To Juliet on Her First Birthday

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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!

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February 23: Little Darlings

As you probably have heard by now, we have some change to our weather lately. My sister in Portland has some beautiful snow that shut down the city and we have had temps in the mid 50’s and flooding. I’ll take the early spring any day! It renews my spirit. We have been very on the go this week and it feels like I’ve been putting away laundry everyday, anyone else feel like everything is just piling up? I surely need some time away from the house. Although I can only imagine the laundry pileup when we get back…

Maggie: Potty training is going so well! We transitioned from the floor seat to a toilet topper. She has taken more initiative and has been very consistent as long as she doesn’t have pants on. That’s our next step! I obviously chose to potty train at the perfect time…hopefully we don’t fall backwards over our trip.

She now sings the entire song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – she knows most of the words, but she makes up the ones she doesn’t and I love it. She started saying “uh oh…oh no!” in the cutest way recently and it’s become a joke. She actually starts laughing about it, so it may be her first joke?

She has been very cuddly and loving to me lately. I keep looking back at her baby pictures and it breaks my heart how quickly she has grown. This is a precious time and I’m determined to soak in every bit of the details. I like to write them down (like in this blog), so that I forever remember how she fake cries with her face scrunched up or how she sings in a deep voice for the doctor part in 5 Little Monkeys. I just love how wild and lovely she is right now.

One last tidbit I don’t want to forget: she constantly plays with her dollhouse people and has names for them all. She has a mama, a daddy, and Baby Jesus. Who is actually Princess Aurora. Kids are just so funny.

Juliet: This champ has popped two teeth in the last two weeks. She is having trouble with sleeping as a result and also with transitioning from a swaddle. But we survive! She is very confident now at sitting up and has just started to play with toys alongside Maggie. It is SO cute!!! All I dreamed of coming true in front of me. I cannot wait for the interactive play! She is a total mama’s girl and I’m not touched out yet. She loves to be strapped on and hang out wherever I am. She loves music and has the sweetest laugh. She had her first late night giggle fit yesterday…she couldn’t stop laughing!

 

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Living in Grace

I’ve been working on a blog post for about two months now; battling writer’s block every sentence of it. This is not that post.

This post is just about coming as I am. As it should be. I’d love to be that Pinterest mom, but we have yet to do a Valentine’s craft (I printed off heart coloring pages, close enough?), my home is in a constantly disheveled renovating state, and dry shampoo always has my back these days.

But this obsessive planner has learned a lot in the past two years of being a mom. Letting go and accepting life unplanned has been freeing. I’m not all the way there…i still have a planner, a dry erase calendar, and TWO phone calendars ruling my days, but I no longer feel guilty that Maggie knows the entire Daniel Tiger theme song or that I have no idea how much my youngest sleeps.

My Moms group has a theme this year – “No More Perfect”. Which I think is just perfect for these crazy, fun-filled days of young parenthood. Living in God’s grace to be who I am right now and work on perfection when I meet Him 🙂

 

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Margaret Grace at Two Years

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T w o.

Two whole years I have known you. 24 months of being a mom to you. I catch myself staring at you lately, wondering how I could have been so blessed to know you.

You are beautiful. You have the sweetest curls and gorgeous eyelashes. You are solid and athletic – proof of your physical abilities. You have long limbs and fingers…and feet! (in size 8 shoes already!)

You say the cutest things since you can’t talk well yet. “mina” = banana, “sasa” = applesauce, “seesah” = sister, “waya” = Leia. You sing along with me to your goodnight song and “Jesus Loves Me”, and every song from Moana and Trolls. Oh, your favorite movie is Moana. By far. But you love Daniel Tiger now and I’m grateful for the switch from Baby Einstein finally.

You know the alphabet song and can count to 10 (you try to hold up your fingers like I do). You know the colors red, blue, and purple; every other color is blue. You are getting picky with your foods and only want to eat fruit and cheese. Your favorite food is pizza.

You have your father’s mechanical mind and adventure-seeking spirit. You have my love of music and desire to have people close by. You are the most outgoing, loving, wildest toddler I know.

I couldn’t love you more…

Happy birthday, my Maggie Grace.

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Our Juliet Hope

The probability of giving birth on your due date is just under 4%. Of the current moms my age at my church, I know of three births in the last two years that landed on due dates. My last child is one of those punctual children.

I never announce the name I picked for my child until they arrive in the world. Partly to make sure they are the right gender (we didn’t find out for my first) and partly to make sure they fit their name.

My husband actually chose our newest daughter’s first name…Juliet, or Jules. Even in the womb, she seemed to be feminine and dainty compared to Maggie. The name just fit her, even before I officially met her. I even decorated her room with pinks and flowers, basically the opposite of what I did with Maggie’s nursery.

Hope. We (I) knew we wanted to continue with the theme we had set with Maggie’s middle name of Grace – reminding us of God’s grace. I struggled a lot with choosing the right middle name. But as we drew closer to meeting her, I got a peace about the word “hope”. Especially in the time in our world where there’s so much suffering and fear, we could use the reminder of the hope of Jesus’ return and completion of His beautiful kingdom.

Now, her birth story…

Her birth day arrived with much anticipation. Funnily enough, the day before she came, I was exhausted from trying whatever I could to start labor the whole week. I fell asleep around 10:30 Saturday night without even thinking about my due date the next day.

At 1:30 am,  I woke up to my water breaking and jumping out of bed because I had forgotten that I had put on a waterproof mattress cover. I woke Bear up and told him my water had broken. We sprang into action and I took a shower to clean up before heading  to the hospital. We chatted excitedly about finally meeting our new baby girl.

I woke my mom to tell her the news and fought the urge to snuggle with Maggie for one last time before her new sister arrived. I didn’t dare wake her up when we were trying to get out of the house quickly.

We got to the hospital around 2:30 and got checked in pretty soon afterwards. Apparently the week prior had been very popular for having babies because there  were no recovery rooms available until late Sunday afternoon! We arrived just in time to get the largest room with a jacuzzi tub in it. An answer to prayer since I chose to not use pitocin this time around. The doctors and nurses I had were awesome and were great advocates for my rights and desires in my delivery.

Since my water broke, I had more of a deadline than a normal delivery. I was granted six hours to progress from 4.5 cm. I was desperate to not need pitocin, so I did everything I could to get labor moving quickly. I walked the halls, bounced on the birthing ball, and relaxed in the tub for hours. Thankfully, my contractions began to come stronger and more consistent. By 7:30 (the end of my 6 hours), I had gotten to a six! My body was doing exactly what God designed it to do.

The next couple hours were filled with intense contractions and not even the tub would help. I honestly felt like giving up. I only labored for roughly 7 hours, but once they came, my contractions progressed quickly. At 9:15, I must have been getting really loud in an effort to manage the pain because all of a sudden, two nurses and two doctors were in the room asking to check my dilation.

I fully expected to only be at an 8. I was ready to ask for an epidural if that was the case. I was losing focus and having a hard time mentally staying on top of my contractions. Of course, I was having such a hard time because I was fully dilated and ready to push.

The doctor told me to hold on while he gets everything ready “just in case”. It was a good thing he did, because two pushes later, our Juliet came into the world with a healthy set of lungs.

We loved her before we knew her, but knowing her is so much sweeter. She has blessed our family and we never knew how much she would add to our dynamic. It’s difficult to remember life before her and we can’t get over how our love has been multiplied.

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Juliet Hope

Born on Sunday, August 27th 2017 at 9:29 am

7.8 lbs and 20.5 inches long

Encouragement on Mothers’ Day

This is for all the mamas out there. Mamas of all kinds…the ones who are just surviving, the ones who feel more like a feeding trough than a human being, the ones who haven’t slept through the night in years, the ones who reheat their coffee five times, the ones who hope no one notices that she hasn’t showered in a week. This is also for the mamas who are longing to hold a baby. The ones who have grieved, prayed, and even lost hope. This is for the mamas who are loving a baby that doesn’t share their last name, the ones who are raising someone else’s baby, the ones whose love goes deeper than blood. This is for the mamas who are raising someone else’s child, knowing full well that the child will never stay with her. The ones who are giving a temporary home but a forever love. This is also for the mamas who already raised their own children and are now raising their grandchildren. The ones who are even more tired and worn out than us young moms ever could imagine, but still chasing little ones.

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You are loved. You are honored. You are important. Your love is eternal and your care leaves an impression on all you meet.

You are a teacher, a provider, a chef, a personal shopper, a housemaid, a secretary, a chauffeur, a contractor, a nurse, and a counselor (among many other roles).

You are in the most demanding job in the world with the least preparation. You are amazing and have filled your role with grace.

This Mother’s Day, be encouraged. Know that you are respected and loved. Reflect on your past year and be open to what struggles and blessings the next year will bring.

 

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A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”  Psalm 31:10-31