Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Time, Memories and An Octopus

Several years ago a friend encouraged me that there was/is enough grace and time in every day. Some days that seems to match reality and others, I wonder. For years I've told Jason that time is his best friend and my worst enemy. I'm certain it has something to do with all those years of neglect and procrastination through high school and college. Jason, however, must have been treating it right. Yellow lights stand still for him, clock numbers bow at his feet. Me? They taunt me with every tick. Finally, after probably my thousandth time grumbling that time keeps refusing my friend requests, Jason let me in on his secret: "You don't make time your friend, you make it your slave." Aha!  The needed paradigm shift and, a timely one, with three littles needing attention.

A few things have occupied that precious commodity of time in these last few weeks. 

Like Thanksgiving break adventures in the woods, 

Road trips and I love yous from our youngest, 

And fun picking out a Christmas tree for our apartment complex.

Gumby legs courtesy of Mama
Helping scout for the perfect tree.

This year we did something new by taking pictures with Santa at our campus Christmas party. We have no intentions of being Scrooges but when it comes to the red suited man we do have some issues. While we don't stick our heads in the sand and ignore cultural celebrations, we do shake things up a bit. On St. Nicholas day we read about the real Nicholas talking about his story then and now. This year we even gave in to party pictures. But really, REALLY, we want to have a blast with our kids anticipating Jesus. The last thing we want communicated is that Jesus isn't enough to celebrate and that a red-suited man has to be added to make Christmas meaningful and fun. How culture wants to scream that to us in every area of life...that He could never be enough for fill in the blank but how terribly far that is from the truth. So, again this year Mary and Joseph are trekking through our house to be found each morning doing crazy things with messages about family activities and questions about why we do what we do at Christmas. This morning the couple was on a train heading to the pantry for some treats. In the evenings we're reading through an advent plan that's taking us through the Jesus Storybook Bible. Lights, trees, stockings and gifts all have their place, but hopefully we'll come out of Christmas with full hearts because there is a baby at center stage instead of tinsel, mistletoe and a red suit trying to fill a God-shaped hole.

In the midst of this Christmas season, Reshma continues to thrive at public school while Levi, Lerah and I hang out at home doing preschool and around-the-house chores. It's a tricky business with a four year old that requires an eagle eye around his infant sister. He's all boy and my fears of him being raised sandwiched between two girls have been all for naught. Some examples lately: asking his sister if she wants to watch him gag;  getting caught asking SIRI to show him pictures of poo; and handcuffing his sister while I grabbed a pen in the kitchen. And those are just the things I can share... He's full of life and quite entertaining in his living. Meanwhile, Lerah has started giving genuine smiles and all the more when Levi isn't carrying out one of his many schemes to startle her.

Just this past weekend at our college's graduation while I was talking to a graduate, Levi kept interrupting Jason. It seemed Levi had uncovered an octopus in the bushes. Not believing him Jason skipped the Don't Interrupt Adults speech and went to see what in the world Levi was talking about.

Sure 'nough! And what would any little boy do with a really dirty, life-like octopus? Terrorize his sister with it?? You got it!

Hungry baby plus screaming ten year old plus determined boy plus laundry piles equals a whole lot of making time memorable even if I have yet to master it! 

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 www.shereadstruth.com 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!