Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Touring our Home: Master Bedroom

I took these photos of our master bedroom months ago, back when I thought I would post our whole house tour over a matter of a few weeks, before the fall was over. Now it's January. But that's ok. I'll keep on going and even if it takes another month or more it's alright with me. :) 

This is what our bedroom did look like. I still love the blues, but the duvet cover and pillow cases were wearing out, holes were appearing, and it was time to refresh. There's one photo of the new pillow shams at the end. The long term plan is to get memory foam contour pillows, a thicker, more high quality down comforter, possibly a new duvet cover (but I also like the white down comforters plain too) and replace our matresses. The matresses, thinner comforter and euro pillow shams will eventually be in the boys' room. One little step at a time. :) 

The chest at the foot of our bed is wonderful extra storage since we just have a small, standard. Bulky items like sweaters, sweatshirts, extra bags and seasonal clothing get stored in there. It used to be the wood box in Shaun's family farms' kitchen years ago. 
My end table. I have this theory about functional beauty. If I have to have an item in my home, and it is something useful and functional, it would be just be an all around win if it could also be beautiful. This phone is a prime example. It was my birthday gift from my sister in law last year. I didn't have a cell phone for over a year, maybe it was two, and so we really depended on our house phones. We still use them a ton, and I just love the beauty of this phone by my bed :) This was also taken back when my little bonsai tree was flourishing. Poor guy has dropped almost every leaf since then, but I am trying to convince him to hold out for spring when he can go out on the back porch and be happy again. And I love these Homegoods metallic frames that hold photos of Shaun and I in them. 
Shaun's end table. I wanted to buy him a nice one for his birthday in 2013, while I was pregnant with Jaden. I walked into goodwill, they had this brand new one from target for sale for $25, with price tags of 89.99 still attached. I bought it right away, and a kind soul helped me get it to my car since I was quite large with child (story of my life) and had two toddlers along. I am so thankful every time I look at it for such a great deal and the kindness of that woman, who carried it to my car in exchange for me holding her coffee while she did it. 
I have two little journals hanging from clipboards next to my bed. They don't get as much use as I thought they would, but they are still convenient and nice to have. One is to jot down goals and have as a visible reminder. The other is to write down outfit ideas. (May sound silly but when you're in a rush to go somewhere and have a brain block on what to wear, it is so helpful!) 
This is my dresser. I keep all t shirts, sweatpants, shorts, leggings, socks, tanks, pajamas, etc in the drawers. And I love my entryway piece (for keys and mail) turned jewelry organizer that we painted and hung next to it. 
I would love to replace that fan. But... priorities. And it isn't one right now. 
Again with the functional beauty... my wooden hair brush is my favorite one ever. And that little amber roller bottle of peppermint oil. Not just cute, but helped me tremendously with the headaches I got during this pregnancy. (Thank you Chrissy!!!) 

This little corner is my favorite. I love this chair. I hunted for it for a few years before I found it and committed. It is so comfy and very cozy to sit and read in at night, or just to have a place to sit to put my shoes on. I hold my boys and read to them here, I imagine I will nurse my girl here on occasion, and I sometimes sit in this space when planning out my week or menu.  Some of my favorite photos of Shaun and I are in those frames, and the shadow box has the slippers, jewelry and flower I wore in my hair on our wedding day inside.

The top of Shaun's dresser is always a mess. I don't have any idea how to organize it, and so I have kind of given up trying. He knows what's there, and I just leave it alone. :) 
Keeping it real... This is our messy space. It always looks like this or worse. Shaun doesn't like his work clothes to mix with his regular clothes. For now, hooks are the solution, and again, he has a system I don't quite understand for rotating what's in the laundry basket and what's on the hooks. And because my side of the closet is too full to also hold my scarves, they are all hanging on the hooks as well. I'd love to come up with a "functionally beautiful" storage situation for his work clothes too, but again with the priorities, and I'm about to have a baby right now. :) 

For Christmas I took down the fabric garland hanging above our bed and this wreath and "&" marquee took it's place. I ended up loving the fabric garland for over our baby girl's crib, so it went in there, and after Christmas the wreath came down, leaving just the ampersand.
 I love the simplicity of this tiny piece of art and the neutral colors and patterns of the new pillow shams and the stripped comforter. So that is where we are at right now. Whenever the boys come in to snuggle in the morning Drew always turns the lights on over the bed and I think it is adorable :) 

I just recently finished the nursery, so depending on when I go into labor, I might get to post photos of that sometime in the near future, and I can't wait to share how it came out!!! 

*For more "touring our home" posts*

Introducing our baby girl!

“Giving birth and being born brings us into the essence of creation, where the human spirit is courageous and bold and the body, a miracle of wisdom.”

We are SO excited to introduce our baby girl!!! Welcome to our family sweet
Havilah Grace Kauffman: 

9 lbs 8 oz. 
21 inches 
Dark wavy hair. The cutest neck rolls. Favoring different features of us all. 
She began to let me know she was on her way a little after midnight last night. By 6:22 am she was here, transforming my heart just by nestling into my arms. And she came before the snow. Oh bless her for that. Her brothers just met her and adore her already. We are so beyond grateful. 

About her name: 
We absolutely love her name. It is mentioned in Genesis as a land rich in gold, and is Hebrew in origin. To me, it just sounds feminine and soft and gentle and beautiful. I love to say it, I love to hear it. We call her Havi for short. Jaden calls her Lala. Shaun chose Grace as her middle name, and I love the classic, beautiful, timeless feel it gives to her name, not to mention that the meaning of grace is pretty spectacular in itself. 
So the complete meaning is golden eloquence or beauty of form, kindness, mercy or favor. 

Sweet Havilah Grace we are SO glad you are here!!!!! 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What to pack in your hospital bag for labor & delivery

This is my fourth time packing for the hospital to go and meet a new sweet little babe. I thought I'd just take a minute to compile a list of what I take with us! 

For the actual labor process you don't need a lot, but I do prepare for it a little. I usually have a change of clothes and a big pad sitting near my bed in case my water breaks or I go into labor in the middle of the night. If my water doesn't break while at home, the pad goes with us in the car on the way. Packed in my bag are whatever music I want to listen to during the process (you can either make a play list on your ipod or laptop, or you can just choose a cd, but music was incredibly calming and helpful for me while I was in labor with Jaden.) I also pack either a back massager or tennis ball for Shaun to use on my back to help while I labor, and a sports bra to wear in case I want to get into the jacuzzi tub without being completely naked. Depending on where you deliver you might want to take candles or oils to diffuse, etc. Whatever scene you want set for the delivery of your baby. Beyond that, everything else I pack is for after baby is born. I take two nursing tanks and a comfy pair of leggings or stretchy yoga pants, and nursing pads (your milk likely won't come in til you've left the hospital, but they are still nice to have in case of leaking colostrum or just to have another layer in your nursing tank when friends and family are coming to visit.) The hospital usually provides pads and feminine products for you. I pack a nursing cover so that I can feed my baby in privacy even if there are visitors, but you might prefer to just have everyone leave the room when it's feeding time. The hospital will provide socks for you, or you can take your own socks or slippers. I also take whatever I want to come home in. So this time it is simply a button up tunic and a change of leggings with my uggs, nice and comfy. Don't forget to also pack any cosmetics you might need, for me it's saline and a contact case, toothbrush, lotion, hair brush, make up etc. 
For baby I pack a one piece outfit and a "coming home" outfit (our tradition is that Shaun chooses the coming home outfit). They provide hats, swaddle blankets and diapers while you are in the hospital, but if you prefer your own, pack those too. I did pack a nuk, a swaddle blanket and a head band for her this time. You might also want nail clippers or mittens so baby doesn't scratch their face. I usually just take a onesie outfit that has the cuff on the sleeves that I can roll over their hands if need be. Have your car seat ready in the car too. If you really wanna get fancy you can pack your boppy pillow for nursing, or you can just get an extra pillow while in the hospital. I get the extra pillow bc it's one less thing to worry about packing. Last but DEFINITELY not least, your camera, cell phone, video camera etc and chargers. I think that about sums up my list!! 
Don't forget about your man though! Shaun packs for himself and usually brings a change of clothes, an extra pillow, toothbrush, some snacks, etc. 

And if you prefer list form, here it all is again simplified: 

For during labor: 

A large pad 
Sports Bra

For after labor (for you): 

2 nursing tanks
leggings/yoga pants
nursing pads
nursing cover
clothes to come home in
warm socks or slippers (optional)
cosmetic items 

For after labor (for baby): 

Warm outfit for hospital
Hat (optional) 
swaddle blanket (optional) 
nuk (optional) 
coming home outfit
mittens/nail clippers (optional)
car seat

For your husband: 

change of clothes (or two)
extra pillow/blanket
cosmetic items
camera/video camera

I am likely going to be going into labor sometime in the next week or so, give or take. So if I come to realize that I left something off this list that I desperately needed, I'll try to add it to the list! Hope this is helpful!! 


38 week update

"Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch." - E.B. White, Charlotte's Web 

Here I am. 38 weeks, sitting in my girl's completed nursery as the sun rises this morning with too much filling my mind (and body) to sleep any longer.

Sleep is hard lately because of round ligament pain and contractions and having to pee every hour anyway. Add to that the anticipation of meeting my little girl and... yeah. I am awake quite a lot. So I tucked myself into the rocking chair with a blanket and a bag of trail mix (my latest craving besides carrots) and a glass of water to write until my boys wake up.

I've entered that phase of pregnancy where I begin to feel like a ticking time bomb. This being the fourth time around I feel very chill about the whole thing, instead of confused and frustrated like I did the first time. The way I go into labor is a pretty long and drawn out process, but I've come to expect that now. Timeable contractions anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes apart for days and days and days. And while they are uncomfortable, and sometimes hard enough that I need to close my eyes and stop what I'm doing to sit down and breathe through them, they are not the intensity of real labor contractions, and they are all moving me along slowly but surely, so that by the time I do go into "real labor" I don't have far to go. I was 1 cm at 34 weeks, 3 cm a week ago. My next appt is tuesday, and I imagine I will be at least 4 by then. I have been 4 or more by the time I have gone into labor with all of my babies. Half way there to start is worth all this crazy build up to me. So instead of timing contractions and feeling the pain only to have them spread back out again feels normal to me, not frustrating anymore. Besides the contractions and slow progress, my body has shown me other signs that I am preparing and labor is close (like within a week or so away). EEEE!!!!!! Last night I got to go on a much anticipated,  last pre-baby date with Shaun, and I loved it. I did get a little scared while we were out because my contractions became consistently 5-7 minutes apart all through dinner and were a bit harder than usual. We hadn't put any of our hospital bags in the car before we left, and I couldn't imagine going back for any of them before driving to the hospital... I feel like labor might be pretty quick this time. (I've already researched what to do in case you accidentally have your baby at home- hopefully that is not the case).

I wear pretty much the same leggings and t-shirt almost every day now, and I've spent the past week nesting hardcore. Monday I set out with Isaiah and Jaden and ran errands from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It was freezing that day, so every stop required not just the usual car seat bucklings and unbucklings, but also the putting on and taking off , the zipping and unzipping of heavy winter coats. As we were leaving our first stop Jaden had just bundled up and tucked his little hands into his pockets to go out into the cold. He turned toward me and began to run and said "Wait, me, Mommy!" And as he started to run he tripped and because his hands were buried in his pockets he fell flat on his face and got the worst bloody lip... I felt so bad for him, sweet boy, and carried him back to the car with him bleeding and crying on my shoulder. That first stop was the hardest, because it had involved city parallel parking and meter paying and the bloody lip. After the bloody lip was cleaned up and Jaden was ok again we went to Michael's for yarn to finish baby girls blanket that I've been working on for months, then the mall to exchange wrong-size Christmas gifts, then the gap outlet to exchange Isaiah's Christmas pajamas that he didn't like and refused to wear because "they looked like paint ball clothes" to him... He picked out race car pajamas instead. Then to goodwill to drop off donations, then chic-fila for lunch (hallelujiah chorus, also, Jaden calls it Chicken fway and it is adorable) Then to my dr appointment. Then to target. Then to the West Elm outlet. And then finally, finally home. I was exhausted but had gotten pretty much every errand checked off my list. Tuesday I spent the morning undecorating from Christmas. Then I finished her blanket, and we had family dinner with Shaun's family like we do every week. Wednesday my mom came over and, bless her, cleaned both of our upstairs bathrooms while I vaccuumed and dusted and straightened all our bedrooms. That night Shaun and I made dinner together and made two of our family's favorite casserole (chicken divan) so we could add another meal to the freezer. Thursday I spent sweeping and rearranging furniture in our downstairs so we had space to set up our pack and play again. I also changed out the linens on our bed and washed everything, folded and put away a bunch of laundry and did some kitchen organization. That night I had my hair appointment (another thing I was hoping to squeeze in before she came) Friday I spent all day just being with my boys. Drew doesn't have school on Fridays, so I got to be with all three of them. We only had one, close by errand to run, and besides that we played and snuggled and I rested on the sofa and we had a picnic lunch in the living room watching the Lorax, with clementine Izzes to drink. I made a roast chicken with carrots and potatoes for dinner. The day had started off with Isaiah trying to climb the curtains that hang over our back sliding door, and snapping the curtain rod pieces in half. Enter nesting eye twitch here. So Shaun brought home a new rod and while dinner finished roasting he drilled holes that sprayed drywall dust onto the freshly swept floors, but he got that curtain rod fixed and the curtains hung back up, and I swept up that enemy drywall dust asap, and the nesting nightmare was averted. Phew. Saturday was more nesting, I finished cleaning her car seat base, and we took the rest of the Christmas boxes to the attic, and I polished the fridge and trash can and water filter system and the inside of the microwave and hung the last piece of art in her room. (I'm not sure why I need a clean trash can and microwave to bring home a newborn, but I just do.... every time. And I am not very fond of cleaning the microwave.) Then it was time for date night :)

And p.s., also during the nesting phase, during the week between christmas and new years shaun built this hutch for our baby girl and the boys all helped paint it. 

Now this morning I think we are going to just have church as a family here at home before we go to my parents' for lunch. I imagine today will be a day where I try to just rest. I'm making an effort to mix days like that into the bunch. I don't know what I will do all week next week since I already did most everything I needed to before she comes this past week, but I'm sure I'll find new things to clean and organize. :)

There have been multiple times in the last couple of weeks where I suddenly realize how close I am to meeting her and holding her for the first time. And it brings me to tears to think about looking into her eyes and beginning to know who she is. I was telling Shaun how it feels like there is this whole deep, unique well of love that is specific to each of our boys in my heart. Depending on which one I am relating to or thinking about they tap into a place that is all their own inside of me that is just overflowing with adoration and emotion and love for exactly who they are. And I can feel that deep place forming and filling for our daughter already, the intense love and affection I feel for her that is about to be tapped into for the first time as she adds her own presence and personality and life into it. I seriously can not wait to hold her and kiss her and begin to pour this love out on her. And to see each of my boys and my husband do the same... We are all feeling so much anticipation for her to join our family.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Reflecting on 2015

Coming off the whirlwind of a year that 2014 was I had declared the beginning of 2015 a season of rest. I remember telling people I was going to sleep the whole month of January. But it turned out that when I gave myself the opportunity to rest and kept our schedule open, things like painting our kitchen cabinets and walls happened instead. Things like organizing my closet, and hanging a framed photo collage of family pictures in our basement living room. Unhurried, simple things that brought life and creativity back to me, those things were rest. I loved just being in my home, taking my time, and I long for a season like that again now. It's quite a good way to spend January. The beginning of this past year seems like a soft, gentle blur almost... There was a piece of it pierced by tragedy and extreme sadness and confusion, but I feel like the Lord has already healed the deep hurts from it and used it in a way to bring good into our marriage. He sent godly counsel to us to help us process it all right from the beginning, and I am so thankful for that.  I had goals to start running and getting back in shape again. But first I needed to have my right knee checked out to make sure it was ok to start (I had acl surgery on it my junior year in highschool, and it was hurting again) I scheduled the MRI for the middle of May. They told me to take a pregnancy test a few days before the MRI. I was sure there was no way I was pregnant, we had been planning on the MRI, knew it was coming, and being careful.... Well, I got up early in the morning a few days before the MRI and took a test, and if I squinted I could see a faint line. Oh. My. Gosh. It wasn't crystal clear, but it was exactly how my first test with Drew and Jaden both were. I remember tip toeing to our bed in the semi-darkness and waking Shaun to tell him.... I might be. His eyes popped open. WHAT?! I waited two days and took another test. And yes. It was confirmed. There was a baby on the way, and the MRI and plans of running again were canceled. And I remember feeling such an indescribable joy thinking of how God's plans are so much better than our own, and just embracing the idea that our fourth baby was on the way and being so, so excited. Around 7 weeks along I remember falling asleep one night when I had an incredibly strong feeling that this baby was a girl. I told Shaun. Then we waited 8 more weeks and had an ultrasound at 15 weeks that confirmed. Yes, this baby was our daughter. A daughter we had prayed and hoped for, and here she was on her way when we didn't even know it was in our plans. I felt like I was hanging onto the balloon strings of my heart as it sailed out of my body. My throat was tight with so much emotion. It took me about 5 weeks and another ultrasound to confirm for sure, for sure, that it was a girl until I let my heart go in full anticipation of all that a baby girl would mean to our family.

I spent most of the summer sick. My way of coping was to let everything I possibly could go, and I would just take the boys to my parents' pool to swim most days while I tried to feed myself and rest and fight the nausea. I don't think the sickness was as extreme as it's been in past pregnancies, and I was able to eat more fruits and veggies and tried to take better care of myself in the midst of it. I loved all the days spent at the pool with my boys. We took a family weekend to the beach in June, and even though I was throwing up in the hotel, something about the ocean and waves on the beach would really help to calm my sickness. I learned about choosing joy in the middle of not feeling well. Through other events, and combined with the tragedy that happened in the middle of the winter, June also found Shaun and I in the best place we've ever been in as husband and wife. Complete, total honesty and vulnerability, an extreme pursuit of each other, deep gratefulness and protection of our marriage, and intentionality in the way we expressed love and served each other. I can't say enough how thankful I am for that season. It laid a foundation that we are still building on now and we feel so strong together. It really is amazing how the Lord takes tragedy and difficult situations and refines them into these precious treasures that have the potential to be the most beautiful pieces of our lives. We had a vacation with my whole family in July before my sister and her husband moved to Minnesota, and while I was still sick, it was such an awesome week together. I had thought for years that when Shaun turned 30 I wanted to  have a surprise birthday party for him. His birthday was coming in August. I took what seemed to be the simple route, hired the Marriott in Lancaster, rented a really cool room and had them cater all the food and do all the decorating. I had a specific budget, but they worked with me and went above and beyond what I asked for. All that we had to do was get dressed and go spend the evening with our friends. It was one of my favorite parties ever, ever, ever. We had so much fun, I didn't want the night to ever end. Somewhere in that end of August time frame, still battling nausea although it was beginning to get less, I had a little break down because all the things I had put off all summer came crashing back in at me at once, and I just didn't feel physically capable of handling it all. In my weakness He is strong, and somehow everything got done that needed to get done. Isaiah turned four (we went to the Plumpton Park Zoo), Drew started kindergarten at the beginning of September, we celebrated my sister in law's baby shower over labor day weekend, and right when I needed it the most we had a week long vacation in the OBX with two other amazing families. During that week away every little bit of stress and worry and anxiety and sickness completely melted off of me. I felt like a completely different person coming home from that trip. I am so thankful for the timing of it and the invitation to spend that quality time with people who love Jesus and spark life and energy in us, encouraging us and being the most amazing friends. (Ben, Camille, Paul, & Rachelle... thank you so much for asking us on that trip.... we loved every second!)

Once home from our September beach trip fall was beginning full force. And as always, the fall is my very favorite. I was so taken over with the beauty all around me. Drew turned six (we went to Cherry Crest Farms, and did the corn maze there), Jaden turned two (we had such a family fall day at longwood gardens and going out to eat at Ruby's diner), and we welcomed my first sweet niece, Selah Joy, into the world all in October. Let me tell you, this little girl is so very precious. I have never felt quite like this about anyone else's baby before.... She is beautiful and I miss her when I don't get to see her. I am so excited for my baby girl to grow up with her sweet cousin and see the two of them form a little friendship!
And in the midst of all the joyful milestones of life all around us a family nearby suffered the greatest loss I  can imagine, their precious baby girl who was just a few months younger than Isaiah went to be with Jesus. I can't describe the way it has impacted my heart and mind, the depth of daily gratitude it is cultivating in me, that we really don't know how many days or breaths we have with the ones we love, to make every second count, and to just be thankful in the hard moments that my kids are ALIVE. As I hung up the Christmas card we got from this precious family on Christmas Eve just a little over a week ago I just began sobbing. Once I got my emotions under control I went and found each of my boys, and just hugged them. I know that any emotion I have in regards to it all is just a drop in the ocean of what this family is feeling and going through. But I feel like my heart has been bound to theirs, and I pray for them and think of them daily. Even while just getting to know them, I feel a deep spiritual connection and a desire to lift them up continually, and to let what they are going through change me and who I am as a mother, and the way I react to life.

November.... lots and lots of nesting. I felt like I needed to get things done before the holidays, and did as much as I could, leaving a few specific things for these couple of weeks between Christmas and baby girl's arrival. We had a beautiful Thanksgiving, loved the weeks following, preparing for Christmas with our boys this year was at an all-time excitement level... They are at such fun ages and loved every part of it and wanted to help with everything. I kept telling myself all the while, as excited as I was for January, and as much as my mind kept trying to race ahead, I did not want to rush this time. I soaked it in as much as I could. We had candle light dinners, and played family hide and seek with only Christmas lights on inside, and took a trip to Longwood gardens to see the lights, and I organized Drew's class Christmas party... we baked cookies and we all slept in our basement family room around our tree as has become tradition. Just yesterday we went to see The Miracle of Christmas at Sight & Sound. It was magical and wonderful. I really don't want it to be over. But I also want to put everything away before baby girl comes. So I am stuck right there at the moment. Savoring these last few days of Drew's break from school, nesting more when I can, trying to decide if I'll take down the tree today or tomorrow...

And looking so forward to all that 2016 holds. I've never started a new year off with a new baby, and I am so excited for that this time. Her bassinette is all set up in our room. Her carseat is ready to go. Her nursery is just about completed, I just need to spend a little time organizing the closet still. My mom is going to come over to help me clean early next week. I have a hair appointment scheduled for some fresh highlights... That's the next few weeks. Beyond that the changes are so big that I can hardly think about them. I can't wait to share that news here when it's a bit more official. I feel like God is going to show me how to move forward in big things without letting sentimentality hold me back so much this year. And as in every year past of my life, I know that whatever He does will be for our good, and I trust Him.