Celebrating today and looking back

A year ago today I had one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life. I had an awesome homebirth. It was what I needed to heal from some less than ideal birth experiences. I still say that it totally rocked! For those who haven’t heard or read the story, I’ve posted it below the pictures. 
Titus has been such a blessing to our family. He is laid back, happy and very tolerant of his brothers. I have loved snuggling him, holding him and watching him do the things that babies do. After the birth of each child, Kerry and I look at eachother and say “we’ve forgotten how fun this is!” (And yes we say that even when they’re 20 months apart like Zeke and Titus are). 
I love his perpetual mohawk and his joyful nature. It’s been delightful the last few weeks to hear him talk and walk more. I look back at the day he was born and am so thankful for the prayers God answered that day. We continually praise Him for the blessings He’s given us and His provision. We are thankful that my mom was able to be here for his birth, we are thankful that God allowed Titus to be born at home (something we prayed for daily from the day we found out we were pregnant)  and so thankful that we have been blessed with 4 happy healthy boys. 
Below are a couple pictures from a year ago and some from our party at home tonight. 

The 3 big boys on 8/26/2010
They were amazingly chipper and happy for being up so late the night before. Both Gabe and Otto stayed up until about 2am to watch Titus get checked over by our midwife. Otto couldn’t keep his hands off of his baby brother. We watched the video recently and could hear ourselves asking him to move because his head or his hand was in the way of trying to do the assessment. Zeke was the only one that night who got a good night sleep. 

The next morning our birth photographer came to take pictures of our new little addition. He seems so little looking back. We loved getting to know all of his little features as a family. There is just something about a newborn baby that begs to be touched, held, kissed and loved. 
His first birthday cake. 
August 26, 2011
Do you know how hard it is to get a 1 year old to pose for a picture on Sunday morning?
When we first started singing to him and showing him the cake he wasn’t sure what to think about all the commotion. He was delighted however when the cake moved closer and he could get a good handful. 

Yellow + Blue = Green. 
He had a delightful time eating cake and ice cream!
BIRTH STORY (this is the story I posted a few days after Titus was born to Facebook)
We have been so blessed with the addition of Titus this past week! I’ve had several people send me messages asking if his homebirth was “on purpose” so I thought I’d write an abbreviated version of our birth story. In short…yes his homebirth was on purpose and it was awesome!
His birth story begins kind of with Gabe’s almost 8 years ago. I had a c-section with him after a failed induction at 37 weeks. With Otto I had a repeat c-section and when it was time for me to have Zeke, my doctor who had initially been VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean) friendly changed his mind and threatened to drop me from his practice. I felt very backed into a corner and consented to my 3rd c-section.
When I became pregnant with Titus, I wanted a different outcome and began researching my options and the current research regarding having a 4th c-section to having a VBAMC (VBAmultipleC). The research is limited, but what there is shows that even VBAMC are relatively safe and the risk of uterine rupture (which is the big fear with VBAC) is still less than 1-2%. The current culture in the hospital is not VBAC friendly even after 1 c/s and is definitely not friendly after 2 or more.  So I began researching a homebirth with a midwife, discussing options and research with Kerry and covering each decision with lots of prayer. I would encourage any woman to do her research and pray before making her birth choices. There is a lot out there.
We found a midwife willing to take me as a client, who was also a believer, and began our journey. My pregnancy, like all of them, was uneventful and pretty normal. As part of my care, I saw a chiropractor once a month to help align my pelvis and spine and help position baby correctly. One of the reasons I had a c/s with Gabe was because he was malpositioned, so I wanted to avoid that if at all possible.
We prayed regularly as a family for God to honor our desire to have more children (something that would be really frowned upon after having 4-5 c/s) and our desire for a homebirth. Every time fear would creep in, we’d pray and turn it over to God. He has answered so many prayers along the way!
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to get nervous that my body wouldn’t know what to do. It had never been asked to actually “get a baby out”. I was wondering if it would know how to go into labor, how to birth a baby, and would I be strong enough to do it?
The day after my due date I started having a few contractions, but they weren’t terribly uncomfortable or regular, although they felt different from the contractions I’d been having for weeks. We spent the day running errands, I made a quick visit to the chiropractor (just in case this was really it) and napped in the afternoon. My contractions kept coming, but were still irregular and relatively comfortable. I called our midwife a couple of times during the day to update her, but felt like it was going to be a long evening/night if this was the real thing.
That evening about 7pm or so we took a mile(ish) walk around our neighborhood. My contractions were still irregular, but I had to stop a couple of times to let them pass. I was still able to talk through them. Being a L&D nurse, I really wasn’t sure this was going to be it or that it would be any time soon, because nothing was textbook. 🙂
I decided to rest and just hang out that evening and talked to our doula and photographer about 10pm. I talked to her through a contraction and told her I wasn’t sure I’d need her yet, but she could come this way just so she’d be here when I did. Mom and I set up the air mattress in our spare room because I was sure they (the doula) would be sleeping here. I also called the midwife and told her I was still doing fine and I’d have Kerry call when we needed her, but not to worry I thought it was going to be a while still.
I laid down on the couch to get some rest, and had one really big contraction that was quite uncomfortable. But the next couple were manageable again. My water broke about 10:30 and that’s when things got “fun”. Kerry called the midwife to let her know and she said she’d head down. Kerry and I came upstairs to fill the pool (we had set up a little pool in our bedroom for me to labor in) and my contractions started coming much much faster and stronger. Mom and the big boys (Zeke was asleep) were downstairs watching a movie and had no idea things had really picked up.
I spent about 30 minutes in the pool and then walked to the bathroom. Once I was there my contractions were so intense and my mind was racing. Kerry says I was really pretty calm, but in my mind I was going nuts. At one point I told Kerry “I’m hysterical….I can’t be hysterical”. He was so good at keeping me calm and focused. He wasn’t (at least he didn’t act like it) scared or panicked at all. About 10:15 I felt my body pushing and I couldn’t stop. In my head I was sure I wasn’t ready to push and was worried I was going to do something that would make my labor go longer.
At that point, Kerry took the cell phone to mom and asked her to call our midwife to let her know I felt like pushing and to hurry. 🙂 The midwife told me to go ahead and push if I needed to and that she was about 15 minutes away. Mom and Kerry stayed in the bathroom with me and the boys kept watching their movie. Kerry suggested I move to the pool again, because he thought I would be more comfortable and it would be easier to birth there. I made it about two steps before I said “I can’t” and kneeled on the floor.
The next thing I really remember was telling mom and Kerry “there is his head” and to “check for a nuchal cord” (a cord around the neck). He had a loose one that we could easily slip over and the rest of him was born. I was able to put him right on my chest and we covered him with towels  and dried him off, he was pink right away. I think I kept saying “I did it! I did it!” Kerry was so excited, but still very calm and had the presence of mind to grab the camera and take a few pictures.
He asked the big boys if they wanted to come see their brother and they both ran upstairs. Gabe (***note we later found out that Gabe handed the camera off to Otto) took the camera and took pictures, and he did such a good job! About 10 minutes after he was born our midwife came in. The apprentice midwife came about 10 minutes after that. Titus James was born at 11:32pm on 8/26/10. He was direct OP (which means facing up instead of down, the same position Gabe was in), but I truly think prayer, positioning and the care I received made all the difference. He weighed 7lbs 11oz (my second biggest baby) and was 19 3/4 inches long. The rest of the story is pretty “routine” for postpartum, but it just all happened at home which was awesome!
I didn’t really think I would go that quickly in labor, especially since I hadn’t done it before. I was completely surprised by the whole experience, but it was exactly what we needed.
I fully believe in birth choices. I think women should be able to choose when, where and how to give birth. By in large, those choices are being taken away for many reasons. If a woman wants to birth in a hospital, home or birthing center…let her. If she wants to VBAC or schedule a repeat c/s…let her. I often heard after my c/s that what really mattered was a “healthy mom and healthy baby” which is true…but that health also includes mental health. For some women it is mentally and physically the best choice to have another c/s, for others it is the option to have a VBAC.
For me, this time and every time from now on (Lord willing), homebirth will be my choice. I pass no judgement on whomever chooses something different for their birth. It is important that the risks vs benefits are considered for each option and in each case. And for each woman make the decision that is right for her, her family and her baby.
Each birth and each child is special and a blessing however they co
me. This birth for me though, has been incredibly healing, empowering and faith building. God is good and we are so thankful for His blessings and His faithfulness. I want to add too, how incredibly important it was for me to know that others were praying for me. My midwife, my doula, our families and friends. I believe God honored those prayers and they brought me so much peace and confidence throughout this whole process. He has blessed us many times over!
Praising Him,

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Somewhere in the last 2 weeks I had a birthday. It wasn’t particularly eventful or really that big of a deal. In fact, most people seem to think it’s a much bigger deal that I do. When I was a kid I used to really look forward to birthdays, I think most of us did. I always secretly hoped for that big present that I really wanted and usually got clothes instead. (A much more practical gift).

As I uncelebrated by birthday a couple weeks ago, there was still part of me hoping for that big surprise, that big shebang. But there was also part of me that felt like it was no big deal. It’s just another day. I don’t even share a birthday with anyone really famous. Except for a hockey player here and there and a spelling bee champ!
Turning 30 wasn’t this big earth shattering thing for me. In fact, I think the thing that disappoints me the most about turning 30 is the lack of “shock” people will express when they find out that I have 4 children and a master’s degree. I’ve always kind of liked that look of “wow I thought you were so much older” when people found out how old we were. Now I expect the reaction of “yep…that’s about right”.
And really what bothers me more than anything about turning 30 isn’t how old I am, but how old all the little kids from my past have become. I still feel fairly young to be honest. Not nearly old enough to remember holding cousins, who graduated from highschool this year, when they were just a few hours old. Or to have one of the girls I was a classroom aid for in highschool turn 21 and have 2 babies. Seriously. That’s what bothers me the most. They all have gotten so much older and I still feel so very much the same. I’d like to think it’s my eternal optimism that keeps me “young at heart” (how many cliche’s can we fit in one sentence?). But really…
My views and beliefs have changed and I’d like to think of myself as more mature in my thinking than I was when I was 20, but I don’t feel any older. I feel like the same old me, in a slightly more “used” version. 🙂 Maybe used isn’t the right word…but neither is older model. It’s just…me at 30 instead of 20. Big deal.
I’m still bummed about losing the shock value (I have always liked to keep folks on their toes). But I guess that’s gotta go sometime. I guess I’ll have to settle for the “shock” I get from my kiddos when they say “mom…you’re 30?!? That’s old!!!”


I feel bad…I’ve neglected this blog for the last while. I have been so busy getting things ready for this upcoming fall semester. I am teaching full time for PCC for this fall and am on overload for this semester. So lots to do.

We also started our homeschool work with the boys this last week. It always takes us a few weeks to find our rhythm and routine. We’re finding it so again this fall. It makes me seriously consider schooling year round so that we don’t have this huge adjustment every fall. Our curriculum is definitely more in-depth this year (as it should be) but we may end up cutting stuff out or rearranging our schedule a bit to make it a little less stressful during the day. The boys are doing well though.
I’ve also been putting off another “Leave and Cleave” post. I am working on a post (well several) about respect and why it’s so important to our husbands. I want to get it right, and with posts like that I usually like to have Kerry proof them to make sure I’m on the right track. It’s just taking me longer than usual. But I promise they’re coming…hopefully the first one next week (if not this weekend sometime).
So those are my excuses. I’ll be sure to pick up the postings. 🙂 I need my writing outlet probably more than I’d like to admit.


I guess it’s officially fall when all the kids go back to school. The funny thing about it is that it doesn’t really feel like fall. And while we’re “officially” starting school this week, the kids never really stop learning and we never really stop doing school.

We view homeschooling as not just an opportunity to educate our kids in the “traditional” subjects, but we see it as a time for discipleship and training. Our priority with our kids and our “homeschool” isn’t the educational aspect of it at all really. It’s about bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
So many people think that because we homeschool we have genius kids. While *we* certainly think so…we’re okay if they’re average too. We want them to succeed in academics, but we feel that it is a biblical mandate for Christians to educate their children at home. And not just teach them how to read and write, but also how to live for Christ and what it means to be a follower of God.
So as school starts this fall…it gives us a great opportunity to review how we’re teaching the basics, but it also gives us a chance to remind ourselves and others of the importance of the discipleship that takes place in the home during “school”.

First few days at camp!

Well here we are at camp. Here are a few photos of the last couple of days. We’ll try to post more as the week continues. We’re enjoying it! Otto has made several new friends with the families who are here for the week. And praise the Lord there have been no major emergencies thus far. Keep praying everyone stays relatively healthy and we have an uneventful week healthwise at camp. 🙂

This is the Putt Putt course. It’s right across from the nurses cabin where we are staying. Otto and Kerry have spent a lot of time over here.

Looking up the road towards the nurses cabin

Side view nurses cabin

Otto, Zeke and Isaac (a new friend) building their own campsite complete with a fire pit, teepee and mouse roasting sticks. They’re pretending to be survivor man.

Mom and Zeke on a walk. See how dirty you get at camp?

Titus has spent a lot of time in the backpack or my wrap. He really does seem to enjoy it though.

Kerry carries.

This is the lake. There is a zip line that goes across one end. Kerry and Otto went fishing yesterday and kayacking today.

We ate snacks. 🙂

Otto and Dad. Kerry is showing Otto how to maneuver the kayak.

Headed back to shore…Otto wants to drive by himself.

Solo Otto. He was actually pretty good at this. It takes a lot of muscle to make this thing move and Otto did pretty well. Gabe went earlier with his cabin and Kerry watched. He said Gabe was pretty good at it. Maybe our new family sport will be kayaking?

Zeke wanted to try too. He got most upset when he couldn’t hold the paddle.

It’s not white water, but they sure had fun! There is lots to do and explore here. We haven’t done much hiking, but plan to maybe later this week. We’ve been joining the campers at chapel each night around the camp fire. Otto and I sat in front of the cabin this week an imagined a big blue whale swimming through the two mountain peaks during the flood. God’s creation is amazing!!

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We are off to camp tomorrow! I’m so excited! I didn’t go to camp as a kid so I really don’t have a lot to go on here, but it sounds like a lot of fun. I am going to be the camp nurse (fun!) and Gabe is going as a camper. Kerry and the 3 little guys get to come along for the ride! Gabe is a little nervous I think. Otto is too young to participate this year so he gets to hang with dad.

We’ll see Gabe throughout the week which will be nice and probably a good transition. Here is where we’re headed. Gabe will be going to the TB adventure camp for 3rd to 6th graders.

Wanna hear the best part? I’m told there is no cell phone access and only intermittent internet access. Yes!! I actually get a week off. Sort of. I do have plenty to do to get ready for school in a couple weeks so I will be kind of working, but hopefully with some break time in there too. 🙂

I’ll be sure to post pictures and updates as we have time!

Household organization — The kid stuff

Yesterday I outlined what I do each day and how I organized my chores and plans. I take a similar approach to setting out what the boys do each day. I first wrote out what I wanted them to do each morning between breakfast and lunch, lunch and supper and supper and bedtime. I tried to alternate the completion of some tasks like loading and unloading the dishwasher . There are some tasks that each boy does everyday. I want them to master a task before they move on or change. You can view their task lists here. I printed them, covered them with contact paper and have them check off each task as they complete it. I ask them to have each routine completed by a specific time. So morning chores are done by 11:00 so that I can check their chores before lunch. Afternoon chores are done by 4pm.

We do pay the boys twice a day for their “work” but we also expect them to contribute without pay when asked. We pay them 50 cents for their morning routine and 50 cents for their afternoon routine (Zeke gets 25 cents). However, if chores aren’t complete by the designated time or not done well, if I have to ask or remind more than once, or if there is an unusual amount of arguing, fighting or foul attitude I take off 25 cents. I try to incorporate Zeke into many of the chores during the day so that he is learning alongside the big boys and still feels “useful”. He really gets a charge out of carrying dirty laundry to the back porch, setting napkins on the table and emptying the dishwasher. In fact, he almost empties the dishwasher almost all by himself each morning.
I want to say a couple things about having kiddos doing chores.
1. Work alongside them. Let them see you working too. Let them see and know that many hands make light work. And that they have an integral part in making your family run smoothly. It is part of being a family. We all must work together so we can all play together.
2. Train, train, train. Training children is hard work. Gabe has been sweeping the floor for the last year, yet I found myself re-training him this last week about how to properly sweep the floor. It takes time. In general the steps we follow when training for a new chore are as follows…
a. Tell them what you expect
b. Show them what you expect
c. Do it with them
d. Supervise their practice
e. Independent practice (with routine checks and then move to intermittent/spot checks).
And then train again if needed. Sometimes you need to write out the steps or take it step by step and help them master a step first before moving on to the next step.
There are some things that I didn’t include on our daily expectation sheets, but that we still expect. Things like clearing their dishes from the table after meals etc.
I also have a similar system for their lesson plans and school work. It very similar to what Amy talks about here (at one of my favorite blogs). 🙂
So far this system is working well for us. The boys know what is expected of them and are accountable for making sure it is complete by the “due time” (there is a little bit of give if I see they’ve been working on it and are almost done). It saves me from having to run around and chase them to make sure everything is getting done. I have 2 scheduled check points (11 and 4) to make sure daily chores are getting done. I have a schedule for getting bigger projects done each month and I don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work there is. I have found after going through a couple cycles of this that the projects aren’t as big and they are taking less time to get complete.
Hope it helps! 🙂