Happy Birthday to My Baby Girl!

July 28, 2015 at 3:35 pm (Family, Personal)

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Happy 5th Birthday to my sweet little girl!  You are such a light in our lives!  When you were born, I really didn’t think I could love someone as much as your older brother, but you quickly stole all of our hearts.  You’re beautiful, sweet, energetic, fun, and such a good little and big sister.  My little mother hen who loves to watch out for the little ones and loves to give your new baby brother hugs and kisses.  You are our social butterfly, with such a big heart and love for everyone.  Sometimes you amaze us with how observant you can be.  You think big and say things that really take us by surprise coming from someone so young.  We know God has big plans for you!  We love hearing you sing the My Little Pony Rainbow Rocks song at the top of your lungs!  Have a very happy birthday!

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We started the day off with Dunkin Donuts hubby picked up.  Sprinkles for the birthday girl…

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Then baby girl insisted she needed to open her presents right away!
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And a new Care Bear!

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A birthday phone call from Amma and Popple!

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Now it’s TV time watching Rainbow Rocks and then later off to Red Lobster for an early dinner and Toys R Us for a fun birthday treat.  She picked Red Lobster specifically because it’s right next to Toys R Us…she’s a bright kid, this one!

Seeing his sister celebrate her birthday brought back memories of his May birthday for my son.  So, of course, he had to get one of his presents from his room…

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So thankful for these kiddos!  It’s hard to believe they’re already 5 and 7, but it’s such a blessings watching them grow and develop their unique personalities.  So proud of them both!

God bless!

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Let Me Introduce You to Amazing Grace

July 27, 2015 at 6:10 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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The past few days have been really rough.  Our three-year-old dog died very suddenly Friday.  We don’t even know what happened to him.  He deteriorated so quickly, we weren’t even able to get him to the vet.  It’s hit our family hard.  But I’ve also realized how important it is to not take all the blessings we have for granted.  The sweet little faces of my children are the greatest evidence of God’s amazing grace to me.  I guess there are people out there who believe they deserve good things in life and feel resentful when those things don’t happen for them.  But I am so very grateful that God doesn’t give us what we deserve.  The wages of sin are death, and that’s ultimately what we all have earned.  But He chose to send Christ to pay that price, and beyond that, He has chosen to give us blessings and joys we could never earn.  I am so thankful for these sweet kids.  Baby K is three weeks old now.  The maternity leave is flying by way too fast.  But I am soaking up every minute of it.  I’ve been trying to capture some pictures as often as possible, but it’s been a few days since I broke out the camera.  So this morning, when my oldest son was helping me change baby K’s diaper, I had to get some sweet shots of the two brothers.

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This is my favorite!  My oldest son doesn’t always know how to show that he loves his new baby brother.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was to get these awesome gems of the two boys together!

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And some of just baby K..

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And one of just my sweet oldest…

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Have a very blessed week!

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Song Reflections

July 23, 2015 at 9:49 pm (Faith, Personal)

So lately, there have been four songs on my mind and heart.  They’re all Christian songs that have me reflecting on a regular basis, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts.  I’ve been contemplating how to arrange them to tell the story they have been telling in my life.  It’s really a blend of different seasons, but they each speak to me and my journey.  I decided to start with Colton Dixon’s “Through all of it”.  First of all, love the name Colton, but I’m a little partial since that’s my oldest son’s name :).  Here are the lyrics going through my head…

“I have won and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life’s been a journey
I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it”

There’s one thing I have heavy on my heart all the time, a burden that arises every now and then when I’m talking to women with older kids at church.  I had another experience with that this past Saturday at our women’s breakfast.  When I became an adult, I strayed from God.  Sometimes I got it right, but most times I did not.  But looking back, I can feel my family’s prayers and I can see God’s hand throughout my life.  His faithfulness astounds me.  Many parents at my church are struggling with kids who are testing their faith, so I at times find myself reassuring them that God won’t let their child go.  Just keep praying, and they will find their way back.  That’s what the chorus of this song means for me.  God was there through all of it, and He will be for my kids and all the kids of the faithful, of that I have no doubt.

The second song is Matt Redman’s “It is Well with My Soul”:

“Our scars are a sign
Of grace in our lives
Oh Father how You brought us through

When deep were the wounds
And dark was the night
The promise of Your love You proved

Now every battle still to come
Let this be our song

It is well with my soul
It is well
It is well with my soul”

My dad once got me a book called “Your Scars are Beautiful to God”.  Over the years, I’ve come to believe that.  Those scars, visible and invisible, are signs of weakness God overcame.  They’re signs of grace in my life.  They’re reasons to always give mercy and compassion to others.  And God’s promise He proved through those scars, through those deep wounds.  One of the most powerful ways of feeling the truth of faith is that moment when you hand your scars and your brokenness over to God.  You can literally feel the burden lifted off your shoulders.  And that’s why today, I can say it is well with my soul.

The third song is one that has been bothering me a lot lately.  At first, I really just enjoyed listening to it.  But then I thought about some of the lyrics, and it’s just nagged me ever since.  It’s Passion’s “Even So Come”:

“Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come “

Ok, so the first thing I will mention is that pretty much every church preaching the literal truth of Scripture today seems to be of the consensus that prophesies are being fulfilled that line up with the end times and Jesus’ return.  Who knows when that will be but God?  But the fact is, it’s on a lot of Christians’ minds these days.  Revelation has become a hot topic of study.  My sister made an excellent post on wishing for Jesus’ return here.  It’s something with which many Christians struggle.  Should we really pray for Jesus’ return?  As Christians, we see the promise of eternity with God and we long for that day when all tears are wiped away and there is no more pain, no more death, no more sadness and struggle.  But Amos 5:18 tells us, “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light.”  The day of the Lord means darkness for so many, even many of our loved ones.  My uncle lies in the trauma ICU, still fighting for his life a month after having an aneurysm burst.  I don’t know if he knows Jesus or not.  It’s scary to think someone we love could die with hell as their final destination, petrifying even.  With that in mind, I am more than happy to suffer on this earth as long as God allows because every second we have before Jesus’ coming is time for another soul to find eternal life and blessed salvation.  But what really bothers me about the above song lyrics is it says, “We’ll be a church ready for You.”  Is that really true?  I look around and see so many apostate churches.  So many churches calling good evil and evil good.  So many compromising the truth of Scripture and the reality of God’s character.  No, the church as a whole is not ready for Christ’s return.  Not at all.  If the church isn’t ready, how can we wish for the destruction of all the unsaved for our own selfish desire to see the pain of this world end?  It’s such a hard question to face as a Christian.
And the final song, Chris Tomlin’s “At the Cross”:

“At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life.
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
and my sin washed white.
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus.”

The hope.  I am in awe of what Jesus did for us pathetic sinners.  His love ran red to wash us white so that we have hope.  And I have hope that there is a revival in the works.  We may be entering the end days, but there are still souls to be won for the Lord.  Our work is not done.  We continue running the race, carrying on the baton Paul passed through the generations.  And through Christ, we will overcome.  God bless!

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Baby K: 2 Week Update

July 23, 2015 at 9:11 pm (Family, Personal, Uncategorized)

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There was a part of me that was dreading going through the baby stage again after getting two kids semi-independent.  But I forgot how magical this time in life is.  Yes, there are sleepless nights and times of seemingly endless crying while little gas bubbles work their way out.  But I love the snuggles, the baby smell, and the cutest little baby faces…tiny smiles in his sleep, that head bobbing with open mouth that all babies seem to do, and those sweet little O lips when he has to poo.  I find myself cherishing every moment and every snuggle from my youngest little snuggle monkey.  We had his 2-week appointment this week, and he is doing fabulous.  He’s already 10 lbs. 1 oz.!  Healthy eater, this one.  I took some pics of his 2-week mark, and some tiny hands and feet!

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Beautiful crochet blanket from a lady at church!  Love that little hand…

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Tiny nose and another gorgeous crochet blanket from another church friend…

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Baby toes!

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On his playmat…

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Sleepy baby…

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Wide eyes!

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Peek-a-toe!

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Reflection in the playmat birdy mirror…

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And, of course, the fussy face…

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Sweet dreams, my little snuggle monkey!

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And those are the 2-week-old sweet baby pics.  I hope everyone is having a blessed week!

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Baby’s First: Beach Day

July 15, 2015 at 8:51 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Yesterday was baby K’s first real fun outing.  We met a friend and her family at one of my favorite local spots, a state park on the water.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, with temps in the high 70s/low 80s and a gentle breeze blowing.  There was a chance of rain, so the park was practically deserted.  We had the beach all to ourselves except for two other women who stopped in for an hour or so.  The kids had an awesome time.  I was glad to get my older littles out for a fun day.  My daughter has been a little sad since coming home after spending a few days with her cousin.  She’s been saying she’s lonely, and I really wanted to get her out to play.  So here are the pics from baby K’s first beach trip…

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Yep, he slept through most of it!  But his older siblings had a blast!

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I didn’t even think to dress them in swimsuits since they don’t go in the water beyond their knees when we go by ourselves.  But with my friends older kids there, the littles were quickly soaked!

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And clearly loving it…

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My son had such a great time!  He was laughing and just really enjoy himself.  It was nice to see!  The view…

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The kids managed to catch a little fish and proceeded to transfer it back and forth between beach buckets.  Not sure the fish enjoyed it much, but the kids sure did…

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My daughter is always so happy to have other kids around!

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My oldest son, enjoying the day!

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Beautiful butterflies were all around…

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And, of course, this park has horses…always a big selling point!

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I love the colors and scenery!

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And some pics of the older kids with their baby brother…

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Ahhh, doesn’t that look like the life?  Sprawled out on a blanket on a picnic table on a beautiful breezy day.  I think he really enjoyed the time outdoors!

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God bless!

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Rainy Monday

July 13, 2015 at 6:54 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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My view these days!  A sweet baby head on my shoulder.  This Sunday brought his first outing to church, and everyone was excited to see him.  And even more impressed that mama was able to get out and about a week after delivery (not to mention sit through a sermon)…seriously, this is the best recovery ever.  God is so incredibly good!  I’m really glad we went, too, because the sermon was one I wouldn’t have wanted to miss…not that I ever want to miss our pastor’s sermons.  The pastor and elders are planning to start a college-type set of classes that teach the purity of Scripture.  Right up my alley, and I am excited to see how it unfolds!  Other than that, it’s baby and my two older littles on the brain.  I can’t get enough of these kiddos!  I’m already dreading the day I have to go back to work.  I know I have to try not to think about it and just enjoy the time with my kids, but it’s so hard sometimes.  I wish I could stay home and soak up every moment of their childhood…

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My son adores his little brother.  He’s not as hands on as my daughter.  But he does like to carry a baby doll around and do whatever I’m doing with baby K to the doll.  It’s really cute!  He’s also helping out a lot with laundry and dishes…love this kid so much!

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My daughter has started to help feeding baby pumped milk in a bottle. She’s really good at it, too!

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As much as I love cuddling our new addition and watching all of his cute little baby faces, I think the part I’m loving most is watching my other kids get accustomed to their baby brother.  It’s really awesome having them at the ages they are…a whole new way of experiencing the baby days!

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And more baby K…

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Portraits of my oldest son…

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He’s so photogenic, and I’m loving soft black and white these days…

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Such a cutie!  People are already saying baby K resembles his big brother, and I have to say I wouldn’t mind at all if he does.  Our oldest has the face of a sweet little angel!

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And my sweet little girl…

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 And today I’m also celebrating that I didn’t have to have another C-section!  The repeat one was scheduled for this morning if I didn’t go into labor on my own.  Praising God baby K came into the world the way he did and that he’s more than a week old today instead of just being born!!  May you all have a very blessed week!

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Birthday Prayers

July 12, 2015 at 6:55 pm (Faith, Family, Personal, Uncategorized)

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I was going to post a birthday message to my uncle Bobby on Facebook, but it’s breaking my heart that many of his friends don’t seem to know that he is in the trauma ICU fighting for his life right now.  I can’t bring myself to be the one to put that out there.  So I decided to post a little birthday message on my blog.  Life is so very fragile, and I am really missing my uncle today…wishing we were celebrating his birthday this afternoon instead of praying that God gives us more time with him.  The past two weeks have been a rollercoaster of progress and regress, good news and set backs.  Such is life when a loved one is in the trauma ICU. The kids have made cards for their great-uncle who teases them and chases them and gives them funny nicknames, just like he did for us when we were kids.  They were looking forward to going to the zoo with him this summer, and I wish he could meet the new baby.

But today, I just pray that he knows how loved he is and how missed he is while he’s in the hospital.  Most of all, I pray that he’ll get to read this some day and that we’ll throw the biggest celebration when he’s out of the hospital and on the mend.  Lean on Jesus, uncle Bobby.  He knows your suffering.  And know that we love you and miss you and pray for you every day.

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Sweet Baby Faces and Flower Time

July 10, 2015 at 10:45 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Our older kids are home and things are starting to feel a little more normal.  I can’t believe tomorrow will be a week since baby K was born!  He’s been such a laid back baby, but he has had a few nights of keeping us virtually sleepless.  His big brother and sister adore him, though.  It’s so fun watching them love on him, especially my daughter.  We had a little impromptu photo shoot in baby’s room this morning.  These are photos I will cherish for a long time to come!

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Love this one….!!

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And some of baby K from yesterday…

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Yep, that’s how hubby and I feel these days…

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We also had a chance to get out and get a few pictures of the flowers blooming in our front garden!  These lilies blossomed while we were at the hospital, and they were such a beautiful surprise when we got home!

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The Shasta daisies thriving…

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One thing I really love about the rose bushes is that they bloom multiple times through the season!

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Apparently, the beetles like them, too…

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My Black-Eyed Susans ready to bloom!

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So that’s been our last few days.  We’ve been so blessed by family and friends this week.  My family has helped out so much with the older littles, and our church family has kept us well stocked in meals for the next week.  God is so good!  I hope everyone has a very blessed weekend!

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Baby K: A Journey to VBA2C

July 7, 2015 at 7:10 pm (Faith, Family, Personal, Photography)

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When my husband and I decided to let God decide if our family was complete or we should bring one more child into this world, I knew that I would prefer not to go through another C-section recovery.  Since the day we found out I was pregnant again, I prayed that God would allow me to have a natural birth if it was in His will.  This pregnancy and birth has been a journey of healing – not in the sense that I felt cheated by having C-sections with my other two kids, I really didn’t.  But it has allowed me another chance to rely entirely on God’s perfect will.  With my first two pregnancies and births, I relied on my body, my own strength, and my own wisdom.  I didn’t ask God into the process as much as I should have.  For this one, I turned the entire pregnancy and birth over to God, and it was amazing.

After a lot of research, I decided a VBAC was the way to go.  More specifically, I wanted a trial of labor regardless of whether I ended up with a VBAC or another C-section.  My second child was born by repeat C-section, and the recovery seemed like a huge shock to my body.  So I wanted the baby and me to at least get the labor hormones that would prepare us for post-partum recovery.  I was shocked to find that my OB completely supported the choice.  I spent the months leading up to the birth reading up on natural labor and such whenever I had the chance.  The stipulations on VBACs at my OB are that you cannot be induced and you must have non-stress tests after the 37th week of pregnancy.  I had a choice whether or not I wanted an epidural.  On the plus side, an epidural would provide them access to deliver anesthesia should I require an emergency C-section.  On the down side, it could stall labor, increasing the chance of a section, and it could prevent me from feeling the pain of rupture should my old scar fail.  I made the choice to keep my body free of drugs so that I could feel the pain of rupture before the baby went into distress in the event of a worst case scenario situation.

July 4th, 2015: I spent the day doing 4th of July crafts with my older children.  We made plans to attend a party at a neighbor’s house later that evening.  At about quarter to 6, I started feeling painful contractions, not too close together, but definitely stronger than the Braxton Hicks.  I started getting the kids and bags ready for the hospital, took a shower, and had my husband call our friends to watch the older kids.  By quarter after 6, the contractions were stronger and more frequent.  My sister called, and I told her we were heading to the hospital.  She said she would let my parents know.  Hubby was still working on the master bathroom when our friends showed up.  With the contraction about 3-4 minutes apart now, I told him put down the bathroom construction materials, it is most definitely time to go.  Then I sent out a brief text message for prayers.  It was raining hard leading up to our departure.  And this is what we saw on the way to the hospital…

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I took time to admire it in between screaming and hitting the car roof every two minutes :).  The hospital is 40 minutes from our house…probably the longest 40 minutes of my life!  I distinctly remember saying to hubby that God sure did a number on us women when He cursed us with this!  We arrived at the hospital sometime around 7 p.m.  By 8:17 p.m., our sweet little baby boy was born.  The delivery was thankfully very quick.  Already 6 cm when we got there, I was enduring contractions that were right on top of one another and very strong.  The midwife and doctor both showed up since it was a possible VBAC.  They had difficulty keeping the baby’s heart rate on the monitor, so the concern in the air became palpable.  The doctor was pushing for a C-section and looked seriously irritated when I said I would prefer not to have an epidural.  They rushed to get IVs in while I screamed and breathed my way through contraction after contraction.  Then the doctor said the baby’s heart rate may have dropped to 70, and I should get an epidural because it was looking like C-section time.  I relented and fully accepted that another section may be the only way to bring this baby into the world safely.  With the epidural ordered, I reached 10 cm.  The doctor looked at me and said push now or C-section, you choose.  And after about 5 minutes or less of pushing, there was my sweet baby boy.  I was insanely freaked out at first because he wasn’t breathing and looked horribly blue.  But as they whisked him away, I heard him cry…sweetest sound to a mama’s ears.

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And there he was, a perfect baby boy born at 8 lbs. 7 oz.  I couldn’t believe how God answered my prayers.  Not only did He get through a natural labor and VBA2C, but He made it quick and brought us a very healthy (and very mild tempered) baby.  I am so thankful for the recovery this time.  Within 12 hours of birth, I was walking around on my own, something I had never experienced with a C-section.  Now, three days later, I feel mildly uncomfortable but not in severe pain.  I was able to receive visitors at the hospital and yesterday after we came home…and we have been so greatly blessed by our family and friends who have visited.  To me, this turned out better than anything I could have imagined because I let God carry out His plan instead of pushing for my own.  Hubby and I are so grateful for everyone who prayed through this birth.

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One thing I have found amusing since baby K was born is how many people have congratulated me on “getting what I wanted”.  I think it’s funny to say that.  I never in a million years “wanted” a natural labor or a VBAC.  Trust me, I took that epidural the second it was offered with my first child.  I’m not one to put myself through unnecessary pain.  And really, what I wanted this time was to labor enough to get healthy hormones to the baby and me.  This wasn’t about wanting a VBAC (although the recovery is insanely better this time around and I am so glad God gave me one) – it was about trusting God with all of the details.  In the end, all that matters is that we have a beautiful, healthy baby boy.  But I wanted to share my story because I want other women who have had C-sections to take heart that one section does not mean every pregnancy ends in a section any more.  A successful VBAC is far safer for mom and baby than a repeat section.  And there are risks with every pregnancy.  Hand it over to God – He alone knows what’s best for each of us.

And now the pictures…

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Proud daddy…

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The proud big siblings…

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Time with family…

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So blessed by friends who visited…

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Fussy face…

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Sweet baby boy…

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First time in a car seat…

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Home at last…

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And that’s the beginning of your story, baby K.  We love you and thank God for bringing you into our lives.

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I <3 baby feet!

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Happy 4th of July!

July 4, 2015 at 9:46 pm (Family, Personal, Uncategorized)

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I love the 4th of July and usually have some fun stuff planned.  But this year, to be honest, I really wasn’t thinking we’d be celebrating it.  For one, I thought we’d either be in the hospital or adjusting to a new baby in the house.  Add to that my uncle being in the hospital.  We have celebrated the 4th at his condo in the past few years, and it kind of seems like his holiday now.  I went into a little bit of a funk Wednesday and Thursday and just felt like sitting around the house doing nothing.  But yesterday, I finally accepted that the baby is most likely not coming this week since I feel really good for being 40 weeks preggo as of tomorrow.  So I got off my lazy bum yesterday and made another trip to the grocery store.  That’s one thing about a pregnancy going long – it seems like endless nesting and stocking up the pantry and fridge.  I feel like I’ve made so many “stock up” grocery runs with no baby.  And don’t get me started on the nesting thing.  Really, you just want to nest once and then have the baby arrive.  It’s frustrating to nest and then watch it all get messy again when you don’t have the nesting urge.  But oh well.  Baby has to come out eventually, right?  On the bright side, I did get to have some fun with my older littles yesterday and I got to have a nice chat with a good friend.  The kids and I went to sweetFrog and picked up a cheap blow-up pool at the Dollar Store.  Here are some fun phone shots from sweetFrog…

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I love that sweetFrog has dairy-free options for my baby girl!

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I think we all needed a fun day out of the house!

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We also played some Snakes and Ladders, a game my son got for his birthday.  And we made a slightly altered version of a fun Pinterest 4th of July cake…

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The Pinterest one was full sized, but we decided to use the little bundt cupcake molds to make little individual ones.  They turned out cute and yummy…and more importantly, the kids had a blast making them!

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First, you mix up a white cake mix.  I used a yellow mix, but it didn’t make much of a difference.

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Then you dye about 1/3 of the batter red and 1/3 blue.

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Then layer it into the mold, red then white then blue.

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Bake it at 325 for about 20 minutes (for the cupcake size).  Mix up some powdered sugar with a touch of milk, dye half blue, and drizzle blue and white icing over the top.  Yummy 4th of July treat!

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Today, we’ve been doing nothing but crafts with stuff I have on hand (now that I can get to some of my craft stuff).  I didn’t plan anything this year, so we’re completely improvising.  I had the kids color some fun 4th of July coloring sheets and paint wooden stars.  Love my son’s stars!

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Then they painted fireworks…

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And we made the hats in the top picture with some blue foam I had, silver pipe cleaners and red construction paper stars on a white cardstock backing.  We also made melted perler bead star necklaces and perler bead bracelets.  Then pool time before the rain!

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And some garden love…

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Corn looking happy…

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First fruits of the squash plants…

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The beans starting to sprout…

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Black-eyed Susans in the wild…

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A spider…yes, I took a picture and walked away really quickly…

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Love corn stalks…

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Flower love..

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Ok, yeah, totally rushing through this last part of the post due some wildly painful contractions.  Off to the hospital as soon as we get everything together…and maybe a shower.  Wow the rain is pouring down now.  Pray for a quick and safe delivery, please!

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