Christmas is not over yet!

I really am one of those crazies who can’t get enough of Christmas. I start to miss the season around… March usually. Before Easter even gets going. I just love the spirit, the happiness, the music, and all the lights! And of course, I love that Christmas is a reminder of the birth of Christ, which was such a joyous occasion, a legion of angels sang about it to earthly witnesses! It may not be Jesus’ actual birthday, but God uses it for His glory every year.

And when it comes to the other stuff, sure, it’s far less important, but even God is no stranger to the fun of festivities. So, this year I was super happy to get our tree up about a week before Thanksgiving, because just seeing a tree up gives me those warm fuzzy feelings! And I’m also happy because it’s staying up until mid-January, because we still have some Christmas to take care of! That’s right, Jimmy’s family (all of them!!) are coming to Chucktown to see their littlest members and do some more Christmas stuff. I’ll get to break out the Christmas outfits again. Bake cookies. Open presents. I love it!

And about our actual Christmas Day, I have to say, it was pretty wonderful. We stayed home, in our PJs, played with new toys, ate some good food, watched Frozen and just enjoyed each other. Just me, Jimmy and our two kids. Low-key and, you know, I wouldn’t be upset if that was how our kids remembered Christmas.

I’ve been thinking about traditions, and I want to implement lots of good ones for our kids. We really enjoy St Nicholas Day (candy in your shoe, and don’t forget the orange!) and I love the idea of the Christmas Eve box (pjs, a snack, and a book or movie all meant for that night). Of course, making cookies and watching Christmas movies are great options too. But I want some more meaningful ones too. I didn’t want to go too crazy this year, though. My kids are still babies and I have some time.

Gosh, but these babies are growing so fast! Sam is huge. A couple babies have been born in my circle of friends last month, and comparing him to them is just crazy. But he’s getting rolls, and smiling, and of course he is super strong and loves to move. Sam can roll over both ways now. He is only 11 weeks old and he’s been doing it like a pro for some time. And EV is getting bigger. I find myself looking at pictures from just a month or two ago and seeing such a huge change. She is playing very well with bigger kids, and articulating herself very well. She says “look” and “I’m sorry”and “help” and “all done” and “okay”. Properly. She uses those words how they’re meant to be used. It’s so crazy how fast this is going!

One of the very small gifts I got was a new journal. I am such a journal junkie! But I always have trouble filling journals. Then my mom told be about bullet journaling! It’s so awesome for someone like me, who seriously can’t keep anything straight. I usually like to write diary entries or stories in journals, but I’ve been using this system for my to-dos and ideas, and it’s working pretty well for me. I might try hand-lettering with it. I might start a different blog, like, one for making money and contributing to society and all that, and use my bullet journal to guide me. I’ve played with the idea of podcasting too. I used to have a radio show back in the day, kind of. I loved it. It was fun, and I don’t know, I just love the idea of having a creative outlet. My problem has never been dreaming. It’s been executing.

So we will see what the future holds! But for now, I’m super excited to keep on with my Christmas and watch these kiddos grow. Family has been so worth every sacrifice to me.

New Year’s was not super exciting in this house. That’s what we can expect for a while if we want to spend it with the kids.  But we did open a coconut, like we do every year, and Jimmy made Pina Colada pancakes, which were delicious! We might have to add that to our coconut ritual.

 Happy New Year!

The Unruly Life with Two Under Two

At this very moment, I am in a rocking chair nursing my 5-week-old son and watching my 19-month-old daughter make use of the books and toys in her unkempt bedroom. I probably won’t end this blog in this same situation, especially since it’s naptime and my boy is screaming and my girl keeps crying for milk because she is jealous and wants to nurse. 

I couldn’t even get through that last sentence without the situation changing.

This life I’m in right now is an unruly, sleepless, loud, sticky, wonderful adventure. It’s a trek through a jungle of thoughts and emotions and everything that happens before we say “night-night.” It’s prioritizing, both poorly and thoughtfully, what’s important in our day, and laundry doesn’t usually win first place.  It’s tandem nursing, cuddling, burping, singing, rocking, kissing, bleeding, wiping, crying, giggling, and praying. It’s a grumpy face, a toothy grin, a tired sigh, and victorious applause for a kid who learned something new. It’s a desperate search for the “buh-buh” or “pacifier” as most non-toddlers call it. It’s the resounding call for “mama” or “daddy” that echoes through the house, and the newborn wailing in the background. It’s the extra-long moment that I take to admire the God-given life that I cradle in my arms. It’s pretty crazy and pretty amazing. 

This season won’t last long. I’ve already gotten through an entire month of having two kids under age two. The changes are already apparent. Pretty soon I’ll have a girl who can articulate herself better than ever and maybe figure out how to jump, and a boy who has barely spent any of his life breathing air already learning how to smile and play and laugh. At some point, their interactions will amount to more than just the bigger one patting the smaller one on the head. And then my little girl will turn 2 and I’ll be living a different (probably unruly) life. Maybe I will even have a handle on the thousand thoughts that race through my barely capable mom-brain, but I’m guessing not. 

Sammy, my Mr. Peaceful, will grow up to be a strong and content young man, I’m sure of it. EV will be fearless and giggly as usual, but she will also have funny quips and unique ideas. She will probably have troves of friends and admirers, but this is her mom talking. And somewhere down the line, there might be more little Kramers to change the identity of our family. I’d be happy with that! (But maybe we can put it off a few years. A girl can only go so long without sushi and wine.) This year’s Christmas card has two beautiful, remarkable children on it, and their close births will mean they are close to each other, like no other person could be.

I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Not for more peace, or sleep, or wine & sushi, or hair, or time, or money, or travel, or sanity, or showers. I will have everything I could want in the next life, so why should I have any regrets about giving someone else the opportunity to have that promise too?

God gave me this messy life, and I tell ya, I am so thankful He did. 

  

The Birth of Samson

It’s a boy! This child we have been anticipating all year long finally made his appearance on October 18th! And it was a peaceful, beautiful entry earthside.

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I feel like this birth story is so much shorter, partly because it was actually a shorter labor and delivery, but I realize that there is so much more to the story than just when labor started. God had been preparing me for this, and I know that it is because of His Glory and Power and Love that it happened the way it did. So, if you’re the kind of person that wants to know what happened, but you don’t need the narrative, for you I have my son’s birth story in moments. I did this last time with EV, and I think it was well-received, as many are so curious as to what happens when babies are born! I know I am! You are also welcome to skip the prologue portion, but I would recommend you read it all to truly understand how powerful this birth story really is! Continue reading

Samson’s Birth Story in Moments

Well, it’s a boy! I had a feeling that little acrobat Peppercorn was a boy, but it was still exciting to wait. And it wasn’t as hard to wait as I thought it would be! Samson’s birth was an incredible experience, and as much as I would recommend you read the whole story to truly get a feel for what happened, here’s what I went through in moments.

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Statistics

We planned a home birth, and Samson was born in water.
I started labor around 11pm. Sam was born at 7:03am the next morning.
That’s only 8 hours of labor! Quite a lot shorter than EV’s at 21 hours.
I wasn’t checked for dilation at all until 5 hours into my labor. At that point I was 8cm.
There was no mucus or broken water before pushing, so I had to fully trust my body (and God!)
My contractions lasted about 1 minute and were 4 minutes apart.
I had front contractions that moved to my back. I didn’t have back labor like that last time.
Again, there was no pain medication. I just relied on the presence of the help that God gave me and listened to what my body told me to do.
The second stage of labor was less than 10 minutes. Between my water breaking and Sam being born, it was 4 minutes!
Samson was born weighing 7 lbs 14 oz and 20 inches long. A perfect boy!

Game-Changing Decisions

Goes without saying: birthing at home was a big decision, and made a world of difference!
The midwife we chose is incredibly experienced, and she already had a relationship with us because she taught the birthing class we took with EV.
We decided to do as few interventions this pregnancy as we felt safe doing. We had one ultrasound in the first trimester, a few dopplers for checking the heart tones, and the required 3 visits with an OB. There was a little bloodwork, but everything came back normal. If I had felt at all like something was wrong, I would have approached it differently.
The fact that I am young and remained healthy the whole pregnancy is the overarching reason we knew a home birth was a good decision. Many women are not as greatly blessed with a situation like ours.
The midwife and birth assistant agreed that the best thing that could happen would be that they would do mostly nothing but wait and offer emotional support. That is just what we got, and it was wonderful!
We had so much peace about EV being taken care of because we prepared a “team” for her. Turns out, we didn’t really need much help, as she slept the whole time!
Because we went as close to natural as we could, Samson’s birth and first days were incredibly peaceful!

What I did

I used a warm bath, the support of the people with me, and prayer to cope with the pain.
I paid attention to what my body was telling me. At times, it meant being in water, and at others, it meant lying in bed or walking around.
I did the low groan… until I didn’t anymore. My midwife thought contractions had stopped!
I threw up a few times, but it actually was relieving!
Never once was I wearing anything, and I think that this is the best way to labor!
When I was ready to meet him, I pushed. But it was premature. So I waited and it was only 2 contractions before it was time.
After I waited to fully dilate, my son came super fast!
I felt his head as he was born, and there was such a profound connection made at that moment.
I was the one who shouted, “It’s a boy!”

What I Felt

Oh, boy, I felt in pain! Miserable, yes, but fearful? No! I was very emotionally and spiritually prepared, Praise God!
Almost my whole labor, it was dull aching pain at level 10 with each contraction. Again, it was from front to back.
Pushing is an intense, burning sensation, but fortunately it was very quick.
When I felt his head as he was born, I finally connected that all of this was to bring a human into the world. It’s strange that, even though I knew this from before, it wasn’t totally real until then.
At one point, I felt discouraged that labor might go a lot longer than I prayed for.
But never once did I feel afraid!

What I Thought

This is hard
I don’t want to do this
Rely on God as your strength
I can’t wait to meet my baby
This might not happen, but then… this is happening!
Let go of control
Breathe
You can do this!

Memorable Moments

-I am so grateful that God put it on my heart to trust in Him and have NO FEAR! This was months of spiritual preparation, and I knew that God would tell me what I needed to know if there was something I needed to know. Everything else would be a part of His plan, and I felt confident praying specific things for my birth, such as: a healthy baby, a short labor, EV to be well taken care of, an early arrival, and a peaceful delivery at home. All of these things were answered with a faithful “Yes!”
-About 5 hours into labor, I began wondering if it was possible for this to not be the right time. Because we had no major event, like my water breaking, I started to feel discouraged that I might not meet my baby soon, like I thought. Then, my midwife, recognizing my mood, decided to check my dilation, and I was 8cm! It helped me push those worries aside.
-Early in the morning, I got back into the birth pool and my midwife came back from her nap. She told me that I was spending a lot of my energy groaning through contractions, and I should try to just let them happen. So, I did. After about a half hour, she asked if the contractions had stopped! Nope! I just stopped responding to them. The only indication I gave that they were still happening was that I asked for water after each one. It was pretty incredible that I managed to do that!
-One half hour before Samson was born, we prayed that he would be born soon. I tried to push, since the last time, I was so determined to meet EV that I didn’t wait for contractions. However, my midwife told me that the contractions would change, and it would be better to wait for them to push the baby down than to do it myself. Two contractions later, they started pushing him out, and then shortly after that, my water broke and he fell instantly into the birth canal. Then it was only one more contraction before he was born!
-EV slept the entire time! Basically, she woke up and had a brother! My younger brother watched her during the last little bit of delivery, and he heard me shout, “It’s a boy!” from the living room!
-Jimmy said that he didn’t even need to see the gender to know it was a boy… he could see from Samson’s face that it was a he!

Curious October

Well happy October, everyone! It’s finally the (most likely) month of baby Peppercorn’s birth!

And it’s nearly half over…

Life has been really hectic. Ever since my brother came to live with us in August, it’s really felt like nothing has slowed down. There was the hospital fiasco, of course. Then, we had Jimmy’s business trip and my church’s women’s retreat on back to back weeks, and we’ve had so much to do just to get ready for the baby. And we’ve been blessed with employment, as my brother got himself his first job and Jimmy racked up quite a bit of overtime!

No wonder my 38th week crept up on us! I’m fairly confident that it’s only a matter of days before we meet this kid. 

 I see that God has been preparing me quite well, though. I feel like every little detail is falling into place, not to mention that He’s been doing a lot of work on my heart.

Main message: Trust Him.

Persevere. Have joy. Take comfort. Rember that He knows what you need and what you want. Have no fear, just trust Him.

One thing that impacted me a lot when preparing for this baby’s birth (and ridding myself of the fear of delivering naturally again) was being told that I can confidently bring God my concerns and my desires. I want a short labor. I want to feel capable the whole time. I want to feel supported. I want a great group of people on Team EV. I want to have peace about every last thing.

He is delivering answers already! He is peeling away my worries, and making me really, really excited to see this baby! I really don’t want to be anxious or crazy about natural induction methods like I was last time, and even in that way I feel quite relaxed. 

 But yeah, any day now would be fine 😉 I’m curious to see what day God picks!

Our room is finally ready! We decided to sidecar the crib instead of using a bassinet, and I am seriously looking forward to it! And I just feel so excited to see holiday stuff pop up, even Halloween, because this year will be so different!

TWO KIDS!

Oh, about that other kid… She’s still amazing. Every day.

She’s speaking a ton more! It feels like a thousand new words (in broken baby language, of course) every week. EV will be such an amazing big sister! Hugs have been her “thing” lately, which is adorable. Also, she is still totally crazy about Curious George. 

So when a local Barnes & Noble was having a Curious George party… We just had to go. It might be our last chance to do something special for her for a while. It seemed like the perfect opportunity! 

 She was super starstruck when he walked in the room. Even though she was a tiny bit apprehensive about sitting on his lap, it only took 0.056 seconds for her to be all up in his business, handing him random books and toys from around the store. That’s my girl! Fearless little EV.

I have been trying to take in moments with her. Quiet ones. Loud ones. Oh yeah, she’s discovered yelling. Ha! But it’s her. Every time I look at her beautiful face, I feel that sense of awe and wonder that I did on that first day. 

And I get to have that with another human super soon. A different, unique, wonderful little thing that I will apparently love just as much as EV, who fills up my heart more than I thought it could be filled up!

Just wow.

Hopefully, next blog, I’ll be on the other side of that. Let you know how that goes.

Pray for me and my family as we enter this new stage of life. It will be amazing!

What Really Happened at the Hospital

If you happen to be connected with me on Facebook, you know by now that Labor Day weekend was a complicated and frustrating one. EV broke her arm, and I know a lot of people want to know what happened. I tried my best to stay positive despite the craziness, but the truth is, it was a pretty horrible experience. Honestly, one of the worst experiences of my life.

What really happened at the hospital, though, was that God was doing work in our family, and that is worth celebrating!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything… Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4;12 NIV)

It is no surprise to me that this verse came up multiple times before any of this ever happened. God showed me that when Christians persevere in any kind of suffering, they are met with actual reward in the end. There is no doubt. For what we went through at the hospital, we will be rewarded eternally! That gave me so much strength when we were sitting and waiting in the hospital room. Afterwards, however, I learned another lesson: we are made perfect in perseverance. Now, I have just one more tool in life’s tool belt that I know how to use.

But I know there are other details about what went down that y’all want to know. I have no problem documenting them for you. Maybe some day I will come back to this post and it will remind me of the amazing work that was done. Continue reading

A tooth! Finally!

If you have been around us at all in the last year, you would know that EV still bears a gummy smile (and I’m certain your heart just melted)! Teething has been on our minds since she was two months old, but 16 whole months went by, and none of the times we suspected a tooth was responsible for her crankiness (or drooling) had we been right.  Until now! The last month, it was pretty clear that her gums were changing, which was part of the reason her pediatrician was not concerned. It is pretty rare for a kid to go this long without cutting any teeth, but how many people do you know who never got their teeth? Still, it was making me a little anxious to approach having another baby with zero experience dealing with teething. If I was going to lose sleep for months on end because of one kid, the last thing I wanted was for the other kid to have as much or more reason to keep me up too. We JUST got EV on a routine that has her sleeping all night with a consistent bedtime of 8pm. What would we do if we had a newborn AND a teething toddler?

I guess I know the answer now though. Deal, that’s what we’d do. That’s always what you do as a parent. You hold it together just long enough to get a tiny bit of help, and you may not even utilize all the help you can get because your heart is to take care of your kids. No matter how little sleep you got last night.

But, thankfully, we haven’t had too much nighttime troubles with these teeth. Actually, she has been awesome at night for the most part! And, having just gone on a weekend getaway with two 5-hour drives one day after the other, I’m praising and thanking our Good Lord that she decided to cut teeth the day AFTER we got back! Goodness me, though, I am just so heartbroken to see her this way. Ironic as it may be, we were just talking to our young parent cousins about how horrible it is to have a sick kid. You want them to slow down all day, but the second they aren’t themselves because they are sick, you find yourself begging for them to just go pull something off the shelves or giggle about an animal noise or something! And yesterday, going into teething, I remembered just how true it is. Break anything, kid, just be you again!

EV hit her head pretty hard falling off the couch. It’s never a fun thing for anyone, but it’s part of being a kid. I consoled her, but for some reason, she refused to calm down. It made me extremely nervous! Was it more than just a bump? What should I look for? How do you know if it’s something serious? Luckily she was distracted by her favorite monkey, Curious George, and my mom instincts told me that she would have acted a lot more distressed if it was serious. Still, she kept crying and moving her pacifier in her mouth like the pain was in waves.

I stuck my finger on her gums, and what do you know? One of her back teeth had popped through! Suddenly, it made sense. The bump on the head was a catalyst for her crankiness, but it was the tooth that spurred her on. So, unfortunately, the next four hours were spent cuddling her through painful cries that would eventually wear her out enough to put her to sleep. It was hard, especially since she refused to eat or drink, but my gut told me it would be fine. I just needed that help all parents need!  Which reminds me, did I tell you my brother is living with us now? It was all kind of a last second deal, but he’s free as a bird, and I needed the help with EV, so it’s working out! He’s been very helpful to us and EV loves him, of course!

So he ran around gathering things while I rocked her or laid beside her. I sent Jimmy to go to the store after he finished work, and he got teething medicine, frozen fruit stuff, teething toys and the like. But, of course, after hours and hours of being a miserable shell of herself, she perked right up when Daddy came through the door! I was relieved that she was finally herself again, but man! How is that for unfair? At least I had a witness to prove just how difficult it had been…

Today, she’s much more herself. She’s been mooing, meowing, and barking at everything and everyone lately, and today is no exception! She’s still having trouble being interested in eating, but she is drinking plenty. And she proved that she ate enough yesterday with today’s diaper situation, so I’m not stressing! I just wish she were a little happier, but at least she is herself, if just a cuddlier, slightly crankier version of herself. I’m glad I have Curious George to help babysit!

So, then, I should mentioned my pregnancy. Baby Peppercorn is just perfect as far as we can tell! Super active, I get a lot of “whoas” anytime someone gets a good feel or glimpse of this Olympian. And, this kid has a tendency to make me really uncomfortable, which is why I’m thinking we’re having a boy! Besides the fact that I am carrying waaaay differently!Regardless, we are still waiting to find out, and now we are only 8 weeks from the EDD! And since today is September 1st, I can say fairly confidently that we are having a baby next month! Our family’s identity will be shaped by this person, and honestly, I’m enjoying waiting for the surprise. We have the rest of our lives to become familiar with this kid, so we can let this part of the adventure be a mystery.  And, I’m just so glad that God is blessing us with a healthy pregnancy! I care so much about doing right by Him and our family, and if we had any bumps in the road, He knows I would do whatever it took to keep us all safe. I am thankful to have no worries. In fact, God has been teaching me deeply about how His command to have no fear truly means to have no fear! I can confidently enter into anything knowing He is with me, even if those things are bad or scary, because He will snatch me out of it if He needs to. The trials I might face, no matter how big, will be met with reward in the end, so long as I put my trust in Him.

Maybe it’s easy to say that now, without having faced some of life’s most serious trials, but the point is that I know it’s true. I can bring this baby into the world, be a mom of two, and share Jesus with the testimony of my words, actions, and life. It is not because I am sufficient, but because the one who walks with me is.

So with that, I say May God bless you, and my you Bless Him also!