Advocacy Challenge + Giveaway

Dear readers, I am breaking my blogging hiatus a little early, albeit for a very good cause.  I have been given a unique advocating opportunity and I would love for you all to join me… so I’ve added a little incentive.  :)

As many of you know, I have a very special place in my heart for orphan care, especially for the kind of care that turns orphans into beloved sons and daughters.  I have been on this advocacy bandwagon for several years now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this:

Advocating online is a great start, but these children need much more.  Since we came home eight months ago with Jacob and Hope, I’ve had many unique opportunities to naturally talk about adoption and the plight of orphans with special needs.  And so often when I get that question “Why did you choose to adopt these children?” I wish I had an easy little card or pre-written note I could hand them telling them my whole story.

I am convinced that if most people knew what I know, that they couldn’t stand to be idle any more than I can.  The trouble is… how do we get this information to people?  And how do we do it in a way that they will understand and connect with?  How do we share these children in a way that prompts people to action rather than idleness?  Well, I have an idea, and I’ve been putting it off for quite some time… but an opportunity finally came my way and I’m jumping on it!  Ready?

***Advocacy Cards***

Love Postcard

Isn’t it beautiful?  It’s just a tiny bit of our story, but a powerful testimony nonetheless.  The best part?  I still need a child to advocate for – and I’m giving that choice away to one of my dear readers!  This is a postcard (or as I like to call it, my advocacy card) and on the back will be the picture and link to a waiting child of the winner’s choice…

Love Postcard 2

My postcards are going in my diaper bag (which goes everywhere) and I’m going to hand them out, put them in random places in town, and make sure that this child is seen.  Not just by my online circle, but by people in my sphere of influence in the “real” world.  I’m really excited about this project!  I truly believe these little cards can have a profound impact on those who happen upon them.  And I can’t wait to find out which little one is going to be featured on the back!

So advocates, here’s the challenge, and how you can win this for that waiting child who needs to be seen so that they can be found.  My challenge to you is to spread the word and to create your very own advocacy cards.  We must start advocating ourstide of social media, we must get these kiddos visibility on our towns and neighborhoods.  There are so many potential advocates and adoptive parents in the world – if they only knew.  So let’s tell them!

Follow the steps below to earn entries.  Make sure to comment on this post or on my Facebook page for EVERY ENTRY so I can can log it in.  On Easter Sunday I will draw for a winner and have the postcards made!  There is an example entry comment at the end of the post if you get confused! :)

HOW TO ENTER

1. Share the givewaway.  The classic social media giveaway entry – just share it!  Share on Facebook, Twitter or whatever social media site you like.  Add the links to your shares in your entries comment.  The more you share the more you earn. – 1 Entry

2. Like or Comment.  I have linked to this post on the Crunchy Lutheran Mommy Facebook Page.  Get entries for liking or commenting on that thread.  This will increase the number of people who can see that post and help our challenge to spread. - 2 Entries

3. Give me some feedback!  I definitely want this to be successful.  I am putting my own time and money into this project after all!  If you have suggestions to make my advocacy card better, message me or put it in your comment on this post.  Would you pick this up if you found it?  What would encourage you to look into advocating more?  What might you write on the lines when you’re handing these out?  Hit me with all your constructive criticism! – 3 Entries

4. Join the challenge.  Finally, join me!  I would love to have other advocates jump on the band wagon.  Simply create your own post cards or business cards with a link to your waiting child and send me the print screen for your advocacy card with a pledge to get them printed and handed out in the next year.  Can’t do it right now?  That’s ok!  If you use Minted.com (like I did) you can create your card, save it, and print whenever you’re ready. – 20 Entries

5. Alternative Advocacy Pledge.  Maybe advocacy cards are just not a realistic way for you to share right now.  That’s ok!  If you have another way of reaching out to your local community, and you would like to pledge to advocate that way, you are more than welcome to do that!  Let us know how you are going to advocate offline, and join us in our challenge for getting the word out to local communities about these children and their need. – 15 Entries

6. Reblog our challenge.  If you love this advocacy idea and you want to encourage your friends to join as well, reblog our challenge to your own website and give us the link. - 10 Entries

*Example Entry Comment*

I shared the giveaway on Facebook [insert link] (1)
I shared the giveaway on Twitter [insert link] (1)
I liked and commented on your Facebook post. (4)
I sent you a message with feedback on your post card! (3)
I am going to do the alternative advocacy pledge [Describe your idea and how you are going to implement it.] (15)
I reblogged this challenge here: [insert link] (10)
TOTAL ENTRIES:  34

Thank you everyone!! Really looking forward to those entries coming in and finding out who I’ll be advocating for this Spring!!  Don’t have a child you are praying over or shouting for?  Go here to find a little one that captures your heart.  Or message me!  I have plenty of children who keep me up at night.  Once you see them, you simply can’t forget.

May God richly bless your Holy Week!

God so Loved…

Today my husband is guest blogging his sermon from yesterday’s baptismal service for Kyrie.  He preached on the assigned text for the 4th Sunday in Lent, John 3:14-21.  Enjoy!

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Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Dearly beloved, my friends, God loves you.  God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) I remember my dear mother laboring as my 3rd & 4th grade Sunday School teacher to help me memorize that verse, not to mention all the other rowdy kids she graciously and meticulously taught it to over the years as well.  She’s a saint if there ever was one!

It was in her classroom that I first heard John 3:16 called the Gospel in a nut shell, and it’s true and I’m glad she helped me understand that.  This verse captures the will of God, the Good News, that our God, Who is love, sent His only-begotten Son into the world for the life of the world.  He came, not to kill and condemn, but to restore and justify the ungodly.  Jesus dies the death of all sinners on the cross and rises again victorious over death that we might have a share of His divine life (2 Peter 1:3-4), eternal life, communion with God for all eternity.  As John says, Jesus was not sent for the purpose of condemnation but salvation! For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:17)  Jesus is the love of God in human flesh and when you believe in Him you have everlasting life.

If John 3:16 is the Gospel in a nut shell, then Holy Baptism is the Gospel in a sea shell. [The sea shell, of course, referring to what I use to pour the water on the one being baptized.]  The blessed water of Holy Baptism has given Kyrie Rose the Gospel, the gift of faith, complete and total trust and belief in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  The gift of everlasting life, won for her on the cross, is given to her today by this means of grace that Christ our Lord has established.

Baptism is a gift, a pure gift.  One does not work for a gift, otherwise it would not be a gift.  A gift is given freely, out of love.  Baptism gives the gift of faith, not only a personal trust but the entire Christian faith. Everything we believe, everything that is necessary for salvation, the whole faith belongs to this little girl. Baptism is a mystery that one enters and grows into on our journey into the Kingdom of God.  Baptism unites us with Jesus as His name is placed upon us.

The mystery of union with God in those waters is somewhat similar to marriage, and I mean that in this way:  The day you married your husband, the day you married your wife, you did not understand fully what that would mean.  Marriage is a gift from God.  A union that is meant to bring a man and woman together for life, a union that we grow into, that changes as we age, that flourishes in different ways at different times.  It’s a gift we don’t fully understand on the day that we say “I do”, nevertheless, we receive the full gift all the same.

Baptism a gift, a work of the Spirit, not a work of man.  Baptism gives us everything we need for life in the Kingdom of God.  We get a new name as we take on the name of “Christian”, membership in God’s family, and a seat at Christ’s table where he nourishes us with His heavenly gifts.  The gift of faith is given, complete, total, and whole with the promise that God will never leave us, nor forsake us, even if we run far away from Him, even if we sprint away from Him as fast as we can at times.  Even if our faith grows weak or cold, even if we say we reject the faith we were given, nevertheless the promise remains, for God never goes back on His promise or give up on even His prodigal children even if we are unfaithful.  God is love and does not forget His children even if we forget Him.

God does not lie and He will not change His Word, He will not change the promises He made to Kyrie this day and He will not change His promises to you.  He loves you.  In His union with you He has promised to never leave you, nor forsake you.  He will provide all that you need to support this body and life.  He will feed your soul through His Word and in His Body and Blood.  He promises to forgive you all your sins and raise you from the grave.  Should you flee to the darkness and delight in your sins, still, He does not change.  His love for you compels Him to search for you, to wait for you, to long for your return home to His house.  Baptism comes with the promise that God is always for you, even when He disciplines you and allows you to feel the sting of your sins, it’s never because He hates you, but always because He loves you as a dear Father loves His dear children and desires you to repent and return to His loving embrace and to hear His assuring Word of forgiveness.

Baptism gives you everything.  The fullness of faith. A mysterious union between us and God that we cannot fully explain at the time, but only later do we learn how to describe what we have.  Our life together in the Church, our worship, our service, our teaching, our studying, our living and learning, is about unpacking the gift of Baptism, not adding something to it, learning to understand what we already possess by faith, growing into the reality of who God says we already are by His grace.  None of the things we do as Christians in Church add anything new to what we were given, rather they sustain and keep the new life in Christ growing as we ourselves grow and change.

We ought to remember and celebrate our baptisms better than we do.  What better thing is there to make a big fuss over than the gift of faith, new life, forgiveness and salvation?  I really can’t think of any.  All the other gifts we get for birthdays one day break, or rust, or we lose interest in them.  But the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation we receive never go bad!

Remember your Baptism.  Be intentional about it. You won’t regret it. In the Small Catechism Luther suggests each Christian make the sign of the cross to remember Your baptism, for when you were brought to the font you had the sign of the cross placed on your forehead and on your heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.  The sign of the cross is the perfect link between the Gospel in a nut shell and the Gospel in a sea shell.  This practice teaches us to never forget that the cross and Baptism always go together.  Both are the work of God for the salvation of world, for the salvation of you.  God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.  That same love and promise are your gift in Holy Baptism.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

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A Happy Break

Hello dear friends!  I have been gone recently.  I have a couple of posts in the works but I literally do not have a waking moment free these days.  So as a happy birthday present to myself (that was last weekend) I am taking a happy month-long break from blogging.  Which really just means, I’m telling you how I won’t have any time to blog in March so I can stop feeling bad about it!

I do have lots of things to write about, but there is SO much going on!  We have appointments and testing galore for Jacob and Hope this month, along with four birthdays, Kyrie’s baptism this weekend and a conference to go to.  It’s getting quite crazy around here, and I’m trying to take care of myself in the midst of the chaos so I can be present for the kids too.  (Read: I am trying to get a reasonable amount of sleep.)

So… please don’t feel abandoned.  I’ll be back, hopefully sooner rather than later.  Praying for a peaceful April…

Oh and for anyone who is local, you are very welcome to celebrate Kyrie’s baptism with us this weekend!  The service begins at 10am (email me for directions if you need them) and the reception will be at 2pm at the parsonage.  Everyone is welcome to both the Divine service and the reception afterward.  No need to RSVP, just come and celebrate God’s abundant love with us!

Blessings on the rest of your month!!

My Fabulous Five

IMG_1655This week has absolutely blown me away.  I’ve been keeping quite busy tending to five, fabulous little people and… well that’s about all I’ve been doing.  No housework to speak of… none.  In any case, we have a new routine set with our sweet Kyrie added to the mix, and it is working out better than I ever could have hoped for.  After a very long and difficult winter, things are certainly looking up!  In fact, things are smoother around here now than they have been since we got home from Ukraine.  Never did I expect adding a child to the family would make my life easier, but it seems to have done just that.

A huge part of that has to do with my own attitude and perspective.  I will be the first to admit that many of the struggles we’ve had as a family in the last several months were really just issues with how I was managing (or not managing) the household.  Emotionally I was running on empty, which meant a lot of withdrawing was going on and not a lot of intentional presence with my children.  Our routine always seemed crazy and hectic, and I was constantly overwhelmed with what needed to be done like… yesterday.

We still have a million and one things to do.  But I’ve just had to take a step back and realize that God has this under control.  We can only get done what we can get done, and my first vocation is to love my family.  I can’t love my family well when I am so caught up in the “needs” of the world.  Has He not provided all that we need?  Will He not continue to do so?  Including providing us with days to run errands and make appointments?!  Of course!  So I’m going to stop stressing over those, and wait on the Lord to provide those opportunities in His good time.

And while I wait, I am working on making my world much smaller and focusing on just being present with the beautiful family He has entrusted to my care.  With Kyrie here I knew I had to lower my expectations with what I could accomplish.  Going into this week I was determined to bring my “A Game”, because I knew I’d need it, and I knew better than to expect anything but the minimum from both myself and the kids.

I have also been convicted lately of not putting as much work into this job of motherhood as I would have if it was a “real” job where I was getting paid monetarily and had to answer to a supervisor who I wasn’t also married to.  Ahem.  Yeah, quite humbling to realize how I stack up against my own self!  Especially since that self was a college kid from seven years ago.  Yikes.

Yes, there are totally differences between the 24/7 job of motherhood and an 8 hour shift in someone else’s home where you only spend about 20 hours a week.  However, I can do better.  And I know it.  So that’s what I’ve been working on this week.  While the children are awake, they are my job, and I am trying really hard to treat it that way.  No more Facebooking at “work”, no more saying “Just a minute,” when I really mean “I sure hope he forgets what he asked for so that I don’t actually have to add that to my to-do list.”  Etc…

This perspective has really been working well, though it’s the equivalent of having a 14 hour shift every single day that ends with being on call until the next shift starts… which is totally exhausting, but also incredibly rewarding and worth it.  It’s also doable, and I know this season of life won’t last forever.  It’s also the reason why I’m not blogging too terribly much.  When I do have a break in the middle of the day now I have been finding I must take that afternoon nap.  It has been a lifesaver, and that is typically my computer time when I’m awake.

I know ya’ll understand that I’m busy, but I also love blogging too or I wouldn’t be doing it.  It’s a great outlet for me, so I’m definitely going to keep trying to make time for it where I can.  Self care is so important when you have other people depending on you for their needs, and with five very needy (and lovely) people depending on me day and night – I have come to realize that I need to take care of myself if I’m going to be a healing presence for them.

But anyway, enough about me!  I did title this my fabulous five for a reason.  I wanted to let you all know how the children are adjusting to our new normal, because that’s the question everyone has been asking.  The answer is… they are doing amazingly, astonishingly well – all five of them!  Let’s start with the itty bitty one first shall we?  Kyrie is a dream.  She fits like a glove in our family.  She is the easiest baby I’ve ever had.  She sleeps when we sleep, at nap time and at night time.  I’m getting more sleep now than I did when I was pregnant!  She is very content in her bouncy chair, which makes my days actually doable.  She almost never cries; she is doing really well with her pottying, which means we won’t have to have two kiddos in diapers.  Woohoo!  (Yes, I will blog more about that later.)

And, best of all, she sleeps through everything.  Anyone who has spent time in our house or on the phone with me will know that this is not a quiet place, and she doesn’t care one bit.  Thank you Lord for little mercies!  When she is awake, Kyrie is always very still and quiet, much more so than I remember Evie or Stephen being.  She seems to have a very contemplative nature, which will be quite an interesting dynamic to add to our very active crew.

Speaking of active :)  Stephen is next.  He is doing great with his new big brother status, it hasn’t fazed him one bit.  He loves to dote on his little sister and holds her every day.  He’s always saying how he loves the baby, and if she isn’t in bed when he is (his bed is still in our room as well) then it is quite concerning.  He is the classic protective older brother, and we haven’t seen even a hint of jealousy.  I expected regression in several areas, but the only change has been that he’s much more clingy in the wee hours of the morning.  That usually ends in an uncomfortable Mommy sandwich with Kyrie on one side and Stephen on the other.  Suffice it to say, I hope this phase ends quickly.

Dear Evangeline has also been doing better, much due to our new routine that has everyone less stressed.  She is incredibly empathetic and perceptive and is a sponge to the emotions of everyone around her.  Because Jake and I have been doing a lot better the last few days, she is also doing a lot better, which I am so grateful for.  Her nurturing side is just basking in having a baby around to care for.  She would hold her all day if Kyrie would allow it.

Kyrie is also just a healing balm to weary souls. (What baby isn’t?!)  But she especially ministers to her older sister.  If Evie is having a hard time falling asleep I’ll even make a point of taking Kyrie in with me, and her presence seems to calm her in a way that even I can’t.  It’s beautiful watching God’s compassionate hand working through even the smallest and neediest of people.

I would say of all of them, Jacob’s life and demeanor seem to have changed the least in the last week and a half that his new sister has been here.  He loves her just as much as the others do, but his interaction with her is noticeably less than theirs.  He does hold her and give her kisses, but he just doesn’t seem quite as interested as Evangeline and Stephen are.  Is it a personality difference, an institutional thing, something else entirely?

It’s really hard to know, but either way he does love her and we aren’t seeing any regression with attachment or in other areas, so I’m perfectly happy with where he’s at right now.  We’re still in the process of finishing up his evaluations to get therapy services from the school district, and that should be done mid-March.  I’m looking forward to seeing him add occupational and speech therapy to his repertoire!

And saving the best update for last… sweet Hope.  Things are changing around here for our darling girl, but mostly indirectly due to Kyrie’s arrival.  She doesn’t have much contact with the baby other than a few attempts at teaching “gentle touches” here and there throughout the day.  She is certainly interested in the squirmy bundle on my lap, but she still can’t do much in the way of interacting with her.  Many of the children she shared a room with in the orphanage where babies, so I think she rather likes having Kyrie around, she just doesn’t know how to show it yet.

So, how has our new bundle of joy added to Hope’s life?  There are a few ways.  First, having a new baby forced us to change our routine with Hope.  What we were doing was not working.  I’ll try to blog more extensively about this too, but really, parenting a child who spent nine years in a laying room is a puzzle.  There are very few people experienced in this sort of care, meaning our doctors and therapists and experts can help by laying out tools and resources, but we are the ones who have to figure out which ones to use and how to use them.  As my dear husband says, she is a riddle wrapped in a question mark.

Much of our parenting Hope has been trial and error. I can’t even remember how many different sleeping arrangements we’ve tried in the last six months.  My midwife, on a visit a few days after Kyrie was born, suggested we try a Tryptophan supplement for Hope to help her sleep.  Sure enough, she has slept through the night three times this week!  A first as far as we can remember.  Typically she either doesn’t go to sleep for hours or wakes up around 2 or 3 am.  Having her sleep better is a blessing for all of us and I really pray that it continues.

We are also giving her more intentional sensory/play times, as well as intentional resting times during the day.  Our routine really revolves around her schedule now, as the other kids’ activities are much more flexible.  It’s too early to say how much it’s helped her improve, but it certainly has made our family’s dynamic more peaceful and that is absolutely worth it.

And finally… drum roll please…

Hope has words!! She started talking!  Seriously!!!

Mima spent several days with us that first week postpartum and started a new game with her.  To everyone’s surprise, she loved the game (she is usually motivated by nothing but stimming) and she was so eager to play that Mima got her to attempt the word “ball” whenever she handed the little ball over to her.  The more they played the more her word sounded like ball, and now she will do it consistently when asked!  Crazy!  Then yesterday at lunch I was able to get her to say “oooo” for food.  She tried adding the f sound to the beginning, but we’re not quite there yet.

She actually has sounds that she uses that have meanings attached!  I can’t emphasize how huge this is for her.  Our ten year old girl is learning how to talk!!

Kyrie’s Birth Story: Part II

So sorry it took me so long to get this up!  I was out of commission the last couple of days due to a uterine infection, but I’m feeling much better and we caught it quickly so there shouldn’t be any complications from here on out, praise God!  If you missed it, you can read Part I of the Birth Story HERE.

*****

Things started progressing very quickly at this point. People began arriving… Stephen was the first member of my audience. When I heard him wake up I was so worried that he was just going to cry for me the entire night. He is never consolable at one in the morning unless I’m holding him.  Much to my surprise, God provided him with a very peaceful spirit and allowed my mom to hold him. He was even perfectly content (and kind of emotionless) when she had to leave for a moment. Next Jake’s parents arrived, followed by the midwife’s assistant and her back up midwife who was also attending the birth.

Birth AudienceMy mom went upstairs to see if Evangeline wanted to wake up. Now, if you know my daughter, you know that she is just like me and that being woken up does not put her in a happy place. But as soon as she heard “Mommy is having the baby,” she sat straight up and proclaimed “Oh! This is my favorite part!” She came downstairs bounding with energy and sat right next to Stephen to watch the birth.  Jake’s mom sat down to help and before long I had my own little audience with their chairs pulled up to see the big event.  It probably would have been terribly distracted if I had had any presence of mind to think about it, thankfully I was preoccupied.

They couldn’t actually see me in the tub during contractions because it was so tall, but I popped up in between and smiled and gave them thumbs up to let them know I was excited and everything was going well. Jake and I took a picture together and I was still talking and laughing in between contractions. They did get closer together, though I didn’t notice it much because they had started so close.

I started feeling a bit pushy so my midwife checked me. I was dilated to almost a nine already (and still happy in between contractions?!) so she told me to breathe through a couple more and that I was almost there.  At this point Jake’s back rubs stopped helping, which I managed to communicate mid-contraction. My brilliant midwife told him to try constant pressure instead of moving pressure. That felt much better. Contractions were getting so intense that I found myself holding my breath when one started. “I need you to breathe through these,” my midwife reminded me, which I did with quite a bit of vocalizing.

Breathing hurts less than not breathing, but for some reason the natural reaction is just to clamp up. About three contractions after my midwife checked me I let her know that my body had started pushing on its own during contractions. She started helping Jake by putting pressure on my hips while he pressed down on my back.  She asked me if I wanted him to get in the tub for support while pushing and I said no. Their cumulative effort was helping me manage and the last thing I wanted was to change it up and risk being in more pain, so I opted to keep everything the same. I was on hands and knees, not my preferred pushing position, but again I wasn’t about to move. I had found a way to cope and I was going to stick with that.

During the next contraction I started pushing. My midwife checked me afterward and said that I was fully dilated with just a little lip. I told her I was pushing through the last contraction and she said “I know; I wasn’t born yesterday. That’s why I checked you.” I didn’t laugh out loud but I did chuckle a little on the inside.  She asked if I wanted my water broken to push, and that she always felt more comfortable pushing without the bag of waters there. I was totally indecisive. I had no idea! I had never made it to the pushing stage with an intact bag of waters.

We broke my water during Evie’s labor at 5cm because I was tired of the slow progress, and Stephen’s broke on its own before his labor had even really started.  I couldn’t make up my mind, so I said we’d work through one more contraction and then decide, which was really me just stating the reality as the next contraction was already starting anyway. Several seconds later the point was totally moot as my water broke easily on its own and baby was crowning with the next push.

After that it took about five more pushes for baby to be born, way more than I’ve ever had to push before. But I had no tearing, and have been much more comfortable post-partum than I was with either of my other babies, so I don’t mind having had to wait a little longer in the pushing phase!  Baby was born at 2:10am almost two hours exactly from when active labor started. After doing some gymnastics with the umbilical cord… ahem… my midwife handed me our sweet little one and we put a towel over her to keep her warm in the tub. This is the first baby that Jake didn’t actually help deliver, but I think he was ok with that.

I held her for a minute before someone inevitably asked if baby was a boy or girl, I had to move the cord to see, and when I did I just remember saying “She’s a girl! But I already knew that, Mommy didn’t even have to look to know you were a girl.” Which is true, from my feelings during pregnancy and then seeing her face when she was born, somehow I just knew.
Baby girl and I stayed in the tub a while longer. The placenta did not come out nice and whole like it should have, so my midwife had to work on that for a few minutes (not super comfortable if you were wondering). Unfortunately we didn’t quite get all the little pieces (which caused my uterine infection a few days later).  We found that she also had a true knot in her cord, just like her older brother did!  Not sure why my children like to do that…

IMG_1558After all that was finished, Daddy brought Jacob over to cut the umbilical cord, he had just been woken up after the baby was born, although he didn’t particularly care to. The story I heard was that when Daddy went to get him and said it was time to meet the baby Jacob’s answer was “No, let’s do it in the morning.” Sigh… a child after my own heart. But he was glad afterward that he was awake with all the excitement!

Finally it was Daddy’s turn to hold the baby while I changed clothes and slowly made my way to the family room to rest in the recliner. After a good while of sweet girl nursing, Stephen helped Daddy weigh her and the midwife did a few quick newborn measurements and checks.  Last, but certainly not least, Mommy got a very early morning breakfast of oatmeal before we all headed back upstairs to bed at the very sleepy time of four in the morning. We still had no name for her at this point; it wasn’t until later that afternoon that we decided on Kyrie.

Out of all three births, Kyrie’s was definitely the smoothest. She also broke all of the similarities that my other two shared. I suppose we truly have no idea what pregnancy and childbirth are going to be like no matter how many times before we’ve done it. It is always changing from one child to the next!  Yet one thing continues to remain the same… the sacrifice is miniscule and not even comparable to the reward of bearing life. And to those dear mothers whose pregnancies didnot come to such a joyous end on this side of eternity, my heart and prayers are always with you and the reward that awaits you in Heaven is greater still.

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Kyrie’s Birth Story: Part I

Kyrie Rose

February 14th 2015

8lbs 2ozs – 20 1/4 in.

Five weeks after I was let off of bed rest and there I was, still pregnant. I could not believe it. My mom and brother were in town to meet the baby who was not here yet, and I was a week past my due date which had never happened before. Needless to say, I was ready to get this little one out into the world! We had one more day before my family had to leave.
The days before we tried stripping the membranes with absolutely no results. I dilated a tiny bit from 2cm to almost 3cm, but nothing else of note. On Friday evening my midwife came over with one last option to try.

She gave me an herb regimen to use that night and the next morning. It included Evening Primrose, Verbena and Cottonwood.  She told me that at this point she didn’t want to get too aggressive trying to kick start labor, and I agreed. As much as I wanted to have this baby, I wanted the baby to be ready above all else. I started with the Verbena; I was to take it every two hours that I was awake and to switch to Cottonwood the next morning.

My first dose of Verbena was at 5:45pm, I immediately noticed that my contractions seemed more persistent. We had gone walking at the mall earlier in the day, which had set off some good contractions, but they had been dwindling through the afternoon. This seemed to revive them a bit. I felt optimistic, but wasn’t going to get my hopes up yet. After a month of contractions and false alarms I was over trying to guess if I was in labor, but it felt better at least trying something.

I took my next dose of Verbena at 7:45pm, but it didn’t seem to have the same effect. My contractions were waning again and this didn’t pick them up too much after the first twenty minutes or so. I did a lot of walking, swaying, squatting and sitting on my birth ball that evening. I ate some jalapeno cheetos, joking with my mom that maybe the spicy food would help.

Mom and I retired upstairs and chatted while we waited for 9:45 so I could take a final dose of Verbena and go to bed. I told her that I didn’t want to go to sleep because that just meant one more day of not having the baby.  After all, my contractions always petered out when I laid down. But away I went, consoling myself with the knowledge that we could try the Cottonwood first thing in the morning. I took my last dose of Verbena along with the Primrose oil and went to bed.

Jake had not been feeling well so he had gone to sleep with the kids a few hours earlier. We talked for quite a while, it had been a long day and we both needed to decompress. Sleep didn’t come easily, I kept having little contractions that did nothing more than to remind me that I had been having the same ones for months and they meant absolutely nothing.
By the time I was finally dozing off, Evie woke up and I jostled Jake to go check on her. He was gone for several minutes so I checked my phone to see what time it was – 11:49pm. Two hours since my last dose of Verbena.

Well… I was awake so might as well get up and take another round right? Within fifteen minutes of laying down I had another contraction, a different-feeling contraction. It was certainly the best one I’d ever had laying down! I decided that if I had another I would sit up and see what happened. Sure enough, several minutes later another contraction started, I sat up and maneuvered into a modified squat, trying to put as much pressure on the cervix as I could while still in bed.

Ouch.

Several things went through my mind…  I had forgotten what actual labor feels like. — That was definitely an actual labor contraction. — I’m not sure I actually want to be in labor after all.— If I have any more of those I will actually be in labor.

I had another one. Just as painful. After posting to Facebook (because that’s the most important thing right?) I went to go find Jake who had fallen asleep cuddling with Evie. All I said was “Jake… ouch,” while pointing to my tummy. He got up and I caught him up to what was going on at  that point. We both started looking for clothes so I could go downstairs and walk through the contractions that were coming about 2-3 minutes apart.

On my way downstairs I knocked on the office door where my mom was sleeping for the week and let her know that I thought I was in labor and asked if she could listen for the kids for us since we’d probably be preoccupied. I knew my midwife had had two straight nights with no sleep, so I didn’t call her right away.

IMG_1406The contractions were strong from the beginning, I could talk through them barely, and I had to stop what I was doing to hold onto something. My brother was still awake downstairs so we enlisted him to take a few pictures before things got going.  I decided to do a cute little heart shape, being acutely aware of what day it was.  And Jake is texting people to come on over.  :)

I took a quick shower to see if the warm water would help relax me during contractions. It didn’t help too much so I got out and asked Jake to start filling the tub. I called my midwife at 12:51am, but told her not to come out just yet. I didn’t know how quickly labor would progress and I felt bad making her get out of bed sooner than she had to.

My mom came down shortly after that and we started prepping the birth room, I turned on my music playlist, which was awesome for helping me focus through the contractions. I don’t think I made it more than ten minutes before asking Jake to call the midwife back, this labor felt way too much like Stephen’s labor and I knew we didn’t have a whole lot of time.

The timeline becomes a bit of a blur after that. Somewhere in there I went to the bathroom a million times thinking I had to go, but not really needing to; my midwife arrived; and we ran out of hot water, so my dear brother went on boiling water brigade (heat water on the stove, put it in the tub, repeat) and that was his job for pretty much the rest of my labor. He’s a swell guy, and single by the way ladies. ;)

I also changed into my labor gown, and started getting really grumpy with Jake if he wasn’t helping me through contractions. I actually remember joking with him after one that we knew we were in labor when I start yelling at him to “pay attention” during a contraction. He’s not allowed to talk or be distracted, lol! During all of my labors he has been my biggest support, though I’ve needed him in different ways. This time he rubbed my lower back through contractions which helped to take some of the pressure off.

IMG_1423
My midwife wanted to check baby’s heartbeat and to see how far dilated I was. I told her I didn’t want to be checked yet, and she only had to see one contraction to know that I was quite actively in labor. I asked her if I could get in the tub, because I wasn’t sure if the water was deep enough yet. She told me to get in whenever I felt like it, which I did very promptly.

The water was noticeably more comfortable. I briefly considered asking someone to get my essential oils out, but I knew that at this point in labor they really would do nothing for pain relief, so I decided against it. Jake continued to rub my back through contractions from outside of the tub.

To Be Continued…

Kyrie Rose

February 14th – 2:10am
8lbs 2oz – 20in

Kyrie Rose
Kyrie (Kear-ee-ay) is the Greek word meaning LORD. Her name means “The Lord’s Rose”, or as we like to say… God’s Little Valentine. Our most fervent prayer is that Christ our Lord will now and forever be the Greatest Love of our daughter’s heart

My Pride or Joy

My babies come on time.  That’s just what they do.  For nearly five years I’ve been able to brag about how my kiddos came on the day before their due dates – both of them!  It’s quite convenient to have prompt babies who follow their schedules obediently.  And with this pregnancy?  I was sure that I was going to go early.  I said as much for about a month…

Then I did go early, too early.  Pre term labor at 33 weeks was not exactly what I had in mind.  So I went on bed rest for three weeks.  I worked hard to be vigilant about my vitamins, my protein intake, my fluids.  I took an Epsom salt bath almost every night, and when all else failed, I obligingly took that horrid medicine to stop the contractions.

It was a dark three weeks, too cold for the kids to play outside, little light, not enough sleep for my husband and far too much work to do.  The kids handled it about as well as you could expect little ones to cope with not having a functioning mother.

So many people blessed us with meals, without which we probably would have been eating hot pockets and lunch meat for a month.  I couldn’t get up to greet them as they came in; I couldn’t even write any thank you notes, because when I wasn’t trying to get comfortable or force down vitamins and food I was usually attempting to put out constant fires amongst the children.  (You can imagine how effective that is when they all know you can’t leave the couch.)

I couldn’t believe how little I was able to do.  It was frustrating to put it lightly.  Then off of bed rest I went, and for a week it was just battling constant pain and fatigue.  I finally got a maternity belt which brought me back to almost 100% and that’s where I am now.

IMG_1401Today is the day before my due date.  (Yes that’s me on the right… 40 whole weeks.)  I’m not uncomfortable, actually other than persistent heart burn, I feel more comfortable for nine months pregnant than I can ever remember feeling before.  I can cook and clean and play with the kids and run errands.  For all intents and purposes I should be perfectly content staying pregnant a little longer… but I haven’t been content, not in the least.

I was venting to a friend a couple of nights ago about how on Earth I haven’t had a baby yet.  My midwife and everyone was certain that this baby was going to come as soon as I went off bed rest, and yet… baby never came.  I knew this baby was coming early… and yet here we are, right on time and it looks like probably even a little late!

What happened?  How did I get this all so wrong?  I hate being wrong and I hate not knowing things and I hate not being in control of what I feel is important.  There’s a word for all those things, and it’s called pride.  When I was talking to my friend I told her how I felt like such a fraud.  People reached out to help us at what felt like a very critical time, only for the crisis to pass and to seemingly have been pointless.

Was it pointless?  Could I have gone to term without bed rest?  Honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever know that answer… but it’s certainly not a gamble we should have taken.  And yet, it feels so wrong to still be pregnant – like I am doing something wrong.  It feels like I did nothing for anyone for a month for no reason.  And my friend?  God has given her such a kind wisdom.  She showed me that those feelings are simply lies.  “Do not regret loving your baby Dalas,” she said, “because that’s what you were doing.”

And in that moment I realized how foolish all this pride was, how not wanting to face everyone at Church on Sunday because I’m “still here”, is just plain silliness.  No one is judging me for still being pregnant!  (And even if they were it really shouldn’t matter more to me than meeting Christ in His Sacrament.) God has given our family an amazing gift by allowing my body to carry our precious child to full term.  An amazing gift.

This baby is going to be born with the very best chance at thriving on the outside of my womb, and what more could we ask for than that?  Every day longer I carry this baby is just one more day I get to express my love for our child in this unique and very short season of his or her life.  What is there to be sorry about?  Why let my pride over being wrong and needing help overshadow the immense joy that should be characterizing such a beautiful season?

How foolish of me to think my timing for this child is better than the Lord’s timing.  How foolish to spend the blessings of today in angst over details that only have meaning because it’s what I thought I wanted.  I am so thankful that God has given me the humility to see such error, so that I can spend my last few days with the joy He is intending for our family.

I reject your lies, Satan, your foolishness and your poison pride.  Instead, I will drink of the cup of joy and thankfulness.  I am thankful for one more day to prepare.  I am thankful for one more day to love my baby so uniquely, knowing we will never again be as close to each other as we are now.  I am thankful for one more opportunity to bake cookies and make crafts before another season of survival and adjustment.

I am thankful for the completion of a healthy pregnancy.  I am thankful for one more round of children kissing my belly good night.  I am thankful for one more night to cuddle with my sweet Stephen for as long as his little heart desires.  I am thankful for the possibility that my mother might actually get to be present for the birth of one of our children.  I am thankful that God’s ways are not my ways.

If it’s a choice between my foolish pride or His joy… for Heaven’s sake, today I choose joy.  And I thank God for giving me just a little moment of clarity to grasp that.

First Week of Kindergarten

I have not done a post devoted to just our sweet first daughter in, well… years.  She made us parents and she is so very often a ray of light and joy in our home.  I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it.  Last fall I had planned to start doing a bit of formal schooling with her here and there, but that never actually took root.  There has been so much chaos that it hasn’t happened, and I had initially expected Jacob to tag along in her studies on a more serious level.  But he’s just not ready for that yet, and so our first few tries failed considerably.

photo (57)After I got off of bed rest I thought we would just wait to get a routine like this going until after the baby came, but one week passed… then two weeks… and I realized that I simply didn’t have that kind of patience!  So I decided to jump in and go for it.  Tuesday was Evangeline’s very first day of kindergarten.  See?  I even took a picture!  She picked the pigtails.  :)

Our school week goes from Tuesday through Friday, although we do some things on our weekend days too.  I have a lot that I would love to cover with her before we officially start “1st grade”, but I decided going slow and adding things as we can would be the best way to do it.  This week we have been dabbling in: arithmetic, poetry, hymnody, Bible, Catechism, reading and ASL.  If I’m really confident we’ll get our nature study time in tomorrow too.  Next week we will start with our memory work  and hopefully nature studies and handwriting.  Music, art and handicrafts will follow after we are doing well with the rest.  History and foreign language will probably be the last subjects we add down the road.

It all sounds very ambitious, but we follow a primarily Charlotte Mason approach.  She advocates for very short lessons, a ton of free play and outdoor time, and would defnitely balk at the idea of “formal lessons” for my almost five year old.  :)  But all of you who know me know that my brain just doesn’t work that way and it has to be formally written down or else I will lose my mind!  And with two children with special needs and a new baby on the way… without some sort of structure I just wouldn’t get these quality moments in at all.  With all that said, this week has gone very well, and I’m pleased with where we’re headed for the rest of the year.

Our days are pretty simple, we have to schedule in time for therapies and meals, and I have two school times each day.  We have a school basket and each child gets to pick which lesson they want.  It takes about fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the afternoon.  All four kids are present, but not all of them are listening or participating at the same level ;)  The only child I have any expectations for at this point is Evangeline, but they all enjoy sitting in on the fun.

For arithmetic I found a great resource for the early years.  It is quite aged, but their reasoning is spot on and I really don’t see a reason to reinvent the wheel if this works perfectly well!  The book is called The Eclectic Manual of Methods for the Assistance of Teachers”, and the arithmetic section we are working through begins on page 105.  Google reader has the text available for free here.  Every morning I put six random household objects in our school basket and we first practice recognizing a group without counting (How many oranges are on the floor?).  Stephen can recognize what one orange looks like and Jacob can recognize up to two objects.  I always let them do the easy questions before getting more in depth with Evie.  After that I ask her how many objects I need to add or take away from the group to make a different number (How many quarters do I need to put on the floor so we have four quarters?)  

She is now at a point where she can add and subtract objects up to five with almost 100% accuracy and she can recognize a group of six objects without counting them.  Once she masters that we’ll keep moving up through the number 10 and then she’ll “graduate” to the next phase of the arithmetic program.  I’ll have to write a more in depth post about this approach because I just love it so much.

We also do poetry, which is one of my favorite subjects to teach right now, partially because Evie loves it so incredibly much and it’s a pleasure to do it with her.  We are working on learning one classic children’s poem by heart each month.  Since this month only had a week left I picked a really short one to start with, it’s “Clouds” by Christina Rosetti and she learned it by heart after only two days of hearing it once or twice each.  She enjoys reciting it now, and her expressiveness is awesome.  Recitation is definitely a strong suit for her!  After we recite our poem I let each of the kids pick one other poem they want to read before we move on.

Bible is nice and short.  Each day we read one of the readings for Church on Sunday (an Old Testament, an Epistle and a Gospel reading).  We read each one twice during the week so that they can recognize them during the service on Sunday and understand a little better what’s going on.  We briefly discuss what the readings were about and I let the kids ask any questions they have before we move on.

For Hymnody we do two hymns at a time.  We have a weekly hymn we sing every day, which is also from the next Sunday’s service.  Our goal isn’t to know it by heart, but just to be familiar with it so that we can sing it well at Church.  I love to incorporate the children in the liturgy as much as possible, and this is part of that conscious effort.  We also have a monthly hymn we sing every day, and that varies according to the Church year.  Our goal for this is to memorize it by heart and add it to our family’s repertoire of hymns that we can enjoy on a regular basis.  I will usually have us sing one of the hymns at school time and we’ll sing the other during our family hymnsing before bed.

Catechism is done by Daddy so I really don’t know what he does for that… I do know he uses the My First Catechism book by CPH and our family also loves the “Follow and Do” series as well as the Sing the Faith CD, which is Luther’s Small Catechism put to music.  The Catechism is certainly part of our education, but we schedule it after Daddy gets home rather than during our normal school routine.  I would love to add in some instruction on the liturgy as well at some point, but we might wait until next year for that.

Reading is another subject that I am thoroughly enjoying (although really, it’s all been fun!)  We try to keep only quality children’s books around, (I use the suggested reading list from Ambleside Online) and reading takes place all throughout the day.  I do pick a couple of books out specifically to read once or twice during school time just to be sure that everyone is getting some reading time in at least once a day!  Our reading lessons, though, take place individually and spontaneously.  When Evie asks me to read a book I’ll ask if she wants to read too.  If she does, we pick a new word from that story for her to learn and I let her read all the words in the book that she knows while I fill in the rest.

I’m also writing each new word she learns down on a 3×5 card for her to “practice” if she feels like it.  That way, if she wants to read with Daddy or Grandma, they also have a list of all the words she knows.  She gets very frustrated if you read “her” word!  Lol!  I am teaching her phonics rather than just relying on sight words.  Every time she learns a word she has to tell me what sound each letter makes, and as new rules come up (ex: when t and h are together they make a different sound) we talk about them.  If she struggles to remember a word I encourage her to sound it out and she’s getting pretty good at it!

Last but not least, we are also continuing sign language (ASL) with all the kids.  My goal for Evie is for her to be conversational by the end of the year.  We have been signing with her on and off since she was a baby and she’s always loved it.  So far we’ve mostly just used Signing Time, but I am working through the Life Print Course  and modifying it for her as we move toward mastering grammar, comprehension and creating dialogue.  This week we are learning to finger spell our names (she figured it out without any help, because she loves to spell) and learning a majority of the content in Life Print’s 1st lesson, all the content that’s relevant for a five year old anyway.  ;)

All in all this has been a much better week and I’m thoroughly enjoying getting back to a productive learning environment.  I know she’s not even five yet, but these early years have so much potential for setting ground work for a future love of learning.  Home school has always been one aspect of parenthood that I couldn’t wait to start and I’m so glad we’re finally here!

38 Notes for 38 Weeks

1. I know it’s been a while but… You’d be surprised how hard it is to find time to blog on bed rest!  And yes, I’ve been off of bed rest for two weeks now, and it’s been even harder to find time to do anything on the computer.  Maybe it will be easier when the baby comes?  A girl can dream…

2. I never thought I’d see a #2 on that side of the scale (if ya know what I mean) but I am rocking the extra poundage, or so my husband says.  He’s not biased… right?

3. Baby bump picture?  Umm… dream on because of the previous note.  Maybe if I can get this swelling to go down you’ll get one before baby comes… ahem.

4. So… Boy or Girl? We don’t get routine ultrasounds so we still don’t know if Mambo is a boy or a girl. But I do tend to get a “feeling” one way or the other, and I’ve been right the last two times. I will probably jinx myself by making a prediction, but I’ll do it anyway. I think the little one is a girl! Of course, we’ll be excited either way, and we have baby clothes for both! :)

5. Jake had a dream… night before last that we are having a girl.  So double confirmation, right?!  He said she was beautiful and favored Stephen more than Evie in her features.  Which is also what I’ve sort of been thinking.  The suspense is killing me!

6. My husband is amazing. It’s a strange feeling to be constantly asked about and worried over. I feel fine. Lots of contractions that are annoying, and Baby is doing great… But Jake, this man is a rock star.  I seriously don’t know how he does everything.  I’m not on bed rest, but I’m still not at 100%.  I still sit around most of the day, because too much walking causes muscle fatigue and pain.  My body is just tired from being in and out of labor for a month… so he’s still doing so much.

7. So when did you go off of bed rest?  Two weeks ago exactly.  I was 36 weeks and we all thought the baby would be here ANY DAY.  No such luck.  I had intense contractions the first two days, and then they died down.  For about a week after that I would wake up with nothing, they would start as I did more throughout the day and be 2-5 minutes apart, and regular, by bedtime.  I would go to sleep and they’d stop… and we’d do it all over again.  It has become a frustrating version of Groundhog’s Day.

8. Where are you at now?  Same place.  No real change.  My contractions are less frequent some days and more on others.  The only constant is that they keep getting stronger, so I know we’re getting closer.  I just have no idea how close!

9. I had my midwife appointment the other day.  I learned several interesting things…

10. The best news is that Baby is doing great!  The heartbeat sounded good, position is good, I’m measuring right on target.  All awesome things.

11. The worst news is… my midwife is going out of town next week.  She never told me because she didn’t dream in a million years I would still be pregnant… And guess who her only pregnant lady left is for several weeks?  Yup.  That would be me.  It’s not the end of the world, but certainly not the greatest thing either.

12. We were thinking of trying to kick start labor last weekend.  However, when she came to check me we were shocked – absolutely shocked – to find that I was only 2cm dilated and not effaced one bit.  On bed rest I was 90% effaced… now?  Nothing.  I am actually nowhere near labor.  The baby is sitting on my pelvic bone, meaning that all those contractions?  They’re just trying to move the baby, and they are doing pretty much nada. So.  Frustrating.

13. I missed wishing my sweet oldest daughter a Happy Birthday on here!  It was so simple and lovely.  We did it my first day off of bed rest.  So since I missed it, I’ll spend a few notes gushing about her lovely self and all our birthday fun…

14. A Golden Birthday.  I was so excited to have her home for her Golden Birthday.  My midwife came over a couple days earlier and I was in tears because she didn’t want me going off of bed rest yet and we weren’t going to be able to do anything for it.

15. Side Note… a lot of people told me that week beforehand that she would “just be happy” cuddling with Mommy for her birthday or that she wouldn’t know it was her birthday that day and we could just do it another day, etc.  But, like many adoptive mamas I know, I had dreamed of giving her a beautiful birthday for the first time in her life.  No one had ever done that for her before.  The day was more than just a day, it was a milestone in her life and in ours.  The thought of missing it was heart wrenching in a way that is possibly very difficult to understand unless you’ve been there.

16. ANYWAY… My midwife told me I could go off of bed rest.  Hooray!  And my contractions stopped (go figure).  Two days later, I was up and getting a party ready!

17. Her first present was a new hairdo!  She got her first ever ponytails, which she hated putting in, but actually liked in the end.  I think she enjoys the consistent tugging of the hair.  It gives her sensory input.  She always loves it when I play with her hair :)  And she looked adorable!

18. I also got her this beautiful birthday dress…

Hope's Birthday

19. A dear friend of ours offered to make cupcakes for her.  She made the cake and gorgeous flowers and butterflies to put on top.  I made a special frosting that would be a consistency and a sweetness that Hope would like.  (She doesn’t appreciate really sweet things. And hasn’t approved of frosting before.)  So this was more of a sweet, whipped yogurt – but still delicious!

20. Presents!  Hope got some sweet presents.  Her godmother gave her a cute little bear with fun zippers and buttons and things to play with, and she got oodles of new clothes!  She wasn’t really interested in the clothes, but she did enjoy throwing all that tissue paper on the floor.

21. Happy Birthday to You!  We lit her candles and sang to her.  All the other littles were lined up beside her and she just seemed to be loving it.  Even the small party we had would have been way too much just a couple of months ago.  But now it was almost as if she knew that we were singing to her and she was soaking it all in.  It was such a beautiful moment!

22. Progress Updates.  Well I don’t have many of those.  I actually don’t have any of those.  Since I went on bed rest no therapy or stretching has been done for either Hope or Jacob.  And they had been doing so well!  I am frustrated that those things have taken a back seat and I’m dreading how much progress we’ll have lost by the time I can get them back to their routine.  But trying to not worry about it because I can not control it, and there simply isn’t a point in fretting.

23. Dealing with Regression.  Which brings me to my next note about regression.  All four kiddos have regressed since bed rest.  Their behaviors, their attachment, their felt security… everything is back sliding.  It’s so hard to watch.  It was hard to listen to Stephen cry for half an hour while his poor Daddy tried to put him to sleep, and all he wanted was me.  Evie and Jacob and Hope weren’t getting attention from me at night, and that had always been our most consistent and essential bonding time each day.

24. Is it better now?  Being off of bed rest has helped some, but we’re still far from reclaiming what we had.  There is a lot of leftover anxiety and insecurity manifesting, and we are still in survival mode, which makes it difficult to concentrate on refilling the little one’s cups with felt safety and all the attention and love they need.

25. As for bedtime… I pray that we’ll be able to go back to some sort of normalcy in routine after baby is here, but I remember how horribly difficult those first few weeks were after Stephen was born.  Whatever happens, we’ll muddle through it and eventually get to a place where things go back to a sense of normal and routine.  I. Can. Not. Wait.

26. Things are getting easier.  We really aren’t drowning in chaos anymore.  There are just several things that can’t get back to normal until after the baby arrives, and our little Jacob thrives so much on routine that he has been very out of sorts.  We are all weary at the end of this journey, and just can’t wait to have our newest little member join us on the outside so we can move forward with the rest of our year!

27. Speaking of which… Happy New Years!  I know I sort of missed the big event, but I still thought it might be nice to take a moment and look back on 2014 while looking forward to 2015.

13. 2014 was the hardest year of my life.  I know, I’m still pretty young, so this isn’t like headline news or anything… but for us it was such a stretching, trying, challenging time.  It has not just been adoption and special needs parenting, although those things are certainly near the top on my list of hardest things I’ve ever done.  But it seems that we just haven’t been able to catch a break, emotionally, spiritually, practically or otherwise.  It was rough.

14. 2015 will be better.  I’m sure of it.  We may not have seen much of any good fruit from our labor last year, but so many seeds were planted.  This year my prayer is that those good seeds will take root and bear fruit, that our family will see the joys and blessings of our sacrifice.  I pray that our children especially will benefit, all five of them, and that Jake and I will grow closer to the Lord and to one another as we wade through the deep waters of these fleeting days.

15. Did I mention that Jake is awesome?  Because he is.  I just thought I’d mention it again.  Seriously.  There’s no one else I’d rather be raising five rambunctious, out-of-control, adorable little monsters with.

16. Speaking of monsters… I’ll do a little note for each one of the kiddos.  And I say monsters as a term of the utmost endearment.  We have great children, they’re just… ya know… in need of some direction for their copious amounts of energy ;)

17. Hope.  Starting with the oldest, Hope is the same sweet little girl she’s always been.  Very, very slowly she is opening up more to eye contact and interaction and becoming less averse to learning new things.  She can go to church and do a few short trips in public without screaming from the overstimulation and anxiety.  She is needing less isolation and more loving, and it’s a fun (albiet slow) transformation to watch.

18. Jacob.  His language skills are getting better.  He actually tries to speak full sentences with me now that have more than one point.  His personality is coming out more than ever, and I can’t wait till he reaches that threshold.  He was such a jokester whenever he would talk to translators in Russian.  I’m excited for that personality to come out again.

19. Evangeline. Her reading skills are starting to stick, and she’s still interested.  I think once she gets the basics of phonics that she’ll just teach herself the rest.  She is so smart and so motivated as far as books are concerned.  We got her a xylophone for Christmas, though, and reading music is going to take a little more work I think – lol!  In other news she is continuing to grow into her big sister role, she’s always been such a nurturing little girl.  It’s absolutely true that God gives us exactly the children our family needs at exactly His perfect time.

20. Stephen.  If I had one word to describe this two year old tornado it would be “RAWR!!” It is his favorite word and also embodies everything he loves… dinosaurs and monsters.  Oh and baseball.  He’s all boy and he’s really good at it.  Channeling his constant energy is a daily challenge in energy and patience.  But he has a lot of gifts and a lot of love to give.  He brings an amazing amount of joy and laughter, and Heaven knows we need those!

21. Mambo.  And this little one is just ornery!  Moving constantly… all over the place.  Baby was head down and pretty comfy until the contractions started.  Now?  Just constant kicking and pushing and spinning all over the place.  You’d better spin back to your proper position before I go into labor kiddo!  No breech babies allowed.  Good grief.

22. Confession… so about my last note… I actually wrote that three and a half weeks ago.  Lol!  Yes… I started drafting this at 35 weeks and am just now finishing up.  That is what my life has been like lately.

23. So what is Mambo really doing?  Little one has slowed down a lot, very little movement compared to what I was having on bed rest.  Heart beat and measurements look great, I just think there’s much less room in there than at the beginning of the month!  My midwife says this is a good sized baby, not huge, but certainly healthy, which makes me happier than could be after all that drama!

24. Which brings us to our next point…. about the drama.

25. I.

26. Do.

27. Not.

28. Want.

29. To.

30. Be.

31. Pregnant.

32. Anymore.

33. Seriously.  I mean… does more than that really need to be said?  At this point we are nowhere near labor and my due date is approaching quickly.  It’s exciting and frustrating all at once!

34. Hopefully on Friday… my midwife will be back in town and we will start attempting to get the baby engaged properly.  I’m hoping that once that happens labor will be able to begin promptly.  I can get contractions going, no problem, it’s just that at this point they are all trying to position the baby (ornery again) and not doing anything constructive.  Once we get the baby in its proper place we should be able to get the ball rolling.

35. Happy birthday Uncle Brandon?  My brother’s birthday is January 31st so we are shooting for that!  Wish us luck! :P

36. The kids are all sleeping.  Jake and Grandma are at Bible study… the house is quiet and peaceful.  Score one for me.

37.  I’m going to take advantage of the peace and quiet because… *drum roll* I have nothing left to write about for today!

38. And that is how you make it to the end of a 38 point post when you don’t actually have that many points to make ;)

 

P.S. – This is the first comment I got after publishing my post: “It might have been a bit easier to get to #38 if you hadn’t jumped back to 13 from 27…”
Yes.  Yes indeed.  Thank you pregnancy brain.  Maybe that makes up for the month of posting that I missed?   Sigh…

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