Friday, May 9, 2014

everyday, messy life

We had the opportunity to have our life documented for 48 hours through Wirken Photography's photo journalism workshops. Our photographer, Joel (or Josh as Henry preferred to call him), was with us from early morning until bedtime.

When I got the pictures yesterday, I first saw the clutter in our house. I'd found out that morning he was coming due to a cancellation from another family 
so there was no time to pick up the papers littering our dining room table, the remnants of Henry's forts, and yesterday's dishes in our non-dishwasher kitchen.

I saw the double chin of eight months of pregnancy, the lumpiness of maternity clothes and the dark circles of tiredness. The glass tables smudged with fingerprints, the overflowing baskets of laundry and the random piles of stick and acorn "treasures" 
that make it into the house during moments of weakness.

But the more I looked, the more I saw a life I love, including all those messy details.

The morning moments of hiding under the covers from tigers. 
The cries over oatmeal that wasn't cooling off fast enough.

The hugs at daycare pickup.

The waiting at the slowest elevators in the Midwest for an OB appointment 
where a healthy heartbeat is heard.

The spaceship that flies to the moon with alien noises and Superman as the captain.

The love between two people that started this crazy mess and
steal sweet moments in the middle of chaos.

The fries and milkshakes to celebrate new milestones.

The non-graceful juggling of work, marriage, chores and parenting. Always finding time for play.

The dirty hands and feet.

The exhaustion and quiet moments at the end of the day.

Friday, March 7, 2014

oh right, third trimester

27 weeks, Disney World

Dear baby boy,

The funny thing about this pregnancy is for awhile, I kind of forgot I was pregnant. But the big belly, sharp kicks and rolls, fiery heartburn and ridiculously gross congestion are a constant reminder now.

We've entered our third trimester together now. We've crossed all those big milestones that I didn't write about like 12 weeks of progesterone supplements, early ultrasounds for reassurance, making sure all your parts and pieces were in the right places, finding out you had boy parts, finding a new doctor, and the dreaded glucose test. We've graduated to semi-monthly appointments now and soon will be registering at the hospital.

22 weeks
Your big brother is excited to meet you, though he's pretty sure you're living in his belly. Despite your in utero status, he's given you piggyback rides, taken you to Disney World, read you books, had you help him find hidden pictures in his Highlights magazine and help him eat snacks. He tucks you in by lifting up my shirt and tucking a blanket around my roundness.

24 weeks, 4 days
This pregnancy has been admittedly less fun but much faster than the first time around. My body feels it more, and I'm less thrilled about the expanding belly/thighs/butt/face. I've found winter pregnancy to be much more challenging for me than summer pregnancy. Probably less swelling but lots more indoor time and more battles with my limited pants selection.That doesn't mean we're anything but overjoyed to meet you in a few months. If this last year taught me anything, it's how lucky I feel to be able to expand our family.

So even though your crib is in a box upstairs somewhere, your clothes and diapers are still neatly (ha) packed in plastic bins in the attic and the new stuff we need is waiting to be bought from my Amazon wish list, we're ready for you to make our family of four complete.

Keeping growing in there little man.

Love you to the moon and back,


Saturday, December 7, 2013

new life

We found out in a Walmart bathroom in the middle of Iowa. 

There had been months of ovulation tests, then only one line. Frustration that things just wouldn't get back to normal. And then suddenly, the two lines (and a digital test thrown in for confirmation) we'd been praying for since January.

9/17/13, Four weeks 1 day
"Less than 5 percent of women have two consecutive miscarriages (Mayo Clinic).

This is the statistic I am clinging to with an anxious heart.

I can't remember what it was like to go into this pregnancy thing with blind faith. Worrying about how many cloth diapers I would need, which crib was safest and which birthing method was best for my baby. Instead I am tiptoeing through the fear of losing another baby and navigating that ocean of grief. I'm trying to do the normal things like look up pregnancy announcements, the milestone dates we'll reach but really all I am doing is praying the days, weeks and months go fast. I have zero fear of another rapid birth, or if this baby will scream for five hours a night. I just want that sweet, healthy baby."

The next two weeks were the longest. Waiting for the point when a heartbeat could be detected. I took no less than 20 pregnancy tests, just confirmation that indeed the lines were getting darker. It was too early for symptoms but their absence made me sick with worry.

10/2/13, 6 weeks 3 days - Heartbeat appointment
"I cried when I climbed on the table. Cried harder when she showed me the flickering light of life. We did a transvaginal and could see it even better. The sac looks great, and baby was measuring a day ahead of what I thought. Heartbeat was 130/beats per min which is strong. She turned on the ultrasound wand for a second so I could hear five strong beats booming in the room. It was a miracle when I heard it with Henry but I can't tell you how much more of a miracle it seems this time, knowing how vulnerable life really is."

We've had three ultrasounds, each one as perfect as the last. Shea got me a fetal doppler at home to ease my anxiety. My midwife held my hand, answering every crazy question and indulging in my need for reassurance.

At 16 weeks now, I worry less about baby's health and more about the fact I am packing on the pounds and wearing maternity clothes six to eight weeks earlier than I had to with Henry. But the awe of a healthy pregnancy is not lost in our house.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

four years

"Love in this second sense - love as distinct from 'being in love' - is not merely a feeling.  It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.  They can have this love for each other even at moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself.  They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be 'in love' with someone else. 'Being in love' first moved them to promise fidelity:  this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it."

There was a day two years ago when I sat on the floor of Henry's room, him just weeks old. All three of us were crying. Exhausted, with nothing more to give. Shea talked about how he wasn't happy. I talked about how on that day, I didn't like him very much at all. It was an awful day we still talk about.

Perhaps a weird way of starting out an anniversary post. But it makes me remember that C.S. Lewis quote that was read at our wedding ceremony. When we got married we hadn't dealt with much except challenging family situations and lots of work travel. Four years later, I've learned that flowers, long talks of affirmation and fancy dinners are great but not the love that holds a marriage together when your newborn is screaming five hours every night.

Instead, that "quieter love" that runs the engine of this marriage is about:

moving to a new state when you have lived in the same area your entire life.

moving the entire contents of your house four times in four years to get
more space, more security, a garage.

making dinner several times a week even if it's always tacos, spaghetti or turkey burgers.

driving in a straight panic to the hospital with a screaming woman in your passenger seat who is pleading with you to give her drugs and turn on your flashers, for goodness sake.

holding your newborn son in awe as your wife is being equipped with an oxygen mask.

running around the house in circles when your baby will NOT stop crying
so your wife can take a shower.

posing with pumpkins, in front of peach trees, Thomas the train and lots of large trucks.

making dinner, doing the dishes and taking care of a toddler when your wife has a migraine.

attempting to iron your own pants.

working hard so your wife has the option of staying home part-time to play with trains.

sitting in a hospital waiting room, holding your wife's hand,
when she's about to lose her second baby.

making oatmeal for everyone every single morning and
sitting at a table to eat it together.

cleaning the litter pans every week.

always, always being on my side no matter what the topic or the people involved.

Love you, Ginn. Thank you for loving me in the ways that make this marriage thing work.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

prayers for a miracle

It's so easy to take it all for granted.

Our healthy bodies. A son that has been lucky to be so healthy an antibiotic hasn't passed his lips.

It's easy to feel superior about it, to think it's because we're doing something right. Or to not even think about it at all because health isn't a factor in our daily lives.

This week I have been brought to my knees by the stories of strangers. Stories of how life can be turned upside down in a matter of hours. Stories that make me cling to my family with fear and sadness.

My heart is so very heavy with the weight of the burdens these mothers (and fathers) must bear.

Friends, I ask that you join me in fervently praying for two families that need the kindness of strangers, the love of an all-powerful God and a miracle.

Grayson Irwin, turning 1 this week, was diagnosed with acute leukemia. His family is from Topeka, Kan. now living in Florida. In just a few days, friends have raised more than $13,000 to help this sweet family who has relocated two hours away from home where their little son will receive treatment. I heard their story through a friend and have been continuously praying since. Read their story here.

Diana Stone, blogger at Hormonal Imbalances, went through a very public loss of her twins last year at 20 weeks. She just gave birth to a son, Kaden, who is now in need of a heart transplant. If there is anyone that deserves a happy ending more, it is this family. They, too are having to move their family to another city to be close to the hospital for the best care.

I don't know if it's the faces of these sweet little boys that remind me of my Henry, or why it is that I have felt so shaken by these stories of perfect strangers.

I know money will help. I also know positive thoughts, good juju and heartfelt prayer are just as powerful.

I'm praying for strength for weary family members, wisdom for doctors, comfort for two little boys and for miracles.

God is bigger.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Dear Henry,

Every single age, I've thought: "This is my favorite, don't let him grow too fast." But you do grow, and then the next stage becomes my favorite. Two has been magical.

You repeat everything we say, even when we don't know you're listening. We can apply logical reasoning to get you to go to sleep, and you clearly state your preferences on what to wear, eat or play with.

Your ability to remember things is one of my favorite parts about this age. As we pull into the church parking lot you start yelling the names of your friends, Piper and Hudson. You know two names that make up a couple like your friends Todd and Laura or Nonnie and Grandpa. You once tried on one of Daddy's t-shirts, and now every time he wears it, you yell out "my shirt!" When daddy comes home with his workout bag, you point to it and yell "Daddy RUN!"

Plotting big things with mixing bowls.

You love playing with your choo-choos, your kitchen and grill and anything to do with outside. Your stuffed animals talk to each other and you serve them food and then tuck them in for night-night. When we run in the jogging stroller, you yell at me to run every time I start walking, like a free personal trainer.

This summer we've been at the library several times a week picking out books or attending family fun nights with puppet shows or drum concerts. You picked peaches, admired the model trains at Union Station, waded in the pool, went on evening "runs" and went on a big weekend trip to St. Louis to see the zoo, Grant's Farm and a Cardinals game.

Hugs for friends.
We celebrated your second birthday Lowly Worm style, and for the first time, you really understood opening presents and the greatness of cake.

You have a goofy personality and love teasing with Daddy and yelling "watch" followed by a silly action. You have a very kind heart, constantly taking care of your family, human and stuffed alike. You hug, kiss and give high-fives frequently.

When you fall asleep, we still collapse on the couch with a sigh. You are super exhausting and challenging but even more than that you are funny, surprising, sweet and the light of our lives.

We love you so much Henry.

Mama and Daddy

Monday, July 29, 2013

sedan love

Last week Shea called me while driving a minivan.

"It's beautiful. So ridiculously cool! It has a center console where you can set things."

Then he came home two days later, still swooning about this beautiful ride while I rolled my eyes so hard I thought they'd fall out.

The minivan turned 30 this year.  I'll admit, the van-car style come along away since the 1984 Dodge Caravan (half car half van, get it?) with its boxy design and and fake wood paneling.

It's not that I don't want a van. I mean, I guess the leg room would be nice. Changing diapers without hunching over would definitely be an improvement. A door that opened on its own would probably change my grocery store with toddler stress mess.

But, then I look at my backseat and see the chaos of cracker crumbs and trains. Imagine when we actually had more room to spread out and get comfortable. Do car detailing shops have monthly memberships?

Plus it's just so big. I can barely fit my car in the garage now between all the storage, sand toys, lawn mower and Christmas decorations. And the horrid gas mileage.

We fit in our cars. Henry is still in his infant carrier seat at 2 years old. We're small, mighty and suited for sedans.

And guess what? They even have consoles where we can set things with built-in cup holders!