come out of her shell. I really do believe the next half of her life will be even more spectacular than the first.
I love you mom! Now go finish changing the world.