Monday, November 10, 2014

Per A Friend's Request: Baby #3 Prego Post

Poor baby #3... he or she just gets overlooked from the start, right? Although not entirely I guess since this child had the coolest reveal out of all of them, but there is no week-by-week documentation or anything fun like that. It's just old hat by now (and I've never used that expression and probably did not use it correctly!). But since one of my very few readers requested one, and since this first trimester (which is finally coming to an end... thank goodness!) has been so different from my other two pregnancies, I think it would be good to document what's been happening with the little bean. So here goes:

How far along: 11 weeks, day 5 (thanks to the handy-dandy Baby Bump app)

Boy or girl?: Not sure yet. I've been feeling boy this whole time and the whole family refers to the baby as "he." Lilly is the only one who sometimes tells us that it's a little sister, but I think it's mainly because she wants one. Jake has told us with 100% certainty that mommy is having another boy.

Total weight gain/loss: I'm really not sure because I am not for sure what I was when I started. I do know that I have gained more than I probably should have by now thanks to some weird eating habits, so I'd say in the range of 7-10 pounds. 

Maternity clothes: I have broken down already and pulled out the elastic!

Stretch marks: Nothing that wasn't there already.

Sleep: I go to bed so early these days... by about 9pm, I am DONE. I wake up a couple of times each night, but fall back asleep pretty fast.

Best moment this week: Buying a new pair of maternity jeans. Mine were quite out of style since the last time I was pregnant in the winter was in 2009/2010. Granted, I forgot how expensive those suckers are, but it feels good to have something that fits and looks cute. This in-between (is she pregnant or just gaining a lot of weight?) phase is always my least favorite.

Movement: Too soon for that of course.

Food cravings: My diet has consisted mostly of ice cream, milkshakes, cereal, and fried food (particularly French fries). So healthy I know! There were days from about week 5 go week 8 where all I would or could eat was ice cream! Not that I hated it! And occasionally I'd throw in a fast food hamburger to round out the diet. The only healthy thing has been Honeycrisp apples, and I am going to cry once they are out of season.

Food aversions: MANY. This has been the weirdest part of this pregnancy. I was never sick with the other two. Occasionally I'd get queasy if I got too hungry, but I'd have a few crackers and I'd be all set. This time around, I spent a few weeks feeling nauseous all day long... like I had the flu. I never actually got sick, but it almost felt like I'd be better off if I did! I just felt like I could at any moment... ugh. I figured out about halfway through that coffee was my main trigger (so sad I know!). And Folgers coffee, which we brew at home, in particular. So reluctantly I've cut way back, which is probably good anyway. A from about week 5-8 I couldn't even look at meat of any kind. It sounded so unappetizing! And then basically anything that wasn't in the "cravings" category was off-limits, too. I'm finally starting to feel like myself again and add different (better) foods back in.

Labor Signs: Obviously not.

Belly Button in or out? In... hopefully for awhile.

What I miss: Feeling good... haha! And my morning cup of coffee. I am able to handle a latte, but for $3-$4 a day, I usually just pass them up.

What I am looking forward to: Feeling good... are we seeing a trend here? I have some high hopes for the second trimester this time around!

Weekly Wisdom: I learned this week that I need to keep Tylenol in my purse. Twice now I've gotten a headache while we were out somewhere and everyone had Ibuprofin or Aleve or Advil, but nobody carries Tylenol it seems. So that's an easy fix.

Milestones: Getting to week 12 will be the first. And this coming Thursday we have our big ultrasound, where they check all of the organs and the overall health of this little one, so say some prayers that all looks good!

I haven't really started taking pictures all that frequently, but here's a teeny-tiny bump from week seven. I think I started taking pictures with the other two around week 12, so I should probably try and do that again with this one, just for the sake of not leaving him or her out entirely.  :)

So there you have it. I probably won't do this all that often this time around, but it is good to have it on record, so thanks for the encouragement! Here we go again!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sharing our News

Well, the cat is out of the bag, and we have officially announced that Baby #3 will be making his or her way into the world in May 2015! We were planning to keep it a secret a little longer than we did, but our very excited 3-year-old daughter was basically telling everyone- friends, people at church, total strangers- that her mommy has a baby in her belly. Yeah, I didn't think that through… the thing is, Jake was 9-months old when we were pregnant with her, so it never really dawned on me that the two of them might break the news to others before we were ready! But such is life.

As for Josh, I promised him awhile back that if we were to have a third, that I would find a cool way to tell him. I always had the intentions to do that the first times around, but instead it always ended up as one of those, "uh honey, could you run to Walgreens for me?" moments instead. So this has been a long time in the making. 

Even though I had my idea for a long time, I did not realize just how tricky it was going to be to pull off. It stemmed around professional photos being taken, and one photo in particular. Ever since we got married, our family has had the same picture taken year after year, of our feet. It's cuter than it sounds… and as our family grew, there were more little cute tootsies (and sometimes the entire kiddo) in the shot. Here are some from years past:

I so desperately wanted to make this picture happen again, but once we were all lined up, I'd pull a pair of baby shoes out and set them down between all of our feet and SURPRISE! And of course, the photographer would be in on it and would take pictures of the whole thing. Easy peasy, right?

I have never been more proud of pulling something off. Between quickly finding a friend (who also happens to take gorgeous pictures) wo would be available to take "Lilly's Third Birthday Pictures", making sure she understood the plan, keeping the news TO MYSELF for a week and a half (yeah, there was a lot of deception going on!), playing off that we should probably all go (and be camera ready) "just in case" there was an opportunity to get a family shot, and successfully hiding baby shoes in my back pocket for just the right moment, there was a lot of stress involved, but it was worth it! 

It's funny though… he couldn't find a place to park and so he called me and said he'd just circle around until we were done. Um, excuse me??? I don't think so. So I made him illegally park where we could see the car and come out and join us. Then we added the shoe picture as if it was an afterthought and I "explained the concept" to our friend, Ellen, as if she didn't know it was coming. 

And here's the moment of truth… she captured it all so perfectly!

Lining up
Oh wait, I forgot something
These need to be in the picture, too!
Are you serious???
There was lots of laughter after that… he had NO idea!
The kids finally catch on. Yay! We're having a baby!

After that, we took some pretty cute shots that we could use later for an announcement to everyone else:

And so you have it. The family pictures and sweet ones of our first two kiddos were just an added bonus!

So there you have it… a super complicated way to announce some good news! We ended up telling our immediate family and some close friends the following weekend at Lilly's birthday party by having her unwrap a "Big Sister" shirt in front of everyone. I have video of everyone's reaction, but I'm not going to post it since it's mostly of the ceiling and 20 minutes long, because I never hit the record button again to stop it! And even though I'm sure you've seen it on Instagram by now, this is how we told the rest of our world:
A VERY special thank you to my dear friend, Ellen Turner, for taking these incredible photos, and for keeping a secret for as long as she did! And to a few others who helped me keep up appearances until the day came that I could pull this off. Needless to say, this family is very excited!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Things I Thought I'd Never Do

As of yesterday, I have officially added "homeschooling mom" to the list of titles that I have carried in my life. And just like the "pastor's wife" title that I have carried since I said, "I do," it's one that I thought I would never, ever, in a million years, have associated with my name… not because I ever had anything against it, but rather because I've just never felt like it was for me. The conversation would come up, and I would pretend to entertain the idea, but deep down I just knew it was never going to happen. Period.

But sometimes life is funny. It wasn't until I was away from my kids this summer for almost three straight weeks (with a  tiny break in the middle there) that I continued to feel something pressed upon my heart. It was this "thing" that I just couldn't shake… like a small whisper or a nudge, and even though it was oh-so-quiet, it would wake me in my sleep and penetrate my thoughts in even the loudest room. And it was one that was telling me, for reasons that I could not understand, to at least consider keeping my little ones home this year. I disliked the voice so much that I did not even tell my husband, even though he had a major part in the process of making this decision! But I just couldn't go there… not yet.

If you're wondering why I was ever so set against this idea, I can honestly tell you that I'm not entirely sure. I will say that there is a small part of me that was looking forward to kindergarten, so that I'd have more time to pursue some other passions that I've put off for awhile and throw myself more into the work of our church. Another part of me did not want to fall into the stereotype that all pastors' families are homeschooling families. I've never had anything against any type of school, whether it be public, private, or anything else, and I have loved everything about the little preschool we've sent our kiddos to over the past two years. In regards to why one should homeschool, I've had conversations that were completely uplifting and positive and many that harbored so much animosity toward any other way of doing school that it turned me off to the idea. It can be a hot topic, that's for sure, and if you're not homeschooling, let me be the first to say that it's alright… it's not for everyone, and honestly, not everyone is in a situation where they can make it work for their current family situation.

And that's just the thing… it's YOUR family. In all the times that I spoke to anyone about it, very few people made it about US, about MY kids, and about MY family. If it's such a personal decision, I couldn't figure out why everyone kept talking about why the world ought to be doing it one way or the other, rather than applying it to the person in the conversation. And so this is my new answer, for this and just about every other decision this family  is going to make over the next seventy years:

We're just doing what's right for our family right now.

I cannot tell you how much JOY I have found in that statement, and how freeing it has truly been! Right now, in this season of our lives with Josh traveling a lot and our weekends not really being weekends, homeschool works great for us. The kids can travel with us and experience things they cannot get if they are in school, and I can stretch myself and teach them, and soak up these days while they are still little. But can I say that this will be right for my family next year? Ummm… not really. Not yet. I know some people feel like you should commit whole-heartedly, but through the years I've learned that life changes in a blink of an eye and throws surprises at you that you never saw coming. And so we learn to roll with it, adjust on the fly, and evaluate our current situation with every changing year. Take me for example: since we've been married I've worked in an office, I've worked from home full-time, I've been laid off, I've worked full-time for the church, I've worked part-time for the church, I've taken time off to just be a mom and a wife, and now there's this. Because in those times, those things worked best for my family.

So I think here's my point… whatever it is that you're fretting over right now and whatever decisions you're facing, just know that as long as you're doing what's best for YOUR family, that's the best you can do. Whether your kids are in public school, private school, charter school, or homeschool, just make sure it's the best situation for what you want your family to get out of it. Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, or give your child goat's milk, just do what's best for your family. I moved one of my children to his crib at 5 weeks old, and my little girl slept in our bed until she was 9 months old, because at those times, those choices worked best for our family. 

So for you moms out there, stop looking left and right. Please stop doubting yourself and your instincts so much. Instead, look within your own home, evaluate everything that is happening around you, and take notice of the season of life that you're in and base your decisions on that. And know that what you decide does not have to be the way you do things forever, because I guarantee there is a curve ball coming at you that you won't see coming. And then you'll adjust.

But most importantly, never say never. This pastor's wife who home schools her kids hardly recognizes herself these days, but she's doing what's best for her family right now and it's the most rewarding feeling I've ever had.

Sidenote: our first two days of homeschool have been awesome! I do plan to share some of my thoughts and experiences on here throughout the year (considering that BOTH of my kids are napping right now, which NEVER happens anymore… hooray for this new schedule!), but can honestly say that I am blown away with how much I have loved it. And that has very little to do with homeschooling or not homeschooling, and everything to do with giving into that little whisper. Is God whispering anything to you right now? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Our Budding Photographer

Jake has been savvy with our iPhones since before he could walk or talk, and my camera roll has been filled with different portions of his face on many occasions now. I've deleted hundreds, if not thousands by now, of pictures of just his cheek, up his nose, many of his forehead, and sometimes his shoes when he does not have the camera flipped around. The other day, however, I came across a few that were, well, almost artistic:

I am not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, but this boy might just have an artistic eye! Or maybe I'm just another crazy mom who thinks her child is a creative genius. Either way, I had to share!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

In These Troubled Times

I have been troubled lately. Not necessarily about things going on in my immediate surroundings, but about what’s been going on in the world. Everything from the happenings in Iraq, to Syria, to riots (whether peaceful or not), to people making a debate out of Robin Williams’ death (please just let him rest in peace and let that poor family grieve- regardless of anyone’s opinion it is still a life lost, and that is sad enough) and even a hoax about a real-life Purge (like in the movie of the same name, in which one time a year for 12 hours, people are allowed to commit any crime with no consequences… yeah, I never saw it either) that was supposed to happen in Louisville Friday night seem to plague me. I think that I am far from a gloom-and-doom person and have always done my best to have that glass-half-full attitude, but sometimes this world presses in and it feels like it’s getting darker and darker.

This morning I woke up and could not shake the feeling. I did what I do every morning… I rolled over, checked the time on my iPhone, and then checked my Facebook, my email, and my Instagram feeds. I clicked on a few articles about things going on in the world, not knowing ahead of time even if it was a valuable news source. I read some comments of statuses about some of these things, getting sucked into the comments surrounding each one. My load was even heavier, the cloud around me more stifling, and I put my feet on the floor and moseyed out to get some much needed coffee. The kids watched a cartoon and played with toys while I cleaned the house, which led me to a bill that I did not realize we had ever received in the mail (and therefore had not budgeted for) and then that oppressive cloud began to seep into my immediate situation. It wasn’t just the world anymore, it was everything.

I am not sure if others operate this way, but my self-discipline with just about anything ebbs and flows. I’m either working out all the time or not at all. I’m either shoveling every sugar-laden food into my mouth or have the world’s healthiest diet. And with my spiritual life, I’m either up every morning filling myself up with God’s word over a cup of coffee, or I am avoiding Him altogether, except to maybe mumble a prayer as I drift off to sleep.

This morning as I continued to put some things away, my books fell over right at my Jesus Calling devotional (by Sarah Young… it you don’t have it, GET IT) and my heart flipped over. Maybe it sounds silly to you, but I felt like God just gave a gentle nudge, reminding me to stop filling my head with the nonsensical opinions of others, and start refilling my heart with his everlasting promises. I went to find today’s date and the book opened right to it as it had been bookmarked by a five-dollar bill from Guatemala. Trust me when I say that I have absolutely no clue why or how that got there, or where it even came from, but again, God whispered, stop worrying about your finances… put your faith in me and I will take care of you. I always do. And then the title of today’s reading, Focusing Your Thoughts, pierced me to the core.

What have I been focusing my thoughts on lately? What have my priorities been? Whose opinions and comments have I been reading? Have they been His? Have they been any of the thoughts and opinions of His followers? It’s no wonder I found myself in this dark place… I had cut off my supply of living water and replaced it with mud. Dark, murky, thick mud that sucks you down deeper and even has the capability of pulling your shoes off.

Today if you find yourself drowning in the muddy waters around you, I want to encourage you to do as I am trying to do and review some of your habits, and take a look at what you’re putting into yourself. If your immediate tendency is to check your phone and click on every single controversial article, set some boundaries, only allowing yourself to get your news from a trusted source. Stay away from comments and formulate your own opinion about the issue without reading the array of all the others. Know what else I found while cleaning? An old-school alarm clock. If I am not self-disciplined to only check the time on my phone and use it as a clock, I am going to remove it from my bedside all together… and perhaps replace it with my daily devotional book, so that His truth can be the first thing I read each morning. Mornings can be crazy, but in the same amount of time I used to take to scroll through Facebook, I can surely open a book and get some much-needed encouragement to start my day. And when God gives you a little nudge, be thankful that He cares about us enough to remind us that no matter what is happening all around us, His love will always prevail.

Here are the verses that were included with today’s devotional… may they be a reminder to you that His truth is constant in our ever-changing world:

Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about thigs that are excellent and worthy of praise.
-Philippians 4:8

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will sour on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
-Isaiah 40:31

And then one of my personal favorites:
…When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
-Psalm 61:2

Focus your thoughts today on He who is good, purify your water, and then go shine your light and spread some love to make this world a brighter place.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Vatican

After a great weekend of total normalcy (meaning no traveling for Josh or myself, nothing on the schedule, and then finally back to church!), I'm here to get back to recapping my European adventures. Today as I sit down to type this one up I realize that I'm only on day two of ten… so I may be blogging this stuff into October at the pace that I'm blogging here lately! Especially since I finally have many things swirling around in this noodle of mine after months and months of writer's block, so I probably need to get some of it out in between these posts before it all goes away. But back to day two…

After a VERY rock-solid night of sleep on the rock-slab that our Rome hotel called a bed, we got up, had breakfast, and headed to the Vatican. My mom had set us up with another tour guide for the Vatican, and I must say, she was fabulous! I was incredibly intrigued about the Vatican, and the entire concept still just fascinates me, but where she came in really handy was for the descriptions of all of the art. Oh my, there is art EVERYWHERE. Some of you might be thinking "duh," but I seriously did not realize that. The other wonderful thing about having a guided tour is that we got to skip the line to get into the walls of the Vatican, as well as the line to get into St. Peter's Cathedral. And people were in line for two hours or more! So, if you visit during high season, I'd say it's well worth it.

But anyway, I'm not even really sure if I would do any of the art photos justice as far as explanations go, so I won't bore you with the hundreds we took. The city is pretty well laid out so there is a definite flow of tourist traffic, and for the most part we were kind of herded through everything with a ton of other people. We started outside on a terrace and then went through a building to get to one of three courtyards (which used to be 2 courtyards until they build the library to separate one of them. The third courtyard is used as a parking lot). 

Recognize that chimney??

After the courtyard we went inside and walked through hallway upon hallway of art. There was a hall dedicated to Egyptian art and then one filled with pieces recovered from the manors of ancient Rome- many statues of people and several of Pagan Gods. The ceiling in this area was incredibly amazing to me… painted plaster that was done in a form that made it look three dimensional although the ceiling was completely flat. 

Then there was a hallway of ancient maps, and one of tapestries, which I found to be incredibly impressive! These areas also had incredible ceilings although they were not only painted, but also plated in gold.

Can you believe that this is a tapestry? I was amazed.

Beyond that we entered Rafael's rooms, with amazing murals on every ounce of spare wall space- Renaissance art at it's best. There was so much to see it was almost difficult to figure out where to start! These rooms are filled with works of the greatest artists who ever lived… and it was impossible to capture it in photos, so these will have to suffice!

Beyond that we made our way into the Sistine Chapel. There are no photos allowed in there, and there is supposed to be complete silence. I wish I could say that I was just completely overwhelmed with awe to be in there, but I was actually quite frustrated that so many people continued to talk even with the security guards frequently announcing "silencio" over a PA system. The ceiling is quite amazing (especially after our guide had told us about each painting and the progression of the work… how he tweaked his design and made everything bigger after seeing the first ones complete from the ground) and to know that he spent all that time on shaky scaffolding and how long it took to complete is just incredible.

From there we headed to St. Peter's Basilica. On this trip we saw many, many churches inside and out. I have also been to several in Mexico. In comparison, this one is MASSIVE. And spectacular. I do not think there is a comparison anywhere else in the world… and again, my pictures just fall flat. You'll just have to put it on your bucket list and go see it for yourself someday!

This large altar is one solid piece of bronze and only the Pope worships under there. And as a side note (and a pice of trivia that I did not know, but maybe you did), the bodies of the dead popes are treated in such a way (withe the appearance of being a wax figure) that they are on display 25 years after their deaths. I refrained from taking photos since I found it a bit morbid, but there were many people there taking photos and paying homage to them. We can expect the former pope's body to be added into the Basilica in about 23 years.

Another piece of trivia… this statue is now encased behind a glass door because a "tourist" came in and tried to destroy it. He made some significant damage before they could stop him and they had to restore it the best they could. IT's unfortunate because out of everything in the Vatican, I thought that this was by far the most beautiful and moving piece.

We were there the day before a holy festival (the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul), and so the pope's actual garments (which he would be wearing for the festival as well as on other special occasions) were on display. Our tour guide said that she had been giving tours for years and had never seen this happen.

We exited the Basilica into St. Peter's Square, which might have impressed me about as much as the cathedral did! I think I mentioned in my Rome post that I found the city to be a bit dirty, but the buildings and landscape and everything in the Vatican, to include the square, was so pristine and well-kept. There is a statue or Peter and Paul, but I found the one of Peter to be the most interesting. He's holding two keys, one silver and one gold (although you cannot tell that in a statue, just in paintings of the same thing) which signify Jesus handing over the keys to the church, past and present (on this rock I will build my church). I have never been to the Holy City, but just to know that I was standing on the ground where Peter was crucified and walking around a city where both Paul and Peter had themselves walked was incredibly humbling. It kind of blew my mind.

These are how the Romans do public drinking fountains… they are all over the place. But since this one was in the sVatican, we figured it must be holy water.


Peter - you can see the keys in the hand that is pointing

So to sum it up, the Vatican is pretty darn incredible and certainly worth seeing. I think our experience would have been better if it hadn't been in the peak of tourist season in 90-degree-heat (and a lot of it is not air conditioned, which was surprising due to all of the artifacts in there), but beyond that, it was an awesome day. Out of all of it though, here is what amazed me the most:

As I was walking through the Hall of Tapestries, we were surrounded by literally hundreds of people. There were people going through on their own, as well as several tour groups, with multiple tours starting ever fifteen minutes. I turned to look at something and a familiar face caught my eye. I randomly ran into someone I knew in the Vatican! How crazy is that??!! And not just someone that I know, but one of my mentors in ministry, a pastor on the ARC Lead Team who dreamt up ARC Women, something I have been involved with, Lori Champion. She and her family had ended a cruise in Rome and were heading back to Texas the next day. Only God can orchestrate something like that… nothing blew my mind more on this entire trip than that moment. We traveled halfway around the globe to bump into each other… in a place all about the church. Chew on that for moment. 

That afternoon we checked out of our hotel and boarded our floating home for the next week!  Next stop? Florence, ya'll (and you would only understand that reference if you have ever driven through Northern Kentucky). Bon voyage!