Seven weeks of Eden

Hello family and friends, near and far. Here is an update on life, an apology for the sporadic communication, and a testimony to the goodness of God regarding our last seven weeks.

image

Our sweet Eden Evangeline was born on July 20 weighing a splendid seven pounds and twelve ounces. At six weeks she weighed a few tenths of an ounce less than that.

image

I cannot recount every detail here, but we have been through many ups and downs as we realized that Eden was struggling to gain weight. From the beginning she was horribly fussy, but seemed to nurse well and be content afterwards. At her one week visit we knew she had not gained enough. At two weeks she had actually lost a little more. At our first lactation appointment they said everything looked okay, that she might have a small tongue-tie, but that since I was experiencing no pain in nursing that it probably wasn’t a huge problem. I had been letting her sleep  long stretches and feeding her every four hours unless she woke up earlier so we decided that she just needed extra feedings and that we would continue going to have her weighed every week to see if there was improvement. She gained steadily but in small increments, we kept hoping she would turn the corner and take off. Her biggest gain was five ounces, but then only three – making it back to birth weight by five weeks. The doctor said a tongue-tie revision may or may not help. I wanted to wait; it was so tricky because she seemed to be nursing fine, was sleeping okay, had enough wet and dirty diapers, and was taking in the right amount as measured at the lactation appointments.

image

At six weeks she had dipped just under birth weight again. So it was all-systems-go, whatever we had to do. We scheduled a tongue-tie revision the following day; I began pumping, and we began supplementing with formula.

image

We started out not too worried and taking it in stride. But as the weeks wore on her lack of weight gain weighed heavily. Some days it felt like we listened to her fuss all day. Then it would seem to be better. Some nights she never really settled down and other nights she slept all night. Nothing was ever consistent. I knew more than likely she would be fine. I knew that other people have gone through much harder things than this. But it felt like I couldn’t keep the balance between giving her everything I had and doing the most basic of other things. (I’m not even talking about laundry/meals/cleaning; we have had amazing support from our church here.) For the first time in my life I found myself choosing sleep over showers! I would do so good taking in extra calories and water and then forget for a few days and wonder if that had been the cause for the ounces she had missed. I would stay home and rest and she would do well so I would try going out to do something fun with the kids and then feel like it took a toll on her.  (Of course you don’t know but these are the things you wonder when you’re so closely connected to this tiny little person.)

image

From the beginning, the Lord helped me to see that this was good for me. After six nearly problem-free infants, here was something new. A chance to be humbled, to learn – my inclination that it would work itself out was wrong. I’m so thankful for the advice and help from the doctor and lactation consultant.

image

I cried at the thought of the fierce love I felt for Eden, the determination to see good done for her even though she was weak and needy and giving nothing in return. I knew that God’s love for me, his adopted child, was far greater and more perfect than that love I felt for her. Even in these circumstances.

image

We knew that God’s wisdom and timing are perfect. That in His providence He gives things that are hard to understand.

image

Why our seventh baby? Why right after we moved across the country? Why literally the day before we start back to school?

I don’t know the answers at all, but I do know that this has been a time of weakness. And a time to see His perfect strength – whether it’s through a meal delivered by a friend, a text from someone who is praying for you, a song about His greatness, the ability to continue on through exhaustion, or simply the knowledge that His Spirit is at work in you when you can feel nothing else.

image

There is not a perfect ending to this story as we are still quite possibly in the middle. Eden weighed eight pounds three ounces at her seven week appointment and that was a huge success. We have every reason to believe she will continue, but at several points in this process I thought we had figured things out. With our trust and hope in God, we are doing all we can to chunk that girlie up.

imageimageimage

Thank you so much to all who have prayed and offered encouragement and practical help. This is certainly light affliction compared to many others, but it has certainly been given to draw us closer to Christ as we see how much more valuable and sufficient He is than anything else.

Eden, I tell you all the time, but we are so happy you are here. Already we long even more for that coming perfect fellowship with God and are grateful for the work of Christ to accomplish that for us. And we have your sweet name to help us remember.

Whirlwind update

image

So much has happened in our lives in the last year. It would takes hours of wasted time for me to write it and hours of boredom for you to read it. But since some of the changes have been major, I want to at least attempt an update.

In December of 2016 we found out that we are expecting another baby! It really is true, though hard for some to believe, that we are just as excited about this little girl as we have been with every other baby. Her due date, middle of July, is now drawing close and we are very thankful to have had a healthy and uneventful pregnancy so far.

This February Paul accepted a family pastor position at a church in the inland Northwest. He had been connected to this church already through the seminary and was very thankful for the open door with this body of believers.

We got our house ready to sell in exactly one week, put it on the market, and were overjoyed that it was under contract in less than twenty-four hours. We continued to move through that process, pack, and search for a new house thousands of miles away. No biggie. We had an offer accepted on a new house that we had not seen in person and hoped for the best. (Spoiler alert: it turned out great; we absolutely love it!)

The first week of March we said our very sad and very difficult good-byes to our friends and family in the East.

Perhaps the brightest spot in the past several months was our cross-country trip. I would love to say that I would blog about all our adventures and stops, but no promises. You can check out photos with the hashtag #gowestfunfam on instagram.

We are mostly settled in our new house. The kids LOVE the yard; I love the garden beds; and little by little we’re exploring our new city. Our new church has welcomed us so kindly and we’re excited about building new relationships there for the glory of Christ.

Are we tired? Quite. I think the adrenaline from all the change has worn off and now the impact of everything is hitting. We are so happy to be here; but maybe just a little worn out from all the transition. We are learning to embrace our weakness and rejoice in God’s strength, which is actually a pretty great place to be.

Love to all,

Christie

The Great License Plate Game

It all started on a long car trip from North Carolina to Indiana.

image

Paul challenged the girls to find the license plates of all fifty states. And it became a family project that is probably one of the sweetest collective memories from the last few years.

Of course we found a ton on the trip. I was delighted by how quickly even the little girls could recognize plates that we had seen several times. (I should add that just a month or so earlier Paul had helped the girls memorize all fifty states. So it was easy to keep track of what we had already seen and still needed.)

We all were so in tune to license plates for months! Every trip to the store or anywhere the girls were pointing out states. It’s amazing how many are around all the time if you just look.

Confession: sometimes we would drive around parking lots looking for plates.

On two occasions we found new ones we needed at a mall about an hour from our house. I can’t even explain how excited we all would get when we found a new state. The rules were just that one of us had to see it with our own eyes. And it had to actually be on a car, not like on the wall at Cracker Barrel.

So around October we had narrowed it down to North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Hawaii. And pickins’ were slim. We were all sure that Hawaii would be the last one we’d find.

Owen’s due date came and went.

We even got my mom in on the excitement, but still nothing.

October 31. We had realized the night before that we needed to go buy candy. Around 11 that morning I began having contractions and by lunch around 2 or so, we were pretty sure this would be the day. (for the baby) So we stopped at our grocery store about five minutes from our house, and on the way back to the car…we saw a North Dakota!! In the parking lot! Of our grocery store! Five minutes from our house!

It was unbelievable! Such a sweet little blessing in the midst of another big blessing! (Owen)

image

We were over the moon excited and incredulous. Only three more to go!

Some weeks after that, I was invited to a little Christmas party at a friend’s house and left Owen home with a sitter for the first time since Paul had a late appointment. Hating to be away from him, I kept my phone close just in case I was needed. We were eating dinner at this gorgeous table when a text came through – I tried to check it discreetly but gasped out loud when I read the message: Paul had found South Dakota!!!

That was fun trying to explain why that was so exciting.

So Vermont and Hawaii remained.

I mean, we should see a Vermont. It’s not like we’re on the other side of the country from it or anything.

We totally gave up on Hawaii. I hatched this scheme to buy one online and give it to Hope for Christmas.

So in early December we were out shopping for Christmas decorations, and by a miscommunication on my part we ended up at a shopping center we are not normally at. Between taking six kids (including a newborn) up and down the aisles of Michaels, and Mommy who has trouble making her mind up, we were all fine, but borderline cranky.

After getting in the car Paul started to wind through the parking lot, you know, just in case. And I saw it.

My arm shot out and grabbed him, “I just saw Hawaii! Go back, go back!”

He was unsure, “What? No you didn’t.”

But I knew I had seen it. “I did! I did! Go back! It had a rainbow on it!”

He circled back around and sure enough we all saw it. Hawaii!!

Evening made. Month made. Holiday season made. Year made.

We had found Hawaii!!!

And we were all together when it happened!

The parking space next to it was open so Paul pulled in and we got out and stared at it and took pictures with it like crazy people.

We literally talked about it the whole way home, replaying how it all happened and how crazy it was that we were even there, and how we all felt when we saw it. And that we were all together when it happened.

I guess you’d have to understand how long we’d been looking and how sure we were that we would never actually find it. It still makes me smile just thinking about it.

So…Vermont.

We contemplated getting in the car and heading north until we found one. (It’s okay at this point for you to be absolutely certain that we are nuts). But we had come this far and just had to have that last one. We had even looked it up online to be sure we knew what we were looking for. Apparently, Vermont has one style of license plate so that was good.

Christmas came and went.

image

On one of those awkward post-Christmas days when you’re not quite sure what to do, we decided to take all the kids for a hike. We were almost out of our neighborhood when a little red car pulled in. Paul noticed the sign on the front of the car and whipped around to check when it passed us.

It was a Vermont.

He pulled in someone’s driveway and turned around action movie- style. The poor little red car, we followed it ’til it parked in a driveway only a street over from ours. Paul parked on the road and jumped out. (I think they were a little perplexed, to say the least.)

He explained our great license plate game and how all we needed was Vermont and they were our Vermont! The man was really good-humored and let us take a picture with the plate and the girls. They had just arrived from Vermont to visit the grandkids. We wished each other well and went on our way.

“Can you believe it?” We kept asking each other. We found Vermont! In our neighborhood.

A better ending to such a hunt could not have been scripted.

We were so excited that we decided to celebrate with milkshakes after our hike.

We went to Sonic. And they were out of ice cream. Are you kidding me? You’re Sonic. #youhaveonejob

But just forget that part because it didn’t matter.

Our excitement could not be dampened. We had found all fifty states.

image

Yay for family. Yay for hunts. Yay for memories we will never forget.

New Year’s questions for your kids {2016}

I have a confession to make.

I never actually asked my kids the New Year’s questions last year.

(And we still had a great year)

image

But it is my favorite holiday, and I really want to do it this year. Here’s my brainstorm of things to ask them about.

  1. What is your favorite memory from 2015?
  2. Who is your favorite friend that you played with (other than your family)? Why?
  3. What is your favorite thing about having a brother?
  4. What do you think are the things that you really have a hard time loving more than God?
  5. What is one thing you worry about?
  6. What is something fun that you would like to learn about this year?
  7. What is something important you would like to learn about this year?
  8. What is something you would like to do more with Daddy and Mommy this year?

I think that’s all for now. It may take a couple of days to sit down with the girls and ask all of these. Let me know if you try it!

Happy New Year!

For family and friends: well that was close…

Since you all know about the soon-arriving boy now, you will understand how I very nearly let this blog expire! The past two years I have questioned myself whether it’s worth it to continue, but the truth is if it’s a blessing to you all to see snippets of our life here, then it’s twenty-six whopping dollars well spent.

So in honor of another year of mass communication, here are some pictures from life lately.

My new dishwasher assistant.
My new dishwasher assistant.
The shot that didn't make it into the Father's Day present #thanksmckayla
The shot that didn’t make it into the Father’s Day present #thanksmckayla
sweet summer vacation photo
sweet summer vacation photo
Never a dull moment
Never a dull moment
Yum! A fourth of July salad even I liked (minus the lettuce).
Yum! A fourth of July salad even I liked.
Birthday cupcake!
Birthday cupcake!
One-year-old cutie
One-year-old cutie
Birthday date with Daddy. No wonder she doesn't want to get married.
Birthday date with Daddy. No wonder she doesn’t want to get married.
Five-year-old sweetie
Five-year-old sweetie
This girl
This girl
Mckayla and her colors
Mckayla and her colors
What happens when I say, "Can you watch her for just a minute?"
What happens when I say, “Can you watch her for just a minute?”
You know those moms who can line their kids up against a brick wall, have them look off in the distance and turn it into an amazing photo? Yeah, I'm not one of those.
You know those moms who can line their kids up against a brick wall, have them look off in the distance and turn it into an amazing photo? Yeah, I’m not one of those.
But this style we can do all day long!
But this style we can do all day long!
Don't miss the fact that Gracie actually let go with one hand for that thumbs up.
Don’t miss the fact that Gracie actually let go with one hand for that thumbs up.
Love my big girls
Love my big girls
Reading with Daddy
Reading with Daddy
Kindergarden desk
Kindergarden desk
Looking for a promotion to floor sweeper
Looking for a promotion to floor sweeper
Had to capture this when it happened
Had to capture this when it happened
Those mornings when your sisters get to you before mom...
Those mornings when your sisters get to you before mom…
How many times have we eaten burrito bowls since I've been pregnant, honey?
How many times have we eaten burrito bowls since I’ve been pregnant, honey? (a lot!)
I couldn't quite take her seriously when she came inside whining about her sister and looking like this!
I couldn’t quite take her seriously when she came inside whining about her sister and looking like this!

And that’s that!

Feeling caught up? Me too. = )

Love you all,

Christie

small detail, big surprise

There’s something rather important that I haven’t quite gotten around to saying here yet. It may or may not be responsible for the sporadic writing of, oh the last thirty-four weeks.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? We have another baby due to arrive in six weeks!

Yay!!! It seems like it would become ordinary after doing this six times, but it is still just as exciting. and exhausting. = )

This business of being a part of God reproducing his image in the world is absolutely amazing. We pray for the health and safety of this little ones body; we pray that he would be used to glorify the grace of God and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In other news, I have really missed writing here recently. Time will only tell if that will turn into more frequent posts or not. There’s a dream of just sitting down for fifteen minutes every day to write. So many thoughts constantly swirl around my head. (And yes, like we feel about most others, it’s probably good they’re not always shared.) = )

But – at least now you know that we are having another baby so I can talk about it! = )

Did I mention it’s a ***boy***???

A new adventure awaits!
A new adventure awaits!

Love to all,

Christie

 

The summer bucket list continues

Summer is glorious. For me it’s not about long days, fancy vacations, or a long-list of must-do activities with your kids. It’s just about watching them when they don’t know you are, looking in their eyes more attentively as they explain their ideas to you, saying yes when they ask to build a fort, and having a few minutes to post about it while they’re on the front porch eating pretzels and drinking water.

Not sure why I call this a bucket list? I’m recording the small, unexpected happy moments of summer – as they happen. You can read more here.

4. Completely unplanned, we took a bicycle-pulled “carriage” from our parking lot to a baseball game. The girls faces were priceless!

5. Painting. There’s been a lot of this going on. The messy table that doesn’t have to be cleaned up at night, the intent faces while working, and the excitement to show Daddy their “masterpieces” all make this mama’s heart happy.

image

6. Holding Mckayla on my lap, rocking her and talking with her for no reason at all. One word for ya, margin.

7. This morning Sophia and I stayed long after breakfast to do the puzzles and games on the back of the cereal box.

8. Searching for Fourth of July breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas on Pinterest. (also with Sophia) We actually picked a few easy ones and bought the stuff, too. And made an extra trip to Walmart for skewers, cupcake liners and special plates and napkins. These things don’t happen during the school year.

9. Watch the little girls hold up five fingers as they oh-so-excitedly tell us that our tomato plant now has four tomatoes. = )

10. Get soaking wet from a sudden rain in the middle of an afternoon Bible club. Hear the child who was scared of the rain say, instead of complaining – “I’m thankful our car has a top on it!” once we were all in the car.

11. Sit on the front porch with Paul listening to the crickets after the girls had gone to bed.

****

How’s your summer going? Believe it or not, this is a kind of crazy, hectic summer for us. Writing these things down helps me to find the joy and the space in the little moments instead of being overwhelmed by all that is going on. Let me know if you try it!