September Reading List

This month, I’ve read 6 books, and I enjoyed most of them!

Let’s start with one that I did NOT read. I know that sounds strange to add something I didn’t read to my book review, but bear with me here.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming somehow ended up on my to-read list. I finished one book and picked this one up around 10 pm at night. It looked good. I got about five pages in and I could not read it anymore. By page 2, we have already heard all about how the main character sees ghosts. By page 5, their is a ghost standing at the foot of her bed, which leads her to a murdered person in her swimming pool. I stopped right there. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, won’t. I don’t know if there is more to the plot than that, but I don’t do scary. Not at all. So if anybody has read this book, can you please tell me if it’s good or not?

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Is anybody else into the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise? It’s like a train wreck and I can’t look away. Here’s the thing…I used to watch it because it’s actually really entertaining. The last few seasons (since Sean’s, really), have been way more raunchy and don’t appeal to me at all, so I haven’t watched. BUT, as more people go through the Bachelor/Bachlorette, more people have started talking about what actually happens behind the scenes. I mean…the producers cut and edit everything so that they can sway the audience one way or another. And I cannot get enough of these behind-the-scenes glimpses. I’m loving the memoirs and biographies from the contestants who have actually been on the show.

For the Right Reasons is written by Sean Lowe, and as of the writing of this book, he is the ONLY Bachelor to actually end up marrying his pick from the show. This book was honest and real, and Sean did a pretty great job of sharing his faith and Christianity in the book. Whenever I hear people on shows like this declare they are “Christians”, I always wonder how deep that faith actually runs, but I was impressed with his honesty and maturity in the writing. There were lots of behind the scenes glimpses, too! For example, after the show is all said and done and he is already (secretly) engaged to Catherine, he is flown to LA and does “ITMs”. The producers literally have every outfit he has worn throughout the show, and he has to put on one at a time and interview like he was back in that moment. So…he dresses like it’s night one and has to answer questions about what happened on that night…even though this is 8 months later and everything is said and done. Fascinating!

Some of my favorite Bachelor things to read are Sharlene’s recaps and Shaeffer’s recaps. Enlightening and hilarious.

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The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth was such a good read! It had just a hint of romance, lots of plot twists and some timeless concepts that just made me think. What are the things that matter most in life? There was one piece of the plot that was sorely underdeveloped, and I was disappointed in that, but otherwise it was a really great read. I’d highly recommend this one if you just need to curl up with a feel-good book.

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Faith to Foster was hands-down the best book I read this month, and I it’s a MUST READ for anybody interested in the world of foster care. It has deep Christian tones, but even if you aren’t a Christian I think that this book could be incredibly beneficial if you are seeking to become a foster parent, to support a foster parent, or just learn more about the system. I love how TJ and Jenn didn’t fudge over details and laid it all out. At the end of every chapter, they highlight the life lessons that they learned from that particular placement or season in their life. Everything didn’t always turn out wonderful or cheery, and they have plenty of grievences against the system, but they are still so faithful to do what God has called them to do. You can tell that the Holy Spirit has been so active and present throughout their journey as foster parents. SUCH A GOOD BOOK!

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About halfway through September, I realized that I need to get my mind into gear and start thinking about birth. During my pregnancy with Tera, I started reading pregnancy and birth books at like 20 weeks. Here I am at 35 weeks just now picking up my first birth books. I’ll write a separate post on how I prepare for a natural delivery (note: I didn’t say how I have a natural delivery, because I don’t know the outcome of this labor and delivery yet. But as someone who wants a natural delivery, there is some mental prepwork that needs to go into it).

The first book I picked up was The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth. It’s very informational and has some super graphic pictures (hello, naked birthing woman), but also SO helpful. It goes over EVERYTHING, and I love that because I need information. If you only read one book to prepare for labor/delivery, let it be this one.

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Baby Catcher is one of my favorite pregnancy prep books, but I would recommend this book even if you aren’t pregnant or planning to deliver. It’s the chronicles of a modern midwife, and she tells all the stories of the different deliveries she has attended. This book literally makes me laugh out loud, cry and is so inspirational. If you have ever watched Call the Midwife, it’s like that show in modern-day book form. LOVE IT.

This one might be cheating, but I did read Birth Plans for Dummies in one sitting while I wrote our birth plan for this birth. I did just skim over most of it, but it was helpful for me to be able to sit down and say “now THAT is what I want” or “What? People do that? No, thank you.” Again, this book is all informational, but really helpful for me when I wrote Tera’s birth plan, and still helpful this time when I needed to write a second one.

You can find my other monthly recaps here:

January//February//March//April//May//June//July//August

Well, Well, Well…

We are currently on Day 12 of our well fiasco, and I wanted to record the events of the last two weeks…mostly so that I can look back on it in the upcoming years. I know that when I look back I will probably have a little laugh and be reminded of the goodness of the Lord in ALL circumstances.

Right now, I’m doing the best I can do laugh about it all and see the goodness of the Lord. I will admit that this feels like a huge trial that has come upon us. I don’t know…maybe it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to anyone on the outside looking in, but I have struggled every single one of the last 12 days with being thankful and willing to let the Lord teach me through my attitude. I’m so weary, and I’m so ready to anticipate the arrival of our little man. This whole well business keeps me up at night because I just wonder how I can go through labor with the mental and emotional stress that has already taken a toll on me in the last two weeks.

All of that aside, I will try to add some good humor to this post and just record how we have been surviving the last 12 days. I have to chuckle because I know that those of you who are missionaries are rolling your eyes and reminding yourselves that I’m a little bit dramatic. No running water for 12 days? No big deal. That’s normal. Haha.

On a funnier note- I have jokingly started referring to this as the curse of 35 weeks. Do you know what happened to us when I was 35 weeks pregnant with Tera? Our house was infested with fleas. INFESTED. I remember thinking how horrible it was that it happened so close to the end of pregnancy, and whatdoyouknow….something like it has happened again at 35 weeks in this pregnancy!

During the week of September 12, I remarked to Theo that our water in the toilets was looking so much worse than normal. We have had some mild water problems since we moved in two years ago, but this was way worse than I had seen.

On Friday, Sept 16, Theo went to work. We had just pulled out all our fall/winter clothes, and I had a huge pile of clothes to wash in my laundry room. I tried to wash one load and the washing machine just wouldn’t fill up. I noticed that the water looked REALLY dirty. I was getting so frustrated that it literally took me all day to fill the washer and wash one load of laundry. I also noticed that the clothes seemed dirtier after I put them through the wash than before. When Tera and I were playing outside, she accidentally pooped her pants and I took them over to the hose to rinse them off. When I turned on the hose I was shocked by the water coming out of it. I took a picture and texted it to Theo, saying “This does not seem normal”. On Saturday morning, I tried to take a shower and there was actual mud on my scalp. The water pressure was so low that I had to ask Theo to bring me a bucket of water to rinse out the shampoo (and dirt) that was in my hair. Something was really wrong. Alas, it was Saturday and we could not get ahold of any well companies.

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No big deal…we can go without running water for two days!

Monday the 19th was the hardest day of this whole thing. Theo called three different companies, and each company sent out a person to investigate. The first company came and told us that we needed a new well, there was absolutely nothing that could be done for the current one. They then told us that they had a wait list of 3-4 weeks before they could begin drilling.

Theo contacted our homeowners insurance and filed a claim to cover some of the insane cost of a new well (10-15k). The person he talked to on the phone was really helpful and even encouraged us to look for a hotel to stay in and that it would be covered by insurance, only to call back three hours later and tell us that ZERO dollars would be covered and we could stay at a hotel on our own dime if we wanted. You’d better believe we shed a lot of tears that day.

The next day, Tuesday (the 20th), another company came out and said the same thing about our well: it was dunzo. Nothing could be done to repair it and a new one had to be dug. This company, however, gave us an estimate that was 2k less than the first company…and they said they could start drilling IMMEDIATLY. HAPPY DANCE AND PRAISE HANDS!!!!

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The rig came and got stuck in our yard, much to the amusement of all the children we were babysitting that day. I joked that it was “free entertainment”, but then I choked back a sob as the price tag “free” has never been further from the truth. That’s some super expensive entertainment right there.

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The well drilling has now been going on for a full week (they took Sunday off). Throughout the past few days, the news has not gotten better. Their estimated goal was to drill 150 ft down, but after 150 ft they had hit only mud, so they kept going. They are currently at 250 ft and still digging (but hoping to finish today!!!). Yesterday it took them two hours to drill 5 feet. The unfortunate thing is that we are paying them per foot. Oh my lordy, we just doubled the original cost/estimate of drilling a new well.

So, that is the story of our well so far. Yes, we thankfully have been putting money into a savings account…but we have only been married for 4.5 years and even if we put half of Theo’s paychecks in the savings account for the past four years, it wouldn’t cover the cost of the new well. It’s insane. BUT, we had also just saved up enough money to renovate our basement, so we are now saying goodbye to our basement plans and thanking the Lord for providing for our well through that money.

God is good. He is not always predictable, nor are His ways my ways. But he is always good.

This has already been a long post, but I wanted to include some pictures on how we are living without water. I’m trying to see this part as a grand adventure and laugh about it everyday. I know that I have taken things like warm showers and washing machines for granted in the past few years of living in America, but this has given me a lot of renewed perspective. I’m SO thankful for running water, and I’m so looking forward to it being restored!!!

Here is what some daily life looks like without running water:

Eating off paper plates whenever possible! We have also been buying store bought water and using that for drinking and cooking. We probably go through 2-4 gallons of that a day, so Theo has been taking the empty jugs to work to fill up with the filtered water there.

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Outside, we have two big trash bins full of water. One is a nasty bin that we were actually using for trash two weeks ago, so that is our toilet flushing water.

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Yes, in order to flush the toilets we are carrying water up all of these steps. It’s not the most convenient, but at least we have that water!

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Our second trash bin we bought brand new when this whole ordeal started, so it’s not dirty at all inside. This water is our shower water and dishes washing water.

We fill these two trash buckets up with the neighbors hose. Thankfully, he has been gracious enough to allow us to use that water, or I don’t know how we would be surviving!

Also, notice the orange tub in the picture below? That’s my hand-washing laundry. Which is mostly the necessities that can’t wait weeks to be washed. Like the undies that Tera has pooped in or the two maternity shirts that I actually fit into.

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Tera is so helpful! She doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, and for that I’m thankful. It doesn’t phase her in the least. I should be taking some notes!

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I mentioned that we are using store bought water (or filtered water from elsewhere) for drinking and cooking, but for washing dishes we are using the water from our neighbors hose. Every time I wash the dishes, I have to heat up some water and then make a wash bowl and a rinse bowl. The most time-consuming part is most certainly heating up the water and getting the water to a good temperature.

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Next up is the lovely adventure of flushing the toilets! Did you know you can still flush your toilets without running water? You can either pour a bucket of water directly into the toilet bowl and it will wash down, or you can fill the tank with buckets of water and then flush. The rule around here is “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down!” We try to just use one toilet at a time and flush it when it needs flushed! That’s probably the least fun part of this whole thing.

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As far as washing hands, we try to have a bowl of water available for hand washing, usually in the kitchen, but that doesn’t always happen so we have gone through a TON of hand sanitzer. I know…it’s no where near as effective and I’m just praying that God really boosts our immune systems during this time. We are doing the best with what we have don’t have, but I know it’s not the most sanitary lifestyle in the world.

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Next up is our showering adventures!

Tera hasn’t really figured out how to take showers yet, so she is the one who is losing out on the most. I think she misses her bathtime! She has to take bucket baths, which involves heating up water in the kitchen and then making the bucket water temperature just right to pour over her head. She was genuinely confused about why we were putting her in the tub with her clothes on.

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This shower has been a total lifesaver these past two weeks! I convinced Theo to buy it for us when we were newly married, and I think we have mayyyyybe used it once since. Until now. Now I use it at least every other day. It’s a 5 galloon capacity and when you fill it up with water, you can lay it in the sun so that it gets warm. I’ve been able to have warm “showers” for the most part because of this thing! And if I want to take a shower in the morning, I just have to heat up water in the kitchen and then put it in the bag. Since it works via gravity, I have to take my showers sitting down on this bucket haha.

And, yes…I do look rather huge. I’m 36 weeks pregnant. Did I mention that I’m 4 weeks away from delivering a baby with all these water problems? It’s not flattering, but…it’s life.

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For tooth brushing, we have more store bought water and some cups to pour it into to rinse our mouths and our toothbrushes.

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Last but not least is the laundry situation. It’s not pretty. I have gotten multiple offers from people to come on over and use their washing machines, and as you can see…I will be taking someone up on that offer sometime really soon!

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And that is the saga of our well. As I write this, they are still drilling outside but we are hopeful they will be done drilling today!!! They will then have to put the finishing touches on digging a trench and installing plumbing and then hopefully, hopefully someday this week we will have our water back!!!!!!!!

36 Weeks (Pregnancy #2)

How Far Along: 36 weeks! Only four weeks to go, and I think I’m in complete denial!

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Theo has been working a lot this week, and we didn’t have a chance to take official pictures. So here are some incredibly dirty mirror selfie pictures. Yikes! I need to add ‘clean mirrors’ to my nesting list (yes, I have a nesting list).

Size of Baby: Apparently he is still the size of a melon this week. I took this picture today, and I completely believe the melon analogy! He is just packing on the pounds now- about an ounce a day. I don’t have any estimates at what he weighs, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that he will weigh more than Tera did (she was 6 pounds 14 oz).

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How I’m Feeling/Symptoms: Well, folks…I’m not really sure I’m going to make it to 40 weeks. And if I do go to 40 weeks, heaven help me in the next four. I’m feeling it. All of it. I’m having a hard time sleeping, I’m having a hard time walking, my body is definitely getting ready for labor. I’m thoroughly exhausted and just so over it. I can’t tie my shoes and putting Tera’s shoes on her is like a 10 minute ordeal.

I’m feeling fairly emotional this week, but that also might have to do with the fact that we have had no running water for 10 days (and no end in sight) and I’m SO OVER THAT. I just want to take a nice, warm bath and make sure I have all his laundry washed and folded. I also want to do all the nesting things like scrubbing my kitchen floor and cleaning out the attic and hanging up his name garland, but there is literally no time in the day because we are focusing so much on this stupid well business. It’s not very fun, but I guess it’s life. I am VERY thankful, however, that I do not currently have a newborn. The amount of laundry a newborn creates is insane, so thankfully right now I’m just dealing with laundry from the three of us. I will probably cry many bitter tears if this baby comes before our water is restored.

I feel like baby is dropped and engaged as of sometime this weekend, but I don’t think it looks like that from the pictures, so maybe I’m wrong.

I’m back to feeling hungry in the morning and at lunch, but by dinner time nothing but a bowl of frosted flakes sounds even slightly appetizing. It’s been a challenge to cook for my family this week when I’m so over eating by 5 pm. Ha!

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Weight Gain: 26 pounds. It’s so funny to me how different pregnancies can be. With Tera, I had gained almost 10 more pounds by now in the pregnancy. But I was still wearing this cute little skinny jeans that I cannot even get over my knees now. I don’t know how that works, but it just goes to show that the scale does not show/say everything!

Best Moment this Week: This week has not been easy, but I’m so thankful that I get to do life with Theo (and Tera, too). We have been able to cry together, pray together and joke together about our life circumstances. Its not always fun, but I wouldn’t choose anyone else to do it with!

Worst Moment this Week: This week will go down in history as NOT FUN. Our well going out and it taking over a week to drill a new one, and then the price tag on the bill is enough to make me go into labor. It’s not fun. Not at all. On top of all that, I now how a miserable head cold. But we might as well get all the bad things over with at once!

Exercise this Week: Tera and I have been able to go for a walk almost every day this week! My goal is a mile, and for the most part I have hit that and several times we have gone closer to two miles. It’s amazing how much my body hurts before I walk out the door. I make a million excuses as to why I shouldn’t, but as soon as I hit my stride I feel so much better. I arrive back home feeling much, much better than when I left.

 

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36 weeks with Tera

Birth Story: Erica at Aiming for August

Happy Friday and Happy Birth Story day!!! I’m about a month out from my due date and reading all these birth stories is really helping me get into birth mindset! It’s crazy to me how different each birth can be and how we have little to no control over many of the circumstances that come along with a birth!

Today’s birth story is from Erica, another Mama that I “met” online. I’m so in love with her blog, her Instagram feed and her gorgeous baby, E!

 

 

August 24, 2015
My last appointment was on a Monday. I was 39 weeks and 1 day. I was already dilated 3cm and about 80% effaced. I was having BH contractions steadily throughout the week but nothing major I guess. I worked my last day the Sunday before my appointment so I felt ready. Each appointment, the doctor would say “I’m sure that the next time I see you, you’re going to be having a baby!” Why do they do this?! I was really expecting to have a baby before each appointment! My doctor told me that I was SO close to 4cm but not quite enough. He then asked if I wanted to schedule an induction date so that he could be there. He basically said they would just admit me (since I was so close) and they’d take it from there! I reluctantly agreed that I would come in on August 31st at 7 am.

August 29
My due date… Full of contractions and fatigue but no baby yet

August 30
Jonathan and I went to our fave Tex-Mex restaurant and celebrated our last night as just us two. We dropped out dog off at his parents and headed home. We packed our bags and got all of our outfits ready for the next day. We felt incredibly prepared and decided to go to bed early since we’d have no clue about how long labor would last.

August 31
I hadn’t been sleeping well for about a week straight now. Baby E became outrageously active between the hours 1-4 am and the pain/discomfort always kept me awake (oh hey, Netflix marathons). This morning around 2am, I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, my bladder, and most likely my anxiety! I went to use the restroom and waddled back to the bed. As I laid down, I heard a pop noise… And my entire lower body was soaked. Instead of being excited or nervous, I almost cried from embarrassment, haha. I cried, “babe, I think my water broke” (2:30am) and J shot up instantly questioned my sanity. I  had previously told him the statistic of women whose water actually breaks without medical assistance prior to delivery… It’s not actually very common. Needless to say, we were both shocked. Thankfully, we mentally prepared ourselves for her to be born on this day, so everything was ready to go! I took a super-fast shower- to clean my amniotic fluids off of my thighs (not really even comprehending how disgusting I would be during labor). Jonathan decided to eat a bowl of cereal, which annoyed me to no end at the time because my contractions were somewhat starting and I have ZERO patience. Jonathan (who sprained his ankle and was in a walking boot and crutches at the time) walked our bags to the car (which was parked in our apartment parking garage about a 4 minute walk away… if you’re not on crutches). He finally pulled the car around and picked me up and we arrived to the hospital around 315am! We get checked in… which took a while. Then they took me to a room to check and make sure that I was in active labor! At 345ish, a doctor confirmed that I was in active labor and 4 cm.

Then, the contractions began… while the nurse us starting the IV and I am freaking out. I was being really weird initially because it was a strange pain at first. They were about 3-4 minutes apart. Jonathan came to the back after about 15 mins with the nurse. After she put the IV in, came the annoying admission questions. I think this took about 20 minutes but I began to feel crazy pain and begged the nurse for the epidural. My face was hot. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart. I guess I’m a sissy but that pain was terrible. Suddenly I couldn’t take the pain anymore and asked (yelled) when I was going to be out of triage and into a room… The nurse said soon and when I was in more active labor. Note: she also laughed after I asked and said, if you think you’re in pain, just wait”. Real reassuring haha. After she said that, I told her that I was in awful pain and asked if she could assess me and she didn’t. Then I told her I felt the urge to push and that lit a fire underneath her. She checked me and I was 7 cm. it was about 440am.

So they put me into a labor room and finally got me all checked in. I asked for an epidural AGAIN. And they said soon… The next hour is a blur. My IV got ripped out because I was spazzing in the bed. Note: I had no medication AT ALL during all of this. The nurse had to leave the room several times. I was screaming through contractions so people kept coming in to check on me. (I was so embarrassing). I made Jonathan fan me because I was burning up. He checks again at about 515 and I’m 9 cm. STILL NO EPIDURAL OR IV. and I’m crying. At about 540, he checks again and tells me it’s time to start pushing. And I was like HOLD. UP. I need an epidural. They tell me I’m too far along and basically too out of control. And I freaked out. After putting up a fight and convincing them that I’d be still and good, I got my epidural… At 630ish… At 10 cm. I also finally got my IV. Several things could have gone wrong during this time but thankfully nothing did. After that epidural, I was soooo relaxed and happy and just feeling the moment. I wasn’t scared anymore! I asked Jonathan to get me my makeup so I could start freshening up (yes, I’m one of those people…) and then they tell me it’s time to push! This was all happening so fast that we barely had time to text our families so instead of getting cute, we focused on letting everyone know what was going on.

After pushing for about 45 minutes, little baby girl was born at 730am! She was 7 lbs 5.8 ounces and 20.5 inches long. She was so clean compared to most new babies.  The epidural was so good that I didn’t even feel it. Jonathan had to tell me that she was out. She didn’t come out crying. She was very silent and they immediately put her on the warmer for stimulation. I knew that these things happen so to distract myself, I awkwardly asked to look at my placenta… So weird but it was pretty cool.  She finally cries and they give her a wipe down and place her on my chest! We took out first family picture and I instantly started nursing. After an hour or so, we moved to the postpartum unit where we waited for our parents!

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Baby E’s birth was very fast and sort of a blur. For a first time mom, everyone kept telling me that my labor was incredibly short (especially without any medication- i.e. Pitocin). It was only about 5.5 hours! Fortunately, we had a lot of things ready because we anticipated that she would be born on that date! But as much as we wanted to have it all planned, it was completely out of my hands. I told myself that I didn’t want an epidural and a bunch of other things but at the end of my experience, I have no regrets! We were so blessed to have a smooth, uncomplicated delivery and a healthy baby girl!

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About Erica:

Hi! I’m Erica. I’m a 20-something mother of 1 beautiful baby girl. The world of “Mom Life” was completely unknown to me so I’m exploring that and being in my mid-twenties pretty blindly. It’s been an adventure but extremely fun along the way. I’m also a Registered Nurse working in Mother/Baby and working towards my Lactation Consultant certification. I love being outdoors with my family and basically document our time as much as possible.

I blog over at Aiming for August. You can follow our daily journeys on Instagram!

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If you would like to share your birth story on this blog, please email at [email protected]

To view other published birth stories, click here: Birth Stories

One Year Ago Today…

So insane.

One year ago today, on September 21st, I became an instant Mom to two kiddos. Just one week before I was blissfully enjoying being a Mom to one child, Tera. We had just reached the stage that I was LOVING it. I was so glad to have the newborn/baby stage behind me and I was so enjoying watching Tera learn to walk and discover the world.

When we got the phone call, it took maybe .3 seconds for us to know that our answer was YES.

So even though I was saying goodbye to a certain level of freedom and jumping in wayyyyy over my head, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Did I ever mentioned that Theo worked that day one year ago? That’s right. I had to go to the hospital and pick up our first foster daughter all by myself. I cannot believe I had the strength to do that. I found a babysitter for Tera and went all by myself. I had a whole security team escort me from the NICU to my car because they weren’t sure if Mom and her companions would be volatile (they weren’t. They never were, but it was just a precaution). I also had the head nurse come out to the car with me and watch me buckle and latch Little Miss in. Talk about nerve-wracking!

She screamed all the way home. I was tempted to cry, too.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

When I got home, Austin and Laura helped me get dinner ready and continued to entertain Tera while I acted like I knew what I was doing in trying to calm Little Miss down. I’ll never forget her cries and how helpless they made me feel. I’ll never forget thinking that I was in way over my head and that I probably didn’t have a clue how to take care of this child. I remember also feeling a calm descend over our home as both girls settled down to sleep.

I didn’t know anything about her. I didn’t know her birth weight or why she had been given her name. I didn’t know how serious her drug addiction was or how long she usually slept at night. I didn’t know anything about taking care of her.

But I did it. And I loved her from that very first moment. And I wrapped her up in my Moby and I taught Tera her name and I woke up so many times in the night to feed her.

And lest you think I was doing all this hard work, Theo did the same. Theo loved her and fed her and talked to her and wrapped her up in the Moby, too.

And just like that…one year ago today, we became a family of four.

We are now a family of three again, just waiting to become a family of four (again). We look back on ourselves one year ago today and just shake our heads and laugh. We had NO CLUE. But September 21st, 2015 will forever be etched in the history of our family as the day we officially gave our hearts to Little Miss and to the ministry of foster care.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Book Feature: Falling Free

 

Today’s the day!

Today’s the day that Shannan Martin’s book, Falling Free, is released!!!

I had the privilege of being on the launch team and therefore got to read this book last month.

Here’s what I have to say:

You MUST read this book.

Ok, maybe not everyone.

But, if you fit under any of the following categories, you must read this book:

  • A Christian
  • A desire to live a life that glorifies God

Yep, that about covers it.

Seriously, friends. Seriously. If you love Jen Hatmaker’s writing style, you will also love Shannan’s writing style. It’s light and funny, but passionate and convicting at the same time.

If you were impacted like “woah” by books like Radical or Univited, then this one will stir your heart, too. Shannan drops so many truths…so many deeply convicting truths. The way that we live the American dream is often so far from what God is calling us (and equipping us to do!).

Here is what Jen Hatmaker has to say about the book:

“Shannan’s story feels at once familiar and spectacular, ordinary and exceptional. You will discover that at the same time her words make you squirm, you will wish you lived next door to her. You will want her wisdom and you will want her pickles.” —Jen Hatmaker (from the foreword)

Shannan Martin had the perfect life: a cute farmhouse on six rambling acres, a loving husband, three adorable kids, money, friends, a close-knit church—a safe, happy existence.

But when the bottom dropped out through a series of shocking changes and ordinary inconveniences, the Martins followed God’s call to something radically different: a small house on the other side of the urban tracks, a shoestring income, a challenged public school, and the harshness of a county jail (where her husband is now chaplain). And yet the family’s plunge from “safety” was the best thing that could have happened to them.

Falling Free charts their pilgrimage from the self-focused wisdom of the world to the topsy-turvy life of God’s more being found in less. Martin’s practical, sweetly subversive book invites us to rethink assumptions about faith and the good life, push past insecurity and fear, and look beyond comfortable, middle-class Christianity toward a deeper, richer, and ultimately more fulfilling life.”

Let’s just talk for a minute about how I much I have loved this book. As I read through this book, we had just said goodbye to Little Miss and I was struggling with the transition. We got a phone call for another placement, and another. We said no each time, because we just weren’t just ready. And I still believe that was the right decision.

However, as I read through this book it really challenged me to be ready to say yes when the next call comes. Foster care will never be convenient. In fact, following Christ will probably never be convenient. Our culture gets some lies mixed up in the gospel, and one of those lies is that if we follow Christ, we will be earthly blessed. Well, here is the truth: we won’t necessarily.

It’s terrifying. It’s humbling. And do you know what it does? It causes us to run to the cross. To cling to the cross. To realize that all we need is Christ.

Although these concepts are not new to me, Falling Free brought this up over and over again. It encouraged me and challenged me and convicted me, and I think that it will do the same for you.

So, I leave you with two main points. If you read nothing else in the post, read this:

  1. Order this book. Order it and read it. And weep and laugh and love it.
  2. Comment below with your favorite Christian Life book and I will choose one of you to win this book. This is not affiliated in any way with the Launch Team I was one or the author of this book. I will be ordering it and sending it to you personally. That’s how much I love it. If you don’t have any clue what your favorite Christian Life book is, then just leave a comment below to be entered to win! That’s it!

 

 

** This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click on them and order something directly through that link, I will receive a small commission. That also means that I would love it if you would purchase directly through my links! (For example: If you click Falling Free anywhere in this post, it will take you directly to Amazon where you can order. I will receive a small commission from what you order.). So please and thank you…order from my links if when you are going to order (it does not change your price at all!).

35 Weeks (Pregnancy #2)

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How Many Weeks: 35 weeks! How have we already reached 35 weeks? Doesn’t that mean I have…5 weeks left? That’s insane. I just found out I was pregnant, didn’t I? I don’t think I’ve even fully comprehended that I’m having a baby yet. Wait…I’m also having a BOY baby. Ok, ok. Breathe. Breathe.

Size of Baby: Over 5 pounds and 18 inches long now (according to google). I haven’t had any ultrasounds since the 20 week one, so I don’t know how big our baby is on the average scale. But he seems to be growing right along! He is apparently the size of a honeydew melon this week. That sounds about right. And looks about right, too!

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Symptoms/How I’m Feeling: Well, this week has been MUCH better than the last few! I finally feel like I got a little bit of energy back (key word: little). I am working really hard on getting enough sleep, getting enough water, getting enough protein and getting enough exercise and that really seems to be helping!

I’m freaking out just a little bit that his arrival is happening so soon. I really do need to start checking off the list that I have.

But most importantly I am NOT mentally prepared to birth a baby. I haven’t done hardly any thinking on the subject, except in relation to freaking out about it. I need to sit down with my big stack of birth books and get reading so I can get there mentally. I think that’s the biggest thing I need to do between now and when he arrives.

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All of my other symptoms are completely “normal” and what I’ve been experiencing all along. The only new thing recently is heartburn. Oh, the dang heartburn…how I hate you. So far I haven’t been able to pinpoint any particular thing that is causing it, but it’s no fun. I will eat spicy one day and be just fine, but tomato and acid seems to set me off? And some days it’s after I eat sugar? I don’t really know…maybe it has nothing to do with what I’m eating and more to do with the fact that I’m pregnant. Very pregnant.

Cravings/Aversions: Cold and sweet! I am trying so dang hard to eat protein and avoid the sugars, but that is exact opposite of my cravings. I cannot go a single day without eating a bowl of frosted flakes, though. That is my jam. I also eat carrots and cucumbers all.the.time. I think if my baby were to pop out the thing I have eaten the most of this pregnancy, he would be a carrot. Thank the good Lord that our babies come out human!

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Exercise this Week: I’ve gone for a walk every night this week! Woohoo!

Best Moment this Week: Theo has been home and we have been able to knock out some major house projects! Although none of them are my nesting list, I’m enjoying seeing things become accomplished!

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Edited to add: I originally wrote this on Saturday and I didn’t know at the time that my sister in law was just hours away from having her baby!!! So my best moment this week was hands down hearing that Isaiah and Sarah welcomed sweet Jamie Madelyn into the world! I’m an auntie again!!!!!!!!

Worst Moment this Week: Our well is having…problems. And it’s not good. I don’t have an official diagnosis, so I’ll just leave it at that. But say a prayer over our well that it won’t be $$$$$$$ to fix (also updated to add: It’s a lot $$$$$. Say a prayer I’ll be able to stop crying sometime soon. No, for real. It’s bad.)

What I need to do before baby: Exactly everything that was on my list last week haha!

  • Go to clothing sale/consignment shops to build his wardrobe
  • Pack hospital bag
  • Prep a bag for Tera and instructions for a babysitter (just in case I go into labor before my parents are here)
  • Prepare at least 10 freezer meals for after his arrival
  • Clean and organize/decorate Tera’s and baby boy’s shared room
  • Order items off Amazon that we still need for baby boy
  • Order big sister/little brother clothes for when they meet (eeeek!!)
  • Read birth books (at least 5)
  • Write birth plan and have Family Beginnings all set up
  • Paint and clean guest room
  • Work ahead on blog so I can take some time off without any blogging
  • Find/order any breastfeeding supplies I no longer have
  • Pull out and clean bassinet and other baby stuff+

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And here is 35 weeks with our Tera-girl.

Birth Story: Rachel

Happy Friday!

Last week, Rachel shared the birth story of her first son, Lysander. Today she is going to share the birth of her second, her beautiful daughter, Briseida!

Briseida’s birth story: A brunch turned brisk labor

There are so many details swimming through my mind about this amazing birth that it’s hard to pick what to include here and what to leave out. There’s a lot that went into this day becoming what it was, from the tiny but fun details (like waking up at 3 am the morning of- unable to fall back asleep- and searching the internet statistics for the probability of going into labor that day- my due date- only to find myself telling the Internet it sucked and putting the phone back down when it told me an 8% chance), to the not-fun-at-all details (like episodes of false labor at 36 weeks and 5 days of prodromal labor at 38-39 weeks), but the biggest single thing shaping this birth story is the fact that we lived and my husband works in a town three hours from the place I planned to deliver. To make matters more pressing, my husband could only take ONE day off of work when the baby was born to be with me, so when I called him out of work for the big show, I had to KNOW it was real or risk spending his one day on a false alarm. Add in that my chosen city for delivery was three hours from where my husband worked (and where I lived at the time!), and you have one giant puzzle and ball of stress for me that seemed to get bigger and bigger as we approached D day.

We knew that there would be much we could not predict or control about how, where, and when this baby came given our circumstances and living situation this summer, but we tried our best over the weeks preceding the birth to make good decisions, hope for the best, and trust God that no matter where I was when I went into labor/if it would give Arber (my husband) enough time to get to us before the baby came, He would take care of me. A natural labor was very important to me going into this pregnancy because I didn’t get to have that experience with my first birth. Although we were thrilled with how well our son’s birth went for an induction, I felt added stress and pressure to go into labor spontaneously with this pregnancy in order to avoid another induction and hopefully let my body labor more naturally this time around. I wanted to know that I could trust God completely to take me through a process that was bigger than myself and more than I thought I could handle on my own. I spent the last months of this pregnancy reading, stretching, meditating, and preparing for giving birth naturally, trying hard to balance being open-minded and easygoing about that goal this time around with sticking to my guns and really, really wanting it to work out!

I had a membrane sweep scheduled for 11 am on my due date, July 1st, but the day before, I decided on a whim to try acupuncture to encourage labor to begin as well. Please nobody tell my husband how expensive that little whim was (although we know it worked now so it was worth it, right?!) I also did more of baby’s laundry, prepared her carseat, bought groceries for my son and  to stock the house for my mom, and got the automatic door on our minivan fixed. Looking back it was a busy day of nesting and getting ready for baby to arrive imminently, but at the time I didn’t feel any special intuition or sense I needed to do these things; I mostly just felt I had procrastinated many of them far too long to begin with and was happy to have a break from the prodromal labor I’d experienced earlier in the week so I had the energy to get everything done.

Around 5 am the morning of my due date when I still couldn’t sleep, I decided to read more birth stories and watch some videos on hypnobirth and meditation. After watching a video that made me cry thinking of my love for Arber and excitement over this baby coming, I put down the phone again to focus on my own meditations in an attempt to fall back asleep. By 6 am I had not fallen asleep but was in a deep state of relaxation when I found myself surprised by the first “clear” contraction I’d experienced this pregnancy. I immediately noted that this swelling, surging feeling deep in my back and abdomen felt different from all my prelabor (more of a combo of cramps and tightening and low constant dull backache) but tried not to get too excited. I decided to keep focusing on breathing into my meditation to see if they would keep coming. By 6:45 am I called Arber to tell him I’d had 4 of these clearly recognizable contractions and that it was too early to say what they would lead to, but to check in frequently today just in case. After that I got out of bed to move around on the birth ball, rub clary sage oil on my belly and acupressure points they showed me the day before, and see what would happen with these contractions given those changes in my activity. I tried not to pay too much attention to them and to intentionally not time them for the next hour and a half to avoid getting excited over nothing and potentially calling my husband away from San Angelo for yet another false labor scenario.

I waited patiently for my son to wake up and found myself getting a little anxious as the contractions didn’t seem to have a clear pattern yet and weren’t necessarily growing in intensity. I tried not to be discouraged, reminding myself things didn’t need to move quickly because I wanted my husband here. When my son finally woke up at 8:30, I had two contractions that seemed more intense while playing with him before I left the house. From the time I left the house at 8:45 to the time I arrived at the brunch place to meet my best friend for breakfast around 9 am, I’d had three stronger contractions in the car and started to wonder if I should have kept this brunch date after all. Although I was growing a little concerned and anxious, I decided it was best not to stop my daily routine until I had clearer signs this was really it.

Focusing on conversation with Lori through brunch was difficult. I still wasn’t timing the contractions but it got harder and harder as the meal went on to keep talking and smiling and responding to her when a contraction came. I was starting to feel like a wimp for needing to focus on them to such a degree already. By 10 am I told Lori I didn’t think I would be able to leave the house again if I went back home but also didn’t think I could just wait around in this condition for my membranes to be swept at my 11 am appointment and we decided she should drive me to my Dr an hour early and try to be seen. I’m glad I listened to her about the driving part. Once we were at Dr. Devine’s office waiting to be seen, I had Lori start timing the contractions. They were spaced about 4 to 6 minutes apart and lasting 1-2 minutes. This just didn’t seem right to me. It seemed like way too quick a progression and that they shouldn’t be lasting so long so quickly, so again I started to doubt that they were real, but it was undeniable that they were taking more and more of my focus and breathing techniques to get through each time. I felt as if all the other pregnant women in the waiting room were staring at me each time a contraction came wondering what in the world I was being so dramatic about with my breathing.

They brought us back to a room to wait for Dr. Devine and things really picked up. Suddenly they were coming every 3 to 4 minutes and lasting 90 seconds to 2 minutes with a couple clusters of contractions right on top of each other. I got the urge to be on my hands and knees or squat and needed Lori to apply counter-pressure on my lower back. She instinctively started giving me cues each time we got to sixty seconds as she sensed that this was when they would peak and get most difficult for me. Those cues helped so much to remind me that a break was coming soon, even if it was short. And unlike with the induction, I truly did get breaks between these contractions and the sense of relief/clarity/brief chance to get back in touch with reality outside of my own labor was so renewing to my ability to cope when in a contraction. Around 11ish Arber called me back and I told him they were closer together and stronger and that even though I still wasn’t completely sure this was it (I was still so worried about everything coming to a grinding halt like false labor continually did) he should probably head this way. He said he couldn’t leave until 1 pm and I remember having the moment where I had to work through the thought, “Ok, what if he’s not here? What do I do?”. Luckily the answer to that question is Lori is a bad ass best friend and stayed with me the whole time, so I didn’t even have to worry about it. Anyway, back to the moment: When Dr. Devine finally came in to check me a little after 11, I was shocked when I heard the words 6 or 7 cm and “you need to go to the hospital right now; I’ve never delivered a baby in my office in all 16 years so let’s not break that streak today” come out of her mouth! I managed to get dressed through the next contraction and pile my pregnant contracting self into the collapsed trunk space of Lori’s SUV to head to the hospital. I was on my hands and knees and bracing my arms against the armrests of her back row seats, surprised at how calm I was able to stay through those contractions in the car, when I started to explain to Lori that in transition I might get irrational and ask for an epidural and for her to kindly tell me I was transitioning and wouldn’t need one if I did ask. Little did I know I was transitioning as we were driving!

We pulled up and she let me out and I prayed checking in would be quick. As soon as I was in the hospital my body wanted to hang on things in a squat position through contractions and I had to bury my head in Lori’s stomach while I did this in the hall as they tried to get me a room. Once in the room I instinctively went for the bathroom and squatted holding onto the handicap bar through a couple contractions. This was when I started whimpering and moaning a little and thinking “goodness this is getting intense!” I reminded myself again to be calm and just feel the sensation of the contractions as I breathed because there was really nothing else I could do. I got the urge to get on the toilet a few minutes later and realized I was having urges to push.  That didn’t seem right to me, how could I be needing to push already? I told myself I must be confused and feeling something else. Immediately I felt myself start pooping and apologized to my best friend who was still right beside me rubbing my back, then my bag of waters popped and I told the nurses. They asked me to get off the toilet and come to bed and I told them I didn’t want to. They said, you can’t have this baby on the toilet so please come to bed. I was stunned… was I really about to do this??? My doula Penny helped me breathe through a contraction as they checked me and confirmed I was ready to push but we needed to wait because Dr. Devine hadn’t had time to arrive from her office yet. I hugged Penny tight and breathed through the strong urges to push for about 2 or 3 more contractions before Dr. Devine arrived. When she said I could start pushing whenever I wanted, I felt so confused about how to do that and scared I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. But, the body knows what to do and before I had time to think about it too much, another contraction came and I realized I wouldn’t be able to not push if I tried. It took 3 pushes, and I felt the infamous ring of fire everyone describes on the second and third ones and just moaned and yelled with everything I had to cope with feeling the head pass through me. On the third push I felt the head pass all the way through and the squiggly squirmy sensation of the rest of her body follow. They laid her on my chest and I was overcome with shock that I was done. That was it. Six hours in all from that first early morning contraction to baby. And here she was. On my chest. My vagina really hurt now. (Just being real …)

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After my long, intense, and painful induction labor, I couldn’t believe that that was all there was to this birth. Is this what a natural birth is like??? It was the quickest six hours of my life and although it took a lot of focus, I was amazed at how it had been much more of a mental game and much less of a painful experience than I expected. The pain was manageable with a calm, accepting attitude and I was just so happy and proud that I did it all natural this time and trusted my body’s lead! God had not only taken care of me and baby girl through this labor, he had given me an amazing experience, the help, strength, and focus I needed to do it without medication, and with the perfect timing. Arber called around 12:15 pm to tell me he left San Angelo and ask how things were progressing now. He was stunned when I told him I was holding our baby, only about an hour after our last phone call!

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Baby girl came at 12:02 pm, weighing 7 lbs 15 oz and measuring 20.5 inches. She nursed for a whopping two hours after an hour of skin to skin and made the cutest little whimpering sounds ever. The pediatrician said it’s too soon to say if it’s a bruise from the fast delivery or a birthmark, but she has a star shaped mark on her lower left cheek. Briseida Elise Keco- or Zadie for short- our little super star, is finally here in our arms, and albeit a scenario for labor I never would’ve imagined unfolding in the manner it did, I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience.

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Cloth Diapers: Part I

Back by popular demand!

I wrote this blog post two years ago when I first started cloth diapering Tera. Seriously…two years ago, and it’s still one of the most popular posts on my blog (another popular one is one I didn’t want to EVER publish about how we got fleas. Hahaha.). People ask me for the link to this one all the time. So I thought I would repost it with updated information and pictures! And that way we don’t have to go back two years to find it. Although the pictures of Tera are so darn stinking cute that I just have to leave those. My big girl is potty training now and really only uses about one diaper a day (during her nap)!

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I’m going to lead you, dear reader, down the path of no return…

The path of cloth diapering!

The first crash course I received in cloth diapering was from my sister-in-law. She has cloth diapered all three of her children, and so she has quite a stash. She also has several different types, and she showed me each one and pointed out all the pros and cons, at least for her and her lifestyle. This was SO helpful, and I highly recommend talking to someone who cloth diapers before diving into the cloth diapering journey.

The next thing I did was hit up these two websites:

Kelly’s Closet

Diaper Junction

Both of these websites not only sell alllllllllllll the different types of cloth diapers, but they also provide information about each type. I could get lost on both of these websites for days! So helpful!

It took me about two months of research (and putting it off) before I took the plunge and ordered our diapers. Even after talking to my sister in law, researching, waiting for sales, etc, I was still hesitant to spend over 300 bucks on something that my baby will poop on. I also had no clue which type I actually wanted. I was so overwhelmed by all the pros and cons of each, and how the reviews often stated that particular diapers were best for fat/skinny babies, or for certain lifestyles. I had no idea if my baby would be fat or skinny, and I was really afraid I would spend all the money and get it all wrong! But I finally took the plunge, and ordered some cloth diapers!

Here is a low-down of some of the terms/types of diapers:

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  • One-size: This diaper has snaps that will make it bigger/smaller, allowing you to fit this diaper onto newborns all the way through potty training. A lot of people will buy cloth diapers in newborn size and then just get all in ones as the child grows.

Can you spot the differences in the picture above? In the picture above, I have all the snaps open to create the biggest size in all three diapers. Below, I snapped them up to all be different sizes (largest to smallest, left to right). Those are one-size, because they can be smaller or bigger depending on where you snap them.

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  • Snaps/Velcro: Long gone are the days of pinning cloth diapers on! Now, the option are: snaps or velcro diapers. I’m sure that snaps require .2 seconds longer in changing the baby, but otherwise I think that they are the way to go. The snaps take less wear and tear from the washing machine and a child is not very likely to figure out how to undo snaps (unlike velcro!).
  • Inserts/Covers: This part was sooo confusing to me, because I thought cloth diapers were just the cloth part. No, no, no, no! Silly me. Cloth diapers are so much more now! There are two parts: the inserts (the cloth part!), and the cover. There are many different combinations of these two as you will see below.

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(Insert on the right, cover on the left)

And here the main types of diapers that you can buy nowadays:

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  • All-in-ones:
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This cloth diaper is pretty much a disposable diaper, except you wash it instead of throwing it out. The cover and the inserts are sewn together, washed together, dried together. They are one (hence, the name). As you can see from the picture below, the insert is sewn into the cover and is non-removable.

 

  • Pocket Diapers:
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These diapers have the cover and the inserts separate. In order to use the diaper, you slide the insert into a pocket that is part of the cover. Inserts and cover get washed separately, then put together before use. The insert slides into a pocket. When washing, you take the insert out and wash it removed from the cover. You can then dry the insert in a dryer while air drying the cover.

 

  • Fitted Diapers:
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This is very similar to a pair of cloth potty training underwear. It is absorbent enough to hold pee/poop, but should be worn with a plastic cover over it.

  • Diaper Covers:
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There is also the option to get covers and inserts, and simply put the insert right on top of the cover (instead of into a pocket).

 

Here is what I ordered:

Flip Covers with Inserts. I ordered the diaper covers with the inserts that simply go on top (instead of in a pocket).

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My personal opinions on the type of diaper:

  • I have only ever gotten one-size diapers. I have used those since Tera was about 3 weeks old, and they are still going strong. I love that I have only had to buy one set of diapers for her entire diapering experience!
  • I dislike all-in-ones because they take FOREVER to dry. You can’t put cloth diapers in the dryer, and these ones are so thick that they take 3x as long as the other diapers to dry.
  • Pocket diapers are growing on me, but they do take a little bit longer to stuff/prepare
  • The original diapers that I bought (the flip covers with inserts placed on top) are still my favorite! I like them because they are so easy to clean/wash, they were one of the cheaper options and they dry really quick (plus I CAN throw the inserts into the dryer, just not the cover part)
  • I originally ordered 15 covers and 25 inserts and was probably doing diaper laundry about twice a week. As we went through our diapering journey, I added a couple diapers to my collection here and there and I have enough now to cloth diaper two children full time and do diaper laundry 1-2 times a week (come back tomorrow for another post on laundering cloth diapers!)
  • I am not loyal to any particular brand name, although my flip covers/inserts have been my favorite for two years running. I will say, however, that I don’t advise scrimping and getting cheap, off-brand diapers. If you are a regular reader around here, you know that I will ALWAYS choose the money-saving, off-brand item, but cloth diapers is one area that I will not. It’s not worth it! Go for the brand name stuff.
  • I have never used cloth diapers at night. I just never took the plunge and we have always used disposable diapers at night. So, I have no experience in that area!

 

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(My beautiful covers! Not pictured: several doubles of some of the colors)

Phew, so far this is a very long post! So check back tomorrow for Part II: How (and why!) I use, wash and store my cloth diapers!

And more pictures of this adorable one….

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….and now she looks like this:

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((somebody hold me))

 

The Atmosphere of my Home

As a stay at home Mom, I feel that part of my responsibility to my family is to keep the atmosphere of my home beautiful and comfortable.

I recently started reading through a book called The Ministry of Motherhood, which is SO. VERY. GOOD.

It got me thinking about what I do in the daily to make my home a ministry. I have these beautiful house and it’s where my family spends the majority of our days. I have bedrooms that aren’t currently being used and I have dirt and cobwebs piling up in some corners.

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But most of all, I have the responsibility to make my house a home and to serve my husband and my children within the walls of this home.

Over the past few months I’ve been thinking through what I want the atmosphere of my home to look like. Do I want it to look pristine, or do I want it to look lived in? Do I want it to smell like pumpkin spice, or would I rather have it smell like essential oils? Do I want a separate space for work and play, or do I want to combine those two things so that they happen at the same time, in the same place? What do I want the function of my bedroom to be? What about the guest bedroom? And the living room? So many questions!!

I picked up The Nesting Place from the library thinking that it was going to be a book about how to decorate my home, which I usually find to be inspirational but rather unrealistic. Instead, I found a book that asked my soul all the right questions in what I wanted in a home.

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I don’t want to pretend that I’ve got it all together and that I know all the answers to these questions, but I just wanted to share a few of the questions that I’ve been thinking through and how I want to revel in the atmosphere of my home.

If you are a newlywed or just setting up your new apartment, I strongly encourage you to ask yourself these questions and then work towards your goals. If you are in the trenches of toddlerhood and you feel like you live with a tornado, go ahead and ask yourself these questions and do what you can to make it happen. If you are a stay at home Mom, I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions and find time to make the atmosphere of your home delightful for all who live and come into your home. If you are a working Mom, I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions and make it a priority to put some time into your home, especially the rooms that your family spends the most time in.

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These questions are not profound. In fact, they are rather simple.

The Atmosphere of my Home:

Smell: What do I want it to smell like?

  • When someone enters into my home, what is the scent that I want them to smell? Is it a seasonal candle, or essential oils, or maybe I always want them to smell the food that I have cooking like garlic or snickerdoodles

Sight: What do I want my house to look like?

  • Obviously, this questions has a lot of other questions wrapped up in it. Do I want my home to appear clean, or “lived-in”? What kinds of things do I want hanging on my walls? Do I want my furniture to look super comfortable, or do I feel more pleased when my furniture all matches? What kind of conversation starters can I have around my house? What colors do I want to stand out in this room? What vibe do I want to send?
  • The important thing for answering this question is taking the time to go through each room and answer the question for each room. In my playroom, I want COLOR. In my living room, I want more comfortable and relaxing hues.
  • Try some Pinterest inspiration boards to see what you like. This is not about finding the things that Joanna Gaines would put in her house, or that would make your best friend happy. This is YOUR home, and you need to find your own style. For example…Theo thinks I’m crazy but I’ve been begging him to keep his eye out for two papason chairs for my living room. Joanna Gaines would probably die if she had to put one of those in her living room…but it’s what I love.
  • As a Christian, I cannot emphasize enough the idea that you need to have things that visually point to Christ in your home. How can you add these things into your home to create an atmosphere that brings glory to God?

Sound: What sounds do I want to hear in my home?

  • One of my favorite things to do during the day is listen to podcasts. Theo prefers silence. Maybe there are certain times of the day when we need dancing music, another time of the day when we need worship music, a time of the day when we need a podcast and then a time of the day when we need silence. Ask yourself when and why it’s important to have these sounds. Ask yourself what your children are hearing all day, and if it’s conducive to the attitudes that you want your children to have and the atmosphere that you want to achieve.
  • One thing that most Americans have going for them is a TV. We often think of TVs as visual, but they are also contributing a lot of noise to our home. Does your TV contribute unnecessary noise to the atmosphere of your home?

Taste: What do I want available for friends and family to be tasting?

  • Yes, this is so important in determining the atmosphere of your home! What do you want on your counters, in the snack cupboard, served on the meal table? Do you want candy dishes near your couch, or mints in your bathroom? Do you keep a secret stash of chocolates in your bedside table or maybe you always want cookies in the cookie jar for your kiddos to grab (or maybe you don’t!). Meal times are important, but so are snack times!

Touch: What do you want people in your home to feel when they are there?

  • What type of couch do you like to feel when you sit down? What type of bed do you want to lay on? What type of bed do you want your guests to lay on? How do you want your feet to feel after walking across the floor barfoot? When you step out of the bathtub, what do you want to feel under your feet? When you are doing the dishes, what kind of dishsoap feels best on your hands?

Spiritually: What do you want people in your home to learn about God and his presence?

  • Is there Scripture around? Is there worship music playing for your kids, or just the TV? Do your offer to pray with your guests? Do you have a prayer corner or a special devotional spot in your house? What can you do to incorporate Scripture and God into each room of your house? I have a friend who had nine rooms in her home, and she assigned each one a “fruit of the spirit”. Love was their bedroom, and she subtly had something hanging on the wall that said love. Joy was the living room, and again, she incorporated joy into the room. I can’t remember which word she assigned to the kitchen, but she had it embroidered onto the bottom corner of the kitchen curtain. It was so, so beautiful!

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A couple things to remember:

DO NOT. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, answer these questions with what would please someone else. Not your mother in law. Not your next houseguest. Not your blog readers. Not Joanna Gaines. Answer these questions in light of what makes you most comfortable, and those who are living in your home. If you have the task of being in charge of a house and making it into a home, you need to answer these questions from your own heart. If you go about making your house YOUR home, people will be comfortable in it. People will want to be in it. People won’t care if they don’t like the smell of your candles, because they will be so happy to be with someone who is comfortable and loving the atmosphere of their home

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TAKE YOUR TIME. I have been married for over four years now, and I don’t have any of this nailed down. In fact, now is when I’m just starting to think through each of these things. Your answers to the questions might change over time, and that’s ok!

YOU MIGHT NEVER “GET THERE”. Don’t wait until you feel like your home is perfect to invite people in. I think we have this huge problem in America where we think everyone else has a perfect home, and therefore we must, too. It’s not true. Most of the images you see on Pinterest or even online, everything else is pushed aside and it’s only the frame of the picture that shows perfection. Have people over in the imperfection, and you will be amazed at how many doors (literally) that opens up.

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