Outpouring of Love

25 10 2015

Mother Teresa quote

This weekend, I was so incredibly blessed to be a very small part of what has been and what will continue to be an amazing journey for a special family that I know.

I’ve always been fascinated with adoption and foster care. My husband is actually one of ten children, six of whom were adopted. Most of my 4th year research in college was on Attachment Theory, and my undergrad degree was in Psychology. Last year I followed the blog of a woman who served as a surrogate to carry another couple’s baby when they couldn’t. This time, however, my small opportunity was none of these things.

There’s a quote, “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” This always makes me think of a gift I received that I’ll never be able to repay or even say thank you for. When I was 17 years old, I was the recipient of another person’s bone – actually, a cadaver’s bone – which was drilled into my spine, fusing my lumbar and sacrum together. For years, that isolated bone glowed on my x-rays until it was in my body long enough to dull to match my own, with bone grafted from my hip fusing it into place.

Fast forward a decade…

My older son was just a few weeks old when I returned to work from maternity leave, so I pumped twice a day there (and sometimes at home before I left) for a year to supply enough milk for him to have at daycare. I’ll be honest, it was hard. Finding a private place was absolutely non-existent in the 1970s-built-pod-school where I taught. Remembering to bring all the pump parts, freezer packs, cooler, bottle tops, tubing, power cord, wetbags – I felt like every day I forgot one component of the pump. And I never had teacher coverage while I pumped, since my schedule was so inconsistent, so there were days I barely came home with any milk. Other days, I came home with plenty for the next day – it just depended on my water intake and what time(s) I was able to pump that day. My heart had many episodes of tachycardia while nursing both my children, and I’ll be paying off cardiology bills for the next year.

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Woke up in the middle of the night engorged. This was all from one side. Ouch!!

I nursed E until he was 18 months and weaned him when my husband and I needed to travel out of town for a week without him.

I was also pregnant with my second son before this trip. When he was born, I was able to stay home with him until he was 13 weeks old. Once at daycare, he crushed bottles of my expressed milk like a champ until he was about 10 months old. I spent the summer at home with him, and when I went back to work in August, he refused bottles of any kind. No interest whatsoever. It didn’t matter who was holding the bottle, or what brand, or what temperature. Which left me with a freezer full of the precious liquid gold that I had pumped and so carefully frozen. Now at 13 months, he still nurses when we’re at home  (and all throughout the night, every night), but if I’m not there, he won’t take my milk in bottle form.

Spilled milk

Truth. Or left it out on the counter overnight. 

When he was 10 months old, I began researching how and where to donate my excess milk. After calling local hospitals, I found that a lot of them actually had enough frozen breastmilk to support their NICU babies, so I was given phone numbers to call to locate hospitals all over the country who might accept my milk. The process of testing the milk and testing myself would be extensive, not to mention packaging and shipping the frozen milk, but it would be worth it.

I had just started the process of milk donation when I learned that God had a different plan for my milk.

A mutual friend of mine, after years of prayer dedicated to adopting a child, got a call that a newborn was ready to come home. That sentence took me only a moment to type but represents a lifetime of prayer for this little baby. In getting together the things she would need for her new baby, she put out a request for any moms who had breastmilk to spare.

I did! A total of 144.5 ounces. To put it in perspective, it’s almost $1500 dollars’ worth of “liquid gold” and over 35 pumping sessions. It equates to 18+ hours of pumping, although with 2 sides at once, it was more like 9 hours, give or take. But double that to include the time it took to wash all the teeny tiny pump parts and Medela bottles and caps every night, dry them, and pack them to do it all over the next day. And then washing the wetbags I used to transport all the wet bottles and pump parts. My husband washed every single bottle and pump part, by hand, every evening. (Thank you!) I carefully measured and labeled each bag for future use.

Yesterday, I studied the Medela guidelines for thawing frozen breastmilk and checked the date on all of my milk. To my amazement, not a single drop of the 144.5 ounces was expired. I had pumped every bit of it in the last six months. Even more amazingly, the “oldest” frozen milk I had will start expiring in about 2 weeks, so I was running out of time to find a place to accept it.

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I know this baby is going to be supported in big ways and always with an abundance of love. I am so incredibly honored that I got to help with such a specific need – I told the baby’s mommy that I felt like I just donated an organ and am praying it’s a match – that the baby will accept this same precious milk that continues to sustain my own little boy as he nurses. This new little baby was born on my son’s due date, exactly 12 months later. We serve a most amazing God whose timing is always spot-on.

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Family arrived with a cooler today to transport the milk to its new home. 🙂

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

NICU baby





Normal Day Treasures

6 10 2015

normal day

The sun is back. It’s been a long time since we have caught even a ray of it! Today can pretty much be chalked up to a perfect “normal” day. I thought a lot about how grateful I am to have a generally positive attitude, as I was pulled in a million different directions at work while my sons were away from me at daycare. I began to look for the treasures hidden in the day, reflecting on each one as its own silver lining. I hope to collect these thoughts later in my journal of blessings (inspired by Ann Voskamp).

The fog settling over the valley was so pretty during my drive to work this morning. Stumbling over my words as I tried to explain fog to my 3-year-old.

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My 12-month-old waving goodbye to me from the comfort of his teacher’s arms. A tear-free transition. Finally.

Arriving to work 10 minutes early and using the time to walk a prayer circle behind the school. Still in awe that I get to work in such a beautiful place.

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And feeling blessed that at my new job, I get to be a full-blown counselor. Almost 100% of my time is spent directly with students individually, in small groups, and in the classroom (I log my hours in NoteCounselor after school every day). When I’m not directly with students, I’m talking to their parents or conferencing with their teachers, also direct hours. It makes for busy days, and my principal has begun to exclaim, “You came back!” after some of the most eventful days.

Getting a handwritten card from my principal, just thanking me for being at the school and being a positive light.

Having one of the most respected teachers in the school, the one who never speaks when I teach in her classroom, seek me out in my office later just to say, “Thank you. You have such a calm and soothing voice for the kids, you talk to them in such a way that they have no choice but to want to follow your directions.”

Me: an awe-struck puddle on the floor.

Missing lunch to facilitate the toughest small group of them all, and seeing the boys’ tough exteriors begin to crack as they slowly trust each other. Finding a pocket of 10 minutes afterward to eat a bowl of hot soup and a full-size Hershey bar.

At car rider duty, a parent sincerely telling me, “It’s so nice to see a smiling face every single day. Thank you.”

Staying after school to coach a running club, running alongside a new coworker who is exactly my pace, and finding out we grew up in the same hometown.

My 3-year-old, after spotting me at daycare, running toward the gate with open arms, not yet too cool for such affection over Mommy or for falling head over heels to hug me.

Finding a free book for the boys in our mailbox: “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.”

Wolfing down leftover Greek dinner my husband made last night before leaving the house one last time for the evening.

Driving through my favorite canopy of trees today…

…six different times.

The first and sixth trips with cups of hot coffee.

Opting to let my hairdresser straighten my hair before I left. (I ALWAYS leave the salon with wet curly hair.) Laughing with her about the 3 wiry white hairs I found on my head this week.

Teaching my 3-year-old how to play a board game before bed. How to roll a die. How to take turns and play fairly.

Watching his excitement as he taught his daddy how to play the same game while I watched, nursing the baby to sleep.

Trying on pretty Stitch Fix items, debating what to keep and what to send back.

Finding quiet time to blog and do laundry.

Grateful for my decision to cloth diaper as I hung them to dry. Looking forward to having a new friend over next week who wants to learn about cloth diapers.

Thinking about the 5 cute little cloth diaper pails, lined up all in a row at daycare.

Being able to answer my toddler when he asked, “Mommy, are you coming to the pumpkin patch with me and my class?”

“Yes, Mommy is coming.”

I’d rearrange the world for you. 





When God Calls You to Move…

24 07 2015

So I blog, but I never share the things I write in my paper prayer journal. But here is the series of thoughts  I wrote this summer… and how I feel that God led me to step out of my comfort zone to leave the job I LOVE to move to a job much closer to home.

July 6, 2015 (31st birthday): God, please help me to grow closer to you this year. And to be nicer. And to yell at my kids less. And to love big. And find grace. Laugh at myself more. Ask for help more. Notice more. Help me to seek the quiet place where I can hear You. Help me to give my best yeses. God, thank you for loving me. And for putting my husband on my path to braid my walk with his. Thank you for the blessings of my boys. Amen.

July 14, 2015: God moves in big ways. This summer, the elementary school close to my house has been on my heart as a potential place for me to work sometime in the future. Currently, I commute to another city for my job. It takes me 2 hours roundtrip, including daycare dropoff/pickup. I met the principal and secretary of the school while taking the boys to a summer reading program there and enjoyed talking to both of them. Just for fun, I had timed the commute and later had a playdate at the school. [But still, there was no reason for me to anticipate an opening there anytime soon.]

Last night in my women’s Bible study we talked about discerning God’s will. We are reading the book, “Is That Really You, God?” by Loren Cunningham. One woman mentioned that every opportunity we face could either be a potential detour or God’s will for us. We talked about how it’s easier to steer a moving vehicle, so maybe we should just go for opportunities – don’t agonize over the decisions. God will be in all the places. Maybe our calling is more about glorifying God for the opportunities we are given – recognizing that the pieces coming together come from God. Another friend likened listening to God to playing hide-n-seek with a toddler – He’ll give signs and not hide so well that we can’t find Him. He’ll “stick a foot out, make some noises” – God doesn’t try to trick us, but sometimes we think He is.

“Have you checked your life lately against your original call?” We also talked about the discipline Cunningham describes of not talking about your calling until God gives permission to do so. Today, by chance, I ran into the counselor at the elementary school near my house. I made the choice to go over to her to say hi, and when I asked her about her summer, I learned that she had just gotten married and moved out near my school — really?! I jokingly told her that we should trade, since I live right around the corner from her school, and she will be commuting as well. She said, “you know, we should!”  She immediately sent an email to our supervisor, and I did the same. We learned that the process to switch is quite simple – both principals have to be in agreement, we both submit a written request to transfer, Central Office approves it, and it’s a done-deal. I didn’t think I was one to overshare until today. I am bursting to tell EVERYONE how things seemed to be lining up for a move.

Can a door opening be a counterfeit? Or only if it steers me away from His will? “The will of God is doing and saying the right thing in the right place, with the right people, at the right time, and in the right sequence, under the right leadership, using the right method, with the right attitude of heart,” Cunningham wrote.

Still July 14, 2015:

After dinner tonight, my husband said he felt a push to take me on a prayer walk at this local school. As we neared the school, we almost chickened out because of the rainstorm surrounding us as far as the eye could see. As we approached the city lines, we could see that it had already rained. But we both felt like this school was where we needed to be that night. The local Christian radio station was playing “Praise You in this Storm” – my husband noticed and pointed it out to me.

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The cloud formations were stunning. The lightning started during our prayer walk, but we continued walking around the perimeter of the school, each of us praying. We also talked a lot, and oddly enough, our toddler walked slightly ahead of us, not even begging to go to his favorite playground.
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We found a little track around the school, and I thought about potential coaching opportunities. I started the “Girls on the Run” program at my school.

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“We have about 5 minutes before the rain hits,” my husband predicted. We made our way back to the car as quickly as we could with our two little boys. As we walked, we saw a hint of pinkish/coral-colored light coming from behind the school buildings. It drew us in and took our breath away as we found the best view of the sunset right from our car.

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God had used the oncoming rain to bring us back to our car at that very moment, just as the rain grew heavy and intimidating. We strapped in the kids, and the moment we were inside our car, the amazing sunset faded back to blue and the rain started. If we had been a minute later, we would have missed God’s handiwork.

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But as the rain cleared once more, He backlit the clouds with the beautiful tips of coral again, long enough to grab some pictures.

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We were driving home when we began to notice the sunset again. I had already remarked to my husband that I felt like God had used the sunset to wave at me after my prayer walk. He kept driving, taking a different way home, as I began to wonder what other signs God would give me. We rounded a curve and this.

Just this.

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The most spectacular sunset I’ve seen. Once home, heat lightning took the stage.

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We have been talking quite a bit about calling in Bible study this week. We each received a bookmark listing of favorite scriptures collected from the group. I looked up the very first verse on the bookmark. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 was the reference. I read past it, and then I found 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” Last night in Bible study, we talked about hearing from God. But how do we know if it’s what God wants or what we want?? I had even wondered hypothetically about this other elementary school – should I start praying for it, or is that just something I wanted?

God painted quite the picture for me today. If God wasn’t nudging me the way a mom hints at a toddler playing hide-n-seek with her, I don’t know what to make of His miraculous signs.

God, this is in your hands. Please help me know what to do to move forward if this truly is Your will for me. Amen. 

July 15, 2015: 

I woke up this morning pretty nervous about the conversation I would be having with my current principal about a potential move, especially since it would follow our team meeting in which we’d be planning out the year. But instead of rehearsing what to say, I prayed that God would give me the right words to say at the right time. I felt like a MLB player being traded! I sent the principal a email to request a quick chat after our team meeting.

After the meeting, someone wanted his attention. And then he got a phone call. I wondered if this was Satan’s way of trying to get me to chicken out. (I don’t usually think of situations happening in this way, but that’s how this Bible study has made me to interpret things recently). God opened so many new doors for me today. In my meeting, I learned that this local elementary school would be building a new facility simultaneously with our new school, with identical floor plans, both to open in two years. So switching schools would not delay a new building for me. And my son would start kindergarten in a brand new school! My principal mentioned that he felt like he was in the major leagues, choosing players in the draft. The same thought I had.

Later that night, our toddler was a hot mess and was screaming for attention while I was trying to tell my husband about my promising conversations. I ended up hitting my head on my son’s metal bed frame pretty hard and lost it – I started yelling. Satan was trying to steal my joy in that moment. Would you know that the moment we finally finished our conversation, E was happy and content again!

So many doors have opened so easily – and our prayer walk last night was a bold proclamation from God.

July 16, 2015: 

No news today, except that my principal reached out to the principal of the other school about the possibility of an exchange and told me that she is on vacation.

Today was a faith day. It’s out of my hands, and God is in control. I don’t feel rushed with timing – I’ll be where I need to be. And I’ll be happy with either place.

I do think about it, but I feel at peace so far. I haven’t told any of my friends yet… that scares me. We leave for vacation to Tennessee on Saturday, and I have a feeling things will have to get real pretty soon after that.

We went back to the elementary school tonight for another spectacular sunset. I wrote “FAITH” on the rockwall with chalk. Here is where I need faith. My biggest fear is that this decision is irreversible! I’m most worried about missing my dearest friends, making new friends, and the unknown.

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July 17, 2015: Reading “Is That Really You, God?” – excerpts that spoke to me today as we planned for our trip to Tennessee:

“What do you want me to do now, Lord?

“in obedience he made travel plans,”

“Everything was happening too quickly and too spectacularly, and the amazing series of events was not over yet” (169).

“After such a stunning series of Bible-story-like encouragements, we had to plunge ahead with negotiations,” “I suppose God had to be so overwhelmingly obvious with me because He knew I might give up otherwise” (170).

I love my current school. My very best friends are there, and many of us went through pregnancies together. I am so slow to warm up to people that starting a new job would be way out of my comfort zone. It always seems to take me a whole year in a new place to feel really comfortable – just thinking back to when I went to college, grad school, started new jobs, churches, etc.

But 2 Corinthians 12:9 promises, “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Moving and being new is a weakness for me. 

I do ask the “why” questions – what is my ministry that I need to be at a different school right now and leave all my friends? And then I maybe found the answer I needed to hear:

“If the guidance moves people into a deeper relationship with the Lord, then the direction is probably from God” (172)

As divine guidance begins to unfold, it always seems to come with hard, gritty work. Gone is the thrill of the original leading” (178).

July 20, 2015: From Hebrews 11:1 (Message) “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home… they accepted the fact that they were transients in this world… through acts of faith… they were protected.”

From James 1: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.

Right now, the light is pouring down through the canopy of trees at our cozy cabin in Tennessee, where we have now been for 3 days.

“Act on what you hear: But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” 

This morning I woke up doubtful, I admit, even thinking that staying at my current school would be a welcomed answer – back into my comfort zone. Not hearing anything from either principal has me doubting where I am supposed to be, so I sought God’s word this morning to get my faith in check. I’m listening to the songbirds in Tennessee, sitting in a wooden rocker on the porch with my Bible, journal, and coffee. Truly a gift. Light is streaming through the woods, and I literally just heard a tree fall!

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As I bowed my head, I breathed in the sound of the songbirds. I told God I was ready to listen. The birds went silent for a moment. As I thought about what that could mean, I realized God was clearing the way for me to listen. And then the big AC unit went silent on the porch, and the songbirds went completely silent again throughout the woods. And I really felt God telling me to “stay with me on this.” After the stillness, I heard the chatter of my little boys inside the cabin, and I have to remember that my family is the reason I’m even considering this leap of faith. I’ll admit that when I woke up this morning, I wondered if God put me through this process just to see how far I’d step out in faith, just as a test. And then maybe He’d take it away from me once knowing that I grew closer to listening to Him in the process. But I continued to read in James today about this: “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil to say, ‘God is trying to trip me up.’ The temptation to give into evil comes from us and only us.” 

So, my friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.”

Maybe Satan is trying to have me doubt God’s plan. Trying to rationalize why I don’t have answers immediately. I’ll admit I don’t often see how or when Satan is trying to creep into my thoughts, cutting through my line of faith. But that doubt, that justification in radio silence is Satan. God wants me to put full-faith in this. And that could mean more waiting. But it won’t last forever.

God, help me to find more moments of quiet with you. To put my faith to work and give me patience in your process. Keep Satan at bay, the Satan who is trying to get me to rationalize why this plan may not be happening, at least not right away. You put this desire on my heart for a reason when you did (this summer, and especially that night of Bible study), you brought me to this quiet place in the woods (instead of our original plan to go to the beach), in the cabin of a good Christian couple — I read that your gifts are “desirable and beneficial.” This isn’t just a desire of my heart, but a gift of time with family that will be priceless. I truly believe You found me here this morning.

I am looking at some leaves on a branch of a nearby tree, and they started to raise up in the wind. And as I watched them lift and lower, the lyrics “You’re the whisper in the wind” came to mind… is it maybe Lonestar? I’m Already There? Right then, before my eyes, a bunch of water fell from the treetops right along those leaves, just in that one tiny spot.

Thank you, God, for Your counsel. The affirmation in signs that I heard and saw today. For your promise in Scripture and how it always comes at the right time, when we’re seeking Your guidance. Help me to continue to listen for Your voice. Amen. 

The tree branch waved again, the crickets fired up to add a layer of sound to the songbirds’ calls, and there is music in the woods again. And I can hear my baby crying inside now!

July 20, 2015: Had to return to my treetop porch again this afternoon – we are having a beautiful storm – heavy rain, thunder, yet we are completely protected on this porch – dry, safe, and warm. The rain is cleansing. It’s not pouring through the leaves where I saw it before. Actually, there are pretty pink blossoms where I look up.

James 4 (Message): “In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.”

1 Peter 5: “God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.”

July 21, 2015: When I returned to my spot on the porch again this morning, my toddler asked why I was coming. “To pray,” I answered. “Why?” asked my 3-year-old. His new favorite question.

The “why” piece I may never know. I know the why on my end, but not God’s end. I read that God’s promise would be desirable and beneficial. Closer to home, and my boys could go to the new school with me when it opens in two years. I’m mostly at peace with the idea bc it has so blatantly been God’s will. In fact, if I did not listen to God and heed His guidance on this, I would be worried. I do worry about not seeing my friends on the daily. But maybe I don’t need to ever know why.

Reading Genesis 3 this morning: “If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce, it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”

July 22, 2015: Back on the porch. After my devotion about keeping my faith on Monday, I got an email from the other counselor that very afternoon! God’s timing is so, so incredible. In my faith, my walk, and in what He brings to fruition. Because I know He has a plan for me, I’m a little less-scared about the possibility of a new job. I decided to read Jeremiah 29:11+ in a different version, in the Message:

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”

I’ve always loved the NIV of this: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” “I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. 

I’m excited about a change, knowing that I have followed God’s lead through this process, as much as I am learning how. So I know there must be something good waiting for me on the other side. I always assumed I’d move eventually, I just didn’t realize it would happen so fast, and now! I’m hoping it will solve many questions for me down the road… God, continue to lead me to You, even as we leave this beautiful cabin today. Help me to find a new quiet time with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

July 23, 2015: We are back from our trip to Tennessee. Lots of commotion today – emails from several people who are all just waiting on me to send one quick email to Central Office officially requesting a transfer before everything can be finalized. I drafted the email but couldn’t pull the trigger on it just yet… I still felt like I needed to know more about what I was getting into. I felt like it was still a weak line in my faith, but I didn’t want to be completely blind-sided after leaving a position I love and have invested so much of myself in over the last six years. I was so afraid something was being overlooked, something was being sugar-coated. This whole process has been way too easy!

And so… an hour-long phone call to the new school. Another phone call to the woman with whom I’m switching positions. And then a 2-hour tour of the “new-to-me” building with my new principal. I heard everything I wanted to hear. I saw why this school needs a new building, too. She kept saying that this whole thing happened so quickly and that “it must be fate, it must be an intervention.”

And this is where I can’t forget about God. In my hesitation to share the news with my dearest friends, in my excitement about a fresh start, in my fears of the unknown and in my relief over logistics and no more commute, I need to praise God for this gift He has given me. And so, I shared parts of this story with my new principal. And it is here that I’ve shared more bits of the story.

It’s not over yet.





10 ways to transition from maternity leave

4 01 2015

So there’s a post in the queue tomorrow about heading back to work, but after I cried 3 times today at church about returning to work, I decided to reflect on what I’ve done to make the transition something to look forward to:

one | Daily inspiration.  I found a giant pack of Starbucks travel cups at our local warehouse for a few dollars. I wrote myself encouraging, inspiring, and funny messages for each morning that I’m grabbing my coffee and heading out the door. Yes, they are disposable, but if it’s one less thing to carry home amidst 2 kids, 2 diaper bags, my school bag, lunch, purse, diapers, wet bags, wipes, water bottles, my pump, infant car seat, jackets, kids’ lunches and bottles, and whatever else I’m sure to forget,* then it’s worth it to me. And one less cup to wash between pump parts and a zillion tiny bottle parts. Judge away. I’ll be washing cloth diapers. 🙂

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two | Random acts of kindness. I’ve planned a few random acts of kindness for my coworkers, which I’m excited about delivering. Do good, feel good.

three | Organizing clutter. In a quest to simplify before life spirals out of control, I decluttered my bedroom and office space. I used the “to do, to read, to file” method of sorting mounds of papers.

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four | Simplifying and notes of encouragement. I bought Emily Ley‘s weekly edition of her Simplified Planner and chose some pretty wallpapers with encouraging messages for my phone’s lock screen. I also put a fun background on my desktop at home.

Emily Ley

five | Preparing our family for change. *I dropped off a ton of stuff at my kids’ school/daycare so there’d be less to carry and/or forget tomorrow when we’re rushing. I also talked to the nursery teachers, asked a million questions, and let E see his old teachers from September to get him back in school-mode. He got a new lunchbox for Christmas, which I’m sure he’ll be proud of.

six | Getting back in teacher mode. I spent a bit of time last night reacquainting myself with my office, which I’ve only visited a few times in 13 weeks. I planned lessons for Monday that I’m excited about and read through all the notes my sub left me. I unpacked a ton of stuff and hung up new photo magnets of my kids. And we went out to dinner afterwards… so it felt more like a date, less like work.

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Maybe no one will notice if I keep the baby in there all day??

seven | Looking the part. On Friday, my kids simultaneously took 4-hour-naps. Of course it would happen on the last day of my maternity leave! I used the time to try on work clothes that I haven’t worn since before I was pregnant – over a year ago! I have been wearing pajamas for the last 3 months! I put together several outfits that still fit, took pictures of them, and made a quick-reference cheat sheet (now taped in my closet) that I can use to quickly choose an outfit each day.

eight | Changes for E. We had store credit accumulated 5 years ago at a local furniture store, so we used it to buy E a big-boy bed! We’ll put it together this week – I’m really looking forward to this new change!

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nine | Wedding! My baby brother gets married this week! So it’s really not even a full work week back for me!

ten | Snuggles. Lots and lots of baby snuggles and prayer. Let’s be honest, that’s mostly what I’ve been doing.

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Be sure to check back tomorrow morning!





oh hey Friday! | linkup

25 07 2014

oh hey | ONE

This weekend, we celebrated a 2nd birthday for one of E’s friends. These boys were both due and born two weeks apart. They splashed in the water table, raced lawn mowers, and watched fireworks.

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The next day, I took E to Toys R Us to spend his own birthday gift card, and he picked out the exact same lawn mower:

7-22-14 lawn mower

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oh hey | TWO

On some Sundays recently, we’ve been working in our church nursery and then teaching Sunday school right afterward, so we’ve been letting E come into our preschool class to break up the 3-4 hours in the nursery a bit, even though he’s about 6 months too young. But he’s been participating like a champ!

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oh hey | THREE

I made a Mexican chicken casserole this week – easy and yummy! I also made strawberry salad, French toast, slow cooker chicken, and grilled buffalo chicken burritos for various meals, which is more cooking than usual for me .:)

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7-24-14 grilled buffalo chicken burritos

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oh hey | FOUR

We’ve been enjoying lots of summer days at our local libraries and park! E picked out this fancy candy for his weekly summer reading program prize.

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oh hey | FIVE

For the new baby’s nursery, we’ve decided to completely change up the decor, so I’m in the middle of making a new mobile for the crib. Just a peek for now! I also washed, folded, sorted, and put newborn clothes in the dresser yesterday!

7-22-14 mobile

 

Happy Friday!





oh hey Friday! | linkup

18 07 2014

 

Join me today with Karli and the farmer’s wife for Week #2 of oh hey Friday!

oh hey! ONE | Toddler Summer Reading

We’ve made so many trips to the library this summer for storytime, dance lessons, puppet shows, and crafts. E is participating in two summer reading programs, along with his ongoing “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” program.

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He has changed so much in 12 months… and yet… same toys, same stance and hand placement:

Library 2013 2014

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oh hey! TWO | Adult Summer Reading

I’ve also managed to squeeze in a little reading of my own. On Monday, E slept in FIVE HOURS later than usual and then took a 3-hour nap (unheard of!), so I was able to start and finish Jodi Picoult’s “The Storyteller.” LOVED. Her books are so intense – thinking about this one kept me wide awake several nights this week. And yes, I read every.baby.boy.name. just to make sure!

Summer Reading 2014

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oh hey! THREE |

We participated in Chick-fil-a’s “Cow Appreciation Day” to get free meals. We first took E to this event when he was only 8 days old. We have also camped there for their “First 100” events.

CFA Cow Appreciation Day

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oh hey! FOUR |

On Thursday, our church had a mom’s playgroup at our local lake. It makes me want to get an annual pass! I wish I could join this group year-round.

7-17-14 Lake

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oh hey! FIVE |

We’re in the early stages of potty-training around here. E sits the potty several times a day, so proud of himself. And that’s where we are. The pediatrician recommended to either do it now before baby comes, or not for another 6 months. I’m anxious to get him out of his cloth diapers so that they’re available for baby to use 12 weeks from now, though they could share. When we send E back to school in August, they will require pull-ups and will help with potty-training there. So far candy and books have  created a positive association with sitting there, as well as having his favorite stepstool under his feet. And his Elmo insert:

sesame potty

 |ours is similar to |

And on that note, happy Friday!





Three decades

6 07 2014

I love, love that I share back-to-back birthdays with my son – his is the day before mine! So while I reflected on him turning 2 this weekend, I’m also reflecting on turning 30!

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I could think back to high school to things I might have done differently, but I’ve been able to do so many awesome things during my 20s (and before) that I really don’t have regrets.

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Travels before 30 | Ireland, Canada, Kalispell Montana and Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Utah, Arches National Park, Four Corners, Disney World x3, New York City (a lot!), Panama City Beach FL, Myrtle Beach (a lot!), OBX (a lot!), New Orleans, Chicago, mission trips to Jeremiah Project x2, Kinston NC, Brooklyn, Charleston, New Orleans, Homestead Resort – Hot Springs VA, Atlanta, lots more!

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Cool experiences | Helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon, hiked Arches National Park, rode a segway around Chicago with my best friend, did a handstand on the Four Corners, held an alligator, did the Busch Gardens Roller Coaster Insider Tour, ran 5 half marathons (Disney Princess, Charlottesville Half, Shamrock Half, Crawlin Crab, Myrtle Beach Mini), ran the Disney Marathon and the Shamrock Marathon, rode an elevator to top of Empire State Building and the Hancock Observatory, served as President of the UVA BSU and Alumni Committee, pet sharks, climbed the Statue of Liberty, ran a Spartan race, ran countless 5ks, 4-milers, 8ks, and 10ks, spun the Price is Right wheel, shot clay pigeons x2, camped out at Chick fil-a’s First 100 event, served as camp counselor, took ballet for 13 years, gave tours at Colonial Williamsburg for 8 years…. and so much more!

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Medical | Spinal fusion, 4 wisdom teeth out, 3 pregnancies (1 baby, 1 miscarriage, 1 on the way), hit by a deer, stepped on 2 nails, nursed my son for 18 months

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Milestones | Became an aunt, graduated UVA, graduated William & Mary, got engaged, got married, rented first house, started first school counselor job, built first house, started new job, adopted 2 dogs, lost 1 dog, miscarried, had a baby, joined one church, joined a new church, dedicated our baby boy, owned 4 cars, became pregnant with a second son.

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Hobbies | reading, jewelry-making, blogging, photography, running and races, Bible studies, teaching Sunday School at church

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…So what’s next for my 30s…? I don’t need to fixate on what I want to do next, because most of the adventures I’ve had were not things I planned a decade in advance. We’re fairly spontaneous except when it comes to growing our family and planning big trips! Oh, and running marathons. Because that took 9 months.

  • I think it’s safe to say that I definitely want to have a baby once I turn 30, and take a long (14-week) maternity leave to be home with my 2 boys…

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  • I really want to go on a hot air balloon ride. I won a tethered launch at school when I was 13 that got canceled due to rain, and both of our hot air balloon rides over Las Vegas were grounded due to high winds. And just recently for our 6th anniversary, they wouldn’t let me because I’m pregnant. So this is the closest I’ve come:

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October 2010

  • I would love to travel more – London, the National Parks in CA (Redwood, Sequoia, etc.)
  • Run more half marathons. Not making any commitments to run another full just yet!

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Something Sweet

1 06 2014

We had a full weekend of family, running, and Busch Gardens, but for now I just want to record a few sweet happenings from our Sunday. A much-needed reassurance that God is always there with us during life’s highs and lows, even and especially in the small things. And when I look back on today, that’s what I want to remember.

We arrived home at our 22-month-old’s bedtime, so we unpacked, gave him a bubble bath, and went straight to rocking him to sleep. I’m sure he was exhausted, because he skipped his nap yesterday to run around Busch Gardens for 9 hours.

{Relevant side note: While at Busch, he dropped his beloved Wubbanub dinosaur pacifier as we continued walking. We had given it to him because it was already an hour past his normal bedtime, and we were still walking around the park. He also fell at the same time, so he had a meltdown in absolute panic of losing his best friend. It reminded me of Tom Hanks when he lost his beloved Wilson on Cast Away. Heartbreaking. Luckily, Wubba was easily found and retrieved, and all was right in E’s world again. Scraped knees forgotten upon reunion.}

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SO. As I’m rocking him tonight, both Wubbas safely in his arms, he lifts up my shirt just enough to see my baby belly. He pushed the pacifier nub against my skin and said, “baby? baby?” And then, I kid you not, his little brother kicked back. So E hunched over and planted a soft kiss right there on my belly, and I asked him if he loves his brother. He nodded, then switched to his giraffe Wubba and held it against my belly, asking for “baby? baby?” I asked him if the baby could have his Wubba, and he nodded again. At the same time, he put his dinosaur Wubba against my lips and mumbled a long prayer, said “Amen,” and pulled it away. He did this prayer 4-5 times. I love my kid. Love, love him! He is such a sweet boy and I just know he’s going to be a great big brother. I never know what he understands about the baby, but it was what I needed, right then, to remind myself of what this extra weight I’m carrying is really all about.

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Earlier today, we enjoyed a little something sweet to celebrate our niece’s birthday at a local park with Duck Donuts. Yum! We also enjoyed a light lunch at Firebirds Wood-Fired Grill after an afternoon of shopping on our way home. It’s already feeling like summer even though the students still have a full week to go and we have workdays after that!

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{Five on Friday}

30 05 2014

Linking to Carolina Charm and friends today to kickoff Friday! The theme of today’s {Five on Friday} is 5 leaps of faith I’ve taken recently.

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{one} Coaching Girls on the Run – This year, I started a site at the elementary school where I work, recruited 14 enthusiastic/skeptical girls, and co-coached them to complete their first 5k. It required a lot of faith in startup and then sacrificing countless hours from my family after school, but we are excited to celebrate their end-of-season successes with a pool party next week! I’ve passed the torch for next season to 2 good friends who will be amazing coaches while I’m on maternity leave. My co-coach and I applied to present at a state-wide counselor association conference about the Girls on the Run season that we coached. This will take place 8 weeks after my son is born!

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{two} Running a marathon during this pregnancy. And then another. {26.2 miles apiece – I didn’t go halfsies.} Collecting these medals for my little boy’s nursery. Hoping to earn him another medal tomorrow!

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{three} Signing up to teach Sunday school for the summer. Without indicating an age preference to teach, I left it open for where God needed me. Which, as I anticipated, was with preschoolers. After attending a prayer breakfast at Panera the week before, one of the sentiments that stood out to me was when our children’s minister said, “We need to get on our knees and pray for the hearts of these children.” I knew then I needed to listen for where God could use me the most.

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{four} Switching from using doctors to using midwives. I’ve never blogged my birth story (it’s safe in my paper journal), but for me personally, I’m a believer in trying to stay as intervention-free as possible during childbirth. My preferences have a lot to do with my spinal fusion as a teenager and all the years of interventions I’ve had since so that my spine could support the weight of carrying a pregnancy to term. (I’ve been told twice that it couldn’t.) I was so blessed to have a healthy natural/med-free/intervention-free delivery the first go-round, but I had to advocate for it. Justify it. And the thought that I may have a different doctor this time around who may not be as agreeable was creating unnecessary stress on me. So I switched to a practice where the type of childbirth experience I hope to have is supported more readily. And God only knows how delivery will go and what might be needed, but if it’s one less thing to stress over now, I’m happy!

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maternity leave

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{five} Time with my newborn. I’ve run a lot of numbers and had a meeting, and I’ve decided to take the full 12 weeks of FMLA maternity leave I’m entitled to in the fall, half of which will be unpaid. The way my due date lands just before the holidays, I will return to work when my newborn is around 14-15 weeks old, twice as old as his brother was when I returned to work after having him. Because of the conference I mentioned above, I will be actually taking intermittent maternity leave so that I can professionally present at the conference and count those as paid workdays in the middle of my weeks of unpaid leave.

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Week 23: Bumps and Wiggles

28 05 2014

Bumpdate blog

Week 23: Bumps & Wiggles

5-27-14 Week 23 pregnancy

  • Affirmations: Leg cramps, heart palpitations, discomfort
  • Emotions: Happy
  • Gender: Boy
  • Names: We’ve been calling him by his first name a lot more now. 🙂
  • Baby size: Estimated just over a pound and the size of a large mango. 11.5″ long.
  • To do: Work on transitioning nursery and organizing closets. Looking online at story time schedules, summer reading programs, swim lessons, and other fun summer programs for our toddler to keep us busy with fun as we wait for baby’s arrival!
  • Movement felt: Constant and for long enough each time that others can feel. More movements across my belly – kicking on one side and then on the other side simultaneously.
  • Cravings: None. Eating healthier and not as hungry all the time.
  • Aversions: Yogurt.
  • Workouts this week: Treadmill run, movement games while teaching preschool, walks around neighborhood, planning to run an 8k on Saturday!
  • Crazy dreams and sleep patterns: lots of dreams about painting. Falling asleep easily these days and mostly staying asleep.

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  • Best moments this week: Spending lots of time outside with family over the weekend. Finding a snake outside my office door. Having a good meeting on Tuesday.
  • Low moment this week: Driving in the scariest downpour of rain. Ever.
  • Looking forward to: Summer and spending lots of one-on-one time with E before he becomes a big brother! A free trip coming up in a few days.
  • What I miss: Being able to really run. We’ll see how this weekend’s race goes!
  • Messages and prayers to baby: We have done things so differently with this pregnancy than we did with our 2nd, your brother. We took a leap of faith when we switched from using doctors to using midwives, and Mommy is taking another big leap of faith this week in love for you. As Bob Goff puts it,

“I’ve come to understand more about faith as I’ve understood more about whimsy. What whimsy means to me is a combination of the “do” part of faith along with doing something worth doing. It’s whimsy that spreads hope like grass seed in the wind. Whimsy reminds me of the Bible, too, when it talks about stuff being like an aroma. It is not an overpowering one, just something that has the scent of God’s love, an unmistakable scent that lingers” (Love Does, 186).