Sunday, November 11, 2012


There's nothing much to report, and no new ideas in my head; I just thought I should try to post more consistently, and so here I am...

We're still just hobbling along, working out how to survive in the place in life we find ourselves.  We're still in the thick of conquering house and boxes, making progress at a deafeningly slow speed.  I find it a bit sad--we've been here for a month, and I've actually cooked dinner only 3 times.  I just take comfort that, considering the state of our house, 3 times is awfully amazing! 

Some good news:  Owen got a job!  It's a temporary job that doesn't pay quite what we need, but it's something to get us through until something better comes along. 

Tonight we went on a dark night exploration outside, with only flashlights and the stars to guide us.  The kids were brave explorers through the dark field beyond our house, and were eager to find bats and monsters.  However, they wisely suggested we wait until daylight to explore the huge, creepy barn (which is locked with heavy chains...and yet Owen may have found a way in?).  Swarms of real bats just aren't as much fun as a pretend single bat...and we all know that bats exist on these grounds!  Safita brought along her lights-and-sounds Percy the train toy, because he has a (tiny and insignificant) light--but very smart on her part.  When we heard a real train blow its whistle on the not-so-distant tracks, she "toot-tooted" Percy's whistle right back at it, to say hello. 

Our little Baby Blue is still as active as ever.  The kids both seem to have come around to the idea of a boy.  Jack doesn't contradict the baby's gender anymore, but he does often say, "After we have a baby boy, then our next baby will be a girl."  And Safita is just in love with the idea of a baby, period!  Every time we talk about "the baby," she'll exclaim, "Baby BOOYYY!"  Her most recent favorite game is pretending Jack is a baby; she holds him on her lap, rocks him, and covers him in hugs and kisses.  He graciously plays along and does a very good job imitating a baby.  Jack likes to snuggle next to me on the couch and wrap his arm across my belly to try to feel the baby, and he'll ask me all sorts of questions about the baby and this whole pregnancy process.  They both are very sweet. 

We're all sorting and re-sorting through our list of boy names, which has been more of a challenge this time around.  With the other two, we just knew...And this time around, we were 100% prepared for twin girls (at least in the name department), but a boy--I don't know.  We have ideas and names we like, but so far nothing strikes us (or should I say, me) as being right.  I feel like throughout the pregnancy I start to get a feel for who this little person is inside me, and some names seem right and some don't.  I also find great importance in the meanings of names, but the names whose meanings fit this child are not our favorites, and the names that ARE our favorites have meanings that don't seem to fit this child.  What to do?  Well, a name is important, so we're praying for direction. 

Wishing you all a blessed week!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Wee Little Surprise

Last week we had our first midwife appointment in our new location.  I do hate having to always find a new midwife, because you really develop a relationship with a midwife (as opposed to a doctor who's in-and-out), and we loved the last 2 that we had.  It's kind of similar, in a way, to a romantic relationship, in the sense that you're always comparing the new one to the old ones with what you like better and what you don't...and I start to feel nostalgic and miss the old ones, even if I fully love the new one. 

8 weeks
We are limited here in our new location, as the closest midwife is 1 hour 15 minutes away (praying labor doesn't go TOO fast!), so we feel like we really only have one option.  This past appointment was in reality just a consultation to see if we liked her and visa versa, but since I was already 19 weeks along, she also went ahead and did a check-up.  And it was a rather exciting checkup...

12 weeks
As a bit of background, there has been a little bit of confusion in this pregnancy up til now.  My uterus size and position has been measuring larger and higher than it should, causing the midwife to wonder if I was farther along than we thought.  In addition, my pregnancy symptoms have been much stronger for this entire pregnancy, and I've been feeling pretty much constant movement for the last few weeks.  All of these factors caused our newest midwife to question multiples, which I had actually been suspicious of for some time. 

16 weeks
Then, during the check-up last week, we heard 2 distinct heartbeats in 2 different locations with 2 different heartbeat rates...I can't even tell you how thrilling that was--and also terrifying!  The midwife did tell us that the heartbeats didn't necessarily mean twins:  It is possible for the baby to move really fast and for the heart rate to change within seconds.  But the evidence seemed so convincing, I just couldn't imagine that it WASN'T twins!

20 weeks (current)
20 weeks with Jack
20 weeks with Safita

 Today was the day we found out for sure.  It was momentous...


Surprisingly, there is only one baby.  Apparently a large and very active baby.  (Considering my last baby weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz, and they supposedly get successively bigger, I'm a little concerned!)  We also found out that it's a boy!!!  We are very excited for a new baby boy (!!), but it's also taking some time to readjust our mindset about this baby, because I was convinced it was either twins or a girl, because of how I've been feeling.  The kids also desperately wanted a baby girl, and Jack is still in denial.  When the ultrasound technician announced it was a boy, Jack contradicted with great certainty, "No it's not!  It's a girl!"  He seems to be coming around, though, since we've been telling him how fun it will be to have a superhero playmate and how the boys can outnumber the girls, etc.  And it was Jack who initially nick-named this baby "Baby Blue," which seems a bit intuitive about the gender!
Baby's profile with hand up by his face

top of Baby's face--super cute, even if the ultrasound quality makes it look creepy!

Now we get to have fun picking out a boy name before we welcome this little one into our arms somewhere around March 27!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fabric and Furniture

This is what I did today:


I tackled my first upholstery job!  Now, I know there were probably WAY more important things I should have done, BUT, in my defense:
a) This has been a long-standing project on my To-Do list (I'm talking years).
b) I was MOTIVATED to do it today--and I'm beginning to realize about myself, that if I don't do what I'm motivated to do, I tend to flop aimlessly around and do nothing of consequence.
c) It was in desperate need of attention.  Safita has grown very attached to this chair and sits in it several times a day, but every time she does, the frame falls apart and the cloth sags through the broken seat support to the floor, and it's just a big mess.  It was time to fix it before it became un-fixable.

A very small Jack, excited about the chair when we first acquired it at an antique fair.
So, the kids and I tracked down the nearest Jo-Anns and survived the crazy crowds (the place was crawling like it was Black Friday!) to get our supplies, and spent the rest of the afternoon fixing the chair frame and re-upholstering the cushions.  It wasn't actually difficult, to my surprise and relief--just a little time-consuming.  But, since the quote I had gotten from a professional was encroaching on $200, and I got it done myself for $30, I'd say it was well worth the time and effort!

Now, the old, mustardy yellow vinyl is a super-soft, lightly ribbed, soothing gray microfiber.  The arms and legs of the chair are sturdy and don't fall apart when touched, and the seat doesn't sag!  It's pretty amazing.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Back Online

It's been a long time, folks...Here's my attempt to crawl out of the blog-land abyss I've been lost in for the past 2 months!

As some of you may know, the past few months have been pretty crazy and overwhelming for us.  My internet absence was initiated by a loss of internet service in mid-August, a loss which lasted for 2 months.  I was amazed to realize how dependent we are on internet, because it was very challenging being without!

At the end of September, we had to move out of our apartment with nowhere to go, and spent 2 weeks as guests of my very gracious aunt and uncle.  Owen had been job hunting since the beginning of summer, and by mid-October it seemed he had finally secured a job...and we made the move to New York...and after getting settled received a call that he didn't get the job after all.  It's been more than a little bit stressful. 

Since the move, we also have been completely submerged in getting settled in our new location.  We're slowly getting to know the area better and figuring out where to go for things we need.  And even more slowly, we're getting unpacked...We are renting a spacious but old farm house situated on 100 acres--which is an amazing change from our cramped apartment with no yard!!--but it's taking some extra time and TLC to make it a clean and comfortable space for us. 

The house hadn't been lived in for at least a year, and being an old house has lots of crevices through which critters may enter, and so there's been much cleaning to do and even a few surprises here and there!  One night, our quiet evening was greatly enlivened by a bat, who decided our living room would be a good place to stretch its wings.  We also have our fair share of mice, who are helping themselves to the contents of our kitchen cabinets.  The basement houses an old, dilapidated butcher-block table, which in turn houses live termites (and yes, we have informed the landlords, but they don't seem too concerned).  There are aspects about the house that I love, and some that I really struggle to make peace about...I think the hardest part is that, as renters, we are quite limited on what we're able to do, either for the sake of permission or cost. 

Anyway, we're slowly finding solutions and making things work, and slowly setting up the pieces of our life here. 

Upstairs in the kids' "suite"--tearing out the ancient linoleum under the carpet and cleaning the floors, which had accumulated enough dirt for the lifetime of the house!

dirty floors

The newspaper was from 1952...some excerpts below:

more dirt, mouse droppings, tons of pins and needles, etc.

the kids enjoyed the temporary slide!

The finished bathroom: We painted the rotting and mismatched cabinet (next photo), painted the trim white and wall taupe (it used to be a peachy color similar to the bathtub and sink), and CLEANED!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Superheros, Part 2!

Superhero cape shirts are done!  I've been putting them off for too long, so last night I sat down and cranked them out.  The cousins had a blast running around together today, capes flapping in the wind.

Camouflage Man

Bat Girl


superheros helping each other out

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life Status Update

Okay, so we've been both crazy busy AND sans internet lately, trying to get back to some sort of normal...We're winding down our time here in this apartment and looking at a move within the next 5 weeks, and we still don't know where.  I'm trying to keep my cool, but I'll admit it's a little stressful.  Owen is working hard--both on dissertation and on finding a job, any job, to get us through this next year.  We're looking nationwide, and it's really astounding how impossible it is to find a job when you're willing to do almost anything for almost any pay and go pretty much anywhere.  It's almost like someone is out there physically shutting doors in our faces.

We continue to see God work on behalf of others around us, working miracles and meeting their needs, and we just sit and wait and wonder when it will be our turn. (And might I venture to say, though I know this sounds biased and unsympathetic, that our needs seem dramatically more desperate than these needs of others that are being met.)  Yesterday, I was stopped in a traffic jam where a police officer was directing traffic, and he waved each of the three other lanes of traffic through, then when it should've been our turn, he skipped us and went through the whole cycle again.  That's kind of how I'm feeling in life right now--everyone else is getting one, two, three "turns" while we sit and wait and get none.

I will admit that my faith is being challenged...but we're still holding on to the promise that God has prosperous plans for us and He is willing and able to take care of our needs. We're hoping and praying that all these closed doors and discouragements are leading us to something unbelievably grand...hoping...praying...

In other news, I am currently 9 weeks in the pregnancy, and doing well if you don't count the extreme nausea and exhaustion.  We met our new midwife and really love her, so we're excited about that.  We all are healthy and well, and generally happy!

Here's hoping to have some exciting news to share soon!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sunday School Lessons

A week or two ago, Jack learned in Sunday School that "God is powerful," and he's been repeating it to me at least once daily since then.  And it's pretty great, because sometimes I need that constant reminding, in the random corners of life, when the day seems to be falling hear a sweet voice say, "Mommy, God is powerful." 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Powerful Provisions

There are so many incredible ways God has shown Himself faithful and powerful to us over the course of these last weeks and months, and has provided for our deepest needs, and I just want to brag on Him a little here!

As we know, God's power is made perfect in our weakness, so let's start with our weakness...

It's been no secret that our life situation right now is a fair bit challenging.  No one chooses to have no job, no means of sustaining life, no home, no ability to provide for your own family, and to have to uproot pretty much annually...And that seems like it's just the tip of the iceberg, but I'll resist being dramatic! Anyway, I held on to faith for as long as I could, but by the end of July, my faith was faltering so badly, I think it was hanging on by only a very thin thread. 

Lately, we've had several rather significant needs weigh on us all at once:
  1. Housing--we need a new place to live, that fits in our budget and is flexible with our "we-have-no-idea-what-the-future-holds" situation right now...hard to find.
  2. Vehicle--now it makes sense why we needed that minivan so suddenly, eh?  Without a bigger vehicle, we simply would've been house-bound. 
  3. Prenatal care for the baby--good doctors abound, but our hearts were set on a midwife and a home birth; it's just that important to me, that if we couldn't have had one here, we would have moved.
  4. Job--all of the above needs require money!  Without a job, we just wouldn't be able to support our 5 lives.  Numerous applications out returned no calls back, on anything!  Very disheartening, to say the least.  
So I just wanted to tell how God is beginning to meet our needs and encourage my faith.  We still are in need of items 1 and 4 (housing and job), but out of seeming impossibility, God has recently brought about 2 of our big needs: a larger vehicle/minivan, and a great midwife.  Considering our jobless situation, we thought there would be no possible way for us to meet the vehicle need, but God went powerfully before us and opened all the right doors, and the process went so smoothly and painlessly, with lots of encouragement along the way.  As for the midwife, they are hard to come by in northern Michigan, and the few that exist are a minimum of an hour and a half away from our location.  But God put a friend in our path who recommended a midwife who will actually travel to Petoskey, and we feel comfortable with her and couldn't be happier. 

I know it doesn't look well on me to share my Doubting Thomas story, but I'm encouraged by God's grace to strengthen our faith in the ways we need it.  Recently, I needed to see to believe, and He answered, and renewed my faith in His provision for our other upcoming needs.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Belly, Belly, Start to Swelly!

As it turns out, it's time to start growing this belly again!

4 weeks, more or less

Yes, Sirs and Ma'ams--we're having our Baby Number Three!  And we couldn't be more excited!

We figured it was time to just make the announcement official, since word's been spreading already, and since it's getting hard to hide this belly anymore!  I'm somewhere around 6 weeks along right now. 

Again, at about 4 weeks...told you it was hard to hide!

I know the questions you're all thinking (based on the questions I've been receiving), so I'll try to knock out some answers as best I can!

Q:  When are you due?
A: Unofficially, around the last week of March, 2013.  I'll update if anything changes!

Q: How many babies are in there?!
A: Who knows!  But as far as we know, just one.  I just happen to be efficient at growing babies!  I would love twins, someday...Jack told me he thought we should have 5 babies in my belly...I guess we'll see :).

Q: Are you hoping for a boy or girl?
A: Equally either.  Both would be equally fun for different reasons, so we're happy that the decision isn't ours!  Jack, on the other hand, has his heart set on a baby girl and calls her by the name we've chosen.  He will not even hear of the option that this baby could be a boy.  When asked why, he's communicated that girls are cute and sweet, and he wants another sister just like the one he has, because he loves her so much.  Isn't that precious?

Q: Are you planning to find out the baby's gender?
A: We're not sure yet...Having one of each reduces the practical need to prepare by stockpiling appropriate clothes...and it would be fun to have a surprise!...BUT, with the first two we also really enjoyed being able to bond with them while still in the womb, to call them by name and get to know them before we saw them.  So, we don't know yet. 

Q: Are the kids excited?
A: They couldn't be more!  Both of them had been asking and asking for another baby in our family for some months, especially with the arrival of cousin Baby Ava.  They both have tender, sweet, nurturing spirits, and they love each other to death, so to them the idea of another baby is just the greatest thing on earth!  Jack's reaction when I told him the news was pricessless: pure joy!  He tells everyone we see, with great pride, that mommy has a baby in her belly (it's hard to keep a secret!).  They both love to gently stroke my belly or "tickle" the baby, or talk to him/her.  And they practice baby care with their little dolls.

Q: Are you planning to have another home birth?
A: If we can help it--Absolutely.  Having a home birth was the most incredible experience, and so peaceful for all of us, that I wouldn't give it up for the world!  It's hard finding midwives in Northern Michigan, and it didn't look promising for a while--so that we even seriously considered commuting to Indiana to see our last midwife, or even moving!--but God worked it all out and we found a fabulous midwife here that we really like!

Q: Are you sharing name ideas?
A: Hmmm...this is a tricky one.  If we share, will you all promise not to steal our ideas??? Haha.  As I mentioned, the girl name has been picked out for a while, but the boy name is still being deliberated over.  We'll see how we feel about sharing when they're both chosen. 

Q: Was this a planned pregnancy?
A: A very intimate question--how shocking that you asked!  Well, we've been longing for another baby for some time, but were waiting for certain challenging life situations to clear up.  I'll just say this: It was neither planned nor unplanned, but God surprised us with His perfect timing! 

Q: How are you feeling?
A: So far, I'm doing okay!  I am experiencing the typical exhaustion and occasional forgetfulness, and of course increased appetite!  This past week and a half the nausea has hit, unfortunately, but so far it's manageable.  I'm trying to still keep up with running, so I think that's helping overall.  So, predictions, anyone??  With Jack, I had no sickness.  With Safita, I was really sick.  Anyone want to wager??? 

Anyone have any questions I didn't address?  Shoot away!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Just Suck It Up

Anyone in need of an amazing new vacuum???  Sorry, I'm not selling, just raving about my amazing new purchase!

Okay, this is by no means an official product review, but I am simply in love with my new vacuum.  The vacuum we received as a wedding gift 5 years ago had stopped working properly some time ago, and just a couple weeks ago finally died for good, with no explanation or warning.  So, I did some research, and made an educated buy...and it has been amazing!! 

We got the Shark Navigator Professional--which in the store display looks a little chintzy, or perhaps like it won't hold up well, but after using it I am convinced that such is not the case. 

This vacuum is slim and lightweight, but has powerful suction.  It has the cool swivel-ball turning action that makes it so easy to maneuver (much like the way more expensive Dysons), and a myriad of extremely useful attachments.  One of my favorite features is a very convenient switch for changing between carpet and bare floor (it basically turns on or off the roller), so that it sucks dirt off the bare floor without spitting it out behind the vacuum--genius! 

It has a large dirt bucket that is easy to clean (and easy to retrieve lost toys or jewelery from), and--more importantly--airtight, so that it doesn't let any dust or dirt back out into the air. 

And...probably my favorite feature of the entire vacuum:  You can detach the canister/suction hose for cleaning stairs or hard-to-reach places without having to lug the entire vacuum around! 

As far as how it cleans dirt: impressive.  Maybe it's just because our last vacuum had stopped working and didn't pick up much of anything...but I'm really impressed with this one. 

So, if you need a new vacuum for an affordable price--check out the Shark Navigator Professional (it's the white one)!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Minivan Madness!

We are now the proud new members of the minivan club!  I never thought that would be quite so exciting...and yet it is.

It's all ours!
Isn't it a beauty?

Our minivan journey started long ago, pre-children, when we were staunchly opposed to the ownership of minivans.  We knew we'd someday need a bigger vehicle, but there abounded plentiful options in the much cooler category of SUVs--definitely the modern family choice.

The kids on the way to pick it up (in Ohio!)--they were so excited and did great on the trip!
Along came Baby, and our car began to feel slightly cramped, and we started looking at other options just for fun.  The Honda Odyssey appeared at the top of every "Top Family Vehicles" list we saw, both for safety and convenience, but we found it easy to overlook in favor of our other favorites (which tended to be second on the lists--not bad).

Along came Baby #2, and our car began to feel unbearably cramped, frustratingly claustrophobic.  We began to look more seriously at other options, but just couldn't fit it in the budget, and so a more spacious vehicle became a dear, though far-off, dream!

The longer we endured the frustrating cramped-ness of our beloved-but-small car, the more the idea of a minivan began to chip away at my hardened resolve.  I still preferred to look into SUVs...but as I discreetly checked out various models in parking lots and on the road, I started to wonder about the practicality, and if they would really give us the space we needed.

Interior views!  It's so spacious and well-laid-out!

Then one day, a local auto dealership lured us in with promises of great deals and free prizes!  We knew we couldn't buy at the time, but went anyway, just in case...And they showed us a minivan.  We touched it, we climbed inside, the kids ran up and down the center aisle, I moved freely about assisting with their needs...Center aisles; in-floor storage...That was it--I was sold.  The kids were even more sold.

For months, I chipped away at Owen to convince him that our needs required specifically a minivan, and an SUV just simply would not suffice.  Slowly but surely, we began thinking in that direction, and non-committaly perused the options driving alongside us on the roads.

Can you believe it has video system???  This is an AWESOME perk!
After months and months (or even years) of pondering, we concluded that we wanted a Honda Odyssey, though we hadn't yet test-driven one.  So, this past Monday, we finally went to test drive one so we'd know if we liked it as much as we thought, and would be ready to buy it when needed and when we found a good deal.  We immediately fell in love!

Then a crazy week ensued:
Monday night: scoured the internet for deals...and found the PERFECT one for a great deal!!!
Tuesday: made a purchase agreement (pending inspection) over the phone and arranged funds
Wednesday: drove to Akron, OH to check out this awesome van, and kept it overnight to test
Thursday: had the van inspected by a trusted mechanic, finalized purchase, and drove home!

Other than the fact that Jack wanted a dark blue minivan (fyi, I wanted white! and the video system made up for his disappointment in color), we all are simply overjoyed, amazed, and thankful for God's provision to us in this way. Now I can't help but look around when I'm driving, and when seeing other minivan drivers, project camaraderie-ly thoughts in their direction: "Yeah, I have a minivan too.  We're cool." 

This van is so much more to me than a car.  It represents years (literally) of prayers answered and hopes and dreams realized.  It is an unbelievable fulfillment of one aching need that seemed impossible, that seemed would require a miracle.  This van means to me God's awesome provision and power to work miracles, and has been incredibly faith-building.  See?  Even minivans can be sanctified for God's glory!

Yay for minivans! 

See you on the road!