Saturday, March 13, 2021

Nothing and everything

Did anyone besides me think I'd actually get a post out on the precise "COVID-versary?"  A few days late isn't bad, though...especially given the year its been.  Right?  ;)  I didn't really intend to write a "one year later" post, but then, it all kind of hit me, and as you know, this is how I best process.  

I can't remember whether or not I've written much about the IF:Gathering in the past (and I can't afford the time to search the archives), so I'll give an elevator pitch here:
The IF:Gathering is a women's conference held in TX and live-streamed (even pre-2021) to viewers worldwide.  The theme each year centers around "IF" (What IF God is real?  What IF He keeps His promises?  How do we respond?).  This year, the theme was "Even:IF - Even IF the worst happens, we don't lose hope."  Women are invited to host IF:Locals in their churches, homes, schools, etc., and for the last few years, I have led a team to host an IF:Local at our church.  We typically gather Friday evening and most of Saturday to tune in to the live worship and speakers, share meals and snacks, participate in great conversation, and make a craft or two.  IF:2020 was one of the last big "things" in my/our life before the stay-at-home orders went into place. 

So, as I sat down to watch IF:2021 - alone, in our basement, while corresponding with ladies from our church on the live chat feature - I got teary.  Yes, we have missed several "normal" gatherings, events, occasions, etc. in the past year, but we found ways to work around them, compromise, and make the best of the worst.  Yes, this virtual IF:Gathering was the best possible work-around for all involved, and the IF team made it all so easy for us to tune in and stay as connected as possible - I wasn't sad because I had to miss out on the content, or anything.

Baby's first IF:Gathering
(just briefly during her before-bed, I guess I wasn't alone the whole time - haha)

What made me most sad was the connection, conversation, quiet stillness, corporate worship, and honestly, yummy snacks we were all missing out on.  I was sad thinking about so many viewing it together, yet alone in our separate places, and knowing how much better it could much better it always was.  I was sad knowing how much we're all craving normalcy and hugs and face-to-face, non-masked conversation.  I did what I could to make the ladies from our church who tuned in feel special and connected, but felt helpless to provide what I know at least I wanted: an extended period of time to ourselves, out of our homes, being filled spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally - not worrying about who's cooking or what's happening next or what else we should be doing.  As this was all hitting me harder than I expected, I was trying to figure out why.  

After a year of quarantine, it feels like nothing has changed.  We are still keeping to ourselves as much as possible.  We are still only making necessary shopping trips (for the most part).  We have only seen a handful of people face-to-face/"in real life" over the course of an entire year.  We go through the drive-thrus, pick out library books online, and have play dates and story time via FaceTime.  We are still hesitant to make concrete plans outside of our "bubble," not knowing what's coming next.  This has all started to feel normal, and I wish it didn't.

At the same time, however, as I think about our family and what's been going on in our little corner of the world for a year, now, everything has changed!  We are a family of four - we have TWO kids!  Our baby boy is nearing the end of toddlerhood.  Our new baby girl is over half a year old, now!  Whereas a year ago we hardly went two days in a row without getting out of the house, we've become accustomed to spending days on end at home...sometimes even without setting foot outside (thanks a lot, subzero temps).  Now, it's even sometimes our preference to stay home (granted, it's much easier to do so (see above note about the TWO kids)).  

While I still wish it didn't feel quite so normal to not have plans, to not see other people, to be home all the time, and to wear a mask, the year of "extreme togetherness" has been a gift in so many ways.  The lack of events, celebrations, and gatherings have allowed me to feel more content to just "be" in our new season of life.  It didn't feel like we were missing out on much, if anything, when we were in the newborn stage and even now, as we continue to live that "sleep, eat, play, repeat (and poop, if we're lucky)" life.  We've developed new rhythms, made lifestyle changes, and spent more time together than ever before, and I it has been so beneficial.    

God's timing, His peace, and His control are more evident to me as a result of this season than any other time in my life, I think.  He continues to provide in so many ways - both tangible and intangible; He always has.  Perhaps, I am just more attuned to it all.  Perhaps my head and heart are more clear, and therefore, able to take time and space to recognize these things, rather than being distracted by so much else.  Perhaps this is what I needed to learn and what I most need to take away from "all this COVID stuff" - to be more attentive to how God is working in my life, how He's showing up for me and those around me, and how I need to respond.

In spite of the hope vaccinations bring and the glimpses of normalcy the warmer weather may promise, the world is still so broken, unstable, and confusing.  God, on the other hand, is not.  He has not changed.  He is and was and forever will be hope, certainty, and peace.  He is our rock and our protector.  If only we will remember this and lean on Him...and encourage others to do so, as well.

May His peace, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Lovingly and prayerfully,

Favorites of the day:
sprouts and buds and all things spring
nap scheduled aligning (!!!!)

This girl...and this outfit from our "hand-me-downs collection."

Sunday, January 17, 2021

#2, so far

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this: someday, I hope to have these blog posts printed and bound.  Not published, mind you - just put into book form for posterity’s sake.  I’ve kept a couple journals in my lifetime and also have some pretty priceless documentation of childhood family vacations (read: time stamps of every rest stop, full menu rundowns of every meal, and riveting reviews of destinations like “Neat!” and “Cool!”), but otherwise, this is the closest I’ve come to documenting life happenings and associated emotions.  So, that’s why I often say I’m writing something for posterity’s sake.  I share it all publicly, because family and friends are so spread out, and while I’d love to catch up with each of you over coffee, or even quick phone conversation, that’s just not feasible (even pre-COVID).  Since I know you care, though, I utilize “the scoop” to keep you in the loop.  (Jacob’s really into rhyming words, these days. You can maybe tell we hang out a lot...)

Ok - onto the real reason for posting today.  Actually - a few reasons.  First, wanted to document the first photo Jacob has taken:
Not this one.  This is just the one that "started it all..."
Lydia was out of pajamas before anyone else this morning, because she lost some of her first breakfast on hers.  So, wanted to document this cute outfit from Aunt Roo before any second breakfast ended up on it.
Then, Jacob asked to be in a photo (I'll almost always oblige him here, because I know (assume) the day will come that it will be a struggle to get him to pose for a picture, much less smile.)
Look at them looking at each other! ♥
The sweet kid even asked if he "did his good smile," because when he went through the "silly smile" phase, we often asked for a "good smile," and turns out, he didn't really know how to consciously make that happen.
THEN, he said, "Now I should take one of you two!" 
The idea/offer really surprised me - he's never asked or been asked to take a picture.  I almost declined, because I wasn't "photo ready" with my morning face and second-day braids (post-partum hair loss is in full swing, so I'm doing anything I can to contain all the rogue strands), but I quickly decided to just oblige HIM and see what happened.
The above is a sampling of the 50+ shots he got, some of which I truly love (mostly because Lydia - I mean, come on) and others of which I didn't plan to share publicly, but then, why not?

Secondly, many of you probably saw a recent post I made on Instagram about how real life has been, lately. I’ll share it here for reference:
Lydia and I haven’t slept in more than 2-3 hour stretches for several weeks. 
Jacob has been struggling with following directions and not talking back, lately, and sugar from special treats (like once-annual snow ice cream) do him no favors in this department. 
Meal-planning is still a pipe dream, because time is precious and I prioritize other things (like playing in the snow), even though lack of planning and prep aren’t helping me reach my pre-pregnancy body goals (no need for this to become a body image thing - I could probably write a whole post on that - I have a lot of grace for myself, right now; it’s just a matter of fact that my clothes don’t fit like I wish they did).
The “survival mode”-ness of this season often makes me feel like I’m failing as a wife and friend. 
All that said, hard things like those mentioned are more easily forgiven/forgotten in light of sweet moments like those captured in these snowy day pictures (as well as so many others I post on the regular). 
So thankful for God’s grace and the way He provides rest when possible and baby smiles when it’s fleeting, extra doses of patience and unsolicited hugs, and a true teammate of a husband as we navigate this whole parenting thing. 
I know everyone has their own version of a “things are not always as they seem” sort of post, and I don’t know that I’ve really written one. So, please just know that while we do have some pretty sweet moments with our really cute kids, there are several hard moments to go along with each. It’s just really dark and difficult to take pictures at 2, 3, and 4 a.m. and shots of a tantruming toddler are usually blurry. 😏
#lovethem #snowday #thatprobablyshouldvebeenablogpost 😬

I received so many kind and encouraging comments, notes, and even surprise mail after posting that.  Thanks to those of you who took time to share your two cents!  I thought I’d update you on how things are going, now:

Sleep is on the upswing!  Prior to her 4-month appt., I was feeding Lydia on demand - supplementing with formula after daytime feedings and just nursing at nighttime.  So, even though her night was from about 7 p.m.-7 a.m., she was crying out several times, and in an effort to make sure she was receiving the nourishment she needed (and keep her quiet so as not to wake Jacob in the next room), I just fed her each time.  (This was after figuring out she wanted her arms out of the swaddle...and always trying the pacifier first, only for her to reject it.)  Of course, my body often wouldn't allow me to go right back to sleep after being up, and on more than one occasion, Jacob called out for something in the middle of the night between Lydia's feedings.  My silver lining in all this was being able to crawl back under my cozy electric blanket several times a night - haha.

I was anxious to see how Lydia's growth was progressing and talk to the doctor about her thoughts on nighttime, and I was so glad to know she's right on track growth-wise and we can skip nighttime feedings (all except for one, if we want).  We're about a week out from that appt. and starting our new habits, but it's already such a relief.  Though she still wakes up most of the times she was previously, I'm only feeding her once in the middle of the night, and she has been able to put herself back to sleep after only a few minutes of sleepy crying the other times.  Phew.  Here's hoping she'll continue dropping some(all!) of those waking-up times ASAP.
This is how she often sleeps.  I know the lighting isn’t great, but I wasn’t going to risk waking her for a pic.  Just wanted to try to document her little hands behind her head. ♥

Jacob is doing better, behavior-wise, most days.  I truly think this is due to us cutting down on his sugar intake.  He wasn't having a lot, in the first place, but we've just been careful to not give him much, at all, in a day's time.  The few times we've given him a treat or had an out-of-the-ordinary day have made it very evident that he has a harder time controlling himself when he's had more sugar than normal.  It's crazy.  And kinda sad, because I'd love to share more treats with him, but it's been good to find other things to reward him with...which, in turn, helps create better habits for ourselves...

...speaking of which - we have a plan in place for that!  More on that later (hopefully).

Also - we’re just over a year since finding out we were expecting baby #2, so thought I’d reflect a bit on how the having two kids thing is going.  I actually don't know that I can concisely put it all into words, so I'll just leave a short bullet-point list, for now:
  • It's gone better than I expected, which may actually be thanks to COVID.  There's not a lot pulling us in other directions/outside of our home, so we've been able to create and maintain rhythms that make the most sense for us, right now.  While I'm sad to not be able to "share" Lydia more, I'm glad for the valid excuse to lay low and keep her routine in tact most every day.
  • I love watching Jacob be a big brother.  As Lydia has started to be more and more interactive, he's been more and more interactive with her.  He's a wonderful and willing helper (a lot of the time without even being asked...esp. when it comes to fetching clean diapers), he's including her in his play (again - without being asked), and he cheers her on with every new development.  It's just precious.
  • I forgot how much I love babies.  I mean, yeah - I knew and know I love babies, but I kinda forgot why.  The cooing, the smiling, the squishiness - it's just all so sweet.
  • Surprise - I really can love two kiddos equally and at the same time. ♥
As always, thanks to you all for sharing our journey - from near or afar - and caring about our family.  Looking forward to the day we can visit/see you in person, but in the meantime, thanks for keeping in touch.  Take care!


Favorites of the day:
Anita's Famous Rolls
Marco Polo (the app)
gift cards
the new Brown Sugar Chai Latte from Scooter's (I've only had it blended, so far, but anxious to try it hot!)

Thursday, December 31, 2020

If 2020 were an amaryllis...

If you've followed me for a while, you know I don't do New Year's resolutions.  This has been a year of fairly constant reflection, though, so I thought I'd share a few of those reflections as they relate to the amaryllis we've been growing for the past month, or so.

The sweet, thoughtful leader of my Nourish group (women's small group through church) gifted each of us an amaryllis bulb shortly before Thanksgiving this year.  The intent was to keep each other posted on our plant's progress, while giving us an extra reason to stay connected during the holiday season - and it totally worked!  What fun we've had seeing who's was tallest, which bloomed first, who's tipped over, etc.  This has also been such a great activity/project for Jacob and I.  He is excited each day to check it's progress, water as needed, and exclaim over the blooms once they opened.  I, myself, have so enjoyed having fresh flowers in the house, and surprisingly, it's become the subject of several reflections as this year comes to an end:

-It started as a normal bulb, but produced blooms in wintertime.  
I've never "forced" a bulb, but I followed the instructions and applied my green thumb as best I could.  As one of Jacob's books says, plants need, "sun, soil, and water," so we made sure this one got plenty of each.  The result was vibrant red blooms inside our home when there was snow on the ground outside.  We do not usually get to experience this kind of growth, life, and beauty in the dead, brown winter months.  Similarly, 2020 started as a "normal" year, but has since brought so many new and unusual circumstances.  The result, as I see it, has been lots of extra reflection, personal growth, care for each other, quality time, etc.; all beautiful things that we may not have experienced (or rather, recognized) in a "normal" year - just like we may not appreciate each individual daffodil bloom in the springtime like we do an amaryllis bloom in the winter.  

-While we were able to see the progress and growth each day, it seemed to take a long time for us to finally enjoy the fruits of our labor in its blooms.  
As with parenting, the days are long, but the years are short.  At the beginning of our "stay home" order, I had a hard time fathoming being home 24/7 with a toddler and not having our usual out-of-the-house activities to occupy so much of our time.  Looking back, though, it really has made time go surprisingly fast (even before we added a newborn to the mix).  We have made so many memories and been blessed by an abundance of time together over the course of the year.  Though there were certainly hard days when I didn’t feel so positive about the extended time together, I realize how special and important it has been, on the whole.

-An amaryllis bulb is not the most attractive thing, nor is the soil in which it's planted.  The blooms, on the other hand, are stunningly gorgeous.
As I've alluded to previously, and at the expense of making my husband roll his eyes at my cheesiness, I think surprising amounts and levels of beauty have grown out of the ugly, dirty parts of this year.  I've already shared about ours (see my last post), but would sure love to hear about some of the beauty you have experienced in 2020.  

-The blooms will not look the same each time the bulb is planted. 
I've been told it's possible to store an amaryllis bulb and replant it year after year.  I'm hoping to try this.  If we’re successful, we’ll have more beautiful blooms next year, and while they may be equally beautiful, they will likely not look exactly like the ones this year.  I recently heard a podcast host share the observation that Jesus did not look the same after He was resurrected - His friends didn't recognize Him.  Similarly, our lives post-pandemic (or post-2020) will not look the same as before.  For one thing, there will likely be tangible, logistical, practical changes mandated by others and/or by our own preferences.  But also, if you're like me, you've probably gained some new perspective, experienced some personal growth, and/or been given opportunities to truly grow your faith.  As a result, our lives have the potential to be equally beautiful as we move beyond this year (and Lord-willing, this pandemic), but they will most certainly be different.  

Wishing you all the best as you navigate 2021 and beyond, dear friends!  

Resolutely (haha),

Favorites of the day:
teaching Jacob about Epiphany and watching him be excited to continue singing Christmas songs “till the wise men get here” (it’s yet to be seen whether or not he understands they’re not actually coming to our house...)
Not the best picture, but I love how he loves her. 
the fact that I started and completed this post in a 12-hr. window - it’s a New Year’s Eve miracle! 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Our 2020 (so far)

2020 has been a lot of things for a lot of people.  There's been so much going on globally, nationally, locally...and the majority of what we hear about has been steeped in negativity.  My lack of comment on the world’s happenings is not out of ignorance or lack of compassion - I am just as saddened/frustrated/confused/scared as the next person.  Those feelings, however, are ones I'd rather not sit in, and I'm not one to stir the pot.  Instead, I'd like to share a couple (major) silver linings that have shown around the clouds of 2020 in our little corner of the world in an effort to spread some positivity and light.

First of all, and probably most obviously, we became a family of four!  Lydia Kaylynn was born September 9th - the day before her due date.  (If you're interested in her birth story, I've documented it here.)  Her first name is one we've liked for a long time, and her middle name is both her grandmothers' middle names combined.  What a precious gift she is!
(A generous and thoughtful group of friends gifted us a newborn/family photo session with a talented friend from church (@ladder_and_lens - if you're in the KC area, be sure to check her out - she'll be doing holiday mini-sessions soon!).)  

Many of you have asked how Jacob is adjusting, and I know even more of you are probably wondering.  He was very excited for us to come back from the hospital and barely took time to greet his dad and I before taking a peek at "baby sister."  It took less than 24 hours, however, for him to say things like, "I don't love it when she cries" and "When is she going to leave?"  He has come around, though, and we've all settled in more and more with each passing day.  He truly loves to help - fetch things, help with bath, feed her, etc., so that's been fun.  Any feelings of jealousy/neglect/annoyance/etc. have manifested themselves in some behavior issues, so that hasn't been fun.  He's been such an easy kiddo thus far, so these probably seem worse than they are, simply because he's been so good up until now.  He's also three, though, so these things are probably to be expected - new baby or not.  I've shed some tears over it all - both in frustration and exhaustion, but also a bit in mourning our "only child" and wondering if/when he'll go back to the way he was.  But then I realize that's expecting the impossible of him - life is different for all of us in a forever sort of way.  I've needed to tap into some extra grace for both him and myself as we navigate the new.  The year has been full of transition and change, and I think we are all craving some routine and normalcy - certainly in this house, at least.  Whether or not reestablishing some sort of routine will help with the adjustment period is yet to be seen, but either way, we'll figure it out.  

Perfect capture of the face we get when asking him to smile, these days. 
Of course he would choose the month he gains a sibling and we'd like to take allll the cute pictures to decide to try his hand at fake-smiling.
Moments like this make it all worth it, though.
(This was unpromted...he really does love her.)

Lydia has been such a good baby!  The first week or so was a bit rocky, as expected - hormones, all the changes, lack of sleep, etc. - but once we got our "newborn legs" under us, a bit, we started settling in more and more.  The most challenging thing, so far, as with our last baby, has been figuring out feeding.  She nurses like a champ, but for whatever reason, doesn't get enough milk from me, so we're supplementing some formula.  This is what we did with Jacob, as well - it just didn't take us as long to figure out what to do with Lydia.  It was still a hard thing for me, though, and I don't know if I can fully explain why except to say I was simply disappointed.  Disappointed it wasn't different this time (as I sort of expected being our second child).  Disappointed in my body and/or myself for not being able to figure out how to make it work better.  And once I realized and accepted it's out of my control, disappointed that it didn't work better.  I'm in a much better place now, though, and it's all going just fine.  A sweet perk of supplementing has been Jacob being able to help feed Lydia.  Early on, I think he was disappointed that I was the only one able to feed her, because due to books we'd read and things he'd observed, he assumed all babies ate from bottles and he'd be able to help.  So, when he first saw the bottle out, he said, "That will be easier!" meaning that would be easier for him to use to feed her.  He immediately asked to help, and of course, we obliged.  This was something I'd forgotten he would want to help with, so hadn't expected him to be so anxious to be included.  His enthusiasm and joy made all the other emotions/turmoil I'd been experiencing totally worth it.
As many of you know, and others may have picked up on, Bryant (along with almost 50% of the company he worked for) was laid off due to COVID at the beginning of August (after being furloughed in July and asked to burn most of his vacation days in June).  This was something we had sort of anticipated at the beginning of "all this" in March, but as spring turned into summer, we thought there was less of a chance of it happening, so it came as quite a surprise.

You may be thinking, as we were, "What about insurance?  Aren't you expecting a baby?"  This was definitely one of the things we were most concerned about.  Because he worked one day at the beginning of August, our insurance plan through his employer would be good through the end of August - right before we were expected to deliver a baby in early September.  Bryant did an amazing job researching potential options for us, and as a result, he discovered that I, as a pregnant woman, qualified for Medicaid (so did Jacob).  That meant my appointments and Lydia's birth would be completely covered!  Here's the more amazing part, though: had he collected one more paycheck, we would've been over the income threshold and not qualified.  Thanks, God.

A little over a year ago, our church small group went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU).  Bryant and I have always kept a budget, but this program helped us tighten it up and be more conscious of our financial planning.  Because of this, we really were able to experience peace during this time of unemployment.  I realize this isn't the case for everyone when they lose a job, and I absolutely do not take it for granted.  I share this, however, because it is yet another piece of evidence that God had it all under control all along.  Also, I'd encourage anyone and everyone to participate in FPU (or something similar) in whatever capacity you're able - it really pays off (pun not originally intended).

As I mentioned, Bryant's previous employer required employees to use up all but a couple days of their vacation in the month of June, due to COVID.  So, had he still been working in September, he would've only had a few days off at the beginning of our transition to a family of four.  Instead, he's been home for weeks - both before and after the birth.  What a true blessing it's been to have him here.  Not only has he been home as we navigate the newborn phase with a toddler, but he was also home at the end of my pregnancy (when I was struggling to get down and up off the floor to play with Jacob, couldn't really lift things, was going to the bathroom every five minutes, etc.).  I'm certain the help he provided, and therefore, the extra rest I was able to get, contributed positively to my general mental health and largely to my quick recovery after delivery.  

Since we couldn't really travel during this time, we spent our time at home, which meant lots of quality family time (as well as mother/son and father/son time).  I can't tell you how many lists we made, finished, and re-made, because we had plenty of time and headspace to complete lingering projects before we had a new baby.  Because we were able to get so much done beforehand, we've really been able to focus on family time and rest when we can since she's been here.  

I've been waiting to share all this till we were "out of the woods" and on the other side of it all.  Not because I doubted it would happen - just because I wanted to be able to wrap it all up in one neat and tidy blog post, if possible - haha.  I'm happy to say that after submitting almost 60 job applications, several interviews (via phone, Zoom, and in person), and a few offers, Bryant is starting a new job tomorrow!  It's a normal M-F 8-hour day shift, which is not always the case in his line of work and is really wonderful for our family.  The position itself is a great career move for him and something he's excited about.

While we are so, so thankful for this job, it will surely be yet another adjustment for everyone.  Jacob and I (and now, Lydia, whether she realizes it or not) have become very accustomed to having Daddy home on a daily basis.  We've developed some rhythms over the past few months that have been so enjoyable but will be hard to break.  Please do not hear any of this as a complaint on my part - again, we're so glad for this employment opportunity.  We'll just be sad to see this sweet, dreamy season end.

You see all these silver linings, right?  Bryant was unemployed for months, and while at the onset it was scary and stressful, looking back, it was truly a blessing in disguise.  How else would he have had over a month off after the birth of our new baby?  How else would we have been able to accomplish everything we did so quickly and stress-free?  When else would he have gotten to spend so much one-on-one time with Jacob (doing lots of things, but mostly playing on the awesome swing set he built...and when would he have had time to do that, too?!)?

I realize not all of you believe in God, so perhaps you just perceive me as simply being optimistic about all this.  Even the strongest pessimist, though, would surely have a hard time ignoring the silver linings in our 2020.  Perhaps you are a believer, but find yourself in the middle of a similar (or worse) circumstance and doubting God's plan.  For us, what seemed like the worst timing may have actually been the best, and I truly believe it was not an accident.  I'm confident the Lord orchestrated every detail in our specific circumstance, as He does all circumstances.  I see this as clear evidence of His faithfulness and provision, and I pray this evidence will point you toward Him and serve as a reminder of His goodness.

Thank you so much to those of you who have supported, encouraged, and prayed for us during this time.  Thank you, also, for all the gifts and meals many of you have provided as we welcomed Lydia to our family.  These things would’ve been greatly appreciated, no matter when we might have had a baby, but they blessed us even more during this time when our budget was tighter than normal.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we have an amazing village who loves us so well - in all circumstances, but especially through tough ones.  To say we have a lot to be thankful for is an understatement.  


Favorites of the day:
fall weather (mostly the perfect-70's-windows-open days, but the cozier ones, too)
This meal - made and plated by my super-dad husband who made the tomato soup from our garden-fresh tomatoes (and basil) while wearing a baby.
Being able to complete this project: processing all our garden-fresh butternut squash!
(It's amazing what one can accomplish with just a newborn around after becoming accustomed to a newborn AND a toddler.  Was thankful for some quality time with this sweet baby girl, as well as some time to get a few things done.)

Our Birth Story #2

I realize a lot of you probably don't care about all these details, but I also know enough of you do that it would be easiest to share them this way, rather than on an individual basis.  As I've said, too, this is a way for me to preserve our family's memories, so even if no one reads this particular post, it's at least been documented for posterity's sake.  So, all that said, here is Lydia's birth story:

At my ~39 week appt., I was dilated 3 cm and 50% effaced, which was no progress since my last week's appt.  Baby and I were both fine, and I still felt good, but we were reaching the end and time for her to be on the outside.  So, for several reasons, I decided to be induced, and based on everyone's schedules and a few logistics, we ended up scheduling the induction for the very next morning.

(This isn't necessarily actual-birth-related, but I want to remember the mixed feelings I had about scheduling this birth.  First of all, I felt like a little bit of a failure after having done everything in the book to make things happen naturally, only to find out my body hadn't made any progress.  Secondly, I love surprises, so I think part of my disappointment stemmed from the fact that we knew, generally, when she would arrive.  I was also feeling a little guilty that we'd had several (generously helpful) people on "standby" which meant putting their lives on hold, a bit, and we didn't end up needing to call on them.  That said, I was glad to have the time to truly plan and get things squared away (though we'd been doing that for weeks) before leaving for the hospital.  It was also valuable to be able to prepare Jacob and for my parents to have plenty of lead time to come stay with him.  Knowing it was our last night as a family of three made me a little emotional, but it was a relief to know she'd be here and we'd be able to move onto the next season.)

We arrived at the hospital, as instructed, at 6:00 a.m. - right when the shift was changing.  After checking in and being shown to our room, the nurses got me all charted, situated, and hooked up to start the lowest possible dosage of Pitocin around 7:20 a.m.  Shortly thereafter, we asked if I could take a COVID-19 test, so I could take my mask off, and the nurses said, "Of course!"  The (rapid) test was a self-administered 15-second swab of each nostril - "far enough up to the point that you feel like you're going to sneeze."  I swabbed and sneezed and sat back to wait for things to start moving.  My doctor arrived, as planned, to break my water at 8:30 a.m.

As the day progressed, and my body didn't, the Pitocin dosage was increased.  Lunchtime came and went, and the contractions became stronger and stronger.  At some point, I threw up all the clear liquid "food" I'd had throughout the morning - something that had happened when I was in labor the previous time.  We tried several different labor positions/techniques, so when the nurse told me around 2:00 p.m. that I was only dilated to 6 cm at the rate of 1 cm per hour, I was disappointed and so conflicted.  I was on Pitocin for my last delivery, so I knew what I was in for as far as pain goes, and at that point, I didn't know whether or not I could mentally or physically make it another four hours.  With that in mind, I made the decision to get an epidural (something I didn't do the last time).  The hour it took for the orders to be made, anesthesiologist to arrive, explanations to be given, and epidural to finally be administered was excruciating - physically and mentally.  For whatever reason, the contractions really ramped up in severity during that time, and it felt like the relief was never going to come.

It did, though, and I felt like a different person (and it showed, according to my husband).  Shortly thereafter, my blood pressure dropped, which meant the baby's heartrate did, too.  The nurses were having a hard time keeping track of her with the external monitor, so they made a plan to put in an internal one at the same time they put in a catheter (standard procedure after an epidural).  As the nurse prepared me for this, however, she discovered I was 10 cm dilated and 100% effaced.  They were all shocked, because just an hour earlier I was at 6 cm and maybe 75%.  So, they scratched the monitor/catheter plan, called the doctor, and prepared for delivery.  Once the doctor got there, I pushed three times and was done!  Bryant barely had time to get gloves on to help with the delivery.

And then she was here!  We waited in our room for quite a while (the nurses were busy that night) before being transferred to a room (with a "view" in the form of mountain view window clings of sorts to block the actual view of rooftops/HVAC systems).  We spent the night and most of the next day, and after passing all the usual check-ups and tests, we were discharged the next evening!  We absolutely could have stayed at the hospital longer, but there was really no reason to, as far as we were concerned.  My recovery was and has been easy and quick (for which I am very thankful), and Lydia has been doing all the right newborn things.
Hospital billboard on our way there - it says, "Ready for you."
Thought it was funny/appropriate/ironic. ☺
Here we go!
He got to catch another baby!

I'd totally forgotten they made hospital hats with bows!
Aunt Jami made all our matchy-matchy-red-and-white-polka-dot dreams come true!

Thanks for reading!  Thank you, also, for those of you who supported, prayed, and encouraged us through the journey.  Happy to talk through any of this in more detail (yes, there are actually more details - haha) with anyone who'd like to do so. 

Sleeping as much as I can,

Favorites of the day:
Ethiopian food
dark chocolate
Lydia's bow collection.
I'm not even going to try to justify it...but if you know me well, you know this is what dreams are made of.  ♥

Monday, August 24, 2020

Ready or not

I'm going to try my best not to compare my children - this is something I've thought a lot about, and though I know I won't perfectly accomplish this goal (esp. in my head), it's something I'm going to strive for, still.  

That said, it's been interesting to me to generally compare pregnancies, so that's what this is about.  At this time during my pregnancy with Jacob, he was already born!  (If you don't remember his birth story, you can read about it here.)  So, baby sister has already waited longer to come out than her big brother, and I expect the rest of her birth story to be very different, as well.  We'll see!
Then and now.

Don't tell her, but thanks to COVID-19 (and my husband, parents, friends, etc.) I've crossed everything off the pre-baby to-do list I made many months ago!  Of course, that means I immediately made new lists and continue to take advantage of the extra time I've been given (hence this blog post), but it sure does feel good to feel so settled/prepared.

We even crossed off one of our initial quarantine goals: making homemade Girl Scout cookies! 
They photographed ok, but certainly didn't turn out as expected - haha. 
Still very tasty, though, which is really all that matters!

People often ask if we're "ready," and though I don't know that I'll ever fully be ready (much like I've felt with marriage, first-time-parenthood, etc.), I do feel increasingly excited and anxious for her to arrive.  Though we've been through it before, the newborn phase seems daunting.  I know how fast it goes, but I also know how long it feels and how all-consuming it is, so I think that's why I don't know that I can say I'm "ready" for it.  Having so much squared away around the house, though, makes this easier - it helps to know just how much time and mental space I'll be able to devote to her (and Jacob) during the transition.  The house is cleaned, lawn mowed, garden watered, freezer stocked a bit, fall decorations up, laundry done (though this is never reallllly done), car seat installed, etc., etc.!  Plus, those new to-do lists are short and fairly non-essential.

The world still seems so crazy and out of control.  The unknowns (COVID-related do's and don't's, politics, job stuff, any potential travel/gathering plans) seem to outweigh the "knowns."  Those "known" things (God's love/grace/control, the imminent arrival of a sweet baby girl, the pure joy of a toddler), however, sure make the unknown ones less scary and more bearable.  So, for now, we're just truly enjoying some quality time together - our last few days as a family of three.

We'll be as close to "ready" as we can be whenever this little girl wants to join us on the outside.  In the meantime, we're making memories, making the most of our time, and making sure to be thankful for the many blessings and silver linings this life continues to offer.


Favorites of the day:
how excited J was to put up fall decorations
perfect pool days
good customer service

Monday, August 3, 2020

J's Golden Birthday

When it's your last birthday as an only child, in the middle of a global pandemic, your dad's off work, AND it's your golden birthday (turning 3 on the 3rd (of July)), you get to do whatever you want all day long.  It was his best day ever (if you want to have a day with a toddler void of behavior issues and/or disciplinary action, just let them call the shots all day long), and we so enjoyed spending it with him!

I'll let the pictures tell the story of our day.  ☺

Breakfast included donuts with sprinkles, of course. 
This early bird got to go pick out his own in his pajamas!
As you may know about him, all he wanted for his birthday was "frosting cupcakes with sprinkles," so we made cupcakes before 10 a.m.
Delivered these art projects as part of his non-birthday-party favors to friends, but had to test one out for ourselves. 
The cherry tomatoes finally turned red just in time to pick while the cupcakes baked! 
They didn't make it to the house.  ☺
Cucumbers were ready, too!
What a great morning to try out his new bubble birthday present from friends.
While the cupcakes cooled, they tried out another birthday gift - a robot from Aunt Roo!
Yellow frosting, of course.
He could do this all day. ♥
(One of his current favorites: "The Pokey Little Puppy.")
When making the party favor delivery, friends invited us in for a quick gift-opening!
Also received several special cards and packages in the mail.
He even got to pick out Mom and Dad's shirts for the day.
A man of simple tastes, he requested mac & cheese for lunch and a cheese sandwich (with puffs and grapes and chocolate milk, of course) for supper.
Birthday PJ's!

This lucky kiddo also got to have small birthday celebrations with both sides of our family!  The first was a half-way-between-KC-and-OK party in the park, complete with construction decorations and delicious cupcakes!

The second was a yellow("golden") theme that included an entirely yellow lunch menu, and again, cupcakes.  Yellow is his favorite color.  ☺
Notice he put his arms around both of us.

As the cliché goes, he's growing up too fast.  It's been so fun to watch, though, and we're so glad to get to be his parents!  He deserved, appreciated, and was truly excited by all the celebrations in his honor, which is why we took advantage of an opportunity to spoil him a bit.  Thanks to all who took part, both near and far!

3-ly (I know this is weak...let me know if you come up with something better),

Favorites of the day:
the weather this week!
sweet, growing families
garden-fresh caprese salad (and a toddler who likes it, too!)