Friday, August 31, 2012

Isaiah is ONE! (birth story and reflecting)

I was still working at the hospital doing ultrasound. My due date was Sept. 6th. I worked either two or three days every other week, and the week before my due date was scheduled to be a two day week. Since I was so close to my due date I was kind of setting my own schedule. I decided to work the monday and tuesday before my due date just to get it over with and hopefully have almost a whole week to finish up my to-do list, spend quality time with Drew, and rest. After working two days in a row I came home Tues. night and didn't sit down all night. I was outside weeding the flower garden, I was uploading photos and clearing my camera card, I was journaling... I finally went to sleep around 11:00 p.m. after writing in my journal that I was having contractions but doubted they were the real thing because I didn't want to get my hopes up. I remember I was actually sleeping well for the first time in weeks, when at 1:30 a.m. I felt a pop and jumped out of bed (don't know how I managed to move so quickly...) to my water breaking. I remember saying over and over "my water's breaking! my water's breaking!" and Shaun shooting out of bed like there was a fire and asking what to do. My first thought was that I was mad I had left dishes unwashed in the sink, and I thought about telling him to go wash them. My second thought was that he should probably pack, and I told him so... He was done in about 5 seconds and asking "What now?" Meanwhile I was standing there unable to move and leaking all over the floor and so my third thought (that probably should have been my first thought) was for him to get the large pad I had sitting at the foot of the bed. Even though it was right under his nose he couldn't see it for the life of him. Funny how adrenaline rushes make you act so crazy. I remember my knees were shaking and I was shivering and Shaun was staring blindly at the pad when we heard little footsteps come down the hall and Drew came into our room with a sleepy, bashful smile on his face and looked at Shaun and said "Daddy...." just smiling at him. That little piece of sweet normalcy was enough to calm us down and make us laugh a bit. 
I remember carrying Drew back to bad and laying down next to him, waiting for him to fall asleep and crying into his hair because I had worked all night instead of playing with him, and it had been my last night having just him, all the while timing my contractions. 

My parents came over so my mom could stay the rest of the night here with Drew while we went to the hospital. They prayed over me. We made it to the hospital around 3:30. My contractions had been steadily around 5 minutes apart, but not hurting a bit. While in triage they saw that my heart rate was elevated at 120, so they began pumping me full of fluids to try to get my heart rate down. After hydrating me to the maximum, and making me have to pee about every 2 minutes instead of every 5 like I had been, my contractions started getting further apart instead of closer together. At 5:30 a.m. I was exhausted but walking the hallways and getting in the shower, doing everything I could to start my contractions back up and wearing myself out completely in the process. I ended up sleeping from about 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. At 8:30 a.m. they started me on pitocin. I was determined I wasn't having any pain killers whatsoever (bad experience with my epidural with Drew, plus I wanted to go as natural as possible this time around) so I was so disappointed when they had to start the pit. I had been at 5 cm since I got to the hospital and was not progressing any further without it though. So I sucked it up, ruled out the option of having anything for pain in my mind, and went through the most painful 4 hrs of my entire life. As soon as the pitocin was started it got bad, but it continued to get worse and worse and worse until I was the crazy girl down the hall screaming and probably scaring every other girl in the hospital. I just remember hanging onto Shaun's neck for dear life through every contraction and saying "dear God!" over and over. I never got back in control of my pain levels and was totally panicking, freaking out, having an almost out of body experience by the end. I totally gave into fear of pain and it took over. I have not forgotten the experience a whole year later. This is not to scare anyone, this is to say, don't give in to fear like I did. When I finally was ready to push it only took six minutes for Isaiah to be born, even with shoulder dystocia. And he was here, and screaming, all 9 lbs 14 oz. of him. I held him on my chest and went completely limp, having given absolutely everything I had to bring him into the world, so thankful he was here. And he is worth every bit of it, and more. 

Newborn Photo

Very much his true personality (6 months old)

(Actual six months photos here)

Photos I used as the theme of his upcoming first birthday party (10 months old)

(11 months old)
Eating. One of his favorite things to do. This nectarine in particular is a funny story... We were at the grocery store and I turned my back for a second and when I looked back he had managed to get this from the display near the cart and was munching contentedly... 

I sit here this morning, he is walking and crawling around, making car noises with his lips, getting into everything, being so much himself. He is such a joy to us. He is so unique. He eats sand. He splashes in the toilet if he gets a chance. He tries to go down stairs head first. We have nick-named him pterodactyl... for the screeching scream he does when he needs something as simple as a sip of water, or another bite of toast... He is a passionate little person already. :) He has perfect full lips, soft, wavy blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes, and a dimple in his right cheek. He's still got his rolly baby legs with no real ankle definition... but the rest of him is starting to thin out a bit and he looks so much more like a boy than a baby now... He's got so much to say, he has a couple words in his vocabulary already. Simple ones, mama, dada, hi, buh bye and some sound effects. But I have a feeling once he starts really talking he won't ever stop :) So much I want to remember. I wish I could bottle it up and keep every second, each moment, of it forever.
My sweet boy. One year ago today marks not just his birthday, but also the last day I worked, the beginning of being a stay at home mom. It is my greatest joy. 

Isaiah Matthew, I am so thankful for you baby. Our family would not be complete without you. You are such a light, a joy, a little firecracker. You remind me of myself. You look like me. And you have already taught me so much. My prayer for you is that would know Jesus, that you would learn to harness your passion and use it constructively, that your loud voice would be a tool to speak truth and testify to the love of our Father, and that your strength will be a rock for others to lean on in times of weakness, but ultimately point them to God, for the joy of the Lord is our strength, and He will always be yours. I love you so much sweetheart, and I am having so much fun watching you develop your little personality and become more and more independent as you explore your world to the fullest. Happy first birthday, tato head :) 
Love, Mommy 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Strecker Family

I have known Lindsey since I was a freshmen in highschool. She was a senior, and we were on the basketball team together for one year. But besides going back that far, her brother also married my best friend. It's funny to think back to when you first knew someone. When you're young and naive and you have no idea how life will turn out. Lindsey has definitely not had an easy path to walk in life. The past few years have been full of hardships, more than most have to walk out in an entire lifetime. But to see her strength, resilience, and determination through it all has been amazing. It makes my heart SO happy to see her with her husband Rob, and sweet son Mason. To see how they have become a family, their interaction, and their love for each other. Like I said, you never know your where your path in life is going... and just when it seems you can't handle anymore there might be a blessing you never dreamed of. It was an honor to do their family photos for them. Enjoy! [And please prepare for a VERY picture-full post!!]

When these were some of my first few frames I knew it was going to be a good day! (despite the cloudy weather, and the sun even came out for us eventually!) 

Lindsey and Rob are about to celebrate their first anniversary together. :)

Love Mason's ten-year-old-boy candidness... too perfect! I couldn't agree more, Mason! They are great together!

 MR. & MRS. 

 The sun came out... and,very appropriately, we had some sunflowers along... LOVED all of these! 

More family photos: 

I clearly had a very difficult time only choosing a few favorites... there were so many good ones from the day! Thanks again, Lindsey, Rob & Mason! You made my job easy and fun!! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My best friend

I was sixteen the first time I saw Shaun. My family took a summer to try out different churches and see if God was calling us somewhere else. A beautiful white church, a hot summer day, a friendly welcome, a sense that God was indeed calling us to this place. And my first glimpse of the man that would one day be my husband. He was playing the drums on the worship team. I was in a relationship at the time that I knew wasn't good for me. I remember thinking "If there's someone like that out there how can I be settling for this?" I had no idea I would one day be blessed enough to date him, I just knew that he gave me hope that there really were guys out there who loved Jesus with their whole heart. And that's what I knew I wanted. The previous relationship was ended within a week of our first visit to that church, even though I wouldn't begin to date Shaun for another 9 months.

Seventeen, a missions trip to Honduras, a last minute decision that Shaun would go too, a dock, hammocks, moonlight over a lagoon, the night he told me he liked me. My world was forever changed. I recently read back over my journal entries from that time in my life. I was SOO content in who Jesus was making me into, so full of peace, so trusting that He knew the plans He had for me, the whole thing was just a beautiful trust fall into God's will for my life. I had been in so much inner turmoil the year leading up to that moment. It is so cool to see how as I surrendered to Him, it was like He gently removed a blindfold that had been over my eyes to all my life could be in Him. I have never looked back. To be who and where God wants me is all I will ever ask for.

I had so much fun dating Shaun. So. Much. Fun. We dated for three years and three months before we said "I Do." And now we've been married for almost five years. We have both grown and changed so much since we've been married. We've started to really become who we need to be for each other, not just for ourselves. We've learned about parenting together, running our own businesses together, making a home together. (Next season: learning about being in church leadership together.) Marriage will change you. It requires compromise, selflessness, putting someone else's needs of equal importance with your own. I love feeling like a team with this man.

I won't say this is always easy. We don't get to go on dates just the two of us very often. Sometimes we spend so much of our time just on the day to day basics, who's changing this diaper? did Drew eat all his dinner? What time will you be home from work? do i need to go to the post office or are you? did you let your mom know what time we'd be over for dinner? can you brush Drew's teeth tonight? here, hold Isaiah while I do the dishes.... We focus on so many other things, tasks, raising our kids, and fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. Well, last Friday, we went on a date. And it was the best night I've had in a LONG time. I felt like I spent the night with my best friend who I haven't seen in a while. This might sound silly, but I really like my husband! We spent several hours just focused on each other. No distractions, carefree, playing, flirting, acting like when we were teenagers again. No babies to take care of for a few hours. It was so, so good. I don't know why we waited so long to do it. I'm still feeling all up on cloud 9 from it. If you are married, and the routine of life has sucked some of the romance out of your relationship, go on a date!!! It's so good to remove all the responsibilities for a little bit and just see their heart! So simple, and so profoundly good.

The reason for this whole entry is that tomorrow Shaun will be twenty seven. He was eighteen when I started dating him. We're coming up on a decade of years that my heart has belonged to him. And not only do I love him more and more and more, but I like him too! Happy birthday, love!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just push "publish"

I've started about 4 or 5 blog posts over the past few days and none of them have seen the other side yet... Not sure what my deal is but I just can't seem to complete a thought on here.

So instead of writing some themed, planned, coherent post I'm just gonna write some life and hit publish at the end and see where it takes me.

We have one more trip left this summer, and I'm thankful, because if it weren't for that upcoming beach trip summer would be starting to feel over for me. It's only the beginning of August, but despite the heat  and my desire that summer last just a bit longer, I'm starting to look ahead to the fall. Anyone else feeling that way? I'm definitely savoring the last of grilling season, and pool days, and the light lasting long enough for walks after dinner.

(I think I could seriously eat skewer after skewer of grilled pineapple.... so so good.) 

The olympics. Oh, the olympics. I think I've enjoyed the 2012 olympics more than any other olympics in my life. This summer has been busy for us, but not nearly as busy as last summer. I think I feel that way partly because I am a stay at home mom now (aside from photography) and so I can enjoy the days and the spontaneity of summer a bit more. But we have had a lovely stretch of free evenings and the beginning of the olympics just happened to coincide with us putting a tv in our living room. It has been so incredibly cozy every night... We finish dinner, I do the dishes, the boys play, I sometimes fix a sweet treat and we turn on the lamps and feel like we are sitting in America's living room... watching and rooting for our country and feeling so proud of everything they've won. Seeing people not only hold up under unbelievable pressure but perform their best, breaking world records, overcoming huge difficulties... Getting to know the stories behind the athletes and feeling like you know them a bit. Having Isaiah fall asleep in my arms most nights, and Drew eventually leaving his toys and snuggling up next to one of us too. The quiet, the restfulness, the lovely of staying home, enjoying each other, relaxing in the comfort of our own home. I have loved it so SO much. The two photos below are not being posted because they are glamorous in any way, but because they are accurate representations of how these nights have looked for us. Sleepy, cozy, restfulness. :)

I've been getting out creative energy planning and making decorations for Isaiah's first birthday party. We don't do big parties every year, and I wouldn't even say the first party is "big" because our house can't hold that many people, but I do like to do something extra special for the first birthday. :) I'm sure I'll be posting photos of it after we have it.

Organization. How can it be that I've been married almost 5 years and I have never truly appreciated this skill before. It's like a new dream of mine to have a place for everything (and everything in its place.) But more than that, to have the place where each thing is kept make sense. Sometimes in life we just start putting something in a certain place and then that's where it goes... forever... even if it would be more practical or efficient for it to be somewhere else. So I've started challenging the status quo on my thinking. So far this has led to some re-organization of our bedroom (specifically bedside tables and closet), emptying out and re-organizing my buffet, creating a specific space to store all of our games, switching things around on the shelves in my pantry, and dreaming up some ideas for organization in our laundry room and basement office. Once I get going I can hardly stop myself. The getting-going part is the hardest.... But the end result is such a hugely rewarding feeling!!! One of the things I hate the most in life is needing something and not being able to find it. If I can make my dream come true hopefully that will not happen very often anymore! I read a post on de-cluttering that was pretty inspiring too. Here's the link.

Isaiah is taking a few more baby steps each day now for the past three days. He starts out all slow and cautious and the steps get faster and faster until he can't keep his balance anymore and falls down laughing. It's adorable.

Drew "ikes watching the impics too..." He repeats every phrase I say back to me at random times. I try not to smile at him too much when he is attempting something new or he gets embarrassed... He's such a sweet heart.

My man is working so hard this summer. In addition to all the things he usually does we just bought a rental property with good friends and he is trying to fit in time to do renovations on the house too. Last friday he had twenty one yards to do in a day and didn't get home til 9:30 at night.

Besides all of those interesting things listed above I had quite a day yesterday. The experience that made it so unique only lasted a few minutes, but the implications were big enough to leave me thinking about it all day and craving a bit of small town normalcy by the evening. We had a nice dose of it in a cookout and wiffle ball at Shaun's parents house last night. Just what we needed. Not gonna lie though, although the experience was scary, it was a bit exciting too... Too bad I can't share more ;)

On another note, one of the things I enjoyed most about last night's cookout was that I got to spend a good amount of time talking to a mother of 12 about her thoughts on motherhood. Her family is so sweet and soft-spoken and loving. I love to hear the input and perspective of moms who are older than me and just enjoy being a mom. Key thought that stuck out to me: there are no cookie cutter methods to raising children aside from this: listen to the voice of the Lord. She also said that God knows what you need, and what each of your children need, and he put you together in the same family for a reason. Love that. She said she didn't necessarily do things the same with each child, she kind of did what worked for her and that child at that time. My theory on motherhood: we all have ways of doing things that come naturally to us. If what you are doing is working for you, working for your baby, and not putting anyone in danger, then do that. Who cares if it's not what others believe to be the "best" method, or the most scientific, or the most up to date.... where they specifically researching you and your child when they came out with those studies? Nope. So you do what works, and don't stress, and don't compare. I think I do a lot of things a little differently than most. For example, our kids sleep in our bed with us. We get a lot of strange looks on that one. But you know what? The majority of the world sleeps with their babies in their beds. And it works for us. We actually had Drew sleeping in his own room and his own bed on a fairly consistent basis when we had Isaiah. But when we brought Isaiah home from the hospital and he was in his bassinette in our room, and Drew was down the hall by himself, Shaun looked at me, said he missed Drew, and carried him into our room. It was so sweet. We are just getting to the point where we are feeling ready to have Drew back in his own room at night, and are working on Isaiah sleeping in his crib at least the majority of the night. But I can tell you one thing, I don't believe in the "cry it out" method. I can't stand the sound of my babies crying in another room and feeling like I can't do anything about it. It accomplishes nothing for us other than stress and everyone being upset to try to force them into sleeping a certain place. This is not to say that everyone should let their babies sleep in their beds, or that you are not a good mom if you use the "cry it out" method. Remember that part up there where I said find what works for you and do that? I meant it. If you or your husband can't sleep with a kid in bed with you or it affects your relationship in any way, than respect that and don't do it. You will find absolutely no condemnation from me.  I'm just giving examples here.
Potty training was another fun subject to talk about.... Drew is going to be three in october, and although we've had lots of talks on potty training we have not actually attempted it more than one day. Drew being my little perfectionist/neat freak that he is, he got so upset and discouraged with himself when he would have an accident that it was incredibly traumatic for us both. I was still full time nursing Isaiah and couldn't always drop everything to rush him to the bathroom, and we had a puppy we were trying to house train. I am fine with waiting til Drew's ready to try again and not forcing the issue. I don't know any one who graduated from highschool that was not potty trained.... It's going to happen, I just don't care about getting first place for having my baby trained the earliest. It's not about me, it's about him. The mom that I was talking to pointed out to me that if you do begin training super early, a lot of times it's more about training yourself to read the signs, figure out the timing, and keep on top of taking them to the potty than it is about training them to go the potty when they need to. Had never thought of it that way before. Again, I'm not knocking anyone who potty trains early. If that's what comes naturally to you to do, then do it! (and have fun spending that extra money you no longer have to spend on diapers!!!) I'm just saying my thoughts on the subject. Drew told me that when he turns three, he will go in the potty. If he holds up his end of that deal I am excited for October!!!

Wow... that was quite the ramble on motherhood! (Apparently a subject I care about very much!) I hope that if you take one thing from that, you feel encouraged to be the mom God has called YOU to be for YOUR babies and to not ever feel discouraged or compare yourselves to others.

And now, without proof-reading or editing, I am going to hit "publish."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

S.S.J. (Sat. Status Journal)

July 29:

Today at church Drew sits down next to Izzy and proceeds to tell her how Isaiah has been pulling his hair lately, and even demonstrates Isaiah's hair pulling technique on himself "ike dis!" Izzy leans over and in a very consoling voice tells Drew "It's ok, sometimes Coleson pulls my hair too..." #BigBrother/SisterSupportGroup

July 31:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

just my two cents on fashion.

So I got a new fall fashion look book in the mail today... and I love all the lace, texture and metallic I'm seeing :) I've definitely noticed a trend toward metallics/sequins/shiny in my own wardrobe... so at least I know I'm headed the right direction :) And lace: timeless, feminine, beautiful... love it. 

Speaking of lace... This has been a go-to outfit for me lately. 

Lace top: express
Brown tank: hollister
cutoffs: american eagle
flip flops, necklace and feather earrings: american eagle. 

I dressed up the same outfit by switching out the cutoffs for an olive green mini skirt. And I'm thinking I want to try the lace top over a royal blue tank (my current favorite color) with my light wash straight leg ripped jeans... Maybe add pearls as my accessory? Anyways... the point is, go-to outfits/pieces of clothing are wonderful. I debated even getting this top, it was $15 and I was trying to not spend much. But considering it is the only part of this outfit that is new (everything else is from at least several years ago, besides the feather earrings which are only one year old), and it's inspiring me to pull out other things I have from years ago to pair with it, I think it was a good investment. :) 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I'm in love with my living room!!! woo!!

We have lived in our current home for almost two years. Some people are amazing and can have their whole home decorated and perfect within weeks of moving in. I am not such a person. I have to brainstorm, envision, take my time, and if I'm not feeling it I absolutely cannot force myself to decorate a room without a vision. I also do not like to spend a ton of money on something I am envisioning if it's something I think I might be able to find for less if I wait. All that to say... I have had en evolving vision for our upstairs living room ever since we moved in. And it's not done, but it's way closer than ever before! (Disclaimer: I don't think anything in my house will ever be completely "finished"... I like to change it up too much!) 

We brought home a "new to us" piece of furniture last night and I took some before and after photos of the living room after rearranging it a bit. 



Just switched the sofa and loveseat. The coffee table was a gift from my aunt and uncle for our wedding. The baskets under it I found at target about 5 years ago, and they are full of toys, magazines, and photo albums, and our movies. The little chalkboard was on clearance at pottery barn outlet for $20 something. (Drew keeps all his cars on the ledge) There's a close up of the mantle later on. 

Again, just switched the sofas and moved the end table. 

So this is the corner that really changed. When we first moved in we just had a little tiny stand and tv in the corner. Then it was where our Christmas tree would go. We moved our tv to the basement this winter and when the christmas tree was gone too then the corner was really empty. So I brought this chair down from our bedroom to fill it. Turns out I really like the chair in the living room (and am sitting in it this very moment) so I wanted to keep it down here even after moving our new piece of furniture in. (Side note: the chair was free from my grandmother and has a slipcover from target on it to tie it into more of our neutral furniture color look.) 


And here she is! Our entertainment center/armoire.... Our awesome family friends the Herrmanns GAVE it to us... they had gotten a new one and didn't need this anymore. The doors open and then slide into it.  And it has storage underneath. The vintage suitcases on top were free at a yard sale I stopped at recently. And the tv inside was given to us when my grandmother moved from her house to her apartment. (another side note.... we have never bought a tv and we have four of them. hmm....) It is fun to look at a room, remember where everything came from, and thank God for blessings you might not have even noticed before. The photo collage is made of all family photos that I try to keep updating, the K is from ac moore painted black inside a frame I found in my mom's basement. The "canvas" is sheet music decoupaged onto a cardboard lid and I painted on the lettering. You can see it a little bit closer in this post.
 One more view of the room. The mirrors over the sofa are all antiques, and I'd like to add a few more into the arrangement. (Told you it's never done... but I'm looking for the right shapes and price... like maybe free? lol) I like that you can see the end table better now, it was kind of hidden tucked into the corner it was in before.  The cute baby is mine.... :)

Lastly, our "mantle". No fireplace in our house but this shelf is so fun to decorate and constantly changes... Yellow pitcher from the same yard sale as the suitcases. $3. Old books from my mom's collection when she was younger, antique shops and the biggest one is an old dictionary from 1952 I paid 49 cents for at the same yard sale as the pitcher and suitcases. Love the faded colors the books add to the room. Vase I spray painted white. Cute tea cup from anthro via bridesmaids gift from Britt. 

Something about the armoire just makes the room feel grownup, complete, and cozy. And a rearranged room is very appealing to me for whatever reason. We turned on our lamps, all had ice cream and watched the olympics in here last night. Fun, fun :)

And that is what I love about my living room. :)

I've posted a few other photos of our house here: