Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Loving Them Well

I started writing this around Thanksgiving and seemingly got busy and sidetracked and never quite finished. Fortunately, I can say with some certainty that it wasn't too much of the 'holiday rush' that consumed me, but just having a family. And that's a good thing. It's a good thing to have people to love. It's even a better thing to love them well.

All year long, most of us pour our lives into our people... our families our friends. And this is unquestionably a season where we intentionally set aside time, funds and thought to others outside of our circle. During the holidays, we make an effort to extend that extra hand in particular those that are in need. It's what we are called to do at all times, to love. But as we celebrate the gift of Christ each Christmas, we are reminded to love and give to those around us. We go above and beyond. However, going above and beyond for many of us may just mean to start at learning to love the people in our lives better.

We live in this era when there is something to be said for just being there in that moment without having to document it for the world to see. There is something to be said for loving our people well...for no other reason than just because. Not for a photo op, not even to make ourselves feel better, but just because those are the people that have stuck by us, will stick by us and they deserve our best and our better most days.

Earlier this year, I really felt God tugging on my heart to step out of my comfort zone to love my people better. I'm a home body. I'm perfectly comfortable pretty much never leaving the house. I adore my friends and I love my family, but getting up and out takes work and energy.  Mustering up the words via email or a text or vox to let someone know I have their back when I wont actually leave the house to have their back seemed pointless. So I knew God was calling me to stretch a little and make sure the people who have laughed with me and cried with me knew that I loved them truly.

As the body of Christ we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this world, but I  have always had a problem with the person that can be kind to the stranger or will give more time and thought to the passerby in their life, yet fail to treat those who have always been in their life with respect, honor and kindness. I don't want to be one of those people.
I happen to believe most of my family and true close friends are God given. Those are the people who have defended us, who will repeatedly forgive us and who will go on trusting us over and over again when others wont. Those who will try and talk us out of the bad decisions or even tattle on us when we make them are the people who love us. And first and foremost, if we are to practice love, we need to learn to honor them with our time, our integrity, and our sincerity... I truly believe if we can learn to love our circle of people well, that love will spill over naturally to the world outside of our circle.

This past February, we very unexpectedly found out my dad had to have open heart surgery. I don't want to say I was scared, but I was prepared. At least as I could be.. And I made sure I was there every moment possible of his 10 day stay in the hospital. With four kids, school, my husband being out of town for 5 of those days, it wasn't easy and I was exhausted. But I knew how important it was for me to be there. It was important to me that I was there for him, and I needed my dad and mom to know how much I loved them. The previous year, my mom went to the ER and was told she was a week away from a heart attack. Those are hard and scary moments. I'm a faith girl and I believe in the promises of God, but those moments are just hard and I am thanking God for his peace through every moment.

Since then, I've thought a lot about whether I've shown my love and support for family  and friends the way I needed to over the years. And until this year, I don't think I have. At least not as well as I could have. And over the course of this year, it's something I'm still working on. I've been selfish. I've been negligent. I've been busy. But I've come to this place in my life where I realize a lot of the 'issues' we have with our people simply aren't worth the inner fuss and they definitively aren't worth the fight. Our goal in life is simple. To love. And to love well. To be there first for those God has placed  in your life and that are there just for you... and let that ministry of loving well, then, seep over to others... on the outside as well.

I'm really good at saying I love people, because in my heart, I do. I am empathetic. I am sympathetic. In my heart, I rejoice with those when it's time to rejoice. I mourn with those when it's time to mourn. But love isn't an empathetic feeling or a smile or a tear alone. Love moves you. And I want it to move me to be present in the lives of the people that mean the most to me.
In between the week of starting this post and today...One of my aunts who I am closest to had a stroke.... My heart aches. I see her almost weekly... at church, on visits, we spent Thanksgiving laughing and cracking as we all played Heads Up and Catch Phrase, we spend every Christmas Eve with her and her family, and she always has such a giving heart and is such an example of faith to me. And as I've witnessed and experienced these hard moments with people I love these past 2 years, somewhere in between shock and heartbreak, I am reminded how much I really love them, but even more, how much more I could be loving them. And this isn't my goal for 2016, but it's something God has been laying more and more on my heart. Love them well. From now on and forever, love them well.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, who are those people?  Who are the people that have been there for us? Who are the people that we spend our holidays with? Who watched us get married or came to a funeral of someone we love to support us? Who cared enough to tell us like it is when we messed up?  Who cried with us when we lost someone or something? Who texted us to ask if we were okay? Who laughed with us over and over at the same dumb joke? Who visited the hospital when we were sick or having a baby? Who taught us to be more like Christ? Whose words of wisdom have stuck with us? Who hand held ours? Whose arms hugged our neck? Whose shirt was wet from our tears? Who forgave us over and over? Who trusted us again after we hurt them? Who trusts us enough to tell their frustrations? Who looks up to us to care for them? Who do we laugh so hard with we need our inhaler to breather (ahem...)?

Chances are there are several people, friends, family members, leaders, pastors, classmates, co-workers, etc that fit several of these categories... Chances are these are your people. People that are in your life, right here right now, that need your time, your patience, your generosity, your forever support... These are the people you need to love well.
My husband always teases me when I drive through Starbucks or am on the phone with a customer service rep. Apparently, I  talk "pleasant." He's messing around me with me because my voice gets extra high and perky and I suddenly pull out the ultra nice card. I get a good laugh out of him joking with me. But the truth is, it convicts me of how I treat and talk to him or my kids or the people I truly truly cherish. Why do they not get this 'pleasant' side of me? Am I more kind to a stranger than I am to my own people? Do I put more thought into how I treat someone I don't know than how I treat those I love?

It's certainly something to think about...

I pray as we embark upon another year, our hearts aren't broken or afraid or tattered before we learn to love and cherish our people. I pray today, right here and now, before difficulty comes, we stop and make the decision to really love.
To realize and remember those that really impact our lives and we all learn to love, love them really really well...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Your One Stop Shot For Perfection

"There is no such thing as a perfect mom. There is a loved mom. And a needed mom. And if you are there, that's perfect enough for them."
Those are the words I found myself writing earlier today when asked "What is something unexpected you've learned from being a mom?" It slipped off my fingertips with all the grace and dignity in world. (She says sarcastically).

I remember when I was around the age of 14 and getting into a scuffle with my mom (not an actual physical one) because in our Sears (or JC Penny, maybe?) 'family photo' I was not smiling. Back then you only got one shot to make your family look perfect, and I apparently ruined it. I was the oldest, so obviously I was to blame.  As soon as we got home and re looked at said photo, it was discovered that I was in fact smiling.
It was just a crappy picture in general (and I needed braces), so I don't blame anyone.
I'm not bitter...

Back then you had your one shot at perfection. 
Fast forward 20-(5) ahem years later and it seems our complete identity is somehow summed up in the perfection of our perfectly perfecto photos on our perfectuous Instagram (or Facebook or Twitter) feed~
Our adorably and perfectly cute kids (I mean!) with their cute outfits (You guys, I can't!) making cute (and not messy at all!) crafts. Today, we've taken away the JC Penny backdrop and have replaced it with the current definition of being a perfect mom with a perfect family. We plop it into our photo editing program and suddenly, we are "Perfecto Mom!"
Yes? Um, no.

I've got news for your friends. Our perfect Instagram feeds are not an indication of what a great mom we are.
It merely indicates what a great photographer we are. And even that's sketchy in this day & age because apparently anyone with a camera can have their own business.
My sister truly has a great eye when it comes to photography, particularly fashion photography. At least I think she does. She doesn't just have an eye for the picture taking, but for the photoshoot and style as a whole. She follows these super adorable Instagram feeds of these kids all decked out in the cutest kid swagger that can be and she always asks me if I "follow them" and "why not?"

Well, because I have kids. It's not reality .

Although, it makes for a cute kid photo, there is very little real about that photograph. It just doesn't inspire me as one would hope. What does inspire me is real life moms in the trenches of nitty gritty dirty momdem (that's not a word, I know) finding God's grace to wipe boogers and calm fevers and raise teenagers and eat old macaroni and cheese they find caked in the cushions (is that stretching it?). Moms who have special needs kids. Moms who want to have more kids. Moms who have too many kids (I know that's not possible, but you get what I mean). Moms that are probably tired of their kids, but Moms who still sacrifice their world for their kids.
Of course, they manage to mess it up, but they aren't afraid to admit it.

Moms that have to get up 6-7 times a night with their baby who won't sleep.
(Me. That last one was me. I inspire me.)

I'll admit. 
I get a ting of jealous of the perfect Instagram feeds. The one's that everyone follows. The ones that have perfect photos of how stylish and white and clean life must be on the other side of ...the midwest? Accessorized in balloons and stripes and chevron. With colorful quilts and mugs and quotes. I think we all get jealous to some degree. (Unless we really do have it all together.)

I LOVE those photos. I do.
But what I love mostly is truthfulness. And if I find an Instagram feed with both those things, it's pretty much the best day ever. However to compare myself to one of those feeds (highlight reels), because my photos don't always have the best lighting or I haven't gotten around to redecorating my living room in 5 years or my kids hair hasn't been brushed in two days (and even so, I still want to take AND post a picture) is where I have to draw the line. We all do.

Because our Instagram feeds are not an indicator of what a great mom we are or what a perfect family we have. There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to humanity. Technically.
Unless of course you are looking through the two little eyes who look up to you. Than you just being there makes you entirely perfect. Perfect to my 5 month old is buckling his bouncy seat seatbelt apparently, because that is what I just had to take a quick break to do, and he thought it was HILARIOUS!

It's a sad day if we we ever become too embarrassed to post pictures of our lives or our kids because the picture in itself doesn't match up to the creative, bright and colorful, 'we have so much fun together' stamina of someone else's family pictures on social media. Are we trying to show off how much we love our kids and celebrate our lives... or just show off? I dare say our social media activity some days can actually be an indicator of where we are lacking, because we are too busy trying to present the perfect image to everyone else.

We have all heard it said before. The thought isn't new in this day and age.
And Steven Furtick said it best when he said "The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scene's with everyone else's highlight reel."

The struggle is real, friends. Isn't it? We tweet about it, blog about it, preach about. Yet we still do it.
We compare. We let our identity be wrapped up in big bulbs on our deck and trendy banners on our fireplace and in a seemingly perfect presentation of who we really are. Awhile ago, I tweeted something like this "A Pinterest Girl is not the same thing as a Proverbs 31 Woman!" and it was one of my very few tweets that had a decent feedback. Achieving perfection in the eyes of the public is completely different than in the eyes of our Children...
and certainly different than in the eyes of God.
It's unfortunate. Because when we see someone, we should see the very thing He sees in them.
And it is who we should see in ourselves~ just the same.

Charm is deceptive. 
Beauty is fleeting. 
A woman who fears the Lord 
is to be praised. 
Psalms 31:30

We probably breeze past this scripture too often because we hear it so often and attribute it to modesty, yet what about the charm and beauty we so often put on display for the world to see in the other areas of our lives?
Is that what we are to praise?

My hope and prayer for my life (as a woman) is that I find my perfection:
~ In the eyes of my creator & redeemer. That everything that I do in my life is glorifying to Him. That it's not a false sense of charm or beauty of any kind that deceives others or even myself into wishing, thinking, hoping that my life is better than theirs/ or should be as good as theirs...

My hope and prayer for my life (as a mother) is that I find my perfection:
~ In the eyes of those little precious hearts that matter most. That my perfection isn't found in perfect social media photos or non messy craft days found on Pinterest only, but my being "perfect" is just being Mom to them when they need me to be. Perfect to them is being there. That's it. Nothing fancy or pinteresty about it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Room 610 ( My 5 Day Visit to the Hospital)

On Monday, September 22, this was me at a motives makeup party...all fancied up right before bed. Two days later, I sat in the ER looking a little less and feeling a lot less becoming. Oddly, the Saturday morning before this I woke up, took myself to the gym for the first time in about a year. I was gung ho, ready to go. I still have 25 lbs of  pregnancy weight to lose and I figured since the kids (most of them) were in school, it was about time to get in gear. On Monday morning, I head back to the Y, but something was different. It wasn't just pure exhaustion from lack of movement for a year. I got on the elliptical for 10 minutes and I couldn't breathe. So I left. Great way to start a fitness goal.

Tuesday Morning, I woke up, met my in-laws for breakfast feeling kind of flu-ish. I was achey and my nose wouldn't stop running, so I laid down the majority of that day but felt like I was Ok to have company over later than night. And I did.

Wednesday Morning, I woke up, still feeling flu-ish, achy, runny nose,slightly congested...but I felt I could handle it and Jeff went off to work. Within an hour of him leaving, I was almost completely unable to breathe. It was extremely sudden, so I called him home and asked him to bring me to urgent care. My main concern was that I had pneumonia or bronchitis or something, and I didn't know if it was contagious or safe for me to keep breast feeding. I have dealt with asthma my entire life, and the major asthma attacks have been few and far between. I seriously don't remember having anything major in probably 10 years or so...and most minor attacks could be controlled with a rescue inhaler. Or so I thought.

I got to urgent care and the doctor said I had absolutely no air going through my lungs so he gave me a breathing treatment and a shot of prednisone (in the rear) and I was able to at least catch my breath but in no condition for anything else. He sent me by ambulance to the ER...and after 2 more breathing treatments and 6 hours gone by, I was on my way home.

Wednesday Night, I knew when I got home that taking care of my kids (and bathing them for their school pics the next day) was impossible. Thank you Dry Shampoo! I felt worse than I did in that morning. I couldn't even feed Wyatt properly, because the angle that I had to hunch over non stop to even breathe was not a good angle to breastfeed. The entire night I laid on the sofa next to him, trying to gasp for breath. I knew I should have went back to the ER in the middle of the night, but I had four kids was I supposed to manage this? SO I waited. Waited.

Thursday Morning. By Morning, I couldn't take two steps alone without help. I had to get out of my house because I didn't know if there was something in my house causing this. So Jeff had to drive me over to my church so I could sit in there with the windows wide open. I couldn't even carry my own purse, because the amount of air I had to even walk to a room to sit down was all I could get. I sat there for about an hour, while he kept Wyatt, brought my kids to school (as well as the little girls we watch in the morning) and I called my doctor who told me to go back to the ER and when Jeff finished with all the kiddos, he brought me back to the ER. After an hour long breathing treatment, I was admitted to the hospital for 24 hours of steroid injections, breathing treatments, etc.

Friday Morning & Saturday Morning. Well to say I felt better is an understatement. When you can't even carry you're own purse and you have to hunch over with an aching back for days just to get a breath, anything feels good. So I felt good in comparison. But it was determined to stay another couple of days, because I was still wheezing and getting short breaths and low oxygen, just sitting in a bed alone all day. What would happen if I were to go home to my messy house and 4 kids and 2 animals all wanting attention? So, even on Saturday, I was yet given another 24 hours to stay...

And today, Sunday. Today, he said I am still wheezing... and don't sound great. But it's up to me whether to stay one more day and take advantage of treatments or go. I'm taking the day to rest in here, but plan on having my husband pick me up tonight to go home to my family. I miss them. But am a little nervous to go home to the chaos that awaits me. I don't know how Jeff did it alone with 4 kids, one of them being a breastfed baby, but he did...and he deserves some major props!

I just wanted to give an update for those of you who were offering your help and prayers and visits and whatnot. Thank you all so much. I had read of a respiratory virus HERE going around that started off like a flu, but suddenly changed into a major inability to breathe, especially with already asthmatic patients. We can only assume that is what was going on. The things we take for granted some days is beyond me, especially when you lose it. I was in so much pain, just from hunching my back to breathe. I am thankful to be mobile, breathing and at 94% oxygen. Haha.

I sat in my room all week watching the Influence Conference feed on Instagram as well as the Kindle the Flame Conference feed on Facebook, wishing I could be at either of those places, but mostly I just wanted to be feeling better and home. I also sat watching my newsfeed of other people (kids mostly) in hospitals needing prayers far more than I probably did, and lifted them up to the Lord. And I took heed to the warnings of the doctors to stop living on my inhaler and get this issue under control.

Thanks to my mom for stopping by several times, bringing me goodies and taking me home from the ER the first night, picking up groceries and diapers and dog and cat food...and letting Jeff use your truck. Thanks to my friends & family for bringing meals, offering breast milk, taking my kids out so Jeff could get a break. Thanks to my brother in law for cleaning mold out of our house ( a possible suspect in the asthma attack). Thanks to my sisters and brother in law and dad for stopping by to say hi and chat with me for a bit! And thanks to everyone for your prayers and encouragement.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

11 Ways We Turned Our Family Fun Day Into The Apocalypse

the photoshoot in which Jada would not stop teasing Leila
This probably won't sound intense, but it sure felt like it.

In that moment on that day (Saturday) when anticipation filled the air.
Anticipation for what you may ask? Family Fun Day of course.

I will admit it. I set my hopes high. I think we all do when it comes to Family Fun Day. We have some sort of delusion of grandeur that everyone will be as well behaved and anticipate this day as much as we do as a parent.

But if you have a truck full of kids like I do...(or if you have a toddler who is very particular like my friend, Lisa, does) you start to ask yourself 'why do I bother?' Because Family Fun Day just isn't very fun when you the fun is sucked out by the kids who should be having the fun. Let me clarify. Sometimes the kids actually ARE having fun as they antagonize and instigate. But Family Fun Day for us this past weekend ended in a near melt down.
I wanted to take the family to celebrate our heritage and culture, so we started getting ready for Indian Summer Festival!
It started bad and just got worse. I should have known.

1) Leila's comb-over. I tried to fix Leila's hair in french braids. She has a huge clump of knotted up hair that she will NOT let me brush through, so for a week now I have been brushing 'over' it in order to hide said clump. This wouldn't work with french braids. A lot more hair separating is needed. SO I get lots of wiggling, yelling and crying instead. We ended up with regular braids brushed over clump (as shown above). This is how our day began.

2) Photoshoot gone awry. So the braids were necessary for my little native girls. If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen I was pretty excited to go. So I got the girls all braided up, clump comb-over and I wanted to take some pictures. The better portion of them were of Jada pretending to be picking her nose and wiping it on Leila and Leila was getting mad (as shown above). And there was a lot of me saying "JADA! KNOCK IT OFF!"

3) Leila wants chocolate milk. We are driving away from the house and she starts yelling and crying that she is going to puke if she doesn't get chocolate milk. I tell her I am not stopping for chocolate milk and whining and crying is not the way to get her way. She keeps whining in hopes I will make a stop for her. I didn't, obviously.

4) We got lost. How on earth we could get lost in a city we have lived in our whole lives pretty much, I will never get. But we still manage to do it. A trip that should have taken about 12 minutes ended up taking about 30. And the last 20 of those minutes was spent in a 2 mile radius trying to find a parking lot.

5) We got there late. We left later than planned. We drove longer than planned. We parked farther away than planned so we had to walk longer to the main entrance than planned. Everything just takes longer with kids. A lot longer. You would think I would know that by now and plan better. But as much as I plan better, I never plan for kid fights and last minute announcements of "I NEED chocolate milk or I will puke" as we are driving away. And when we finally reached the gate, there was a line that was way longer than I expected.

proof that we actually did make it to Indian Summer for the 25 minutes I claimed

6) There were 'bees.' Bees are not a friend of our family. Really they are wasps, but you get the point. My oldest child is terrified of bees. He runs (like Phoebe on Friends) and he screams. Well, if there are a lot of bees, there is a lot of screaming and running. He knows people are watching. He doesn't care. He panics and cries. I feel really bad for him, I do. I seriously have no clue what to do to help him.  He never enjoys anything outdoors in the summer, which means neither do we. But the whole 25 minutes we were at the festival, he didn't stop screaming and running. Yes, I said 25 minutes. That is how long we lasted.

7) Jada wanted to take a nap. First let me say, Jada is 9. She isn't 2. We finally get to the festival late. Wesley is crying. Leila has  matted comb-over hair and a booger on her arm from Jada. Jeff and I are irritable from the extra long drive and getting lost. We hadn't even made it to the pow-wow yet and Jada starts crying and whining (oh that whining) because she has now decided she wants to go home and lay down and take a nap. Her words, not mine.  I told her to lay on a bench and she said 'No. People put their butts on there.' Okay, I can understand that so I told her to lay on the ground with Wyatt's blanket. But that wasn't acceptable either. Home was the only place she wanted to be.

8) War breaks out. At this point, Jeff had finally decided that he would take Wesley to a safe haven (a place free of bees) and come back later and pick me up. The panic Wes was dealing with was more than it was worth to try to push through it, for any of us. So we decided we would swallow the $19 we paid for Jeff's ticket and parking so he could get Wesley to safety. The girls both decided they wanted to go with Daddy. I had a feeling that was a bad idea, but hey, it meant I could get a break. Just me and the baby. Not really. Within 2 minutes I saw them all walking towards me and Jada was crying and Jeff was ticked because the kids were already fighting with each other.

9) We give up. 25 minutes into the gates of Indian Summer and I hadn't even met up with my family yet who was saving us a spot, but we couldn't deal anymore. The entire day thus far was a bust and I couldn't see it getting any better. I prayed for strength. Seriously, I did. I breathed the heaviest breath ever along with a loud sigh and said "Lord, give me strength to do this."

10) The kids are 'sorry.' Wesley and Jada are both crying now because they don't want me to be sad. Of course I was upset. They were whiny and misbehaving and we had to end up leaving because of it. And Leila was now crying as well, but because she wanted to stay. So now $33 is wasted instead of just $19.  I made sure Wes knew with his repeated "I'm sorry mommy" that it was not his phobia that got him in trouble, but it was the fighting with Jada. Although the phobia is stressful for us, of course he can't help it. I am trying so hard to get him to understand the screaming has to stop though. He holds it back just fine in front of his friends when he sees a wasp. He just runs away like any other person, so I know he can do it. But for some reason, when it's just him and us (and the general public) he has no problems with making a scene.

after we left the festival and before the apocalypse we stopped to stare at water?

11) The Apocalypse. Or what felt like it anyways. So on our way home, the kids are told to not speak to one another. Not a peep. You know how that goes. Jeff and I decided to treat ourselves to WINGSTOP-(because that makes everything better.)  And we have to stop at Target and grab some easy quick food and drinks for the kids. As soon as we walk into our house, it's like everything that can be shaken is shaken.

It's that moment when you have a million bags, cameras, diaper bags, purses, the baby seat and your food of course and you are trying to bring it all in. The baby is crying and wants me to feed him. I have to go to the bathroom. The dog needs to be let out. Leila is crying about chocolate milk (again). Jada is asking for cookies before dinner and complaining about what dinner is and teasing Leila. Wes has calmed down but is talking a lot and digging in the fridge for the 'pre-dinner food' that he always seems to need. Everything is going on and no one is calming down, and we can't even hear ourselves think. We told the kids to go upstairs to their rooms, (both because of the fighting and because 'Jada needed to lay down and take a nap') and we told them 3 or 4 times with no response. They acted like we didn't even say anything. And that was it. The apocalypse happened.
I almost felt bad for Wesley because he was just talking at this point, but it happened to be when everyone else was doing everything else, so he probably couldn't even hear us tell them to get upstairs. But enough was enough.

I told a friend of mine that I felt like my hopes and dreams for a perfect family fun day were shattered. I was joking of course but it was one of the top 3 most chaotic days out with my family. Sometimes, I seriously don't know why I try. Ever feel like that?. My kids are much happier and well behaved at we save money. It's just more work than it's worth. I'm learning little by little to plan better.

What goes wrong this time, I will try to remember next time... if there is a next time.
Depends how brave I am.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Phew! This week has been LONG. And tiring. I have so much going on in my brain right now, I can't even begin to go there.

In this season of transition for the family, I have been learning (EVEN more if that's possible) to rely the grace of God to carry me and give me strength.

Don't get me wrong. I like getting back to a schedule, but that also means getting to bed earlier, getting dinner on time + all that. Granted it's only been a couple of days of the fall line up here in the Smith home (so I should give myself a little grace as well) but I already feel like I'm falling behind. Or at least I just haven't gotten ahead yet like I hope to do while the kids are in school this year.

I've been in my car almost non stop traveling back and forth to schools and home, etc. I am trying to teach Leila the ropes of how to take the school bus so I had to put her on the bus and drove out to her school (25 minutes) so that when she arrived, I was there for her.  I did the same thing after school. I drove out there (and when she saw me she start sobbing by the way), I made sure she got on the right bus okay, followed the bus over to Jada's school to make sure Jada got on the SAME bus that Leila was on and then met them both at home. Tedious, but not trivial. School is a semi new experience for her, then you add on taking the bus for a LONG bus ride (partially without big sister) and we have a girl in tears traumatized and scared. I had to do something.

I really hate it. I hate that I am part of my daughters traumatizing experience.
And I really miss my kids already.

Plus my husband has been really busy at odd hours so I'm left doing a lot of the stuff alone that he normally helps me with. More pics next week. School. Vacation. Summer.
I'm just behind in general.

Am I the only one who hasn't printed out photos in like 8 years?
This is my plan this year. (random thought).

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Doing Life With You

When we started dating, he was just 23. I was 19. I remember that summer, asking my mom to pray with me about finding a husband. Now when I see newlyweds who are my age then... it just seems so young. But that was the truest desire of my heart. Simply to find a husband. Each new guy that showed up at church I kept my eyes on and my heart open. It was the summer before I was supposed to go away to college. I had taken a year off after high school and decided I wanted to do "something." But I really had no idea what that something was, so college it was. On a whim that summer, I went on a month long missions trip to Albania. It was there, the girls I was bunking with kept talking about marriage. I came home with a changed heart. Yes. Marriage was what I wanted. I broke up with my boyfriend, who I knew wasn't "the one."
And I prayed....

A few months later our church opened a venue that was to host christian concerts every weekend. My parents, being the pastors, had asked long time friends of our family that were attending our church to manage the place. It was then, in preparation for it's grand opening that the unspeakable happened. We were reintroduced and sparks flew.

Our families had known each other since I was about 6 years old. When people ask me when we met, I never know what to say.  As a little girl, I remember spending the night at his house after church with my family because of snow storms + their house being near by. But we moved away to Michigan. And that was a long time ago. I'd see him occasionally in passing as a young teenager when we moved back. But he usually nodded at me & that was it.

He didnt attend our church at that time, but that summer,  he swung by the "light club" to help his mom prep for the grand opening.  I was there helping my parents, as they were the pastors of the church opening the place. And as Jeff & I painted, the jokes and giggles between us were obvious. He was a tight jeans, mullet sporting, duster wearing cowboy and I was a baggy jean, purple hair wanna be skater girl.
Clearly we were not meant to be.... or were we?

Long story short, we flirted. I got scolded by my parents to not break his heart since they were friends with his parents.
I got mad at my parents & I tried to avoid him to punish my parents, I guess. But our feelings for each other were undeniable clearly. So one day, he asked me if I could be his girlfriend. To which I said 'no.' To this day, I still can't believe I did that. I was so young...and stupid. I had a hard time getting past his style. It just wasn't "me." And I guess I couldn't get past the fact that I sorta "knew" him basically my entire life.  But I am so glad God knew me better than I knew myself. Eventually (like 3 days later) I told him I made a mistake and I had changed my mind and said "yes." We got engaged 2 months later. Married 13 months later...
And a year after we got married we left our families in Wisconsin and headed to Bible college together,  both majoring in supportive ministries.

Jeff is exactly the person I needed... not just needed, wanted.
We have been together for 19 years now. 18 years married in November. We have had our shares of ups and downs. Mistakes made. But we have grown from them. We are not always hot and heavy. I mean, we have our moments. But we are always best friends. No one can make me laugh and roll my eyes ( in a good way) as much as he can. He is the perfect mixture of annoying and funny and loving.  I can't imagine my life without him and I am so thankful to have celebrated 18 birthdays with him.

Today is my husbands birthday and I want to wish him a Happy Birthday...
Jeff, I love you. You have made my life so happy. I am so thankful for you and our 4 wonderful crazy kids that God has entrusted us with. I look forward the the chaos, the adventure, the love, the tears & the laughter with you for the rest of our lives.

I'm so grateful I get to do life with you...
Love, Julie

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

5 Intentional & Mess Free Ways To Spend Time With Your Kids

Sometimes as a mom, I just need a day where the mess is minimal but the smiles are still big!
Dividing my time among the kids isn't easy and feels almost impossible when I am constantly cleaning up after them...and as I clean, they mess right behind me. I try to go with the motto, oh well, because their happiness (& fun) comes first. But their happiness doesn't always have to mean messes.
Really, I think in this day and age we underestimate the good old fashioned quality of just spending time with our kids. We want to make sure whatever we do with our kids is picture worthy for our instagram or pinterest accounts, but more often than not our kids just want to be with us. Messes can be made at times, but it's not always necessary. So I wanted to give you a few of my favorite activities (and theirs!) to do with my kids. Without the mess and without the cost!
And they LOVE me for it. Everytime.

MONSTER DRAW MIX UP-(a piece of paper and 2-3 crayons or markers)
Ok, I just made that name up. But my kids love it. All you need is a piece of paper and some crayons or markers, etc. One kid starts by drawing a part of a body. It usually ends up being a head. Then they pass it on to the next kid, who adds their body part (eyes, lips, antenna, whatever) and then they pass it to me, the Mom. All we do is we keep passing the paper round and round and we keep adding body parts/clothes/accessories. It usually ends up coming our looking pretty odd, which is why we call it a monster. The kids LOVE it. And it usually only works well if I play the game with them. One piece of paper, 4 markers, 3 kids, one mom...not much of a mess at all.

WALKS & CONVERSATION- (legs, free time & willingness to listen)
This is probably my son's favorite thing to do with me. I'm not kidding. He just told me before I wrote this that he is not like most kids so I guess give it a try and see. You really just have to be willing to not be too busy to really listen to them intently and have conversation with them. It works best with my son, because he loves to talk. He will yammer away for 45 minutes straight about Mario and Minecraft and I try hard not to let my mind wander. I really have to listen to because he asks me my favorite this or that so I can't get by with just a "uh-huh" or "oh yeah?" It's usually a one kid activity so that he/she isn't interrupted by siblings and feels special. But every single time, he tells me this when we are done "I love talking to you. You're not like most adults. Most adults don't listen. You listen to what I'm saying."

DANCE PARTY-(energy & music)
The girls especially love this one. Wesley will join in too once in awhile. But it's really brainless, fun activity to do with kids. Kids love to dance. Just watch them at weddings. They love it even more if you are taking video of them dancing or if you dance with them. So that's what I do. I dance with them. I get tired, take a break, find a new favorite song and go at it again. They still aren't too old to hold hands and go round in a circle.

GO FISH-(plain deck of cards)
Why must we complicate things? Everytime I go to the store I see those kids decks of cards, you know, Go Fish, Old Maid and such. I always tell myself to buy them and teach them to my kids. But for some reason I never did it. And recently, while we were camping, my son got stuck without the internet or 3DS and he couldn't sleep. I pulled out the deck of cards I brought along and played Go Fish with him. Super easy. Then I came home and taught it to my oldest daughter and my younger daughter walked in. Next game, she had to play... and now they ask me to play ALL THE TIME. Really? Go Fish? Yep. And the deck of cards has been sitting in Jeff's sock drawer for a very long time.

WATCH A MOVIE WITH THEM (a movie & free time)
It seems like such a simple thing to do and yes, we probably do it from time to time anyways by default or we pay $40-$50 to take the whole gang to see a movie. But my kids are extra cuddly, extra cozy and extra happy when we can either a) Have a family movie night or b) I just sit in their bed or they sit in mine and they say "Mom, you want to watch a movie with me?" and I answer them "Sure." They seem so disappointed or just sort of turn and walk out if I'm unable to or I tell them "Go watch a movie with your sister." It's intentional time with them (and put your phone away too!).

Here is one of our monster mix up drawings. I hope you have a sense of humor, because this one made me laugh and I can't ever get rid of it.. I never told the kids what "the problem" with it is. They will figure it out, one day.

Monday, June 30, 2014

You're Mean, Mom

You're mean...(pause), Mom.

I have been pondering over what to write about these girls. I wanted to share their new pictures, but I figured I had to say at least something. And I've been thinking over what it means to have daughters, to be a daughter and finally to be a daughter of God. Thinking I could in some way end this post with some grand inspirational challenge to myself or to the world wide web.

Instead, Leila comes in my room and out of nowhere says "You're mean...(pause), Mom.
What on earth? 

This happened right after Jada came in and asked me to tickle her edge of her thumb. She didn't so much ask as she just stuck it in front of my face, but I knew what she wanted. (She ripped her thumb nail and it hurts so she has been asking me to tickle it.)

So this is what being a mom is all about? Thumb tickling and being told your mean for no reason.
Good times.

This past weekend a few friends and I were sitting at the park with my mom, feeding off her wisdom. 
I love my mom. She is hilarious. And it's usually on accident. She was raised on an indian reservation and she talks very "up northy." She pronounces things funny sometimes,  says things that come out wrong and sort of blunt,  but it's hilarious and does things like wears two shoes from two separate pairs in a shoe store... on accident.

Ok, that shoe thing happened before I was born, but it's a good example of the kind of things that make us kids laugh all the time. If I gave a recent example,I would probably be the 38 year daughter getting scolded.

I'm convinced parents never stop instructing and redirecting their kids no matter how old they are.
And it should be that way. To some degree. Because they are always making efforts to help them in every other area of life.

Anyways, so my friends, mom and I are at the park just talking and we are kind of in a circle around my mom and she is just simply being "Mom" and giving her input. She cuts to the chase when she is talking and out of her mouth comes a fountain of profound wisdom. I'm so glad I'm not even joking. My mom and I are different in the way we present our thoughts, I guess. But I value her advice and wisdom so much because I know it comes from a place of sound experience and intimate prayer and time spent with God.

And I know that I want my daughters (and sons) to think the same way of me. I'm not just the mean mom who is good for tickling thumbs, but I am the mother they can laugh with (and laugh at), learn from and lean on when they need me, no matter how old they are.

My sister was laughing so hard when she noticed how we were all sitting around her gleaning from her vast river of knowledge and insight. But it's so not taken for granted. I hope she knows that.

I'm watching Jada quickly approach her pre-teen years and it shows in her attitude (not to mention Wesley) and I listen to them and I remember myself at that age. I remember how sassy I was. How disrespectful I was. I was obedient, but had a sassy mouth. Standing on the outside, sitting on the inside I guess you could say. But when I hear my kids talk to me, it makes me nervous some days, because I think back to my relationship with my mom when I was a teenager and I think "Oh brother, they sound just like me..."

I never ever want to hear my kids tell me I'm a mean mom or they hate me.
It's not cute now...and it definitely won't be cute when they are teenagers.

Before I had kids, there was a big part of me that hesitated on even having them simply because I remembered how horrible I was and I see what my parents had to deal with as us kids were all going through our stages of life. It scared me. I didn't want my feelings hurt by my own children, nor did I want the responsibility of making sure they turned out happy and successful once they were grown.

Let's face it, that is a HUGE undertaking. One I am learning now.
And I hope I am doing it right.
What if I'm not?

I am here for my kids. My life is a service to my family. That is who God made me to be. But in return, for the most part, they are adoring me. And I treasure it. They want me, want to be with me, want to sit in my bed with me while I type, want to go to the store with me, want me to snuggle them,  want me to lay with them until they fall asleep. They adore me. And I'm glad they do. Because I adore them.

As much as I love these girls adoring me now and hanging on my every word (even when I'm not talking to them)... my ultimate goal is for them to love and respect me enough to continue to listen to me and adore me when they are grown women. I want to be to them, who my mom is to me. So in turn, they look at my life and the example I set...and want to be that person in their own families.
Does that make sense?

Maybe we will go through some rough spots. Maybe they will sass me now or think they know it all when they are teenagers. But when they become young adult women (and young men) I want them to be able to come to me without being scared. I want them to know I pray for them. I want them to be able ask me things confident I have their best interest at heart. I want them to see me putting God first. I want to set the example of who they want to be like.

That is what I want for my daughters.
They sure are cute now. All my kids are.
And my sister can make them look like little rockstars. And I love it.
But I want them to be happy. Really happy. Temporary happy is fun. And it's fun to surprise my kids with things they want. But as all us grown ups know, what we value now is quite different than what we thought was important as kids.

Photos taken by Joanna Photography.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I Try To Pretend I Care... But I Don't

I am desperately trying to pretend that I care. 
That I care what my house looks like.
What my unwashed hair looks like.
What I will see if I walk to down the basement 
as mountains of dirty laundry screaming at me "Wash me!"
I'm trying to pretend that anything matters in this moment 
but being who I am called to be right here, right now.. 
What is it that I am known most for by those that need and love me the most?
Easy. Mommy. Mom. Madre, if they are feeling "spanish"...
or M.O.M. if they are feeling sassy.

I'm trying to pretend that when I look at these freckles
all I want to do is make sure my home looks like a Pinterest perfect home.
All I want to do is blog. Or stare at my phone. Right?
I'm trying to pretend when he tells me about the next gadget he wants,
that all I really want to do is go out and buy myself something cute instead.
I'm pretend that anything else matters.
That looking cute matters.
But his excitement over his never ending research of electronics or games,
his enthusiasm for creating new videos or writing plays keeps me more than entertained.
He says he is not talented, but he is beyond talented and creative. 
I keep trying to make him see it.
I keep trying. I pray one day he recognizes that this eagerness to create is a gift.
And it's simple for me, he is what matters.

As if there is anything in the world that can make me laugh more than she does.
As if anything can possibly annoy me more than her drab sense of style,
as she slips on her giant tshirts and sweatpants every day...
and some days I swear she does it just to annoy me.
Because she knows. Oh she knows. 
I beg her every day to put on something cute (as I'm digging rocks out of her pockets)
Even something cute and comfy will do.
But no. She wants baggy and drab. And she walks away laughing at me.
She walks away confident in her style...and just laughs at me.
And of course, I can't help but laugh. 
As if anything could make me laugh more than she does.
How could anything else possibly matter?
I'm tempted to throw away the "ugly" clothes,
but I know she would be digging in her brother's closet then.

And this one. She is my bright eyes. I don't even need to find ways to make my world 
(or pictures for that matter)
look beautiful & perfect when she is in my presence.
Her bright blue eyes and rosy red lips light up pretty much every room. 
That's a given.
Just watching her dress herself up in anything pretty
and stare at herself in the mirror with her giant flower headband 
and plenty of added necklaces and bracelets
to make up for her big sisters lack of style pizazz 
is what adds a simple elegance to my very normal days.

And those moments where I am not listening intently (and sometimes distractedly) to Wesley...
Or those moments where I am not arguing with Jada about her clothes, and sometimes laughing...
And when I am not helping Leila primp or fix her hair or change her clothes for the 12th time that day...
The moments when I am not doing those things,
I am staring at this kid. Or feeding him. 
Or changing his diaper more times than Leila changes clothes.
Brand new to the world. 
I am still trying to make him smile even though I know it's too early.
But he just looks at me, then looks around. 
He grunts, poops, cries, eats and goes back to sleep.
I'm simply loving him at this point in time. 
No fights. No discipline. Nothing too intense.
Just letting him know that I am still his Mommy.

So, if I seem a little quiet.
Perhaps a little preoccupied.
A little distant.
A little consumed.
Maybe a little unmotivated, even.
It's because I am. All of these things.
And as much as I try to pretend I care than I may be coming off that way.
I just don't care. Because right now, I'm just a little distracted.
Too distracted to blog or look pretty or clean my house.
I'm distracted with being the "M.O.M" that these guys need me to be
at any given moment.

And I'm loving every minute of it.
No, seriously. I am.

.....and that's all for me for now. 
the little one is awake...and needs mommy.
he seems pretty angry about it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Introducing Wyatt Cash~ a little earlier than expected...

If you aren't following me on instagram, it's very possible that you haven't heard our happy news...
Two weeks ago, Wyatt Cash was unexpectedly, but lovingly welcomed into our family.
We are now a family of SIX! I can hardly believe it.
Talk about a tired mama!

Wyatt's actual due date was June 8th, but he was scheduled to be delivered on May 27th via csection, the day after Memorial Day. Instead Wyatt, joined our great big wonderful world on May 6th. I was 35 weeks, 2 days pregnant with my little man. He was born 5lb 12 oz and 19 inches long.

I mentioned before that I have a history of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Two of my other three children were delivered early as my blood pressure started creeping higher and higher, my arms, legs, feet and face started swelling and I started seeing stars...
so I knew the signs and what to watch for.

I have to be honest.
Out of all the things I was struggling with during my pregnancy- bleeding until I was 16 weeks pregnant, the threat of toxoplasmosis, an ulcer...pre-eclampsia was the one thing I didn't set my faith on or against.
I knew that if it set in again during this pregnancy, the baby would come just a few weeks early and that meant an end to what felt like torture of the third trimester. I dislike even saying that, because I am ever so grateful to be pregnant and to carry them to term, or almost to term, but I am not nor have I ever been your glowing pregnant mama, that's for sure.
Total honesty here.
I felt quite miserable and my swollen feet and skin felt like it was busting at the seems. To top it off carrying an extra 58 lbs on my 5'3 frame left me feeling almost impossibly immobile.

So, the thought of delivering a tad early, sounded like a dream when I was in the midst of feeling so yucky. 
I did not however expect it to happen quite so early and I blamed myself when I sat there in tears, listening to the pros and cons of my health and my baby's health as my doctor urged me that she didn't feel comfortable letting me continue this pregnancy with my blood pressure so high and other things showing up during the lab tests done.

That afternoon, she told me if she were to let me continue to try to stick it out, it would maybe give me one more day, but then we would be running the risk of jeopardizing my health. So I had to decide... and I had to pray for wisdom...

Sunday, May 4th I took a hot bath and I started seeing stars. So later that day, after checking my blood pressure at a local grocery store and it being insanely high, I asked a friend who works at an urgent care to take it for me and it still came up high, but not quite as high as the grocery store reading. So I called my doctor and he wasn't quite convinced of the grocery story machine reading, but he told me to come in the next day.

Monday, May 5th, I went in. I saw a nurse practitioner and she took my blood pressure 3 times and it was high each time. She did several lab tests on me and a stress test on the baby...and told me the way things were looking, she didn't think I would make it to our scheduled day.
She told me to come back the next day to have my blood pressure checked again and I did.

Tuesday, May 6th, Jeff & Leila came with me to get a simple blood pressure check. I packed my hospital bags, just in case, but Jeff didn't seem convinced anything would happen other than them letting me know it would be sooner than we thought. I went in, had it checked and they sent me straight down to labor and delivery to be monitored for a while. Each time, even with rest, it stayed high and I was told to find someone to watch Leila because they were preparing the OR for surgery right away. Today would be Wyatt's birthday.

As much as I tried or thought I was prepared for this, it still completely caught me off guard. 
Because I knew I had Wesley at 36w4d, I was hoping to make it at least that far.  I knew he was ok and healthy born at that stage and that was my main concern.
The doctor explained everything to me, that I wouldn't be able to see Wyatt for 24 hours, that Wyatt would be in the NICU for 2-2 1/2 weeks...but that the alternative of not delivering now...would jeopardize both our health. All I could do is cry. We not only had to decide whether or not we would deliver right then and there in the spur of the moment, but whether I would still get my tubes tied, which was in the original plan. The insurance papers were signed and both I and my doctor were prepared to go ahead... until this happened. It all felt so overwhelming.
So, Jeff left in a rush to find someone in my family that could take Leila and that could pick up our other kids from school within the next hour. Luckily, my family all stepped up to the plate and I am so grateful.
I sat there bawling, feeling responsible for this somehow. How could I have wanted this to happen?
I mean I didn't want it, necessarily, but I expected it because it happened before and I admittingly did want to deliver at least a little early afterall, just not THIS early!
My mom came in, prayed with me and encouraged me to see this as God's way of protecting Wyatt and myself, and that he brought us this far and we should trust Him that God would protect us both...

So within just 2 1/2  hours of getting a simple blood pressure check, I was having surgery and Wyatt was born. It was a quick & easy as they all seem to be, but afterward was the hard part. I was so grateful when I heard him crying. Our doctor told us to be prepared, because premature boys are slightly sleepier and lazier than premature girls and we may not hear him cry. So as far as the care he would need, we would just play it all by ear, depending on how he was doing. But he cried, praise God and that gave me some peace of mind for what the next 24 hours held.

Wyatt on Instagram
A NICU nurse brought him over to see me for about a minute and that was the last time I got to see him for 24 hours because I was on blood pressure meds that kept me monitored in my room for 24 hours. I think that was the hardest thing. I couldnt sleep that night. I kept dozing off and would wake up jolted every time.
I had to depend on Jeff to run down and see him and tell me how he was doing every little while.
He got to be the one to introduce Wyatt to the whole family, while I just laid in my bed. I knew he was on oxygen. I knew they had to insert something into his lungs to open them up, but he recovered extremely fast and within a day and a half was completely off the oxygen. And from that point on all we had to watch was how he was eating and whether or not he needed a feeding tube. He ended up doing great, not needing a feeding tube. And he was released from the hospital with me 5 days after he was born. Forget 2 weeks in the NICU, this boy wanted to come home with his mommy...
and we are so thankful for everyone's prayers for Wyatt and myself during this time!

The last 2 weeks with Wyatt have been the most wonderful weeks I can imagine. Despite the recovery from the c-section, and despite being tired running him back and forth to the doctor for weight checks and bilirubin checks, we have been loving on each other so much. SO many snuggles. And his big brother, two big sisters and Daddy are completely crazy in love with him too.

Every time I hold him, I still can't believe he is supposed to be in my tummy for three more weeks, But God knew what we needed and when we needed him and His love and mercy toward our family has been overwhelming. Sometimes it's hard to realize it when you are in pain or having sleepless nights, but all I have to do is look at Wyatt's tiny precious face and I am reminded of how incredible new life is and what a wonderful miracle it is that God has given our family.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Exhausting and Precious Moments of Life...

I've spent a great deal of my latest posts sharing what I'm learning or just thinking about as life happens. My mind never stops spinning, depending on my day or week and I bleed out onto my little online journal here. I write to encourage, but I mainly just write as I myself am encouraged or learning and it's painful almost to not get it out. It's like a kid letting all that energy out. 
Except all the energy is in my mind. Many times in my heart.

Aside from my journal of thoughts and musings, life is still happening. The physical, tangible pieces of life never stop. And it's been busy and exhausting. Only if you follow me on instagram do you really catch a glimpse of what I may be doing from day to day.

The pregnancy is progressing and basically I've become enormous. I've gained I think around 32 pounds and I am 28 weeks pregnant. The simple things in life have become difficult. You know the things like breathing, putting on my socks. And even pretending to think about the fact that I still have 11 weeks to go until my scheduled c-section almost wants to bring me to tears. Knowing I am just going to keep getting bigger and bigger.

This morning I woke up determined I have to do something to encourage and help myself because I want to enjoy the rest of my last pregnancy ever. I don't want to loathe each day as I have to get a head start just to roll my way out of bed. You know what I mean by the headstart? The 3-4 time half roll, just so you can make the full swing roll up and out of bed? Yep, that's me. I have not been exercising at all, nor have I even been close to watching what I eat. It's funny how people give me hi-fives and try to justify that it's ok that I eat like crap because I'm pregnant. It seems like just the opposite to me. Not only am I supposed to be taking care of this baby within, but eating junk along with no excercise isn't helping my energy level whatsoever. 

Plus I've also started swelling the last few days. So something is going to change. I AM going to enjoy these last few weeks and months of pregnancy. Not only that, but I AM going to enjoy my family. I'm not going to be irritable and too tired for them, when I'm just weeks away from welcoming another child into my world....
and theirs.

I don't want my precious babies to suffer from 'lack of mommy' just because I'm too lazy to eat right and move. I'm about to go from a 10 year old, 8 year old, and a 5 year adding one more. I need my energy, yes?

Anyways, I've kept myself busy. We have kept the kids busy. Going from Tae Kwon Do to Cub Scouts to Family trips to church to the movies and then some.

I've encouraged myself in the Lord for the simple reason of keeping my mind off the fears that keep trying wiggle their way into my thoughts about this baby, or my kids or my health or family. I refuse to allow myself to dwell or worry about things that have no substance. Yet, its a constant and daily decision for me to keep my eyes fixed on the very author of my faith. And I am so thankful that God's grace has carried me this far, through some scary and heartbreaking moments these past 7 months.

As I enter the third trimester of my final pregnancy, I intend to not only keep the family busy just for the sake of my sanity, but keep them busy for the sake of their joy and mine. They are the most precious gift to me. I tell my kids all the time, "God must have loved me so much to give me a Leila." ("or Jada or Wesley")

The most precious gift I could ever receive...
The most exhausting and precious gift.

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
~Psalms 61:1-2

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

20 Facts About Me & Being Pregnant

1. I have three kids and have never gone experienced going into labor on my own.

2. With 2 out of my 3 pregnancies I had to deliver early due to pre-eclampsia.

3. With my first baby, I was induced at 36 1/2 weeks, in labor for 36 hours and wound up having a c-section after two hours of pushing with nothing happening.

4. The epidural did not work for me.  I could feel everything depending what side I was laying on. The medicine seemed to rest on whatever side I laid on and would move if I was flipped over.

5. With all three of my kids, I took progesterone suppositories throughout the first trimester (yes suppositories, fun) twice a day.

6. After both a first and a second trimester miscarriage, I asked to have repeat progesterone tests done with all my kids. And with all my kids the first test came back with good numbers, but I made them do a follow up test, in which my levels dropped so I was put on progesterone.

7. I had good levels with my current pregnancy again, but after explaining my history,they give me progesterone for my 'peace of mind' without even testing a 2nd time. I only took about a months worth though throughout the 1st trimester.

8. I gained between 55-70 pounds with each of my pregnancies.

9. I lost all my weight with each pregnancy within 6 months.

10. My children's birthdays are now scheduled, thanks to repeat c-section. Of course the scheduled date only happened once, since I went in early the other time.

11. My smallest and tiniest child now, was actually my biggest child at birth. Jada was the only one delivered on the date she was supposed to be.

12. I have morning sickness until about 17-18 weeks. With each pregnancy, the extent of the morning sickness wasn't as extreme as the previous time.

13. I never lost weight due to morning sickness, because in order to avoid the nausea, I ate to keep my stomach settled. So I ate every 30 minutes, but rarely threw up.

14. Every pregnancy I gained 20 lbs by 20 weeks.

15. I developed carpal tunnel in my right hand/arm/wrist with 3 out of the 4 kids (4 includes my current pregnancy). Most of the time it wasn't painful, just numb, but some days I woke up in extreme pain from my elbow down to fingers.

16. I grew some sort of a blood blister on my side with my 3rd pregnancy that wouldn't stop bleeding if it was uncovered. I was told it was due to the increased blood flow and would leave after I had the baby. Thankfully, it did.

17. I couldn't fit any shoes when I delivered any of my kids, because of extreme swelling.
My feet were literally 'humped" after I delivered. It was horrid and funny at the same time.

18. After I gave birth to Jada (my 2nd baby) I felt like I had been punched in the gut for about 2 weeks and was so winded. I am guessing it had to do with organs getting shifted slightly during the surgery. It scared the heck out of me and I thought I'd never be able to exercise again.

19. I breastfed all my kids past six months, but my daughter Jada lasted 14 months and quit on her own. I was so sad when she refused the boob. Haha. She never had a bottle and went straight to the sippy cup.

20. Probably in thanks to my excessive weight gain, I suffer from 'excessive skin" syndrome. Although I lose the weight, only a surgery to remove the skin will fix my tummy. It has taken a toll on my confidence at times. Clothes are always better after you have kids =) 
At least for the majority of us.

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