Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Last Day of Summer & Apple Streusel Bars

I can't believe the summer has come to an end for us!  It has been unusually cool for Oklahoma, and we  just had to spend our last day of summer outside this morning!

Love my happy and carefree girls.  

Although there can be a LOT of fighting, pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth in our house...these girls truly do love and care for one another!  It's such a beautiful thing to watch them grow up together.  

I also have to share this recipe.  I have been craving apple pie, apple crisp and apple oatmeal lately.  These are wonderful.  They have a wonderful, flaky, pastry-like crust and a nice crumble topping.  I did make a few changes to the recipe which I will post in italics!  I hope y'all have a wonderful rest of your summer!

Apple Streusel Bars

Sweet Pastry:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten

Apple Filling:
1/2 cup sugar (i used 1/4)
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon (i used 2 teaspoons)
4 cups sliced, peeled apples (i used gala and fuji)

Glaze: (i cut the glaze recipe in half)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon almond extract (i used vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish (i used a 9x9 to have thicker bars...just increased baking time by about 10 minutes).

For the crust mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until you have pea-sized crumbles.  Stir in the beaten egg.  Gently press about 2/3 of the mixture onto the bottom of the dish.

To prepare the filling toss the apples with the sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Spread over the crust.

Sprinkle the remaining pastry mixture over the apples and bake for 40 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

Allow to cool completely and prepare the glaze.  Whisk the powdered sugar, milk and extract until blended.  Drizzle over the bars and allow the glaze to set.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Baby Bump Update - 100 Days Left!

I can't believe we will meet our little guy in just 100 days (countdown set to my scheduled c-section)!  I was shocked when I looked at my countdown app a couple nights ago!  This little guy keeps me up at night.  On average I have slept maybe 3-4 hours a night the last couple weeks.  I have to visit the bathroom at least once every hour.  I have to ice my back throughout the day. I HAVE to eat cereal and look at Pinterest late at night.  Usually at 12:30 on the dot.  My allergies are so brutal right now, I can't breathe.  But the funny thing is, I enjoy it.  It's quiet, and I get to spend time with just Beckham.  It's the time he is most active, and I know that I won't be pregnant again so I'm really soaking it all in.

Beckham's due date is Thanksgiving Day.  Of course, he will be here before that, but he's our little Thanksgiving Baby!  I really enjoyed summer, especially since the heat has been so mild here in Oklahoma, but I am SO ready for fall.  The weather, the activities, the FOOD, the multitude of pumpkin desserts, and the holidays with a sweet new baby boy.

The next couple months will FLY by I know, so I'm also trying to enjoy these moments with my girls.  Brooke starts school on Thursday and turns FIVE in just a few weeks.  The twins start school (one day a week) in September.  Tear. They are all so excited....I can't believe how big they are getting to be.   

We got a LOT done this weekend in Beckham's Nursery.  I wanted to add a few rustic elements to his room, so I found a branch that worked perfectly (and was free!) for the curtain rod.  I finished making the bed skirt with stitch witchery, of course.  Total cost for the skirt was $5!  I love looking in there and seeing it all come together!

Here are a few funnies from the sisters lately....they are really cracking me up with all their questions.

"Did Beckham go poop?  You need to change his diaper, he stinks" - Lauren (while going #2)

"Did Beckham take a nap when I did?  Oh he's still sleeping - WAKE UP BECKHAM!!!" - also Lauren

"I need to give Kep-bam kisses and hugs" - Lily (sometimes she confuses his name, but she is always hugging and kissing my belly)

"Does Beckham want some of my cookie (as she smears a fudge round all over my shirt)?" - Lily

"Wow mom your belly is getting big, but not too big yet.  You look so cute" - Brooke

I love them.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Spiced Peach Muffins....and a few freezer recipe links!

TWO recipes on the blog in one week?!? That's a record for me lately.  Usually the only time I bake these days is when I am taking a meal to someone, or if I am getting paid to make cupcakes.  :)  I have really been trying to stock our freezer with meals, snacks and breakfast food the last couple weeks.  Although I have had a better pregnancy than the last two, there are still some very rough days.  I can't tell you how awesome it is to have home-cooked meals to throw in the oven so my family can eat well if I'm not up for cooking.  When I first mentioned this freezer idea to Landon he thought I was crazy and that all the meals would be freezer burnt.  Last night while eating his baked spaghetti, he said "wow honey, this freezer meal idea is fantastic".  Men.

Here's what's in our freezer right now and some links to a few recipes!

Pioneer Woman Sloppy Joes - I made these with turkey and froze in individual portions.  I also froze some leftover hamburger/hotdog buns to pair with these! It's perfect to make Landon a hot sandwich when he gets home from work.  It's one of our staple recipes.

Baked Spaghetti  - Just penne noodles (cooked), homemade meat sauce, cheddar and parmesan cheese Bake at 350 until warmed through!  This is always a kid favorite around here.

Poppyseed Chicken Casserole - love this recipe - I also layered white rice on the bottom of the dishes before layering the casserole.

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos - Another staple - I usually leave the onions, cilantro and green salsa out for the kids.  I made a double batch of these and we are tearing through them.

Spiced Peach Muffins - I'm a Georgia Girl at heart.  I miss a lot of things about that place, but I really miss the peaches.  My mother-in-law was so nice to pick all of us sisters up some peaches from Porter.  They are amazing.  About as close to Georgia peaches as you can get here in Oklahoma, so naturally I just had to make some peach muffins.  These are spiced - which Landon wasn't a huge fan of, but you could omit the allspice and nutmeg to suit your taste.  I really enjoyed these - they tasted like a peach pie/cobbler right out of the oven!

Spiced Peach Muffins
(makes 20-24 muffins)

4 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (if you leave out the other spices, you may want to add extra cinnamon)
2 eggs
3/4 cup canola/vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups milk
4 peaches, diced
granulated sugar for toping ( i used raw turbinado sugar)

Preheat oven to 375  Grease (or line) muffin pans.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, brown sugar and spices into a large bowl.  Stir in the eggs, oil and milk.  Gently fold in the fruit.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until done.  


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Baked Vanilla Bean Donuts with Strawberry Frosting

I can't believe my little Brooke will be turning FIVE in just a few weeks.  Donuts are her most favorite breakfast treat.  We decided on a breakfast donut bash to celebrate, so I whipped up these yummy donuts for a mini "photo-shoot"!  They are super tasty - I'm not a huge donut fan, but these are very cake-like and the frosting is delicious. I posted a picture on instagram, and had a few requests for the recipe, so I thought I would share the recipe I used on the blog today!  Next time, I think I will make these chocolate cake donuts using the same strawberry frosting.  Yum....

Baked Vanilla Bean Donuts with Strawberry Frosting


For the Donuts:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter

For the Glaze:
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp strawberry gelatin powder (or raspberry, cherry, etc.)

Preheat Oven to 325.

In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients until blended.  Put all the batter in a large ziploc bag and cut the corner.  Fill the donut pan 3/4 full with batter.  Bake donuts for 10-12 minutes.  I also used a mini donut pan, and I baked those for about 7-8 minutes.  I always press lightly on the donut while it's baking, and if it springs back I call it done!  :)  Remove from the pan and allow the donuts to cool before glazing.

To prepare the glaze add the milk, cream and vanilla to a saucepan over low heat.  Stir and heat until warm.  Whisk in the gelatin mix and then slowly whisk in the powdered sugar.  Remove from the heat.  ***I made 1/2 of this recipe for the glaze mix and it sufficiently covered all my little donuts!***

Dip the tops into glaze and immediately add the sprinkles.  I did a few at a time, the glaze hardens quickly and I wanted my sprinkles to stick!

Enjoy!!!  I kept mine in a ziploc container overnight, and I think they tasted better this morning!

Monday, August 5, 2013


Last week we celebrated my birthday and I turned thirty one.  I feel like Landon and I just got married, yet at the same time I physically feel more like 40.  

I always said Landon and I would enjoy married life before having kids....

 That I would never have kids after 30....

That I would only have two kids....

That I would never go "let myself go".....

Well God had other plans for our family, and I'm so thankful he did!

Brooke was our honeymoon baby (on birth control), and #2 and #3 turned out to be twins.  I'm pregnant with Number FOUR!  My belly is expanding by the day, and sometimes I struggle to keep up with my beautiful and energetic girls.  

Yep, I'm that mom that wears workout clothes in public and forgets to put on makeup sometimes.  My makeup routine consists of eyeliner and mascara....eyeshadow for "special" occasions.  I have tried every foundation, BB Cream, and tinted moisturizer there is, but my skin is ultra sensitive and they don't work for me.  So mascara and eyeliner it is - there are permanent bags and wrinkles that just can't be hidden.


I wouldn't trade my life for anything, or wish to be in my twenties again.  Each year has brought great blessings.  Those bags under our eyes represent four special gifts that God has given us.  Our children.  We didn't get a chance to be "free"...but life with children has been amazing for us and has taught us SO much about ourselves and about how faithful our God is. I would give anything up for my time, my energy, my dreams.  For Landon it represents how hard he works for our family.  I'm so thankful for a husband that provides for our family, takes care of us and shows us his love. He is such an example to me and the kids of our heavenly Father.

 These stretch marks represent God's handiwork - the opportunity to experience the miracle of life and feel a baby growing inside me.  Those marks are not ugly, but beautiful and I have grown to appreciate and accept them.

I'm so thankful for another that I am really looking forward to!  Every day is a gift from God!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Baby Bump Update & a NAME!!!

We finally came up with the perfect name for our little guy.  

Beckham Andrew. His initials will spell "BAM" which wasn't intentional, but very fitting if any of you know Landon's personality.  We love it and think it fits our family just right!  I can't wait to see what he will look like!  We had our major ultrasound at 22 weeks.  We saw all his little fingers and toes.  Everything looked great, and he is even measuring a week (his head TWO!) ahead of schedule.  I'm thankful for a healthy baby and a very active companion.  During the ultrasound we thought he looked just like Lily!

Here's Lily on the left at 21 weeks.  Beckham on the right at 22 weeks.  I just love technology!

I've been really praying and researching VBAC options.  I have a great doctor who is also a great surgeon, and I was able to recover from my C-Section fairly quickly than I expected (even without pain meds). With three girls and a baby, I really would love to avoid the surgery if possible and talked to my doctor about options at my appointment.  We scheduled a C-Section for 39 weeks.  If I happen to go into labor before then, we will try to pursue the VBAC.  I am finally at peace with the decision, knowing that if God wants me to deliver VBAC He will allow everything to fall into place before the surgery date.  I kept in mind the trauma with Brooke, and almost having to be taken to a C-Section. I want to do what is best for Beckham and I.  I know God is going to take care of us either way and I am trusting Him completely!

I have been SO indecisive this pregnancy.  About everything.  I second guess almost every decision I make, and that's not like me!  After returning two sets of bedding, I finally decided on something that I just LOVE!  It's very neutral, clean and simple.  I am currently working on a bedskirt out of the chevron fabric, and am almost done refinishing a dresser to use as a changing table.  I can't wait to see the room come together in the next couple months!  Of course, I will post some pictures when It's all done!

I'm so thankful for sweet girls that are so excited to meet their baby brother.  There are times where I get overwhelmed and wonder how we will get along with 4 kids.  Then I remember that God never gives us more than we can handle!  I can trust Him to take care of us just as He always has!

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."   -Isaiah 26:3

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Meet Baby Beaux

Isn't he so handsome?  We were so excited to meet our sweet nephew Beaux this last weekend, and I was so honored to take a few photos of him in the hospital.  I wanted to share a few of these special memories with you...

So tiny.  So new. So sweet.

A mother's love.  So amazing.

A sweet and beautiful new family.

Sweet baby feet and fuzz.  It all goes by so quickly, you forget how little they were...

I enjoyed standing back and watching every much love and happiness.  

We are so proud of you Derek & Molly!  Congratulations!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Twins at Three

THREE years old.  I still can't believe it!  I never got a chance to take their three year old photos, and these kind of came about as an accident.  I was trying to take a sister pic with Brooke in the middle, but she wasn't in the picture taking mood.  I did get a few of the twins that I absolutely LOVE and wanted to share them with y'all!

Silly.  Only Lauren would pick her nose.  This photo session lasted about five minutes - and all I did was click away while they did their own thing. I love how silly, playful, sweet and fun these two are with each other.

Sweet memories - each their own little person, yet so much alike.  What a gift they have in each other as constant companions and friends!

Friday, July 12, 2013


Well we made it to the HALFWAY mark!  Every time I feel our sweet baby kick, I smile.  Which is a great thing....the last couple weeks have been a little rocky around here for me physically.  I have also really struggled with worry, fear and discouragement.   God is good ALL the time, and I can definitely say that I have been worse.  I'm really trying to enjoy this last pregnancy, soak in all the happy times, and trust in God to take care of my family.  God has reminded me over and over again how blessed we are.  How He always takes care of His children, and that HIS plans are best.  Those little kicks are a constant reminder to me of how amazing He is. 

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." 
Isaiah 26:3

I have my "big" ultrasound in two weeks....I can't wait to see our little guy in detail!  Of course I will update with pictures!!!

We are excited about preparing for our sweet little boy. Here is a little collage of a few of my favorite things....

My Girls // Summer is hard.  It's hot, we are bored, and I can only do so much physically.  Sometimes I feel guilty that I can't be "super mom" (or even normal mom) to them, but they know that I love them and that's what matters!  I have watched them adapt, and learn to play together.  Brooke is the Mommy, Lauren is the Daddy and Lily is the Baby.  And it's a HOOT.  Whenever the twins see me in pain or sick, they come and put their hand on my belly and tell me they love me.  It just doesn't get any better than that.  

Ralph Lauren // I love when my girls wear their clothes, but I have always gazed longingly into the baby boy section at the store.  It's just my favorite...there was a GREAT sale at the outlet in Texas and I just couldn't resist this cute polo.

Target // I have some pretty sweet friends that are throwing me a little baby shower.  I feel so honored and blessed.  I know this is my FOURTH baby after all.  :)  I registered for a few things at target, and received a great goodie bag with free products and coupons!!!

Boots //  Who knew the North Face made infant booties???  I just couldn't resist...

Diapers // I decided to order some diapers from The Honest Company.  They are plant based, non toxic disposable diapers AND they come in the cutest patterns! I used a 40% off coupon on my first "bundle" and then cancelled my subscription after I received my first shipment.  I'm excited to try them out!

Baby Steals // I'm not sure if any of you sign up to receive alerts from Baby Steals or not, but I LOVE their deals!  They have deals on great products like Aden + Anais, Petunia Pickle Bottom and Ergo!

***name update - we are still debating - this baby will have a name, even if it's after he arrives!***

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Learning through Motherhood....

Here's a little glimpse of our "crazy" week....

While the twins were supposed to be napping, Lauren decides to climb up to Lily's bunk and BITE her in the back - clearly a round circle that was already starting to bruise.  We have a biting problem.

While Landon was at music practice last night, I sat on the couch from 6:30 - 7:30 disciplining kids for fighting, whining, biting and screaming.  I decided that before I lost my sanity I should probably put them to bed early.  Distraught after a long day I sat in my bed eating M&M's while sobbing.  Thankfully Landon wasn't home for that one...he sees enough drama and tears.

I set my alarm clock this morning for 5:30 and didn't even hear it until 5:42.  Rascal Flatts sang to me for 12 minutes straight.  Thankfully I wore my "workout outfit" to bed so I could go straight to Walmart with crazy hair and no makeup.  I'm such a planner.  Yes, I'm that desperate to go to the store before Landon goes to work so I can avoid taking the kids. 

I got home just in time to watch Landon leave our room for work.  Half dressed.  And then I remembered our load of clean laundry that has been sitting in the dryer for two days.  And I smile (and cry a little bit) because I realize that I have an amazing husband that doesn't even care.  He just digs out something (now wrinkled) from the dryer and heads to work.  And then texts me later this morning and tells me I'm awesome (?!?!?). 

When I think of adding a fourth lately, I get a little overwhelmed.  Then I laugh at this line from Jim Gaffigan:

"Want to know what it's like to have a fourth?  Just imagine you are drowning, and them someone hands you a baby...."

So funny, but seriously how I feel these days.  If you need a laugh, you should click on his will take you to a video clip.  

This morning, I picked up "Out of the Spin Cycle" by Jen Hatmaker and started reading one of my favorite chapters (Chapter 7, in case you have the book)

"Motherhood is like a pitcher with a whole in the bottom: a constant drain on our energy, patience, and tolerance. If nothing good is stored up, where are we possibly going to draw patience?  Grace?  Longsuffering?  young motherhood is too demanding to attempt without a deep connection to Christ."

{photo via pinterest}
As I was praying this morning, I remembered the sweet couple that lost their baby girl yesterday.  The family whose baby boy is struggling in the hospital and needs a heart transplant.  Sweet Rosalie who is still sleeping.  It really puts things into perspective for me.  Regardless of how badly my days go, I still have three sweet babies to tuck into bed, to bathe, to laugh with, and to discipline. I can wake up to three, beautiful, sweet (sometimes naughty) girls.  They need Jesus, but most of all they need to see a mommy who strives to be like Jesus.  I need to put good in, and good will flow out.  I become thankful....thankful for the great opportunity God has given me to be a mother.  Thankful for these hard times, where He teaches me that He is enough.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
II Corinthians 12:9

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's a BOY!!!!

We found out Friday afternoon that baby #4 is a BOY!  I'm still in a little bit of unbelief.  I mean, we had plans for a girl.  Her name would be Charlotte (we would call her Charlie), her hair would probably be red, and her room would be decorated in gold & coral.  :)  Everyone who knows me, knows I have always wanted boys.  God gave us three girls, and that is now my comfort zone.  I was sure #4 was a girl, but I am so elated that it's a boy!  I know that a mother/son relationship is so special and I can't wait to experience it!

Here's my sweet baby boy sucking his thumb.  He did this throughout the entire ultrasound.  When they turned on the 4D, he looked like a miniature Landon.  The twins were playing on the floor oblivious, but Brooke watched the entire time in awe of this little baby moving around the screen.  I can't wait to see their faces when they meet their baby brother.  

A few ways this pregnancy has been completely different:
*The cravings in the first trimester.  I didn't eat much, but when I did all I wanted to eat was meat, chips and biscuits and gravy.  I had to stop myself from driving to McDonalds everyday to get sausage and gravy biscuits.  I'm not a huge meat eater, so I'm thankful those cravings have ended!  
*I am not nearly as sick as with the other two pregnancies.  I'm so thankful as I have 3 girls to take care of!  I found out that the extreme pain I was having is my gull bladder.  If I am very careful what I eat, I can avoid the problems there.
*I felt the baby at 14 weeks.  That is SO early for me!  I love having the constant company though - it's always so reassuring to me to feel those little kicks and bumps!

Such a sweet little face!  I'm so thankful for this blessing that God has given us.  Every little milestone is still so exciting to me - I can actually enjoy them even more this time since I'm not in/out of the hospital and on bed rest!  Our family is complete with two very handsome bookends! I know he will be just like his daddy!

I also want to thank everyone for all your emails, congrats, posts on facebook and especially your PRAYERS. They are very much appreciated!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pregnancy Update (almost) 17 weeks!

Here's the latest "bump" photo.  The ruffles really help disguise my in-between belly.  I may/may not have worn that shirt 3 times last week.  Thursday will bring week 17 AND a Doctor's appointment.  I'm excited/anxious to see if Dr. Baab will be able to tell us the gender!  I'm hoping that baby will cooperate!  Brooke has officially decided that she wants a baby brother.  Of course, that could change tomorrow.  Either way, the girls are going to be the sweetest big sisters to this little one!

A few funny things....

Brooke keeps asking when my belly will get bigger.  She told me... "Are you sure there is a baby in there?  Because it doesn't look like it."  Oh honey - it will get bigger soon enough....

Sunday at church I started getting cramps/stomach pains.  I think a huge contributor was the fact that I stuffed myself into a pair of "normal" pants, and really should stop denying the fact that I need to wear maternity pants.  Sigh.

Sweet Lily, when she sees me sick or in pain, she asks me "Is your baby hurting?".  It's just the cutest thing.

A few not so funny things...

The last week has been a rough one for my physically.  Whenever I start to get discouraged, I try to remember that I've been worse.   I started feeling a lot of pressure/sharp pains/chest pains over the last couple days.  Monday was a very hard day for me, but I did NOT want to miss VBS.  I called my doctor, and they wanted me to come in to do labs the next morning, so I just kept trucking along.  The kids in our group at VBS have stolen my I forced myself to get to church.  We went to the church dinner, and as soon as we got to our station to receive our group, I started having trouble breathing.  I told Landon I had to go to the emergency room and make sure that everything was okay.  Thankfully, the hospital is just a mile away....I drove myself there so Landon could stay and work.  

They did an ultrasound first and thankfully baby was doing GREAT and bouncing around!!!
All the labs came back great as well, so I felt so silly thinking there was something seriously wrong.  Slightly dehydrated, but other than that everything looked great.  Better safe than sorry, right?  I know I need to slow down a little and take it easy.  

I have been so blessed this pregnancy.  I don't feel great, but like I said I have been so much worse.  In comparison, God has been so good to allow me to feel well enough to take care of my family!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lily & Lauren turn THREE!

These two turned THREE Monday.  I can still remember every detail the morning I met Lily and Lauren.  They were each their own little person, yet so much alike....

Lily was born first.  She was the smaller, more active twin.  She is still exactly the same...she will most definitely be our sporty girl.  She is shy, sensitive, soft spoken, sweet and loves to touch.  

Lauren came out a minute later.  She was always the twin I had to poke to get a response while she was in my belly.  She is still that way...pretty laid back most of the time.  She is a girly girl, and is Brooke's biggest fan.  She is sweet, sassy, loud, sensitive, dramatic and loves to give hugs.  

It's been such fun watching these two grow up together.  They are no longer babies, but now growing into little ladies.  I love to watch them interact with each other - there is such a special bond between them!  

I'm so thankful God chose me to be there Mom.  God has taught me so much through each one of my children.  These two have taught me how to laugh and enjoy these little years.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tiffany {Chloe's Story}

I first of all want to thank Tammy for posting my story on her blog. I’ve been meaning to post this on my own blog for the past couple of months, but time has just gotten away from me. Imagine that?!  
When Nate (my husband) and I talked about getting pregnant with our second baby, we were hoping to have our children close in age because we were (and still are) hoping that they become fast friends! Our two babies are just about 18 months apart. Our oldest, Eliana, turned 2 in March and Chloe (the sweet little baby this story is about) is now 9 months old.  
My pregnancy with Chloe went by fast and without a single hitch. I had more energy than I did with my first pregnancy, my belly didn’t get as big, I didn’t gain as much weight, and I was still able to stay super active and busy right up until the day before Chloe was born. I mean, I went to a college soccer game, Red Robin, and Starbucks two nights before Chloe made her way into this world. 
{our last picture as a family of 3}
Chloe ended up coming 10 days early…well, technically 3 days early since I was supposed to be getting induced a week before my due date. My actual due date was September 12th, and Chloe was born on Sunday, September 2, 2013. Nate is a soccer coach and he had games before and after my due date and there was no way was I going to have this baby while he was away on a trip, so we planned my induction.
We were actually at church when I started to feel contractions. They were no different from the other contractions that I had been feeling except I was having some back labor as well. Nate suggested that we stop by the hospital so I could get checked since we were already in town. I didn’t want to because I didn’t feel like staying the night in the hospital and then being sent home the next day, but we decided to go since we were in town. (We live about 40 minutes from the hospital.) We got to the hospital around noon and the nurse checked me as soon as we got there and I was dilated to 5 cm. She looked at me and said, “Honey, you’ve having this baby today.” I was completely shocked and caught off guard! I definitely didn’t think my contractions were actually putting me into labor, but they were! So long story short, my labor with Chloe was a walk in the park.  I feel almost bad saying that, but it’s true! I was already dilated to 7 cm and I was still feeling no real pain. It wasn’t until right after the Doctor came and broke my water and I started to feel some “real” contractions. They were quite uncomfortable, but I received the epidural about 10 minutes later and I was feeling good…REALLY good… Chloe was born less than an hour later. It took 3 pushes to get her out, and total pushing time was 5 minutes. And I got to watch it…it was absolutely amazing. Nothing can compare to watching your precious baby enter the world. It was so surreal and beautiful.                                        
{My first picture with Chloe}
Right off the bat, things with Chloe were a little scary. When it came time to nurse her for the first time, she did great and latched on right away, but then I noticed she stopped sucking. I looked down at her and noticed she was turning blue. Thankfully there was still a nurse in the room with us and she came right over, picked her up and started to suction out her mouth. Within a few seconds she was breathing again. This happened one more time about 20 minutes later, so the doctor decided to put her under the monitor to check and make sure there was nothing seriously wrong. It was from that moment that things with Chloe gradually went down hill. The pediatrician on call came back into our room about an hour later and told us that Chloe had picked up a virus in the birthing canal and that she needed to be on medication with an IV. This Doctor had told us that Chloe would be on meds for no more than 3 days and then we could go home. He then told us that she had to stay in the nursery, not in our room, but we could go in and see her/hold her anytime we wanted. They didn’t know why she had turned blue and started choking those two times, so they wanted to monitor that as well. Because of her being on the IV for the virus, and because they were unsure why she had started choking, they started giving her sugar water through her IV as well because they didn’t think she could handle my milk at that time. Those things were really hard for me to deal with. First, I couldn’t have my baby in the room with us, no one but Nate or I were able to hold her, and I couldn’t even nurse her. I wasn’t sure what God was teaching us, but I just kept praying that we would be able to go home soon! Well the next day, things definitely didn’t go as planned. There was a new pediatrician on call and right off the bat we were not set at ease when he walked in room, especially me. He came in and tried to explain to us (in not very clear English) that Chloe’s heart rate would drop to a low rate at times and that it could be a potential problem with her heart or it might not be. He wasn’t convincing either way. So now I’m thinking, “Ok, my baby picked up a virus, she’s on meds, I can’t nurse her, and now she might have a problem with her heart?? Lord, what’s going on?” Because Chloe was hooked up to the monitors to check her breathing (because of her turning blue) they also monitored her heart rate and that’s when they noticed that it would get really low at times and that caused some concern…but only with the doctor. My normal pediatrician with the girls came and checked on Chloe (even when it wasn’t her shift) and she assured me that we would be out in a couple of days because Chloe seemed well to her. Some babies are just born with a lower resting heartbeat, and once she’s done with the meds, she should be good to go. That was an encouragement. But those encouraging feelings didn’t last too long. The next morning (this is now Tuesday) The Doctor (I’ll just him Doctor T for our story) came back into the room and now informed us that Chloe was jaundiced and we’ll have to stay in the hospital to make sure her results from the blood test come back with a low enough number. And I was thinking, “Well that’s okay, because we’re already in the hospital and we have to stay here till at least tomorrow, so I’m glad they found it out now.” But that wasn’t all Doctor T had to tell us. He then informed us that when he was monitoring Chloe he was pretty sure he heard a murmur, so he told us that he would be running and EKG and an Echocardiogram to check on her heart. What a blow that was to me physically, mentally and spiritually. I didn’t know how much else I could handle. I didn’t want that Doctor coming into our room anymore, because it seemed like every time he came in he had more bad news to tell us. The one thing I was sort of holding on to was that she should be done with her meds by Wednesday, so hopefully we would be going home sometime that next day. Well Wednesday came and I was actually sitting in the nursery trying to nurse Chloe…that was one good thing that happened- I was actually able to start trying to nurse her because they had been giving her my breast milk by syringe since Tuesday and she had done really well with that….when Doctor T walked in and informed me that I wouldn’t be leaving till Thursday at the earliest because he upped the amount of time she needed to be on the meds, and he said we couldn’t leave until her heard the results from the EKG and Echocardiogram. Oh how I wanted to go home! It almost hurt thinking about having to stay in the hospital for another night, maybe two. Another thing that happened on Wednesday is that one of the nurses came in and told us that Chloe hadn’t passed her hearing test and that they would be trying again on Thursday. It was just one thing after another. I never questioned God’s goodness, but oh how I prayed that a miracle would happen, that Chloe would be found totally healthy and that we could leave the hospital and go home. Every time a doctor or nurse came into the room to talk to us, I felt almost emotionless because I was just waiting for the bad news to come, but as soon as they would leave I would break down crying. I felt so weak, so inadequate and I was so scared. I tried so hard not to cry because I didn’t want to let myself give in to that feeling of weakness in my mind, but there were times that I just absolutely couldn’t hold it in. A dear friend of mine, Jennifer Hotchkin texted me these verses and I clung to them. Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” And Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…”
{Chloe with her leads on, and marks from the mask from being under the lights for jaundice}
Chloe’s EKG and Echocardiogram came back normal, her jaundice went down enough for us to go home, she was done with her meds, but her heart rate was still a little low, which only caused concern from Dr. T who made us come home with an apnea monitor. This monitor had to be attached to Chloe with 2 leads and it was programmed to beep an alarm anytime her heart rate went above a certain number or dropped below a certain number. The alarm seriously sounded like a fire alarm, it was that loud and scared me half to death anytime it went off. It caused more panic for me when the alarm went off then when she wasn’t even hooked up to it and I couldn’t monitor her heart rate. After Chloe being hooked up to it for 1 day we decided to take her off the monitor. Neither one of us really thought that there was anything wrong with her heart, I think the Doctor couldn’t explain everything that went wrong with Chloe so he had to prescribe something. God gave us this baby and He could easily take her away from us whether or not she was hooked up to a monitor.
{Getting ready to go home!}
Chloe’s first week at home was great! And at her 2 week check up she was almost a pound over her birth weight! She was eating and gaining weight like a champ! But the day after she turned 2 weeks old things started to take a quick turn for the worst. She started crying. Chloe never really cried. She was the “good, quiet” baby in the nursery at the hospital. And it wasn’t just normal crying like she was hungry or had a dirty diaper. It was a non-stop crying. She started to not sleep either. I figured her nights and days were mixed up, but after a week of continual crying and not sleeping, I knew something was really wrong. Thankfully she had her 1 month appointment coming up and I explained everything to the doctor and she gave me the horrible news that Chloe had colic and most likely some form of acid reflux. My heart dropped, especially when she told me that colic usually peaks at 6 weeks and usually ends at 12 weeks. Chloe was only 4 weeks old! You mean to tell me that I have 8 more weeks of this?! I’m going to be honest. Those next 8 weeks were some of the hardest/darkest days I have EVER gone through. There were two weeks in particular...weeks 5 and 6…where Chloe was up most of the night screaming and there was nothing I could do. I tried to ignore it and sleep through it, which never worked, I tried to hold her and rock her- that didn’t work either. Nothing worked. She just cried and cried and cried. I can remember one specific night where I was standing next to our bed rocking a swaddled, screaming baby and I was bawling and pouring my heart out to God. I remember asking him why he even allowed me to be pregnant with her, why I had to go through such a hard first week with her in the hospital, while God would punish me with such an awful baby and the list goes on and on. The feelings I had towards Chloe were so selfish and almost un- Christian that it caused me to doubt my salvation, because how could a Christian really act like how I was acting. I was completely sleep-deprived, exhausted to a point where I was almost delusional at times and I felt like a completely failure as a mom and as a wife. I have never experienced a darker time in my life. I felt so alone and I truly believed that I was a failure at the one thing I believed God called me to be.
I am SO thankful for the love and grace of God. He never abandoned me. I was never alone. He was and always is right there beside me. He was with me during my almost textbook delivery, to my emotional week in the hospital, to the night where I questioned everything about who I was. God never stopped loving me and he knew that I can handle whatever trial He sends my way because He is with me and will help to guide me through it.
I am also beyond thankful for the love of my husband. He was a constant encouragement and rock during those hard times. I really don’t know what I would’ve done without him.
{Family Photo September 2013}
I am also very thankful for the gift of music. I was on my way to one of Eliana’s appointments in town (Taylor Ollila babysat Chloe. It was huge for me to get a break from her every once and a while) and I was listening to the local Christian radio station on our way into town and a song came on that absolutely hit me right where I was. I have never had a song speak to me the way that song did. I felt like God was with me and was giving me that song when I needed it most. I broke down and cried almost the whole way into town.
I’m going to end my story with the lyrics of the song.
Stronger: by Mandisa
Hey, heard you were up all night
Thinking about how your world ain't right
And you wonder if things will ever get better
And you're asking why is it always raining on you
When all you want is just a little good news
Instead of standing there stuck out in the weather

Oh, don't hang your head
It's gonna end
God's right there
Even if it's hard to see Him
I promise you that He still cares

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
And things can only get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger
Gonna make you stronger, stronger, stronger
Believe me, this is gonna make you Stronger

Try and do the best you can
Hold on and let Him hold your hand
And go on and fall into the arms of Jesus
Oh, lift your head it's gonna end
God's right there
Even when you just can't feel Him
I promise you that He still cares

'Cause if He started this work in your life
He will be faithful to complete it
If only you believe it
He knows how much it hurts
And I'm sure that He's gonna help you get through this

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
In time it's gonna get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger

Chloe was officially out of her colic stage right after she turned 3 months. It was like she was a completely different baby! Such a blessing.  Her jaundice completely went away and she has not any any problems with her heart even in the slightest. I am just so thankful to God for this sweet little baby he has given me to love and train. Life with Chloe has been far from perfect, I've definitely still had my ups and downs, but I'm thankful for a loving father who has blessed me with a loving, patient husband and two sweet little girls. I am blessed.