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
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
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’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.
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
“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.
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!
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!
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
It is hard to believe that our sweet little man has been here already for four weeks. It seems as if he has been a part of our family forever!
My pregnancy with him was a journey of growing and stretching, both physically and emotionally/spiritually. There were so many days when I wondered if I could possibly go one more day, because I was so physically tired. It was not an easy pregnancy, and yet I found myself so thankful for each day. When you are pregnant after previously experiencing the loss of a little one, you don’t take pregnancy for granted. This is something that I didn’t realize the depth of until I experienced it for myself.
I still giggle a bit when I think about when I found out he was on the way. I was feeling a little bit “off”- just tired, mainly, and emotionally struggling a bit. Based on some issues I was having, Daniel told me he thought I might be pregnant again, but I really didn’t think that was possible. After having lost our first in December, and then recovering from mono, strep, and multiple other issues, my body seemed to be taking a while to fully heal up. About a week after he told me that, I went out to lunch with my mom and was telling her about some of the issues I was having, and she asked if it was possible that I might be pregnant. I told her I didn’t think so. 🙂 Famous last words…y’all, if your husband and your mom tell you that you might be pregnant, don’t be stubborn like I was and think that it isn’t possible. 🙂
I was scared to even think about the possibility of being pregnant again. I was scared of losing another baby- I already loved the first one so much. Losing it broke me in so many ways. I think I was in denial that there was a possibility that I could even get pregnant again. This is one of those places where I realized that I was not trusting that the Lord was sovereign even over this, and that He knew the desire of my heart to have children of our own.
Two days later, I was curious and just decided to take a pregnancy test. I was shocked when it came back positive…I remember just sitting and crying in wonderment and amazement that the Lord was allowing another opportunity to be a mama.
I texted a photo of the test to Daniel, who was at work, along with the caption that I might should listen to him more often. 🙂 When he got home, he held me and prayed over the baby and I and over the months to come.
The next day, I took another test and the line was even darker….at this point, we went ahead and shared the news with my parents so that they too could be praying over the pregnancy. I found myself once again so excited and yet so scared. It was so hard to wait and just see what would happen. To the best that I could tell, I figure I was around 3 weeks pregnant at this point.
The first milestone that I wanted to reach was 8 weeks, as that was the week I lost the first one.
Every day that went by with no issues was just such a miracle to me.
Around 4 weeks, I began to have some bleeding during church. It was so much…I got home and just started sobbing. I remember telling Daniel that I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why my body kept failing at being able to carry a child…I felt so broken. My parents came and brought us dinner that night and just comforted both of us. I was such a mess. I kept waiting on the bleeding to escalate more, like it did when I began losing the first one, but instead, by the next day, it had stopped.
This was new and different. I texted my mom and asked her “wasn’t miscarriage bleeding supposed to last more than a day??”. She told me to call my doctor and see if they could get me in for a blood draw. I remember feeling like God was telling me to just rest and be at peace….I felt like I could literally feel Him asking in my heart “Do you trust me?” over and over and over…this was one of the hardest struggles I had ever experienced in just giving a situation over to God.
They were able to get me in, and I had blood drawn at the appointment because it was too early for an ultrasound. The hormone level results came back super-high and perfect for a viable pregnancy. I went back a few days later for a repeat draw, and they were doubling and doing exactly what they were supposed to do. I was in complete shock…and still very much pregnant!
The nausea decided to kick in that week as well, which was awful to deal with, but a reassurance to me that hormones were rising and doing what they needed to. It made for a little fun managing that and working at the vet clinic, but eventually, I found a groove and it got a bit easier.
Around 5-1/2 weeks, I was able to go in and get an ultrasound done. This ultrasound showed where there was a gestational sac, a yolk sac, and a hematoma/sub-chorionic hemorrhage… that hemorrhage is what was causing the bleeding earlier!! I was so thankful for an answer as to what the bleeding was from. My doctor reassured us that everything looked great for where I was in the pregnancy, and that I would have a follow-up visit in two weeks to see how things were measuring then.
Because I didn’t see an actual baby on the ultrasound at this appointment, I was cautiously optimistic but also scared about what the next appointment would hold. I was scared of seeing no baby, or finding out something was horribly wrong. This was yet another time where I needed to stop and trust God. I can remember Daniel and my parents were all being very encouraging and praying for me as we got closer to the appointment. I also had told a few of my siblings, and some close friends who were praying and sending me the sweetest messages while I was awaiting this next step.
Appointment day arrived (about 7-1/2 weeks), and my doctor was running behind, so we sat in the waiting room longer that expected. My mom was with me for this appointment, and we ended up running into some acquaintances of ours, who were also waiting to see the doctor. We sat and talked with them for a long time, and they shared the story of their own previous loss before they were expecting that baby, and how the Lord had used it in their lives. It was such an unexpected means of encouragement. I was blown away by how God weaves stories together, and brings people in and out of our lives… it’s a beautiful tapestry, and yet all we can see at times are the threads.
They were called back, and then I was called back about 10 minutes later. My doctor did an ultrasound, and I got to see my precious baby and hear his heartbeat. Friend, I cried. I still cry every time I watch the clip and get to hear that sound. I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness… my baby was living. He was growing (actually measuring ahead of his dates), he was healthy, the hematoma was nowhere in sight and there was a healthy and perfect heartbeat.
After that appointment, I was feeling a little more comfortable with how things were going. I started to purchase some baby things and put them away for his arrival. The nausea got even worse, and then the vericose veins made their appearance. I’m so thankful that I didn’t have any big issues with my blood pressure- other than a few stress-related incidents, it was perfect through the entire pregnancy.
I’m also so thankful that I was working the night shift at the vet clinic during this time, because I couldn’t do mornings very well at all because of the nausea. As the day progressed, it would get slightly better, but I was having a hard time even functioning in the mornings. The vericose veins were awful. I did finally purchase some compression socks and that made life so much better. I could tell within an hour if I had neglected to put them on first thing in the day! 🙂
The next appointment (around 12 weeks) was picture-perfect as well- Daniel got to go with me this time and see the little guy… and by the way, by this time, we felt positive that Oliver was indeed a boy. While we already had a boy name and a girl name picked out, we just KNEW it was a boy, and had been referring to him as “he”, “him”, “Oliver”, “Ollie”, etc.
About this time, I was beginning to show and was collecting maternity clothes to add to my stash. 😀 I had been taking weekly “bumpies” to show the belly progression. When I uploaded these photos to Facebook later, I called the album “As The Bump Grows”. 😀
We got to find out that he was definitely a HE at 18 weeks. The ultrasound tech asked us if we wanted to find out, and Daniel and I both answered a very strong “yes!”, and then giggled when she said it was a boy. It’s still funny to me that we “knew” from so early on. We chose this time to publicly announce online, and were so blessed by the outpouring of love and support and prayers from folks all over the world. Y’all know who you are- thank you, again, for all that was done. <3
I am still amazed at the fact that he fit so snuggly in my tummy….when I was preparing to quit my job, most folks didn’t realize I was as far along as I was, because my scrubs did a pretty good job about hiding it until the last couple of weeks that I was there.
At exactly 36 weeks, my family hosted the sweetest baby shower/family meal to welcome little Ollie. My mom, aunt, sister-in-law and other family members worked really hard to put everything together, and it was absolutely adorable!!
I was able to use several of the decorations in his nursery, which I had been working on slowly over several weeks. I am so thankful for one particular afternoon when my mom and sister Emma came over to help fold baby clothes and get everything in it’s place…time was ticking down!
I was so “done” with being pregnant by the time I had reached 33-34 weeks or so. I felt huge, and my legs were aching all the time from the vericose veins, and I still had pretty constant nausea. Oliver also broke my rib around 28 weeks, and it was making me feel absolutely miserable whenever he would push on it. I can remember thinking that it felt like I was going to be pregnant forever! I was a little shocked when I was told that I was actually making progress towards dilation/effacement…. and at my last appointment (12/17/2018) before he was born, I was told that I was at 3cm dilated, and my doctor told me that she would be surprised if I didn’t have the baby within the next two weeks! I went ahead and made my next appointment for 12/27/18, but I was really hoping that I would have the baby before then.
I was actually praying that Oliver would arrive around Christmas. If he did, we knew that we could stack Daniel’s holiday days off and his vacation days, and we would have several days just to settle in and start getting used to our new normal. We also found out that Daniel was finally getting moved to dayshift at his work- something we had been praying for over several months.
We went to church when I was 39 weeks on the nose, and they gave us stacks of presents for little Ollie…I’m still amazed when I think about how loved this little guy was even before he arrived!! I sat in my living room floor going through everything and starting crying again. It truly was amazing to me.
That same Sunday, I asked our pastor and his wife that day to be praying about Oliver’s arrival, and shared that it would be amazing if Ollie could be born around Christmas. And this, folks, is where I want to emphasize that God’s timing is perfect. It is amazing to me at how He works out the smallest details and puts everything in place in the exact way that it needs to be.
Christmas Eve arrived, and we got together with the family for our annual Christmas Eve special dinner. We had so much fun getting to visit with everyone, and though I was feeling really big, I actually was feeling pretty great and enjoyed the time so much. I was slightly disappointed that Oliver hadn’t come yet, and I had no indication that he was on the way just yet, but I was determined to enjoy Christmas and was so loving the time with my family and with Daniel, because we never seem to get enough of it nowadays with work and just life. 🙂 On Christmas Day, Daniel and I actually drove out to Georgia to pick up a welder that he had found on Facebook marketplace. We went ahead and put all of our hospital bags and the baby’s bag in the car for “just in case”. I was having some minor contractions, but nothing more than I had been having for the last week or so, and I didn’t think too much of it.
That night, we got home, ate pizza, and went to bed early because we were tired. I had been timing some of the contractions before I went to bed that evening, and they didn’t seem to be terribly regular, but were definitely more intense than before. They were averaging about 8 minutes apart and were lasting almost two minutes. I had been getting a bit of bloody show as well, but I had been slowly losing my mucous plug over the week before, so again, I wasn’t thinking too much of it.
I woke up around 3 the next morning (12/26/18), having harder contractions, and I felt like I had lost some fluid. Sure enough, as I started walking to the bathroom, I realized I was losing the tiniest bit of fluid. I immediately googled about if your water can break slowly, because I always thought there would be a big gush. I woke Daniel up and told him that I thought my water had broken and I was keeping an eye on it and my contractions, but he doesn’t remember that at all. 😀 I was beginning to have harder contractions now, and I decided to just go to bed and try to sleep as long as I could before they got too bad. I wanted to labor at home as long as I could before going in to the hospital.
I was able to catnap for about 20 minutes or so, but then the contractions started getting closer and hurting more. I also could not stop trembling. Daniel woke up at the point that I started trembling, and asked if I was okay. I told him that I thought we might be actually having a baby today, and he immediately got up and started making sure that our stuff was together and made us a cup of coffee. I am so thankful for his careful care of me, and his attention to all the little details to make sure that we would be able to get there without incident. <3 I went ahead and got up, got dressed, and starting timing contractions again. At the point that they were averaging about 1-1/2 minutes apart, I texted my mom to let her know that it was time, and called my doctor to see when they wanted me to come on in. They asked questions about how much fluid I was still losing, and how far the contractions were apart, and then said it was definitely time for me to come on.
By this point, I was getting really emotional. I just wanted to sit and cry, even though I wasn't in an extreme amount of pain yet. I told Daniel and texted my mom that I thought I had to be around 6cm or so, because I remember from taking childbirth class that you reach a really emotional stage of labor around 6-8cm.
Daniel and I got the last few things in the car, and we were on our way! The most beautiful sunrise was happening at the same time...we were getting to watch the sun come up as we made our way to the hospital, which was really special. Something that had brought us together during our courtship was a shared love of photographing sunrises and sunsets...being able to watch a sunrise while we were on the way to birth our child is something special that I will always remember about Oliver's birth.
I could tell that the intensity of the contractions were really picking up when we were about 30 minutes away. By this point, it was close to 7 in the morning. When we arrived at the hospital, I had every intention of walking in to be admitted, but as soon as I stood up out of the car, I felt the “gush” of my water breaking for sure. Daniel went in and brought me out a wheelchair so that I wouldn’t be leaking fluid all over the place trying to get in and settled.
Fortunately, my mom and doctor’s office had encouraged me to pre-register, so I basically had to sign in and they got me right back. A triage nurse and the rounding hospital OB came by to check me, and they told me I was at 100% effacement, 0 station, and 6, almost 7cm dilated! I was amazed and so thankful.
At this point, it was time to settle in and let labor do it’s work. While I don’t have anything against medical help for delivering babies, I really wanted to see if I could labor and then deliver Oliver with as little help as possible. It was more for curiousity’s sake, and I figured since I was at a hospital anyway, I’d be able to get additional help if it was needed.
The hospital that I used is in the process of trying to better equip women to have more natural births and labor if that is what they are wanting to do. Once they settled us into a labor and delivery room, we were assigned two nurses and a nurse practitioner who’s only job is to be a labor coach and doula! This was a huge change from the way it was when my mom had my younger siblings there. I knew that I wanted Daniel and my mom with me for the delivery and as much of the labor as possible, so I was able to have the comfort of knowing my husband was right there with me, the comfort and childbirth knowledge/help from my mom, and then we also had the benefit of a doula as well- something I had not planned on nor even knew was possible at the hospital!
I labored naturally until around 10:00am or so that morning, and they checked me every so often to make sure I was progressing well. They actually had went ahead and turned on the baby heater over the baby bed, because by this time, I was at 9-1/2cm and they were anticipating that the baby was going to be arriving very soon.
The contractions were coming so quickly and were so painful by this point. I felt like I literally could not get on top of the pain of the last one before the next one started. The doula was really good to coach me through the breathing and that helped a lot, but there were so many times when the contractions hurt so badly that I can remember saying “I can’t do this….I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get through this!” My mom would tell me that I was doing it, that I was getting through it, and would remind me that I was so close to meeting little Ollie… and then my husband was literally physically supporting me while I was attempting to walk through some of those contractions…he was holding my hand while I was sitting on the birthing ball in the shower trying to breath through contractions…seeing the love and pain in his eyes while I was trying to get through the hardest contractions is a look I will never forget. I know that if he could have taken that pain for me, he would have without even thinking twice. I love him so much.
By the time I had been sitting at 9-1/2cm for hours (I think it was about 12pm at this point), there were serious concerns about the way the baby was positioned. He was definitely head-down, but they were thinking he might be turned the wrong way around, and they were also concerned that I was going to be too exhausted to deliver him. I was so tired, and hurting so badly… I was emotionally a wreck and just wanted a rest, but was not getting it with the contractions still coming ever closer. They asked if I would be comfortable going ahead and getting an epidural at this point. I discussed it with Daniel and Mama to make sure that I was thinking through the decision clearly, and decided that I definitely wanted to go ahead and have that done.
Within 20 minutes, the anesthesiologist came in and got everything set up, and about 20 minutes after that, I was feeling so much better and was able to rest some. They let me take a couple of hours just to labor and see if he would move down a little more, and shortly after lunchtime, they checked me and I was at 10cm! Hearing that I was at 10cm made me cry again. I was so thankful to hear that I had progressed to the point of actually being able to deliver Oliver. I had begun to wonder if I was going to end up with a c-section.
I’m not sure what time I began pushing, because everything started to seem a bit surreal. I do know that they started a slow Pitocin drip to help the contractions be a little more effective. I remember the nurse asking me if I was ready to start pushing. I almost laughed because I asked her if I was still contracting…yeah, that epidural did a really good job. Almost too good, because I was having a really hard time feeling things enough to push! She assured me that I was, and Oliver was beginning to crown.
I remember Mama saying that she could see his head, and I was able to reach down and rub his little head….and started crying again. He was coming….he was coming, and we were finally about to meet him. I was pushing for about an hour. At the point that Oliver’s head started crowning, they called the doctor, and when he made it to my room and had his delivery scrubs on, they gave me the go-ahead to push again. I heard them say that Oliver’s head was out….a little more pushing and he was crying and his entire body was out! I had a second-degree tear, but am fortunate that it was not worse. As it turns out, his head was tilted sideways in the birth canal, so the contractions were not able to effectively move him down enough to let me progress past 9-1/2cm nor were the contractions thinning the last “lip” of my cervix, which is why the labor lasted much longer than the birthing team thought it would.
Little Oliver Lewis Shevchenko was officially born at 4:21pm on December 26th, 2018. He was 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and 21.5 inches long. <3
Once he was born, they rubbed him down a bit and sat him on my chest while I was being stitched up. He was so cute and so perfect...the first thing I noticed was that he had his daddy's ears. <3 The next thing I noticed was his big hands...he had little man hands!! And his legs were so long... <3 I was in love from first sight. (thank you to Mama for taking the photos!)
Once they made sure that I was steady after the epidural had worn off, they got Oliver all bundled up and we were able to be moved to a regular room.
Among his first visitors were my mom, dad, grandfather, and brother, Jacob! (Mom took all of these pictures, so I don’t have one with her and Oliver at the hospital).
The next couple of days were a bit of a blur…we were getting into the swing of breastfeeding, trying to get stuff wrapped up at the hospital, and visiting with the folks who came to see us.
The hospital did deliver us the sweetest little birthday cake and box to celebrate!! It was so cute!!
On December 28th, it was finally time to get ready and go home for the first time as a family.
Before we even left the parking spot, Daniel prayed over us, and over Oliver, and over all that we would be doing now as a family. I was crying, he was crying….it was so sweet and just a precious time. <3
Life is more settled now. We’re falling into more of a routine. I’ve been working on getting his sleep schedule sorted out so that he’s a little more content.
Daniel still swaddles him much better than I do!
It’s been fun watching him do more baby things instead of newborn things…he’s spending a lot more time looking around and taking things in. His eyes get so big when he sees something that fascinates him!
He’s also gaining weight like a champ…he had gained back all the weight he lost from birth within 2-3 days, and then he gained an additional 2 pounds in the last couple of weeks. I can’t wait to hear what he’s up to when we go back to the pediatrician next week for his next well visit!
He’s definitely growing so quickly.
He has been an absolutely precious addition to our family. I am so thankful that the Lord saw fit to give him to us. <3