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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

baby three.

Another baby grows in my belly. Our third. Likely our last. One final tie-breaker blondie.
Since having Finola nearly four years ago I really struggled with whether or not we should have another.  I went through periods of depression.  Anxiety with two tiny babies, whose lives I fear for and pray over ever single day.  Insecurity about my ability to raise our kids well.  Frustration about the messiness and lack of control that comes with motherhood.

So for several years I prayed to God for clarity.  None came.  I thought maybe I would come across a "calling" in the meantime that would move my focus from pregnancy to something else fulfilling.  A career outside the home?  Fostering?  A side business?  A specific direction to take this blog?

No "calling" presented itself.  Well, except the call to change a lot about myself.  I wrote in this post about the spiritual and mental changes that happened in 2016.  I think God really needed me to change some things about how I deal with my emotions before I could even begin to think about another baby.  I needed to deal with (eliminate) some sources of stress, and let go of certain things I could not change.  He wanted me closer to Him, and more focused upon what really matters.

Hubby and I discussed the probability of another baby at least once a week for three years. Sometimes I was adamant it was a "no."  Sometimes I would feel our family simply wasn't complete. Other times I jealously didn't want to give my attention to another child.  Hubby, for his part, also waffled a bit but always said he would be happy either way.  (Smart man.)

For me it was a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions and jumbled prayers.

Finally, around the holidays we made a "decision."  I put that in quotes because I think it was more that we just got tired of talking about it.  We decided to stop "preventing" but also to not try to obsessively pinpoint my specific ovulation days.  To just give it up to God and say whatever will be will be.  Lord, if you want this for us, your will be done.  If not, we will be okay with that, too.  

There was a lot of relief and freedom in just giving it over to Him.

In my heart I thought, Clearly God will say I'm not able to handle another!

However, lo and behold, not long after we returned from our post-Christmas trip to Minnesota I was a day late with my period.  With trepidation I quickly took a pregnancy test that night right before dinner.

Positive - immediately.  Of course I was excited -- but a nervous excitement!  There was no ceremony when I told Paul the news.  The kids were running around wild + screaming after we finished eating, and Hubby was still sitting there - so I just slid the test across the island to him and said, "Guess what!"

That was at four weeks.  Now I'm fourteen weeks and while I won't go into all the minute details of my first trimester as I've done on this blog in the past, I will say that this pregnancy has been almost identical to the previous two - SUPER nauseous all day every day from week six through week twelve.   Had to eat constantly, or I felt like I had to vomit.  Nothing sounded appetizing, so basically I ate whatever sounded tolerable.  Almost like clockwork at twelve weeks I started feeling better - at least able to enjoy eating again and prepare food without feeling like I was going to yack.

What is different this time I have two kiddos experiencing it right alongside me...and man, are they excited!  We shared the news with them on Valentine's Day -- tying in the 'day of love' with what we love...our little family, including their new sib!

Before we shared the news I kinda thought they already knew...I wasn't really making great effort to hide my discomfort and growing belly - which started popping MUCH earlier this time.  I felt like I was constantly saying to them, "Be careful of Mama's belly - please don't jump on it!" without really explaining why all of a sudden bouncing on my tummy was discouraged.

Despite all that, the kids seemed surprised and REALLY happy!  Phew!  I was nervous a bit about Finola feeling displaced as the baby (like I did when my younger bro came along) but she seems over-the-moon!  She randomly exclaims, "I can't wait to meet our baby!"  Cormac, not surprisingly, is constantly talking to the baby (my belly) and telling him/her EVERYTHING.  Already he wants this child to be influenced by his strong opinions.  Mainly, it must like "villains" and the color green.

Finola, rather than chattering loudly to my belly, whispers to it almost inaudibly.  Perhaps they are sisters already telling secrets?

Of course, I know anything can happen.  I'm trying to just remind myself every day of what we have, that God has plans greater than mine, and to pray for this baby just like I do for the others.

It is a delicate balance of worry and joy.

Here are the few 'bump shots' I have.  I meant to take cute "announcement pics" with my DSLR - but, as with probably everything else with the third child my best intentions went out the window!  From one third child to another -- sorry baby, but you may need to get used to it!
six weeks.  baby or post-chipotle?

Eight weeks. 
Getting bigger!  Twelve weeks - visiting my sis in MT. 
Our family is excited for this next chapter in our lives -- and appreciate any prayers (and advice) for being a family of five!

Friday, March 10, 2017

montana weekend

As write this, I sit in an airport, as I have many times before, collecting my thoughts at the end of a visit with my sister and her family in Montana.

Okay, sometimes it was a train station, me in my early twenties, young and wild and free, traveling by rail from my home state of Minnesota across the monotonous plains of northern North Dakota and eastern Montana.  Then suddenly the drear landscape transformed, as though by magic, into the mountains of Glacier National Park, finally coming to a stop in Whitefish, a beautiful ski resort town near where my sister lives.

I consider it a blessing that my sister accepted a God-calling to be a teacher in Montana, fresh out of college.  I don't know if I would have ever gotten to experience this state (albeit in short weekend spurts) otherwise.

I try to visit her, her husband, and their four amazing kiddos at least once a year now, despite having a family of my own and having moved in the opposite direction - Kentucky.

It wouldn't matter what state she lived in, as I've always adored my big sis and would make that effort no matter what...but the fact that she lives in such a beautiful place sure doesn't hurt.

This most recent visit was short and sweet, arriving super late Thursday night and leaving at noon on Sunday, but worth it to reconnect with family.

I wish I would have snapped more pics, but so it goes! Here are the few I got...
I loved that these two could get into silly selfies.  It helped me not miss my own little ones so much.
I got to see my sister's new house!  So much charm!
Another kitchen shot.  Love this verse.  Oh, and Heidi, we need to drink more wine to acquire more corks. ;)
Dinner out with the family Friday night!  I admire their bravery of taking four lil ones out to a restaurant!
I taught Selah about Instagram Story...and she loved decorating some pics!
Finola would be proud of her cuz!
Logan got in on the action.
this pizza was amazing even as leftovers the next day.
More IG Story selfies.
We drove up to Blacktail Ski Lodge and hung out for a while, meeting up with Brian and Logan who had a father/son snowboarding date.
visibility of the mountains was not great, but the snow was beautiful!


I ended my visit with church with the fam, and then it was immediately off to the airport, where now I sit, thankful for another opportunity to spend time with my sister in the beautiful state of Montana.

+ + + + + + +

P.S...

I am definitely wearing mascara in this random selfie, but I noticed that perhaps my R+F Lash Boost is starting to work???!!!!
And lastly: one of the things I adore about any kind of traveling is that I make more time for reading.  I was able to read several books on this trip! Two of which I highly recommend : Mitch Albom's The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel - SO GOOD if you are looking for a lovely and engaging fictional novel.  I basically blazed through this whole thing while traveling there, it was such a page-turner. Also, got really close to finishing The Magnolia Storywhile at my sister's.  I ran out of time so missed the last few chapters but I was taken aback by the cool story and amazing witness of this book.  Truly a couple who trusts in God and gives Him the glory!
Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Friday, February 10, 2017

stitch fix : february fix!

(Note : This post contains affiliate links.)
This week I got my very first Fix of 2017!
Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that I have been using for almost three years now.  I can honestly say it has transformed my style - by helping me figure out what my style truly is - and also saved me considerable money on fashion by eliminating the need/desire to spend time shopping at a million different stores, or buying a bunch of cheap pieces that I only sort of like and don't hold up very well.

Let's just say I have donated a LOT of clothing to Goodwill over the past few years...and it wasn't anything I got from Stitch Fix!

This time around I had a brand new stylist, Blake Lindsey, and she did an amazing job! 

Here is what I got...

#1 Quincie Keyhole Ribbed Back Knit Top (by Ink Love & Peace)
#2 Kiley Ankle Zip Legging (by Rune)
I think my stylists at Stitch Fix have caught on to the fact that I love heather gray.  Probably I could wear plain old heather gray every single day.  This tee is more of a tunic which works great with the leggings.  I like that it is a hi-low cut, and that the top is more fitted, leaving the rest to hang in a flattering (not boxy) way.  The keyhole detail in the back is an added bonus!   I know I will wear this versatile top a lot - so it was a definite keep!

The leggings are a keep as well!  I usually just buy super cheapo black yoga leggings at Target...but they inevitably get little holes in them after only a few wears.  Ugh!  I wanted a pair that would hold up better, with thicker material, and some sort of fun detail.   I actually was hoping for a pair with some leather detail on them, but the ankle zipper on these is really fun, too!  

#3 Carenza Faux Wrap Jersey Dress (by Gilli)
This faux wrap dress (it doesn't really "un-wrap" but simply looks like a wrap) is so lovely! This fit perfectly on absolutely every body part -- arms, bust, butt and the just-below-the-knee length is modest and flattering for us short gals with ample hips and thighs. I wanted to keep this, but the pattern didn't excite me.  It sort of reminded me of something nautical, with the navy and white.  I just don't do nautical.  So - return!

#4 Kramer V-Neck Pullover (by Mak)

Pale blush pink is absolutely one of my favorite colors to wear.  Pretty and flattering to pretty much any skin tone.  So the color of this piece was perfect, but the style fell flat for me.  It was just a simple, soft, v-neck sweater.  Very comfortable, but very blah for me.  I loved it with my ripped jeans and nude stacked heels...but everything else I tried it on with was just meh.  Plus, it was sort of awkward in the fit.  So it was a return.

#5 Clarnella Cold Shoulder Top (by JELLA C)

You know I love the cold-shoulder trend -- so I was excited to be sent another!  I had requested a dark floral top, and I found this one to be exactly what I was looking for.  I think the dark florals are moody yet so feminine.  This one has the ruffle and is longer and flowy, making it super romantic.  I really wasn't in need of another dressy top at all...but I couldn't resist keeping this one!

So there it is - my first Fix of the year!  I couldn't be more please with three pieces I know I will love wearing.

Have you tried Stitch Fix yet?  It has saved me so much time and effort by not having to scour boutiques during my limited free time, or battle crowds at the mall, or try on a million things at Target for maybe one that I like.

I have fewer items in my wardrobe now, but more that I truly love wearing!  For me that is a win!

Stitch Fix arrives when you want it to, with items hand-picked for you based on your style profile and requests to your stylist.  If you are interested, you can get started by clicking the link below or any of the links in this post!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

dad turns seventy // our time in mn

On Christmas Day we started our drive to Minnesota, my home state, to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday.We decided to just pack up and leave a day early so that we could break up the twelve hour drive and stop at a hotel with the kids.

Cormac : I like hotels, Mom.  Not because of the pool.  Because of the cool furniture and beds!

We all enjoyed our night swimming in a ridiculously warm pool, with apparently "cool" furniture and beds and then arrived the next afternoon at my parents' farm.

This is the same farm where I grew up from age eight to eighteen - amidst woods, "pet" sheep, misbehaving cows, and farm cats.  It is always nice to be able to go back to that space and regain a sense of myself that gets lost sometimes in my far-away adult world : the kid, the dreamer, the romanticist.

The farm is beautiful and private, and I think my parents appreciate the property now more than ever. The grandkids can visit and roam and we can can all remember what it was like to be so free.

A few years ago my dad built a playhouse out of the wood from our huge red barn that had blown over in a fierce storm.  The barn has actually been reincarnated in all our homes - as a fireplace mantle, a coffee table, beams in the kitchen, and art.  But the playhouse always is a central focus for the grandkids when they visit the farm.  Grandpa heating water on the wood stove for hot chocolate, making snow cones flavored with Kool-Aid, the play kitchen, the loft, the pulley, all their measurements and handprints on the wall...things they will remember as they get older.
the playhouse
For his birthday celebration Dad didn't want a big party, but just all of us together at the farm.  My brothers both still live close-by, but my sister and her family traveled from Montana, and we, of course, drove from Kentucky.  We all see each other maybe once or twice a year, if we are lucky...so this was special time.

Our little fam stayed at a hotel in town, but drove out each morning after breakfast to spend the rest of the day and evening at the farm.  Our kids basically got to stay up until 10pm every night during the trip, running around like crazy with their cousins and stealing sweets (or, in Finola's case, "flat cheese") pretty much all day long.  It should have been a complete nightmare, with the kids being somewhat sleep-deprived and sugar-loaded,  but somehow it worked out okay and we all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

We celebrated Dad by all going to a little restaurant nestled by a frozen lake.  Oh, yes -- there was plenty of snow on our visit!  A treat for us "southerners!"  

The dinner out was loud and warm and tasty, ending with us singing Happy Birthday while Grandpa was served an ice cream sundae.  He shared it with all the kids, and then we headed back to the farm for another dessert and present opening.  Dad received books and a whole lot of beer - two of his favorite things!

We treasured our time there, arriving home New Years Eve with tired kids and the same Christmas mess we had left.  Totally worth it.

Here are some of photos I got from our trip...
The kids brought their backpacks which they had packed with toys and art supplies -- travel lifesaver!
Finola shares my love of cheese, clearly.
My sister Heidi helping Cormac write one of his "books." 

obviously we all love to rock our hats!
Grandma getting some snuggles with Finola.  Sometimes you just have to grab her face and kiss it!
A frozen lake is a thing of beauty - at least if you're a Minnesotan.
kid table!
we never take our kids to restaurants if we can help it.  I am surprised at how well this went!
the birthday guy enjoyed some lobster tails.
A happy man -- with seven of his eight grandchildren (Finola refused photos at that time.) 
Dad with his kids!
Mom and Dad
Finola appeared suddenly as soon as ice cream appeared.
In fact, all the kids wanted a taste.
Grandpa shared willingly - even though he has always had quite a sweet tooth.
I love this pic I snapped for my Instagram story!
my kids weren't huge fans of the snow or cold.  they mostly had to be towed on a sled or carried.
everyone went on a family walk around the woods for some fresh air!





this is my happy place - right here.
sledding on the cornfields

Finola helped the guys make breakfast our last day there.

cracking eggs (her newest skill) with Grandpa


We made our way home the day before NYE, stopping halfway at one of those hotels with an indoor water park.  The hotel was pretty bad...but the kids loved the wave pool and slides -- so I'll count it as a win!

Here is the video of us singing Happy Birthday to my dad.  It was a treasured week of family time.