Thursday, January 25, 2018

Jasper: 2 Months

 
Wow, a lot can change in a month! Mr. Big is two months old! He is tipping the scales at over 15 pounds now. He nurses every 2-2.5 hours, but sleeping longer stretches at night. He is smiling at all of us, which makes us fall even more in love with him. He has developed a little personality. He naps better during the day and travels well. He is still a cuddlebug and everyone's favorite baby at home. He loves to be talked to and is growing out of his size 2 diapers! He is perfect in every way! 
 
 






Monday, January 15, 2018

New Year, New Word, New Mercies...2018

 
Here we are again, embarking on a new year and all that will come with it. New victories, new challengers, new failures, new trials. Recalling the past year, I grew further in my relationship and knowledge of the Lord. I have been blessed with so many graces. Jasper was the most brilliant of those. My favorite grace that I never saw coming. We were able to go on our first family vacation in five years. We continued in our ministry of Faith Walk and we were even able to bless others through it. We continued renovating Nell, learning new skills and life lessons along the way. I hope we all became a bit wiser in addition to another year older. I watched my kids grow, kissed their boo boos, and celebrated their accomplishments. I read books more than I watched television. I invested more heavily into friendships, making time to meet regularly with some for spiritual accountability. I prayed more intentionally, specifically for others. Prayer for one of my closest friends made me a target of some powerful spiritual warfare. I new she was special! "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." James 1:2-3. I made it through strains, wounds, stitches and contractions. I celebrated 15 years of marriage, which was the best year yet. Hoping that year 16 is even better. The secret? We got serious about placing our marriage second only to our relationship with God. Below our kids, below our careers, and below our own selfish desires.  We made time to talk regularly about what was going on in our lives; 8:30 pm bedtimes for the win! We got serious about date night. We made more time to make memories with our kids. We invested in things that would last instead of things that merely gratify momentarily. 2017 was good!

As 2017 was coming to a close, I knew the new year was dawning. Along with the new year, I began to anticipate what the new year could hold. I also began to envision what I would like the new year to be like. I began praying for God to reveal my word for 2018. I am not really sure how "successful" I was at embodying my word for 2017. It was balance. Balance is not easy for someone like me. My personality is quite black and white. It seems like the balance between the two would be gray. I am not a gray thinker. Although I feel like God has certainly shown me areas of responsibility, passions and convictions that I tend to favor over others. I am a work in progress just like anyone else. As I prayed for the word for 2018, I also found myself throwing out words to God. I know, pretty audacious right? Then He gave me the word New. New? New what? Adventure? Trial? Success? Heartache? Are you sending me somewhere new? Perhaps a new friend? Probably all and more. Part of me would love to just know ahead of time what this year will include, specifically the ugly parts so that I can prepare. Self preservation has been my go-to mode. Although, that part of me is growing smaller. I trust my God. He has never let me down, never failed me or shown up too late. That does not mean that I have always gotten my way. It means I bent to His will. I swallowed my pride. I surrendered. Surrender is not a one-time gig. It is a daily discipline. Luke 9:23 "And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
 
I reflected back on 2017 as I looked forward into 2018. I thought about my successes an failures and set goals for the new year. I am not a fan of resolutions. They are too rigid; goals are more flexible. Goals for me allow for the Lord to change my plans. "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9. Over the years I have more and more "okay" with that. I know that I know little. I am just a sheep, but I want to stick close to the Shepherd. I found a great tangible tool for my goal setting in Jennie Allen's Dream Guide. You can find it here. It categorizes your life goals into Spiritual, Relational, Personal and Work. So, here are a few of mine....
 
1. Spiritual: pray daily, read scripture daily, continue with my accountability group, mentor where led by the Spirit, lead bible studies with woman online and in home 
2. Relational: make time for outside relationships (female) regularly, regular date nights with the hubs, hug each child daily, read scripture as a family, get to know neighbors better, host other families
3. Personal: blog regularly with one personal post per month, get back into shape physically, eat cleaner, finish 12 books this year, allow indulgences for myself (new make-up, an outfit, a mani or pedi, a Starbucks etc.) 
4. Work: Allow graces in homeschool schedule, artistic ventures for school, plan and study for midwifery apprenticeship, keep up with family budget, pay off one large debt item, continue renovations on Nell, KITCHEN REMODEL.
 
This is a good idea of the direction I am heading. Where are you heading into 2018? Do you have a plan? Goals? I will share if you will!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Jasper: 1 Month


Jasper is one month old! We are celebrating our sweet baby, even as we celebrate the baby Savior. This gargantuan child is over 13 pounds now. He nurses every two hours, due in part to his massive appetite and in part to the sweet relief it brings his reflux. Poor guy! (And poor Mama!) He does sleep a 3-3.5 hour stretch at night, so I get a bit of good sleep. He is not smiling just yet, but we are working on getting him happy and pain-free, so we can enjoy those sought after smiles! He just catnaps during the day, but we are taking sleep when we can get it. He loves to cuddle and sleeps better when he is on his Mommy. We love our sweet, perfect 10! 
 
 

 
 

Merry Christmas 2017

We started singing Christmas Carols early this year. We just could not wait for December. Although we may not have known exactly how much, we really needed to get a jump on Christmas tree searching....and good thing we did! We had a baby the very next day!! I do not foresee this becoming a Christmas tradition for us, but one never knows. We went to Ward's again for our tree. Our growing family still fits in the mule-drawn wagon! After thoroughly inspecting several "not its" the kids choose the perfect tree. It was cut down, shook really good(in case any loose limbs or critters were hanging on) and wrapped up for us. We all piled in the cute little cabin for hot chocolate as Daddy paid. We loaded our tree into Daddy's truck and the big kids rode home with the tree and I drove the little home. After setting it up in water and letting it acclimate, it was time to decorate. We also bought a Christmas tree for the boys room and the girls room upstairs. This I year I got to decorate my beautiful mantle; something I had been longing to do!
 
We enjoyed our usual traditions of candy and ornament making. This  year we made some new things (peanut clusters and divinity) and some of our favorites (pretzel turtles and peanut butter fudge). All hands are on deck for this part of our holiday. Little fingers love adding, mixing, baking and especially tasting our sweet, yummy treats. They seem to disappear quicker than we make them, but they sure are delicious! The kids used popsicle sticks, hot glue and paint to make sleds, snowmen and a snowflake. The big kids also got together and helped the little ones make burlap reindeer. They are super cute on the kids will have so many ornaments on their tree next year!
 
We continued our nightly tradition through Advent, beginning December 1, of reading Ann Voskamp's family devotion, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. I have come to treasure our beautiful tree that Marcus crafted out of pallet wood. I especially love the downtime that we share snuggled together reading God's promises we each other. Christmas is such a busy season; we so need this time to refocus.
 
We broke our tradition of procrastination wrapping! Hallelujah! We had most of our gifts wrapped before Christmas Eve this year, so we wrapped a few things, stuffed stockings and enjoyed our new tradition....watching Die Hard....because its a Christmas movie!!! Christmas day was a sweet day! We always start the day with our final devotion, Christ's birth. Then we unwrapped gifts, ate our traditional Christmas breakfast of biscuits and gravy with Christmas tree cinnamon rolls and enjoyed our day. I cooked Christmas lunch for our family again, purchasing our smoked ham from Birth Choice. It has been such a blessing spending Christmas day together in our pajamas instead of rushing from here to there all day!  
 
 
 









 




 





 









 
 
 
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!
 
And the angel said to them,
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Luke 2:10


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jasper: Newborn

Heidi Lipford has done it again folks! I do believe she has actually outdone herself. She has captured the most precious photos of our baby boy. Here are some of our favorite shots from Jasper's newborn session. If you have not visited her on Facebook, do it now! Heidi Lipford Photography

 



 









Saturday, November 25, 2017

Samuel Jasper West

 A conversation with a dear friend really got my to thinking about why I choose birth at home and why I chronicle the events. The topic came up as she recalled another friend who chose to birth at home, on her front porch in fact, and chronicle it as well. My friend wondered why people wanted a whole room full of people at their birth, watching and staring. She said, the fact that people were now photographing their births made her feel as though she should have done all of these things years ago as well or that her birth was somehow wrong. I wonder if she felt judged a bit, or regret maybe. Birth culture has changed a lot through the years. Pregnancy is no longer a shameful thing to hide, but to celebrate! Birth is not a one-size-fits-all event and should not be treated as such. Women are now becoming aware of the vast choices that they actually have for their births. Women are educating themselves and making decisions that they feel are best for them, instead of letting another person, whether that person be a doctor, a nurse, a midwife, a husband, a mother etc. We can do research! We can make decisions! We can choose to not be ruled by fear, by the "what if...". I love that I have freedom of choice in how I birth, where I birth and whom I choose to attend my birth. Birth is sacred. Aubrey Smith discusses in her book, Holy Labor, the cultural surrounding birth in the West. By many, birth is viewed as a dangerous medical condition that needs to be controlled. It is quite unheard of to be surrounded my support people who are not trained medical personnel. Although, that is how I choose to birth, surrounded by my husband and women who love me dearly and have been on their own birth journey. Aubrey says "In this way even those who are with a woman in her labor can be transformed as they learn to wait with others in their trials, as they have an opportunity to forgo food, sleep and comfort to support someone who is vulnerable-actions that are done as for Jesus Himself." We surrender our rights to others in fear, trusting that the worst thing possible will be prevented. I believe in God's design. I believe in the body He created and it's ability to birth. I believe in taking care of my body. I believe pain has a purpose. I believe in my highly skilled midwife. More than any of those, I believe in God's guidance, His will and His grace. Brene Brown put it well when she said "I thought faith was an epidural, taking away the pain and discomfort. But faith is more like a midwife-- a nurturing partner who leans into the discomfort with you and whispers 'push and breathe, it's supposed to hurt.'" Here is Jasper's story....

We have welcomed our 9th child! Wow. 9! Never in my wildest dreams. We were certainly not expecting this little one on this night. It was 8:45 pm and we had just sent the last child to bed. I was lying on our bed, finally soaking in some much needed rest and a wonderful massage. Suddenly I felt a pop......then nothing. I told Marcus I felt a pop. He immediately asked "What kind of pop?" repeatedly, as I sat frozen, waiting for something else. I knew that pop. But nothing happened. So, I shifted my weight and rolled to the opposite side and my water began to literally pour. I stood quickly as to not soak my sheets and mattress. Water literally gushed for what felt like forever, soaking my pajamas, the floor and two towels. I could not move, trying my best to figure out what to do. This had never happened before. In seven other births, never had my water done this. Maybe a trickle. This was worthy of the movies. Finally I got changed and the floor cleaned up. Marcus began inflating the pool and I called my birth team. A birth team is simply who you desire to attend your birth. My midwife was first, of course, and I got her voicemail. Then I texted a faithful home birthing friend who has attended three of my previous births, my accountability partners (and dear friends) and my photographer (Heidi Lipford). I finally reached my midwife a half hour later and she hit the road. My photographer and friends arrived at about 10:30 pm. I labored a while outside the pool, then felt the need to further relax. I labored in the pool as it was still filling, for about 15 minutes before my midwife, Lynda Hoskins CPM and her assistant, another midwife Brittany Villondo CPM,  arrived at approximately 11:00 am. She checked the baby's heart rate with the Doppler and then let me labor quietly. They both checked the heart rate every 30 minutes to an hour throughout the rest of my labor. My contractions were getting much more intense and I knew it would be time to push soon. Mentally I was not ready and I believe I prolonged my labor by at least an hour as I remained still and breathed through each contraction. After much prayer and surrender to the process, Samuel Jasper West was born at 1:44 am. He took a lot more effort than any of my other babies. He weighed 10 lbs!!! He was 21 in long and his huge monster noggin measured over 14 cm!!! He is the squishiest, most wonderful, little (big) thing ever! There is no greater joy. WE ARE TOTALLY IN LOVE!