Cora’s Birth Story

It has been one week (to the hour) since my Pitocin drip was started and we anxiously awaited the arrival of our third child. I was a bit incredulous that I hadn’t begun labor naturally since my other girls were very punctual. Although I would have rather let my body do its own thing (and absolutely abhor Pitocin), I was tired of my large, obtrusive belly and the lack of sleep due to pregnancy insomnia and a baby squeezing my bladder all night.

We arrived at our 8am appointment and got settled into the same room where I delivered Juliet – the big corner tub room. After getting all checked in (already at 3cm!) and IV’s started, I spent the next 4 hours in the tub with minor contractions. I honestly thought there was no way I would have the baby while the sun was still up. At 12:40, Ryan left to get some food and immediately after he left, the nurses noticed the baby’s heart rate dropping so they had me lie down in the bed. It was confusing at the time, but now we know it was because the baby was descending very quickly.

Ryan got back around 1pm and shortly after, my contractions went from mild to almost unbearable. Around 2pm, I paged the nurses’ station for some assistance and was met with the remark that my contractions weren’t too close and they would send the doctor in to check in a bit. When they did arrive, they checked and I was at a 9.5. They made note and said they would be back soon. A couple huge contractions later, they rushed back in and began prepping for delivery. They called the doctor who was a couple rooms down, but the resident took over when he saw that I was not waiting. He broke my water (I almost protested to try for an ‘en caul’ birth, but just wanted the baby out).

3 intense, painful pushes later (waiting for those contractions while baby is right THERE is so miserable) while complaining to Ryan that “this SUCKS!”, our beautiful Cora Peace came into the world. She came so quickly through the birth canal that she still had fluid in her lungs and nasal cavities, so they had to work her over a little before we finally heard her cry and get to hold her. She spent the next couple days with the cutest little snorts because of the inflammation. My doctor arrived minutes after her arrival and couldn’t believe it went too fast for him to walk over.

What no one talks about concerning birth is the fact that anything regarding the uterus after delivery is extremely painful. The uterus has to contract afterwards to stop bleeding (oxytocin from nursing does this), and mine wasn’t. The doctor called it a lazy uterus and ended up shooting pitocin right into it and aggressively “massaging” my stomach. I say massage, but it felt more like abuse. Thankfully, after about 30 minutes of working on it, they were able to stop the bleeding and I was able to begin recovery. The only consolation of going through all that is being able to hold my baby in my arms.

The girls are in love with their new sister and Maggie asks to hold her all the time. She is truly the best newborn we’ve had yet. She surpassed her birth weight within one week, is sleeping 4-5 hour stretches, and is a content baby. We debated on her name for months, even making spreadsheets and ranking our favorites. Cora means “maiden” and I fell in love with the gentle, antique sound of it. All of our children’s middle names are qualities of God and Peace rounded out our three perfectly. We are completely smitten with our new sweetheart and can’t believe we are now a family of five.


2018 Family Newsletter

What a fantastic, crazy, exciting year we have had! Our family has enjoyed growing, learning about ourselves, exploring more of the world, and getting closer to friends and family this year.

Liz started her photography business With Grace and Hope LLC and has been happily learning more about that field as she goes. She continues to play in a volleyball league every week and is on the leadership team for her church’s moms group.

Ryan changed jobs at his work and is enjoying his new responsibilities there. He is winning at dad life and the girls adore him. He hates being talked about so we will leave it at that.

Maggie turned three years old in November and we are enjoying her new stage of life. She has been potty trained since about May, her “school” skills are developing more every day and she has become more interested in sitting down and learning. She transitioned to the preschool class at Sunday School and is repeating her music class from last year. She is full of energy and excitement!

Juliet turned one year old in August. She is learning things so quickly due to an adventurous big sister. She is very into doing things herself and is climbing even more than Maggie did (which I thought was impossible). She loves music, and books, and food. We are enjoying watching her grow and seeing her personality come through.

As a family, this year consisted of:

Traveling to Barbados

 Trips to the Cabins


Wisconsin Visits

Patten family visit to MI

Schulz Grandparent Anniversary Trip

Trip to Oregon/Seattle


Jeff & Katie’s Wedding

Becky & Clark’s Wedding


Pictures by B Emerson Photography

Cheers to this year and onto 2019!


Maggie Grace at Three Years Old

My beautiful firstborn daughter turned 3 years old. 3. That’s a preschooler. That’s how old the kids were that I used to teach. It’s amazing how slowly and quickly time goes.

I should be filled with dread and sadness at the fact that my baby is growing up, but instead God has granted me hope. It’s no secret that Maggie has challenged us greatly at two years old. But just as we thought we would never get through to her, that nothing was ever going to work for her, we started to notice small changes. She began to verbalize feelings (“Ooh, I’m so FRUSTRATED!”) and started to understand right from wrong. These small but monumental changes have given us hope that 3 will be much better than 2. She is still a spitfire and very energetic, but we’re been able to mostly funnel it into productive activities. She now loves to sit and read or do crafts or play games. Maggie has some dear friends, who she loves and talks about constantly. Her best friend is her cousin Kailee, a sweet fact she shares with everyone. She loves going to gymnastics open house, she loves swimming, airplanes, and motorcycles. Her favorite books right now are Pete the Cat books. She knows all her letters, counts to 20 and backwards from 10, she can spell her name, and she knows the colors of the rainbow. She has a fantastic memory and I know it is going to bite me in the butt someday soon.

Sweet Maggie has a giving heart and loves easily. She is adventurous and excitable, but also kind and thoughtful. She is growing up into a beautifully wonderful little girl and we thank God for her every day.

We love you, Maggie girl, more and more each day. DSC_5744DSC_5762DSC_5763DSC_5769DSC_5779DSC_5784DSC_5786DSC_5789DSC_5793DSC_5805

Our West Coast Adventure

Summer has ended and this year was a fantastic one. We had many adventures and so many good times with our friends and family. We traveled a lot, were up north at the cabins probably 3/4’s of the weekends, and we enjoyed the local parks and water areas many times.

Our favorite tradition (it certainly is becoming one) is taking a trip to visit my sister and brother in law in Oregon. Last year,  they lived in downtown Portland and we split up our time between waterfall adventures and exploring the city. This year, we decided to rent an Airbnb near the coast and spend our time enjoying one area for a few days.

We fell in love with the sweet little yellow beach house that had enough rooms for all of us to sleep comfortably, laundry facilities, and a clean, modern kitchen for us to cook many meals together. The hosts left us deer food and apples to disperse and enjoy the mass amounts of deer that would surround the house as a result. It was a highlight of our trip and the girls were delighted to be so close to these beautiful creatures.

We spent the days at the beach and the weather surprised us by gifting us a hot, sunny day that was ALMOST warm enough to make me go into the water. (But not really, because that ocean water….brrr…) We climbed cliffs and sand dunes, watched whales, admired the sea creatures that appear at low tide, and attempted to fly a kite in true coastal spirit.

While we saw so many beautiful areas and enjoyed all the coast has to offer, my favorite part was getting to see my sister and her husband (we only see them once a year these days). I miss our conversations and little moments that we shared. They obsess over Office quotes, just as I do, and I adore watching them love on their nieces. Being with family is so good and being with them in a beautiful and inspiring place is even better. I can’t wait to be with them again!

The girls did fantastic on the trip, although Maggie struggled with her bathroom skills and Juliet took longer than necessary to switch her sleep time to PST. All in all, they had fun, we had a fantastic time, and we continue to like traveling with each other. Ha!



To Juliet on Her First Birthday


Our Juliet Hope,

Today we celebrate you. You have completed your first journey around the sun. You are one year old! We have been blessed to know you for 365 wonderful days. You have brought beams of sunshine and joy into our lives. God gave us exactly who our family needed at this time.

On this day last year, my water broke in the wee hours of the night. I left your big sister asleep in her bed, knowing that I would be giving her a precious gift the next time I saw her. I thought that I would struggle to accept you as the new addition to our home. That I would wish for more time with my firstborn. But the moment I saw you, I was enamored.

My labor with you was steady and calm. I repeated the Lord’s promises and envisioned you as the best reward for my hard work. I was strong and determined to meet you quickly. You were just as eager to meet us. 

You arrived around 9 am on Sunday, with our church praying for you and me. I felt that wonderful instantaneous bond to you and you immediately knew who I was. You belong with me. With us. You are a gift from God.

Watching you grow this year has brought me to tears and made me laugh with joy. You have reached milestones just a tad quicker than your big sister, I think in order to catch up to her. You adore her and she adores you. I see your bond getting stronger every day. Soon, you will be sharing secrets with her and teaming up with her. I can tell already that we will need all of God’s help in raising you two.

You have constantly surprised us this year. You arrived earthside as dark as your sister, then your hair fell out and came back with a red tint, but then it lightened up and now you are as blonde as your aunt! We anticipated a calm, demure, and sensitive personality from your infancy, but you have developed into an emotional and loud risk taker. I can’t wait to watch you keep growing.

You currently love: music, cheese, climbing, Mama, making faces, sleeping without a sleep sack, playing in water, baby dolls, taking every single toy out of its container, making noises with your mouth, pulling hair, waving, and feeding the dogs.

You have been to two oceans, on seven plane rides, the tops of mountains, and to the Caribbean. You have seen wild monkeys and whales. You have had countless playdates and zero sleepovers with anyone but mom. You have finally slept through the night twice this week and are officially night weaned. You practiced walking for a month, but I am now pleasantly surprised to see you walking around the house confidently. You say “mama, dada, Mah (Maggie), Lay (Leia)”, your favorite song is “Old MacDonald” and you sing the “eeieeio” part. You are now in size 4 shoes and I think you’re going to have big feet like your sister.

I may not have been able to give you as much attention as your sister received as a baby, but I certainly feel like I get to love on you and cherish your babyhood more because I appreciate it so much more than I did the first time. Your sweetness and attachment to me has been nourishment to my soul. You are so loved by everyone around you. We are blessed to be called your family and to see you grow into the person God is shaping you to be.


Happy birthday, Jules!


I’d Choose You Again and Again



Father’s Day is here again and while most of us moms think “isn’t every day the day that dads get to sleep in, get food made for them, and get others to shop for them?” While it’s probably true in many cases, there are so many reasons to celebrate the dads in your life.

While it is becoming more discussed in our society, we have barely scratched the reality of the importance of fathers in raising children. Take a gander at this NPR interview that cites startling statistics about the “Fatherless Generation” . Fatherless children are more likely to be poor, to drop out of school, and to self-harm. It’s incredible the effect fatherhood has in a child’s life.

I have to admit, more often than not, I am bitter about my husband’s “freedom” – such as not having to get up in the middle of the night to breastfeed or not having to clean up the vomit or not having to change a million diapers during the day. I am selfish and often wish we could trade places for a bit.

The truth is that I couldn’t handle being a father. My husband is a dedicated provider, who challenges himself at work and who sacrifices daily to ensure that our family has everything we need. He puts us first pretty much all the time. He is the fun parent. He is the one who chases our toddler around the house and throws her up in the air. He’s the one who does anything to get our baby to laugh. He is the one who comes home and greets me with a kiss and makes me feel loved every single darn day.

My daughters’ father has a very important job and I have no desire to take it on. God gave us the perfect man to lead our family and to raise our two girls. I never want to take him and his effort for granted.

Happy Father’s Day to the one I chose to raise my children and the one who God chose for our family.

the dawn of summer

there’s a sweet spot of summer and i think it comes at the very beginning. when the long tentacles of winter are not so long gone that you forget how miserable it was just weeks ago. when you look outside and realize you don’t remember when it happened, but the grass is a vibrant green and the trees are full of leaves. when the birds wake you up in the morning by chirping outside your windows and the sun’s rays are peeking through the blinds at 5 am.

the sweet spot of summer is when the kids first get out of school, running into the warm sun with the arms wide open. when the lake water is still cool enough to make you draw a quick breath, but refreshing on the eighty degree day.

the sweet spot of summer is when you spend the day outside and forget to eat at the normal meal times because the day seems to be hourless. when you eat fresh fruit like you never have tasted anything so good in your entire life. when your feet are constantly dirty from never wearing shoes outdoors.

the sweet spot of summer is remembering your beautiful childhood and the details that you forgot but can easily recall. the part of your life that can continue on and on as long as summer does.