Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time I told you the news. I'm pregnant again! Due on or around July 23, they tell me. Just past 10 weeks along. And no, I'll just go ahead and pre-empt the inevitable question: WE ARE NOT FINDING OUT WHAT WE'RE HAVING.
We are so excited, and I'm quite ready to be out of my first trimester as this pregnancy has tested my endurance! While I was nauseous some with Brooklyn, it was nothing like I have been with this one. From the moment I wake up to the middle of the night, if there's not something little in my stomach, then my body is not happy. Yet, here's the catch 22, nothing and I do mean NOTHING sounds good! So I don't put something in my tummy and sure enough, I'm crazy nauseous. I haven't had any cravings, only aversions. To, as previously mentioned, everything. There are two things that sound good 24/7: Cheerios and Oranges. Ahh, the thought of a cold orange even now makes me happy.
Poor Kyle, I have NOT been my usual cooking self. In fact, I think I've wandered close to the stove maybe 3 times to cook a real meal. The other times, we've scrounged up bits and pieces or grabbed take-out. And don't even think about leftovers. Once I've had something, it cannot be had again. I wish I could, but I just can't. I'm hoping for a come-back during the second trimester.
The oddest thing...bright colors have the effect of smelly food. I bought these brightly colored plastic dishes from Ikea for Brooklyn. I can barely look at them without feeling queasy. It's as though they have a smell attached to them. I also have these brightly colored pillows. Same effect. I've been hiding them under blankets until I can look at them without wanting to run to the toilet. How interesting is that? I've heard of a condition where words and sounds bring on a complete sensory experience of taste and smell, and I believe I can comprehend what that is like.
Meanwhile, we saw an ultrasound of our little one a week before Christmas and saw two little arms and legs waving about and a little heart beating furiously. I have never been so relieved to see something in all my life. I welcome your prayers. This is such a period of trusting the Lord. We're excited, delighted and glad to have something exciting to look forward to during a long, hot summer! I'll keep you posted as things move along. Oh, I have the privilege of being pregnant along with my best friend Becky who is due about 2 weeks before me. Her son Gavin is just 6 weeks older than Brooklyn! This will be so much fun! I'm also able to share the daily bits of being pregnant with my dear friend Julia who's due a week ahead of me! Her daughter Lake is one of Brooklyn's best friends.
Kyle and I just returned from two days in Norfork with our dear friend, Lynnie, and her three precious cats: Clancy, Amelia and Moe. It was just about the most relaxing 2 days I've had in a long time. Lynn is blessed with the gift of hospitality, and just being in her presence invites one to unwind, rest and just be. She always has the greatest ideas for cooking and her creations never fail to astound me! This time, we made an authentic Italian dish for one night...bacon, eggs and toast for a late lunch the next day...she astounded us with a from scratch chicken-pot-pie the following night...banana splits...pancakes...fresh pots of hot tea...long walks along the White River. Brooklyn made friends with the cows across the street, mooing at them as they stared balefully back at her. We did encounter possibly the friskiest bunch of cows I have ever seen. As we walked past them, they ran as one group up to the fence where they stopped and just stared. When we began to walk again, they ran as one group away and then back to us at a point further down, something about the cold air stirring up their energy as I have never seen in cows. It made us laugh out loud!
And about Moe. A perfectly soft kitty with a white face and a black spot on his nose. He felt an immediate kinship with Brooklyn who returned the affection. They followed each other about, she calling to him and he immediately appearing. She rubbed his belly and he purred loudly. We were tempted to tuck him into our suitcases and claim him as our stowaway. We were so taken in by the friendliness that cats can display when they are nice cats. And as we walked into our own house this afternoon and were not so much greeted as ADMONISHED by our horrible mean cat, Luna, we yet again thought with fondness of Moe and wished he'd been ours.
Our Christmas Day was a blur of activity, as it usually is. We woke up and drove the 1.7 miles to my parent's house where the brothers were stirring from bed after a late night of watching movies and taking advantage of the next day off. My dad was tending to the turkey he was preparing for lunch. My mom was in bright spirits knowing that all her children would be gathered under one roof for the day. As 10:00 approached, Chad and Melissa trickled in from her family's Christmas, Zach and Anna arrived from Fort Smith, Lauren showed up, and my Grandma arrived in her standard dress, hose and heels with the fixings for her famous deviled eggs. Brooklyn moved among her uncles and aunts with the ease of a little hostess, showering them each with her radiant smiles and hugs. Jeremiah found a quiet corner to do his morning quiet time, refusing to be pulled out of his routine just cause it was Christmas morning.
As we all found our way into the upstairs living room, my Dad pulled out the BIG family Bible and read Luke 2 as we all mouthed along by memory. When the last words, "and Mary pondered all these things in her heart" faded into the air, our next ritual commenced: the singing of Silent Night - which is usually a challenge as most of us can't sing very high and it gets sketchy there for a minute. This year, my mom, the alto, started us out and everyone was able to hang in there. We then went around the circle and prayed, from youngest to oldest - Rachel, Jeremiah, Michael, Josh, Lauren, Zach, Anna, Chad, Melissa, My grandmother (she didn't pick up on the whole order thing), Kyle, Me, Mom and finally, Dad. Then, we all poured down the stairs like water down a chute, each to our stations in the living room.
As we man our appointed stations, my mom and dad start handing out gifts. I was pleasantly surprised this year to note that each of us was more interested in seeing how our siblings liked the gifts we got them than they even were in their own pile. It was a sign to me of our maturity and overall gratefulness. I was happy. As the paper flies and everyone's exclamations and shrieks of excitement fill the air, I pause to savor the moment. I love my family. I love the loudness, the overwhelming display of love and affection, the generosity we each showed to the other. I love that such a thing exists and that it belongs to me and my husband and little girl. I love being a part of such a huge organism of LOVE! It was a beautiful Christmas with my family.
I don't even mind that Kyle and I didn't make it back to our house until mid-afternoon to open our own presents and put Brooklyn down for her nap. And that her own presents weren't opened until even later. Truthfully, she still isn't into the opening of gifts all that much. She just loved the activity. As the day drew to a close, I felt full of the moment and contented beyond measure. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
We use our nativity scene to teach Brooklyn about the real meaning of Christmas. While we did read her Twas The Night Before Christmas (mostly because I have a Mary Engelbreit illustrated version which I love), we read her more the story of Christ's birth from Luke 2. I'm not going to waste much time trying to convince her of the reality of Santa Claus. I'm much more concerned with her understanding that we celebrate the birthday of the world's Savior - God's only SON - Jesus Christ. And let me tell you, 22 months of age is NOT too young to understand that.
But only sometimes and unfortunately, it never happens at my house, and it never lasts long. But sometimes, in the hills of northern Arkansas, one is just driving along and suddenly, there is snow. And it's worth stopping the car and capturing it because with all the warming of our globe, particularly in this part of the US, you just never know when you'll see it again. Thank you, God, for snow.
Since Brooklyn was born, Kyle has been on the prowl for an appropriately cool shirt that could proudly proclaim: PINK FLOYD. Well, such attire is harder to find than one would think, so my creative husband steps around any and all roadblocks to cool baby fashion and makes his own. Just another reason why I love this husband of mine so much. He is just dadgum awesome. And his creation for our Brooklyn could not have been more perfect. As you'll see, it brings out the rock star in her. And come on, admit it, there's a little rock star in all of us. If you find yourself disagreeing with me, well, maybe you're just not wearing the right clothing.
On Christmas Eve, Kyle and I dressed Brooklyn in her Christmas finery and drove across town to attend the 4:00 Christmas Eve service held by our church, Fellowship Bible Church. The place was packed by parents and their children, and we treasured the opportunity to praise the Lord and worship the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Somehow, the sounds of children being not perfectly behaved made the whole experience more perfect. I can imagine that the sounds of a stable where Mary gave birth to baby Jesus were far from serene. The lowing of cattle has the same kind of cadence as kids scuffling shoes and whispering loudly to their parents. Jesus was probably comforted by those sounds as an infant, and so I draw comfort from the sounds of those little gifts in my own moments.
When the afternoon sunlight streams through our french windows and casts patterns on our hardwood floors, warming the wood and my feet, I find myself wandering over to the piano to lose myself in the feeling of the keys beneath my fingers. Bailey has always loved it when I play the piano, and sometimes, I find her curled up on the couch, just snoozing.
One of my favorite things has been seeing Brooklyn develop a love for animals. Whether it's cats, fish, dogs, cows, horses, squirrels, you name it, the child has a fondness for it. She gets it naturally as Kyle and I both have HUGE soft spots when it comes to creatures of the four-legged variety. In particular, Brooklyn has developed a bond with my own special furry pal - Bailey. While we do have two dogs - a Golden Retriever and an English Pointer, and they are both wonderful in their unique ways - I am unequivocally partial to my Golden. Always have been, always will be. I grew up wanting a Golden and the moment I was on my own, I got one. Bailey is my second Golden and hopefully she'll be around forever cause I love her immeasurably. She is so tender with me (and everyone) and most heartwarmingly, with my little girl! Brooklyn loves to hug her, cuddle up next to her, kiss her soft ears and wet nose, pat her sturdy body and call her over to wherever she is! I love watching the two of them. Especially when Brooklyn offers the phone to Bailey and Bailey actually looks as though she's playing along!
One of the bright spots of our Christmas this year was a visit from Kyle's younger sister, Kara! She is currently a resident of Hollywood - living out there as a not-quite-starving actress/singer. I say this in jest cause we really are very proud of her, but she will tell you that the jobs are sporadic and it can make getting by quite interesting. This was her first time to our house and first time to meet Brooklyn, who just adored her aunt. She took every opportunity to crawl into Kara's lap, regardless of what Kara was doing. Brooklyn just wanted to be close. Hearing her wake up from her nap, chirping, "Where Kara go?" was so adorable. So, for a couple of days, Kara was just down the hall and we loved it. She was even brave enough to come to Chad and Melissa's Bohemian party where we all ate roast chicken off a tarp, plucked lettuce leaves off the head to assemble our own salads, oh, and ate with our fingers. It was an adventure of Dennis proportions! And Kara fit right in! My family loves her!!
We look forward to future visits when Hollywood gives her back to us for a couple of days. We love you and miss you, SnoFro! Oh, and Brooklyn loves her art station and her baby giraffe!
In the progression of our children's lives, there are very subtle moments that you miss if you don't pay extremely close attention. And to be honest, I'm not sure you don't miss them regardless of how hard you focus. In particular, when did my baby become a little girl? I certainly couldn't pinpoint it, not even close. I just know that one day recently, I looked at her and saw a little girl emerge out of my precious baby's body. Something in her mannerisms was older. Something in her look, her knowledge, her language, her understanding, her grasp of abstract concepts, her realization that she could solve a problem on her own. The sudden moment where she chose to pause before crawling up the stairs to reach instead, for the iron handrail that she could suddenly grasp with little effort. To see her tiny little legs bravely plant themselves one step up and up until she was at the top looking down at me with a satisfied grin on her lips. To see her cradle her baby doll and plant kisses all over its face, just like I do on her own sweet face. To see her conduct her stuffed animals as though she hears the songs unfurl in her imagination. To hear her say to a kitty cat that clawed at her pant legs, "Moe, don't do that!" It's amazing, but somehow, my itty bitty girl is no longer itty bitty. Oh, she'll always be my baby. I understand that now, but somehow, she's now my little girl as well.
This Christmas season, as a stay-at-home mom, I have really enjoyed just being here. Being still when I can enjoy the moment. Burrowing into my old, smushy, creaky couch with an off-white afghan made by my Grandma Gee who died before she could see me get pregnant and deliver my own baby girl on HER birthday. I have enjoyed popping in Christmas movies and hearing familiar plots unfold while I wrapped Christmas presents and tried to make sure I didn't miss a family member. Yes, we all still buy gifts for everyone. And yes, there are a bazillion and one of us. But somehow it still works and we still take great pleasure out of picking a gift for each other and - even more wonderfully - take even MORE pleasure out of seeing our brother or sister-in-law open the gift we specially picked out for them.
Kyle captured some moments where Brooklyn and I burrowed into the couch and covers and loved on each other. These are the moments to treasure. As Mary did in Luke 2, these are moments that I will save in my memory and ponder after they've passed.
Listen closely at the beginning of this clip. Brooklyn tells Cherokee (the howling puppy) to "Back up!" I love that she can actually say Cherokee! Quite impressive. She just makes me laugh. She loves to give kisses to Sonya, CJ, Cherokee and Isabelle. What can I say? She loves dogs, just like her mom and daddy. Although we don't go around plopping down on top of them.
We have completed yet another home project. This time, the second to last room has been painted. Well, that isn't counting the playroom upstairs... This is our true guest bedroom, not our other guest bedroom which is Brooklyn's future bedroom. And for the duration of our time on this street, the room has maintained its original, horrible neutral color of....masking tape. It has continued to torment me every time I enter the room. But I just couldn't nail down exactly what I wanted the room to be.
I love color. I can't live in a neutral place. Resell prospects be hanged! Houses are meant to be LIVED IN and I cannot live without color. I see no sense in keeping houses beige or grey or whatever just so people will be able to envision their own lives within the walls. My life is currently HAPPENING within these walls! It saddens me to realize that it isn't that people need a neutral pallet to envision their lives with their stuff because so many people don't paint once they move in! They keep it those neutral, sell-friendly colors. I realize this is many people's comfort zones, but it truly makes me crazy. I believe God created color to saturate our lives continually! From the changing colors of leaves on the trees, to the shades of color that wash the sky from minute to minute! So, when I keep painting or changing, I'm just following God's lead! Bring on the color!
This particular color was our attempt to capture the steely grey-blue color of the sky when a gigantic storm is blowing in. I love that sky. I love the sense of imminence...something is brewing...something is about to happen...yet here I am, cozy in my house, sheltered from whatever it brings.
And I think it's funky with the turquoise accents. It's not finished, but at least we're getting somewhere far far away from masking tape.
Finally, the afghan that I have slaved over for nigh onto a year has reached its end. The last stitch has been sewn...the pieces fitted side by side...and the single largest project ever created by my hand is finished. And not a moment too soon. As the weather turns chilly, I reach for this weighty throw and fling it over myself, immediately banishing the chill and finding myself in a place of utmost snuggliness. I welcome you to wander over to my house, climb onto the couch with me, snuggle up under the afghan and let's get cozy. There's no better place to be!
While in Texas, Kyle and I visited Ikea. Wow. What an experience! I was truly worn out by the time our feet walked out the exit. But we got what we came for. The MALM bed. A modern update for our bedroom. And the best part was that the boxes fit into the 4runner without needing to be strapped on top! Kyle was particularly relieved about this.
Kyle put the thing together with not a part to spare. We were duly impressed with the Swedish design, simplicity and affordability of their products. Go Ikea! Here is a before and after picture of our bedroom, and one, in-process, picture of the workings of said bed.
Friends are truly friends when they keep your secrets without question. When they offer you the stores of their cold medicine and don't even make fun of you cause your n's sound like b's. Friends are truly friends when they let you fall comatose onto your guest bed for hours when you just feel miserable and need to rest. Friends are truly friends when you discuss the details of breastfeeding and sore nipples and a good latch without batting an eye. Friends are truly friends when you can honestly say to each other, leftovers really do sound better to me than going out. And you both mean it. Friends are truly friends when you can strip the sheets together and know how to work each other's washing machines. Real friends are nitty gritty and comfortable like a pair of warm socks on cold hardwood floors.
Kyle and I have such friends in Lewisville, Texas and we were honored to spend the weekend after Thanksgiving with them. I had the worst cold I've ever had in my life. They were so gracious and caring and pretended not to notice that I was so fuzzy-headed for at least 24 hours of my visit. Or blowing my nose like a foghorn every 2 seconds. Their many huskies accepted our presence with great aplomb, including that of Brooklyn, who can wear out a dog.
We were honored to be present at the baptism of their little Jonathan David, who is our godchild. Brooklyn continues to call out, "I love you, Jonathan!" They held hands over the sides of their carseats.
In the words of Larry the Cucumber, "a Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart...I'm glad for what I have, that's an easy way to start."
My heart is truly happy because I am truly thankful for the Lord's many blessings to us. This year, Kyle and I spent Thanksgiving Day with his parents and his grandmother, Alice. It was a day of firsts for us. The first time we hosted Thanksgiving at our house...a monumental thing! The first time I made dressing on my own! The first time I got to use my Thanksgiving china! The first time I shared a kitchen with my mother-in-law. It was truly a blessing for Kyle and me, and we do count our blessings with much humility and gratefulness.
May Thanksgiving Day be so much more to you than just an excuse to eat turkey and watch football and fall asleep with a full belly on your couch. May you ponder the little things, and just plain be glad for what you have.
In a house like this one, you have to take your time putting all the pieces together. If for no other reason than to minimize the number of holes you put in the wall! Our upstairs hall has been relatively bare for almost 2 years - by our choice. We are very deliberate about what hangs on our walls. No random space filling for us. We finally got some of our favorite finds framed and have begun our wall collage. Here's what we have so far...
And here is one of our inspirations! Well, you gotta start somewhere...
Hey there. I'm Ashley - wife of Kyle, mother of 5: Brooklyn, August, Dorien, Wyeth and Wilder. New residents of Chicago, my favorite city in the world. We live in an old 1893 home that you'll hear all about as we fix it up and make it home. We are Christ followers, home-schoolers, adventure seekers, fun lovers, DIYers, creative souls and this blog is about our lives.