A Story Worth Sharing


One morning last week, F woke everyone up this morning at 5:30. I was feeding G, when I heard him start shouting, "MAMA" as loud as he could. I didn't get to him in time to keep him from waking up R and J, who came stumbling out of their rooms complaining about being tired. I tried to convince them it was still the middle of the night and to go back to sleep, but no one believed me.

So it was that we started our morning routine aka the daily whirlwind a tad earlier than normal. Where's my green water bottle? I want another piece of toast. Can you cut up more strawberries? Yes, you do need to wear socks today.

It's been especially tiring the last few months. I started back at work full time November 1, and jumped back right in the middle of our biggest project of the year. G is still figuring out sleeping, and more nights than not I'm still only getting a few hours of sleep at a time. My Bible study group started up 2 weeks after G was born, and I've been to every meeting, but my preparation in prayer and study has been lackluster at best. We had high hopes for a nightly family advent discussion but did maybe 5 total, which mostly felt like wasted effort since no one actually sat or was quiet to listen.

Before getting in the car, in an effort to get J to stop wrestling everyone, I got them to sit on the couch so we could read a book. 

F chose a Christmas book, something my grandma had given the kids a few years ago. It was the story of a little angel who is chosen for the very important task of bringing a crown to Bethlehem for baby Jesus. The story takes the angel, Timmy, on a series of adventures, helping a lost rabbit, being kind to a grouchy squirrel, and finally meeting up with a baby wolf, who is trapped on a log bridge over a rushing waterfall. All this time he has been carrying the crown wrapped up in his favorite, tattered old blanket.

As Timmy tries to help the wolf, the crown falls in to the water, and he is left with the choice to swim after the crown or save the wolf. Timmy lets the crown fall down the waterfall and uses his blanket to pull the wolf to the shore.

The animal friends encourage Timmy to continue on to Jesus, even though his gift of a beautiful crown is now gone. Timmy reaches the stable where he sees Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. He feels sad that he doesn't have the special and important gift he was tasked with bringing, but then he hears Mary say that the baby is cold. Timmy realizes that he does have something to give the baby after all, and hands over his most loved possession, the blanket.

As I read about Timmy handing his blanket over to Jesus, my voice cracked and tears welled up in my eyes. I am not exaggerating when I say that I could barely finish reading the story. All three kids turned to look at me. "Are you crying, mama?" R asked me, bewildered. I started to laugh at the ridiculousness of my tears.

I subscribe to Ashlee Gadd's email list, and in her most recent newsletter she wrote about the writing ideas she has and how before she gets started on an essay, she always asks her small group of writing friends whether or not it's a good idea. "Every single time I ask, Is this worth writing about?—I am met with a resounding yes."

I have been thinking about that since I read it, wondering why it is that it struck me so profoundly. I realized that it's in part (or maybe totally) because I often feel like my stories aren't worth sharing. For one thing, I do ask myself this question about my writing ideas and talk myself out of a lot of blog posts (like I almost did for this one). But I also feel this way about my life sometimes, especially lately. Is anything I'm doing worth it? I definitely feel trapped in that newborn/little kid stage of cleaning up constantly only for it to instantly be cluttered and dirty again. I have run maybe three times since G was born, and I keep falling asleep while listening to the Bible on audio. Also F will not care about going poop on the potty, in case anyone wanted to know.

But let's get back to Timmy. 

You might say I'm making more out of a little kid's Christmas book than there needs to be, and that's probably true, but I truly was overwhelmed by the simple thought that my tattered, tired, messy self can come to Jesus, bringing whatever I have to offer, and he accepts it and finds a use for it. I can come with a blanket. I don't need to come with a crown.

That's not an excuse to not read my Bible and study properly. That's not an excuse to phone-in our attempt at an advent discussion with the kids. It's not a pass for poor discipline or being rude to Jordan. It doesn't really make me feel better that our house needs to be wrapped in caution tape for being a disaster area. But it is a much-needed reminder that my small efforts are not unnoticed, and they aren't wasted, and that my story matters. Thank you, Jesus.

My life--and yours--is a story worth sharing. Maybe not fancy, probably not famous, definitely messy, but always something to be thankful for.

G's Birth Story


If you love reading birth stories, you aren't alone! I love them, and I love that I've written down all of my birth stories in such detail. I went back and read F's the night before having G, and even though you don't think you'll forget, there are little details I'm glad to have. Here is the story of our last Baby Bum.

All three of my previous babies came early, so I'd never made it to my official due date. Each baby, however, came later than the last (R was 9 days early, J was 5, F was 3), so I was thinking it was possible that this time I'd actually be able to say "today is my due date." I was due Wednesday, August 31, and my parents came up the weekend before to hang out and possibly be in town when I went into labor. My dad's birthday is August 28, and we all thought it would be fun if they shared a birthday.

I was checked for the first time at my 39-week appointment and was dilated to a "1, maybe a 2." I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing painful or consistent. When Sunday arrived with no signs of labor, my dad left to go back to Texas. My mom had packed a bag and was going to stay at our house until the baby came.

We basically spent the next week waiting around. I had work, the kids went to school and daycare as usual, and my mom did several projects around the house that I had wanted to get done. Wednesday, August 31, was my due date and also my 40-week OB appointment. I was dilated to a 3 this time, and I decided it was okay if she stripped my membranes. We talked about induction, and she knew I didn't want to be induced, but I was also feeling okay about scheduling something for the following week and asked if I could wait until after the long Labor Day weekend. She had me stay to monitor the baby for a half hour, and then with my membranes stripped and an induction scheduled for Tuesday morning (9/6), I left.

My mom and I went on long walk the next morning for about an hour, and I walked the next few days too. My friend told me about something her midwives recommended, which is to "curb walk," where you walk with one foot on the curb and one on the ground, opening the pelvis or something, and I felt ridiculous but I gave it a try! Every night all week we went to sleep thinking maybe this would be the night, and every morning I woke up the same as usual. By Sunday, Sept 4, we were all over it. Jordan was grouchy, I was bored, and my mom was anxious. It was so weird to plan on an August baby this whole time and then tick several days into a new month and still no baby.

We went to church in the morning, and when we got home I wasn't feeling great and took a nap. When I woke up, I started having my first contractions that felt like actual real contractions--by that I mean, not super painful, but more achy and crampy, like I was on my period. I didn't tell my mom or Jordan because I knew it would annoy me if they asked me all day how I was feeling and whether I was having more contractions. But they both sort of knew.

After the kids were in bed, my mom and I went on a walk for about 45 minutes, and I had a few contractions. We came back and watched a movie, which got over around 11:00. At that point I was having a few more contractions, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to sleep much. My mom went to bed, and I downloaded a contraction timer app. From 11:00pm Sept 4 to 2:45am Sept 5, I timed the contractions. At first they were 25ish minutes apart, and I fell asleep between, waking up to press start on the timer. 

They got closer pretty fast, 20minutes, 15, 10, and then soon my average over the last 2 hours was about 7-8 minutes. I really didn't want to wake everyone up in the middle of the night for nothing, but I also knew I was 5 days overdue with my fourth baby, and I didn't want it to come shooting out of me if I waited too long.

At 2:45am I woke Jordan up and told him that we should probably go to the hospital. He called his parents to come over and stay with the kids, and I woke my mom up. We left soon after and drove downtown. When we got to the hospital, we discovered that the entire front entrance of the labor & delivery building was under construction and closed. There was a sign to go to the West Entrance, so we parked, walked across the street, and found that the entrance didn't open until 5:00am. There was a sign to go to the ER. Since the ER entrance was on the other side of the building, we walked back to the car, drove around, and Jordan dropped my mom and I off at the ER entrance.

The lady inside was nice but mostly unhelpful. "I need to get to Joyful Beginnings. I'm having contractions," I said.

"Okay," she replied slowly, "you'll need to go to the parking garage by the West Entrance, take the elevator down one floor, across the tunnel that goes under the street, then take the elevator up two floors, and walk down the hall."

I stared at her blankly. "So." I paused. "You're saying I have to go back to where I came from, down the elevator, across the street, and up the elevator?"

"Mmm hmm," she replied.

I really love our hospital and LIKE TO THINK that if I had an actual baby's head coming out of me they would have been more helpful. As it is, I suppose the fact that I walked in under my own power and was acting calm gave the appearance of a non-emergency situation. So, we walked out of the ER, back to the car, drove around the building to the same parking garage we just left, and took the elevator down, walked across the street, etc.

Jordan offered to find me a wheelchair, but I decided that walking around was probably in my best interest for moving the baby down, so we carried on, albeit walking slowly and stopping for a few contractions along the way. We finally got to L&D and checked into a room around 4:00am, Monday, Sept 5 (Labor Day and G's birthday!).

They checked me, and I was dilated to a 7! Hurrah! It's always such a relief to confirm that yes, we are staying at the hospital and having a baby. They notified the on-call doctor and moved us into a L&D room down the hall. It seemed pretty dead in there. I didn't see or hear much of anything, and I don't think there was too much going on (obviously because during our half-hour walk trying to get into the hospital we saw the ER lady and one other person).

They asked me if I was going to want an epidural. "Now is the time if you want to get one," she said. I said no. If you've been around for my other birth stories, you know that not getting/getting an epidural is always a bit of a decision for me. I knew what to expect not having an epidural, and knowing this was our last baby, I had decided that I didn't want to regret getting an epidural this final time.

Once we got into our L&D room, the on-call doctor came after a bit and asked if I was okay with her breaking my water. I said yes, because they have had to break my water every time, and I was hoping that would move things along some. She broke my water, and then my contractions seemed to stall. I was still having them, but they weren't as close together and they weren't unbearable. In fact, to be honest I was in a bit of a mood. I think I was just happy to be having the baby finally and not getting induced. I kept joking around, and everyone (including myself) was confused about what was going on with me.

I'm not exactly sure on the timing, but at one point the contractions really started to get intense. I was trying to move around in the bed, shifting from one side to the other, and it felt comfortable to lie on my left side, holding onto the side rail of the bed with my left hand and holding onto Jordan's hand with my right hand. In all my previous births, I didn't want Jordan touching me or talking to me, and I would get mad at him if he tried to do so. This time, I really wanted him holding my hand and standing near me. He said after that he liked feeling useful and being able to help.

I remember feeling like the half hour from about 5:00 to 5:30 took forever. At one point Jordan went to the bathroom, and when he came out I said, "What? Were you reading a book in there?" He replied, "It's been about 3 minutes." Every minute just felt so long.

The nurse came in and I asked if she could check me. It had been over an hour since we got there, and I wanted to see if any progress was made. It just helps me to know if anything is happening. She said I was still at a 7 and the baby was still pretty high. I started to freak out (and actually said, "I'm freaking out!" ha). I was having really painful contractions and nothing?! At this point I had a huge feeling of panic. The only way to describe it is that I knew I was in the middle of a horribly painful situation that no one could help me out of. It wasn't like I could say, "Okay, I'm done now. Let's jump to the end." The only way to the end was through it, and I had this very lonely, scared feeling all of the sudden.

She asked if I wanted to try a few other positions to try and move the baby down, so I first turned around and got on my hands and knees. The end of the bed dropped down, and she showed Jordan how to push on my back for counter pressure. I lasted 2 contractions that way, but it was absolutely killing my back, so I said I needed to turn around.

Next she brought in the peanut ball and asked if I wanted to try that. I got on my left side, holding onto the side rail with my left hand, and she put the ball between my legs, left leg on the bed and right leg up over the ball. For some reason my whole body was angled sideways on the bed. It was just about a minute or two later that I felt Really Intense Pressure. 

"I'm feeling a lot of pressure!" I shouted.

"Really? Okay, let's get the doctor in here to see."

The doctor came in and calmly sat down on the edge of the bed. "You're about 8cm," she said. 

"Are you kidding me?" I said. I had thought for sure we were all good down there.
"Well, you're on your side, so it might be a little more open," she replied.

It was ten minutes from the time she said I was 8cm to the time G was born. 

I'm honestly still a little confused about what happened, and Jordan and my mom are too, so it's hard to say exactly, but I just know that I was lying on my side clinging onto the railing and kept saying, "Someone help me. Someone tell me what is going on." I remember being confused because I felt like I needed to push, but if I was only at 8cm then how was the baby supposed to come out?

Things I remember or that Jordan/my mom told me (not necessarily in order):
-The doctor asked me if I could roll onto my back and I said I couldn't move.
-She delivered my baby sitting calmly on the bottom right corner of the bed. She originally sat down to check me and then all of the sudden I was pushing, so she had to reach her hand behind her and ask a nurse to help put another glove on.
-I kept asking someone to tell me what was going on.
-I felt a burning sensation that I knew was the ring of fire, and I was glad because that meant the baby was close to coming out.
-I asked someone to hold my leg up. Jordan held it, and he said he had to grab hold of the rail of the bed to pull against me pushing.
-I wanted the baby to just.get.out. and I kept pushing even when I wasn't having a contraction. The doctor said, "Are you having a contraction?" "No," I replied.
"Okay wait a minute and then use your contraction to help you push." That helped a lot.
-Someone said, "Bear down, mama," and that helped me focus on where I was pushing and how.

The doctor asked me to try on the next contraction doing something like a crunch and pulling my right leg up to my chest. When I did, she said, "You can reach down and feel the head." I remember opening my eyes and seeing the top of the baby's head with lots of dark hair. I reached over my right leg and cupped the head in my right hand. For R's birth, I know I rarely opened my eyes, if at all. I have just one image in my mind of J's birth, and it's just bright shining lights. It's so neat to me that I was able to see and touch the baby's head this time. Just the coolest thing.

When the baby came out, because of the way it was facing, the doctor was facing the back of the baby. The front was facing me, but the umbilical cord was hanging between the baby's legs, so I said, "What is it? What is it?" Jordan said he had the same view and couldn't tell either. So, for a few seconds no one in the room knew if it was a boy or a girl.

The doctor swung the baby around, and the cord moved. Jordan said, "It's a girl!" I screamed. We didn't know the gender with F's birth either, but his was obvious right away. I don't think anyone even needed to say. This felt so much more climactic. My mom was behind the nurses in the corner crying, and I kept shouting (I mean literally shouting--Jordan thinks this is hilarious), "WHAT! WHAT!"

She had swallowed a bit of fluid, so they took her and suctioned her mouth out, and then they put her on my chest and said that being skin to skin with me would regulate her breathing. She was a bit congested, but they suctioned her a few times more and she was sounding okay. She was a nice pink color, a huge difference from F, who came out almost completely black and blue.

I'm not going to detail the next little bit, because it was truly horrendously painful and I don't need to remember. For the first time, I didn't tear, perhaps due to delivering on my side (who knows?), but they said "it" can still get scraped when the baby comes out, and let's just say that I was not having a very nice time for quite a while. It felt like it was actually on fire, and I couldn't stop shaking. I've said this every time, but honestly in my opinion the epidural might be most useful for pain management immediately after the birth than anything else.

^^^ Me not having a good time hahaha.

There's no way to tell, of course, but I think that not having an epidural contributed significantly to how quick she came out. I wouldn't have been able to be in those positions, or feel to push with that intensity, if I was medicated. That's not to say I have an opinion about people getting or not getting an epidural. It's completely a personal preference/decision, and I have no feelings about it one way or the other, expect for the reasons I have for myself. I'm so thankful that I didn't need to be induced and that I've had such positive birth experiences. I know not everyone does, and I don't take it for granted.

It's a miraculous, amazing experience. One I think about with pride and gratitude for healthy pregnancies, babies, and overall such a great hospital birthing experience with each of my labors (minus our debacle about actually getting inside the hospital this time!).

But I can honestly say, finally once and for all, that I'm so very glad I never have to do it again.

Week One


On Monday morning, September 5, our last Baby Bum arrived. Labor Day. She knows how much I appreciate word jokes. We didn't find out the gender in advance, so it was a surprise and delight to find out that it was a girl! R is completely over the moon excited about having a baby sister.

I truly did not have a gender preference most of the pregnancy, but I did think it was going to be a boy up until the last month or so, when I started feeling like it was a girl. Early on in the pregnancy I had a very clear dream that felt so lifelike, where I had the baby and it was a girl. The same thing happened to me during F's pregnancy, where I dreamed it was a boy! Jordan thought it was going to be a boy.

This probably isn't the most glamorous first post to share about our new baby, but she is a week old yesterday, and I wanted to write a bit about this first postpartum week. I do not share this for medical advice or for sympathy. I wanted to write it down so I can look back on this later and be encouraged by how far I've come; but also too for anyone who might have a hard time, like I do, comparing themselves to others.

I am pretty hard on myself in general, and after every pregnancy I see people going out and doing things and wonder how they can, when I'm barely walking to the mailbox and back. Every pregnancy, delivery, baby, and body is different, so it's silly to compare, but I still do it.

As far as the pregnancy goes, although this was my fourth baby and I'm obviously older than I was during any other, this was my easiest and most enjoyable pregnancy. I've struggled with a lot of anxiety in the past, mostly about the baby being okay, and this time I'm so thankful Jesus answered my prayer and gave me a lot of peace and calmness about this baby. Of course, I still had moments of worry, but for the most part I did not feel overwhelmed with anxiety like I have in the past. Emotionally, I was very up and down with my moods, and I will say I randomly cried a lot, but my anxiety was so much lower.

Physically, I felt the best I ever have being pregnant. I came into this pregnancy in the best shape possibly of my life. I trained for the Chicago Marathon all summer and ran more often than I ever have. The race was in October, and I got pregnant just before Christmas. I kept running 3-4 times a week and completed the OKC half marathon at 21.5 weeks pregnant in April. My last run was when I was 30 weeks--that's the longest I've ever run while pregnant. After that, I kept up walking 2-3 miles, and my mom and I walked for a good 45 minutes the night before I had this baby.

I absolutely think without a doubt that going into this pregnancy in shape helped me feel so good physically while pregnant. I stayed very active, not only running but doing workouts at home, and I didn't really have any back or hip pain at all. I did throw my back out in February and couldn't move around much for about 2 weeks, but that's a recurring injury that pops up every year and a half or so, and not related specifically to pregnancy. Of course, I was uncomfortable. I had leg cramps, nausea, fatigue, headaches... but in general I can't complain very much at all about how I felt physically this last time.

I'll come back to share her birth story, but as far as the birth experience, the biggest difference with this delivery is that I didn't tear! I tore every time prior (twice in the same spot), and I was shocked I didn't tear this time. I have no idea if that was related to being active in pregnancy, my position when I pushed her out, or other factors, but I was super excited to hear that.

Considering how good overall I felt during pregnancy, this past week has been really hard. On Sunday (so 6 days postpartum), I drove R to church for the kids' music program because I thought it would be nice to get out of the house. Until that point I hadn't gone anywhere except to take G to her checkup at the pediatrician on Friday. I drove R to church, walked her inside, up 2 flights of stairs, down the hallway, then back down the stairs and out to my car, where I sat in the parking lot and called my mom and sobbed because I realized I didn't want to be out after all. 

When it was time to pick R up, I sat inside the door and waited for someone to come by so I could ask them to go get her for me so I didn't have to do the stairs again. I know I just had a baby, but it had been almost a week, and I got achy and tired walking up some stairs?! I felt super lame. Of course, everyone was nice to me as I sat there in the chair crying about how I just really wanted to go home.

It's hard for me not to be active. It's hard for me to rest. I just don't do it very well, and I know this about myself. I've been trying to really not do anything at all and just rest as much as possible, and I'm incredibly thankful and realize what a blessing it is to have a supportive husband, helpful friends, amazing mom, and a mother-in-law who lives close.

Postpartum is a weird time. I'm snuggling a tiny baby that I can't believe was just inside of me. And I'm so thankful and happy, and yet I hurt all over. I'm wearing Depends, which a friend recommended and I'm telling you this: Depends is missing out on the postpartum market because wow. I wish I had worn these with other babies! So much better than the hospital mesh underwear and giant pads. The kids, by the way, think it's hilarious that I'm wearing a pull-up. They also have asked me several times why my belly is still big and whether or not I'm having another baby. THANK YOU SO MUCH, tiny humans. I feel affirmed.

So I've got that going on, plus all the nursing things happening. Thankfully G is latching and eating really well, and I know I just have to get past the first couple weeks and it won't hurt as much, but that's not the most fun right now either. Also YES, it's true that cramping is worse with each kid, at least it has been true for me. Every time she eats it's like insane period cramps, which are thankfully getting better every day, but those first few days were truly terrible.

My biggest issue this time has been my stomach. It just feels out of place--all my organs moved around and I guess are trying to move back, and it's been giving me a giant stomachache. I'm taking a stool softener and Ibuprofen several times a day. I'm also sleeping in one- to two-hour increments. It's just such a wonderful time!

Actually, though, it IS a wonderful time. It's an honor and a blessing to have done this four times. It's a sweet time, and it's also really hard. I've only left my house twice in a week, and both times I wish I hadn't. I've cried once a day every day. I'm achy and sore and tired. I'm trying to give myself grace, take it one day at a time, and remember that every day I'm improving. Rest is the best thing for me, and it's okay if I'm not going out yet. I have no one to compare to, nothing to prove, and the best little baby to snuggle. Just so overwhelmingly thankful.

The Most Fun I've Ever Had


Every time I sit down to write, I'm overcome with the privilege, the gratitude, the wonder, and I close the computer because I don't know how to start.

I'm not going to tell you that I love being pregnant. I'm not going to say that it was the most fun I've ever had, that I wasn't tired, wasn't slow, wasn't tossing and turning at night getting up to pee five times and yelling at Jordan to help me flex the massive cramp in my calf.

I gain the recommended amount of weight every time (25-30 pounds, give or take), and since I grow basketballs, that weight sits mostly in my middle, pushing on my hips and my bladder and making it really difficult to get up off the floor once I somehow get down.

This time I felt pretty great, up until about a month to go, when my body said, okay thank you very much for your time, but we are done here, and stopped being so nice to me. I've been having ridiculously crazy dreams, when I'm able to sleep at all; I'm tired, my hips and back hurt, and I pretty much waddle everywhere now. That's not even mentioning the emotional treat I am to be around. I've embarrassed myself more than once this pregnancy ugly crying in a situation where I definitely did not want to be crying at all.

But all that to say, I don't know.... honestly, it's kind of the most fun I've ever had. 

My body seems to do "pregnant" pretty well, all things considered. I'm almost done growing my fourth baby, and I've never ever taken it for granted even a little bit that I've had healthy, mostly boring pregnancies. I continued running with this baby up to 30 weeks pregnant, which is the latest I've ever kept running, and something I'm really proud of. I've never gotten heartburn, major swelling, or months and months of nausea.

It's an honor to be here, one last time. We are definitely done after this (pending an unplanned event, of course), and I really am going to miss it. There's an excitement in the anticipation. People ask you how you're feeling, they give you extra donut holes, offer to help carry things. I've always felt like there was just a slightly higher level of consideration and grace that really we should all show to everyone all the time, honestly.

I plug not finding out the gender of your baby at every chance I get. This is the second time we've done it, and it really is so much fun. It's fun to know in advance as well, but not knowing just adds an extra layer of excitement as we get closer to my due date.

Truly, I feel so grateful for my pregnancies and know it's not something everyone is able to experience. I'm 37 weeks today as I write this, and you name a feeling, I'm feeling it. As we get closer to the end of August, I'm feeling more and more anxious about delivery, about bringing a new baby home, managing working full time, transitions with the older siblings, and everything in between. I've reached the end. Mentally, I'm out. Physically, I'm over it.

My hips are hurting, I'm tired but I can't sleep, I still have a number of things to cross off my seemingly endless to-do list.

But I'm so incredibly thankful to be here, this one last time.
It's kinda sorta, pretty much definitely the most fun I've ever had.

My Papa


On July 4, 2022, as people waved flags at parades while sporting their red, white, and blue, my Papa passed away, peacefully at home with my grandma beside him.

He was a gentle man who lived a simple life, quietly impacting the lives of others with his acts of service and generosity. 

At the funeral service, their pastor shared that my Papa used his knowledge gained from decades of being an accountant to teach other families about money and finances. He helped lead the church's benevolent ministry, and I learned that he often funded the needs himself.

His was not a bold presence. Sometimes you couldn't tell when he was in the room and when he wasn't. He was an observer and a thinker. Always listening for someone to mention a need, a want, or even just a wish. Then he'd sneak away and later present you with that thing you said you wanted. Or, sometimes not even something you needed or wanted at all, but just something he thought you might like.

He loved being outside, loved working in the yard. 
He loved unusual flavors of ice cream. The last time they visited us in Oklahoma just before Thanksgiving we went to get ice cream, and he got egg nog ice cream in a waffle cone.
He loved shopping and finding a good deal.
He loved camping, and he taught me how to roast the best marshmallow.
He loved grilling hot dogs.
He loved my grandma. He loved his family. He loved my kids.
He loved Jesus.

Sometimes I find myself wishing for a more spectacular life. The daily tasks and routines can feel so mundane, the commute can feel so dull. And sometimes (not always, but sometimes) it seems like maybe if I had more money, a bigger platform (really any platform), a hobby I was amazing at, or a job where I was in front of a lot of people, everything would count for more. More what, I don't know. But, just more.

Then I think about Papa's life, which by any of the standards above wasn't more of anything.

But goodness, did he make it splendid.

There was a Google Drive where everyone submitted photos for a slideshow to play before the service. As I looked through the pictures, I was struck by the amount of adventures and experiences and memories my grandma and grandpa had with their family.

Fishing trips, weekends camping, a family reunion in Colorado, summers spent swimming in their backyard, trips to the local ice cream shop, tips to Kohl's to shop for clothes, making homemade ice cream, cookouts, playing cards late into the night at my uncle's lake house.

A beautiful, simple, quiet life.
Not a perfect life. Not a life without grief. Not a life without hardship.
But a faithful life.

A really quite spectacular life.

"Do not let your hears be troubled. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." - John 14:1-3



there's so much noise
Multiple people scream-talking
at once.
A chorus of mommy mommy mommy
A meltdown
if I don't answer fast enough.
I can only do one thing at a time! I shout.

They don't understand.
they do
but they don't care.

_ _ _

His tiny hands pull the banana off the counter.
Nana! Nana!
I reach to help
but the tiny hands pull it away.
I wanna do it.
I watch as he twists and squeezes,
the fruit growing soft inside the peel.

I need to help you, buddy.
You can't open a banana without help.


A meltdown
because he can't open it,
and he can't let me help him.

He doesn't understand.
he does
but he doesn't care.
_ _ _

The tiniest whisper
You're going to miss this.

It's what they always say
Enjoy it while it lasts.
The years are short.
You're going to miss it.

But there's so much noise, I reply.
Everything takes so much longer.
It's so much messier.
It's so much harder.

You're going to miss this.

But you just don't remember, I argue.
You forgot.
You blocked it out.

You don't understand.

_ _ _ 

A bucket of Legos upside down
Paper dolls line the kitchen table
Sticky watermelon juice trails along the counter
Dishes piled high in the sink
Three baskets of laundry
I told myself I'd fold two days ago

He runs up to me
buries his head in my chest

He looks up
eyes bright
face shining
blond curls bounce in messy ringlets
Plants a wet kiss on my cheek
Hi, mama.

I pause
stare at him for just an extra heartbeat
We smile at each other
His nose crinkles
His eyes squint

And then the heartbeat is over
he starts to run off
I pull him back for another wet kiss
Pause for another heartbeat

I already miss it.

Out of Shape


The reason I don't just totally give up on this blog, stop paying my yearly fee for domain hosting, is because I like knowing that there is a place waiting for me to come write even if it's been months (since January???).

I write a lot for my day job. Emails, mostly. I laugh when I see the memes about removing exclamation points when sending professional communication, because sometimes I do need to take a few out. It's not always easy to strike the right balance of friendly yet straightforward. And copying/pasting from the email I sent last week with yet another reminder of a missed deadline with a "as per my previous email" line tacked on for good measure is (unfortunately) too passive aggressive and generally frowned upon.

I was reading something recently where the person was talking about writing being a muscle, and how you have to practice and work to get in "writing shape." Maybe that's why it feels like writing for fun is so hard right now. I'm definitely in no kind of shape, writing or otherwise.

Sometimes I wonder about the things I spend my time on. I'm the first to admit that I have a hard time relaxing, and when I do have a spare moment, it's important to me that I don't feel like I've wasted it. There are some things that never feel like a waste of time. Running never feels like a waste of time. Praying doesn't, although I don't do it as often as I should. I suppose cleaning the kitchen doesn't, though who ever wants to do that?

It feels like a constant juggling act. Choosing which balls to hold, which ones to toss, and how many to try and keep in the air. As I sit here typing, I can feel Baby Bum number 4 rolling and punching inside me. I don't take for granted this new life that we are preparing for to join our family in August. Our last baby (pending some kind of crazy event). Growing a baby definitely is not a waste of time, although it does feel a little like we are resetting a clock on our lives. Another newborn stage of being so tired, another attempt at breastfeeding, another terribly sad first day of daycare. Not that I'm ungrateful, but I'm also starting to look forward to what's on the other side of the pregnancy/baby stage. Remind me I said that when I'm snuggling a cozy newborn.

Is writing this post a waste of time? Were all the hours I put into writing posts the last ten years a waste of time? I guess it depends on what you consider a waste of time to be. Certainly something that brought me joy isn't a waste of time. Something fun. Something creative. I feel this way about working on my scrapbooks, which I find so fun, and yet when it's over I wonder if it's ridiculous to have spent so much time on a single spread of pages. But, I mean, is it a waste of time to spend a week working on icing sugar cookies for a birthday party only to eat them?

Do people feel like this about their hobbies? Maybe you can relate a little bit, or maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. But I'll tell you one thing: it feels good to exercise my creative writing muscle even just a little.

I Love


A partial list of things I love, inspired by several different posts I saw on Instagram last year.

I love snuggling deeper under my covers listening to the rain fall outside and knowing I don't have to get up any time soon. I love Saturday mornings. I love Sunday nights when I have Monday off work.

I love editing.

I love scrapbooking. I love looking back at old memory books and remembering stories and places and things I'd forgotten. I love making a place for my photos to live outside of my phone. I love taking pictures. I love editing pictures. I love when I accidentally get the lighting just right.

I love running. I love the feeling after I finish a run. I love when the kids ask me, "Are you going for a run?" and knowing they are seeing their mom do something good for herself.

I love when I let a car merge in front of me and the driver waves. I love when someone lets me merge in front of them. I love when I can get to daycare and back in the mornings without hitting any traffic.

I love Chick-fil-A chocolate chip cookies. I love McDonald's double cheeseburgers. I love that I don't feel guilty eating at McDonald's.

I love wearing hoodies with shorts (when the weather is just right). I love my Birkenstocks. I love taking the kids to the park. I love that F is sturdy enough now to run around on his own without needing to be carried.

I love the way F gives kisses. I love when J comes into our room in the morning and asks to snuggle. I love watching R dance. I love that J had so much fun playing soccer this past fall, and how excited he is to play in the spring. I love that he requests a muffin as a snack after practice.

I love that F refuses to wear footie sleepers with a zipper. I love that J is obsessed with hoodies and pockets. I love that R still wears a dress almost every day to school (her choice). I love that leggings are still considered pants. I love messy buns.

I love when Jordan talks about electrical stuff. I love that he can grow facial hair. I love that he's weirdly obsessed with England.

I love real-life stories about people helping each other. I love that we pull over for ambulances and police cars and firetrucks. I always think that things can't be quite so bad as long as we still do that.

I love crackers and cheese. I love ice cream. I love a late-night snack. I love cozy socks and well-worn hoodies. I love the feeling of taking out my contacts at the end of a long day.

I love a clean sink and an empty laundry basket. I love finding better ways to organize our house. I love our house.

I love the Marco Polo app.

I love the quiet at night after the kids are (finally) in bed. I love getting into a good book. I love that I can't quite ever turn my editor brain off. I love when an author includes swearing in a novel in a way that fits the characters and not just because they feel like a book is better if there's some cursing (it isn't). I love happily ever after.

I love rereading my favorite books and knowing exactly what's going to happen but enjoying the heck out of the story anyway.

I love when my kids share with each other before I ask them to. I love when they stand up for each other. I love when they point out something they know the other person would like to see or know. I love watching them get excited. I love when they ask to pray.

I love that when I started this list, I had a hard time thinking of anything, but now that I'm going to stop, I still have a hundred things coming to mind that I love about, well, everything.

2021: 10 Photos that Shaped My Year


I don't know about you, but 2021 absolutely flew by for me. It felt like as soon as one month came, the next was starting. It felt super hard in a lot of different ways, and as I think about 2021 compared to 2020, I definitely feel like I'm ending this year feeling much more exhausted. The year 2020 was completely insane; it caught us all off guard, and the whole thing felt very new and overwhelming and uncertain. 

Now, it's still overwhelming at times, but it's way past being new, and I'm just kind of over all of it (it being life), specifically lately, people taking to social media with rants and outrage about this or that. Opinions aren't bad things, but just because you have an opinion and a phone doesn't mean you should immediately shared said opinion online. I digress.

Perhaps it's extremely cliche, but I decided to take at least January completely off of social media: no Facebook, no Instagram (those are really my only 2 social apps that I use since I deleted Twitter back in 2016, and I've never gotten on Snapchat or TikTok). So far 2022 has been so busy that I honestly haven't even had time to miss it. We are only six days in to the year, but hopefully we can find a groove soon. It's been crazy so far in our house!

A few years ago I realized that I don't like making new year resolutions. I think it's great that other people make them, but for me, thinking about setting a goal or resolving to do something over the course of a year is too long a timeframe. I prefer to set more immediate goals or think more specifically about realistic improvements. I've taken short breaks from Facebook and Instagram before, but never at the same time, and never for a full month, so I'm excited to start off the year and see where that takes me.

For the past few years I've shared 10 photos that shaped my year--a prompt that a print shop I follow emailed out one time. My list for 2020 ended up not getting on the blog (not surprised given my lack of blogging last year), but here is my post about 2019 if you are interested. 

I'm including the full list below, mostly to make it easier for me to grab this time next year. As always, I had a hard time narrowing these down. There are so many photos I could choose for any of these, and I went back and forth about several, but in the end, these photos are a pretty good summary of the things that stand out to me from 2021. Feel free to use this list to make a summary of your own!

1. A photo from the year's greatest adventure, big or small
2. A photo of a significant moment
3. A photo of something you are thankful for
4. A favorite photo of you and the people you love
5. A photo of a morning you want to remember
6. A photo that represents joy
7. A photo of the people who shaped your year
8. A photo of you trying something new
9. A photo of something you are proud of
10. A photo you will want to pass down for generations to come

2021: 10 Photos that Shaped My Year

1. A photo from the year's greatest adventure, big or small

There were a lot of adventures to choose from--small ones, generally speaking--but the girl started kindergarten this year, which was a huge transition for all of us. It's been really great, and she is loving school, so I'm very thankful! (I wrote about this a little here.) This is a photo from school supply shopping, which felt so weird to me to be doing since I can remember doing that with my mom!

2. A photo of a significant moment

My grandpa Bernie passed away in September, and all of my cousins came from around the country to be there. It was a lovely reminder that no matter where life takes you or what happens, family always comes together. I'm very thankful for mine. We had a great time reminiscing and celebrating the life of my grandma and grandpa. I wrote about it here.

3. A photo of something you are thankful for

Jordan and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in May!

4. A favorite photo of you and the people you love

It's impossible to choose one favorite photo, but this one makes me smile because it was taken on our family trip to Tulsa in April. (I shared more pictures here.) It was our first trip as a family of five, and we had so much fun! Especially after the craziness of 2020, it was nice to get away and take some time to explore. It was also fun to revisit the place we went on our 1-year anniversary and think about all that has changed in the last 9 years.

5. A photo of a morning you want to remember

I think this morning gets a spot in this list every year. Strawberry picking at a local farm is one of our family highlights. The kids have fun, and so do we. This year they took appointments, so we had the greenhouse to ourselves for a half hour and got two bins of juicy, delicious strawberries that we ate on all week!

6. A photo that represents joy

This photo of J is a favorite of Jordan's and mine.

7. A photo of the people who shaped your year

Obviously the people who most shaped my year were these clowns. This year we did the same thing we did last year for new year's and it was so much fun. We streamed the London NYE countdown on YouTube, listened to Big Ben chime, watched the fireworks, and rang in the new year six hours early so we could all get to bed at the usual time. It's perfect because I get that new year feeling without the hangover of staying up until midnight.

8. A photo of you trying something new

2021 was the year of cookies! I made my very first sugar cookies/royal icing in December 2020, and I spent 2021 trying out new cookie cutters, icing colors, and decorations. These are the sets I made for R's and J's birthdays, and I'm proud of how they turned out. It's fun to try new things, and the cookies taste yummy too!

9. A photo of something you are proud of

I'm proud of my commitment to my marathon training over the summer, finishing the race, and I'm proud of the way I worked through some of my feelings post-race to ultimately end up in a good place about the entire experience. I'm still disappointed that race day wasn't "my day" in terms of feeling really good and having a spectacular race, but the real reason I wanted to run this had nothing to do with time or even having an amazing race. It had to do with setting a big goal, completing a huge bucket list item, and working really hard toward something that was just for me.

Transitioning to working at home full time, plus the lower social interaction in general due to the pandemic, has been a challenge for me. Marathon training gave me a reason to get out of the house, move my body, and keep my mental state in check when I started to freak out about the state of the world. I ended up running in total 525 miles in 2021!

Marathon training recap here

Race recap here

10. A photo you will want to pass down for generations to come

We were lucky enough to see my grandparents several times this year. This is my mom's dad, not my grandpa who passed in September (my dad's dad). My grandparents stopped in OKC on their way to Texas for Thanksgiving and spent a day and a half with us. F and my grandpa really bonded and had such a sweet time together.