Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gratituesday: smells

Smells? That's a funny thing to be thankful for. But I'm sitting here smelling a few things that cause me to be grateful to my Heavenly Father.

Brown rice
is cooking on the stove for some homemade bread. I'm so thankful for the grains I was able to get a few weeks ago from Quail Cove Farms, and I'm thankful for all that I've learned in the past few years about making healthy, homemade bread for my family.

Baby head is such a sweet smell. I put a bit of coconut oil on Cole's head every day to help with cradle cap (the only thing I've found that works at all, by the way!) - and his head is so soft and has that sweet-baby smell. Mmm. When I need to be reminded to be content, I just cuddle my baby and smell him!

Diapers stink. And I won't get too graphic on that smell that I'm smelling right now (Graeme needs a diaper change after I'm done with this!). However, it reminds me how grateful I am to be cloth-diapering. I'm glad we're starting to really see the savings, now that Cole is using the diapers I had for Graeme.

My new dryer balls smell like lavender-vanilla. If you're not familiar with dryer balls, they help cut-down on drying time, and so far in my experience with them, they also seem to make the clothes softer and have fewer wrinkles. We can't use dryer sheets (they leave a residue that causes diapers to repel liquid - not a good thing), so these have been a neat thing to use. I'm thankful for them.

Are there any smells that you love around your house?

For more Gratituesday posts, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Graeme!

My oldest son turns two today! Two years ago right about now I was just getting to the hospital (read Graeme's birth story)....wow, how much has happened in two years, it's hard to believe!

We celebrated with a "birthday dinner" last night. Daddy and Graeme grilled hamburgers, Mama made a lemon-raspberry cake (with yellow squash as a secret ingredient;) with cream cheese icing.

We're hoping to find a tricycle for Graeme's "big present" from us (and with some money from family)...meanwhile, we gave him some new markers, a huge thing of bubbles, and 8 balloons were hung up this morning, which I then took down so he could throw them in the air and play with them. It's amazing how those very small birthday treasures gave him so much pleasure.

Mama cooked the birthday boy his favorite breakfast: pancakes!!!! Macaroni n cheese was for lunch (another favorite), and he is now taking a refreshing snooze so we can go to the park this afternoon. What a day!

Indulge me for a moment as I write a brief note to my son on his 2nd birthday:

Graeme, you are a delight to have as a son. You are so loving - not a day goes by without your hugs, kisses, "lo - u" - filling our hearts with joy. You love to help. Don't ever stop running to turn on lights, pick up the broom, give your brother his toys...you have a true servant's heart, which is a blessing from God. Your motor skills, both large and fine, are advanced; while your language skills are slower, every day it seems you are trying a new word, and I am looking forward to having wonderful conversations with you this year. You know your colors, shapes and numbers already, and you even recognize "Mama" and "Graeme" when I write them down. Your favorite things to do are reading, helping, playing outside, and being with Mama, Daddy and Cole.

A Prayer For My Son

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee -- and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, give him, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength.

Then I, his mother, will dare to whisper, "I have not lived in vain."
by Douglas MacArthur (edited by me to read "mother")

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rainy Day Thoughts

I'm not sure why, but I just haven't felt like posting on the blog this week. Not because we haven't been busy - we have. Not because I haven't had a lot on my mind - I have. So, here's what we've been doing, and here's what I've been thinking about, in no particular order!

We walked to the library yesterday. I think it's about 2 miles one-way. It was a long walk, but boy, was it fun to have a trip for the afternoon. Hey, when the car doesn't work, use your feet!

I really struggled with feeling down during the first half of this week...maybe because Mark spent the whole weekend writing an order, so we kinda had to hang out on our own.

I'm so thankful God doesn't leave us in our sin for long - He awakened me to my inward focus and turned me to the Cross, where I saw that Jesus suffered in my place so that I might have life, and have it more abundantly in Him.

We made a card for Grandma and Grandpa (their birthdays are this weekend). Used lots of glue and stamps (Graeme loves stamps these days).

God knocked on the door of my heart last night, to remind me about what I am doing and why it is so important. While reading the introduction online to the Hughes' book, Disciplines of a Godly Family, I saw again that I am about a "great business" each day. Though there are certainly a multitude of mundane tasks, I have the delightful privilege to teach my children about God, whether we sweep the floors, read books, or empty the dishwasher. As Robert Dabney wrote long ago:

The education of children for God is the most important business
done on earth. It is the one business for which the earth
exists. To it all politics, all war, all literature, all money making
ought to be subordinated; and every parent especially ought to
feel, every hour of the day, that next to making his own calling
and election sure, this is the end for which he is kept alive by
God — this is his task on earth.

After reading this post by Kelly, I listened to the series of messages on YouTube by Mary Kassian. What an excellent, timely overview of what's happened to woman over the past century. It gave me fresh hope and a desire to embrace God's design for my life.

So that's a bit of what's been on my mind and what we've been up to. How are you doing? What's going on in your lives this week, readers?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Plan 3/23 - 3/29

Monday - Slow cooker Spaghetti, rolls from freezer, fresh salad

Tuesday - Halibut, veggies, rolls

Wednesday - Chicken Biscuit Casserole (Chicken in the slow cooker all day, use leftovers to make homemade chicken stock)

Thursday - Pizza (dough in bread machine, use spinach, red bell pepper, onion, pepperoni)

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Breakfast for Dinner!

Sunday - no plan yet, Graeme's birthday celebration!

For more menu plans, visit I'm an Organizaing Junkie!

***Special Recipes for the week****
Easiest, Healthiest, most Scrumptious Fudge ever
Sweet Potato Bread (I'll post the recipe if it's any good :)
Blender Pancakes

Friday, March 20, 2009

Just when you think it can't get any worse....

It gets worse. We are officially a no-car family as of today! The Acura, our faithful car that we drove away from our wedding in, is dead. The head gasket blew. Fortunately, Mark was able to make it to the stop sign right in front of TBS this morning before it died (Thank you, Lord!)

So, the Volvo is still in the shop, the Acura is dead and not worth the $$ to have a shop fix it, Mark doesn't have the time to fix it (he could, but it's very time consuming, and guess what he doesn't have a lot of these days?)

We'll have to get a rental for a bit. Hopefully they'll be able to fix the Volvo (and we'll have the $$ to get it out of hock) by then, and with Mark's motorcycle and the warmer weather, we'll be in business, at least for awhile.

I've had a fever the past two days as well (my husband shared with me :). Yesterday was really rough, but God truly gave me the grace to make it through, and I'm feeling better today.

Whew! I praise God for His faithfulness to us. I know He's giving us all of these things at once because He loves us.

Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gratituesday: No car for three weeks!

That's right, my trusty Volvo has been in the shop for three weeks. My husband is gone from 5:30am to 6:00-7:00pm every day. I've been house-bound with a toddler and an infant for going-on three weeks.

So, you probably figure this post is going to be about how grateful I am for having a car, since I've discovered how much we rely on it. Wrong! :-D

These few weeks without a vehicle have taught me some really important lessons about myself. The first being that I actually can "make it" without a car all week, if necessary. I got creative with my meal plan a few times because I didn't have a particular ingredient; I kept a pile going of things that needed to go to the post office. I put a list on the fridge of miscellaneous things I needed to get or do.

Secondly, I spent a less money! Always a good thing. Besides the obvious (not using gas), there's also the afore-mentioned creativity in regards to stretching the meals. There were a few times I would have otherwise popped out to grab a craft item, or a spur-of-the-moment trip for entertainment (be that PetsMart or Target). Well, all of that adds up, so if I'm not going, I'm not spending!

Most revealing for me was the revelation that my car can be a crutch for me. Sometimes, I run to the car for comfort and rescue. Life can get hairy with two little ones under two, you know!, and being able to load us up in the car, if only to go to Target for a few hours, can be just the ticket for me on a long rainy afternoon. (Before you start to feel guilty for anything, I'm not trying to say that it's wrong to go out when everyone needs a change of pace, or that a mama doesn't need a trip sometimes - I'm all for it, and we'll have some fun once we get our vehicle back!)

But is it healthy for me to use the car as a means of escape from realities that I'd rather not face-up to? To "get me through" a particularly difficult day. Instead of facing my sinfulness, fighting off my despondency with the Gospel, looking to the Holy Spirit for comfort and calm, I would hop in the car to be distracted by a trip somewhere. It's just been really revealing NOT to have the car, so I'm forced to deal with the long hours and rough days.

Okay, so how's it been without that crutch? Honestly? Some days I've given in to my sinfulness. I can't go anywhere in the car, and the weather has been cold/rainy/snowy a good bit...so I'm stuck. I get impatient with Graeme. I poke around aimlessly. I tune Cole out when he's fussing more than I normally would, just because I don't have the kindness, the patience, to put aside my selfishness to care for his needs. Yep, it's been ugly some days.

So as I've "weaned off" of the car LOL - I've been working on filling that need with good things. With Christ-honoring things. Where I would have looked to the car for distraction, instead I'm looking for ways to fill my thoughts with the Gospel, and redirect my attention to those things God has called me to fulfill today. I stop my selfish thoughts, I turn to the Spirit, and I ask for strength. I quote some Scripture in my head. I turn on a CD that brings my gaze away from myself.

I am seeing more vividly how when God calls, He also provides. He's called me to be a wife, mother, and keeper at home...and He is the water from which I drink to be FULL so that I can give myself to that calling with a FULL heart.

Who knew? What lessons a broken Volvo could teach.

For more Gratituesday posts, visit Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.


I thought I'd post a slideshow instead of pictures, because I have so many stored up to share! I feel so technologically advanced - this is my first slideshow LOL!

The first two pictures are an example of Graeme's creative playing: he turned our stacking blocks into a choo-choo train, which he then pushed across the room to our table, which became the tunnel!

Then we have Mark reading books to the boys...it was cute!

After that are pictures of the boys with their Nana (my grandma!)

Graeme is helping Nonnie (my mom) drive - one of his all-time favorite activities.

And Cole does so many cute things - laughing, cooing, rolling over, trying to "eat" his feet...

Oh, and the one strange picture of food is my first order from Quail Cove Farms, a northern Virginia organic farm. Chicken, grains, butter, organic potatoes and turnips...I was so excited to get it all, I had to take a picture :-D


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spotlight Series: How to teach sharing to little ones

Happy Sunday morning! So, typically, I do not post on Sunday mornings because we are usually at church...but the whole lot of us are sick, and Mark has it the worst. He was out in the field all week (yes, including sleeping on the ground), had a cold the whole week, and started a fever Wednesday. Needless to say, he is sleeping right now. Me and the boys are hanging out and about to make pancakes :)

We're running into "the sharing issue", now that Cole is old enough to play with some baby toys. On one hand, most of our baby toys were Graemes just a few years ago. On the other hand, he has more than enough toys to play with of his own (that Cole cannot play with).

I've done a good bit of studying in early childhood education, and it is generally agreed that the concept of sharing isn't grasped until well towards 3 years old. However, I'm not willing to simply not teach sharing until he can understand it.

Here's a common scenario in our house lately:

Cole has one of Graeme's baby toys.
Graeme takes it from Cole.
Graeme says "no, no" to himself as he walks away, carrying "his" toy.

I read an excellent article on sharing, with even more excellent responses, on Kelly's blog. There were wonderful ideas, but most seemed to apply to older children. However, I gathered that the main idea is to maintain a balance between responsible possession and willing generosity. The goal is for our children to want to be generous with what God's given them. (Goodness, some of us adults don't even have that down yet!)

What does that look like for the toddler? What are some ways I can instruct my son about sharing while having reasonable expectations appropriate to his level of understanding?

1. Role-play
As often as I can during the day, I'm trying to demonstrate sharing - and point it out verbally to my son. Whether in books, during mealtime, or while playing, we have to show them how to share, as well as point out the benefits of sharing.

2. Praise
Graeme is quite generous, actually. He's more than willing to share his food with Mama, and I often catch him bringing a toy to Cole for him. When he does those things, it's a wonderful opportunity for me to praise his generosity, saying "That was very kind" or "Thank you for sharing with Mama!" I'm labeling what he is doing for him, so that when I ask him to share or to be kind, he knows what that "looks" like.

3. Respect prior ownership
Now here's something I hadn't been doing. Once our children are older, I plan on letting them have their own toys (not sure how we'll delineate that yet). The other children will know that they must ask to play with those toys before taking them. I believe this will teach responsible possession - giving the owner a chance to make the choice to share, and respecting his ownership.

Just because the baby toys are simply "baby toys" to me, doesn't mean Graeme feels that way. I brought out all these toys before Cole arrived, and Graeme re-bonded with them. Now I'm telling him they are Cole's? That doesn't make sense.

For the toys that Graeme distinctly feels a sense of ownership towards, I'm calling them "his toys" and have started asking if he'd share them with Cole. So far, I've liked the results. Several times, I've seen the wheels in Graeme's head turning as he goes through the process of deciding to share, then watched as he took a special toy over to Cole. I love it when that happens!

For toys that were specifically given to Cole, they are Coles, so if Graeme picks it up, I'll say "Can you give Cole his bear?" Trying to teach him that his brother has ownership, too. Just because Graeme is the bigger and more capable child doesn't automatically grant him any-toy access.

4. Honor current possession

Now, that being said about ownership, there is also the issue of possession. That is where we have the most trouble. When Cole has a toy, it's not acceptable for Graeme to take it. Once they are both older, I will instruct them to ask to play with a toy, or wait until the current possessor is done. Obviously, Cole can't grant Graeme permission to have the toy right now. So I'm struggling with how to handle this one. If I tell Graeme that he must ask me for permission, he'll end up coming to me all the time, saying "pease, pease"! And Cole won't have a chance with a toy lol! Plus, Graeme certainly doesn't need to get focused on Cole's toys (covetousness) - he has plenty of his own that Cole can't even play with right now.

So I think the best course is simply that if Cole is playing with a toy, Graeme must wait until Cole is done with it. Or I may intervene at times and wait until Cole drops the toy to offer it to Graeme.

There are probably more simply ways to deal with this. But simplicity is not always the greatest good! The whole concept of sharing is such a rich opportunity to instruct with Scripture, whether it be kindness, respect, compassion, generosity, self-lessness, coveting, giving...the Bible is full of wonderful verses to use during these episodes.

The challenge is to USE those opportunities for good, instead of focusing simply on getting everyone happy (so that you can get back to cooking dinner or whatever). That's what I tend to lose sight of!

What is your "sharing policy"? What has worked in your house? Has it changed as the children got older? Please share! If you post about it on your blog, tell me in a comment, or you can just comment here :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


My mother and grandmother are here for a visit until Thursday, so I may not get much posting in, but I haven't fallen off the face of the earth :) Blessing to you and yours this week.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Grace

Have you ever looked ahead at some bend-in-the-road (another child, a move, a difficult situation) and thought, "There's no way I can handle that."

I thought that about having child #1. I thought it about the 10 weeks my husband was gone for OCS. And whenever I imagined having two children under 2yrs, I wondered how I was going to do it.

Well, I'm here to testify that "He giveth more grace", as the old hymn says. Those things I thought impossibly challenging just a few months ago have proved to be not-only not impossible, but DO-able. Why? Because they had to be done, and I was the one to do them.

For a Momma, there is no "get free" card (i.e. Monopoly). There is no "free pass" on certain chores or duties. Many times, there is literally no one else who can accomplish a task besides you. (Not to digress, but there is no one else who gets the joys of Motherhood like you, either :)

But as I peacefully got one boy ready for bed while the other lay on the floor rolling around, then nursed boy #1 while singing lullabies to keep them both calm...all the while thinking ahead to what I needed to do in the kitchen for tomorrow's meals...I realized that God's given me the grace I needed to accomplish what He's called me to do. Something I could have never imagined "handling" has become routine.

Recently, a single woman, my age, commented (as she witnessed boy #1 running around the room while I bounced boy #2 to keep him happy) - "I don't know how you do it". And the only thing I could tell her is that God gives us grace for right where we are at. My situation is hardly difficult. However, four months ago, I felt fearful of what lay ahead...and whether I could "handle it".

Well, while the challenges ahead of us may seem awfully big, it's comforting to rest in the greatness of God and His perfect plan for us.

He giveth more grace
when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength,
when the labors increase....

His grace has no measure...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cole is 3 months!

And now, a feast for sore eyes! I know our grandparents, parents, and other family stop by now and again to see if we have any new pictures. So, family, these are especially for you! :) I have to make myself remember to take pictures. Now if I could only be better at getting them printed out...we have literally almost 1,000 pictures stored on the computer/CDs, but no hard copies.

Cole is 3 months already, it's hard to believe. He's smiling a lot, laughing some - his daddy can really get him going - and cooing/burb-ling all the time. He's more verbal than I remember Graeme being at this age. He is quite persistent. He really focused on learning how to grasp things with his hands, and seems to enjoy making "projects" for himself (spending 10 minutes working on bringing his hands together, for example). He's rolling all over, and sometimes I leave him on the floor for a moment and come back to find his head over where his feet were...he manages to scoot himself around somehow. He's such a happy baby, especially if you talk to him and "listen" to him. He's very social!

Look at those chunky thighs!

Hands taste good - he's already drooling a lot and gnawing things.

Not to be outdone, his almost-2-year-old big brother is awfully cute, too :) Wow, Graeme is talking SO much. Most of it is still in some other language, but he said his first two-word phrase today: "Big Ball"! His play-time is becoming more boy-like, to me, than toddler. I'm not sure how to explain it, but maybe I'm just in mourning because my first sweet little baby is about to turn TWO YEARS OLD! ACK! Where has the time gone?

My Laundry Solution

After thinking through your excellent tips, dear readers :), and contemplating much what my family needs, this is what I'm going to try for the next three weeks (at least). (I say three weeks b/c I tend to give up easily if something doesn't work instantaneously, so I'm striving to try things for a longer period...)

Monday - Sheets
Tuesday - Towels
Wednesday - Children Laundry (usually 2 loads)
Thursday - Mama & Daddy Laundry (usually 2 loads)
Friday - Kitchen & "Katch-up" (my load of kitchen towels/misc. household laundry, and any extra loads)
**Diapers - MWF**

So, ideally, no laundry over the weekends. My goals in creating this schedule were:

1. Focus on tangible categories (lights/darks doesn't work for me!)
2. Focus on the over-all goal: no laundry over the weekends - we have precious little time with Mark home as it is.
3. Scheduled - so that all the laundry gets done
4. Feasible - doing it all in one day just doesn't work at this stage of my life

I hope this works, because I'm really excited about it! Hopefully by having this blocked off in these segments, it will be easier to fold and put away the laundry, because I'm only focusing on ONE area each day. I considered keeping it as it is right now - simply perpetual laundry - but felt that something more organized would help me...I'm so scatterbrained! Either I do so much laundry in one day that I then have mountains to fold (and I hate folding), or I neglect it for just a day or two, and all of a sudden, the children are naked, the diapers are overflowing the pail, and all of my jeans are dirty (and I discover this AFTER I take a shower LOL!).

Thanks for sharing your stories. Ivy's response made me so thankful for what I do have - the laundry room right in the middle of our house. And it was great to know other mamas like me have the same struggle with the ever-present, ever-growing Pile.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Graeme's Birth Story

I have time to myself this evening, as Mark has to stay at the barracks tonight. I sat down to write Cole's birth story, and, well...I ended up finally putting Graeme's down!

This is supposed to be a birth story, but to explain how he came out, I really have to go all the way back to how he came to be. So bear with me.

I chose to go off "the pill" the summer after we got married. I don't recall exactly how I started researching it, but I experienced many side effects, including weight gain, vision problems, extreme mood swings. I started reading books and discovered that the Protestant church is strangely silent on the issue of hormonal birth control...the Catholic church is firmly opposed to it, and upon reading much and praying much, I also became convinced that I could not continue to use hormonal birth control.

We successfully used Natural Family Planning to avoid pregnancy for a year. Graeme is the result of a high-stress month that caused my cycle to go wonky...and behold, God blessed us with Graeme! The stress, oddly enough, was an audition to get into the School of Music at the University of South Carolina to pursue a Master's degree in piano performance. I received the confirmation letter on July 1, and took the first pregnancy test on July 2. Talk about a bend in the road!

Needless to say, God drastically changed our plans. Graeme, I think of Psalm 139...from the moment of conception, God was planning your existence, writing your story already by forming you even when we hadn't "planned" to have you. After being completely surprised (we were in disbelief for a few days - I bought 3 pregnancy tests!), it is a precious memory for me that once I knew what God had done, He enabled me to embrace it with all my heart, and I was thrilled to become a mother. I never "mourned" that I didn't get a chance to pursue my masters' degree. I can see now the wonderful journey God's brought me on, being a mother, and I've never looked back.

Fast forward through my pregnancy (mild morning sickness for 14 weeks - I really enjoyed popsicles that summer!)...we moved in August to a one-bedroom apartment...and then we moved again in October to a three bedroom house with a fenced yard! God literally dropped that into our laps, and it was a wonderful place to prepare for our new baby. We found out "it" was a "he" in October, as well!

Into my second trimester, I started exploring other options for birth. I pursued an in-hospital midwife group. I liked them okay, but the more I researched and anticipated this wonderful experience of birthing a baby, the more I wanted to birth at home, or in a home-like environment. The thought of the sterile hopsital with cold floors, hard beds, needles, doctors, etc. just didn't fit the feelings I had about bringing our child into the world. Upon researching, I discovered that home birth is, statistically, safer than hospital birth, which encouraged me to pursue it. The catch for us was that the state of GA does not recognize midwives as qualified to attend homebirths (although there is an "underground" homebirth movement...we weren't quite comfortable with that at the time).

God led us to Amy at Blessed Births in Greenville, SC. It was a 2 hour drive. I think we were crazy, but at the time, it seemed like the best option. And, honestly, God had a plan for us there. Our plan was to give birth there at the birthing center. Amy had two rooms, both beautiful and restful, and I felt such a sense of peace with her caring for me during that last trimester. I anticipated laboring in the large jacuzzi tub she had, and giving birth in one of her serene rooms, with a warm, caring midwife cleaning my baby and driving home the following day.

Then I went 2 weeks past my due date. By law, Amy could only keep us up to 42 weeks, and then she was required to tell us to go see a physician. We discussed my due date (Feb. 28) and decided that it was probably off quite a bit (due to my cycle's strangeness that month), and adjusted it to March 10. Well, 2 weeks went by with nothing happening. I was really big.
I recall the discomfort of not wanting to go anywhere (because everyone asked the rather thoughtless question - "Haven't you had the baby yet?" - umm, obviously not.)...but on the other hand, I had to keep myself busy! It was discouraging.

And let me tell you, we tried everything there is known to mankind to try to get a baby out. I did dozens of internet searches for natural induction methods...we did it all. From consuming a whole pineapple in one day to castor oil to evening primrose oil to eggplant parmesan. My least favorite was black and blue cohosh. I did as many doses of that as Amy felt comfortable giving me. And walked. and walked. and walked. I'd start contracting, but it would always die off after an hour or so. We spent two weekends at Amy's center, sure that eventually labor would happen.

The last weekend she could keep me came and went. She sent us home with the plan to birth at home. Either she or a midwife friend of hers in Columbia would come and deliver the baby for us. We were disheartened, but changed gears to plan for a birth at home.

That Wednesday, I woke up with steady contractions. We called Amy - she'd sent us home with a doppler and a blood pressure monitor, and had Mark listening to the baby and checking my blood pressure. Everything was going great. Finally, we were going to have this baby!

Except the contractions didn't stop. For two days. They'd get intense and then back off to 10 min. apart. I couldn't sleep. I should have tried harder, had I known what a battle I'd be in for! I actually downed a shot of vodka in an attempt to get me a few hours of much-needed rest. It worked, thankfully! I'd sit in the bathtub for awhile. Mark was so sweet, he set up candles and music to help me relax. He got me any food that sounded good. He didn't sleep much, either, bless his heart.

Amy's midwife friend came in on Thursday, monitored me for awhile, and was confident we'd be calling her Thursday night with me ready to push. Finally, Friday morning around 4am, I felt the need to push, and started pushing around 6am. We were sure Graeme would be here soon. But by noon things weren't looking good. I got to 10cm dilated, but there was a lip of cervix that his head just would not push past. I did probably the hardest thing I've ever done, which was to stop pushing for an hour. She had me lay on my side and then switch sides, all the while refusing to let me push every time my body was screaming "PUSH!" It was awful. I was focused on getting through the next contractoin...never once considering that what was happening (the long labor, back pain, and difficult extended pushing) is the classic sign of occiput posterior position, which can cause, well, everything that happened! Ah, well, hindsight.

Around lunchtime, the midwife (who had told us she'd never had to transfer a patient to the hospital) told us that in this case, it would be best for me to transfer. Maybe if I got an epidural, I could get a bit of rest and that would help give me the strength to push past the lip. We'd not seriously considered the possibility until that point, so Mark scurried around getting things together while my body continued to contract along with the urge to push. This wasn't exactly what we had thought this would be like, to say the least.

The drive to the hospital was the second worst thing I've ever done. Ouch. Once we got there, we simply told them that I'd been at home pushing and wanted to come in for an epidural. They probably figured out what we'd been trying to do (homebirth). But when they checked me, they said, "Oh honey, you're at 8cm, this baby will be out in an hour!" Ha. I firmly told them I wanted an epidural. Now. So they gave me one. It was a bad one. They hit a nerve and sent me spinning with my ears ringing and the room twirling and my blood pressure spiking crazy high. That was the first time in this experience that I considered that I might die. I recall the sensation of wondering if I was going to die or not, as they hurried to get the epirual needle out to re-do it. I was so emotionally and physicially exhausted by then. They wanted me to try pushing some more. I did. Almost two more hours. The nurses were great, I'll say, they really wanted me to have this baby vaginally. They kept putting the somewhat-rude doctor off - he had come in, took one look, and said I should "just have a c-section".

After pushing that long, the Dr. came in and told us he could try forceps, or we could do a c-section. He wasn't comfortable with forceps, due to my being an unfamiliar patient as well as the fact that the baby was posterior. (Aha!) What a hard moment that was. We told him we needed to talk it over, but we didn't. We knew that the best decision was a c-section at this point. We both teared up...this was not the "climax" we'd anticipated over these past few months. Mark squeezed my hand, and then I started signing all the paperwork and consent forms.

I'd like to digress and mention that about a month prior, we decided to apply for Medicare to cover any potential costs. We just barely qualified, but did, so I applied. The day before I went into labor, we received the confirmation letter in the mail. Talk about Providential timing. Had we not had that, we would have faced $10,000+ in medical bills, which would have added a lot of stress to an already difficult situation. "What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31)

The epidural kicked in as they got me ready for surgery, and I think I was half-way between sleep and wakefulness. I don't remember much exept a flurry of activity and answering questions. The next thing I recall is being in the surgical room. The anesthesiologist was so nice, very light-hearted...he kept me from getting too worked up about the whole surgery experience. I remember feeling pulls and tugs and all I could see was a blue sheet. Then, I heard my baby crying, and at that sound, my whole body yearned to see him and hold my baby. It was a minute or so while they cleaned him up, and that felt like hours to me. I could hear my baby crying, but could do nothing about it! Mark was holding my hand and telling me we had a beautiful healthy son. They brought him over and Mark could hold him. I touched him with my eyes. He was beautiful. Such a strong boy! We'd been through so much, and finally, now here was our new little boy.

I think we were both quite anxious for the next hour or so as they had to stitch me up and took Graeme away. The next thing I remember is being in the recovery room and they brought Graeme in, and were doing things to him (footprint, vit. k shot, etc.) and I just wanted to tell them to stop everything and let me be with my baby! Mark was there taking videos of him, and I called my parents. Finally, I got to hold Graeme. And honestly, I kept holding him and holding him. I think sometime early the next morning the nurse persuaded me to put him down in his little bassinet, but I just couldn't stop cuddling with him. He was so tiny, and needy. And tired! Well, no wonder! He slept a ton the first 24 hours. We both did.

Recovering from a c-section wasn't a breeze, but it wasn't terrible. All told, we were thankful to have a healthy baby and a healthy Momma. Amy got to meet Graeme a few weeks later. He liked her :)

Marcus Graeme was 9lb 10oz, 22 1/2 in long. He was born at 7:30pm on Friday, March 30, a full month and two days later than my first due date. I wouldn't trade his birth experience for a different one. We don't regret our decisions through the whole process. We learned much! Most of all, Graeme's story is a reflection of God's faithfulness - in spite of our weakness, in disregard to our "plans"...God's plans are not ours, and His ways are truly amazing.

Isaiah 25:1
O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.


Spotlight Series - Lighten your Load (Laundry!)

One of my favorite things about blogging and the internet is how much wisdom you can take advantage of! I love reading fresh ideas from women who are (or have been) in the same place I'm at right now. I enjoy knowing I'm not alone!

So I thought I'd start a weekly "Spotlight" to give me a chance to glean from those who read my blog, as well as to organize the ideas I've come across, and chat about it with you all.

Today's is our very favorite chore of all, right? LAUNDRY! I don't know about you, but laundry seems to multiply around here. We cloth-diaper and use un-paper towels, which definitely adds to it - mix in a Marine husband who often comes home with wet or dirty uniforms, a 3month old who spits up on occasion, and a toddler whose favorite words include "sticky" and "paint" and "poke"...you get the picture, I'm sure.

I've tried a few ways of organizing my laundry routine. However, I have yet to settle into one that seems to work. Here are some of the ideas I've come across or tried.
1. Organized by days of the week - Here's how one mom does it.
For me, it might look like this:
Monday - diapers, darks
Tuesday - folding
Wednesday - diapers, lights
Thursday - folding
Friday - diapers, misc. (towels, sheets, kitchen towels)

Pros: simple, has one whole day to focus on folding
Cons: doing laundry all week, stacks of clothes at the end of MWF to fold

2. Perpetual Laundry - keep laundry going all the time. In the washer, out the dryer, fold it as you go.

Pros: practical, no "system" to worry about, convenient (throw in as you pass)
Cons: you start dreaming in laundry lol, one or all of the steps can get back-logged (for example, a mountainous pile of unfolded laundry accumulating on your playroom floor)

3. Once-a-week Laundry - one day of the week, that's all you do! Laundry, laundry, laundry.

Pros: get it done so you don't have to think about it the other 6 days
Cons: not feasible at this season in my life - diapers have to be done every other day, and then there's my husband's uniforms, babies miscellaneous dirties (bibs, onesies, towels, the sheet they wet on, etc.)

Part of my problem is the aftermath - not so much the washing and drying...but the folding and putting away. Often, I end up with piles on the floor of the playroom (where the washer/dryer are). Or piles on the landing to the third floor, where our master bedroom is.

How about you? Do you struggle with your laundry, or is it generally in its place? Is it one of the specific steps that is your nemesis? What works for you?