Sunday, September 13, 2015

Postpartum Reflections...

Our squish is here.And I've been doing a lot of this...
The first 5 days I stayed upstairs in bed, sweet Hubby Joy brought me all my food and got me any thing I needed. I nursed, napped, nursed, changed diapers, nursed, and rested. I allowed myself one trip downstairs a day after the first 5 days and this enabled me to get my own food once a day and or just hang out with the kids downstairs a little.

I ate breakfast on the front porch which felt really good. It's been too hot and muggy for the baby so I haven't gotten to do it since.

I love his curly ears.
I think the greatest challenge for me postpartum is knowing where to set the bar in relation to what my body needs, not just now but in the long term. As some one with adrenal and autoimmune challenges it is a fine line to walk. Generally I feel great, my health challenges have drastically healed and improved thanks to dietary changes and T-TAPP.  But the unfortunate thing is that my body does take a little longer to bounce back from things, particularly birth. And I feel so great, I often miss signs that I've over done it and then crash hard. And "over done it" is so frustrating, what exactly did I do that was so taxing? Often it was just a combination of a little too much activity and a few stressful situations (kids fighting, baby crying and not calming, raising my fight or flight reflexes), mix it in with postpartum hormones and a bad night of sleep: CRASH.

What does a crash look like? Complete and utter exhaustion mixed in with achey body and a shorter fuse. It's frustrating, but I've learned and I am learning how important it is for me to rest during times of transition and stress. Not only for me but for my whole family, that I focus on resting when I need it...And giving and being present as much as I can. Babies are precious, and they don't happen too many times in your life time...They are a gift.

This recovery has been a lot harder in some ways than it was last time. I will share the full birth story in another post soon, but suffice it to say it was a long hard labor. From the time my water was broken (more on that too) until birth it was 14 hours of HARD contractions. It was probably my hardest labor physically, though mentally and emotionally it was great. It just kept on keeping on like a freight train, no questions that this baby was on his way and my body meant business. Which in of itself, given his position, so empowering! That said, if it weren't for medical interventions I think it would have been a pretty traumatic birth.

As it was the birth was fantastic and I can look back at it with a mix of gratitude and relief that it all went the way that it did. It was deeply redeeming in many ways. I bled a lot, tore a little, and had a (give or take a smidge) 9lbs baby with a 14inch head come out asynclintic (cocked ear first). I felt pretty beat up the first several days.

I am 10 days out and feeling almost normal, but if I'm on my feet too much or do too much bending or twisting I feel like my pelvic area has been beaten badly. And unfortunately,  "too much" doesn't really hit until I've sat down and rested and then tried to get back up.

 It's harder to stay down this time, I am! I am sucking the marrow out of this babymoon. I can't say how thankful I am to Hubby Joy for all he's done to make this possible. He has been an absolute gem. But it feels so good right now not to be pregnant. I also love this time of year, I want to be at parks with the kids, taking nature walks and watching them play. Walking with Hubby Joy and enjoying the late-summer weather.

But I'm home mostly, nursing more than I ever remember nursing before (though I know it's not true, I just forgot) and snuggling and sad that these early days will fly so fast...What do I want to remember about them?  Stress over a messy house? All the places we went and things we did and how much I hurt afterwards?

Or the smell of his head. The softness of his cheeks. The way his squishy little body felt sleeping against mine. The way I know his face so well from hours of staring at it. That I drank him in and we had every thing together for his first week or two.
I am so grateful for this babymoon we've enjoyed and for new ways of learning balance and seeing how my body has healed in the last 4 years.
That said, having 3 other kids there are things that must march on...We start school tomorrow, and while I still plan to rest heavily the first month, life can't stop for that entire time. So I've been pondering what are some ways I can continue to focus on rest and self-care as I move out of our babymoon and into the rest of the 4th Trimester.

1. Shower every morning... As soon as I can. I feel so much more human when I am clean, especially after a night of nursing and leaking and diaper leaks.

2. Make my bed every day... I've never been one to make my bed, not since I was a kid. But it really does feel good to know that it is waiting there for me to rest on with out getting the sheets crumby (because I am always eating).

3. Treat Myself... Nothing crazy, but finding little ways to pamper myself. I did this a lot the last month of pregnancy...painting my myself a foot soak...Eating a special snack. It's going to be hard to get out alone with this little one, he has been taking a really hard core nap from 8-11ish every morning, but pretty much from that point on he is in arms non-stop. I know it'll change and he won't be so intense forever. But I do have a feeling getting out of the house for more than an hour at a time is going to be tricky. I need to find ways to treat myself at home.

4. Get Outside Daily...This has been tricky because the past week has been nasty muggy. But as Autumn and Winter roll around I plan to take advantage of the fact that Hubby Joy is here during the day and sneak out for a brief walk during morning nap- even on the most bitter cold days.

5. Read More Books...While there will be plenty moments of nursing on the go, there are even more of us snuggled up and what other opportunity am I going to have to read once he gets mobile? I've really been enjoying my kindle paperwhite e-reader, it has a small back light so I can read at night...That has been wonderful.

Well a certain little guy is squirming and I think he just filled his diaper...Time to go!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Operation Baby Prep!

We're 2-6 weeks away from meeting this sweet little one and I'm in full nesting mode.
36th week!

Some Friends came over yesterday and we had fun crafting a banner for baby Ziggy. He won't have his own room at this point, but I wanted to do some thing that we could put in his room down the line, and just some thing to do to celebrate a new baby.

They also helped me puttogether 6 batches of biscuit mixes and 3 batches of banana muffin mix!!!!
This will save so much time and mess and energy after he arrives!

Which leads to other preparations...

The menu planning worked so well to get us through the first trimester I've decided to give it another go for after baby is born. It was a little more fun this time because I didn't have to worry about keeping things on the bland side or worrying about smells wafting through the house making me miserable!
 After having two unexpected rough births and subsequent long and hard recoveries (and starting back into real life too soon). I learned with my last baby to take it easy the first week. Full bed rest that first week made a world of difference in my overall feeling of well being and my recovery time. Even after my rough births, I tend to feel really good the first week, flying high on adrenaline and the thrill of not being big and pregnant any more. The joy of snuggling that fresh new squish. I'm done with the waiting and ready to dive back in to LIFE!
It's HARD to stay in bed, but seriously it made a world of difference last time and I'm hopeful it will help this time as well. I am trying to set every thing up so that I can literally stay horizontal in bed with my baby that entire first week.

My personal postpartum rules (and recommendation of my MW) are...
  • WEEK #1: IN the bed, up only 5 minutes at a time to use the bathroom or take a quick shower (or do some gentle stretches once a day). Rest restores the body. No stairs. It's one intense, some times monotonous week in bed. ONE. If you need company ask friends to come hang out with you in your room. I spent most of my first week in bed with Pip staring at her, it was heavenly. If you can set things up to do this (as I am with meal plans and Hubby Joy and my Mom being around to take care of the big kids), revel in it. It's amazing and you will not get down time like that ever again (or until you have another baby ;)! And? It helps your body recovery on every physical level. Rest is a gift and it is worth it. Nursing baby and taking care of baby is the only thing you need to worry about in week 1. I plan to have snacks in my room and Hubby Joy will bring the meals I've planed out up to me after he's fed the kids.
  • Week #2: ON the bed the second week. Limit stairs (hard in my home). Camp out on the couch. I don't have to stay indoors or in bed, but I need to be limiting time on my feet and care of other children. I need to be laying down in bed for at least 3 hours in the afternoon resting. Stay reclined at least half the day and limit time on feet carefully! No cleaning.
  • Week #3: more freedom. Take it Easy, for every hour I am up I need to take an hour to rest. Shoot for 2 hours laying in bed with baby every afternoon. When I have a chance to rest, do it. No cleaning! But cooking easy meals is fine...Short outings are fine if you have a way to sit down and rest and there isn't a lot of time on your feet involved.
  • Week #4 through #6: return to light Mom duty. When there is a chance to rest, DO it! You don't need to sleep, just lay down with baby. Get quiet when you need it. Close your eyes and take deep cleansing breaths to get more energy.  Baby's first year isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. The better you treat your body the easier your adrenal glands and lymphatic system (helps your liver function and cortisol levels, quality of sleep and so much more!)  recover and deal with the interrupted sleep you'll likely be dealing with for many many weeks and months to come!
Pretty much the goal the first 6 weeks is to have the house run as smoothly as possible with me curled up with the baby as much as possible. My goal is to see how much I can stay off my feet. NOT how much I can get done. NOT how fast I can get back to normal. NOT to feel bad about doing this for myself. I'm worth it and so is my new precious baby, you only get to do this once with each kiddo, it's worth it!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

School Year on the Horizon...Realities

Okay to the school year...

My oldest is getting to the age where I'm feeling like I'm needing to push a little. Roo will be turning 8 this school year and I feel like it's time to have some daily requirements. Traditionally speaking kids wouldn't start school until they reached the age of 7, and studies have shown it is to their benefit to wait. So at many times in history and in many countries today, this really would be Roo's first year of school.

Thus far with school I have been very hands off. I haven't been stressed that she's taken her time with reading, that it hasn't "clicked" into voracious book love. I haven't pushed handwriting or math or really any thing. I love the idea of "child directed" learning and "delight directed" learning. In my heart I would love to un-school. In my reality I know it's not going to work with Roo.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think I've been doing any thing "wrong" so far.. This whole parenting thing is really just flying by the seat of your pants anyway. You research, you give it a shot, you celebrate when you find some thing that makes your child's life better, and you lick your wounds when you make mistakes. You learn, you try other things. And it's all very fair and good because when you think you figure "it" out, you have another kid that it doesn't work for, and you have to start all over. It is fun though, and it is amazing to watch how they grow and change and they help you do the same.

 Okay back to this school year, I feel like with this child [Roo] and her unique personality she'd happily float along for a very long time. She doesn't really mind that she doesn't know schooly things. Reading? It's a lot of work! She can do it, but why bother when she can listen to books and watch documentaries. Writing? Why? When she can draw fantastic pictures to communicate a story!

And you know what? She's not wrong, she does know how she learns best. She is very much a person who knows where she's comfortable and how she likes things to be, and until she's made uncomfortable by it, she's not going to change it.

She was the kid who couldn't dress herself with out help until she was 5. She did have some slight suspected fine motor delays (thanks to diagnosed vision issues). But really it was mostly a, "Why bother when I have loving hands to help me?"  or more, "I am the most comfortable this way, I just won't get dressed at all unless some one makes me." She lived her underwear or footie PJ's unless I force dressed her to take her places.
Once she was told that at her age (at 5 I had had more than enough!), she had to be do it herself, and she had to do it every day, she did. Some slight push back initially, a few meltdowns and then she got used to it and it was no big deal.

And I'm thinking that's again where we've landed. I see she can do it, I see she needs to be able to do it better, it's time to set her up to be a bit uncomfortable until she see's how "not a big deal" it can be.

I've had "rules" during the school year, "nothing but PBS shows" or "no TV before lunch" rules. Especially with the childcare kiddo, her parents didn't send her here to watch TV! And all except for my worst morning sickness days, the TV stayed OFF. And this year I think we're going to institute some slightly uncomfortable Bigger Kid Rules and I'm trying to decide what would work. It has to...

1) be possible to enforce with a newborn in the house.
 2) be a positively enforced rule that sets us up for success and help us meet our goals (in other words, proactive "this is the positive thing that happens when you" not reactive, "You didn't do it so now you will feel bad and miserable").

I am thinking our Rules for Second Grade will be some thing like...
 1. No TV, ipad, or minecraft until you've completed your...
  • Reading assignment (read 7 pages from reader to Mom [these "pages" have about 2-3 sentences on them each).
  • Writing assignment (write dictation assignment for the day, one brief sentence using a vocabulary word from our read aloud, OR complete a Grammar worksheet, OR Spelling You See workbook page [also includes handwriting]),
  • 30 minutes of outside time 
  • One Morning Chore
 I want to add "AND History, Science and Language Arts" but unless Hubby Joy takes on assignments I just don't know.
I can sit and listen to her read for 15 minutes every day. I can dig through 10 minutes of writing a sentence or completing her Spelling -even with drama. I can help her complete a work sheet or read Life of Fred with her. I can't guarantee I'll be up to all the reading every day of the week in history or Language Arts, at least until Ziggy is a few months old. I'm trying to be realistic...

I have a feeling some of the new rules will make Roo uncomfortable, she likes to do her thing and do it her way... I also think second grade is going to bring a lot of new growth for her as well! I am hoping in making it so that she has to practice reading daily (and not just with me, but in the day to day things she'll skip because it's too much of a bother) she'll start to see the NEED for it in her life and start to push past the plateau she's sat at for the last  year or so. It's comfortable to just avoid the need to read...This year, we practice and make it more of a focus.
Honestly, I don't know that Roo will ever be one of those kids to LOVE reading. I would be absolutely delighted if she does! But I've been trying to be realistic and not set expectations too high for her. She's got some vision issues that makes reading tiring. Vision issues that we haven't been able to fully address and are still unsure exactly how we will address them.
 It doesn't mean she can't overcome them and go on to be a book worm. But it could mean that she sticks to her strengths, auditory learning. And that is okay. I just want her to work past the struggle part, and master the concepts so that she can function on a more average level. I want to be able to leave her notes with simple directions, especially with the new baby coming. There are many days it would be great to write saying "Please make sure Pip gets a snack, if I'm not up by 8 please quietly come get me." She doesn't have to love it, but she needs some fluency to survive.

Oh, And here are the work sheets I promised in my last post! I've been using a few of these (especially the first and second grade grammer/phonics worksheets!) to fill in gaps or when the kids ask to do "school" and they mean do worksheets. :)

READING BEAR (Learn to read with reading bear Free online Phonics program!)

Dynamically Created Kindergarten Worksheets MATH   (PDF's free printables!)

My Number Book (kindergarten printable number book)

Multiple Grade Levels
Make your own Handwriting Worksheets 
(a program to design and print your own handwriting practice sheets)

Free Dinosaur Worksheets (many different coloring pages multi grade level)
 Free Character Building Bible Lessons (multiple grade levels)

FREE Math Worksheets (K-6th)

Math Worksheet Factory (Free math worksheets)

 First Grade PHONICS workbook (free printable workbook 258pages!)

Learn To Read Phonics Program (phonics concepts, printables)

First Grade Spelling Practice Book (Free printable workbook 128pages!)

Second Grade Earth Science (full printable text book 112pages!)
Grammar Practice Book (free printable text book 158pages)

I found all of these on FREE Homeschooling 101 give them a follow they've been awesome!

A Summer Recap...Learning All the time

 Six months seems like a good enough time to start blogging again. I'm feeling like I need some thing to help me get my head back in the "School Year" zone. I consider us "year round" homeschoolers, but our summer schedule is very low key...Especially this summer. I'm 8 months pregnant and since our child care kiddo's school year ended, I have allowed myself to wallow in enjoy this pregnancy (I really am enjoying it mostly, but not having to push through the tiredness and "fake it til I make it" like I did the first 8 months...a pleasant relief).

Our summer schedule has been so haphazard thanks to a 2 week trip, involving 3000 miles of driving,
This is how we eat dinner on the road...
They were fantastic travelers!
a ton of fun in the sun and with family...
New Smyrna

Sunrise over Lake Monroe
We had a lot of fun trying to spot alligators in the lake

Sunrise walk (A "Day walk" as the kids call it) on the board walk by Lake Monroe
and a 2...3...4? week recovery from the trip!
You can often find me in bed or curled up on the couch with some stuffed animal that Pip felt Ziggy needed to have close..
Mostly our summer has been the kids being fantastic, creative, and generally awesome. Seriously, they watch a lot of TV and have been working hard in their mine craft world, but they also play outside a lot and are incredibly creative. They've kept themselves busy and have let Mama rest quite a bit. I feel a mixture of guilt and thankfulness...

"I don't really know how to get the car to jump, I'm still working on that..."
Building ramps for their car with scrap wood
The house often looks like a paper goods recycling plant and crayola factory blew up, but they craft create, and play indoors and out with their creations...Together and apart. I can't complain, it's been a good summer of learning.
I love 3 year old's...I find things like this a lot!
5 year old knee art, or should I say scab art? The eyes there are scabs. Some times the messes stay...contained.
Dress up play...Apparently being 7 means you make pathetic faces when being photographed (she was grinning 2 seconds later, stinker).
This is my favorite, they played for over an hour and a half under these trees

Same day same place, this literally turned into a circus show, with chalk tight ropes and clowns arguing over where their tight ropes were....They've never been to a circus, so it got a bit irrational. A good time was had by all, until it wasn't. :D
This is is her T-TAPP Bal-la-lette  dance sheet. It's a game she created. You tap a color and do a ballet move...I think.

On days I have energy or they ask to "do school" (usually this is Friendly asking) we pull out work sheets on a concept we came across and I realized they weren't familiar with it (Oh, some free work sheet links in my next post!).
Some times it means a chapter or two of our math book (Life of Fred), some times it means we take a stack of picture books to the park and a "picnic" snack and we enjoy our books together.
We're also doing a Family Summer reading club...

For every book they read to me or Hubby Joy they get a sticker on the chart. For every chapter book we finish together they get a sticker on the chart. We have about 10 stickers now (this was taken shortly after we started). When we complete the chart (hoping to before the baby arrives) they win a new Lego set or an ice cream party...or some thing! Maybe both?

Hey, we're having a baby we're going to celebrate books and babies! :D

Favorite places...

 And SUMMER!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A new Chapter Part 2...

I have had so much to process with this big news of our baby. I wrote most of this a few weeks ago as an outlet ...I'm going to move forward with posting. :)
At this writing I am just around 7 weeks (as of the date of the posting above I am heading into my 11th week) and it's really starting to settle in. My round ligaments have gotten the message loud and clear, I stand up too fast and I am down in a fetal position- complete involuntary collapse. I don't remember that being so crazy with previous babies. But then again I think you develop amnesia about all of this craziness.
I am feeling nauseous by turns and very tired, the dizziness hits hard and often. I have the worst insomnia I have ever had. I can't fall asleep! I am tired and draggy but I can't fall asleep, that's never been an issue before. I am very crabby. Also worried, always worried and burst into tears at random intervals. Having experienced the loss of such a sweet unexpected hope before....I both feel the pain once more, and worry about having to face it again.

 And yet, on some level I feel like this is meant to be. Deep down I am not worried, good at working myself up, but not truly worried. For whatever reason I feel deeply, like I did with the others that I have held in my arms, this sixth person is destined to join our family.  It wasn't what I thought I wanted, but now that we're here: it feels so so right and I want to hold this new person so so badly.

6 week bump...yeah apparently by #4 (well really #6) your uterus just dives right in, I had a weird feeling and odd little bloat before I even knew I was pregnant! Hence the Birthday Muffin Top.

We don't know if this will be a "baby brudder", and frankly we aren't too worried about having a "boy" in the house. It would be fun to get to experience raising a son...Holding that squishy fresh newborn boy I have carried in my heart. To watch him grow and learn from his sisters and be shaped and molded, to love, respect and let the women in his life shine as God designed. It would be a gift.
At the same time though, if I get him, I don't get her. That sweet somebody all fresh with rosy cheeks and bright eyes. I would love to hold her just as well and to watch her grow up along her sisters. Four strong beautiful women who are passionate about Love and Loving all, and grow up to do great things.

There would be a little smidge of grief either side of the coin, because either side would be lovely. Some thing that has become so clear to us as we've raised our three so far: kids are people and they are SO different. We are not raising them to be defined by a gender, apart from what they identify with and choose to carry for themselves. We don't have a "boys do this and girls do that" approach to relationships in our family. People are people and their identity is in Jesus not their gender or how that gender traditionally behaves.

A boy wouldn't change our family any more than a girl would. This person is going to change things either way, because each child brings it's own unique energy to a home. RJ has her spunk, humor, gentleness, love for ideas, and nurturing nature.  AJ with her wild "push" energy, ability to make things happen quickly, vivacity, noise, rough and tumble ways, sweetness, and "turn your hair grey" stunts. And Pip with her sweet soulful eyes, thoughtful ways, big questions, goofy, humor, wisdom, curiosity, quirks, energy...and noise. Having three such different children, I am excited to find what a fourth brings.

We told the kids about a week after we found out because I have been feeling so sick and we didn't want them to worry. RJ looked like we just told her that her wishes were coming true, favorite moment ever.
 Pip has dropped the "baby brudder" business and upon hearing there was an actual baby coming, announced that it IS a girl. She is adamant and she wants to "do her hairw when she is borned" and "dwess her up". I think she is getting a real live bitty baby...With hair!
 AJ commented that a boy would be fun, and when I told her that girls seem to run in our family, she has taken that and run with it. She named her Lilly. ( name but we have enough "y" ending names around here!)
And RJ is kind of hoping for a brother, she "really wants a baby brother" she said gently, "I think it would be fun, baby boys are so cute, he could wear the fox pajamas."
The fox pajamas were bought, brand new with the tags on, at a yard sale for $0.75 when I was pregnant with AJ. We recently (okay in October) found them when unpacking some boxes and the girls thought they were the cutest thing ever, and asked why we never used them. The truth is, I forgot we had them! I had pulled them out for Pip, but she was such a peanut they ended up being the wrong season. But this baby isn't. This baby is just right and boy or girl this baby is using the "fox pajamas". The pajamas that have been hanging in the laundry room since last summer (when we unpacked them) and that I couldn't, for some reason, bring myself to get rid of...It felt like it would be abandoning a dream some how.

And we get to dream and wait...Excited, nervous, but mostly excited. After 6 months of having a 4th child in the house 45 hours a week I don't think this transition is going to be what it was last time. My oldest will be almost 8... My middle newly 6 and my youngest nearly 4.
It will be so fun to see them experience this baby as bigger kids! Seriously nothing compared to the last couple times where they were so litttle and so needy and nobody slept...for years.
Throw in a toddler with undiagnosed special needs, a preschooler with some fine motor delays and who still needed help with every thing...And a newborn who stayed up until 2a.m. every night until they were about 10 months old (did I say newborn...I meant baby). Well this time will be completely different.
This pregnancy has already been different. I have more energy than I have ever had in the first trimester. And I'm not chasing a 1 year old! There are no diapers to change, the almost-preschoolers have potty trained...The big kids understand when I need to rest, or say I am not feeling good. They get themselves snacks, they help the little ones use the bathroom and wash their hands. Really all but for the occasional accident, I rarely have to concern myself with any one else's bathroom business.
 Luxury, seriously!

While there are aspects I was glad to be "done" with the thought of, I am trying to gear myself up for another round. I have been nursing-except for a 3 or 4 month break-pretty much the past 7 years straight.  I was feeling pretty satisfied and okay with that journey ending.  The fact that when this is all said and done, I'll be looking at over a decade of pregnancy and breastfeeding, well I feel tired.
I do look forward to the milkie smiles, the milk drunk content baby heavy in my arms.

All in all I am  more excited than I thought I would be. It's kind of fun to get to do this outside of the haze...To be heading into my 30's and feel like I know more of where we're headed, more of who I am, more about who I am as a parent. To get to enjoy this with Hubby Joy again, really sit back and love it together. There have been so many moments over the last three years we've really loved and grown to appreciate about being in the trenches with babies and little kids, I'm excited to do it again.

Especially now that we have gotten a nice little break from the constant chase of babies and little toddlers and several months stretch of getting to sleep through the night (first time in 7 years). To really have gotten to enjoy breastfeeding a baby to where we both feel ready to wean (she's still going strong twice a day but I'm sure that will change as my milk supply dries). It also feels good to have the perspective of having slightly older kids, these years of littleness truly are so brief. It is draining and hard but the time passes so quickly. I feel like I have so much more perspective than I did nearly 4 years ago (!!) when I got pregnant with Pip.
I would have been pretty well satisfied to stop with Pip. But now that the door is open I am ready and it feels good to have the closure and knowledge going into it THIS is the last. This is the last season of babyhood for our family...After this we move on to growing our family in different ways.

And closure is always a good thing. Here's to a new adventure!

Part 1 of a New Chapter...

This story starts mid-December...Well, actually probably a bit before that..You know, when by all indications, temperature climbing above cover line, a few other TMI symptoms that I was carefully charting, we were in the clear.

But passing by those details... This story starts one December evening when our almost-3-year old Pip made a picture of our family.
"Who is that person there up front, is that Nana?" I asked.

"No. Itsa baby brudder."
Haha. sigh of relief, so not happening this month child. We followed the rules. We have been successfully practicing NFP nearly 24 cycles. We're experts (well confident and careful). We're in the clear and you're cute...This is cute! Isn't this so cute? Yes. Cute. All it is. Cute cute cute.

Honestly, in the back of my mind I was a little tiny bit nervous. Not that we wouldn't welcome a baby. We enjoy our kids and another one would be exciting. But my pregnancies have been hard on our family. While blessed not to have serious complications or babies in need of intensive care, I still dealt with hypermesis (with my first) and general feeling of crappiness when pregnant.
Our babies have also been horrible sleepers and dealt with multiple food allergies (thanks to my autoimmune issues), and seem to come out with unusually over-sensitive/underdeveloped nervous systems.

We had more or less, agreed we were done. But we couldn't agree on HOW to be done. We were still praying until we were in agreement and had peace.
We had decided to revisit when we were both 30 (this year). In the mean time we were practicing FAM/NFP to a "T" -which has a similar fail rate [when properly used] of 1%. We felt those odds were good enough. I was comfortable going with this long term, we were both very committed to following the rules and it added a rhythm and structure to our life. Added a special intimacy and kind of felt like a spiritual practice of sorts. It was certainly right for that season of our lives.

Anyway, a few days after the picture incident  we went out for our Birthday celebration. My pants were feeling oddly tight and I was dealing with a little muffin top. I remember feeling frustrated that my usually fairly smooth tummy, wasn't.  I hadn't gained any weight, what was going on? Pregnancy still was the furthest thing from my mind... And at the same time, for some bizarre reason, Hubby Joy and I were still cracking up over the whole "baby brudder" thing. I don't know why we found it so funny, but we seriously had giggled over it for the past 3 days. Before our date Pip and AJ took a picture of us for our date, Hubby Joy put his hand on my belly as a joke. We talked about it later and he couldn't say why he did it...
Me brushing his hands off in surprise...
haha he's a brat...haha
Oh so so funny.

And then...I woke up the day after Christmas with a bit of a pit in my stomach. I wasn't feeling good, I hadn't been feeling good for days, it was Friday and my cycle should have started on Monday.  I realized that this pregnancy thing was actually a possability- it really was time to test. I pulled out an old pack of tests I kept on hand and peed on a stick, expecting 1 line.

2 showed up...very faintly...So much so that I was sure it was a mistake.

 I went out to celebrate the evening out with friends, feeling confident it was a false positive or a faulty test. I'm not sure why I felt so confident it was wrong, my cycle was 5 days late, but no couldn't be pregnant! Seriously, we couldn't have gotten pregnant. My charts were good, we were in the clear. Honestly I am still trying to figure out how this happened. And while I hate to chalk it up to an act of God, that's all I can conclude.

I am not a "take a bunch of tests" kind of person...With my first I took ONE test and that was enough, never peed on a stick again (then again, I was puking around the clock pretty much with in 2 days of the positive....).
With my second I got a positive even fainter than the one above and Hubby Joy wanted me to take another because he didn't believe it...I mean our oldest wasn't even a year old yet, surely not! I don't think I did retest- I just KNEW.

This time I needed some serious convincing! I just couldn't figure it out. HOW? How?

The next day I went out and bought the big guns, a digital.
And with that, I was convinced.

A baby! Really!  Telling the kids was the best thing ever. They were over the moon excited. They've been asking for a baby for months and Roo especially looked like we had just told her her wishes were coming true. Baby brudder or baby sissy we're looking at some big changes in the Joy home in the next few months!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Love Is In The Pause

This is more of a devotional type post than I usually share...And it is a bit of a personal stretch for me to do so as I tend to be very private about these things. But Love is worth sharing...And I share this in Love.

"Love is in the pause"
That phrase is some thing God has been speaking to me for the past several months.

I have been really wanting to change how I respond to the ones I love the most. Kids can be so frustrating and caring for them can feel so draining. There really is no "give and take" it often feels like "take and take some more!" and I am often exasperated and at the end of my rope in dealing with the relentlessness of it all.

A few months ago (maybe even last summer) I asked God how the heck I was supposed to love them better when I was so frustrated? How in the world could I change my responses? When I am in the middle of an exasperated moment and I just want to ...fill in the blank inappropriate reaction here... What am I supposed to DO?

I can't fabricate gentleness. I can't muscle through when I feel all that angry energy in every fiber of my being. I can't get space. I can't do any thing. I feel paralyzed!

He said, "Love is in the pause, Hannah Joy. Love is in the pause."

The pause as you inhale ready to roar with frustration. The pause before you say some thing you'll regret.

Right now I am reading through the Devotional by Heidi and Rolland Baker "Reckless Devotion 365 Days Into the Heart of Radical Love"  it's really just a daily short story about loving and serving others, definitely inspiring and I highly recommend it! Today's reading really stood out to me...
As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit inside us, we will notice His influence flowing out of us into the ordinary situations of life. His love is expressed in the routine, unremarkable moments- not just on special occasions. And as we share His love with others, day by day, we are healed, changed, transformed grown. (p. 11)
 I sat there thinking, HOW? And Jesus said, "Love is in the Pause."

And Hebrews 4 passed through my heart.

Hebrews 4 is all about REST. And while some mention of sabbath rest is made, I don't think that's what the author was really getting at.

"Enter the rest."
It is talking about openness with Holy Spirit.

Love is in the pause. Enter the rest isn't about striving, muscling through, scrounging up false enthusiasm or spirituality.  It is the PAUSE. Where you turn the eyes of your heart away from your frustration and turn it to Jesus, LOVE. Love is in the pause and Grace is in the rest. Stopping all the "shoulds" and momentum, and meeting with Love.

When you rest and pause God's word (and His Word is Jesus and Jesus is LOVE) can pierce the division of soul and spirit, joint and marrow, thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13) and you can meet with Love. Love, Who experienced it all, and sympathizes in your struggle. Who intercedes from the throne of Grace. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Love is in the pause.

Stop looking at your exhuastion, frustrations, fear, and worries.

Rest. Turn away and meet Love in the pause.

Inhale Holy Spirit.
Exhale His Love.

He is able to richly provide what you need...All in one deep breath.

Love is in the pause.

Grace is in the rest.

Hebrews 4.

That little phrase has been very helpful to me over the last several months, it certainly hasn't solved or stopped all my temper tantrums, big feelings, or bad moments. But it has curbed many...It is changing me slowly as I allow LOVE to move and do what it does best: change and fill.

Love is in the Pause, what chain reaction can practicing 1 small pause a day bring to life?

This week I want to pause more than once a day...