Thursday, November 13, 2014


It's November-- the middle of apple season and the month set aside for focusing on adoption, giving thanks and beginning the Christmas season. We've discovered a few things lately pertinent to this month.

Apples. Visiting friends recently introduced us to their newfound gadget love. It being apple season they brought in a bag of apples and wowed us with an apple corer/peeler/slicer. And what's more, they left it as a gift when they headed home! Apples have now become as favored a fruit as bananas if not moreso which is saying a lot to oust banana man from his top spot. We've become like walking salesmen for this little gadget. So while it's still apple season, run on over to Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond or Amazon and pick up one for yourself! We don't think you'll regret it!

Community and Truth. Most Tuesday mornings for the last two years I've had the privilege of meeting with a group of incredible moms. Tuesdays are a highlight of my week because of these friends. We've shared a lot together and this year, one by one, have announced our pregnancies to each other with some of us due in the same week. Constantly I'm amazed by the challenges from these ladies and the resources they know about. The website is one of the latest discoveries that has been an incredible blessing and good change up for Bible reading. I'm pretty excited about the advent study that's to come too!

Also this week, I really appreciated a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers about the topic of church and community. It's a discussion Jason and I dialogue about often and the read was a great one. You can find it here and weigh in with your thoughts.

Adoption. It's National Adoption Awareness Month. Many families and churches are considering this calling, being challenged on this issue. Probably every mom in the adoption realm has heard about this post, but recently a blog post entitled The Ugly Side of Adoption caught my eye and after reading it, even days later, I am deeply encouraged and agree more and more with the wisdom offered in those words!

Talent. When the need arises for new wood furniture in our home, Jason is our custom builder. It's one of his many talents having successfully built our T.V. cabinet, book shelf and kids' loft bed. A few months ago when we started talking about the need for a buffet table, his visionary juices started flowing. From cutting down the tree, milling the wood and designing the table/bench, this was his finished product. He even made his own wooden pegs to hold it all tightly together. He's got some skills...and a really thankful wife.

Heroes. Just yesterday we got to visit the EMS workers who came to our aid a few weeks ago. We said thank yous in person and found out some new, interesting facts about that night. With the exception of assisting once in a delivery, Lerah was actually this teams first delivery flying solo. How grateful we all were for their training that paid dividends in helping us welcome our girl! And did I mention that they read our blog post?! Every time I looked at Michael I kept thinking, you know I called you a traumatized teenage boy. Eek! :) If you're reading this now, know that I meant it for comic relief in the best way possible! You look young for your age, man!

Our heroes!
Kids. And because no post would be complete without the latest from our kiddos, here are a few of our favorites from the month so far.
Pajama twins! 
Levi and his mini me
These two love having a baby in the house and sometimes have to paper-rock-scissors for who holds her first. Just last week Reshma asked, "Can we keep her forever" and I overheard Levi saying, "I've just fallen in love with you." At almost four weeks she's still a novelty and quite possibly the most even-tempered baby I've ever been around. What a joy and blessing she is to us all!

Alicia Tegen always wows us with her talent! 

And for one picture maybe not so pertinent to November, today during preschool I found the way to my four year old boy's funny bone. This part of the book Owen by Kevin Henkes had Levi in stitches belly laughing over and over. Unfortunately I think it may have given him some ideas and am hopeful our pictures of the kids in the month to come don't include any reenactments.

Finally, a picture I found this week that seems appropriate for throwback Thursday. Right after Jason and I were engaged we took a school trip to work with a Bible school, visit an orphanage and go on a safari in Zambia, Africa. Here we are flying down the tarmac with our team leaders way back around 2004.

Happy Thursday...and November! Enjoy all those apples with your new corer/peeler/slicer! ;)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Three in a Row

Goodness, with three of our family's five birthdays falling in October's latter two weeks, this particular year's celebrations felt a little more like a birthday gauntlet run than the fun season I hope it will become. With the help of friends and family though, we made this year's run memorable.

Weeks before Jason's birthday he said the only thing he wanted was Lerah's arrival. She came with eight days to spare leaving just enough time for this mama to recoup and coordinate a little birthday dinner with the family complete with Jason's favorite cake from a local bakery (chocolate cake, chocolate icing and peanut butter layers!) and a fun coupon book from the kids.

Next up came Halloween festivities. Knowing we wouldn't have time to make fun costumes (remember last year when Levi was a saltine cracker?!) in early October we ordered some. But when we got an email right before Lerah's arrival saying Reshma's couldn't be shipped, Mimi came to the rescue and sewed together a super cute Elsa-esque costume for our girl's first chance getting dressed up and going door-to-door for candy.

The great blue and white creation made an appearance the next day too at Reshma's MUCH anticipated 10th birthday party. Since Levi's party in April Reshma has talked and dreamed about what her first birthday in America would be like. We decided with so many friends coming we'd combine the celebration with her dedication. The results were an incredibly meaningful day and a hugely celebrated little girl.

Roller skates...just what she wanted!
Entrusted to our care by Jesus, we acknowledge that she is His
and that we will do everything we can to honor Him in her upbringing. 

In the week since all the festivities, we've rested and cleaned and rested some more. Finally tonight we made it to our first real commitment-- our students' final Warrior Run for this year's soccer games. Guess which two cuties got to join in the fun?!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Welcoming Lerah

A week ago today I was choosing patience, making the most of every day with just two kids but feeling about ready to pop. I had read the books, googled the questions and studied all the handouts. I thought I knew how this labor thing worked. Pretty early on Jason and I decided to try a different approach with birth #2 and settled on a hospital delivery with midwives. While most of my mom friends go to midwives because they are all-natural, I'm-tough kinda girls, I confess I only wanted to go because I didn't like some of the results my body endured after an epidural. So, midwives at a hospital with a water birth sounded great though still scary for this self-proclaimed wimpy girl.

On Wednesday, October 15th, contractions came and went through the night sporadically. False labor I kept telling myself. I went to my midwife appointment the next day and when leaving began having stronger, more frequent contractions. Finally I was beginning to think maybe this was early labor. By the time we made it home and got kids in bed I started packing final things knowing we'd surely be headed in that night. What I didn't realize was that my body hadn't read the book I read and perfectly timed ten minute apart contractions looked a lot more like 8 min, 15 min, 12 min, 9 min intervals. But really we were okay, right?!, because everything said head on when contractions were 5 to 6 mins apart. Surely my body would slowly work it's way down those numbers?!

Sometime close to midnight we called the midwife to travel but because I was at around 10 min. intervals she asked me to walk a bit, see if things got closer and call right back. I don't know quite what happened in the next few minutes except that 10 turned to 2 then virtually zero. I called back, handed Jason the phone and, feeling incredibly sick, tried to make it to a trash can. Standing I realized it. Somehow I'd made it through every stage of labor and was now at transition with my body beginning the process of delivery. So long hospital hopes and dreams, hello home birth in the bathroom! 

While Jason and I had read we were not prepared to deliver a baby... so Jason called 911. Local paramedics were close but getting them to our college campus home was a bit tricky, and Jason stayed with me until the last second to run out to flag them down. Never have I ever been so relieved to see a burly, red-headed man in all my life. The EMT assured me he had delivered babies and crouching in our tiny bathroom with a laboring woman, another EMT and a super supportive husband began the ten minute process of helping our sweet little bundle of a girl enter the world. She was perfectly tiny and healthy and was scooped up quickly by Dad who stole her first kiss. Pretty soon after the two medics and a surely traumatized teenage male paramedic moved us into the ambulance where we made the trip to finally meet our midwife who'd been sick with worry when we didn't call back for a long time.

Baby deliverer up front, assistant at my side and traumatized boy pushing

At the hospital they admitted us and cared for me and our 6 lb. 14 oz. Lerah Joy for about 36 hours. So often through this pregnancy we were asked about our birth plan and the hopes we had for how labor and delivery would go. My written plan was simple but now in hindsight I realize how often a birth plan is us trying to control a situation that can often be out of our control. Sure, water births or epidurals or no drugs are fine to plan for, but really, really I think every woman's simple plan is that she safely deliver her baby. If that simple plan is accomplished, she should celebrate.  We sure have!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

She's Here!

Early Friday morning our girl made her appearance in a rather quick, unexpected way! Full story here tomorrow but for now here are a few pictures from our exciting weekend!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Family Photos

My creative juices for post titles are running low these days, huh?! When a friend recently visited from out of state she brought her camera along and asked if she could take some maternity and family pictures for us. We squeezed in picture time between talking and before the Indian celebration we attended. Between Levi and his binoculars (he tried to pull them out for so many pictures) and Reshma's stomach being ready for tasty Indian food, here are some of our favorites she got.

Toward the end of photos and the most genuine smiles we were gonna get!

Our kids true feelings sans binoculars and food...

 He genuinely does this several times a week and even has said, "I love you because you have a baby in your tummy." I take what I can get.

She is such a daddy's girl!

Tomorrow I go for my 39 week appointment. While there are no indications other than that number that Lerah's arrival is imminent, we've been working away trying to get as many projects finished up as possible. We'll keep things updated here as things progress and anticipate that our next photos will be of welcoming our fifth!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Love, Joy, Shingles and 37 Weeks

We are alive and home again after a weekend away. Tiny Tegen #3 is still cozy with no sign at 37 weeks of any early surprises which in our opinion is somewhat unfortunate. 

With Levi we debated and talked names until the moment he was born and we saw his face. With Reshma we knew we'd keep her given name and decided pretty early on her two middle names for their significance. This time, with the third, and the reality of just becoming a family of four only to start preparing to climb to five, we didn't even really talk names until I passed six months and frantically started looking through every website and book I could get my hands on. Jason named some of his favorites, I named mine and none really matched. We love and long for significance with names. There was one name, however, that kept coming up over and over again. Years ago realizing my maiden name wouldn't really be carried on, I wrote it out forward and backward and abbreviated and loved one variation of it. But the one I loved and eventually shared with Jason and he loved seemed a little silly to me. So we searched and searched for other names and every time came back to this one variation. Finally, a month or so ago Jason called us to a decision with both of us knowing this one name was our very favorite.
Lerah- (rhymes with Sarah) from my maiden name
Joy- from Jason's mom's middle name and what we pray she epitomizes
The closest meanings for Lerah we found were of Spanish, Russian and South African origin. Lerato, the South African name, means love. But really our origin is just from a precious line of people we call family. 

I'm at weekly appointments now and the recurring question lately, after measuring a little small, is if I feel that the baby is growing. Confidently I can say that Lerah is quickly outgrowing her space...

36 weeks
37 weeks

These last weeks have been ticking by quickly with all that's been going at our place. A few weeks ago after being bit by a spider and having localized swelling, Jason started developing a rash with strange symptoms which turned out to be exactly what we diagnosed, shingles. After a round of medicine and rest, he's much better. The kids managed to avoid getting chicken pox from his shingles virus but opted for colds instead. On one particular day with Levi feverish and tired of his runny nose, Jason rigged a homemade remedy.

Feeling better and ready for some fresh air with friends
Thankfully Reshma didn't come down with symptoms until days later which meant she felt fantastic for the much-anticipated Indian dance we took her to. With amazing food, a host of Indian college students and Jason's brother's girlfriend to introduce us to people and show us the ropes, Reshma soaked in every moment of the evening. It's hard to see the room full of students dancing but you can for sure see our girl dancing her heart out.


This weekend after a full week and everyone starting to feel better, we packed up and headed for some friends to share an Azerbaijani meal. It's been eight years since we lived there but the food still brings back a flood of memories. Too bad our kids aren't as fond of the stolichny, dolma, mimosa or tandeer bread. This picture makes me smile. Can you see their Azeri food love?!

Finally, on the way back home today we were able to see our favorite newlyweds and share cinnamon rolls, my latest craving, at an IKEA furniture display. 

Tomorrow we have a day off of the routine with unpacking, no school and a new chore chart to implement! Hope your week gets off to a great start as well!

Friday, September 5, 2014

August Pictures

Moving into September, there are a few photos and memories from August we'd rather not forget...or lose! 

This night our kids were entertained for a really long time with games made up using a single roll of tape! 

This beauty caught Levi's eye one morning as we drove by our local consignment store. I told him we couldn't buy it but somehow let myself be talked into stopping on our way back through town since it was still there hours later. Covered in mold and quite nasty, the store was planning to throw it out and told us it was free for the taking. Levi was ELATED and hours of scrubbing later this free beauty is now part of his bedroom Man Cave area much to his dad's dismay.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my profile through a car glass or my shadow from the sun and I'm amazed by the sweet, big basketball hiding in my belly. Our littlest love is 34 weeks developed and the Braxton Hicks, insomnia and growing inability to bend remind me that we are getting super close. We officially have her name decided and will look forward to sharing with a few home stretch pictures soon.

What can we say...we ADORE this guy?!

Opposites attract. This picture is such a case in point.

Here's the incredible, like-minded group that Jason has the privilege of working with this year!

At a recent birthday party there was a full-size cotton candy machine, and we all enjoyed the sweet treats!

Lately this has been Jason's consistent look when he gets home from a round of mowing-- not amused and covered from head to toe.

Our millennials doing their work together this past Saturday. ABC Mouse for one and Rosetta Stone English for the other!