Friday, January 29, 2010

To our dear nephew,

Welcome to the world, little buddy! Since me and your Uncle Josh cannot be there to meet you, I thought I would write a little note to tell you how excited we are that you are here. You came into this world on Wednesday, January 28th, but I know that your mommy and daddy have been dreaming about you for a long time. I'm actually glad that God chose to give you to them now because your little cousin is on the way and you will be such good friends! From the pictures we've seen of you, you are such a precious little angel... you look just like your daddy, but I know that we'll see hints of your mommy as you get older. Both of your parents have such a wonderful way about them, so there is no doubt that you will grow up to be very smart, sensitive, and kind-hearted. You are a very lucky boy to be born into that family and they are going to love you so much more than you can even imagine, no matter what. And then on top of that, you have a ton of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that are going to keep you covered up with love as you are such a blessing to all of us.

As for your Uncle Josh and me, we probably will not meet you until the late spring after your cousin is born. I know that you have lots of aunts and uncles, but I think you're going to like us best. :) Uncle Josh loves to fish, play football, and will definitely introduce you to the "toe-hold" and I will play just about any game with you that you request. I know that you and your cousin Jake will get into lots of trouble together, but we are so excited that you will always have each other to pal around with us. Our family lives all the way in Illinois, but if you come to visit, we have all sorts of fun things we can do up here. On the day you were born it snowed just about all day long, so make sure you visit in the summertime! We look forward to many, many fun times with you and your family.

Well little guy, be good to your parents and we will meet you just as soon as we can. In the meantime and throughout your life, just remember that you are loved by so many people in this world and are such a special little boy. Grow big and strong, laugh often, make good decisions, and love others as much as you are loved and we will see you soon. We love you so much.

All of our love,
Uncle Josh and Auntie Kim (and coming soon... cousin Jake)

Adam Robert, 1/27/2010 @ 12:40 PM, 7 lbs. 10 oz.
Congratulations Michael and Mindy!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Slowly but surely things are looking up around here after last week. At this time last week, I could not walk without help and could only lay on one side or another to relieve the pressure in my leg. Fast forward to now and I am up and walking around the house (although getting scolded a lot because I'm doing more than I should be!), feeling very little pain, and handling the twice-daily shots like a champ. That, however, I do owe to Josh as he's become quite the pro at them these days... it's just a normal part of our everyday routine. I've had a couple of "guest nurses" on the nights that he has had to work and they've been fabulous, too! Everyone is a little nervous at first, but so far I have successfully received every one of them. In a few weeks I will switch from my current shots (Lovenox) to Heparin shots because they can be reversed much more quickly in the event that I should go into labor early. Then once they set my date to me induced, they will stop all shots 48 hours before that and we should be good to go! We haven't been given that date yet, but from what they tell us it should only be about 6 1/2 more short weeks. The countdown has officially begun!

As for the bambino, he's just rockin' and rollin' in there... life is good for him! We had our second appointment with the new baby doc (again... LOVE him!) today and Jake checked out perfectly. Each week we will have an ultrasound and I will be on a fetal monitor for 20 minutes to monitor his heartbeat and make sure that I'm not having any contractions. Now that he's so big, the ultrasounds are awesome... we can see him in much more detail and he looks beautiful. He has a full head of hair apparently and is head-down and ready to make his debut. The only slightly scary part is that at 32 weeks he is weighing in at about 4 pounds, 10 ounces, which is about the 71st percentile. We're growing a monster baby! But the good news is that we won't have to worry about any issues with birth weight, but that's not entirely reassuring news for a woman who has never had to give birth before!

So that's the update... not a whole lot to report really. As I keep saying (and will continue to do so), thank you all for your continued calls and prayers. Although I don't know what the clot looks like these days or if it has started to break down, I do know that prayers are working. Just having no more pain and swelling in that leg has been a blessing in itself and I am so thankful that God has given me the ability to walk. We take so much for granted and don't even realize it until it's taken away. I also know that there are blessings in everything. Over this past week I've had someone here with me everyday from our church family and the time of fellowship has been rich and impacting. These are people that I normally do not get to spend much time with and have now developed a strong foundation for us to build on, and I would not trade that for the world. If God can use a blood clot to do that, He can use anything for His good. There are always blessings in the storm, but sometimes we forget to look for them. And since it's been awhile since I left you with any pictures (because there has been nothing of note to photograph!), here are a couple to tie you over until our lives become more interesting:

My view from bed rest... could be worse I guess!

Our handsome little man at 32 weeks... I just want to squeeze him!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Road Ahead

God bless our Baby Doctor. Seriously. After a visit with him yesterday, I will forever sing his praises because we have been put so at ease after a very good appointment despite some very difficult circumstances. Actually, believe it or not, yesterday afternoon was the first time we stepped foot into his office. Since the day we found out we were pregnant, the baby doctor has been one of those things that we just never felt very settled about. At eight weeks we started seeing the doctors at the hospital here in town, but after one appointment in particular I knew that they were not the ones who were supposed to help bring our son in the world. At the same time, we had been seeing a wonderful woman who is also a midwife here in town, but she only delivers at home and we were never one hundred percent comfortable with the home-birth idea... at least not for our first child as these are uncharted waters for us. But because those were the options, we continued our visits with both and figured that the answers would come to us eventually.

About a month ago, a nurse from another hospital started coming to our church. Josh got to know her before I did and mentioned that she worked for another baby doctor in the next town over. Out of nowhere, another one of his nurses came to our church the following week just to check out our campus and visit friends who have been attending ours. Both ladies were very pleasant and I could tell that they loved their jobs. One of them even mentioned that they have a midwife on staff and my ears immediately perked up. A midwife at a hospital? This sounded like the perfect combination of what we had been looking for! During that same week there was one thing after another that seemed to be pointing us in that direction. A friend of mine has been seeing him since the beginning of her pregnancy and the more we talked, the more I realized that she had the same "wish list" that I did for my birth and he has been accommodating her every request. That was music to my ears. The icing on the cake was when Josh went to a Crossroads dinner at the new White Pines building and ended up being seated at a table with him. They hit it off and he told me all about how much he enjoyed meeting him when I got home. Based on all of this, we called the next day to make an appointment with him just to "check it out." Since everything had been so up the air for so long, I did not cross the other two options off of our list, but simply added a third possibility. Now normally, a doctor would probably not take on a new patient at 30 weeks who had been visiting another baby doc, but based on them meeting and the fact that I had been having a super-easy pregnancy, he put me on the schedule. My first appointment was scheduled for this past Monday.

The only reason I went into all of that is to share that God truly does nudge us in the right direction when we need Him to. This past Monday, I was in the hospital and missed my appointment of course, but when I was admitted, the new doctor was already treating me as his patient. Had we not had an appointment already lined up with him, there is no way we would have been able to make the switch. Not only that, but our midwife only handles low-risk pregnancies, and mine no longer falls in that category. Compound that with the fact that I only saw my old doctor twice during the three days that I was in the hospital and he introduced himself the first time (um, hello! I've been pregnant now for seven months... I think you'd know me by now!) and never once asked me how I was doing or if we had any questions about the months ahead, the delivery, etc. and it reaffirmed my feeling that he was not the doctor for us. To be honest, if he walked into the room to deliver my sweet baby, I would figure out a way to hold this kid in until his shift was over! The new doc, on the other hand, called as soon as he found out we were in the hospital (at 11pm at night!) and then again in the morning. Throughout the weekend, Josh spent many hours on the phone with him to keep him updated, ask his questions, and make sure I was being well taken care of. Like I said, God bless the new baby doc... He truly brought him to us when we needed him.

So anyway, sorry for the little side story, but I think it's an important one. While there are people who would argue that the above events do not interconnect or are merely coincidence, I know without a doubt that there was a higher power watching over us. Often times we don' t find this out until we reflect back on a situation, but even so, I know He was with us every step of the way. And He certainly was there with us when everything seemed so daunting.

But I digress... let me get back to what is ahead for us from here. We went to the new baby doctor Tuesday and had a fantastic appointment. As I said, we had never been there before, but we were greeted with hugs and questions about how we were handling everything. He checked on me and little Jake and both of us were the picture of health (aside from the obvious). Before he went too into detail about where we go from here, he made sure that we understand that from here on out, we will see him at every appointment and will never walk in and find that we're scheduled with whoever is on call. In fact, even if he is not on call when Jake is born, the hospital knows to call him as he delivers every single one of his patient's babies. As he put it, "we got into the business to help people, and it's the right thing to do." Josh and I were blown away. He then went into the details of our coming weeks: as it stands, I will be on Lovenox (a blood thinner) for the next 4-5 weeks. The Lovenox is an injection that Josh administers twice a day and he is doing a fabulous job! I could technically give them to myself, but I don't have the stomach for it. After the 4-5 weeks we will switch to Heparin, a different blood thinner, until the delivery. The logic behind the switch is that there are medicines out there that can counteract Heparin in about 20 minutes just in case I go into labor early. Granted, he also said that if I go into labor before we make the switch I will still be just fine, but they will have to treat me a as a patient who is high-risk for hemorrhaging, which is not uncommon. The Lovenox just takes longer to get out of the system. If all goes well up to this point, we will stop all of the thinners for 48 hours and induce my labor at 39 weeks. Now those of you who know my original plan for my birth know that the word "induce" is not my favorite. I associate that word with the drug pitocin, which was on my "get near me with that stuff and I will scream" list and for me it also means an automatic epidural. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against modern medicine, but I am not thrilled with the idea of not being able to feel my legs and move around during labor. Before I could even bring this up, he let me know that there are alternative methods to pitocin, and he will do everything he can to have as little intervention as possible. For those of you who are interested in all of this stuff (I find it fascinating... can you tell?) I am planning on doing an entirely separate post later on these details, birth plans, etc. so stay tuned for that. But the point is, being induced does not require me to no longer have a say in what I want and do not want for the birth. Phew.

As for Little Jake, he is still just happy as a clam in there. Because there is a very small chance that the blood thinners can cross the placenta, Josh and I will now be headed to the doctor every week from here on out. If there is a perk to being a high risk pregnancy patient, it's that we will get to see the little man on an ultrasound at every visit and they will monitor his heart rate for 20 minutes just to make sure there are no anti-coagulating effects going on in there. Yes, my vocabulary has rapidly expanded in the past week due these events! And as it turns out, we will get to meet him a little sooner than we expected and it sounds as if we will be induced somewhere around March 15th. Oh how we can't wait for that day!

Oh, and the leg? How's it doing? It's funny that I'm typing this from the comfort of bed rest and almost forgot to mention it, but it really does not worry us the way it used to. The doctor told us that on these blood thinners, the risk of the clot dislodging has gone down significantly. Over time, as the circulation improves and the clot starts to dissolve itself, the pressure should ease and the pain will begin to subside. As this starts to happen, he wants me to be "as active as I can be" because activity is good for circulation and in 8 short weeks my body will need to be strong. So for now, due to the pain, this means that I spend most of my day in a recliner or on the couch with my feet up, only making trips to the bathroom. Josh has me go up and down the stairs once a day as part of my exercise regime. Over time, I should be able to get around the house on my own and make some short trips out and about. We both look forward to that.

Wow... another uber-long post... thank you for hanging in there. Rarely do I have this much information to pack in, so I hope I did not bore you with all of the details and answered just about everyone's questions. Even though we're not entirely out of the woods, all of the risk factors are very low now and should stay that way up through delivery. Things are looking up. Again, thank you all for your continued prayers, phone calls, emails, visits, text messages, and help through all of this. Your prayers have certainly been heard and Josh and I feel comforted knowing that we have so many great folks who love us and want to help. We go back to see our favorite doctor next Thursday and we will continue to share any information as we have it. But for today, I leave you with a verse that one of the pastor's wives prayed over me last night and sums it all up perfectly:

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."
~Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Monday, January 18, 2010

A birthday to remember

Wow... where to start? Before I get into how our weekend went, I just want to preface this by saying that this post will probably be LONG. And possibly a bit scatterbrained. Beyond that, I also want to thank everyone for their prayers, support, and love over these past few days. They were definitely tough, but Josh and I feel so incredibly loved and cared for that there are far more blessings in our lives than we deserve. Each and every one of you has touched our lives with your prayers and yesterday I told Josh that this was probably the most people I've ever had praying for me at one time. That, regardless of the circumstances, was the best birthday gift I could ever ask for. It is so much more than I deserve. So thank you... I will never be able to say it enough.

So now onto the update of the weekend. Honestly, to tell the full story, I would have to start earlier in the week, although I'm not sure what day it all began. Early last week I started having mild pain in my inner, left thigh. I told Josh that I thought maybe I had pulled a muscle, but I could not figure out when I would have done that. As the pain got worse, I also considered (as mentioned in my last post) that perhaps little Jake had positioned himself on my sciatic nerve. Whatever it was, it hurt. And as the week went on, it got worse. Thinking it was one of the scenarios above, I tried all that I could to make the pain go away. I went to the gym, I stretched, and I went on a shopping trip with a girlfriend of mine to "work out the muscle" and get my blood pumping. Just in case it was more nerve-related, I saw a chiropractor for an adjustment. Nothing seemed to be working and by Thursday, I started developing a limp and noticed that my left knee was a bit swollen. I decided that it could be due to overcompensating for my sore thigh. For the most part, I just had a dull ache that was annoying, but tolerable. But by Saturday morning, I dreaded any activity to get from point A to point B. Just going upstairs to take a shower and get dressed seemed like climbing Mt. Everest and I was desperate for a reason as to why I still hurt.

Saturday night rolled around and Josh and I left for church as we normally do. Before we left, he asked if I would prefer to stay home, but I told him that I didn't want to miss church and would just take it easy once I got there. On the way there, he had me call both a nurse and our doctor to see if they had any ideas as to what might be going on. Both of them mentioned blood clots during their calls, but the pain in my inner thigh was what was throwing them off. Neither one of them had ever heard of that symptom for anything pregnancy related, and when I pulled my toe back toward my shin (which is a common test for a blood clot apparently), I felt no pain. Both of them recommended that I keep an eye on it, and if it swelled anymore or became red or hot to the touch, I would need to go to the ER. Otherwise, I could wait until my appointment on Monday. The two of us carried on our merry way and got through the service as usual. I stayed seated as much as possible and only limped around if I had somewhere specific to go. Something was clearly not right. As we drove home, Josh told me that we were going to the hospital. I didn't want to feel like I was overreacting so I told him that we could wait and see how things were in the morning. Lucky for me, my husband overrode that decision and told me that we were going no matter what. He said that the best case scenario would be that I had pulled a muscle and they'd tell us to go home. I am so thankful he didn't listen to me!

The nice part about living in Small Town, Illinois is that hospital visits do not require a ton of waiting. I literally walked in and sat down at registration and by the time Josh had parked the car and met me inside, I was ready to be wheeled to a room. After routine questions, vitals were checked, and my leg was looked at, they told us that we would have an ultrasound to check for a blood clot. As they put it, they'd like to "rule out" a blood clot before going any further. We were wheeled into the ultrasound room and the technician started checking it out. It was a little strange to be in an ultrasound room and not looking at the baby (we really did want to take a peek at our little man!) but it was also very scary. She checked the usual places for a blood clot, but did not find anything until she got up to where the pain was. At that time, what she saw was not good. Josh was able to look at the screen with her as she pointed out everything, but all I could see was their faces. Apparently, the clot she found had grown to the point that it is more like a "worm" as she called it, and filled up a long portion of the vein in my upper thigh. Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is the technical term for the condition and it can be brought on by many reasons. Some people have blood that is just more prone to clots, some have a genetic predisposition to clots, some are pregnancy-related, and some are due to long travel or inactivity. They did not try to speculate what mine was caused by entirely as they will eventually do a complete blood workout to learn more. The good news was that the clot was not affecting the baby and his blood supply was good. In fact, he had no idea that anything abnormal was going on out here. Lucky dude.

That night was a tough one for the both of us. We had very little information beyond what I just told you, but we also got the rundown on the worst case scenarios. We heard everything from "she'll be here in the hospital until the baby comes" to "she'll be on thinners that will prevent her from nursing the baby" and also learned about the fear of a clot dislodging and going straight to the heart and the lungs. Clearly the doctors were on edge about the situation, which made us even more nervous. I was immediately hooked up to an IV of the blood thinner heparin and would need to have blood drawn every 4 hours as they adjusted the levels to make my blood the right consistency. Since the blood is much thicker during pregnancy, mine needed quite a few adjustments to make sure the blood would be thin enough to go around the clot and not push on it at all. As long as blood flows around it, it cannot grow larger and the risk of it dislodging decrease quite a bit. Between the nurses checking my vitals, the lab techs drawing blood, and the fear and nerves, Josh and I barely slept at all. It was a very long night and I was so thankful to see daylight the next morning, even though we were both exhausted.

Sunday morning (my birthday!) Josh went to church as I insisted that I would be fine by myself for the few hours that he would be gone. I had planned to sleep while he was away but I was still very restless. Josh was preaching this week and I knew that he had so much on his mind and I so badly wanted to be there. As ten o'clock approached, I found myself in prayer, sending my love and support to him the only way that I knew how. Through this entire process, he has been a rock and has held me together when everything seemed to be so unclear. I would not have made it through this without him and spent much time thanking God for putting him at my side. During that quiet time, I definitely did not feel alone and much of my fear about the unknown subsided, so in many ways, I am grateful that he went. Both of us took the time apart to get all of our worries out of our systems and I later heard from many folks that it was the most powerful church service they had ever been to. Josh hadn't planned on sharing everything that was going on, but as soon as he was up in front of the congregation, he just lost it. He told everyone what was happening, the church prayed over me, and he delivered a "home run" as I was told later. As bummed as I still am to miss one of the best messages he has ever delivered, I am humbled to know that God used our situation for the building of His kingdom. God can truly take any bad situation and use it for good, and if even one person came to Christ by attending that service, then my hospital stay was worth it. And it is a wonderful thing to have a strong faith that allows us to see the upside to all of this, and there are many upsides for sure.

The day went on with the continued monitoring, but we had an overwhelming amount of visitors and phone calls. Folks from the church brought birthday cupcakes and goodies, balloons and flowers, birthday gifts, magazines, books, and wonderful company. The day flew by as we sat and spent some quality time with people that we don't get to spend enough time with, and that was a nice treat. We really did not learn much that day, but we did know that there was a chance that we would be discharged the next day so we were hopeful for the possibility.

The second night went very much like the first, but I slept much more due to the exhaustion that had set in. I was a zombie by bedtime and the frequent interruptions did not bother me as much. Regardless, we were still both awake very early as our accommodations were not the most comfortable or quiet. The good news was that starting at 9 AM, our first visitor arrived, and we had someone with us all day until we got to go home. Danny, a nurse at our church, stuck around until we were discharged so that she could take notes and make sure the doctors answered all of our questions before we left. She is heaven-sent and we are so grateful to be surrounded by people who are willing to be there for us. Somebody throughout the day mentioned that it must be hard being in the hospital when our family was so far away, but I told her that we felt like our family was here. Again, for those of you who visited, and even those of you who just sent an email, text, or Facebook message, you have no idea how much the support meant to us. You truly got us through these past few days.

So what's next you may wonder? Honestly, we have an idea, but there are still a lot of questions to be answered. As of now, we are home and I will continue to be on blood thinners for the duration of my pregnancy. The safest form for the baby is an injection that I will have to take every 12 hours for the next 8 weeks. I think Dr. Josh is looking forward to his first injection tomorrow morning and although it's not ideal, I can handle shots for awhile if that is what is safest for our baby and me. Obviously, the doctors will not want me on blood thinners when I deliver, so the plan is for me to stop the drugs 48 hours before a scheduled induction so that my blood will have plenty of time to thicken up before labor. I probably will not go to 40 weeks to reduce the risk of the baby coming early before I can get the thinners out of my system. I am also on bedrest, but we are still unclear as to how long and to what extent that will be, although my mobility hinders me from getting up and around anyway. We go to our OB tomorrow, and these are the details that we will discuss and have more answers on after that appointment. Labor and delivery (the original plan versus the plan from here on out) probably requires its own post anyway, so after the appointment when we have more information, I will post another update. In the meantime, Josh, Baby Jake, and I are all tired but stable and extremely happy to be home. We thank you all for your continued support as we learn more information and navigate this process that gets our son here safely. I will certainly share information as I get it to keep you all in the loop.

But for now, there is nothing like being home and in our own bed. A good night sleep sounds like what the doctor ordered!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

As of late...

Well I'm certainly glad my New Year's resolution was not to blog more, because I would be failing miserably in 2010! The truth is, we both just turned everything off while we were away on vacation (which was wonderful!) and when we got back, it was go-go-go non-stop! So tonight I'm finally finding a moment to catch everyone up on the happenings here in Mauneyland.
For starters, we had an awesome vacation visiting family in Florida! It was a bit chillier than normal, so our usual pool time was replaced with video games, naps (yay!), and some grueling matches of gin. Let me just say that 2010 seems to be shaping up as the year the girls are going to rule, but we'll see!
We had our family Christmas on the evening of the 29th and we all made out like bandits! What a blessed year... we all ended up with WAY more than we deserve!

And as a BIG surprise, I finally got my fancy digital SLR camera that I've been lusting after (THANKS Mom and Dad and Pop-Pop and Lorraine!!!)! Based on the photo below, I will clearly need lessons, but I already have those in the works starting this weekend! Josh and I both love using it, so we're hoping we'll be pros by the time Baby Jake makes his big arrival.

There was also quite a bit of Tennessee and Alabama stuff floating around and Baby Jake has begun to stock up on some orange! He also was given the sweetest gift by his cousins... a stuffed animal that I actually gave them when they were babies. He's just like my favorite pal when I grew up (thanks to my Aunt Karen) and they thought that Jake would like to have him next. Tear! :)
The week was capped off by some wonderful food, a very low-key new year's celebration, and a couple of fires in the backyard. All in all, a great week.

As for the prego-update, we're a little behind on that as well! At this point, we're 30 weeks along (wow... already??) and everything still looks great and on-schedule. We're back at the March 22nd due date, so we're basically just expecting him any time in March! Just recently he decided to sit on top of my sciatic nerve, so I've been in quite a bit of pain these past few days and hoping for some relief soon. If anyone has any advice or remedies for that, please feel free to share!

And since I'm overdue for some prego photos, here are a few we took over Christmas:

The expectant parents at 29-weeks along!

All the Elder ladies. Mindy (on the left) is due on the 25th of this month and she's measuring a little small and I'm measuring a little big. But that makes us the perfect size for the cutest prego picture ever:

We are waiting patiently for the call to announce the arrival of our new niece or nephew!

Other than that, we're back in the swing of things up north. Our church actually just entered into 21 days of prayer and fasting and part of my fast is to only use the Internet for personal use AFTER work hours. I think that somewhat explains my blogging hiatus, so it may just continue for a couple more weeks. Our time of prayer and fasting actually deserves its own post, so I'll go into that another time... probably when it's over! And yes, I need to update my background, too. I guess I'm just not quite ready for the holidays to be over!
So that's it from here... not too much to report. I hope the start of 2010 is going wonderfully for everyone with many more blessings to come!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Good Year

With each passing year, life just seems to get sweeter and sweeter. Honestly, I think that the sweetness factor is owed mostly in part to a deepening faith and relationship with Jesus Christ and a partnership with a man that I love, respect, and just like to hang out with. This past year has been the best so far in my life, and it sure has been one wild ride! In my lifetime, very few years will rival the action packed twists and turns of 2009... but that's what made it so very special! So here's to 2009... and to the many sweet moments:

We rang in the new year in sunny Florida surrounded by family and loved ones...

Then conquered a marathon, finishing side by side after 26.2 long miles.
We said our goodbyes to a beloved member of our family, but it gave us the opportunity to spend time with those loved ones we don't see often enough.

We had some fantastic weekends and times away in cities far from home...

And then spent the spring busy with wedding plans and festivities.

We said our "I Do's" and vowed to love each other for the rest of our lives on a most perfect summer day in June...

And (barely) squeezed in a romantic mini-honeymoon before...

Packing up our belongings and making the long trek to Illinois.

We successfully purchased our first home and fell in love with every nook and cranny...

And even loved the nooks and crannies that needed updating (which we've done a lot of).

We learned that life in Small Town, Illinois is a life that we absolutely love and met some of the most genuine, kind, and caring people in this world.

We celebrated as our campus of Crossroads Community Church opened its doors and continued to grow and blossom...

And celebrated God's glory as Josh baptized his wife. We continued (and still do) to deepen our individual faith as we thank God daily for His gift of marriage.

We experienced the excitement, shock, and bewilderment of some unexpected news and prepared ourselves to bring a new life into this world.

Several visitors made their way to Small Town, Illinois and gave us the opportunity to show off our new town and open our home to friends and family (feel free to continue that trend!)...

And FINALLY got the exciting news that our new arrival would be a baby boy, which was music to our ears as we both had a feeling all along.

We learned that home is where the heart is and hosted our first family holiday at Thanksgiving, serving dinner for 10 of our favorite people...

and survived our first (of many) snowfall.
And as icing on the cake, we spent Christmas in our new home with just the two (or three!) of us, truly being thankful that this is the life that we live.

What a year of many, many blessings. It is by far one that we will never forget as we have learned a lot, experienced so much, and adapted to whatever came our way. I know that throughout our marriage and life together, things will not always be so easy, but I know that we will always have more blessings than we know what to do with and for that I am thankful. So as we say goodbye to 2009, we celebrate the times that we had and look forward to the adventure to come in the new year. Happy New Year to you and your family, and may you have more laughter than tears, hope than doubt, and more blessings bestowed upon you than you even know what to do with. We love you all and look forward to all that is to come!