Thursday, August 27, 2015

It's a Girl

It's been a while (a way too long while) since I've posted anything on my blog. But there is nothing like having a brand new baby straight from heaven placed in one's arms to get a mother yearning more than ever to freeze time and record these precious, fleeting days with her little children. Because, I, too, have learned to my sorrow that babies. don't. keep.

I am recommitting. I want so badly to have a place where my thoughts and feelings can be solidified in time and I can express my gratitude for these greatest of gifts with which I have been blessed: Motherhood. Marriage. Family. Faith. Life. In a word, LOVE.

And so, to start, let me introduce our baby girl.

Kate Violet Willis.

This beautiful daughter of ours was born on a beautiful, hot, Texas summer day. 

July 1st, 2015. 

Our 4th of July baby came a few days early (I was induced) so we could separate her birthday with our future 4th of July celebrations (one of our family's favorites) and so she doesn't have to share it with Uncle Sam. We thought about naming her Americus Liberty, but decided against it. 
(Insert: kidding).

Keith and I were immediately in love and completely smitten. 

Here is her birth story in photos. I hope to add the written version someday, but for now, it's time to go feed my newborn again and then make dinner for her 3 older siblings. 

I am so blessed. And so grateful.


{All photos taken by the amazingly talented photographer and dear friend Lanay Swanson. Search for Lanay Swanson Photography if you ever need of great photography}. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Blog CPR

I'm going to do it. I'm going to resuscitate this blog. Just for my family to read later. If anyone else happens to read it, great. But I need to be recording more about the goings-on of this prime season of my life with little ones and what our family life is like on a daily basis.

Friday, January 04, 2013

An Airport Love Story

Dear Keith,

It was 10 years ago. Exactly. 

Both of us going back to start another semester at college after spending Christmas break with our families in Virginia and Kansas. Layover in the Denver Airport. Gate A46. Both such poor college students that we jumped at the chance of getting a free voucher by giving up our seats on our overbooked flight. Late at night waiting for our next flight. You saw me across the gate as I sat trying to pass the time by writing letters, in my own world. Wandered over and started up conversation by offering me one of your McDonald's fries. Started talking. We were both BYU students. (That was obvious). Instantly felt comfortable with you, like I could be myself and we were good friends already. You were wearing a rugby-type shirt that reminded me of something Harry Potter would wear. Me, a sophomore: "Freshman, right?" You, almost 22: "Nope, just got back from my mission this past summer." {Oops}. Ha! We both started laughing.

Ten minutes into the conversation we somehow made the connection that your brother (my age) was one of my friends/acquaintances from my freshman year the year before. (What are the chances?) You were no longer a random stranger from that point on as I now knew you came from a stellar, strong, God-loving family just from what little I knew of your brother. (Thanks, Lee). Time flew. Before we knew it, we were boarding. Got to sit in first class in the huge cushy seats since that's all the airline had for us. Even got the fancy warm cloths to put on our faces. (We had a good laugh about that one). Your seat was behind mine and I finally convinced you to come sit next to me. You were too nice and didn't want to bother the guy whose seat you were switching with, but I showed you how easy it was.

Then, the drama ensued. Ha! I still laugh out loud every time I remember it. The plane started to rev up so we could take off. Your face started to turn a greenish-white and you put your head in your hands as you bent over in your seat with your head down. You were terrified of flying! Like, REALLY scared! You had a good excuse, I guess--you were a missionary in Venezuela during 9/11 and therefore removed from how it all played out here in America, and on one of your flights home from Venezuela you had a very traumatic emergency landing due to one wing suddenly failing, leaving you with this phobia. But still, it was so funny to watch a man cower like this. I had the window seat and I was acting the complete opposite: smiling ear-to-ear and excitedly restless in my seat as we took off, pointing out how cool this part is. (I love take-offs). I did as any friend would do (out of compassion or fear of being vomited on, I am not sure) and tried to comfort you through this. (The details here are irrelevant--ha). After we got up to 30,000 feet you were fine. Until we had to descend and we went through the whole spiel again. So hilarious. 

We talked the whole flight home and read bits and pieces from a John Wooden book I had in my backpack. In what seemed like no time, we were landing in Salt Lake City. We said goodbye at that ramp before that big open area. As we casually went our separate ways, I gave you my last name with a teasing smile so you could look me up on BYU's "StalkerNet" (Online Directory) later since we both decided earlier we should hang out after the semester started. As fate would have it (again), 20 minutes later we ran into each other again at the baggage claim office since the airline had to store both of our bags due to the flight change. In the few minutes it took for them to find them, you introduced me to all your buddies who were there to pick you up. You were quite the gentleman even amidst this peer pressure to be a manly man: you walked my bags out across the street to where my sister was picking me up. And then we went our separate ways.

Nope, no love at first flight. All of this was completely platonic. Yeah, I'm sure there was some natural flirting in there from each of us (we were in college--hello), but certainly no instant crushes or hearts and birds over our heads. I just remember feeling completely comfortable with you. Like I could be myself. The REAL me. I was excited to finally have a guy I could just be friends with and hang out with and be able to be myself around. Ever since all the guy friends from my freshman year had left on missions, the guys in my social circles during my sophomore year were older guys home from their missions and therefore in the date-to-find-the-one-to-marry mindset (which I wasn't in at all, by the way--couldn't have been further from it), so going on dates or even just hanging out with them felt like a whole different story with different intentions (marriage). Intentions I had no interest in as a college girl just getting her party started. And even though you were certainly attractive (ha--no doubt about that, let me assure you), I just remember feeling like "Good! Finally a guy I can just be friends with" for whatever reasons, mostly because of how easily we had fun together and how naturally we interacted, with none of that awkward mumbo jumbo I felt with the other guys that year. 

I remember casually telling my sister about you on the way home while we listened to my new Tori Amos CD. What song (one I had never heard of before) did I instantly love and have on repeat the whole way home? "A Sorta Fairytale." Hmmm. Strangely ironic lyrics in hindsight. I briefly told my roommates that night about meeting you as we all excitedly recounted our Christmas breaks apart. I remember I referred to you as my "airport boy." Roommates love nicknames for guys, and that one stuck. That and "Keither." Haha--they still call you that, come to think of it.

I don't remember thinking anything of you or that night after that. School started. The bustling college life went on. Then two weeks into the semester, I got an email from you. We reconnected and you asked me out. That first date felt like we had been best friends forever. No first-date awkwardness. I remember spilling my whole soul to you and laughing so hard it hurt. But still, just a friendly, "let's hang out" kind of date from my point-of-view. (I was a little naive regarding your intentions, I guess).

But boy, things moved quickly from there. I remember by the end of the second date something clicked and I suddenly saw you differently (or maybe finally started to pick up on your flirting?) and I was definitely ready to be more than friends. Ha! Your sense of humor, unexplainable "cool factor" (ha), humble confidence, tenderness, and suave "Keith-ness" had me hooked. I still have the daisy I took home from the Krispy Kreme table we sat at as we laughed over hot chocolate and donuts that January night after the movie. Sure, its petals have long since fallen off and all that is left is a pathetic-looking stem, but I cherish it. It reminds me of the day I started to fall for you and your charming tactics to win me over.

The rest is history. Over the next few months our relationship deepened. I blind-sidedly fell madly love with you, leaving me to figure out a lot about where this unexpected relationship was going and to sort out my complicated feelings, some of which also involved someone else who was very special to me.  Besides a lot of prayer and introspection, what was it that ultimately helped me figure things out? I asked myself the following question: "Could I ever say goodbye to him? Like, a forever goodbye--no friendship, no relationship, no contact whatsoever after that point." And that was it. I had my answer. The thought of not having you in my life was unimaginable. From that point on I was at complete peace and knew you would eventually be the man I married someday. At the time I thought that "someday" meant, like, in a couple years. Ha! But once two people fall that much in love and know they want to spend the rest of their lives together, it's time to tie the knot and make it official before they mess it up! 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We finished off that fun semester (um, too fun on my part...I was sowing my wild oats I guess and well, I was pretty much crazy that semester and would love nothing else but to delete all memories from that time except my time with you), then went our separate ways for the summer so you could get a job at home in Virginia until the fall semester started up. Luckily that miserable time only lasted 3 weeks; you decided you missed me too much and flew back to me. Ha! You asked me to marry you by the end of the summer. That beautiful, fall day in October was the happiest day in my life up to that point. It was the day I married my best friend and love of my life.

Ten years ago our paths crossed in a busy airport. United Airlines (how appropriate), Flight 3453. We've since endured many ups and downs on our journey together. Life has certainly thrown us our share of uncomfortable, turbulent conditions. But so many more breath-taking, beautiful views. Amazing ones, actually.

It's been a good flight so far, Airport Boy. These have been the best 10 years of my life, thanks to you. And thanks to the God who brought us together so perfectly. 

I look forward to all we will see and experience together as we continue our flight together. 

Come what may.

I love you, Keith. Always will. And I want the whole world to know it.



Friday, November 16, 2012

We bought a house.

(For safety purposes, I took off photo of the front of our house previously posted due to blog not being private anymore).

We did it. WE BOUGHT A HOUSE. Yes, you read that right. It was doubtful for a few months if we could ever commit to such a thing. But then, after 4 months of searching, 3 offers/contracts for houses we thought we wanted, and 3 offers/contracts we backed out of due to cold feet (bless our realtor), this one pretty much fell into our lap at the end of August. We found it the first Saturday we went out house-hunting again after I was done with pregnancy sickness a few months ago. It had everything we were looking for (which had been hard to find in one house with all our other searching, so we had accepted the fact we would have to give and take). And the best part was that the seller just wanted to sell the thing so he could build his retirement house, so we got a steal of a deal. That was 2.5 months ago. We actually closed on the house on October 2nd. Since then, the previous owners have been our tenants (I love calling them that) and have paid us rent for the last six weeks as they have been waiting for their new house to be built. Then, last night after Lily's 5th birthday party, we got keys and possession of the house (!). After 9 years of marriage, 9 years of renting, 10 different apartments/town homes, 8 moves in 5.5 years (6 of which were out-of-state) (!), and thousands of dollars to the rent pig, we are officially homeowners. It's a little hard to believe.

We are so excited to make it our own and to know this is where our family will be for the indefinite future. I admit I'm still petrified of staying in one place for more than a couple years (I love to move around and "taste" new places and meet new people and experience the adventure of it all), but I just tell myself to go in 3-year increments and that I don't HAVE to be pinned to one place just because we bought a home so it doesn't freak me out too much. (My dream of living in NYC is still alive and well and Keith has promised me we will live there someday--key word, darn it and bless it at the same time--and that has helped in my commitment problems to a buying a house). Our new place is in a suburb of Dallas called Frisco. (Little trivia for you: it is known for being the fastest-growing suburb in the U.S...haha, that's its ticket to fame right there). It's just 10 minutes north of where we live right now (Plano), but Keith's commute time to downtown Dallas will be the same, and the tightly-knit community Frisco offers is just the family environment we were hoping for. We will miss our current church congregation and neighborhood friends dearly, but it's not like our other moves--play dates and get-togethers with our old friends are just a text and short drive away.

Keith and the kids took off this morning to drive to Oklahoma City (the halfway point between here and my parents' house in Kansas), at which point the kids will jump in Grandma & Grandpa's car and go back to Kansas with them for a few days so Keith and I can pack and move like crazy sans the littles. (Side note: Best thing EVER you could do for a friend/family member who is moving--take their kids for a few days, overnight and all!). Our movers come tomorrow morning bright and early, so Keith and I have a lot of work to do in the next 24 hours to get this house packed and ready to transfer (and with my 6-month-pregnant self I often feel like I am drugged up on sleeping pills due to the third trimester fatigue--ha!), but it is exciting work, so no complaints here. What I'm REALLY excited for (besides having a few distraction-free days from my little dears) is after our boxes are all there tomorrow and I can do the fun part--unpacking and organizing everything to make it our new home. Organizing is probably one of my favorite things on earth to do, so I will be like a kid at an amusement park over the next couple weeks. I love that feeling of accomplishment when everything is easy to access, easy to find, and easy to live in.

So there you go--now you know. We didn't purposely keep the news under wraps for so long, we've just been insanely busy this fall and haven't thought to let everyone know until now. We are very excited though. It is so nice to know where we will be opening up presents on Christmas mornings and blowing out candles at family birthday parties and bringing home newborn babies and rushing out the door on crazy school mornings and where we will fall asleep on those nights where we tell each other everything will be be better in the morning. Our soft place to fall. Our house. Our home. OUR home.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Feeling Grateful

It has been a rough couple months, to say the least. Actually, it's been 6 weeks and 4 days, to be exact. And believe me, every day counts, so no rounding up or down here. June 18, the day after Father's Day, 5 1/2 weeks pregnant. That's when I started feeling sick with pregnancy nausea. (Notice I didn't call it "morning sickness", the misnomer of all misnomers I'm determined to expunge from the human vocabulary). It probably seems like that was just a few weeks ago to most, but to me, I have had to mentally and physically motivate myself through each hour since then. And I still have 3 weeks to go.

Before I go into why I'm grateful, I want to document for my children what the first couple months of his or her life in utero are like for me, mostly so they know how much I love them and partly so I don't sugarcoat it for myself down the road, thinking it was not "that bad." Ha. I also need to express the "bads" of this whole challenge in order to point out the "goods."

As soon as I get up from lying down in my bed, whether it's in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (which, by the way, I'm already having to do this every hour and half, even though the baby now is only the size of a this what happens after multiple pregnancies?) or whether it's to wake up for the day, within seconds of standing up I feel the punch of nausea hit the pit of my stomach. And then the fun begins. And the fun continues incessantly, without any relief, until I fall asleep 14 hours or so later. (Just in case I forget, I am certainly grateful I at least feel better when I sleep this time around--I was not so lucky with Lily).

Let me describe this nausea. The disgusting pain starts at the pit of my stomach, deep in there, and it somehow reaches all the way up through my esophagus and into my mouth. No, no need to be disgusted (too much)--I'm not talking about vomit; I'm simply referring to the awful feeling that acts like one of those creepy Dementors from Harry Potter and lives in my stomach all day long, haunting me, churning and churning and churning, for weeks on end.

I think those who haven't experienced pregnancy nausea might think those of us who have it might be exaggerating a bit. I mean, how bad could it be? They might have had a few of those tinges of "morning sickness" and needed to chew on a cracker or two before getting out of bed in the morning, and then--phew--it's gone, especially after eating breakfast for the day. It's just like being sick like that all day, right? Nope, it's not like that. Or maybe the men (or even women, like my mom) who have never experienced a minute of pregnancy sickness (yeah--my mom had 5 children! Why couldn't I have gotten her pregnancy gene or whatever dictates these things?!) might be tempted to think that it's just a queasy feeling, albeit a real one, that lingers throughout the day and is quite uncomfortable. Nope, it's not like that either. We're talking REALLY BAD STOMACH FLU, CAN'T EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING TO WORK, CAN BARELY STAND UP MOST OF THE TIME, JUST THE THOUGHT OF EATING SOMETHING MAKES YOU WANT TO VOMIT, YET THE LONGER YOU GO WITHOUT FOOD THE SICKER YOU GET, SO PAINFUL AND IN-YOUR-FACE IT'S HARD TO THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE nausea. Not just some days. Not just for a few days where you're forced to stick it out and wait for relief to come, as in the case of stomach flu. No, it's as uncomfortable and miserable as the stomach flu where you can't get off the couch and no food is remotely possible to put in your mouth (we've all been there--imagine this with me)--only now try to mentally get through the fact that you have to do this EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY FOR TWO. MORE. MONTHS!

But you don't have the luxury of calling in sick to work. You either have a full-time job (where you have to put on your poker face and keep it a secret the first trimester) or you have to take care of very active children and all their needs (a full-time, exhausting job for even the most energetic moms) on top of this! This has been one of the most discouraging parts of this pregnancy nausea this time around--the realization that I don't know if I can do this again. For a girl who wants a big family (yep, 4-6), this has been hard to swallow. It's been hard to realize I may not have it in me to reach my dream and picture in my head of my completed family, and if I do, it's going to be grueling and quite bluntly, miserable, to get there. It has been really difficult for me to see how much my pregnancy takes a toll on my whole little family, and how I haven't been able to meet the needs of my children like I'm used to doing. I miss being their mom. I miss being myself. I miss the Nice Mommy inside of me and I can't wait to say goodbye to the Snappy Mommy who comes out like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I'm feeling my worst.

If you're like me, you have to find something new to eat at least every two hours, something you haven't consumed since you started feeling sick weeks before. And once you find that barely-tolerable something (after standing with the fridge or pantry door open for a few minutes with your hand over your mouth and your face twisted in disgust), you eat it as quickly as you can because by the end you can't finish it because it turns out it actually isn't agreeable with you. Repeat this fridge/pantry search in an hour or two, only don't even try to eat what you ate last time because now you have a serious aversion to it. This is one of the worst parts: having to find new foods to eat every couple hours (the longer you wait, the sicker you'll feel, so push through it) so by the second or third week you really wonder if there is anything out there you can eat. But you're not even a third of the way done. It is an awful cycle.

And forget eating anything remotely healthy for you. I can very rarely eat fruits or vegetables. I can't even think of eating meat. No yogurts or healthy snacks. No sandwiches or salads. What have I put in my pregnant body the last couple months? You know, the same body with a little baby inside and his/her mama that needs good nutrition probably more than any other time in her life? For a girl who is very health and nutrition-conscious and tries to steer clear of anything with artificial ingredients and preservatives, here has been my steady diet of junk food: Soda, jolly ranchers, White Cheddar Cheez-its, cheese cubes straight from the bag, soda, sugar cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (although rotated, due to aversions that arise--Lucky Charms is my constant, thank Heavens), Ramen noodles (also for breakfast, lunch, and dinner--so thankful I've found one food lately I can have almost every time--so healthy too! ha), soda, doughnuts, cookies, cake, soda, Tootsie Pops, buttery popcorn, Doritos, Werther's Originals, soda, Pop Tarts, hot dogs (once--can't look at one now without having to cover my mouth), SunChips, and more fast food than I've consumed throughout the whole time span since my last pregnancy. Thankfully I've exhausted all those though. After eating once in each big chain--because remember, once you convince yourself you can eat a certain food, there's no way you can eat it again the next time because you felt nauseous before, during and after you forced it down--just thinking about fast food makes me feel like vomiting. Did I mention soda and candy and sweets? I know--disgusting. Now you see why I gain 10+ pounds in just my first trimester: I have to eat whatever I can tolerate just to get through it. Survival mode. And you know what? It doesn't even taste good when I eat all that junk food! I can't wait until I feel better soon and I can get back to the gym and eat well again. I feel like I have put so much sugar and fat and preservatives (yuck!) into my body to take 5 years off my life. The silver lining is that hopefully I'll have aversions too all these foods for a while once I'm able to eat healthily again. Another thing I don't want to forget now that I'm thinking of it--the sour aftertaste in my mouth after I eat anything. So gross. I try to brush it away by brushing my teeth multiple time a day (as well as to have some hope of not getting a cavity out of this pregnancy), but that's just resulted in my aversion to toothpaste now. Disgusting.

Am I done complaining yet? Yes. Thank you for listening. Like I said, I wanted to document this for my family journal so I don't forget these details when these days are long gone. (Oh, I can't wait for that!) And to remind my children how much I love them and how I would do this over again in a heartbeat if that was the only way to get to be their mother. But the whole reason I went into such detail was to express the following.

Every time I have had to look down that first trimester tunnel on the first real day of pregnancy nausea each pregnancy, I think "I can do this. This is going to be tough, but I can do this." Fast forward a week, and at least once every week and a half after that, and there I am, breaking down and crying in prayer or to my husband, gushing that "I just can't do this anymore! I can't imagine doing this for x-amount more weeks when I can barely get through an hour!" It is just too much to endure mentally sometimes. I've run a marathon before. And a few half marathons. And during those times when I break down and can't keep a positive attitude for one more second, it feels like my mind and body finished the distance of a grueling marathon, only knowing I have 4 or 5 more to go, with no breaks to rest, before I am done.

And this is why I am so grateful. After each of these times I've collapsed spiritually or mentally or emotionally and told my Father in Heaven I just can't do this anymore and that I just need some RELIEF, even if for an hour, He has answered my desperate prayers GENEROUSLY like only a loving God could. Sometimes this relief has come in the form of actual physical relief for an hour or two. (And, oh! How amazing it feels!) I am quick to acknowledge those are direct answers to my prayers and the prayers of my family and friends and that it is not due to coincidence or my Zofran anti-nausea medicine (finally) working. (It normally doesn't do a thing but give me headaches and leave me painfully...well, those of you who have taken it know what I'm talking about--I'll spare you the details). I am so grateful.

Other times this relief has come mentally or emotionally where those same prayers and the loving Atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ has given me strength to continue, despite NOT feeling physical relief. I am so grateful.

I cannot tell you how many prayers have been answered by seemingly small acts of service and love by friends and church members which they'll never know were actually huge acts of service for me and my family. I've had countless meals brought in, all volunteered out of the kindness of their hearts, so I didn't have to smell the nauseating smells while preparing dinner or so my kids didn't have to have corn dogs or almond butter sandwiches or fast food (again) on these many, many nights Keith has had to work very late this summer. I've called one or two different young women from my church to come babysit and play with my children probably every afternoon for the past couple weeks it seems so I could take a nap (and basically check out so I didn't have to feel the pain for a couple hours), and I can't tell you how many times they have not let me pay them because they wanted to do it as service. Sometimes I've even woken up to them making dinner or to a completely tidy house (much cleaner than how it was before they came!) and even cookies baked. And of course, my prayers have certainly been answered by good girlfriends and neighbors who have "randomly" called me up to see if my kids could come over to play at their house to give me a break--and each time it has been just what I needed, when I needed it. I am so grateful.

Countless other friends and family have reminded me of their prayers for me and my family and have extended their help from near or far. Each and every one of those kind words have lifted me up. And each and every one of these individuals have been the hands and light of JESUS CHRIST for me and my family. This support and strength has almost been tangible.  I am so grateful.

When I feel my worst or even when I'm trying to change my focus from my pain and discomfort to more positive thoughts, I normally think of one of three things. First, I think of the many women I know that have pregnancy nausea SO MUCH WORSE than me. One of my friends here is sick, much worse than me, until 6 months. And she has 5 children! What an inspiration (and a humbling thought for my complaining) this woman--and so many other of my friends like her (no matter how many children they have) is. And then there is my sweet sister-in-law Cara who gets sick beyond sick, so much she has to be hospitalized every week to be given an IV for dehydration, and she has done this five times. It seems like every time I start to feel like it's so unfair that I seem to be the only one who gets sick during pregnancy among so many women I know who don't have it at all or who have it so mildly for not long at all, I am reminded of the many women I know who have it so much worse than me but who trudge through it inspirationally.

Secondly, and possibly most often, when I am at the end of my rope, I think of several woman I know who are bravely battling their own challenges in this area, only on the opposite side of the fence. It is not lost on me for one second how the many women I know personally (and the thousands of women I don't) who can't get pregnant, due to either emotionally painful biological realities or due to having not found her husband yet, would do ANYTHING to feel this awful pregnancy nausea every day for 9 months if it meant she would be able to (finally) meet her baby at the end of it all. I pray for these women individually every time I feel my worst. And while it doesn't take away my physical discomfort, and while it breaks my heart these women are asked to wait for the miracle of pregnancy, they help me remember the miracle growing within me and get real about how grateful I should be despite my current sacrifices.

That brings me to the third thing I think about when the nausea overtakes my mind. I think about my baby. My BABY. MY baby. My sweet husband's and my baby. OUR baby. I have a BABY growing inside of me! He or she already has finger and toes and even little eyelids and fingernails and peach fuzz on his/her cheeks. Our little miracle (because all babies are miracles) is only 12 weeks old and barely an inch and a half long from crown to rump, but he/she is moving around and even kicking in there! I won't be able to feel those kicks for a while, but still. Unbelievable. And I think I get even more excited and more awe-inspired with each pregnancy--when one might think it would be the opposite due to the wonderment and newness of it all possibly wearing off with experience--simply because I know from my other two babies how much LOVE and JOY and PURE HAPPINESS this soul will bring me and my husband. My two children are so unique compared to one another and it makes me so excited to get to know this child growing within me someday and be able to unwrap his/her layers of wrapping paper as the months of his/her first year or two of life unfold, not to mention the lifetime we'll have together. Motherhood truly is the ultimate gift and privilege given from a loving Father in Heaven to his daughters. I am so grateful I am a mother. I am so grateful I have been given the stewardship to care for and guide and teach the two--soon-to-be THREE--gifts I've been given.

Pregnancy nausea has taught me quite a bit through the lonely, long hours gutting it out. It's been very symbolic to me of the the day-in, day-out sacrifices of motherhood itself. Sometimes that love for our children and the subsequent pain or discomfort they cause us--in whatever form it comes--is so consuming and distracting that we forget why we are doing this in the first place: to experience the beautiful--yet often often fleeting--joys of watching that child develop into who they are meant to be and to experience that deep relationship of mother to child that could only be borne of committed, long-term SACRIFICE. In other words--LOVE. We want to experience that innate feeling of womanhood we get glimpses of as even little girls--the LOVE only a mother could feel for her child. But when we jump into it, we might be a bit unaware of exactly how much sacrifice is required, or possibly a little unsure about ourselves as to whether we are right for the job, or if we have it in us to do all that is asked of us. This happens from the first weeks of pregnancy all the way (I assume) until our hairs are gray and our children have children of their own. This is motherhood. This is our challenge. This is our gift.

I am so grateful.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

It will be a happy one for us over here, at least. 8 weeks along yesterday. We are both ecstatic. Saw the heartbeat last week at our first ultrasound. Ultrasound actually estimated the due date as February 13th rather than the 15th, so we're going with that. (We at least know we're not going to have 3 birthdays on February 22nd...woohoo). Only 7 more weeks to go until I (hopefully) don't feel like vomiting all day long and the kids will finally get their mom back. But overjoyed and can't wait to meet our sweet babe. Will find out the sex of the baby near September 12 when I'm 18 weeks. The news is out so no secrets here anymore. This is a little early for comfort for us to tell, but we couldn't wait any longer due to me feeling so sick and needing some babysitting help from friends. We even told the kids tonight and let's just say they are both very excited to have a little brother/sister. (Jack keeps lifting my shirt enough to see my belly and keeps asking why he can't see the baby now, and Lily got out her doctor kit right away to do an exam on me. She even checked the baby's ears, which are fine by the way). There's a lot of excitement (and really nauseating smells) in the air around here!

We send our love to all of you!

Janelle, Keith, Lily, Jack and Baby #3 due mid-February

p.s.: The pictures above are how I told Keith the good news about a month ago when we found out. 

Me: "Babe, could you please come help me with the pancakes real quick?"

Keith: (Yep, pictures are worth a thousand words. And this is nothing compared to the video. Maybe I'll post it here later if there's enough demand).

The last picture is from that night when we went and saw this movie for our date. We're just a teensy weensy bit excited! We had been hoping for this good news for nearly a year. Can't wait to meet you, sweet baby!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Spring Happenings

Dear Family Journal,

Sorry I have neglected you for the past several months. I promise we have had some fun and special things I've wanted to document here, and I keep trying to whittle down the duplicates and unnecessary poses of the 3000+ photos on my phone (granted, many of them are photos of interior details of homes we've toured) so I can upload them onto my computer,  but alas, these are the most recent photos on my computer right now, so this is what you get. Yep, random pictures from way back in April and early May. And now it's July. So Happy Easter and Happy 4th of July all at once. I'll get caught up someday. 
When the kids go to college.

The above pictures make me so happy. Lily and I really wanted to make Easter cookies. We actually didn't get to it until the Monday after Easter, but we were sure to make it happen. I love baking with this sweet girl. Lily LOVES to bake.

After her 30 minutes of Rest Time in her room at the beginning of Jack's nap, Lily has Quiet Time. During her Quiet Time, she isn't required to lie on her bed and read books quietly in her room like she is for her Rest Time. During Quiet Time (which lasts until Jack wakes up from his nap, which normally is a good hour or two after her Rest Time) she can do pretty much whatever she wants as long as she does it relatively quietly (so as not to wake up Jack) and I encourage (beg?) her to choose something that doesn't require much of my help or attention (more than getting the supplies out) so I can use the time to get stuff done. Puzzles, coloring books, watercolor paints, computer learning games, her typical imaginary, creative play and experiments and inventions, practice writing her letters, playroom, play with a neighbor friend, that kind of thing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But she has been doing so great lately. In the below picture, I took a break to have some one-on-one time with her doing this puzzle. I loved it. We had a fun time sorting the Edges from the Middles from the Corners. Reminded me of doing puzzles with my Grandma Beepaw. Lily loves stuff like this.

Jack on Easter Sunday with his bunny ears. He didn't like the bunny tail much, but we sure did.

Haha--I got Lily and Jack each a big punching balloon for their Easter baskets. Keith was sure to show them his skills.

Near the end of April, we drove for 9 hours to be a part of the big Kansas City Temple open house. It was so wonderful being there for this historic occasion. This temple is special to me because I grew up in Kansas. The nearest temple to us in Wichita was the Dallas Temple (6 hours south) and that's where we had annual youth temple trips (we rented a big charter bus and did the whole trip and back in one day, leaving in the middle of the night on Friday night) until I was 17 years old when the Oklahoma City Temple was completed (only 2.5 hours south). So to have a temple in Kansas is a big deal. Actually, it's in Missouri I think, but it's close enough. This temple is still 3 hours north of Wichita, so the Oklahoma City Temple is still the assigned temple for my parents (they drive down for all-day temple work at least 1-2 times a month), but it's still really neat that there is a temple in Kansas' neck of the woods now. It was special for our little family too (and the main reason we went to the open house) because we lived in Lawrence, Kansas for a year last year (45 minutes away from Kansas City) and we saw the whole thing be built. We really wanted Lily and Jack to see it completed and to walk through it with them. Lily said it looked like a castle. Better than a castle, my dear girl.

These two really are best friends. It is so heart-warming to see them interact.

I will have to post pictures later (they must be on a different camera that I haven't uploaded), but one of the other main reasons we made this drive to Kansas City was to see some of our loved ones. We coordinated with Ryan and Alisa Harrison (our dear, dear friends from our BYU days who now live in Minnesota...what am I saying, you know who they are) to go on the same day and time! They drove as far as we did and it was so fun to hang out with them and their cute Owen (2) and newborn Olivia that weekend. We went to Oklahoma Joe's BBQ for the best KC barbecue around (I know, misnomer) and we even got to get Alisa all day long on her birthday! We celebrated with cupcakes and root beer floats back at the Cockriel's home (family friends from their Kansas City days...I knew them too from when I lived in KC with Alisa's family for the summer back in the day) that her sweet Ryan had arranged. We also got to spend the weekend at Lisa and Troy Mitchell's home (our dear friends from our Lawrence year) and they were kind enough to have us stay at their home during the weekend. We had so much fun gabbing and catching up. We went to church with our old congregation, and I had so much fun catching up with my Young Women girlies and seeing other friends and familiar faces. We even drove by our old house and saw our sweet (practically-adopted 10-year-old neighbor last year) Gershwin playing on her driveway two houses down from our old house. That was such a fun surprise to talk with her for a bit. Of course, the highlight was staying at my parents' home in Derby on our way there and back. We miss not being so close to them like we were last year. Lily even got to garden with her Grandma Kisby. This planter is all hers; Lily often asks for updates on her flowers. She sure loves gardening with my mom.

 Back at home, the kids enjoyed the spring weather and played outside any chance they could get. Here they are with neighbor friend Norah as they watch hundreds of fire ants scatter right after I turned over the soil and right before I sprayed the bejeebers out of them. (The fire ants, not the children). They were mesmerized. 

Lily and I made some lovely sidewalk chalk creations during one of Jack's naps. I love getting this girl all to myself.

Happy Mother's Day to me! (It sure was). Lily was so proud of cutting the banana up all by herself (with Keith right there of course)--she was beaming when she told me. Keith was so funny--he knew I wouldn't really care for a "manly" breakfast of eggs and hash browns and toast and sausage (like he does), so he made sure to put extra thought into making a lighter, more "feminine" breakfast, including a fruit smoothie, bagel, and fruit. But at the last minute he just had to make me some eggs because it just didn't seem right! Haha--loved it babe. I felt so loved. I always enjoy most the cards Keith helps the kids make. That and our tradition of watching home videos after church (That's my favorite part of the day). Well--and the not lifting a finger the whole day isn't so bad either. I am one spoiled mama. And the luckiest one ever to get these two sweet gifts and their father.