Monday, August 15, 2011

A Birth Tale

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3 days old

All throughout my pregnancy I wondered how labor would start.  I was induced at 36 weeks 4 days due to pre-eclampsia with Rose, and Alice came on her own at 38 weeks 6 days.  Everyone, including myself, thought that Charlotte would come early, especially considering how many July birthdays are in our family (mine being so close to the due date - July 30!), but our third daughter had a strong will of her own and my due date, August 1, came with no signs of impending labor.  I’d been doing everything to get her into a good position (more focused on that instead of getting her to come early, though wanting to post a baby eviction notice wasn‘t too far from my mind!) - staying very active with walking and maintaining our playdate schedule, rocking on a birthing ball for weeks, mentally preparing myself for childbirth with incredible books and talks with my midwives at The Birth Center at Bryn Mawr.  I was so excited and so eager for our baby girl to arrive but also to experience the natural labor that I never had before, and I couldn’t wait for everything to begin!  I didn’t have to wait too long, because I woke up with contractions about 2 minutes apart and bloody show at 1:30 am on August 2, the day after Charlotte was due.

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At Eagles training camp with my nephew (and kids, husband, sister and brother-in-law) the day before Charlotte was born

The Birth Center is about an hour away from our house, so we planned on going to my parents’ house, which was only about 20 minutes away from it, to labor there when my contractions were close.  I rocked on the birth ball for a few hours and then we packed up the kids, left our house at about 4 am, and got to my parents’ house around 5 am.  My dad was super excited and wanted me to go to the Birth Center right then, but it just wasn’t time.  He was so adorable.  His greatest joy is definitely his grandchildren!  I rocked on the birth ball and focused on all that I’d learned, especially from Ina May Gaskin’s amazing book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.  I didn’t want to prevent the pain of labor; I wanted to maximize it so that my body could experience the natural process of childbirth to its full advantage.  Around daybreak my contractions spaced out to about 15 minutes apart.  Even though they were 2-3 minutes apart before that, they weren’t very strong and I wasn’t very dilated.  Upon self-examination, I thought that I was about 3 centimeters, and I’d been dilated a bit for weeks.  I knew that we didn’t need to rush to the Birth Center.  Ed got me an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts (what don’t I do with the help of iced coffee?) and we hung out at my parents’ house.  We walked around their pretty, woodsy neighborhood and it reminded me of the birth stories that I’d read in Elizabeth Davis’s Orgasmic Birth and a May Gaskin’s Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth where the women were walking around in nature.  It was so wonderful to spend that quiet, beautiful time with my husband while being in labor.  Everyone I knew was nervous that I wasn’t going to make it to the Birth Center on time to have Charlotte (because it was an hour from our house) and I wasn’t really planning anything out in terms of how/where/when to labor, but I knew that God was going to create our path for the entire childbirth and that He would take care of everything with absolutely the right timing and environments.  He definitely did.  Being at my parent’s house was distracting, and  it was pleasant to be there with my children, my husband and my mom. 

Ed and I went to my midwife appointment at noon just as scheduled, and I was shocked to find out that I was already five centimeters and 80% effaced!  I was so happy!  Lisa was the midwife that I saw and she stripped my membranes.  She consulted Jamesina, the midwife who was catching babies during that shift, and they both said that I could have my water broken right then if I wanted or just hang out and labor in one of the birth suites, or we could go out and have lunch or spend more time with our family and then come back when I felt ready.  They had me at lunch, so Ed and I went out to Uno Chicago Grill in Broomall or and I had two bowls of French onion soup and a great salad (yes, food descriptions are necessary in my birth story!).  I was still contracting during lunch but not very close together, so we went back to my parents’ house afterwards.  I took a shower and then felt like we should probably just go back to the Birth Center because the contractions were getting stronger, and off we went! 

The Birth Center at Bryn Mawr is an absolutely amazing place.  I cannot talk enough about how fantastic the midwives are and how supportive, knowledgeable and personal everything is. I longed for an experience like Ina May Gaskin’s clients receive on The Farm in Summertown, TN after reading her book, and I remember wondering during the pregnancy if I was going to have the same type of atmosphere at the Birth Center, and I knew that I would.  I most definitely did!  The Birth Center midwives fit my childbirth values perfectly, and knowing that they understood that I wasn’t a patient - I was a woman having a baby, the most natural thing in the world - laid the foundation for a magical, which is a word that I seldom use, experience.

Nancy checked us into the Blue Room, our birthing suite, and I got into the Jacuzzi tub.  Putting my back against the jets helped me through contractions.  Jamesina then came on duty and brought some flameless candles to help create a relaxing atmosphere.  The midwives were readily available but not intrusive.  Their presence was soothing.  There was no television in the birthing suite, but I always need to listen to something during labor, which happened to be sports with Grace and I think Food Network with Libby, so I had Ed put the sports station on the radio (we did on the car ride down to my parents’ house, too) and we listened to that.  The Eagles had just gotten Nnamdi Asomugha so there was a lot of great football stuff to listen to!  After being in the tub for awhile I wanted to walk, so we went outside to the Birth Center’s garden.  It has a circular walkway, so we went around and around that and it helped me to work through contractions.  It was a beautiful day and I was so thankful to Jesus that the sun was out and the weather was beautiful.

The sun began to set around 7:30 pm, and we went back inside to the birthing suite.  The midwives don’t do a lot of vaginal exams, which was nice, but since I’d been laboring for so long they checked me and I was dismayed to be only 6 centimeters dilated.  It’d been 18 hours by then, and 6 centimeters is exactly where I got “stuck” during my labors with Alice and Rose, which led to interventions (Pitocin then epidurals).  I knew that I could work through this, and since my water had never broken on its own in any of my other labors I decided that I was ready for the midwives to break it for me to get things going.  I’d wanted it intact up until that point, because I’d read so much about contractions being more manageable with an intact bag of water, but I soon realized that in any subsequent labors I’m having that sucker broken as soon as I hit five centimeters!  The contractions were no more intense and things went quickly as soon as the water was broken.  Jamesina was almost done her shift when I decided to have the water broken, so she wanted me to wait ten minutes for the next midwife, Trina, to do it when she came in.  That was fine with me, and it was also ironic, because Trina would probably be the last midwife that I “saw” at the Birth Center and she was also the first one that I had an appointment with!

My water was broken at 8:17 pm.  I had been working through terrible back labor during the entire labor experience, but it really intensified when we’d gone inside from walking in the garden.  I really focused on walking, different positions, keeping my mouth open and loose (Ina May’s sphincter law teaches that keeping your mouth open instead of tense relaxes the spincters in your body, including your cervix, and it’s so true!).  I was standing up and swaying back and forth and grabbing my back, massaging it during contractions, and after having my water broken I got on all fours on top of the bed and leaned over the birthing ball.  Ed would knead my back after each contraction ended to calm the back labor that slightly stuck around during the breaks.  I remember Trina and the nurse, Megan, remark on me having more bloody show while I was bent over the birth ball.  Ed later told me that Trina had been sitting there with a cup of oil ready for when I felt the urge to push.  Everyone was so calm and comforting and amazing.  They gave me space but also reassurance.  Ed is always incredible in labor, and I just feel so blessed to be his wife and to have such an amazing man as the father to my children from even before they’re in this world.

The contractions were extremely intense, but I was happy to experience the difference between natural contractions and Pitocin-induced contractions.  There was no time that I felt that I couldn’t handle them, though the pain was indescribable and unbelievable.  I knew that I could do this; my body was made to do this.  I had such confidence and I wanted this experience so badly.  There were a few times that I got close to feeling like the contractions were just too intense and I asked the Lord to please help me, and each time they stopped abruptly right then and I had a break.  God truly held me through the whole experience, and I knew that He was right there empowering me through childbirth and giving me the gift of such joy in allowing my body to bring my child into the world in just the way that He so gloriously designed.

I’d been feeling like I had to have a bowel movement for awhile, and of course I didn’t really think that I was ready to push that soon after having my water broken, so when I finally said that I felt like I was going to go to the bathroom, Trina checked me and I was 9 centimeters dilated with just a cervical lip standing in the way.  I was ready to push!  She had me lay on my side, which made the contractions so much worse (when I’m in a standing or kneeling position it makes my contractions manageable but sitting or laying down for me makes them absolutely excruciating), and she pushed the cervical lip over Emmeline’s head.  That was the only moment that I said, “I can’t do this!” and Trina said, “You’re already doing it!”  I guess I also grabbed Ed’s head and almost ripped his ear off, and they all thought that was funny and he didn’t mind at all.  Everyone there had a great attitude and no one was too
serious.  Everyone viewed my labor as something positive and an experience meant to be wonderful.

I pushed in a semi-sitting position and had about four pushes before Charlotte was born at 10:16 pm!  I wasn’t prepared for the pushing part, and I found that worse than labor.  I think partly because I’d prepared so much for the labor and didn’t know what to prepare for with the pushing or maybe because I had no idea that it could hurt that bad!  However, it was amazing to feel her head coming through my birth canal and emerge.  I’d said at one point that it hurt so badly and that I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, and Trina said, “Then take the biggest dump of your life!” (I love her!)  I certainly did!  I pushed Charlotte out with everything that I had and didn’t even want to take the breaks that Trina reminded me to take, especially when she crowned and I held there to open up and breathe.  The feeling of pushing Charlotte’s head out of my body was surreal and amazing, and I love to kiss her beautiful head and marvel that her body was born from my own.  God created woman from man’s own body, and He continues to create His children in the same way - body from body - though He gives women, not men, the gift of being the beginning.  I am so grateful and in awe of how precious that is.

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After Charlotte was born, Trina laid her right on my chest and I totally experienced the oxytocin flooding my system, which I didn’t have with my previous childbirths.  The joy was so complete, which is the best way to describe it since I was ecstatic upon the births of my other daughters, too, but being so present and “doing” this childbirth journey mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually gave me an exhilaration and a bliss that nothing will ever take from me.  All of the “after” stuff happened while my darling new daughter laid on my chest skin-to-skin (cord cut when it stopped pulsating, sewed up for a clitoral and urethral tear - but no pain while peeing afterwards, praise Jesus, which totally rocked since it was horrible after I tore with Alice, spontaneous placenta delivery).  Charlotte latched on to breastfeed almost right away and did amazing!  She even smiled a minute or two after delivery as Ed and I looked at her gorgeous face.  Four hours after she was born she was weighed and measured and clocked in at 7 lbs 13 ounces and 19 inches long.  My heaviest baby!  Ironically, all of my children were 19 inches at birth, but I’m not a tall person so they’re just gonna love heels like their mama! 

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Love her little hand folded up against her chin as she sleeps!

We stayed at the Birth Center for twelve hours after Charlotte was born, leaving at 10 am the following day.  Ed, Charlotte and I spent the night in the birthing suite all sleeping together with our precious daughter in the middle (co-sleeping is advocated by the Birth Center, which is awesome!).  I heard another mother in labor having her baby and prayed that the Lord would bring her through it, because she sounded like she was in such immense pain.  I just knew that it was her first and found out later that it was.  I remember hearing her baby’s first cries as I gazed at the pure morning light streaming in through the large windows in our suite.  I was so thankful to be in a place where God’s children were entering the world in such peace and such confidence.  And such hope.  More than anything else, Charlotte’s birth taught me about hope.  I had hope that this experience would be different from my others, and I had hope that God would see me through.  It’s the kind of hope that isn’t desperate and doesn’t “wish”.  It doesn’t plead and it doesn’t beg.  This hope is the kind that is rooted in strength, and faith and confidence, knowing that as women our bodies, just like those of our babies that we bring forth, are fearfully and wonderfully made.

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The blessed parents of three lovely daughters!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

…and now we’re five!

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Our Charlotte was born at 10:16 pm on August 2 after an amazing labor experience that I can’t wait to share about soon!  God is so faithful in His love and care for us, and we are elated to be a family of five with three beautiful daughters!

“Jesus said, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’” {John 7:37-38}

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Five years ago

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Five years ago I prayed for you, waited for you, and held you from the moment that I found out you were coming into our lives to the moment that you were first placed into my arms and every second afterwards, because you are forever a piece of my heart.

Five years ago I became a mother for the first time, bringing me closer to our Lord and into the presence of something mysterious and beautiful – a more complete understanding and awe-inspired reflection of our Father’s love for us.


Five years ago I knew that I was blessed and that the years would be filled with wonderful times and unending love, and now five years later you are not only older, wiser, more beautiful, more fabulous, but you are a big sister, cousin, friend, homeschooler, dancer, artist, reader, singer, writer, and follower of our Lord Jesus. 

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Five years ago He gave you to me, and my greatest joy is that you’ve given yourself back to Him.
Happy fifth birthday, Mary-Grace Rose!  My “amazing Grace”!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Understanding childbirth = childbirth understanding

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A couple of weeks ago at my husband’s company picnic at the zoo, 35 weeks pregnant

“And now it’s time for me to tell the story of my third birth. My pregnancy was wonderful, but I had an unusual episode of heavy bleeding at about 12 weeks.  I now believe this was correlated to the fact that I was unknowingly carrying twins and lost one of them. This is probably why I had excess amniotic fluid, so that my midwives thought my baby was several pounds larger than he actually was.  I took the matter of choosing midwives quite casually – after all, third births are supposed to be easy, right?  But my labor was far from that – it began with the release of my ample fluids, and my baby (smaller than my others) wedged down firmly in my pelvis in a posterior, deflexed, and asynclitic (cockeyed) position.  I dilated to 5 centimeters in just a few hours, but then got stuck at 6 centimeters.  Of course, I tried every position and trick I could think of.  Hours went by. I remember my feeling of despair when, in knees-chest position, I became aware that my midwives had my textbook open and were trying to figure out how to manually rotate my baby!


But he was too high to reach anyway.  As contractions continued, spasms began in my lower back, with pain on one side shooting all the way to my shoulder and down my leg – a sure sign that my baby was not putting uniform pressure on my cervix, which I knew would keep me from dilating further.  As the pain became constant and more and more overwhelming, even between contractions, I heard myself say, ‘I want to go to the hospital.’  I could barely believe I was saying this, but I knew the score.


When we got there, my blessed backup doctor, Charles Bookoff, came into the room, kneeled down to look into my eyes, and said, ‘Tell me what you want, I’ll do anything you want.’  I said, ‘I need Pitocin to bring my baby down…and I want a low-dose epidural, one-third dose.’  With that, I could still feel the contractions, but now it was just back labor like with my second birth at home – no more nerve pain.  I started moaning loudly with each contraction, and then I found my rhythm, found my spot, could feel my baby coming down, and realized that I was on my way. I dilated completely, and squatted and pushed my baby out.  His heartbeat slowed while I was doing this, but no one dared even suggest an episiotomy.  He needed light resuscitation, but soon he was in my arms, and I knew I had barely escaped a cesarean.

The hardest part was the aftermath, the fallout in my community.  I certainly learned who my friends were and were not.  I vividly remembered a phone call from one of my colleagues just days after the birth.  She told me she had heard all about it, and when I asked what she’d heard, she replied, ‘That you had back labor and went to the hospital for an epidural.’  I began to explain the complexity of what actually happened but then realized it was pointless.  People make judgments if they want to, and there was no use in being defensive.  Later, I wrote and article about my experience for Midwifery Today (‘Passing Judgment’) that addressed the unknowable aspects of birth and my growing understanding of it as a *Blood Mystery.”

* “In many indigenous cultures, the perinatal period is considered a rite of passage steeped in mystery and power…let’s begin by reframing birth as a key physiologic and spiritual milestone in women’s lives….” (Orgasmic Birth page 116)


Excerpt from Orgasmic Birth by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, 2010

More on this fantastic book to come, and exactly what the title means, but I just wanted to share one of the author’s birth stories, since so often women judge, disparage and humiliate one another for how and where they have given birth.  Maybe the medicalization behind birthing in America hasn’t only affected our physical bodies but our emotional and mental states, as well.  Very dissatisfied with both of my previous births, especially my second one, I definitely relate to this birth story and the author’s feelings about being stigmatized and misunderstood.  New knowledge has helped to prepare me for a vastly different experience this time around, but I also know that I’m not naïve and things can take different twists than we anticipate.  My prayer is that my birth experience this time is for my daughter and I, something healing and powerful, and I will never let it be anything that needs explanation or allow someone else to chip down the beautiful, God-ordained journey of birth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The fabulous Ina May Gaskin

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8.5 months pregnant, June 2011

"Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.{Ina May Gaskin in her book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, 2003}


Celebrated and beloved midwife, author, wife and mother, and founder of The Farm Midwifery Center in Summertown, TN, Ina May Gaskin wasn’t even a name that held any familiarity for me until just last week.  While searching my local library for books on natural childbirth, I couldn’t find anything that really fit the bill.  I wanted a book that not only taught me how to manage the pain of labor but how to maximize the whole experience.  I thought that I needed to see specific positions illustrated or read about how to breathe to be able to brace myself for the horrible pain that I experienced during my first two labors.  What I didn’t realize was that pain prevention is not the point of studying how to give birth to your child; why we labor and how to enhance the experience for yourself and your baby are the most important things to know. 

While searching books online in the library catalog, I came across one search topic that led to another and led to another and led me to midwifery.  Mrs. Gaskin’s book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth popped up, it was available, it was placed on hold for my account, and the next day it was in my hands.  I simply had to make a late-day trip to the library that next evening just to get the book, because I felt like I couldn’t go another day without it.  After finishing it in a matter of days, I cannot believe that I ever gave birth without Ina May’s wisdom and reassurance.  The birth stories shared in this book are just incredible, but they’re only a small part of why Ina May Gaskin’s message is so reassuring, so encouraging and so empowering! 

Mrs. Gaskin understands childbirth, and she understands women.  She’s passionate about reforming maternity care and birth experiences, and it’s her dedication to this cause but also her love of the women who it directly impacts that make her a person who I cannot help but feel a connection to.  I didn’t know even half of what Ina May taught me through her Guide to Childbirth, and I barely knew anyone who raised the issues and presented the approach to childbirth that Ina May shared in her book.  When I say “barely” anyone, I feel that it’s because women simply aren’t encouraged to think too deeply about childbirth and are treated as patients – i.e. people in need of care and direction – instead of autonomous, thinking, feeling individuals who are the direct way that God brings his people into this world.  I am blessed to have some friends who are extremely knowledgeable about childbirth, and I just want them to know that I finally understand their enthusiasm and conviction in helping women achieve childbirth in all of its amazingness (hey, spell-checker lets me know that’s a word, and I’d use it anyway because nothing else fits quite as well!).

If you’ve read any of Ina May Gaskin’s books (such as Spiritual Midwifery), what did you think?  Have you used her teachings and stories to encourage you during your own pregnancy?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BAM!

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Alice chopping up her own mushrooms while Mommy made dinner. Play-dough knives have never seen such excitement!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rhubarb pie, finally

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My dad has told us all before that his grandmother used to give him rhubarb pie when he was a child.  I’d been planning on making it for at least a year, so I knew that it’d be on the menu for our pre-Memorial Day party.  A delicious rhubarb crumble pie was perfectly sweet and delicious for our family get-together, and it was a pretty good conversation piece, too:

Me: “How did your grandmom used to make it?”
My dad: “Make it?  I never said she made it.  She gave it to me.  (pause)  It was Tastycake.”
Ingredients for the pie:
  • 1 unbaked, 9 inch pie shell
  • 1.5 lbs of rhubarb stalks
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 3 tbsp of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
Ingredients for the topping:
  • 1/4 cup of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
The to-do:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the thawed (if frozen) pie shell according to package directions (I pre-bake mine like it always says).

Trim and rinse the rhubarb stalks.  Slice large stalks in half lengthwise and then slice them across into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces.  Combine sliced rhubarb and water in a medium saucepan.   In a small bowl, mix 3 tbsp of flour and 3/4 cup of sugar, stirring until well-blended.

Add this mixture to the rhubarb mixture in the saucepan.  Stir well and bring just a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover but leave the lid ajar so that steam can escape, and continue simmering for five minutes or until just tender.  Spoon filling into the pie shell.

Using your fingers, combine the topping ingredients until blended and crumbly.  Sprinkle over the top of the pie.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The point of a dress

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…isn’t to be beautiful. It’s to catch the mud while you play in the dirt. Who ever said polka dots couldn’t mingle with nature?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sisters sharing stories

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Rose is an excellent reader, and I’m so proud of her focus and her natural love of the written word and story-telling. Our daily Reading Workshop incorporates Guided Reading texts from the “My Father’s World” curriculum, which we keep running records for (below) and extend with a variety of activities.

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Alice learns so much from being a part of our homeschooling, as well, even when it’s not directly engaging her in Libby-aged activities. She’s memorized several of Rose’s readers and likes taking turns with her big sister and being “teacher”. (And the Dr. Seuss shirt is a nice homage to a love of reading, huh?)

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I pray that my children always share a love for learning and reading, especially filled with a fire for God’s Word and questions, thoughts and feelings about all that He has done, is doing, and will do.

Just a day in the life…

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Just hanging around…in a boat…in the family room.


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Just scooting…around the neighborhood.


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Just bike-riding…and poppin’ wheelies…with Dad’s help.


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Just battling…foam-style.


Just life…blessed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Breaking news!

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ALICE CAN PROPERLY CUT WITH SCISSORS!

She was very pleased with herself, and perhaps not a little bit sort of surprised.

(Posting a bit late – this late-breaking development occurred in February)

Grilled cheese sandwiches and semantics

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Me: “Alice, do you want a whole or a half a sandwich?”

Alice: “Whole.”

A good day to teach about homophones!

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Rose: “I want a hole, too”.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Migration

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These little chickadees aren’t so smiley because they’re heading south for the little bit of winter that’s left (though a nice tropical vacay would never be a bad idea!). God has blessed us immensely with not only a baby but also a new SUV with three rows of seats to tote around three (and hopefully more!) children, as well as a new house! (Again, to contain, um, “nurture”, many children!)

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After we found out that we were expecting a third baby, we put a contingent deposit down on another new construction home just a few minutes away. Unlike the last time we sold our house, we were amazingly blessed with an excellent realtor who not only is super great at her job but really cares about her clients. We were hooked up with a wonderful new mortgage person and an incredibly sweet and helpful homebuilder representative. God’s provision wasn’t only evident in our home being on the market for just two months this time, but His goodness has been shining in all of the people we’ve been blessed to work with as His plans for our family took shape.

We are moving from a 1056 square foot new construction townhome to another new construction one that’s double that plus more including a super big basement…Eagles football room, say what? (That’s all the husband needed!)

What did I need? Storage space (no basement right now!) and room for my kiddos to run around to their little energetic hearts’ bliss – and not give me 5,000 daily heart palpitations as they almost knock their heads into tables and other pointy things that homes only seem to have so many of when little craniums are involved. Somehow, though, I think that their cabezas will still pick up the gravitational pull of side table corners no matter how much space they have. (You can see them practicing their sprints in the new house’s family room in the picture above)

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The garage steps during our pre-settlement walk-through and a precursor of what’s – who’s! – to come. I especially like how the girls’ shoes are all piled on top of their daddy’s. I think we can all see who runs the show!

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After visiting our new house last week and walking through it with a construction representative in preparation for our settlement on April 1 (hooray!), it was a must that we stop at Starbucks for their free cake pop with a beverage purpose. Tiramisu, yum!

Shh…just don’t mention this to Dunkin!

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Later on that day I found Alice (and then Rose) helping one of her baby dolls heal from a rash (note to self: don’t leave Vasoline on a low table…well, it is creative play, so maybe…)

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After a day of feeling God’s provision, love and faithfulness all around us and reflecting on just how far He’s brought us as a family and how much more we can serve Him, we gave thanks around a delicious pierogie casserole.

An awesome God, incredible family, wonderful friends and happy, full bellies (this lady’s with more than just food) = gratitude. I’ve been through rough times with houses in the future – this is our third one that we’ve owned, and each has been a big step up from the last thanks to Jesus – and I just felt that the Lord laid it upon my heart to share our joy and our thankfulness in His provision by emphasizing in this post that it was not anything earthly that sold our house, gave us our new one or that will make it a home for our family. Ed and I have always raised our family operating on the belief that God will take care of our financial, personal and physical needs if we allow Him to. Is it easy? No, of course not! But is it terribly difficulty? No way. God continues to lovingly refine our hearts so that we want His Kingdom and His desires instead of this world’s fleeting, shiny, showy “stuff”. God has provided for us again and again, and I pray that He is the realtor in your corner, the backer of your finances, and the neighbor right next door.

Heck (‘scuse me!), I pray that God is the house you were living in. Physical walls not required.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

“I love coffee. I a mom!”

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Alice's words, exactly. 

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(Dollhouse teacup and candy stuck to her chin)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Boneless buffalo wings

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So delish and a whole lot healthier than ordering out.  I found this recipe in Redbook where it’s touted as being as good as Chili’s boneless buffalo wings appetizer but with half the calories (about 1200 in Chili’s and approximately 700 in these – based on my recipe modification, 550 for Redbook’s original recipe).  I whipped some up for the Superbowl for my hubby and I to share.  We needed some sort of consolation since our Eagles weren’t in it!
What you’ll need:
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (recipe called for whole wheat but I used regular)
  • 2 tsp each of cayenne pepper (in spice section of grocery store) and salt
  • 2 whites from large eggs
  • 6 tbsp of hot red pepper sauce (such as Frank’s or Tabasco)
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breat, cut into 30 pieces
  • 1/2 c of canola oil (Redbook asked only for 2 tbsp but I wanted these babies done)
  • 2 tsp of unsalted butter
The to-do:
In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine the flour, breadcrumbs, cayenne and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat egg white and 1 tbsp of the red pepper sauce.
Dip chicken pieces into egg mixture, then in flour mixture to coat.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add half the chicken and cook, 4-5 minutes each (flipping and stirring), until browned.  Remove from skillet and set aside, covering loosely with foil to keep warm.  Cook the rest of the chicken.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, heat the remaining hot sauce and butter until melted; add cooked chicken to the bowl, tossing to coat.
Makes 4 entrée or 8 appetizer servings

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just a typical day

Daddy coming in to dinner inside of a children's play tunnel.
At least no one's playing with their food.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Planned Parenthood

"I can't do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I'm not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn't he?" (John 5:30-33)

I am a blessed mother of two small girls, two and four-years-old, who fill my life with a lot of happiness, creativity, loudness, frenzy and love. Loudness and frenzy aren't so bad when wrapped up in little packages of golden-red hair, peachy skin and baby blue eyes. I was so fulfilled with my princesses and with the busy, social whirlwind of a life that I'd allowed fears about the future to cloud my trust in the Lord. How? I began to seek control of the future, something that God repeatedly tells us not to even concern ourselves with, and my heart suffered.

I couldn't figure out the reason for suddenly feeling so low. I had a joyful, healthy family, great girlfriends and a loving, fun husband. Something inside gnawed at me, though. I couldn't shake a feeling of wanting more, needing more, but knowing that it wasn't connected to anything earthly that I could attain for myself. I've always been a believer in God's provision and He's been taking care of my family since he began it. I want to live to please Him, honor Him and help others to come into His arms and be loved, as well. However, there was a major wall building up in between my Savior and I, and it all had to do with, gasp, children!

When my husband and I first began our family, I wanted a whole mess of kids. Granted, I hadn't even had one yet and smile at my former self, realizing now that you really must take things one child at a time. Still, we were thrilled when our Alice joined Rose and we had two darling daughters to love and raise as best friends in the Lord. After Alice, I immediately began wrestling with whether or not I wanted more children. In a different world - one where I was more patient, didn't crave so much alone/me time and wasn't afraid to have a son (it's a girl's world at my house!) I would have oodles more kids. A gaggle. A football team (and with the way the Eagles season ended, maybe I should start staffing their future...). What I needed to remember, and what that Lord brought me back to resting in, is that His ways are best.

My husband and I have never prevented pregnancy since our first daughter was born, knowing that His will for our family is of the highest importance. Face it, I'm a terrible planner (I can't even remember to get ketchup when I've known for a month that we're low) and God's super awesome at it. He can be in charge. Why was I struggling so hard to assume control for myself? Now, I'm not opposed to limiting your family size. Quite the opposite. I believe in listening to what the Lord is telling each and every one of us in regard to our children, ourselves, our lives. No one else hears the voice of the Lord speaking directly to her heart like you will, because God speaks lovingly, confidently and personally to every single one of us. Our relationship with Him is so special and intimate. My problem was that I was trying to push away His voice.

He was telling me to wait, be patient (my worst skill - and it is a skill because it must be honed and practiced), trust in His provision and His ways. It's one thing to pray to God to direct you, and it's another to actually obey when he says to park it in your RV and wait for him to acquire satellites on your GPS. I'm much more of a "drive-around-even-though-I'm-lost" kinda girl. Even though I kept wondering, pondering and praying about whether or not to have more children, I never lost sight that God was the one in true control. My husband and I could never bring ourselves to prevent another child if it was his will. Even though I kept seeing life in the future with just the four of us, there was always that blurred image in the center of the mental photograph that I kept imagining. Was it our next child? Was it just an illusion of my own mind? Why was I caring so much when this child may never even have been meant to be born? Maybe two children was it for us? Stress, stress, stress. It may seem so unnecessary to worry about whether or not you're going to have a third child, but that concern was directly tied into what God needed to change in me: take the future out of my hands and remind me that it had never been in them at all.

What changed for me? I got pregnant. I was blessed with a pregnancy. Total shock? Yes! I was completely surprised, though my husband wasn't and had suspected it already. How can men do that? I shouldn't have been so thrown, though, since I became pregnant in the same time frame as when we found out that we were expecting Alice after Rose. Still, you never know when God will create life in your womb, and, just like Sarah the wife of Abraham, you need to trust in His timing. Now my husband, daughters and I are expecting a new Child of God in our family this summer and we are thrilled to pieces! I used to pray that I would learn to be calm if God gave us another child, and I should've known that I was pregnant because the week that I found out I experienced the most abnormal sense of peacefulness. I'm an energetic, go-getting lady, so contentment for me? Peacefulness? Fleeting moments of those two, sure, but a whole attitude? Yes. Now. Finally!

I didn't realize just how much that bigger family still meant to me until God gave us this gift. I didn't understand that what was driving me crazy from the inside was the person who I am - the girl that God created - desiring to refocus on Him, and only on Him, again. Having another child, one that God surprised us with creating, is more than a blessing. It's a salvation. I pray that for this child, and all of my children, I can help to return the favor.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tiny people, big hearts









"Did you ever see a man sitting in his own orchard with the trees (which he planted with his own hand) pouring down their ripened fruit upon him, and he and his children and his grandchildren rejoicing in its beauty? That is the picture of a man who took the truth and planted it, and now he is sitting under the boughs that overarch him. His days are happy and his life is full of joy and usefulness."  (Author Unknown)