Thursday, June 22, 2017

The One All About Squish's First Week

Okay. Here I am (FINALLY!) on my blog to document all of the details of this past week that my sleep-deprived self is terribly unlikely to remember in a few weeks... or a few days... or really, even a few minutes from now. It's been a crazy first week with Squish, and I need to throw all of this out here while it's still rather fresh in my head, because, let's face it: it'll be a few months (or more) before I find the time to document all of this in Squish's baby book, and everyone knows these details will be long gone by that time. My blog to the rescue!

Tuesday, June 13th

Squish is born! So.Much.Love. for this tiny little person!

Wednesday, June 14th

After one night in the hospital, we're ready to be discharged and head home! Squish had been spitting up a good bit of mucus, so our pediatrician decided to wait and do his circ in his office the following Wednesday. And we had to wait until Squish is at least 24 hours old to do a few of the newborn screening/tests that needed to be done. He passed his hearing test, his O2 test, completed his newborn screening, and had bilirubin labs drawn. We had to wait about an hour on the bilirubin results before we could officially head home.
The nurse came in to tell us Squish's bilirubin test came back at 7.7. Apparently if it were 8 or higher, I believe she said they wouldn't have discharged us! Thankfully we had the all-clear to be discharged, with the caveat that we needed to bring Squish in to the pediatrician's office the following day to do a repeat bilirubin test (this test = a heel stick. It's not fun for baby or mommy.). We made our appointment, and were finally ready to leave the hospital.

Thursday, June 15th

We had a ROUGH night at home Wednesday night into Thursday morning. They always say a newborn's second night is always way worse than their first night. YAY. But we survived, and I was able to take Squish to the pediatrician for his bili check.
Unfortunately, his bilirubin went up from 7.7 to to 14.2, obviously not trending in the right direction. It wasn't high enough to warrant phototherapy, and the pediatrician said to keep feeding him as frequently as possible, and to let him sit near a window in the sunlight for about 20 minutes a few times a day. Easy peasy!
In the meantime, I was struggling a bit with the breastfeeding. I won't go into a ton of detail, but let's just say Squish was having issues with his latch, which was causing a good amount of pain for mommy. To help address this, I scheduled an appointment with the Lactation Consultant at the pediatrician's office for Friday afternoon.

Friday, June 16th

Friday afternoon, I arrived at the pediatrician's office for my lactation consultation. It went really well, but I didn't feel like we had necessarily done anything that would immediately resolve the issue. I am hardcore in favor of exclusively breastfeeding (and/or pumping) without using formula (personal preference - no shame to those who choose that route!), so it's really important to me that we are successful with nursing, milk supply, weight gain, etc.
While we were there, the pediatrician peeked at Squish and decided he'd like to see another bilirubin test, and asked us to bring him in on Saturday for another check. Well, okay then! Because three days of doctor visits in a row sounded like a great idea! LOL.

Saturday, June 17th

It's Saturday. We were discharged on Wednesday, and so far, we have spent every.single.day. visiting our beloved pediatrician's office. LOL! We checked Squish's bilirubin and it had only increased from 14.2 to 15.1. This indicated it was starting to slow down and eventually would start falling back into the normal range. What a blessing! I was so glad to hear this because it was really upsetting to continually do heel sticks on my sweet boy!

Sunday, June 18th

We had our first day at home as a family of SIX without any doctor appointments or hospital visits! Hurray! It was a wonderfully relaxing Father's Day!

Monday, June 19th

We had our second day at home without any medical visits or issues! Hurray for this new trend!

Tuesday, June 20th

We went back to the pediatrician's office for what would (hopefully) be our final heel stick and bilirubin check. I was so happy to see that it finally went DOWN to 13 from 15.1! Yippee!! This meant Squish was finally in the clear with his jaundice issues.
While we were there, the pediatrician was taking a closer look at my sweet boy's "boy parts" in preparation for his circumcision we had scheduled the following day. Unfortunately, he discovered an issue with his little parts, and determined he would not be able to perform the circ. In fact, he wanted to refer us to a Pediatric Urologist for further testing, treatment, and possible surgery.
WHAT?!!
That was NOT what I expected to hear!!! I was so surprised and scared and frustrated... my poor boy! He doesn't deserve to go through all of this! I've been researching his diagnosis and it seems that it won't be able to be addressed until he's at least 6 months old. And it will most likely require surgery under general anesthesia. Again, NOT what a mommy wants to hear concerning her week-old newborn baby! At least my little guy didn't have any idea what his doctor and I were discussing... such a peaceful little squishy-squish!
 On Tuesday, we also celebrated little Squish's ONE-WEEK BIRTHDAY!!!

Wednesday, June 21st

Oh, Wednesday. How I loathe thee! Wednesday morning was our first day in SEVERAL days that we did NOT have a doctor's appointment. SCORE! However, Squish woke up to eat around 7:30 AM, and I put him back in his pack n' play when he was finished. I got up almost 3 hours later to check on him, and noticed a dark colored stain on his sheet. I turned on the light and looked closer to see that there was bright red blood mixed with spit up on the sheet right next to his mouth. My baby spit up bright red blood!!! I'm no medical expert, but I know that can NEVER be a good thing. I immediately texted my mom and sister (both nurses) to confirm that I needed to take him in to see the pediatrician. They agreed.
At the pediatrician's office, we discussed ALL of the possible causes for the bloody spit up. One of the most common was that the blood actually came from me while he was nursing (I told you it's been a painful process and that his latch was NOT that great). However, it wasn't a guarantee because the blood was bright red, there was a good amount of it, it appeared a few hours after he finished eating, and there had been ZERO indication of ANY blood in his milk during my many many pumping sessions. So the doctor continued to think through all of the possible scenarios that could have resulted in his spitting up blood.
One of the areas of concern he wanted to rule out was possible gastrointestinal issues, such as Intestinal Malrotation (this would result in surgery to repair). He made a call to his buddy at the main downtown hospital, who happened to be THE MAN over all of Pediatric Radiology, and confirmed that he would be able to get us in as soon as we were able to get there. You can imagine how scary this whole process was! Everything happened so fast, and before I knew it, I was calling hubs, making arrangements for my sister to keep the kids so hubs could meet me downtown, and loading up Squish in the car to head to the hospital.
Within 20 minutes, I found myself at the main downtown Children's Hospital for an Upper GI study for Squish to exclude possible issues such as hematemesis and intestinal malrotation. My sweet, sweet boy! After the experiences we've had with Chase, it was all too surreal to find myself at the hospital for an unexpected test to rule out a major complication. I couldn't stop the tears from flowing as I waited in the patient registration area before going back to Radiology.
Thankfully, sweet Squish cooperated for the test (this was a blessing considering it had been over FOUR HOURS since he'd eaten... he needed to be hungry enough to swallow the barium mixture for the test), and the Radiologist determined there were NO GI ISSUES with our baby! Praise the Lord! This was SUCH a HUGE relief to my mama heart!!!!! 
We left the hospital and I sat in my car, finally able to feed my sweet baby, thanking God over and over for the positive news. Of course, we still didn't have a reason for the bloody spit up, but we are at the point of assuming it came from me when he had nursed the night before. I spoke with my Lactation Consultant, and she suggested I take a break from nursing and just exclusively pump for a day or so to give myself a chance to heal. We scheduled an appointment for me to come in to see her on Friday for another look at Squish's latch and to see what we need to do to make breastfeeding work better for both of us.

Thursday, June 22nd

Today! We have ZERO plans to see doctors, Lactation Consultants, Radiologists, or any other medical professional! In fact, we're planning a little family outing together... our first time leaving the house together as a family of SIX! We couldn't BE more happy to finally get a chance to settle into our new normal... 9 days after our little Squish's arrival!

Thank you to all of our family, friends, and followers for checking in on us, praying for us, bringing meals to us, and just loving on us as we expand our sweet family! And my apologies to any of you who know us personally who may have discovered that I deactivated my Facebook account and am no longer using Snapchat or Instagram. I decided that my focus should be on my family at this time, and not on the world outside of our four walls. That may sound selfish, but for me, it's just what I need to do. I don't want to waste time that I could be spending with my family on my phone checking in to see what everyone else is doing. I love y'all -- really, I do! But this time with my family is just too precious to me right now. And it's important to me to document all of our happenings on the blog here as I have done for my previous three littles, so giving up Facebook is providing me with the time I need to do just that. This blog post right here that you're reading is proof! :) I am still posting random musings and photos on Twitter, so be sure to follow me there for updates, pics, and links to new blog posts!

Hugs!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Welcome, Baby O!

Please welcome the newest member of the mom2lo family!

Baby O
Nickname: "Squish"
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
5:25 PM
8 pounds, 1 ounce
21 3/4 in.



Friday, May 19, 2017

35 Weeks: Appointment 2 of 2

My second appointment for this week was at the Maternal-Fetal Medicine office rather than my usual OB office. It included a growth ultrasound to estimate how big the baby is, in addition to the twice-weekly BPP u/s.

I'm happy to report he looked amazing, passed his BPP, and was estimated to be 6 lbs. even. With the average gain of half a pound a week, we're looking at an estimated 7 lb. 8 oz. baby! I think that sounds great!

I had an interesting day yesterday with some unexpected contractions that included crazy-awful lower back pain. It was not fun! The back pain really hasn't subsided much, but I'm trying to take it easy and put some heat on it when I can.

Our little guy was still in the right position (no more breech - yay!!) and was even face-down -- the perfect position for delivery, but NOT the greatest position to get good pictures of his sweet little face. We were able to get a few profile pics, but he had a hand and the cord right next to his face, so unfortunately they weren't the best.

Other than taking it easy (as much as one can with three littles), there hasn't been much else happening, which is EXACTLY what I need right now. I have limited my outside commitments to almost ZERO (woot!), and have a list a mile long of things I still need to complete before the baby arrives. I haven't even packed either of our hospital bags, so obviously he's not allowed to even think about coming until after that is done. And his nursery still is not ready. And so many other things! I'm definitely in more of a "slow-mo" phase right now than a "nesting" phase. So little energy, so much to do! haha! I know it will all get finished eventually. Until then, I'm just taking things one day at a time and accomplishing whatever I feel capable to get done without overdoing it.

Next Monday we have one last shower, generously given by hubs' coworkers. They are calling it a "Dipes & Wipes" shower, a term I've never heard of before now! I'm familiar with Diaper Showers, but the "Dipes & Wipes" thing just makes me laugh! This baby boy will be SET in the diaper department before he even arrives! We're so grateful!

Next week I'm back to my usual Tuesday and Friday appointments, so check back for updates! Thanks to each of you for following along on our journey!

Hugs!

Monday, May 15, 2017

35 Weeks: Appointment 1 of 2

I just finished at my first of two BPP u/s and doctor visits for this week and I'm happy to report that baby deserves a giant GOLD STAR today!! First of all, his fluid level went back up to 15.8!!! Thank you, Lord! It was at 16 last Tuesday, but dropped unexpectedly all the way down to 10 on Friday. I don't think I could have drank more water in a lifetime as I have these past three days! But it was worth it! Baby performed well for his BPP, quickly earning all 8 of the available 8 points. Yes! Another 8/8! Hurray!!

In other amazingly awesome news, my little guy found his way back to the head-down position!!!! I can't even believe it! I seriously have been researching C-sections and ECVs and all sorts of poses and exercises to help get him out of the breech position, and -- at least for now -- I don't need to worry about any of it! Let's just hope he decides to STAY in his current position for the next 29 days!

On my way home from the appointment, God is Able by Hillsong came on the radio. It was just the reminder I needed that even in the midst of fear, worry, and uncertainty, God is greater than our circumstances and able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine. I'm so grateful for His hand of protection over our sweet baby!

God is able
He will never fail
He is almighty God
Greater than all we seek
Greater than all we ask
He has done great things

God is with us
God is on our side
He will make a way
Far above all we know
Far above all we hope
He has done great things

- God is Able by Hillsong

Sunday, May 14, 2017

35 Weeks!

Here's my weekly update that I finally remembered to start doing! Only 8 months in... it still counts for something though, right? ;)

Week and day: 35 weeks

Belly Button in or out: Totally in. 

Wedding rings on or off: Totally still on.

Food cravings: Cake, cake, and more cake! Oh, and good Mexican food. And cereal. And fruit. You know, basically everything I CAN'T have.

Food aversions: None!

Nausea: None!

Energy level: Still solid, surprisingly! I'm well into my 3rd trimester... only about 30 days away from delivery... and my energy level is on point! This is super awesome because there are still a zillion things to do to get ready for baby. Packing hospital bags is #1 on my agenda this week. Let's hope it gets done!

Weight gain: Not bad! I don't have actual numbers, and even if I did, I doubt I would share them - LOL! Overall I'm pleased with the fact that I KNOW I haven't gained 50 pounds, so I'm counting it a win!

Mood: Great! The countdown is on (less than a month, people!) so I'm doing everything I can to soak up these last few weeks as a family of five and spend as much time with my favorite littles while I still can give them my full attention. 

Maternity clothes: Duh. Seriously.

Size of baby: According to the generic BabyCenter stats, he's over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5 1/4 pounds -- about the size of a honeydew melon. See more below.

Next appointment: I have an OB appointment tomorrow (Monday) morning at 11:15 AM for another BPP (biophysical profile) ultrasound to check on baby and measure the AFI (amniotic fluid index). I'm praying everything looks great and the fluid level is back up. I have an appointment on Thursday afternoon at the MFM (Maternal-Fetal Medicine) office to check on baby's growth. He was estimated to be 4 lbs. 6 oz. at my last growth scan at 32 weeks, so I'm interested to see how much he's grown in the past 3 weeks.

What I've been up to: As I mentioned above, I'm trying to savor every moment as a family of five. I know each time we've welcomed a new baby into our family, I almost immediately forgot what life was like before that baby's arrival. Newlywed life? Parents of a single child? Parents of two? And now parents of three? The phases of our family have changed drastically over the past almost 12 years, and while each season has been amazing and incredible in its own right, my focus has always been on whatever current stage we were in. I know once baby #4 arrives, we won't be able to imagine what life was like before him, so I'm taking it all in now as best as I can.

Arrival plan: Still planning an induction at 39 weeks, though Sweet Baby may have plans of his own. I will be anxiously awaiting both of my ultrasounds each week leading up to his arrival to see if he's finally decided to get back into the headfirst position. I still can't believe he went breech on me! Silly boy! I'm VERY hopeful we don't end up with a C-section due to his position (or any of my other risk factors), but I guess only time will tell!

Guess what? I remembered to share a pic from today! How 'bout that belly!


Friday, May 12, 2017

Baby Update

I had my second BPP (biophysical profile) ultrasound and doctor visit for the week today. I'm pretty much on a Tuesday/Friday schedule, and I'll post updates if/when I have any info on baby worth sharing. Today was definitely worth documenting!

I started with the BPP and, no surprise, little boy was STILL breech. This is so shocking to me! Literally, how do you spend 8 months in there with your head basically ready to hit the escape hatch only to do a 180 and stress your mama out!? Goodness. I asked the doctor afterward at what point they become concerned that the baby will NOT return to the head-down position, and she said every day after 35 weeks it becomes more and more likely they will remain breech.

Guess who's 35 weeks on Sunday?

Sunday. As in, MOTHER'S DAY, people! I'll be 35 weeks on Sunday -- Mother's Day -- and it's officially the start of the end of my plans for a standard delivery. ALL THREE of my kiddos were inductions at 39 weeks. What is this little guy thinking?? I guess he realizes he's in complete control of the situation and there's literally almost nothing I can do about it. SO, in true mom2lo fashion, I've started researching c-sections to get myself up-to-speed on what to expect should we need to go that route. Ultimately whatever it takes to get this baby here safely is exactly what I want -- whether it adheres to my birth plan or not!

There was one other "issue" discovered today. At my BPP on Tuesday, my AFI (amniotic fluid index) was 16. During today's BPP, just 3 days later, it was 10. My doctor was concerned by the decrease, so much so that she wanted me to move next Tuesday's appointment to Monday morning instead. Now, it could be something as simple as dehydration -- perhaps I didn't drink enough water before my appointment this morning compared to Tuesday. Or it could be an issue with the placenta failing, which I've been told all along is a possibility as I get further along into my pregnancy due to the gestational diabetes. Regardless, it got my attention and has me slightly concerned.

According to my expert medical googling, the amniotic fluid index is between 5 cm (2 in.) and 24 cm (9.4 in.). So, 10 seems a bit on the low to me. If the fluid is too low, it can affect how the baby grows and can lead to complications during labor and delivery. This is obviously NOT part of my birth plan, either! As you can imagine, I've probably had about 4 gallons of water since returning home from this morning's appointment, and I plan to keep it up throughout the weekend in an effort to raise this baby's fluid level!

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers over the next few days. I'm not as freaked out as I could be, which is a huge blessing in itself! But my heart is definitely a bit heavier after today's appointment than it was beforehand.

Also, since I didn't have a picture to share with my 34 Weeks post on Tuesday, I decided to take a quick pic this afternoon to include here.

Grow, baby! Grow!


P.S. mmmmmmmmm cookies!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

34 Weeks!

Okay, so with my previous pregnancies, I did a relatively decent job of documenting the journey here on the blog. Unfortunately, I've found myself a bit overcommitted to all.the.things. lately and my blog has taken a major backseat. Which means that documenting my pregnancy with baby #4 has been less than stellar. I'm sorry, baby boy! As a fellow fourth child, the last thing I want is for you to feel forgotten about!

So without further ado, I am going to {attempt to} document the remaining weeks of this pregnancy!


Week and day: 34 weeks, 2 days

Belly Button in or out: Still in. It always stays in. It's never NOT been in. I don't expect that to change.

Wedding rings on or off: Still on! I really haven't had any noticeable swelling during this pregnancy, so that's awesome!

Food cravings: As if I'm allowed fun pregnancy cravings with the wonderful insulin-controlled gestational diabetes... Ugh! But it hasn't stopped me from craving cake, cookies, donuts, brownies... basically any sort of baked good or dessert. It's such a terrible life I'm living! haha! Thankfully, I don't give into those cravings very often at all. And if I do, I'm always sure to push several units of insulin beforehand! For the most part, though, I'm super happy staring down a ginormous bacon cheddar burger with cheese curds, or a sizzling medium steak with some sautéed veggies. I'm not missing the potatoes (baked, french fried, mashed, etc.) as much as I thought I would. But I AM missing the cereal and milk LIKE IT'S MY JOB!!!

Food aversions: None.

Nausea: None! Hurray!!

Energy level: My energy level continues to be relatively solid! This is good, considering I am 34 weeks pregnant in my very late 30s. Go, me! :)

Weight gain: It hasn't been too bad! I haven't been paying a TON of attention to the number because it's just that: a number. As long as it isn't creeping up into crazytown, I'm good. I did happen to notice at my appointment today that I have only gained 4 lbs. over the past 2 months. And I'm quite certain at least 1 lb. of that went to the baby, so, I'm pretty content with 3 lbs. in 2 months!! ;)

Mood: Super excited... somewhat apprehensive. I still have a LOT to get done before he arrives, and it seems I'm crossing items off that list slower than I'd like. The ridiculous sunburn I'm still recovering from may have something to do with that. (ugh)

Maternity clothes: 24/7. Because, really.

Size of baby: According to BabyCenter, this week he now weighs about 4 3/4 pounds (about the size of a cantaloupe) and is almost 18 inches long.

Next appointment: I had an OB appointment this morning to do a biophysical profile ultrasound (BPP) and see the doc, and have another appointment on Friday to do the same thing again. Basically, I'll be going twice a week from now on until delivery day.

What I've been up to: I have been recovering from an INSANELY ABSURD sunburn from our Hilton Head vacation last week. It's been 9 days and my shins are still glowing red, sore to touch, and swell up when I stand for too long. UGH. I spent 3 straight days in bed last week, and was barely functional for my birthday on Saturday, but made some solid improvement on Sunday. It was a SUPER busy day with my sweet LO's baptism!!! (post coming soon), lunch with the family, and a photography session that evening. I was shocked I made it through everything! Yesterday was a long day as well, capped off with an awesome Diaper Shower with my lovely CC mamas, but I paid the price when I got home just after 10 PM. My ankles were swollen bigger than I have EVER seen them in all of my life. Obviously I need to give my slow-recovering self more time to slowly recover from that sunburn!

Arrival plan: The game plan is to schedule an induction at 39 weeks, which is exactly what I've done with my previous three, so no surprises here! I'm looking at June 13th as a possible date, assuming there is room in Labor & Delivery at the hospital. That is 35 days away, people. THIRTY-FIVE DAYS!!! I'm so excited but I'm trying to enjoy every second since this is our last time going through this process.

I had planned to include a picture of my 34 weeks pregnant self, but I'm pretty much just too lazy to make that happen at 11:43 PM. I'll do better next week -- I promise! ;)

Baby Shower for #4!

I'm several weeks overdue on sharing this post, but these days, I'm totally okay with the "better late than never" cliché.

On April 6th, my dearest and closest friend, along with my amazing mother, threw an incredible baby shower to welcome baby #4! It was so beautiful and I couldn't help but take a TON of pictures throughout the evening. There were so many special touches that made this such a memorable night! I couldn't be more grateful and blessed to have these two women in my life, and to have the opportunity to gather together with so many friends and family to enjoy delicious food and plenty of fellowship as we start to prepare for baby's arrival.

We had plenty of food, which included barbecue chicken and ribs, courtesy of hubs, and a huge spread of deliciousness, coordinated by my party co-hosts. We enjoyed our fellowship, delicious cake, and lots of adorable baby goodies!

Here's a recap in pictures...

Just look at the beautiful details!


Sweet baby boy!


Love the arrows!


So cute!



Love this verse!


Awwwwww!


Such a YUMMY cake! I seriously gave myself an extra shot of insulin to prepare for a big ol' slice of this deliciousness! And it was sooooooooo worth it!


How adorable is this?! I'm taking it to the hospital to put on our door in the recovery room. So sweet!


Just look at those tiny baby feet!!!!!! Awwww!!


It's not a party unless you get a few pics of the FOOD! hahahaha! So much yummy food!!


Lots of baby goodies! What an incredible blessing that my little one is loved so much already!


A MAJOR THANK YOU to my dear friend and my mama for such an incredible evening of celebration for baby #4! I'm so grateful and so blessed!!!

Keeping It OhSoVery Real

===I'll originally wrote this post several weeks ago, but stumbled across it tonight in my drafts, and figured I ought to post it if for no other reason that to serve as a reminder for me to reflect back on in the months and years ahead.===


Y'all. It's 4:32 PM as I'm starting to write this post, and I just woke up from a 3-hour Sunday afternoon nap. And it was heavenly! I wish I could say this has been the norm for me, now in my 3rd trimester with baby #4, but sadly, I haven't had quite as many nap opportunities as I'd like. Such a shame, no?

Today I felt compelled to share a little glimpse of what these past few days have taught me. In our Sunday School class this morning, we were asked, "Where did you see God show up this week?" It didn't take long for me to think of several of the ways He showed up in my life this week. My wheels started turning and I found myself compelled to write this post. So buckle up, friends! It's about to get real over here!

God has been working in my heart and life in a very specific way over the past year. And let me tell you -- He's had His work cut out for Him to get through to me in this specific area. Let's just say I have had a tendency to commit, commit, and overcommit myself -- in many areas -- and sometimes to my own detriment. Okay, in ALL areas. I love to serve. God created me with a servant's heart. And I feel He has gifted me in more ways than I am deserving of, which makes it even more apparent to me that I should live to serve Him and others by using those gifts. And for thirty-COUGH-something years -- definitely from my late teens until now -- I have done just that. Maybe with a few blips here and there where I might have turned down a service opportunity or two, but for the most part, living to serve. And loving every minute of it.

Just think about it. As a teenager, I had free time. As a young, single, working professional, I had free time. In spades. Even as a newly-married woman, and then a first-time mom, I still had time. And I didn't have to really even think about anything -- serving others was just part of who I was, who I'd been for so many years, and I never questioned it. I just did it. And I truly believe God blessed me and others through my efforts, and sometimes, even through my sacrifices.

Fast-forward a bit to last year. It's now 2016. I have been married over 10 years. I have 3 children. I am a full-time homeschool teacher, bearing (with God's help, and my husband's gracious support) the burden of my childrens' educations, a responsibility that I do NOT take lightly. My life continued to evolve and the demands for my time were beginning to spiral out of control.

So tell me: Which do you think would God honor more?
Focusing my time and energy on my marriage, or spending time serving in one (okay, really, several) ministries?
Preparing homeschool lessons for my children, or spending hours as a volunteer photographer for my childrens' various activities?
Deepening my walk with the Lord through an immersive 3-day prayer and Bible study experience, or baking for 3 days straight to help raise money for a non-profit organization?
Let me be clear: there are no WRONG ways to serve God. At least, that's what I believe. But sometimes, in all of the serving, in all of the giving, in all of the thinking you're doing the right things, God can show up in unexpected ways.

Let me give you just one (of MANY) examples: I never in a million years would have expected God to call me out of the Worship ministry at my church. I had served as a relatively integral part of our worship team--on piano/keys--for over 20 years. TWENTY YEARS, people. And I loved every. single. minute. of it. I had a purpose, and it was a good one! Helping to lead others to the Lord through worship was something I felt God just had to bless, right?

But at what cost?

This is where I get ohsovery real with y'all. It's something I haven't really shared with anyone, I haven't brought attention to it through facebook posts, and I definitely haven't blogged about here. But 2015 and 2016 brought the strongest and hardest marital struggles I had ever experienced. I'm not going to get into details here, but let's just say that my marriage was suffering. Like, really suffering. Satan had his grip on us and was throwing everything possible at us to pull us apart. I honestly can't even discuss this beyond what I've said already as I can't bring myself back to that place to talk about it. It's still too raw and too deep. But my point in mentioning it is this: I put my time and effort and energy into serving God through so many activities and commitments and various ways of volunteering within the church that I was no longer investing the time and energy in making my marriage a priority.

But I was still serving God, so He should bless me and my life, right?

WRONG.

I say all of this to say that sometimes, you HAVE to make a choice.

Sometimes, you HAVE to reevaluate your priorities.

Sometimes, you HAVE to say no.

For people like me, that's not an easy concept, and it's surely a difficult one to embrace. I'm reminded of the Old Testament, when Joshua spoke these words:
"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul." {Joshua 22:5}
Am I loving God and walking in obedience to Him when I say NO to taking on a volunteer commitment for a church ministry?

Am I keeping His commands when I say NO to taking on a large project for our homeschool co-op?

Am I serving Him with all my heart and with all my soul when I say NO to ((fill in the blank))?

Saying no is okay. It doesn't mean I don't love God. It doesn't mean I don't love others. It just means that I love my God, my husband, my family, and myself enough to do the RIGHT things at the RIGHT times. This season of life with three-going-on-four young children who demand so much of my time just isn't the right time for me to say yes to ALL.THE.THINGS. It just isn't. And that's okay!

It's taken me almost 10 years to figure that out.

It really is OKAY.

I love my husband. I love my children. And I want to be the VERY BEST wife and mother I can be. And that takes time. It takes commitment. It takes making my husband and kids a priority.

And I'm perfectly okay with that.

So please know that yes, I love to help. I love to serve. And I love to be God's hands and feet to make a difference in the lives of those He calls me to serve. But please also know that God can (and has and will!) honor my choice to say no sometimes so I can ensure my focus continues to be on Him and His plans for my life and my family.

Please also know that I'm not at all saying that you shouldn't volunteer in your church, find a place to serve with your children's various activities, take a meal to a friend in need, start a Bible study, etc... I just want to remind you that you should evaluate your priorities and try not to take on TOO much.

I know this was a long read and for those that made it this far, thank you! I am hopeful that this post has been an encouragement to one (or more!) who needed to hear it. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it's okay to say no, because taking on too much can come with too great a cost. And I don't believe that is how God has called us to live.

[[steps down from soap box]]

Saturday, February 4, 2017

20 Weeks!

On Monday, January 30th, we had our 20 week full anatomy ultrasound for baby #4 to make sure everything looked good. Our ultrasound tech was awesome and talked us through everything. We, of course, started with baby boy's heart and the first thing we clearly saw was FOUR CHAMBERS! Praise the Lord!!! The tech continued to check all of the standard "stuff" and everything. looked. perfect.

{{{ We're having a healthy baby boy!!!!!!!!!! }}}


It was so good to see baby "Rufus" -- did I mention that's what we're calling him until we decide on his actual name? hahahahaha! -- and to get a positive report from our beloved Perinatologist! We go back to see him at 26 weeks. He plans for me to have my glucose test at 24 weeks (usually it's scheduled at 28 weeks) so we can see if I'm going to go ahead and jump on the Gestational Diabetes bandwagon again this time around as I did with E's pregnancy. The odds are ever in my (unfortunate) favor that I will, and of course we'll want to start monitoring it sooner rather than later. #nomorecake #nomorecaramellobars

I can just hardly believe I'm half-way through this pregnancy already! I'm getting more and more anxious to meet this little guy. There's so much to do before his arrival, though, so I'm thankful to still have another 19 or so weeks ahead of me!

We're Having Another...???


As I mentioned yesterday, I've been a bit behind with posting here on my blog. So without further ado, let me share some exciting news we found out 4 weeks ago on Friday, January 6th.


The kids were rather adamant that we find out together whether we were having another baby brother or a baby sister. Hubs and I didn't want to bring the kids to our next scheduled ultrasound, which was January 30th, because it was the full anatomy scan with the Perinatologist and we didn't want the kids there in the event any issues were uncovered with the baby.

My other option was to schedule a gender reveal ultrasound at my OB office. This seemed like a good idea, but I didn't want to cram all of us in a tiny room for it. Plus, the kids had also decided that CAKE needed to be involved (these are awesome kids, I say!). So here's what I ended up doing:

  1. I scheduled the gender reveal ultrasound for Friday, January 6th. I went to the appointment alone, and asked the u/s tech to turn off my viewing monitor.
  2. Prior to the appointment, I stopped by a local bakery to order my own gender reveal cake. Weird, right? I gave them all of the details -- with the obvious exception of the color for the inside filling.
  3. At the end of my ultrasound, I gave the tech a card with the number to the bakery and asked her to call them with the results.
  4. I left the appointment, went by the bakery, picked up a pink and a blue balloon, and headed home.
At home, we gathered around the cake, turned on the video camera, and cut into that beautiful cake! Now, keep in mind that ALL of us were ((sorry baby #4)) TEAM GIRL. Even Chase and E. It was the cutest thing. But especially LO. And even I was completely convinced it would be a girl. You can just IMAGINE the SHOCK when hubs and I cut into the cake and saw lots and lots of blue filling.

I immediately looked at LO and she said she was disappointed, but she would still love him.

WHEW!

My sweet precious girl!

So there we go! The exciting news of baby #4!

Here's a little glimpse of my sweeties patiently waiting for the big reveal...



And I just had to share this one of Chase. He's so crazy. And so big!! And so into Pokémon (No more Mario!! Can you believe all that you've missed with my lack of blog posts??).


Friday, February 3, 2017

Catching Up... Again

Who drops a "We're having another baby!" bomb on their blog and lets almost TWO MONTHS go by without so much as a single word or update?

((points at herself))

-------} THIS GAL! {-------

I mean, really, this blog has been my outlet to the world, my public journal, my brain dump onto proverbial paper, since June 3, 2008. I did the math. That's going on NINE years, folks. For nine years, I have shared {almost} every detail of the many happenings in mine and my family's lives.

Spoiler alert: Having 3 kids done totally messed me up! At least from a blogging standpoint (and probably many other standpoints as well, but we won't get into all of that now). Anywho, I realized after E was born that I didn't find as much time for blogging. Was being a parent to three kids really that different from two?

But further unofficial research also uncovered the fact that I DID, in fact, find time for Facebook. Lots and lots of time for Facebook. All of my time: Facebook. Sure, I love the social aspect of it, but it's not very useful for journaling. For record-keeping. For brain-dumping. All of the things my blog has always been for me.

With that in mind, I'm going to try a little experiment. I am going to -- wait for it! -- DELETE the Facebook app from my phone.

((pause for audible GASPS))

That's right! I've heard it's possible to do this. I mean, I certainly don't have any experience with it. I certainly can't recall a time in my life during which I didn't have the Facebook app on my cellular device. I'm thinking it's quite possible I may lose touch with the millions (LOL) of people I connect with daily. But it's worth it to me.

Why?

Because my family is more important.

There. I said it. That's it! That's my reasoning! Less time on the Facebook app on my phone should, in my calculations, result in more time with my family. Like, time that I'm really THERE with them, ya know? Not watching-the-latest-Marvel-giphy-on-my-iPhone-while-my-daughter-shares-a-crucial-life-changing-moment-she-experienced-before-breakfast kind of there. See the difference?

The other side of my decision will hopefully result in more blog posts! I know that sounds so 1997, but I love reading through posts from years ago and reliving the experiences our family has shared. In fact, just today I realized there were several blanks in E's 1st year baby book, and I felt like a terrible mommy! However, I jumped onto my blog here and was able to rediscover those special milestones with E... first tooth, first time rolling over, first time crawling, first time walking... so many special times! And it was all right here. On my blog. Perfect.

So keep an eye out for more posts from me here. And pictures, too! And fun announcements. And more baby milestones.

I'm happy to be "back."