{welcoming our baby girl}

Hello to each of you from my little corner of the web. I hope you are well amidst the craziness that seems to be growing with each passing day here lately. <3 We have had so many changes over the last few months, and I can't wait to share about them all soon, but first, I want to introduce our sweet daughter, Miss Esmeralda Mae:

I found out that I was pregnant with her two months after my second early pregnancy loss, and had a hard time at first even comprehending that I was pregnant. I *thought* I might have been because the nausea set in even before getting a strong positive pregnancy test, but I was still somewhat in denial and scared to get attached if I was going to have to say “goodbye” again to a baby before getting to meet him or her on this side of heaven.

(On a side note, pregnancy after loss is a unique journey, and one that doesn’t really get easier. It’s amazing how much love you feel for someone that you’ve not even had the opportunity to meet- each of my 4 children (both the two here with me and the two in heaven I haven’t met yet) are so special to me, and I love them more than words can say. )

When I got a bold test line and a positive digital, Daniel and I texted and surprised my parents with these photos:

The pregnancy started to become more real at this point, now that other people knew about it and the nausea/all-day sickness was steadily worse. The interesting thing is that the first trimester of my pregnancy with Esmeralda was an all-day, all-out nausea and vomiting event, and the rest of the pregnancy, I didn’t have any issues with it at all. With Oliver, I was sick every morning and then good the rest of the day. Each pregnancy is so different!

I was so thankful to get to see baby on the ultrasound with a perfect heartbeat. I remember telling Daniel I felt so much better seeing that the baby was measuring right on target (actually, one day ahead!), and seeing and hearing that sweet heartbeat. <3

We announced to the family on Thanksgiving. I made Oliver a “big brother” shirt to spread the news! 😀

It wasn’t too much longer after that, when we went to the anatomy scan, and had confirmed what Daniel and I felt very strongly already- we would be welcoming a baby GIRL to the world this time! The pregnancy with her had been so different than the one with Oliver. We both just knew that it was a girl. I don’t know how, but we did. We went back to my parent’s house to pick up Oliver after the appointment, and did a gender reveal by letting my younger siblings unwrap a sleeper that said “little sister”.  Everyone was so surprised and excited!

Now that we knew *who* she was, it was time to let everyone know she was on the way. 🙂 We posted some photos and video, and formally announced her impending arrival and her name. <3

Things went fairly normally through the pregnancy up until the late second trimester, and then third trimester.

I was keeping a pretty normal schedule, and was enjoying as much time in our pool as I could, because that took away a lot of my joint pain and varicose vein pain. 

I began to get this feeling that I wouldn’t be making it to my due date, and the nesting kicked in full-force. We got her nursery put together. Diapers were stockpiled, and baby girl clothes started filling her dresser. I also started collecting ALL THE BOWS. No shame here.  😀

One of the most difficult things was trying to round up clothes for her because so many stores were closed with the Covid stuff! I ended up buying most of her things from online sales and consignment groups. I am so thankful for technology and being able to do that, because she would be wearing big brother’s clothes otherwise!

Towards the end of the third trimester, I was really beginning to not feel well at all. My blood pressure was starting to go up, and I was having a lot of sacral nerve pain, in addition to the varicose vein pain, and just general pregnancy soreness from contracting. I also found out around this time that the hospital covid procedures were not going to allow for more than one support person and no visitors, and that there would be testing procedures and so many other complications that I didn’t have to deal with for Oliver’s birth. I could tell my stress levels were going up. Everything about the pregnancy/delivery at that point seemed to be spiraling downhill. I remember praying that the Lord would smooth things out because it seemed like the situation was spinning out of control.

Saturday, June 13th at 37 weeks and 6 days pregnant: Daniel and I dropped Oliver off at my parent’s house, and did a mini-date getaway down to Opelika for a car swap meet. The swap meet was a bust, but we did get to go and have a nice meal at Olive Garden, and all the bumpy back roads made me have lots and lots of contractions. I was hopeful that maybe the trip would jump start things off with labor since that did it with Oliver, but it didn’t that day!

Sunday, June 14th: – 38 weeks pregnant and I pretty much spent all day on my birthing ball in what I now think (and the doctor that delivered Esmeralda said as well) was probably early labor. I was contracting every 10-15 minutes, and losing parts of my mucous plug. We went to bed that night and I honestly thought I would wake up with closer contractions and my water broken, but that didn’t happen. The day seemed very long because I really wasn’t feeling well whatsoever.

Monday, June 15th: I texted my mom and told her I just had this really weird feeling like something was about to happen or I needed to be ready for something, and asked for her to pray that I would have discernment with whatever it was. Daniel had taken some stuff to the recycling center that morning and cut his arm pretty bad, so at first, I thought maybe that’s what it was, but the feeling was still there even after we took care of his arm. Later that afternoon, I told my mom I had to go to the grocery store, but I was almost scared to leave my house because I just had this really weird feeling and to please keep praying that I would have discernment and peace.  I wasn’t contracting regularly any more, so it didn’t even cross my mind that the feeling might be related to Esmeralda’s impending birth.

Tuesday, June 16th: I went in that morning for my routine doctor’s appointment. The nurse took my blood pressure three times over the course of my appointment time, and each time, it was coming back very high (the bottom number was over 100). The protein levels in my urine were elevated, and my legs had started to swell. My doctor came in to talk to me and told me that she thought I was beginning to develop pre-eclampsia symptoms, and because the numbers were as high as they were, she wasn’t comfortable with me waiting even one more day on this baby to come. She went ahead and checked me, and told me I was sitting at 2cm dilated with a very soft/thin cervix, and baby was at -2 station. She asked if I had everything ready to go to the hospital, and I started crying. Pre-eclampsia had literally been my biggest fear towards the end of the pregnancy, and knowing that I was potentially facing it scared me so badly. My doctor stopped and prayed with me right then, and called the hospital to let them know that we would be coming in that afternoon for monitoring/possible induction if my numbers were all still high. As I was leaving the office, the nurses and staff were all praying over me and reminding me God already had this under control, and that this would be an exciting day- I would be meeting my daughter!

I got in the car and called my mom to let her know what was going on, and to make sure they would be able to get Oliver that afternoon. I sobbed to her on the phone on my entire drive home, and then proceeded to walk into my house and sob in my husband’s arms as I explained to him what was going on. Looking back, I now know that the feeling of “something was going to happen” was God was preparing me for the birth! He was so gracious to allow me to prepare mentally and emotionally in advance by prompting me to pray about it.

Daniel and I discussed some options, and both agreed that we were going to go ahead and request the induction be started when we got to the hospital rather than having to stay overnight for monitoring first. He called his work and let them know that it was baby time, and I got the last few things packed and a last load of laundry washed. I put on this Michael Card CD while we were getting things finished and loaded into the car, and it was so calming and peaceful.

“God shapes every second of our little lives, and minds every minute as the universe waits by; the pain and the longing, the joy and the moments of light, are the rhythm and rhyme, the free verse of the poem of life…”

I also realized that I was contracting again….painful contractions, right at 8-10 minutes apart. I told Daniel that I was actually looking forward to being hooked up to the contraction monitor to see if they would be picked up as real contractions because they certainly felt like it!

When the car was packed and we were loaded and ready, we went and met my parents to drop Oliver off with them. My mom grabbed this last photo of Daniel and I together while I was pregnant:

and then we were off to the hospital! I was noticing that my contractions were getting more and more painful, and that I was feeling much more emotional again.

We got to the hospital, and they checked our temperatures, issued us masks, and let us know that they knew we were coming and they had my room ready! I did have to redo my hospital registration because the pre-registration didn’t make it to them. Oh well. While I was standing there filling out the paperwork, I was contracting so much and in enough pain with those that it was actual difficult to stand there. The reception ladies asked me I needed a wheelchair, but I told them I was really hoping the contractions were helping me move things along a bit before being induced.

As soon as I finished the paperwork, we sat in the waiting area for a few minutes. I remember thinking that I couldn’t believe we were actually there to have the baby- it still felt so surreal!

They took us right back to a room, and I got changed into the lovely hospital gown. The first order of business was running labs- a urine catheter to check for the most accurate protein levels, blood pressure checks over a certain amount of time, and a blood draw to see what all of those levels looked like. The doctor on call from my practice (who actually delivered Oliver) popped in and asked how I was feeling, and let me know they were getting ready to start the monitoring, and that if things looked the same, they would be starting the induction the next morning. I asked him if we could go ahead and get things going right then, and he said if we wanted to go ahead, he was comfortable getting the process started. He went ahead and broke my water, and asked if I wanted an epidural for pain management along with the pitocin drip to get the induction going. I said “yes sir!”, and that I wasn’t planning on trying to deliver naturally this time. With Oliver, it was a traumatic birth with him getting stuck and me laboring at 9.5cm for hours, and I just didn’t want to do that again. I am so thankful I went ahead and got that epidural because it made such a huge difference in how I felt and my recovery afterwards!

At 4:00pm, they checked me and I was at 4cm dilated, and they began prepping for the pitocin and the epidural. I got the epidural around 5pm, and then the pitocin drip was started at 5:30pm. My contractions at this point were 2 minutes apart, but because the epidural was on board, I was able to easily breathe through them. I was still able to chat with Daniel and the nurse who was watching over everything, I was texting my mom to give her updates on what was going on and find out how my big baby (Oliver) was doing, and was able to just rest a bit.

Around 6:30pm, I began feeling so nauseas. The nurse brought me a sprite, but it wasn’t helping at all. The nurse gave me some anti-nausea meds, and then she went ahead and checked me again. It took her a minute, and then she said she would be right back because she wanted someone to check after her (she had only been a labor and delivery nurse for 4 months). While she was gone, Daniel asked what we were waiting on, and I told him basically for my body to open up now that the pitocin was doing it’s thing. Honestly, I was going to be really happy if I found out I had made it to 6cm, because my goal at that point was just to have the baby by midnight….but God had other plans.

Our nurse came back with another nurse who checked me, and said “yep! She’s definitely complete and ready!”. I was so shocked that I just started crying again. I remember looking up at Daniel and saying “we’re about to meet our daughter!”. I was so completely surprised that I had dilated that much in so little time.

It was 6:45pm. They began to gather the birth team and supplies, and paged the doctor. I watched as they flipped the baby warmer on, rolled in the surgical supplies table, and got everything ready, just in awe that things were moving so quickly. The nurse told me that since I was complete and contracting regularly, I could try a few practice pushes to see how things were going while we were waiting on the doctor.

My epidural had worn off just enough to where I wasn’t feeling pain, but I could feel the pressure of where exactly I needed to push. I pushed 3 times with just the nurse, and the last push was so effective that I had started to actually push Esmeralda out. The nurse told me that the baby had a head full of dark hair, to which Daniel and I were like “what??”. We were both born bald, so neither of us were expecting Miss E to have hair at all. I guess all the heartburn I had during the pregnancy really was because she had hair. 😀

Since it was clear that baby was definitely about to be pushed out, the nurse asked me to wait if I could before pushing the baby out any further while we were waiting on the dr. I asked if I would be able to feel baby’s head, and the nurse said they could actually bring a mirror in so that I could watch if I wanted to. I asked for them to do that and had the opportunity to see my baby crown. Words simply can not describe what it’s like seeing your child actually coming into the world. I am so thankful I was able to experience that with this birth!

The doctor came in about that time, and 4 pushes later, at 7:25pm (yes, just two hours after the induction/pitocin drip was started!) Miss Esmeralda Mae officially entered the world, weighing 7lbs and 4oz, and measuring 20″ long- just a bit smaller than her big brother was, even though she was born a week and a half earlier! They laid her up on my chest and I just could not stop looking at her. She was so beautiful and chunky…I was in love at first sight.

I literally could not have asked for a better birth. I was able to push effectively, I only had a tiny tear, and I wasn’t in labor for hours on end. The atmosphere was so calm, and because I wasn’t in excruciating pain this time, I felt like I was clearly able to articulate what I wanted and did not want done during the labor and delivery process. I didn’t have to wear a mask while I was laboring. My baby was perfectly healthy and latched to nurse immediately after birth….God was so good in allowing for things to be so very smooth.

Once my epidural had worn off and Esmeralda had been weighed and measured, we got things packed up in the labor and delivery room and were transferred up to our postpartum recovery room. Our postpartum nurse gave Esmeralda her first bath, and we worked on getting folks updated who had been praying over us and the birth throughout the day. The hospital staff also brought us up some box dinners, which was awesome because neither Daniel nor I had eaten much that day, and we were starving!

The next day and a half were just spent getting the typical post-birth monitoring and tests done.

I also tried to grab some “in the hospital” pics since we weren’t allowed to have anyone else there.

We also were brought a special “birth day” cake by the hospital to celebrate her birth. 🙂

And then we got to go home!

We asked my parents to keep Oliver one extra night so that we could have a night to get settled in with baby, and then they brought him home to us the next day.

He was less than impressed with the baby at first, but he is growing to love her now. He has been a big help taking her dirty diapers to the trash, and helping me wash laundry too. I am confident that they will become great friends as she gets to be bigger and actually wanting to play.

It’s now been about two weeks since she was born.

We are getting settled back into our routines and learning how to juggle two kids under two, which has been an adventure all by itself. Once again, the Lord has been so gracious and the adjustment period hasn’t been bad, and my actual postpartum recovery has been fabulous. I am still in awe that these two perfect little people have been given to me. They are both so cute and sweet, and fill my days with love and laughter.

The Lord is so good to me. <3

{choosing joy amidst Covid-19}

The Lord has provided a rather unique opportunity lately in learning to bloom where you are planted, and to choose joy even in the middle of dire circumstances.

 

Around the globe, there are folks everywhere who have come down with Covid-19; not only causing a massive death rate, but a sense of global panic as store shelves empty and the economy is swirled with uncertainty.

As someone now categorized as “high risk” myself for actually catching said virus, it has definitely caused a time to stop and think about how things are going, and what it could possible mean for my family and those who are dear to me. We are practicing self-isolation as best as we can at the minute. No tuning or teaching piano, or photography shoots for me, and Daniel is going out only to pick up necessities and to go to work.

It has been interesting realizing that staying away from others during this time is a way to very purposefully love your neighbor. Because so many of the folks carrying Covid-19 are a-symptomatic, it is being spread to those most at risk without it even being realized. My heart is burdened for the many, many elderly, immuno-compromised, COPD, high blood pressure, etc. folks both in my life and that I do not know, that will likely be affected by this in some way or another. I am praying God is the Lord of their life and that those who do not know Him will be drawn to Him through this crisis.

My heart hurts for all of those who have lost their jobs, or work, and have no idea how they are going to provide for their family. With so many people working what is deemed as “non-essential” work or services, I know they are grasping at straws to figure out how to pay their mortgage, or even just to get enough groceries for the next few days. I am praying we all keep our hearts and eyes open to see how we can minister to these people as we navigate through this crisis, and that when we recognize a need, we are willing and able to (safely) help fill it.

One of the things that is particularly important is making sure we keep our eyes on the things above, even as things are in mass chaos here on earth. Our God is a God of order, and we will be able to best maintain peace and joy when we stay focused on Him and on the truths found in His word- not being swayed by the circumstances that flow in and out of our lives. We must not live in fear- no matter what happens, the Lord has planned all of it, and He knows already the outcome. In that, we can rest secure. <3

Around New Year’s, I posted on instagram that my big goal of the year was to really focus on making my home a safe haven for my little family and our guests who visit. I want the love of the Lord to exude abundantly, and I want it to be a calm, peaceful place for us to live. It is very important to me to be a homemaker with intention. This season has been a good test in choosing to not drag the extra drama from the outside world into our home, and to continue to focus on making it a place of peace, growth, and safety for my family.

Now that all of my time for the foreseeable future will be spent at home, one of the ways I am “choosing joy” is making time for things that I didn’t make time for before while balancing a schedule of being home AND away from home. I am determined to not only make time for some fun things I don’t normally have time for, but I also want to be able to look back at this time as a time when there was much accomplished around my home and farmstead.

If you are looking for some ideas of how you can fill extra time, here are some of the things I have been working on or will be working on soon:

 

-Today, I pulled out my dusty fiddle case and was able to squeeze in practice time for one of the first times since we moved here almost a year ago. I forgot how much I loved to play fiddle!

 

-I am continuing on with finishing up some web projects I have going for my web clients, and I have a few custom jewelry and vinyl orders that I will be shipping out in the next couple of days. I’m also looking forward to making some new things and getting them actually listed in my etsy shop as well.

-Daniel and I have been busy outside on the farmstead and our orchard is planted, seeds are started to go in the veggie beds that Daniel is finishing building this week, our bees are here and happy, and I’ve gotten quite a bit of weeding done in our flower beds. (Details on all of these projects to follow soon on our farm website.) Seeing how empty the grocery store shelves have been, it has been an important reminder and incentive for us to focus and  get our farmstead going so that we have our own sustainable source of food that is not dependent on the grocery store each week. A larger chicken coop is in the works in a few weeks so that our ladies have a bit more room to run around.

 

-We’re still working on the inside of the house too. Thresholds for the guest bathroom floor transitions are coming soon, as is our faux fireplace! I can’t wait to share pictures when we start that project.

-I’m getting freezer meals put away for when baby gets here, or for us to eat sooner if needed with the potential for food shortages. It is so nice to see those meals starting to stack up on the freezer shelves!

-I recently finished up a whole-house decluttering challenge with some friends of mine, and it was really eye-opening as to where we were wasting space, and how much extra junk we had that we didn’t use! I am so glad we were able to get that stuff cleaned out and had room to put away some extra diapers and such.

 

-Some of the extra time has been spent really thinking through what Oliver’s daily routine looks like now. At 14 months, he is very busy and needs different activities to keep him busy and out of trouble through the day. I am thankful to have been able to spend some uninterrupted time on that without needing to be distracted running errands and with other out-of-the-house activities.

-Finally getting some reading done, haha! I hadn’t really spent any time reading at all since Oliver was born, and realized I needed to be feeding my brain. It has been nice to see my reading challenge list start to actually fill up on Goodreads!

-Along the same lines of increasing knowledge, the man and I are planning on taking some of the free online classes being offered over the next few weeks. I know for sure that we will be doing some beekeeping classes through the extension office, and Daniel found an engineering class he’s considering doing as well.

-This one seems small, but it’s actually quite big. Playing inspiring, uplifting music throughout the day has been a great way to bring some joy and cheerfulness into our home. Even Oliver knows what it means when I say that Mama is about to turn some music on, and he gets the biggest grin!

-I am also trying to make time to touch base with folks I haven’t spoken with in a while, whether through a quick text, or old-fashioned snail mail. If those notes could bring even a little bit of encouragement to someone having a rough day, than that would be wonderful!

My dear friends, wash your hands, maintain social distancing, and choose joy. Prepare wisely, love your neighbor, and don’t live in fear. Enjoy the way the sky lights up as the sun rises and sets. Take in the sights of the bees dancing from flower to flower. Feel the warm spring breezes blow through your yard. Soak up the precious extra time you are getting to spend with your family. Sip that first bit of coffee and enjoy all the little flavors and the gentle aroma coming from your mug. Listen to the birds singing, or a favorite song, or ask for suggestions for new tunes. Write letters to the elderly stuck in nursing homes unable to receive visitors. Learn a new skill. Learn to listen instead of talk. Pray for our leadership as they are having to make hard decisions. Be a servant to others, rest in Jesus, and wash your hands. <3

{a place of our very own}

Daniel and I had purposed early on in our marriage that we would really like to purchase a house and be moved in by the time we had been married for two years. Neither of us were particularly excited at continuing to pour money into a house that wasn’t ours, and that we couldn’t change and customize to fit our needs as a growing family. It became quite clear shortly after Oliver’s birth that we would need to start actively looking for a house of our very own.

We began to watch real estate listings in various areas, and even put in offers on two different houses that fell through. We were beginning to get discouraged and wondering why it seemed that God was moving us on with nowhere to go.

One evening, we were scrolling back through listings once again and looked in an area that we hadn’t looked at before, and the “perfect” house popped up. It was exactly the size we were looking for, sat on an acre of land, and is incredibly close to Daniel’s workplace! First thing the next morning, Daniel called our agent, one thing led to another, and we were able to look at the house and put in our offer that day.

Our real estate team went over and above to make sure we had everything in order, and we found out that the then-current owners had accepted our offer! We got our earnest money in and began the process of finishing what we would need for the closing.

The closing went really smoothly…both our financing team and again, the real estate team we were using were so fantastic and were able to help us make sure all the paperwork was in order. The actual closing meeting was comical…there are so many pieces of paper that you sign. The first few signatures look great, but the more we signed, the worse our signatures got. 😀 All in all, it took about an hour, and we were done! It would still be a week before we actually took possession of the house, but we were still floating on Cloud 9 of “we own a house!!”.

We were able to sit down with the old owners for breakfast at our local Cracker Barrel when it was time to take possession, so that we could get to know them a little better and they would have faces to go with our names. We sat chatting for hours and thoroughly enjoyed the time. They were moving out of the house and into a 5th wheel camper so that they could travel the country and visit with all of their children and grandchildren. We found out that they were actually married in the backyard here, which was amazing because we were married in the backyard at the Lambert Estate. We were not expecting to find that commonality! We asked them why they chose our offer, and they told us that they had received several offers on the house, and even though our offer was not the highest, they knew ours was the one they felt like they were supposed to accept. They said a few times that they had no idea why they gravitated towards it. Daniel and I knew- it was because the Lord had chosen and set aside that house for us. It was an incredibly humbling experience. After we were finished eating, they gave us the key. We said our goodbyes, and set off for our new home.

When we arrived, Daniel unlocked the door, carried me over the threshold, and held me while I sobbed and he prayed over us and our family, and over the years we would spend in this house….this house that was to be our home. <3 The first order of business was to change the entry doorknobs.

We knew that we were wanting to do quite a bit of updating before we moved in. The biggest project by far was tackling the popcorn ceilings. Daniel started scraping them on possession day! I don’t think either of us were prepared for the amount of mess that it would make to scrape them all clean, but they look SO AMAZINGLY BETTER now. It was totally worth cleaning up the mess then, and now, because we are still finding remnants of drywall dust here and there from that.

Our rental contract was up on September 1st, but our goal was to be out by August 31st. The closing was on May 28th, 2019, and we took possession roughly a week later. Once we had taken possession of the house, we basically started driving back and forth nearly every day to blitz and get as much done as we possibly could. As we were leaving the house one day after a super-productive work time, the most beautiful full rainbow was right over the house…a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness in a time where we were experiencing it so fully in our lives.

The period of time where we were working on the house and driving back and forth from the old house was an absolutely crazy-busy, exhausting, and fulfilling time. We were seeing things getting done, and then there would be project setbacks, and so many other things. I remember being so ready to just be settled for a bit… feeling like you are stuck between two houses is somewhat miserable for a woman. I think we have this need to have our nests in order, and it simply isn’t possible when you are in the middle of a move, or renovation project, or big life event. 🙂

I knew I wanted a way to “journal” the project with pictures, since the house is going to be looking quite a bit different when we get finished. I ended up started an instagram account just for our home renovation projects, which shares the name for our new piece of paradise: “our urban farmstead”. Feel free to pop over and give us a follow if home renovation is your thing. 🙂 I’ll share a few pics here and there on this blog, but for now, that’s the best place for the most up-to-date renovation updates.

One of the other things that we knew we needed to address before moving in was the electrical. We ended up doing some swap work with some sweet friends of ours and they came and updated all our electrical and installed our new energy-efficient LED lighting and new switches, ceiling fans, and breakers! It has been such a blessing to have light switches in places that make sense, and for everything to be so bright. I am so thankful we went ahead and got that knocked out!

As we got into August, we finally had most everything finished that needed to be done for us to move in, and it was time to start getting our things moved over. A few of my brothers helped move quite a bit of our furniture, and our sweet church family helped us get the piano and couches loaded up and ready to be brought over. We were so thankful for the help in getting those things moved because we certainly couldn’t have done it on our own!

Finally, everything was moved, the rental had been scrubbed from top to bottom, and it was time to say “so long” to that chapter.

It has been so nice to be getting settled in here and learning about our new neighborhood and community. I am slowly but surely learning how to get around to the various shops for my errands, and learning how long it takes to get to my parent’s house and my piano student’s houses and various other things. Our neighbors are all so sweet, and we have thoroughly loved our backyard.

Another friend that was moving gave us quite a bit of outdoor furniture because they wouldn’t have room for it in their new house. It has already been such a blessing and really makes the back yard look so nice!

Here’s some photos of some of the “so far” afters…by “so far” afters, I mean that we still have quite a ways to go. The kitchen, for instance, still needs new cabinets, counters, and for the trim to be finished. We are also adding additional cabinet and counter space in there. We are also slowly going through and refacing all the doors to match, so that they aren’t just the standard hollow-core doors. We’ve still got tile work to do in the guest bathroom, and carpet needs to be pulled up in the last two bedrooms, pergo planks put down, and trim needs to be hung.

I absolutely love the way the light drifts through the house. I made this video one day in an attempt to capture what I could see in my mind’s eye…

God has been so very good to us. I can’t wait to see what memories and adventures we have here. <3 Rest assured, you'll be hearing soon about more of our various projects and things we are renovating. There's still quite a bit to be done. <3

{a tribute to my grandfather}

My Grandaddy fell unexpectedly ill a few months ago. He bravely fought a horrible infection, until it became clear that he was not to be long on this earth.

When I think about the day he died, I feel a sense of peace, although it is so, so hard. There are so many things I am thankful for. He didn’t have to linger in pain or suffering. The Lord graciously answered a prayer in allowing him to be moved from a horrible hospital into one that did all they possibly could do to save him and help him to heal. Every single person we encountered there were so very gracious and so tender in their care. I saw nurses fight tears themselves as they poured their lives out for others- it was amazing.

I got to watch my parents work as a beautiful team. I’ve always admired the relationship that they have. They are married, but they are best friends too. I saw the tender looks pass between them as they comforted each other while watching my grandfather decline. I watched my dad be such a strong rock as he watched his dad slip away. I am so grateful that God allowed my dad to be home so much over this summer so that he could spend the time with my grandfather. When Daddy couldn’t be at the hospital, my mom was there. She sat there day after day overseeing what was going on and caring for my grandfather as if he was her own father. Watching the love and care radiate from her was so beautiful that it made me cry. My grandfather called her “his assistant” the entire time he was at the hospital. He called her his daughter, not his daughter-in-law, for as long as I can remember. He acted as a father figure in my mom’s life, and loved her as if she was his own. <3

They called the family in on September 9th, and let us know he was slipping away. We were able to go and be with him through that entire day. Once again, I was so impressed with the care of the nursing staff who were tending him. They were so gentle and careful, and were doing everything they could to make sure that he was comfortable.

At one point, a lady came in and played music on her guitar and sang to him. I will never again hear “on the road again” and “walk the line” without remembering this day. The calming presence that settled over the room was such a marvel to me. This particular experience was a realization to me that it is important I use my music as a ministry to others. I am praying about how to put that in place.

As the hours passed, more and more family arrived and surrounded his bedside. I am thankful for technology that allowed us to webcam with extended family who weren’t able to come.

Later on that evening, he slipped away to heaven to join my grandma, my great-grandparents, my precious babies, and so many other dear ones, surrounded by those who loved him most. I can’t imagine a more calm and peaceful homecoming.

I’m at the point in the grieving process where it still seems so surreal, and then when reality kicks in, it hurts so badly that it catches my breath. Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so many other things will not be the same without him here to be with us. I know that it was his time, and that the Lord’s ways are higher than ours, but that doesn’t make it easier for those of us who were left behind.

The most important thing that I want to mention is that we experienced the Lord answering a huge prayer. We have prayed for my grandfather’s salvation for many, many years. We’ve been burdened over his heart and not knowing where he stood on things. As it was becoming apparent that he was slipping away, I shared with some close friends and my church that the thing that was burdening me the most was the fact that we didn’t know if he had a relationship with Christ. My dad was able to discuss it with him over the weeks they spent together at the hospital and he made a profession of faith. I am humbled by the Lord’s mercy and provision.

My dad asked if any of us might like to share at Grandaddy’s funeral. I’m going to conclude this post with a slightly edited version of what I read at his funeral. <3

 

My Granddaddy has always been a special and important part of my life. One of my earliest memories of him was from when I went to visit at his and Grandma’s house, and he asked me what kind of cereal I might like for breakfast. He gestured up to a shelf in their kitchen where there were at least 10 different varieties of cereal. I can remember just being so impressed as a little girl that anyone would have that many kinds of cereal on hand and ready to go.

As years passed, Grandaddy continued to be a strong and steady, yet gentle and humble man in my life. I am so thankful that God blessed me with him. The care and work that he and Grandma poured into my dad has been something that has blessed me for all of my days.

Grandaddy loved family. When we would have our big family get-togethers, like any good southern family, we always had a lot of food, and to make cleanup a bit easier, we always would use disposable silverware and plates. He would always take whatever silverware he used and put it in his shirt pocket to take home. After several years of him doing this, I finally asked him one day what he did with all the silverware. He told me that he takes it home, puts it in a jar, and that every time he looked at the jar full of spoons and forks, he remembered the happy times of getting together and enjoying good food. My mama’s mom taught me to make deviled eggs when I was around 9 years old. Her reasoning? She knew Granddaddy and Daddy loved them, and thought it would be a perfect way for me to have a holiday “signature dish”. Even now that I am married, I bring deviled eggs for Grandaddy and Daddy (oh, and the rest of the family too!), to all of our holiday get-togethers.

 

Grandaddy loved chocolate, and he never, ever turned down dessert. My family so loved feeding him when he would come over. Never have you seen someone so excited for a home-cooked meal.

My love for John Phillips Sousa and vinyl records surely comes from him, as does the love of cheesy jokes. He passed his sense of humor on to my father, who passed it down to me. I so loved bantering back and forth with him once I was old enough to know how.

My grandfather was an honest, hard-working man. Life was never given to him on a silver platter, and yet, he never complained. He simply did his day-to-day tasks, and did his best to help others whenever he was given the opportunity. Even on his deathbed, he was saying “thank you” to the folks around him as they tended him. I’ve met only a handful of people as humble and gracious as he was.

Grandaddy was also a father to the fatherless. Watching the relationship he and my mama shared, and seeing him step in as a father figure in countless other situations, has been absolutely beautiful to observe. Throughout my entire life, he has always helped others.

He loved babies and children. Whenever he found out I was in labor with my firstborn, Oliver, he came up to the hospital fairly quickly and stayed there until we were settled into a room. He was so excited about the generations continuing to go forth in the family. Growing up, I can remember that each time one of my siblings would arrive, he would always come up to the hospital to meet the new little one. Babies were always so calm and collected with him- I think they knew they were well-loved and safe in his arms. Some of my very favorite photos we have of him were taken of him holding his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I can remember calling him when my husband and I had the date finalized for our wedding, to let him know what time we were holding it and what the dress code would be. We had a casual, backyard wedding, so when I told him the dress would be casual, I remember him saying that he approved greatly- it would be a nice, comfortable wedding! I couldn’t stop giggling when I got off the phone.

He has always come to every event, every milestone, every graduation, every choir performance…if we were on TV, he was watching and recording it. He made it very clear that he was proud of us and loved being a part of our lives.

He always got the softest, sweetest look in his eyes when he would talk about Grandma. You could tell that even many years later, she still had his heart. He remained faithful to her and her memory for all of his days. Their marriage was a beautiful example of lovers and best friends. Looking back through the old pictures of them over this past week has made my heart smile so big. When he talked about passing from this life into the next, he spoke so much of going to be back with his Jeannie again. He loved her so very much. Watching that love play out over the years,has been absolutely beautiful.

As I think back over the years that I’ve been able to spend getting to know him, I know I am truly blessed. I know that his legacy will continue to live on through his family. I am thankful for all of the memories I have of him- I will treasure them close forever. I’m so, so very thankful for the extra time I got to spend with him as he passed on from this world into heaven. Even though the circumstances were not what I would have wished, God was so very gracious in giving me the time.

I love you, Grandaddy.

{it’s been a while}

I’ve felt the urge to come and write here once more so many times over the last few weeks, but when I would sit down to actually start, the words would fail to pour from my fingers. Sometimes, it takes a while for me to be able to put into order everything that has happened. In the case of our lives, there have been so many major life changes that I hardly know where to begin.

It has been a year of life, loss, and new beginnings. That is for certain. Rather than try to cram everything into one post, I’m going to slowly start catching things up with several different posts.

{the hands of my beloved}

This afternoon, I’m finding myself particularly thankful for the hard-working hands of my beloved, and the way he uses them to care for myself and our son.

He was recently asked to work on a couple of furniture projects for some friends of ours. Ready-made plans didn’t exist for either project, so he’s been designing these builds from scratch.

After several delays, he was able to start the actual making this past Saturday, and I asked if I might capture some of the process.

He is so careful with each detail- he puts time into meticulous measuring, and painstaking attention is paid to every angle so that the final product will turn out the way it ought.

I love watching him work.

His traits of being cautious and careful carries over in the way he tenderly looks after myself and our tiny son.

He uses those hardworking hands through very long days to provide for our needs and to work towards our dreams, and then uses those same hands to find mine while he prays over our dinner each night. It is such a blessing to go before our Father above with hearts in unison and hands tightly clasped; together in this as with the rest of our lives.

It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

We are quickly approaching our season of “anniversaries”….the anniversary of the first message he sent my way, the anniversary of my “ultimatum” email, the anniversary of me opening the door to him standing on my daddy’s porch with a big smile for us to meet in person for the very first time….this is a special season of the year for us. It is incredible to think that there was a time before our lives were entwined together. God is so good, and so faithful to us. I am so very thankful for all of the answered prayers that came to me in Daniel. He is truly so much more than I ever could have even hoped for in a spouse. <3

{simple joys}

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The clock of life seems to be ticking ever faster these days. One day flows into the next, and I’m never sure of just how life flies by with more expediency as each moment passes.

I’m watching my tiny son grow up. Though he is but a little babe; a man-child now, already I see the stirrings of the grown man he will be one day. The firm set of his brow when he is deep in thought, and the determination he is using to become more independent and mobile. The days are long, but the years are short, and I know it will be but a brief time he will be in my home with me before he flies our nest and builds one of his own.

I’m thankful for this season of rest the Lord has provided for me. Through the hard work of my husband, I am able to stay here and feather our nest and care for our little boy. It has been a welcome reprieve from the craziness of working, and balancing night shift and other life changes. God knows what we need when we need it.

I find myself admiring the beauty in the simplest of things…

The way the silverware looks in the drawer all clean and shiny.

The way the sunshine streams in through the front door in the afternoons.

The fresh smell of Oliver’s laundry all washed and ready to be folded and put away.

The way the banana muffins look as they come out of the oven…hot and gooey with chocolate-y goodness.

I’m thankful for how God continues to reveal Himself as we’ve been praying through some major life decisions. We’ve got our laundry list of things that we are hoping to accomplish and work towards, and at the end of the day, God is faithful. He continually leads us right where we are to go, and firmly shuts doors that we are not meant to walk through.

I’m so thankful for our simple, and joy-filled, quiet life. Life is such a precious gift- may I never take even one minute for granted.

{a few postpartum helps}

Hello friends! I wanted to quickly take a minute to blog a little about some things that I have found indispensable during the postpartum recovery time, while it’s still somewhat fresh in my mind. 🙂 I realize that this is the first baby I have brought home, but I do think that these suggestions might be helpful to other moms, as they were a huge blessing and help to me! 😀

Freezer meals! One of the things that was immensely helpful to me was having some meals put away in the freezer for the time after Daniel went back to work. We were blessed and were able to have him home for several days due to changes going on at his job, in conjunction with holiday off time and vacation days, but even so, I was so, so thankful for those meals in the freezer!! I put away as many as I could, and then my sweet mama delivered several others. It was so nice to not have to worry about what we were going to eat while I was still working on getting back on my feet! There were also some wonderful friends of ours who delivered meals and even sandwich fixings after we got home from the hospital. That was such a HUGE blessing!

If you tore at all during delivery, the Earth Mama Herbal Perineal spray was so wonderful! I was alternating using it and spray Dermoplast. I felt like the tear was healing much faster than what I was told to expect from my doctor’s office, and I think this spray is really what made the difference.

After things settled down and we were ready to start going back to church, I realized that none of my church clothes fit at all. They were all either maternity and too big, or pre-maternity and too small. I found these dresses on Amazon, and for the most part, they have been AMAZING and not terribly expensive.

I ordered this black one:

I also ordered this burgundy one:

And this blue one:

The black one and the burgundy one have been great, but the blue one, while comfortable, developed fuzzballs on it really easily, and I’d only worn it three times. I’m going to get a clothes shaver and see if that helps, but that was disappointing. I’ve worn the black one and the burgundy one several times, and they both seem to be holding up really well. They have been awesome for nursing and have been very forgiving of my post-pregnancy shape.

My mom found this awesome Epsom salt rub at Walmart several months ago, and it became a lifesaver for my backaches while I was pregnant. After I had the baby, it still felt so good rubbed into my back. It also was the most effective thing I used to treat the dreaded “h’s” that showed up after pushing for so many hours. That isn’t what is was labeled for, but I found where someone had tried that in the Amazon reviews and decided to try it myself. LIFE CHANGER, folks.

I also realized a few weeks after bringing our little guy home that I was dealing with some baby blues. Mom suggested increasing my vitamin D consumption, so I did that and noticed a huge difference within just a few days. If it had been more sunny outside during that time, I would have also been soaking up as much sunshine as possible.

After the 6 week mark, it was time to start working in some exercise routines. We’ve been using Dr. Oz.s 7 minute workout here, and I’ve been alternating a few of Leslie Sansone’s 1 Mile Walk-At-Home videos (also on YouTube) as well. I realized when pushing that I had very little upper-arm strength, and I’m also trying to work on getting rid of some of those extra pounds I put on during the pregnancy. I haven’t lost a whole lot of weight thus far, but I can definitely see some muscle definition and toning making an appearance, and that makes me really happy. 🙂

The other thing that was really helpful was transitioning Oliver onto as much of a consistent sleep routine as I could. We follow the EASY baby schedule as much as possible, and it’s truly been awesome! He actually prefers to sleep in his bed, and throws the biggest fit if we’re out-and-about and it’s naptime. 😀 He sleeps in his bed overnight, and he usually wakes up when we are getting Daniel out the door for work, so I feed him and put him in bed next to me for morning snuggle time before we start the day. He loves his routine! I know that we’re rapidly approaching that 4 month sleep regression time, but I’m sure enjoying the good rest we are getting right now!

I sincerely hope some of this will be of help to you. Many blessings on this rainy spring day!
~Mrs SuperShevy

{grove collaborative and ebates}

Good afternoon, my friends!

I don’t normally do posts like this, but I wanted to share because it made me really excited. 😀

Now that I am home full time (or most of the time, anyway- I am still teaching and tuning piano 🙂 ), I’ve had more time to dedicate to figuring out how to best use our home budget money. We are in the process of saving to purchase a home, so I’m wanting to stretch our pennies as far as I can.

I kept seeing people post about their Grove Collaborative welcome orders, and I decided to give it a try. However, I wanted to see what exactly I could put in my order to make it have the best bang for the bucks.

First, I installed the ebates browser extension. I signed up several months ago and have had great success getting money back with our amazon and ebay purchases. If you decide to sign up, please use my link! 😀

Next, I went to Grove Collaborative to place the order. This made my ebates browser extension pop up to let me know that an order through them would give me $2.00 cash back. (Score!)

Grove Collaborative has an order minimum of $20 that you have to spend in order to receive the free cleaning supplies. You enter your email address on this page, and it automatically adds the free items to your cart. It also adds several other products to your cart to make up the $20 difference. I didn’t really want some of the items that it added, so I deleted them and began to scour the site for other options. I also joined the VIP free trial so that shipping would be free as well.

Here is what my order ended up looking like:

And here is where $2.00 was credited to my ebates account:

So, that made my total $20.38 for all of the following:

So far, I’m using the cleaning caddy to hold washcloths in our bathroom, and it’s doing great for that. The only Mrs. Meyers scent out of these that I did not like at all was the Lemon Verbena. To me, it smells like bug spray. 😛 Live and learn. The sad thing is that I ordered dish soap, all purpose spray and hand soap in that scent because I was expecting a fresh, citrus scent. Oh well. I have absolutely LOVED the hand towels. I’m actually planning on ordering several more because they are so absorbent and do a fantastic job! I have not yet tried the glass cleaner concentrate.

All in all, for $20, I am VERY pleased with how many items I was able to get.  PRO TIP: Some of the Mrs Meyers scents are priced more expensively than others. I went with the ones that were a dollar or so less than the others and as a result, was able to get an additional bottle just from the savings.

Let me know if you do it, and what you decided to get! 🙂 Have a blessed afternoon, friends!

~Mrs SuperShevy

{bath time for baby}

We’re beginning to fall into a routine here at our little house in the valley, and I never want to forget these sweet moments as my little baby is growing by the day. I’m trying to do better about documenting even the tiniest things, so that we can look back one day and remember what life was like “way back when”. Here’s a glimpse of Ollie’s bath time in black and white. <3







I so love this simple life we live. <3