Monday, August 30, 2010

33 weeks, and yes I know I'm big!


How far along? 33 weeks!

Total weight gain: Let's not go there.

Maternity clothes? Hopefully my shirts will continue to stretch..

Sleep: It's been great since I went to the chiropractor the other day. I've been dreaming more and more about our baby. Last night, I was going to be induced with Cervidil and a breast pump, and if those didn't work, they were going to break my water - at 33 weeks! They insisted that she was healthy and a good weight.. ha!

Best moment this week: Being with Mark, because that's always the best ever.

Movement: Still rolling and poking limbs out! We love to watch my belly move.

Gender: Girl :)

Labor Signs: Braxton Hicks a lot. Most of them are not bad, but a few are downright painful. In case you've never been pregnant, or never felt them (like my sister), it feels like menstrual cramps, the top of my belly hurts very bad, and my entire stomach gets tight.

Belly Button in or out? She's out. Barely. But she's out.

What I miss: Not peeing all the time.

Weekly Wisdom: I don't have any this week!


I've been nesting like a crazy woman lately. It isn't so much that I'm "cleaning" (though I am!!), but I have this need to reorganize our entire house. As of yesterday, each of our closets are completely organized, tidy, and clean! Now I just need to wash her clothes and diapers, and we'll officially be ready for her!

Half of me is loving this pregnancy so much and enjoying every.single.minute of it and not wanting to rush this time at all. But lately, another half of me is DYING for her to come. Especially when I see photos of friends' newborns! Mostly, I can't wait to see Mark with our newborn! I just know it will be the cutest thing ever. Especially Mark conquering cloth diapers. I'm sure he'll be a pro.

We try to take nightly walks for my body and for the baby, and I'm trying to remember to do my "exercises" for labor. Since starting my class, I keep meeting older women who have given birth naturally, and they're completely encouraging. So I'm not scared at all. Part of Birth Works is conquering your fears - and I can officially say that I have no fears! I'm just trying to remember to trust God - who ultimately designed birth perfectly in His wisdom - and remember that He did design my body for this. So I shouldn't fear it. There's no reason to! :)

We officially only have a month and a half. Oh mercy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

dinner ideas for September

September is quickly approaching, so I thought I ought to go ahead and make our menu for the first half of the month. It's always a struggle for me to come up with dinner ideas -- I can only take so much of spaghetti, hamburgers, tacos, and the "regular" meals I always cook.

So I scour the internet high and low for dinner ideas. It's not easy. And it takes forever. But here's what I've come up with:

chicken casserole
potato soup
hamburgers - 1
meatballs - 1
chicken fingers - 2
chili - 1/2
french toast & bacon
spaghetti - 1/2
tater tot casserole - 1
stuffed bell peppers (??)
sloppy joes - 1
meatloaf - 1
pancakes and bacon (??)

I'm still lacking about 2 dinner ideas since I need a total of 15 days worth of food. I have all the ingredients for vegetable soup, but I've never made vegetable soup. So I'm scared.

Any ideas? :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

the chiropractor and supplements.

The side, back, and hip pain was getting to be too much for me, so I finally made an appointment to see a chiropractor! They did an extensive "evaluation" on me to see just how bad off I was. I did a bunch of bending, standing straight, weighing myself, and they poked all around my body -- it turns out that I have 3 "points" that are really off: one in my neck, mid-back, and lower back.

Which I figured :)

Apparently my left side is taller than my right side, my right side weighs 6 pounds more than my left side, and I need major help. Ha!

So there I was on the table. Mark was sitting right there watching, of course. The doctor did a thing where I inhaled and leaned back as I exhaled, and my entire spine popped -- it was amazing! He also twisted my mid-section and then popped my neck. I stood up and felt so much lighter and more relaxed. And last night, I slept better than I had in months!


During birthing class last night, we discussed (in-depth.. REALLY in-depth!) all about interventions, pain relief, and different kinds of fetal monitoring. We also talked about natural methods of induction -- although none of them will work unless your body is ready to birth your baby. Among these was Evening Primrose Oil and the 5-W supplement.

I'd never even heard of the 5-W supplement, but it contains:
Black cohosh root
Squaw vine herb
Dong quai root
Butcher’s broom root
Red raspberry leaves

I researched it further online, and here's what it says: Designed just for pregnant women, Nature's Sunshine 5-W Herbal Supplement contains an herbal combination that helps to support the body's natural production of estrogen, tone the uterus, stimulate contractions, ripen the cervix, and reduce anxiety. The 5-W stands for "5 weeks", which means it is designed to be taken the last five weeks of pregnancy, in preparation for childbirth. Be sure to check with your care provider first.

My birthing center doesn't induce, and if I haven't gone into labor by 41 weeks 5 days, then I "risk out" and must deliver in the hospital. The supplement helps ripen your cervix and helps you dilate and strengthen your uterus for labor. At my next appointment, I'll ask my midwife more about it, but I think I might give it a go!

I'd heard of Evening Primrose Oil and know that it's used when trying to conceive, but I never knew it was used during pregnancy! "Evening Primrose Oil is a natural way to boost prostaglandin levels, which help to ripen the Cervix. You can find it in capsule form at any retailer that sells natural supplements. You can take it orally after 34 weeks gestation, and insert capsules into the vagina around 38 weeks of pregnancy."

Pretty interesting! Of course the other two "methods of induction" would be stimulating nipples through water or a breast pump and also having sex, since sperm contains prostaglandins (which ripen the cervix).

I think I missed my calling to be a midwife.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

our new diaper bag!

A few weeks ago, I ordered a new diaper bag for our baby girl on Etsy from THIS shop! I was able to custom-make it, choose the snap closure, shoulder strap, etc. and today it arrived!



Piper posing with the matching changing pad

a blurry shot of inside the purse

the back :)

It's adorable, and I can't wait to stuff it full of her belongings!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

today, tonight, and tomorrow

I have been so bad with blogging lately. My excuse? Writer's block. I can't think of a darn thing to blog about! But a lot is going on. I just haven't written about it.

Today I got accepted to graduate school! Pending on a thing or two, I'll be starting my master's degree in January for special education. It's 36 hours and would take 2-5 years, depending on how fast I want to do things. I can't fathom taking 5 years to complete 36 hours, though. Or even four years! I do love school - writing papers, making outlines, notes, etc. is right up my alley! The newness of a class wears off around week two, but it's still fun!

Tonight, we whizzed around town looking at apartments. Next summer, we very well might move into an apartment. We've never apartment-hunted before.. and, boy, there are lots of apartments around here. The trick is finding a two-bedroom new apartment with a sizeable kitchen, carpet, a nice bathroom, preferably no pet deposit, on the bottom floor, near base and within our means of BAH.

Now that shouldn't be TOO hard, should it?!?!

::cricket chirp::

We just got back from Barnes and Noble, which makes me think of the good old "courtship" days back in 2006! Mark read a book on Revelation and a book on becoming a new father. I read about baby sleep habits and patterns, baby food-making, and raising daughters in the Lord. I chugged a whole glass of orange juice and decided I definitely NEED a few books:

Hopefully I can find the first and third at the library and get the second one cheap online! Did I mention that we've decided to make a lot of her baby food? I'm completely unopposed to jarred food - don't get me wrong! But why not make her food from scratch!? It'll "force" Mark and I to eat a more healthy diet, which is good for all of us. Plus, what else better do I have to do than to steam or boil veggies, puree them, blend them, and freeze them in cute little ice cube trays? I mean really now!

Tomorrow we're venturing off to the chiropractor for the very first time. I can no longer take the hip, side, rib, and back pain that comes with the third trimester of pregnancy! I'm hoping he can pop me in some way and readjust everything and make me brand spankin new! I can't even remember what it was like to not have back pain! I've been sleeping with a pillow between my knees, like all the books suggest. I think it helps a little, but ehhh.. I'm holding out with high hopes for the chiropractor!

Also, tomorrow means it's Thursday, which means it's birthing class day - my new favorite day of the week! For an update: I'm nearly 33 weeks, and the Braxton Hicks contractions are in full swing. Am I a baby if I say they sort of hurt? Because they do. And, yep, I'm still aiming for a low-intervention, natural birth. But I can still say the BH contractions don't feel good. Because they don't.

I'm feeling more and more ready for her with each passing day. Which I guess is a good thing, because ready or not, she's coming! :-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

our small group trip!

Yesterday we spent the day at the Chickahominy River in Williamsburg with our church small group! You might not know what a "small group" is, and it's really hard to explain. But basically, it's a group of people similar in age or life experiences that get together to fellowship & study the Word of God. Pretty much.

They're our best friends here in our new city, and we definitely (completely!!) feel closer to them than anyone in the Air Force. For us, our church family is a gazillion times more necessary than a military family. They know us well, pray for us, and we're there for each other, and it's great!

I made a hashbrown casserole for this little event - and I'll share the recipe tomorrow! - and it turned out great! But more about our fun day:


It started out with me. Looking 32 weeks pregnant. Mark played frisbee with the guys, and I talked with the girls about apartments and child birth. And I saw my first "real" snake out in the wild. I nearly gave birth in the forest when I saw it slither by!! Um, EW!


Mark went exploring in the lake - without me - and came back looking like this. Should I claim him? No? :)


After a yummy lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs, the girls and I (and Mark too!) went out on the boat! It was pretty "bouncy," and our baby definitely felt it. Definitely. She suddenly became super active and was pushing out on me sooo hard!!


Mark tried to wakeboard.. and he gave it his best shot..!!

what a cutie!

We had so much fun, and it made me realize how much I hope we are able to take our family on camping trips when our daughter is old enough! Yes, me, the girl who has never really camped in her life! But I'm sure Mark can keep the snakes and scary bugs away from us! I hope :)

Next month is our (Mark & myself) turn to plan our small group get-together. We have no idea what to plan! I've heard lots of requests for us meeting at a Mexican restaurant. Because who doesn't love Mexican food!? Yum! Speaking of which, we just had Mexican food for lunch - ha!

Anyway, we're very thankful for our small group and that we were stationed in an area with such a wonderful church!

Friday, August 20, 2010

32 weeks, birthing class, and Piper


How far along? 32 weeks!

Total weight gain: I don't know. And I don't want to know.

Maternity clothes? Yep! Feeling great on me!

Sleep: Hip pain & rib pain keep me tossing and turning still. I also get up twice a night to pee these days.

Best moment this week: Starting birthing class! Which was actually last week, but it's my favorite time of the week - by far!

Movement: More rolling around these days and less kicks and jabs. But she still enjoys poking a limb out very often, and I poke it back in. And she sticks her butt out a lot, and Mark spanks it. Yep, I'm 100% sure it's her butt!

Gender: I have a daughter!

Labor Signs: Nah, but I was getting this stabbing pain a few days ago. But it went away. Just normal growing pains.

Belly Button in or out? On Tuesday, she shifted, and my belly button re-emerged!! I actually had a hole! It didn't last long, though, and quickly went back to being flat. Not sticking out yet, though!

What I miss: Not being in pain nearly all the time. And on that note, I'm going to a chiropractor, so hopefully he can "fix" me!

Weekly Wisdom: Definitely get some good childbirth education. Dr. Sears compares it to training for a marathon - you definitely wouldn't attempt a marathon without first training (a lot!!)


So as you know, we've begun our birthing class! We're going through Birth Works, which is kinda sorta similar to the Bradley Method, but the philosophy is a smidge different. Birth Works more-so recognizes the (sometimes) need for interventions (Pitocin, c-sections, etc.) and doesn't dwell on the "failure" if you need to go that route. Because sometimes they are necessary!

So far, we've discussed physical needs during labor, nutrition, different positions, causes for c-sections, fears, birth plans, baby plans, and a lot more! Yesterday, we learned what a "Baby Plan" is - and basically it's your requests for your baby after your baby is born. Pending that we stay healthy, and I am "able" to stay in the midwifery center, our baby will never leave our side (ever!), and we'll be able to give our daughter her first bath!

Next week we will be discussing interventions and their risks/benefits. Mark always participates so much in birth class - which is kind of hard to imagine, if you know my husband! But he always answers questions, and it's the cutest thing ever! Between me, our books, and watching The Business of Being Born, I think my husband is more "into" birth than the average man. It's adorable :) He says he is my "personal doula" and that's his "job!" Ha! Yesterday, when I returned from the bathroom, I found my husband ON the birthing ball!! Rolling around in the floor. Needless to say, he is positive that we need a birthing ball* :)

*Our birthing center provides them, but we can buy one for ourselves if we want.


What Happens When Daddy Comes Home:




They're attached at the hip. Literally.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

today, I...

...have not been feeling well at all. I almost think I have some sort of bug, but I can't be sure.

...texted Mark to come home for lunch because I missed him oh so much. And the snuggles while watching The Price Is Right were definitely worth it.

...sat in our nursery and read every single book (out loud) that our baby owns. We're starting her phonemic awareness early 'round here.

...forgot to thaw out our ground beef, even though I said about 4 times (out loud) how we're "having hamburgers for supper!"

...took all the inserts out of our FuzziBunz in preparation to wash them for the very first time. I'm pretty nervous that I'll mess them up, but I'm thrilled to beans to get them ready for our daughter. looking so forward to our birthing class tonight; I can hardly stand it!

...feel ready to give birth. Now. Even though we've only been to one birthing class, which was mainly an introduction to Birth Works. But I feel mentally ready. Kind of.

...opted out of visiting the White House, even though we got special tickets, because the tour was later than we thought. And it's extremely rainy today. Rain & DC don't mix. wishing I had some Chipotle. As usual :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

an update on my pregnancy.

Our sweet little one often has hiccups now, and Mark loves feeling them from outside my tummy! It feels like a gigantic heartbeat beating rhythmically. Thump. Thump. Thump.


I haven't been blogging lately - I'm so bad! I have so much to catch you up on!

We started our birthing classes on Thursday - we had so much fun! Is it weird for me to admit that it was really, really romantic? The first two hours were a general overview of the class and a big question & answer session. It was extremely informative and Mark even loved it! I will say -- it's so cute to see him talk about contractions, breathing, how he's going to support me, etc. Just SO adorable!

Our class is so long that we actually have snack time. Our teacher brought carrots and hummus, so I tried it for the first time! The last half hour was relaxation time where we worked on deep breathing and moaning.. and Mark (and the other dads!) took the opportunity to give us all massages while we were there!

Yesterday was spent running around town and shopping - so fun! Truthfully, I can't really remember what we did yesterday. I don't seem to have much of a brain these days. My belly is stretching so much and so fast that my skin actually hurts. I had a midwife appointment on Friday, and it turns out that our daughter is shoved on my right side, which is why I'm having so much rib/side pain. My belly button is just about gone. I'm getting super anxious for her to get here. I just really want us to have our special family time. Now, please!

I've gotten all my scrapbooking supplies, so I've been working on my pregnancy scrapbook. I have about 4 pages to go, and then I'll be all caught up! Between that and my "Belly Book," I'm pretty sure I've documented just about everything throughout this pregnancy! :)

Nesting has officially kicked in gear. I want to throw away every.single.thing. in our house. Somehow, my dining room table has collected a ton of stuff that I have to "go through" and find a place for. I still have lots of work. Next up: our hall closets and the spare bedroom. An added bonus is that we'll remove all the "junk "from our lives before we move, so it will make things much easier. I also discovered that I have a ton of brand new Yankee Candles that have really never been burned much (maybe twice?) so now we're enjoying the many scents throughout our home. Right now: Mrs. Claus' Cookies.

I've also been dreaming about childbirth and our baby nearly every night. I distinctly remember a couple nights ago that I had our baby, and I realized that I'd never washed her clothes or cloth diapers -- I was completely unprepared for her arrival! I have our special Rockin Green raspberry soap to wash her things in. I'm sure it will be wonderful!

Mark is playing with Piper in the floor. Our clothes are drying in the dryer. I have a huge pile of scrapbook supplies on the loveseat. Our living room smells like cookies. I'm looking forward to my nightly back massage!

Friday, August 13, 2010

my top 10 list

And now I present to you my top ten list of the "negative aspects" of pregnancy. Note that I especially love being pregnant and am praying that these remaining 9 weeks crawl by because I love it that much. But let's get real: pregnancy hurts sometimes.

10. Having to get up to pee at night: Especially when I lay on my back, my bladder is squashed like a pancake. And I have to go. I'm a pro at stumbling to the bathroom and easily falling back asleep. But still.

9. Puking in my mouth a little bit: I totally puked a smidge in my mouth on the way to my midwife appointment today. While I was driving on the interstate. It's totally gross. And I'm sure I just grossed you out. Whoops!

8. Third trimester nausea: I was crusin through the second trimester and feelin fine. And then I got to the third, and my baby decided that she didn't like certain foods. Among these are: broccoli in frozen dinners, tomato soup, and certain brands of BBQ. She also gets vicious when she's hungry.

7. Stretch marks that I know will never go away. I guess I'll embrace them as "marks of love" or whatever, but I could definitely do without.

6. Feeling sickly at random moments and wanting to sit down in a store. Not fun.

5. Hip pain: I'm pretty sure that my hips are expanding like crazy. I guess? It causes me to flop every night from my left to my right side.

4. Throwing up: This one isn't so bad. Mainly because I'm used to it. On the way to get breakfast (in my kitchen) this week, I got half-way there and realized I had to throw up. So I did, and then I felt fine again and got a poptart.

3. Not being able to reach anything or get up from a seated position: It's really awkward trying to adjust to a big belly that keeps you from reaching things in the floor of a car. Or trying to sit up from a laying position. Or how to roll out of a bed.

2. Back pain: You know where your figure makes an "hour glass"? Well, that area really hurts for me. I have no idea if this is where typical pregnant women have pain, since I only know my body.. but it really hurts. Especially if I ride in the Jeep for extended periods of time.

1. RIB PAIN: The absolute worst. My ribs h.u.r.t. like none other. I really do feel like a couple of them are definitely bruised, if not cracked or something. My midwife just told me today that she is completely shifted on my right side, which is why I always feel her kick on the right side and why I have right side pain. I can barely even lay on my sides because of it. OUCH.

Ahh, now that was fun. And really, the good definitely outweighs the bad. Like I said, I love being pregnant and everything that comes with it. But boy, I could really go for a great massage right now. And maybe a pedicure. And, heck, while I'm at it, why not a facial too!? :)

Maybe tomorrow I'll compose my "Top 10 favorite things about being pregnant."

Maybe :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

stream of consciousness!

Last night I dreamed about labor all.night.long. It wasn't really painful at all, and I kept thinking, "This is it!? How easy!"


I know exactly why I dreamed about labor. It's because yesterday, my baby kept jabbing something really low (had to have been a hand), and it hurt really bad. I kept telling Mark that I was ready to birth her now if she was going to keep that up. Apparently my subconsciousness isn't ready for that, come to find out! :)

Yesterday, we printed 80 photos of my pregnancy (ultrasound, belly, nursery, and maternity), so now I'm in scrapbooking mode, and I have about 5 or 6 more pages to go before I'm finally caught up! Piper hates my mess of scrapbooking supplies and "chomps" at them from afar.

Tonight we begin our birthing classes. I'm more excited about it than Mark. I mean, he's excited too, but he isn't excited about the time of it -- we don't get out until 9:30. He's taking on the role of my "personal doula" pretty seriously, which I think is the cutest thing in all the world.

I ordered a custom-made ABUs diaper bag. I cannot wait to show it to you. Heck, I can't wait to see it for myself!

I'll be 31 weeks pregnant tomorrow. Time isn't really flying, which I'm thrilled about. Mark has the day off tomorrow (he took leave), so we're trying to decide what kinds of shenanigans we can get ourselves into in the Norfolk/VA Beach area. So far we've got nothing.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, August 9, 2010

things I just have to get!

Friends of mine are always asking me where I find the baby products I love. And it's simple: I just research! I haven't done a baby product list in quite a while, so here I am!! Since we are just about two months away from Sharkie's due date, I've been thinking more and more about our little girl and the things she will need.

Ok. She really has all the things she needs, but there are just some things that are way too cute!!!!

#1: the Chicco Liteway Stroller - Starlette:

I know. I know. I already have an orange UPPAbaby that works just fine. But this! This stroller looks like a strawberry, doesn't it?! It would be perfect as a light weight stroller to whip out if you were running into a store or.. something. I guess a child only really needs one stroller. But this one is just too cute! $130 at Babies R Us!

#2: a personalized necklace from Etsy with Sharkie's name on it:

This necklace is from THIS SHOP and is only $24. I love those squigglies on each side of the name and the font of the writing. There are zillions of necklaces on Etsy that are personalized with names. I could spend hours searching!

#3: the MamaRoo:

Ok, I HAVE TO GET THIS! It's brand new and gets MUCH better reviews than the Graco SweetPeace. Nearly every single mom gave this seat 5 stars when I looked at parent reviews. It's smaller, works better, and is so much cuter. I've got my eye on that orange one!!! I'm pretty sure our little Sharkie will be getting this for Christmas instead of a traditional swing. Oh me!!! $199.99 at Babies R Us (you can click the link to view it online).

#4: Leg Warmers on Etsy

Last night, Mark picked out these two sets of baby legs on Etsy:

They're from THIS SHOP on Etsy and are only $8 a piece - AND they all come with matching headbands! They're cheaper than the name-brand Baby Legs, but they're just as cute! I can't wait to dress our sweet baby girl up in these delicious leg warmers.

So there we go! Those are the products I have my eye on. I so want that woman's job who runs Talk about a dream job!!! How fun would it be to review and rate baby products all the time?!? :)

Edited to say: Oops! I ordered 3 pairs of BabyLegs this afternoon, and they weren't from this shop. I found a "Buy 3 for $21" deal, and I couldn't pass it up. Though I will definitely be buying something from that adorable shop.. can't pass up those matching headbands! Oh goodness, who would have EVER thought that I would love girl accessories SO MUCH!?? Really now.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

30 weeks pregnant

How far along? 30 weeks 2 days

Total weight gain: Who cares, really!? :)

Maternity clothes? I finally bought maternity blue jeans.

Sleep: Oh wondrous sleep! I sleep very soundly now.

Best moment this week: Seeing our baby in 3D and doing our maternity photos!
Movement: More and more jabs. She likes to stick a foot out really hard, and I poke it so she'll move it back in. Sometimes she jabs me so hard that I say "Oof!" but I love it.

Gender: girl!

Labor Signs: None. But hey, I discovered that I have a linea nigra. It looks really weird.

Belly Button in or out? It's teeny tiny, see?

What I miss:
Not feeling huge.. ? I've already got plans to go on Weight Watchers in January.

Weekly Wisdom: Do maternity pictures even if you feel bigger than a whale. They're fun, and it'll never ever be "just" you and your spouse for the rest of your lives! What a sweet time to get photos together :)

Well, folks, stretch marks are on the horizon and there's no stopping them. I would cry about it, but even Dr. Oz says there's not a thing on earth you can do but embrace them. And hope they become less visible with time. Sigh. I knew this would happen, though, because I have really weird skin.

Physically speaking, I feel fine! I have lots of energy and nothing to complain about. We had so much fun taking our photos, and Alissa did a great job! Here are some of our favorites:

Of course the rest are on Facebook! We're now in the single digits: 9 weeks and 5 days to go. Gulp.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

our bad day and our great day!

The wonderfulness of today overshadows the rotten "bad luck" that Mark and I faced yesterday. Yesterday was full off odd "mishappenings" (is that a word?) that left us feeling frustrated and annoyed. After 9 hours without electricity, a bad visit to Chipotle, and a zillion other things that went wrong, we were able to go see Leeland in concert!

Leeland is our favorite Christian band and is kinda sorta along the line of worship music(?) Hard to describe, but we could put a child to sleep with their music. In a good way, I mean. But the lyrics are very "deep" and "rich," and we love it. My favorite song is Via Dolorosa, which describes the path Christ walked to His crucifixion. I will say that Sharkie enjoyed the concert immensely and moved the entire night. She's already a fan of great music!!
We even got to hear Leeland preach for 30 minutes! What a neat treat. He sort of reminds me of Ron Weasley. I wonder if he's ever been told that before.


Anyway, today was wonderfully fun! My friend Alissa volunteered to take maternity shots of us! So she, our other friend Amanda, and Mark & I went all around town (and outside of town!) to take photos today! I really had no idea that my belly was this big until I saw it in some of the pictures! She's given me 3 sneak peeks, and I'm so excited to see the rest!! Here's one:

We also stopped at a local restaurant for burgers and Ben & Jerry's! What a fun, fun day! Mark came home and immediately fell asleep. I'm too excited about our photos to rest! When I see more, I'll post them!

Special thanks to Alissa for being SO wonderful and taking these photos for us!!!!!!!! You're amazing and incredibly sweet!!! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

children are the fruit of marriage!

Seven months ago, on January 31st, our lives were changed forever. We remember the exact moment we found out that our firstborn was on the way, and we remember just how we felt. It took weeks for the reality to set in. Don't get me wrong -- we were overjoyed, excited, elated, but things are hard to grasp when your child is the size of a lentil bean.

Since that day, we have grown on so many ways. As our child continues to grow (for which we are so thankful!), so do we: our marriage, our sense of responsibility, our understanding of our purpose and roles as husband and wife and children of God. We definitely "planned" this pregnancy as much as humanly possible, but of course it was ultimately up to God. And, evidently, God saw us fit to raise one of his little ones. And so our roles as mommy and daddy began in January.

The vast majority of married couples I know have an idea that they would like to "wait a long time" before having children. Even couples that have secure careers, own homes, have been married for 2+ years, etc. still wish to "wait a little longer." And we really aren't sure why this is. If you ask my husband, he will gladly tell you (with enthusiasm!) that this child is the best thing in our lives. Parenting, to us, has been nothing but pure joy from the day we knew of her existence. Yes, even the vomiting, back pain, heartburn, frequent urination, and restless nights. It's worth it in countless ways. And I can't even begin to tell you how much more I love Mark, and how much more he loves me, now that we are not "just" Shannon and Mark, but now we're Shannon, the mother of Adalyn, and Mark, the father of Adalyn.

If you were to ask your great grandmother why she had children, she would probably respond with something like, "Because that's what we did!" There was no "planning" your family and waiting for the "perfect" time to become a mom and dad. Marriage meant that you would (likely) have children. And with the "intellectual" revolution came means of preventing children. We have gone from a people group of viewing children as the most precious and wonderful blessing from God, to viewing them as a burden, a financial strain, an added stress to marriage, and something to put off until you were "ready."

The following is a quote from Start Your Family:

Instead of seeing children as a threat to the other blessings of marriage, we can embrace the fact that God created all the good things of marriage to work in harmony. Dr. Mohler encourages Christian married couples to "reject the contraceptive mentality that sees pregnancy and children as impositions to be avoided rather than as gifts to be received, loved and nurtured." Not even the most creative couples among us can improve on God's design for fruitful marriages. We can trust that His purposes for marriage are good and can satisfy our desires better than any alternatives our culture offers. "The estate of marriage and everything that goes with it in the way of conduct, works, and suffering is pleasing to God," Martin Luther wrote. "Now tell me, how can the heart have greater good, joy, and delight than in God, when one is certain that his estate, conduct, and work is pleasing to God?"

Our culture has convinced us that everything good in life happens *before* you start your family: creating a large savings account, owning a home, pursuing your career, having a romantic and fun marriage, traveling the world, etc. But that is NOT what God has called Christians to do. "The best reason to have kids -- the one reason that will last beyond mere sentiment -- is so simple that it may not seem very profound: God commands us to have children (Genesis 1:28). It's His desire that we 'be fruitful and increase in number,' and this fruitfulness includes raising spiritually sensitive children who will serve God and work for the glory of his kingdom on earth. Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78 expand on the Genesis instruction by telling us that not only are we to love by the Lord, but we are to raise children who will love God and obey his commandemnts. In other words, having kids isn't about us -- it's about Him. We are called to bear and to raise children for the Glory of God." --Sacred Parenting

I seriously wish that, if you are a believer, you would look to what God has to say about children and the blessings that come with parenthood. In Psalm 127, Solomon writes: "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalm 128 follows with, "Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord."

Unless we are stone-cold spiritually -- virtually spiritual corpses -- the journey of caring for, raising, training and loving children will mark us indelibly and powerfully. We cannot be the same people we once were; we will be forever changed, eternally altered. Spiritually speaking, we need to raise children every bit as much as they need us to raise them. --Sacred Parenting

(Now, I realize that some couples are unable to have biological children - and this is where I *FULLY* believe that adoption should be an option! Even for families with biological children, adoption is a wonderful thing. But I do believe that every married couple is called to parent a child in one way or another, since it is a command from the Lord.)

Children are the fruit of marriage! We are so, so very thankful for the blessing of our little Adalyn. She is the light of our lives, and we couldn't imagine our world without her. Though she isn't born, we have learned so much about parenting already. I can't imagine the joys she will bring to our lives in October. Parenting is truly the greatest gift (other than salvation) that God has given!


I highly recommend the book Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies by Steve & Candice Watters! It's a great book, recommended to me by MckMama!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

anything for literacy.

Mark and I are big "fans" of educational "materials" for our baby girl! Puzzles, books, and sensory toys are at the top of our list for things we wish Sharkie to have. Sometimes we go to book stores, sit on the floor, and sift through every board book they have. Some of them are - excuse me- dumb, and I could have totally written them. But some are so precious, so sweet, so creative, and I love them!

My newest favorite book is this collection of Richard Scary's Classic Stories. We all remember Richard Scary, right?

Sidenote: What was that thing? A worm? A worm with a shoe and a hat? HA! I love it!

I also found these adorable cloth books with lots of flaps, tags, textures, and bright colors. They're perfect for babies. But Mark picked out a book on his own that he fell in love with: a nursery rhyme book! It's a big board book with large font and cute animations. I know kids love nursery rhymes, but some of them are weird. For example:

Goosey Goosey Gander

Goosey Goosey Gander, whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs and in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man who would not say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.

..okay then..

Is this a famous nursery rhyme?! I'd never even heard it! But I did some refreshing on nursery rhymes and literacy, and...

"There is overwhelming evidence that early learning of nursery rhymes and rhythmic poems, songs, and chants significantly enhances early reading skills and phonemic awareness. In fact research highlights phonemic awareness as a strong predictor of a child's reading success."

Anything to enhance Sharkie's phonemic awareness, though.. right? :)

(PS. 5 points to me for even remembering the term phonemic awareness from my college years! My teachers would be so proud! Hehe!)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

my early days with C

You've probably heard me say once or twice (or more) that I was with Clayton all the time when he was a baby. When he was born, I was a senior in high school, and he was my favorite thing in the world. Every day after school, I would come and play with him - and continue to play with him all night.

As a result, we became best friends. And no one can deny that Clayton and I have a special relationship that no one else has. He will still come and sit on my lap, snuggle with me, and give me kisses -- although I see those days quickly coming to an end, as he has just begun Kindergarten. He's growing up!

::sniff, sniff::

In June, he was telling me about his best (child) friend, and how he had told him all about Aunt Shannie. He insisted that his friend was dying to meet me. I've been told that he brings me up in class sometimes. And in July, he asked me to come play at his friend's house to show me to his friend.

::heart melt::

Obviously, I'm a "fan" of photos. So it's no surprise that, by 3 months old, I had C "trained" to smile when he saw a camera. I just love him so much :)


this photo sums up his toddler years: WILD