Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014 (so far)

We've survived 3 out of our 4 Christmas gatherings...exhausted but happy to be home together and blessed to have so much of our family close enough to visit with over the holidays.

Last week we were all really sick. It was Kai's only full week of school all month and he missed 3 days due to so much coughing and congestion. We got him on antibiotics for his double ear infection and he is already doing better. As the week progressed the rest of us started to feel under the weather. Instaed of their usual jaunt to Grandma's last Thursday we all stayed home sick. Friday was Malakai's class party and I was able to swing by the school and grab all the crafts for him to do at home. I had also gone to have dental work done that morning and taken Des and Aurelia to the doctor, making myself an appointment for Monday. 4 out of 5 of us were prescribed antibiotics. Ben stayed home sick Monday and really should have stayed home more but had too much work to get done to try to do it all remotely from home. It was a whirlwind of a week and a half leading up to Christmas. We did as much as we could in advance to avoid late nights of wrapping gifts and making food for the upcoming events. 

Ben worked a half day Christmas eve and as soon as he got home we hit the ground running. We were all feeling well enough to celebrate, so we headed to church and then to his parents to gather with all his siblings. We had a great dinner and quite the gift exchange.
{Aurelia's 1st Christmas Eve in a dress I made her}

{these boys could hardly contain their excitement} 

Our tradition is to open one gift on Christmas eve (hint: it's always pajamas), read T'was the Night before Christmas, leave cookies for Santa and head to bed. We were out fairly late, and having anticipating as much we brought the PJ's with us and I set the cookies out for the boys who had passed out on the short drive home. 

We had Christmas morning at home, just the 5 of us. The boys even tolerated waiting for Aurelia to sleep in a bit while they snuggled up with daddy on the couch after a quick breakfast. Once I got my coffee we let the kids dig into their gifts from Santa and then from us. Our rules on gifts is to keep it simple, so we always have a pretty minimalist Christmas, and we like it that way. Each kiddo got a few presents from Santa, and 2 gifts from us. Ben and I also got a few gifts from Santa and 1 thing for each other. 

{my precious gifts}

We had a pretty leisure morning and early afternoon letting the kids play with their gifts, read and color and watch a Christmas special. Then we scrambled to get out of the house for our 2 family gatherings that day. We had dinner with my Aunt + Uncle on my dad's side and dessert at my Aunt + Uncle's and my mom's side of the family. Thankfully we snapped some photos before leaving the house because everything else happened in such a blur that we barely took any pictures once we left the house. 

{Aurelia in her Christmas dress from Mima}

We dragged ourselves home just before 9pm, carried sleeping kiddos into the house and snuggled up to watch A Christmas Story (which Ben had never seen), then promptly passed out from sheer exhaustion. 

Today we purposefully planned absolutely nothing. We've been eating at odd hours and watching a little tv between playing with new toys and reading new books together. 

Tomorrow is our last Christmas gathering, with my parents + siblings, and we'll have a small celebration for my birthday as well. The best part is that both Ben + Malakai are on vacation for another 10 days and I'm enjoying ever minute of it. 

I hope you've had a very happy Christmas and here's to a healthy and blessed new year in 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

featured artist: b.lovely photography

Friends- remember that amazing giveaway a while back featuring Amy of Life Love Oils? Well, her family is full of amazing talent and her sister Breanne is no exception. Click on over to b.lovely photography to check out her portfolio of gorgeous images. I just love how she captures families in their natural state.

Lucky for all you locals she is in town, but for a limited time. She is currently running a special, so do yourself a favor and contact her at for more information, including her exclusive pricing and to schedule a session before she's back on the other side of the country. 

We have a session with her after Christmas, once all the craziness is behind us but we are still on vacation. I can't wait to share our photos with you once she's done!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Trimming the tree...more Christmastime photos

When we got our Christmas tree we brought it in later that afternoon and decorated it that night. I love watching my kids put ornaments on the tree and marvel over the twinkly lights. I know they won't want to help with this tradition forever, so I try to take it in while it's still fun for everyone. 

Ben snapped a few of these pictures from outside our front window. I love seeing him use his creative talents.

Here are a few more shots of Aurelia in our baby santa outfit. Later I moved her nearer the tree and she stared at the lights and watched her brothers hang ornaments.

Growing up we had to take turns with the honor of putting the topper on the tree after all the other decorations are on. We started doing that with the boys this year...

Surprisingly enough, with a new baby and three kids total our house looks more festive than it ever has this time of year. We've got a fun mix of handmade, gifted, store bought and kid-made decorations  throughout the house. My only regret is not buying a matching stocking and holder when I got the boys theirs years ago. Target no longer carries the silver letters we put on each boy's stocking, nor the type of stocking we got them. They are currently out of stock of the holders that we hang them from, so I'm waiting for them to either restock or hopefully still carry them (or something similar) next year. It's not the end of the world but I just think it would be cute to have them match or at least coordinate. 

More on our Christmastime festivities to come...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

my little santas

Each of our kids has worn this santa costume for their first Christmas time, usually while we decorate the tree. This was first my brother Cody's so it's 20-something year's old at this point. I can't wait to pass it back to my siblings some day for more pictures like these...

Malakai was 5 months at his first Christmas in 2009. Desmond was just over 2 months in 2011 and Aurelia will be 3.5 months for hers this year. 

Love my little santa babies...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Picking out our Christmas tree

Last weekend was our annual trip to the tree farm. A few years ago we were looking for a place to get a tree that would shake it out (because we'd had two unfortunate issues with infested trees). Not only do we get a great tree with all the crawlies shaken out, but usually there is a horse-drawn ride. Sadly they weren't able to acquire horses this year, so it was a tractor ride, but we still had a good time. 

{the girls: my sister Amanda, Aurelia + I, and my mom Tami}

The weather was perfect, not only dry but actually warm! After these photos I tossed my coat in the car. 

{because, why not?}

{My girl's first tractor/trailor ride}

The tractor ride was decidedly more smelly and bumpy than the horses so we got off at the first stop. Just before stopping my mom spotted this bright green beauty and we snagged it without having to look at any others, which is ideal when young children are in tow.

{our sad attempt at taking a photo with our chosen tree}

{I love this little illustration of our tree coming down}

After walking back to the main entrance we settled in by the fire for hot cocoa and candy canes while Ben took care of the tree shaking and bailing business. 

 {sticky, sticky, sticky}

And we headed back home in record time...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving weekend

I can't believe our first long weekend of the holidays is already coming to a close. Malakai was off of school for 5 days, and Ben was off work for 4. It has been so nice having them home, especially right when I came down with a rather brutal cold. Now I just need to pray hard that everyone else stays healthy!

After 9 years of double Thanksgivings (both in one day) we decided to simplify and just do one this year. Mostly because it's easier with a baby (who isn't a fan of the car seat anyway) and partly because we wanted to stay in town. We've discussed maybe starting an every other year tradition where we rotate who we celebrate with each year. It was so restful to be able to stay at one location all day instead of having to plan to transition multiple times and figure out what to eat where and all that jazz. Packing up the kids just once to leave and once to go home was one of the best parts. We missed the other side of the family but we saw most of them the next day anyhow. 

Aurelia ate + slept through most of her first Thanksgiving, so she's already pretty much got the traditions down. The boys enjoyed playing with cousins and other relatives all day. It was a nice and relatively relaxing day. 

Normally we go get our Christmas tree a day or two after Thanksgiving but with the forecast of rain and my feeling under the weather we chose to push it back to next weekend. It also gives us more time to clear a space for the tree and pull the Christmas decor out of storage. 

Last year I made an Advent calendar for the boys that they loved. This year Malakai made a chain at Sunday school that we'll start shortening day by day. Each link has a scripture verse and activity. We should be plenty busy learning and celebrating all month long. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

More from "BnG Handmade"

I decided to create a little "shop name" even though I'm not opening up an Etsy shop or anything that official. I wanted to have something in place in case I went there in the future, but mostly to give shoppers a way to contact me if they wanted to order something special or contact me after the Bazaars had passed. So I went with something simple and tagged my items with "BnG handmade" referencing my blog name so that everything is streamline with contact info and page information.

My handmade inventory is almost all up in Salem until Thanksgiving, but my aunt Deedee and mom,  Tami, had a bunch of goodies at the annual Country Holiday Bazaars out in Veneta this past weekend. My mom's handmade dolls are also up for individual sale, just contact me and we can work out the details. 

This weekend my crochet items and hand painted signs will be added to their inventory at Thurston High School choir's annual holiday bazaar. Come by between 10am-6pm on Black Friday or 10am-5pm on Saturday the 29th. If you can't make it but want information or to special order something, again, just shoot me an email and I can answer any questions you might have!

Thanks to all of you who visited the Bazaars and supported us by making even a small purchase! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas Bazaars + Craft Fairs

Today + tomorrow Ben's aunt Lori, my mom + I will have a table of handmade items at a Holiday Bazaar in Salem.

If you're in the area, I'd encourage you to stop by and check it out! Say hi to Lori for me, she'll be heading up the table both days. Here are some of the things I'll have there-

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our 3 littles...

With a new baby and my oldest being 5 I'm seeing first hand how fleeting the baby days are. The saying, "babies don't keep" is painfully true. So I'm not only holding on tight to every little moment with Aurelia, but also each small interaction with Malakai and Desmond. They are growing so fast, too fast, and I want to make sure to remember all of it before I'm longing for these days, no matter how hard they seem (and are).

Aurelia is already 2 months old. It blows my mind that it's possible that we've been a family of 5 for 9 weeks. It seems like she just got here. Malakai is in his 3rd month of school, something that also seems impossible. Desmond just turned 3 last month and keeps us all very busy each day. Watching the 3 of them interact with each other is by far the best part of each day. The boys are sweet + gentle with "baby sister" and ask for her all morning until she's awake, then they clamor to see her and be the first one to make her smile.

Aurelia is cooing and gurgling and just making the best baby noises. She started smiling at 5 weeks old and I swear she's going to bless us with a giggle any day now. She's impossibly ticklish, but she just wiggles and grunts in response for now. She is growing like crazy and the number 1 compliment she gets these days is in reference to her sweet chubby cheeks and her little dimples. Her eyes are a bright blue but we would be pretty shocked if they stayed that way. The boys have Ben's hazel eyes (although Des' have a little green in them like Mima) and since her hair color already favors daddy's, I'm guessing her eyes will be the same. Only time will tell. 

Malakai is reading like crazy these days. He devours any book you give him almost immediately. The words he is able to read and the concepts he understands surprise me often. Ben + I are sad to see the days of spelling things to keep secrets in front of the kids go by, but we know Malakai is much too smart for us to get away with that anymore. I got to visit his class for their fall party on October 30th and I loved being a "fly on the wall" so to speak. Watching him interact with his friends and work on activities throughout the afternoon was such a joy. He loves school so much that he can hardly wait to get to his homework and he will make more "school work" for himself regularly. He's constantly writing letters to people and drawing pictures. He loves learning, but we do have to be careful he doesn't get too much of a good thing because he will get frustrated if he doesn't get it right or do it how he wants it done sometimes. 

Desmond is our imaginative little buddy. He is the best at playing pretend and making friends with strangers. He is talking all the time and any willing participant is a perfect playmate. He loves to make forts or pile blankets into "cars" to drive or  "airplanes" to fly. He loved being an astronaut with Malakai for Halloween and continues to play with his costume. Like Malakai he will quote movies and shows and recite books easily. If you aren't familiar with what he's been reading or watching lately his dialogue can be pretty confusing. Three has proved to be the hardest age in this household for the 2nd time around. Desmond has learned how to be defiant and throw a master tantrum, but boy can that kid snuggle!

These three are keeping us on our toes and the days are flying by faster than ever before. Sadly Malakai had a reoccurring double ear infection recently and we are waiting to hear back from insurance on whether they will authorize his getting tubes to prevent having the doozy of a winter we did last year. If they won't authorize it we may have to wait to see if he gets another infection with his next cold (because sickness is inevitable with kids of this age) and perhaps they will then see a need. We are hoping that won't be the case, so we can avoid him having to endure more pain or any hearing loss. 

Other than that and the boys having a mild cold earlier we've been able to stay fairly healthy so far this fall. I'm so thankful that Aurelia hasn't yet gotten sick but I'm sure we won't make it through the season unscathed. I can honestly attribute much of our healthy days to essential oils. I felt a cold (sore throat) coming on and used some On Guard/Shield/Thieves oil right away and felt better the same day. The boys' colds were relatively short lived and Desmond fared better than he ever has, as he's susceptible to breathing issues when he has any type of respiratory symptoms with a cold. I'm honestly so thankful to Amy for getting us started with eo's. If you have any questions about using essential oils, she's a wonderful resource...find here HERE.

So there's our little update, hopefully I'll be back to post sooner rather than later but only time (and my kiddos) will tell. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sticking with it...

Hi friends, I'm back! I've thought a lot about it and I really don't want to let go of blogging just because of what happened a couple weeks ago. So, I'm here and I'll be posting a little more depending on how often I get a little time to tap something out and throw a few photos in. Speaking of, due to aforementioned incident I will be ramping up security on my page. Annoyingly it means bigger bolder watermarks on all my photos, but I will still post photos. For now my Instagram will remain private, but feel free to request me. This will help me keep track of who has access to what I post there. I will be posting fewer photos on the Facebook page due to it's public nature, but I will still be sharing there so be sure to "like" it to get updates. 

As you can likely imagine, or possibly relate to, life with 3 kids is very busy! We went through a lot of changes all at once over the last couple months with Malakai starting Kindergarten and then Aurelia joining us just 3 days later. Ben had a week off of work and then I felt sort of thrown in to a new and very busy routine. Getting Kai to school daily proves to be exhausting and Desmond decided to stop napping completely a week later. How fun for everyone! 

{there are THREE watermarks on this photo, some are harder to find than others, just one way I'm increasing security here to protect my family from another incident of stolen identity}

Desmond turned 3 earlier this month, so our kiddos are 5, 3 and 8 weeks old as of today. Time is FLYING by us and I feel like all I can do is keep our heads above water. I know things will calm (somewhat) and even out a bit soon, but we are heading into the holidays so it can't last long!

This year I'm participating in a few Christmas Bazaars to make a little extra money and gauge interest in some of my handmade items. I will not be opening a shop anytime soon but I have done a little branding in case I decide to go that route in the future. For now, it's all informal so that I can be protective of my time. I hope to sell pre made items at the bazaars and possibly drum up some custom orders as well. I'll post dates and locations of the Bazaars that I'll have items at on our Facebook page, so keep an eye out there and then come look for my work under "BnG handmade". 

That's it for now. I will be back to share some updates on what we've been up to as a family and how the kiddos have grown. Keep an eye out for more giveaways coming as well. Thanks for taking time to check in with our little corner of the internet. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

social media hazards

It's been quiet around here, but not only because we have a tiny new human in the house. It's also not because our 3 year old isn't napping and our 5 year old is in his first and very busy year of school. While all of those things are really great reasons to take a blog break, as I've done before, I've been away for reasons out of my control. 

Sadly, I've not been around this space for a while because we recently had an issue of stolen identity. A Twitter user in the UK randomly stole a photo from our About Us section and used it as his own, claiming to be a husband and loving father of 2 (as only the boys were pictured) which means he was posing as Ben. Hiding behind our photo he attacked people verbally and brought attacks on our likenesses. Many people lashed out at him, identifying him through our photo and saying really terrible things about us in response. 

I was first notified of this impersonation through emails. I received 4 emails from different twitter users claiming that my photo had been stolen. They seemed a bit "spammy" in nature, especially because I didn't recognize any of the people contacting me.  Instead of clicking on any links in the emails I googled the username they were claiming had stolen our photo and was shocked at the snippets of tweets I saw from him and the replies of those he angered. Thankfully his account was taken down before I ever knew it existed. I am grateful to those of you who reported this user which I can only assume led to twitter removing him. 

Those who had emailed me had somehow tracked the photo back to my blog and quickly realized that we were not the ones behind the tweets this user was sending out. I was able to send tweets out to several users letting them know that the photo did not belong to this user, but the damage had been done. It just makes me sick that my husband and especially our sons were victims of these angry social media users' rants. We feel rather violated by the whole incident. I don't really want to blog or say much on twitter. I've made my instagram account private so that I have to approve followers from here on out, and I haven't posted anything to my Breaking New Ground Facebook page. I already watermark all my photos, but that didn't stop this person from using one anyhow. 

I'm trying not to let one person "ruin the internet for me" as Ben put it, but it's hard to not want to hunker down and protect my family from having anything like this happen again. I enjoy blogging for the community it has brought me to but it feels lost or broken somehow. So I'm taking some time to think and pray about what to do next. I may take my blog down and use it for my own records, or possibly make it private, open only to approved or invited users. It's also possible that I will keep things the same after some time away. 

I could use some encouragement so feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions on the matter in the comment section here. 

Thanks to those of you who read here and have supported us over the years! 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Birth Story: Aurelia

If you'd read my previous pregnancy updates you'd know that we were getting pretty anxious for little sister to arrive. I was also getting nervous about the possibilities of facing a medical induction if the ultrasound showed she needed to come out or I made it to 42 weeks pregnant.

Thankfully, our fears were not long lasting as labor started the very next day at 40 weeks and 1 day. I had been having pre-labor for weeks and braxton-hicks contractions for months. I was discouraged that by my 40 week appointment the contractions hadn't made any progress since 38 weeks. I knew labor could start at any time and I don't usually put much merit into the weekly "progress" because I was used to it being actual progress! 

We were told the entire pregnancy that because of how early (39 weeks) and quickly my last delivery was (6 hours) that this one would likely be earlier, just as quick and possibly faster. So image our surprise when we saw 40 weeks for the first time in 3 pregnancies. It surely made us feel like she was overdue. Although our house has never been more clean and organized (and recleaned and reorganized). 

So back to laboring...last Friday I had tried to take a nap after dropping off Malakai at school and getting Desmond to down but I just couldn't sleep. Once it was time to go pick up Kai I crouched down on the floor to change Desmond and had a pretty intense cramping in my belly. I didn't think too much of it as I'd been having similar pains for a while, I just figured it was ligaments stretching because of my heavy belly. 

When we got to school Desmond announced that I had an "owie on the floor" to a friend of ours and I had to explain what happened. As I got the boys back in the car I had another one, but figured it was just the same cramping from bending over to get into the car. 

When we got home the boys settled into snack time and ironically I was texting with a friend of mine who happens to be a doula, asking her advice for how to get through an induced labor in case that was what the future held. While chatting with her I had a more intense cramping with back pain that made me realize I was having a contraction...or at least I had hoped. It was 3pm and Ben was going to be home in an hour, so I called him and asked if he could come home now but discreetly if possible. He was able to nonchalantly head home early. I didn't call my mom to come watch the boys right away because I hadn't had very many of these cramping/contraction episodes to absolutely convince me that it was time to go. However, it quickly picked up to every 10 minutes so I gave her a call and started to get our bag and the house ready. 

The whole thing felt off as the top of my belly wasn't really contracting, I was feeling all the pressure and cramping in my lower belly and back. I had back labor with Desmond, as he was turned incorrectly, but this felt considerably different. Still, I tried some pelvic rocking in hopes she needed to turn and the back pain would lighten up. I tried laying on my side as well but that just felt terrible. I was doing so when Ben got home and thankfully he was able to explain to the boys what was happening because my groaning was confusing them. Desmond pouted, shoving his hands in his pockets and shrugging his shoulders saying "I'm scared" which was sad and pretty adorable. They were both fine when we explained that I'm ok and this was good. 

When my mom arrived Malakai didn't want me to leave. I hadn't seen him all day between him being at Ben's mom's that morning and school that afternoon. When I explained that we'd be bringing baby sister home soon he asked if it could be tomorrow instead. Bittersweet for sure. I distracted him with an activity with Mima and we were off. 

Ben teased me to be quiet so the neighbor lady who has told us she's been on "labor watch" didn't come running out. I despise laboring in the car but the drive wasn't too terribly long, and while I said "this is the worst part!" I had no idea what I was in for. 

When we got to the hospital we were offered a wheel chair several times but I just wanted to move. Sitting was the last thing I wanted to do during a contraction. They were coming about ever 5 minutes and I'd only been laboring an hour by then, it was a little after 4pm when they put us straight into a delivery room. We asked why we skipped triage but the lady who checked us in just said "they must think you're ready". After she got our info and left we waited a while for a nurse to come get us settled and check my progress but it was taking too long so I just told Ben, get me in the tub! Which ended up being kind of funny because when the nurse came in she said were weren't even checked in all the way yet! They were good sports about it, and I knew I'd be staying anyway so they rolled with it. They were persistent about putting in a "hep-lock" IV, making sure I knew I'd be at increased risk of bleeding with this being my 3rd child but I stayed my ground and got my way. 

When we finally got checked in closer to 5pm I had progressed from 3cm and 50% effaced the day before to 4cm and 80% effaced. Finally, progress! When I was out of the tub I was mostly up and on my feet, leaning over a counter or the bed. I'd get intense shivers and when I was standing my knees would tremble through contractions. I did a lot of side lunges through contractions in additional efforts to decrease the back labor, but nothing was working. I spent a little time on the birth ball, but because the contractions were so low it hurt to be seated at all. 

When I got checked again, maybe around 6:30 pm I was 8cm and 100% effaced. They rolled in the carts and the Dr. and labor nurse were at my side. I was having contractions on top of each other and moving around as much as I could to get through them. They were more intense than either of my previous labors and I kept thinking that we had to be close to pushing if it was progressing this fast. Unfortunately I stuck around at 9cm for a very long time. The Dr. broke my water to speed things up but I barely noticed that she did it, no gush at all. I labored for longer but no real progress so the Dr. had to leave but the nurse stayed in case things picked up again. 

The entire time Ben was at my side to push on my back through every single contraction. He didn't complain once, even though I knew his wrists were aching. I could not have made it through a drug-free labor with out his love and encouragement and his physical support. I also prayed a lot, through each contraction and especially the harder ones I found myself asking God to be my strength in my time of weakness. As things got harder and I got more exhausted I kept asking him to strengthen me, and He did. Although I felt exhausted and discouraged when progress slowed but labor stayed difficult, I had a peace knowing that I could get through it and we'd soon be on the other side. 

By 8pm the nurse checked and there was still a small amount I needed to progress, which she was able to manually move out of the way to get things going. She declared me "complete" and called the Dr back in. When she called I overheard her say something technical that I didn't understand but that it meant I could have a lot of pushing ahead of me. 

As I got to pushing, the Dr. came in and was getting her scrubs on when I felt baby begin to crown. I let them know that it was happening and she rushed over. As I pushed Dr. K said "Oh, there's still membrane here!" meaning, my water wasn't completely broken. Then I felt a terrible pain as I was pushing and she was poking to break the water. I let out the most horrific scream, it was an odd out of body experience for a moment and then she was coming. 

The entire labor Aurelia was moving like crazy. It hurt a LOT when she moved and Dr. K even mentioned that she'd never seen a baby move that much during delivery. She was moving through her entire birth. 

As I delivered her head Dr. K discovered the reason for my back labor, it wasn't that her position was turned, she was actually faced the right way, it was that her hand was at her head, so I delivered her head and right hand/arm at the same time. One more push and then the rest of her was out at 8:27pm. I pushed for a total of 5 minutes. 

I reached for her and she was up on my chest and still wiggling wildly as the nurses looked her over and wiped her down a bit. She let out a scream and I asked "is she still a girl?" because no one had mentioned her gender and I could only see the top of her head at that point. They laughed and Ben helped me flip her over to confirm that we had a daughter.  Ben cut the cord and she settled against me under the warm blankets as we marveled over our little girl as the nurses and doctors worked around me.

A few moments later the room went from loud and crazy to calm and quiet, just the three of us and our labor nurse. Around 9pm I attempted to nurse for a bit, she latched but didn't nurse at first. She got frustrated a few times so I gave her a break until trying again and she got it soon afterwards. Meanwhile Ben called up family to announce her arrival and let them know we'd be taking visitors the next morning after the boys got a chance to meet their sister. 

After 9:30 Ben + our nurse took her stats, footprints, and bathed her. Aurelia was born at 7 lbs, 15.2 ouches, 21 inches long, 14 inch head (plus that fist!). She screamed through most of the bath, but then settled once she had some skin to skin time with daddy while I got to take a shower and get ready to move to our room for the night. 

We moved just after 11pm and were settled in just before 1am when Ben went to sleep. Aurelia nursed often and in between I couldn't really quiet my mind to sleep. I was having a lot of contractions while nursing and the adrenaline rush of childbirth kept me wide awake. Nurses were in and out of our room all night for stats and labs and such, so it was probably a good thing I wasn't asleep anyway. I took a small nap somewhere between 5-6am and then I was wide awake again.

I handed Aurelia over to Ben and they took a little snooze together. I texted my mom that we were ready for the boys to come see us whenever they woke up that morning. A little while later I texted our news to some friends + family, but waited to share her name until Malakai + Desmond and our immediate families had come to meet her. 

Later that morning my mom came with the boys and waited with the rest of my family while Ben brought Kai + Des to meet Aurelia for the first time. They walked in with such excitement, this picture of Desmond's anticipation at the chance to hold her perfectly portrays their feelings. 

Malakai got right down to business and wanted to know her name. He wasn't sure about it at first but he's grown to like it. They marveled at her tiny hands + feet and then quickly asked for a snack. 

Shortly after the rest of my family came in and then Ben's family. It was crowded and noisy but that room was so full of love for our sweet baby girl. A lot of photos were taken and the nurses did tests all around us to prepare us to go home. We were in the car by 1:45 Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours since we had arrived to labor and delivery the evening before. 

That night, at the boys' request, Ben's mom had them over for the night. It was almost luxurious to be able to focus on just caring for her and getting some rest for ourselves that first night home. Ben made dinner, we watched the football game and even had some evening visitors before crashing hard. 

Ben had a week off of work, which was so wonderful while settling in and recovering from delivery. The boys loved having him home so much that the following Monday was ROUGH when they had to say goodbye. Such a bittersweet moment. 

It's been 3 weeks since our little sweetheart was born and we are falling more in love with her every day. I have felt an overwhelming feeling of completeness since her arrival, especially once our boys were back home with us and settled in. We are getting into some sort of routine with taking Malakai to school in the afternoons, although Desmond has decided this week that he doesn't want to nap. I'm hoping it's a phase but being that he's nearly 3, we could be seeing the end of his naps around here. Malakai has loved helping out, he'll bring me anything I need while I'm nursing or changing a diaper and while it took him 3 days to be ready, he now wants to hold her all the time. 

Thanks for all the well wishes, to those of you who brought meals or are signed up to bring them in the coming weeks, the gifts for baby girl and all the love on social media. We feel so supported and blessed by our community of family and friends. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Aurelia Ann: 2 weeks

Hey look- a blog post that is actually timely! Somehow 2 weeks have flown by since our little Aurelia was born. It feels like she's always been in our lives but that she's still brand new at the same time.

She has been an AMAZING newborn. I don't believe in jinxing things but I'm sure we are due for some rough patches pretty soon in terms of sleep and fussiness as she gets older. Still, we've been blessed by the sweet sleepy newborn phase while still getting quite a few wakeful moments. Ben + I love to lay in bed with her when the house is quiet for the evening (AKA when her brothers are finally asleep) and watch her look around and wiggle her arms and legs while making those precious and fleeting baby cooing sounds. 

The boys are so taken with her. She will sleep in a couple hours past when they get up (I know, I'm spoiled...but for real we have never had a good sleeper so I'm praying she's it!). When I get her out of bed in the morning Malakai + Desmond come running to see her. They shower her with kisses and talk to her in the sweetest and most gentle little voices. 

She has had 2 baths (other than the occasional sponge bath) since we brought her home. The first one was a family affair and she hated it. Today I gave her a 2nd bath while the boys were at Grandma's for the morning and she loved it. It was calm and sweet and she just cooed and wiggled in the warm water. 

Naturally since she was all clean and the house was peaceful, we did a little 2 week photo shoot before she passed out again. I'm obsessed with this little outfit (thanks cousin Valeena!) and since summer will be gone soon and she will be too big for it before we know it, I had to get some photos of her in it. 

I'm surely not a pro at photographing newborns, I don't have fancy props or skills to get her in any fancy positions but goodness I think she's pretty cute in these. In case you missed it, earlier this week I posted a few photos my mom took of her at just 5 days old

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Aurelia Ann: 5 days old

My mom did some photos of Aurelia last week that I'm finally getting around to posting here. Aurelia is now 12 days old, but she was only 5 days old when we did these photos. Malakai loved helping out with choosing headbands for her to wear. Nearly every day he asks if we can "play dress up" so he can pick something out for her.

So here are just a few photos of our sweet girl...

Some of you may have noticed her nickname on Instagram. We rarely call her anything but Aurelia besides "sister" because that's what we were used to calling her for so long before she was born. However, with such a long name we knew she'd need a nickname. Ben + I wanted to choose one that was unique like her name and also true to the pronunciation of her name, which is sometimes confusing for those unfamiliar with the name.

For clarification, her name is pronounced Aw-Ray-Lee-Uh. Her nickname is Raeli (Ray-lee) to reflect the pronunciation of her name we added the letter a.  Reli is true to the spelling of her name but could get all sorts of confusing and just didn't look right as stand alone name. So...there you have it. Our sweet Raeli who is already bigger today than she was when these photos were taken!

I've almost completed writing out my birth story for those of you who (like me) love reading the details. I'm waiting to share it until Ben can write out his version so that reading mine doesn't affect his at all. So it could be tomorrow or it could be next week, we shall see.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Introducing Baby P #3...

Well it's all over Facebook and Instagram by now so it's likely not news to anyone that our sweet baby girl was born this past week. Still, here is the official blog announcement with photos that we haven't yet posted anywhere else.

Our 3rd child and our first girl was born on Friday September 5th at 8:27pm. She weighed in at 7lbs 15.2 ounces, is 21 inches long with a 14 inch head circumference. She has plenty of fuzzy hair that is a light brown/dirty blonde sort of color, and big grey blue eyes. 

Aurelia Ann 

Aurelia is pronounced aw-rey-lee-uh and means golden in latin. Ann means grace and  is a family middle name. It's my mom's middle name and is part of the name's of all the girls on that side of the family (mine is LeAnn, my sister's is LouAnn, etc). 

My mom submitted her birthday to the local news and the anchor pronounced her name correctly so for those of you wanting to hear it pronounced watch this little snippet. (The other birthday is her uncle Cody! )

We were so surprised at how much she resembles Desmond when he was brand new and joked that her name was Desmond 2.0 when the family came to meet her. She is developing her own look as the days go by but is still very reminiscent of her big brothers. 

We came home Saturday afternoon and have been enjoying our time as a family of 5. I feel so complete.  I'll be sure to post more about labor and delivery soon. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Baby P#3: Due Date

How far along:  40 weeks 

How big is baby: hopefully not too big! I've started to lose weight. 

What have you been up to: getting Malakai ready and off to school
Maternity clothes: I only have a few tops that are long enough anymore!
Sleep: I'm convinced it'll get better with a newborn than what little sleep I'm getting now. 
Milestones:  reaching our due date, I've never been pregnant this long! Malakai was born at 39 weeks, 5 days and Desmond was born at 39 weeks. 

Best Moments: Being able to see Malakai off to his first day of school. 
Worst Moment: False labor, I'm so ready for sister to be here!

Food cravings: I don't have much of an appetite lately. 
Food aversions: none
Symptoms: lots of varied discomfort, false labor on the daily

Movement: normal

Gender: girl
What I’m looking forward to: finding out her birth day!
What I’m nervous about/praying for: Facing an induction if we go too far overdue. 

What I miss: sleep. I can't even get comfy enough to take a nap to catch up these days.

Next appointment: I had my 40 week appointment this morning and a non-stress test. Everything looks good. Scheduled an appointment for next week with an ultrasound to check on her growth and fluid levels. 

Weekly wisdom: Trying not to let the constant check-ins from everyone get on my nerves!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Off to School: Malakai's 1st day of Kindergarten

I've been so anxious about today for weeks. I was fearful that I would be in labor or stuck waiting to be discharged from the hospital after giving birth when Malakai's 1st day of school arrived. For a long time I convinced myself I would be okay but it built up and I realized it was just as okay to be sad about the possibility of missing such a big milestone. An even bigger step for us than some because we've homeschooled up until now. Malakai has never gone to day care or preschool outside of the home. For years he has attended church between 1-3 times a week and this summer he went to a week of VBS and Day camp, but school is so much bigger!

Nobody thought that I would still be pregnant at this point, we were convinced we'd have a newborn on his first day of school. Although I have been almost as anxious to meet our little girl, I am pretty relieved that I was able to focus on Malakai so intently for his first school experience.  He was so ready to go. Daddy was even able to take a little time off work to see him off...

{this kiddo LOVES green!}
Desmond was just as excited about seeing Malakai off to school, of course he had to wear a back pack too! 

We got to the school early enough to take a few pictures around the buildings

{this boy's facial expressions are just darling to me}
He kept asking, "can we go to my class now?!" but we were still early so we waited outside and took some more photos until the teacher came and let us in. Malakai sweetly listened to instructions of what to do first and excitedly followed through...

Once we unloaded his school supplies and found his cubby we said our goodbye's so he could go do his "morning jobs". We each gave him a squeeze and headed out the door. Not a tear was shed, we were all just so happy and excited for our big boy today. 

And my big Kindergartener was just as thrilled about school before and after class... He talked on and on about the things they did and the kids he met. When he went to VBS and Day camp this summer it was like pulling teeth trying to find out what he learned and what he did, so I was pretty shocked at his eagerness to share his experience. 

I'm so happy for him and this big milestone! Happy 1st day of school Malakai!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Baby P#3: 39 weeks

{Visiting Kai's classroom}

How far along:  39 weeks 

How big is baby: we shall see soon I hope!

What have you been up to: "nesting" and waiting...
Maternity clothes: all day, every day
Sleep: I wake up at about 2-3am every morning and don't get back to sleep til 5-6am. It's so much fun!
Milestones:  reaching the point in pregnancy I was when I went into labor with Desmond nearly 3 years ago. 

Best Moments: snuggling with my boys and enjoying our last moments just the 4 of us before school and baby change everything, in really good ways. 
Worst Moment: anxiety over her arrival colliding with Malakai's first day of school.

Food cravings: chinese food, brownies
Food aversions: none
Symptoms: increased heartburn, breathlessness, contractions all the time

Movement: a little slower, she's running out of room!

Gender: girl
What I’m looking forward to: Meeting our girl, and Malakai's first day of school
What I’m nervous about/praying for: That I don't miss Kai's first day!

What I miss: being able to move at a regular speed, I feel so slow these days.

Next appointment: 39 week appointment was yesterday, I'm hoping not to make it to my due date appointment!
Weekly Wisdom: "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."  -Philippians 4:6-7, The Message.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Little Sister's Nursery

We've finally put the finishing touches on our little girl's nursery. I had so much fun putting together a girlie room! We painted a few months ago, which included painting our main living area as well. It took a couple days and the nursery stayed empty for a long time afterward, but we are thrilled with the result. Ben + my brother Cody also scraped the popcorn ceiling off in the nursery. It's something we'd love to do to the entire house but would be quite the undertaking. So we started with that room since it's small and would be empty for painting anyway. I love the way it makes the room look instantly brighter and bigger.

Here are a few pictures of the room before it's transformation. It started out as Malakai's nursery when we moved here, he was 9 months old. We have 3 bedrooms in our teeny house, and the 3rd was a guest room until we transformed it into a play room and then a nursery for Desmond. Nearly a year ago we moved Malakai into that room with Desmond so we could remove all toys (distractions) from where they would be sleeping and have a dedicated "play room" in Malakai's previous room. When we found out we were expecting, naturally the playroom would become baby #3's nursery.

{just after we moved in, March 2010}

{after we moved the boys to share the 3rd bedroom and turned this one into a playroom}

When we found out we'd be welcoming a baby girl I thought we would leave it green and add dark pink accents. I loved this green in our previous home, but it was a much bigger room with 2 windows and wood floors. I didn't love it as much in this house; with less lighting it didn't look as cool and light. The more I looked around for inspiration I started to change my mind. I fell in love with the idea of a light grey nursery with coral and peach accents. Somewhere along the way I decided to include arrows to represent their meaning in Psalm 127. 

Once we got the crib and started putting some pieces together I got more and more excited about the color scheme. I had a hard time finding both coral and peach pieces but was able to acquire several things through our baby shower, gifts, and DIY projects.

The teething rail guard is a must right off the bat because of all the horrendous teething marks the boys left on the crib. I made this simple no-sew version from some peachy fleece Ben's mom bought for me. It matches the peach on the quilt she made as well. I wanted to make a crib skirt but couldn't find the perfect fabric, or the time. I ran into a queen sized bed skirt we had on our guest bed years ago tucked away in the linen closet and made it work by clipping it to the crib support underneath the mattress, making it adjustable as well! It's not perfect, but it works to make a nice hidden storage area under the crib for sheets and other things.

Much of the decor came from the decorations at my baby shower. The pom poms above the crib, the bunting and scripture above the changing table, the letter P on the floating shelf, even the curtains which my mom sewed up from the table runners. The basket that I have the diapers in held a gift from my friend Carina. 

Liz also painted the gorgeous peonies (which were on the invites she had made for my shower) and made the wooden arrow sign above the shelves.  Malakai made the decorations underneath. 

I love the simplicity of our little nursery and the way the bright coral and peach colors really pop in contrast to the neutral grey walls and dark espresso furniture. I'd still like to add some softer peach accents, and I may in the future or as our needs in this room change.

Our crib and changing table/dresser have lasted us since Malakai was born 5 years ago. They've got some cosmetic wear and tear but we still love them. The glider is new and was a gift from my parents, we love it so far and I can't wait to rock sweet little sister in it soon! 
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