About Me

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I love Jesus. I love my family. I love photography. I love books. I love thinking. Probably in that order. I have a wonderful husband, five beautiful daughters, a house, and a camera. I enjoy spending time talking to my husband, playing with my girls, redecorating my house and shooting things with my camera. In my spare time, I sleep.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Photos of Kira at One Week Old

So I took some photos of Kira last week and posted them on my photography blog.  Hop on over to check them out!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My girls in costume...

Even though we don't really celebrate Halloween...the girls LOVE playing dress up.  So even though we don't go trick-or-treating, they still pick out a costume every year at Goodwill.  This year we ended up with a cowgirl, a pirate & a pumpkin.  And I just had to get some photos!  ;)   Aren't they the cutest?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Because He Lives...

One year ago.

It was one year ago today that I experienced a miscarriage at 12 weeks.

And here I am today holding a sweet new baby girl--who was born a year (almost to the day) after I found out that my 4th baby had no heartbeat.

It's bittersweet looking back.  How can I be sad for my loss while holding this sweet child who could never have been had it not been for that loss?  Yet how can I not be sad when I think of the child that once existed inside me but never made it to my arms?  God clearly used that time in my life to reveal more of Himself to me and now my challenge is to hang on to the good and the Truth of who God is in spite of the hard things in this life and not give way to the fear that tries to bubble up and take me over.

A week after my miscarriage last year, I attended a worship service at my church.  A couple of the songs we sang that night, now will always point me back to my lost baby and the way God was with me through that experience.  Yesterday at church, we sang one of those songs, the hymn  "Because He Lives".  And in those minutes God's love hovered ever so close...reminding me of the journey from where I was last year...to where I am now.

Because He Lives I could face tomorrow.  And because He lives there is always Hope.  And Fear has only the power that I allow it to have.

          Because He Lives
God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives! ait
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kira's Birth Story

Kira has arrived!!  She was born on Oct. 13th at 11:59 pm.  She weighed 7 lb, 1 oz and was 20" long.  And absolutely beautiful!

At 39 weeks along according to my Oct. 17th due date, I was beginning to really anticipate birth.  I was still feeling kinda distant from the reality of giving birth and having a newborn so soon but since I knew it was coming I embraced the anticipation and began looking for signs of impending labor.  At my last OB appointment my midwife said that I was at 4cm and then on Wednesday I showed signs of losing my mucous plug and bloody show.  Everyone I talked to said "It's going to be soon and it's going to happen fast."  I was hoping they were correct but I was much more skeptical.  On Thursday evening I began to have some mild contractions time-able between 5-10 minutes apart.  Russ watched a movie while I slept next to him, hoping this would be it.  I made it through the night with the contractions mostly gone by morning.

I had these same contractions on and off all day Friday.  Friday afternoon they got a bit stronger and while on the phone with my mom we timed them at 5-6 minutes apart.  My mom started getting super excited and was saying that this was it.  I remembered the night before and wasn't about to call this the real deal yet.  But Mom called my sister and soon Jill was calling me to ask if I wanted her & her husband to take the girls for the night.  I warned her that I wasn't convinced yet that this was the time but figured that if it was it would be so much easier not having to worry about the kids in the middle of the night.  So off the girls went to their Aunt & Uncle's house.  The contractions held pretty steady but didn't get any stronger or any closer together.  Knowing my regular ob/midwife was out of town for the entire weekend and not knowing if this was the real deal I went ahead and called the hospital at about 10 pm to get some advice.  I found out the doctor on call was the doctor that my chiropractor had advised me to stay away from and so when this particular md told me to give it more time and try to get some sleep, I felt better about doing so.  I slept and woke up the next morning in my own bed without the contractions ever getting any worse.

It was nice waking up to a quiet, child free home for a change.  Although I felt kinda bad about my kids staying with my sister all night when I wasn't even in labor.  Russ & I enjoyed a quiet morning.  We slept in, ate some breakfast, and then headed to the mall to do some walking (since it was drizzly & cold outside) hoping to help labor along.  After the mall, we ate lunch at an actual sit-down restaurant and simply enjoyed each other's company.  :)  We stopped in to check on the kids and decide what to do about them for the rest of the evening.  They were glad to see us but in the end we decided that they may as well spend another night with Jill.  We came home and I ate a piece of toast and the contractions started again.  This time a little stronger.

Russ and I started watching a movie and the contractions were definitely getting more painful but weren't any closer together.  They averaged between 5-10 minutes.  Half way through the movie at about 8:30 pm I decided that I didn't want to wait anymore and let it get later & later.  I decided to at least go to the birth center and see where I was with everything and go from there.  I also knew that the on-call doctor was someone I felt better about seeing.  Russ took a shower while I finished packing up.  I called my mom & sister to let them know that we were heading to the hospital and out the door we went.

We got to the hospital sometime around 9 o'clock.  One of the nurses, 'Michelle', (one of the best nurses I've ever had, btw.) got us settled in the room, asked all the usual questions and checked me.  She said I was still around a 4, maybe a 5 and then she contacted the ob about what to do.  She had me walk around the hospital for 45 minutes (until 10 pm) to see if the contractions got any stronger and if I dilated anymore.  Russ & I walked the circle around the birth center so many times.  It almost felt silly walking in circles for so long. I started singing paraphrases of the 'Soul Coughing' song.  "They told me to walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in circles."  :)

At 10 pm, Michelle checked me again and then had another nurse check.  They concluded that I was probably close to a 6 so I got to stay.  They officially checked me in, got me an id bracelet, an IV, and set up the room for a delivery.  The on-call doctor came by and introduced herself and checked me.  Then, at my okay, she broke my water.   I expected the contractions to immediately get worse but it actually seemed to take a bit before things got going again after that.  But got going they did.

My contractions slowly began to get worse.  I had Russ give me my Ipod so I could listen to some worship music to distract me during the strengthening contractions.  This was pretty effective.  One of the first few songs I listened to was "Be Still and Know" by Steven Curtis Chapman and that was exactly the kind of song I needed to calm my nerves and get my mind back in the right place.   If I concentrated on the songs, I found the pain much more bearable.  Michelle kept asking how I was doing and requested that I let her know if I felt any need to push.  I went to the bathroom and we joked about me not having a toilet baby.  I started feeling like I wanted to push and upon checking was told I was still only at an 8 and should resist any urge to push during the next few contractions.  This happened again and then she suggested I lie on my side for a couple contractions and then she'd check again.  After two painful contractions on my side I became insistant on pushing and almost started to freak out a little.  I was ready and it was pushing time.

They got the bed "set-up" for pushing which was extremely uncomfortable for me but I was in no position to do much about anything.  The doctor & several nurses were there and Russ was to my right and the pushing began.  I pushed through one contraction when they took my Ipod away so that they wouldn't get it all gooey when they went to put the baby on my chest later.  It was funny that I had been listening to music the whole time but didn't necessarily realize what a difference it made until they took it away and I could only hear the medical bustle of the room.  Michelle was the only voice I remember hearing as she encouraged me & counted through the 10 pushes it took to bring my baby into the world.  My experience in having children really helped me this time around I noticed because in those moments of pushing when I felt so much pain & felt like I just wanted to quit because I felt like I needed to breathe or take a break, I would remind myself that if I could just hold out a tiny bit longer then I may very well be finished and be done with all of it that much sooner.   This was one of my last thoughts as I suffered through that 10th push that caused Kira to be born just seconds shy of midnight.  It makes me laugh to think that if I had given into those desperate thoughts of needing to take a breather in the midst of pushing, perhaps my baby would have been born on the 14th instead of the 13th.  :)

They did a very quick wipe down and put the baby on my chest for some skin-to-skin time.   And then they waited a minute (per our request) before clamping the cord and having Russ cut it.  I was still very uncomfortable. Delivering the placenta helped relieve some of the discomfort but even after that-- my back hurt, my legs hurt, my uterus and other parts hurt so it was hard to really concentrate on the beautiful little baby on my chest.  The one thing I remember most about her was how purple her head and face were and how blue her fingers were.  And I was amazed at how perfectly pretty her short dark hair was on her beautifully shaped head.

It was a new experience getting the skin-to-skin time.  It was new procedure for our hospital that they began incorporating some time since I gave birth 3 years ago.  They put her naked little body still with residual goo on my chest and just left us alone while they cleaned up the room.  Russ called my mom and let her know that Kira had been born.  I did my best to snuggle up with my naked little baby and soak in the reality of it all.  Eventually she nursed for the first time and I was ready to give her over and get myself cleaned up and feeling better.  (Mostly because I thought I was gonna pee myself if I didn't get up soon!)  I don't know how long I held her but I loved how much more laid back the whole experience was.  No rushing, no poking & prodding my baby until after I had had a chance to bond for awhile.  Such a contrast to the way things happened with the others.

So it was at this time that they finally weighed & measured the baby while I got up went to the bathroom and took a partial shower.  Russ stuck close to the baby while I was busy taking care of me.  The NICU nurse came in and did a health assessment and declared Kira perfectly healthy.  They got her all "checked in" and tagged.  And then one of the student nurses came and gave her her first bath.  In all of these things, Kira was never removed from the room.  Her temp was a little low so they had her rest on the warmer for awhile before they would move us into our recovery room.  While we waited to be moved I ate a Lara bar to help quench my extreme hunger from having skipped supper.

It was sometime around 2:30 am (I think) when we were moved into room 163 for the duration of our stay and said goodbye to our wonderful delivery nurse, Michelle.  We spent an hour mooning over Kira before Russ decided to get some sleep.  I stayed up a bit waiting for our new nurse to come in and take our 4 am vitals.  Ended up only getting about 2 1/2 hours of sleep total that night.

When I woke up on Sunday morning and held my Kira, it was crazy for me to think about God's timing in bringing this sweet little girl into my life.  October 14th, 2011 was the day that I found out that my other baby had no heartbeat and would inevitably be miscarried.  And October 14th, 2012 was the day I first got to enjoy Kira.  God is good and my baby is beautiful!  :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Maternity Photos

The time is drawing near for my little baby to be born.  I'm 38 weeks along now and counting down the days until go time.  Last month my brother's wife...my wonderful sister-in-law, Sarah, took time out of her schedule to take some maternity pics for me.  I wanted to share a few while they are still relevant and this blog isn't filled up with baby talk & pics.  ;)

Friday, September 7, 2012

What's up with us...

So...it's been awhile.  That's what happens when you're pregnant, I guess.  And it's hot.  And you have three other little kids.  And you're always tired.  And there is always laundry to do, and meals to fix, and pillows to keep company.  Etcetera.  ;)

These last couple months have really zoomed by.  After my grandfather's funeral in July, we celebrated Independence Day with friends, family & food.  No fireworks though.  Just sparklers 'cause it was just too dry in these parts to take the risk.  And since then...I don't think we've had a single real rain cloud.  So sad.  So hot.  So dry.   In fact, just last weekend my hometown area was just surrounded in out-of-control fires that were caused by dry lightning.  Five homes were lost and thousands of acres burned.  In fact, fire came withing yards of my childhood best friend's parent's home where I spend a great deal of my growing up years!  Thankfully, the fires seem to be mostly contained at this point but the lack of rain really has been a HUGE problem this summer.  :(

Mid-July I escaped my husband & kids for a weekend and attended Hills Alive Music Festival in SD with my parents.  That was kind of a nice little break.  I got to enjoy MercyMe & TobyMac interrupted only by the calls of my ever shrinking bladder and not by tired, sweaty children.   And I got to do a little thrift store shopping.  I was actually surprised that my parents we as accommodating to this as they were.  Overall it was a pleasant weekend.

In August, my cousin got married and I got to be the photographer at the wedding.  It was fun but totally exhausting.  Especially at 7 months pregnant.  I could barely move the next day I was so sore and tired!  I still have some editing to do for them but I posted a few on my other blog HERE to keep them from getting too impatient with me.

It was about this time that Acacia up & decided that she had had enough of diapers and began using the potty full time.  It seemed so sudden to me!  We bought her a little package of panties and she has been doing great!  Only one real accident to speak of.  Completely dry through the nights!  I am one happy mama.  :)

Russ & I also celebrated our 9th anniversary on August 16th.  Didn't get to do anything much.  Russ was working out of town and didn't get home until late so we ate at Pizza Hut with the kids on our actual anniversary.  But we got to go out to a nice place alone a couple weeks earlier so we didn't feel too cheated.

Russ has been working on our bathroom remodel.  We started tearing it apart over a year ago and it is finally almost finished.  Just a few more tiles and some grouting and I may actually have a shower upstairs again.  And now it is BEAUTIFUL!  You'll get the full before & after when it is finally officially "after".  :)

I am at 34 weeks in my pregnancy now.  Getting more awkward by the day!  Was in full-on nesting mode last week trying to get the house as absolutely organized as possible.  Purging anything that was not necessary.  Lot of trash & trips to Goodwill.  Even sold a few things on Facebook.  It's weird though, because I don't feel at all like I'm going to be bringing home a newborn in just a few short weeks.  I haven't had to buy anything for this baby since we've been told it's probably another girl and all the basics are covered.  We haven't got a room ready for her, no crib set up or anything, 'cause we know from experience that baby will spend at least the first six weeks (possibly months) in our room.  So we put the pack & play in the corner there which is just randomly filled with everything we think we'll use during those first weeks.  Not exactly "welcome home" friendly yet.  In addition to feeling like a real baby is kind of an ethereal concept and not a fact I should be getting practically prepared for. I have also been experiencing some crazy issues with heart palpitations and shortness of breath which has led to other symptoms such as extreme weakness & pain in my upper arms and legs.  It's something I've experienced before but the symptoms have never been this pronounced. When it happens, I feel just awful and have to just lie down until it passes.  Hard to be productive when you feel too weak to stand and you have to lie down all the time!   When I almost passed out in the ob's office they finally started taking me seriously.  Add on to this a family history of atrial fib and Wolff-Parkinson-White and they ordered a Holter monitor test.  BUT since I am a self-pay patient, the hospital is waiting on payment plan/help confirmation before they will administer the test.  At this point, I'm thinking it's all pretty pointless anyway.  I had an EKG when I was pregnant with Acacia that found nothing, and what are they going to do if they did find something this time anyway?  I'm having a baby in less than 6 weeks! 

On top of everything else the school year has begun and I'm attempting my third year of homeschooling in the midst of all of this craziness!  Not only am I teaching Eden who is now in 2nd grade but I've also started Jasmine on Kindergarten.  I wanted to start a little early this year since I know I'll be taking a break mid-October when the baby is born, but now that I've started, I'm not very worried about keeping caught up.  The girls are getting their work done much more quickly then I had anticipated, so I don't think those crazy sleep-deprived couple of weeks in October are going to set us back too significantly.  Praise God!  Jasmine is picking the routine up quite well.  We are currently in review of stuff she knows very well already so it seems super easy to her and is a good way to get her used to daily work.  She doesn't enjoy the handwriting practice very much and (as with everything else) wants to do things on her own terms which can be pretty frustrating at times...but that's okay.  It's the nature of the beast!  Eden has a tendancy to be easily distracted so having Jasmine working nearby has been a bit of a challenge.  But since Jazzy tends to finish her busy work much more quickly than Eden...Eden still gets a lot of one-on-one time with me once Jasmine has been excused, which works out nicely.  Acacia has been pretty cooperative so far.  While we work at the table, she usually plays nicely alone or sits with us doing her own "homework".  :)  The only time there is a problem is when I'm trying to read lessons to the girls.  It seems that if I'm reading, she thinks this is a good time to make lots of noise or try to talk to us.  But I honestly have almost had as much of a problem with Jasmine doing this as Acacia!  They just don't seem to understand the concept of sitting quietly and listening.  But other than those couple of minor issues, school has been going very well...much better than I had really expected it to.  Now we just have to wait to find out how adding a newborn to the mix is going to affect us.

We've also just started dance classes again this week.  Acacia had her first dance class ever and was sooo incredibly excited.  She didn't show even a bit of timidity or trepidation about going.  She walked in as if she owned the place and her teacher said afterward that she acted like she knew everything already.  Probably from watching her sisters.  Eden is taking three different classes this year:  ballet, tap and jazz.  She really wasn't enthused about tap but she wanted to take jazz pretty badly and so when the teacher said she needed to be in both ballet & tap in order to take jazz, she was back on board.  Jasmine decided in July when we registered that she was going to sit this year out of dance.  Was adament for weeks that she was perfectly happy NOT being in dance this year.  That was until dance actually started!  Now she says that she wants to be in the Monday evening Pre-K class that follows Eden's ballet/tap classes.  Seems like that's okay with everyone.  I just hope she doesn't change her mind again.  She keeps saying that she wants to be a ballerina.  So we'll see.  :)

Anyway, that's a quick recap of what has been going on here the last couple of months.  Hopefully I'll be able to post more now that summer is winding down but I can't make any guarantees.  I am a pregnant homeschooling mommy with three other kids after all!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Graveside Service

A few photos from Grandpa Jim's graveside service.