Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jack's Birth Story


I write this primarily for myself, but also for my few friends who are really into natural birth and those sort of things. With that in mind, this is really long. I read Eden’s birth story shortly before I gave birth to Jack and it was wonderful to reread everything and be reminded of many things. Because of that, I’m writing down even more details for this birth.

Somewhere along the way, toward the end of the pregnancy, I convinced myself that this baby might come a little early. I think this was for a few reasons: it was my second baby; my painful physical symptoms were much worse this time and I just couldn't imagine how I could go late with them and endure; lastly, Adam’s family was coming for Thanksgiving and I couldn't bear the thought of them coming here, when I was already past due, but not getting to meet the baby for another 3 months (when we would see them again). With Eden, I totally expected to be late, but with this one, I partly expected this baby to come at 39 weeks, which was naive on my part. It only made each day that passed very disappointing and discouraging.
             Also, I had few separate days where I thought I was going into labor, but I never actually did, so that toyed with my mind. At 38 weeks, I had an entire half-day of irregular contractions anytime I moved, and cramping along with it. Then at 39 weeks and 3 days, I had the same thing but in addition, I felt like the baby was so low it was going to drop out. Then at 40 weeks and 3 days, my midwife "checked me" (for the first time) and I was 2 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and there was a dot of blood. I knew those things did not mean anything at all about when I would go into labor, but for the rest of the day, I had "bloody show," and THAT can mean labor is imminent, so that deceived me again! Then, at 40 weeks and 4 days, it was a full moon, which doesn't mean a whole lot to me, but I thought it COULD do something. All it did was give me lots of cramps throughout the night, but no baby. When the baby didn't come on a full moon, when I was overdue, I gave up any hope of expectation. I was just going to have to find a way to endure the pains and increasing discomfort for another week or two....

40 weeks

             I enjoyed Thanksgiving with Adam’s family with no newborn, but that weekend I started contemplating the idea of taking castor oil. I did some research and talked to my midwife, and it seemed that if I just took a little, I should be fine, but if my body was not ready for labor, it wouldn't work.
          Sunday morning, November 29th, I woke up with all my usual painful symptoms, plus a headache and nausea. I was done! Also, Adam’s parents were going to leave town that day.

So at 3:30 in the afternoon, I took 2.5 tablespoons of castor oil in a smoothie.

[Effects of castor oil:
I did not really have crazy cramps and "bowel" symptoms. I had to "use the bathroom" 3 times before labor, and then twice during labor. Though gross and inconvenient during labor, it didn't bother me much because I had a lot worse things going on! So yes, it cleared me out, but it also probably helped make labor faster, which is always nice. And it had the intended effect of putting me into labor!]

             I attended church that evening, and for the majority of the service, my stomach/uterus felt hard, and I was having the same contractions I'd been having for weeks, only they were more frequent. I came home and ate a little something at 6:30, then we decorated part of the Christmas tree and hung out with the family. I felt things happening, but didn't know if it was the same symptoms I had been feeling for so long, possibly just castor oil symptoms, or actual labor beginning.

             At 8:00, the crampy contractions got more intense, and by 8:30, I had to stop what I was doing to breath through some of them. I put Eden to bed then went to lay down and talk to Adam. I told him I thought this was it, but wasn't sure when to call my midwife, Toni. The next moment, I had a very strong contraction that assured me it was time to call her, then felt a "pop" and a gush of liquid. My water broke! Time to move! It was 9:35pm.             

I rolled off the bed, called Toni, told Adam to move Eden upstairs, get the pool set up, and get Jessica in here so she could get ready to take pictures/video.
             Things got intense fast, so it's hard to remember... I know I labored on the ground on top of the tarp that was covering the bedroom floor for a while. Moving sounded awful. Plus I had lots of stuff coming out of me, and didn't want to get on my bed till they had covered it.

             Toni and her assistants got there around 10:30. I was 9cm. I got in the pool at one point and that felt great. I had to get out a couple times to "use the bathroom" and also because I was feeling the baby kicking. At one point I said, "Why is he kicking me?? Isn't he supposed to be coming out??" Toni wondered if he was posterior, especially because one kick was really high up and the kicks were right on top, where you could see them. So she told me to try getting on my hands and knees. This felt awful during contractions. I would simply collapse. So she had me do it in the bed with pillows under me so that if I collapsed, I would somewhat stay in that position.

             Around 11:40, I felt him move down through the birth canal. It was the most painful contraction yet. I was laying on my side in bed and Toni told me to keep my legs open. That was too difficult, so Cheryl, the assistant, held my leg up until Adam could take over. I definitely screamed out at this point and knew the worst was about to come. There were a couple times during labor that I would think about what it felt like to push Eden out and I said to Adam, "I don't want to have to push" or "I'm REALLY not looking forward to pushing."

             It is such a strange sensation to feel the urge to push, knowing that it means I'm going to see my baby SO soon and all of this will be over, yet knowing that I'm about to enter the most concentrated physically painful portion of my life. Bittersweet, to say the least.

             They helped me get back into the pool, and within a few minutes, Toni was asking me if the baby was ready to come out: "Do you need to push?" All I could do was nod, yes. One part of the video that made me laugh out loud was here: I felt the sensation to push and I started to scream but then I caught myself, literally grabbed my scream with my mouth, put my head down, and turned it into a deep, animalistic moan, and used that energy to push. And I pretty much kept it that way the rest of the pushing. It was funny to watch, but I was very proud of myself because one of my goals was to not scream as much during pushing, and instead use that energy to push the baby out. I knew this would be difficult, because with Eden I did not feel like I had a choice about the screaming--it just flew out of me.

             I'm not sure exactly how many pushes I did but it only took 10 minutes (half that of Eden's). When he was crowning, they couldn't pick up his heartbeat on the monitor. Then I pushed half his head out....and had to sit like that for several minutes while I waited for another contraction. Ring of fire!

        At one point, I was still making a lot of noise, so Toni encouraged me to push that energy into the baby. She said, "Take a deep breath. Chin to chest. And bear down." I needed her to break it down and tell me exactly what to do like that. So I did that, made much less noise, and was more effective.
They still couldn't find the heartbeat, so they told me that if I didn't push him out on the next contraction, I would need to get out of the pool. Ha! With half a head hanging out of me?? Well you can imagine what happened next. I pushed that baby out! I just kept pushing with everything inside me, and did not let up until he was out.

             When I first saw him as she was putting him on my chest, I thought, "Oh, hello, baby boy! That better be a boy because it totally looks like one!" It was wonderful to be so much more alert and aware with this baby. I held him and immediately started talking to him and felt so much more in control. I knew what to do with this baby on me. I tried to lift up his leg and see what he was pretty quickly this time! But I seem to have short umbilical cords, so it was difficult to find. A couple minutes later, we discovered he was a boy! It was a wonderful surprise, but not AS shocking as with Eden. I’m not totally sure why. Perhaps because he was the second?



           I tried to nurse him right away. We cut the cord then got me to the bed to deliver the placenta, which came out pretty quickly and without much work, thankfully. I was able to walk to the bathroom and shower not too long after he was born, which was NOT the case with Eden. I was completely coherent and everything was just so great this time! Everyone was gone and it was all wrapped up by 2:00am. So quick! I don’t know what its like to birth at the hospital, but I do know that I loved being at home, staying in my bed, and not having to go anywhere. It was so convenient. 

            Another thing that was different this time around was my connection with Adam. With Eden’s labor I definitely needed him and he was so very helpful, but this time, I felt my need for him more. I didn’t need for him to do or say anything in particular, I just needed him with me. He did a ton of practical stuff like get the pool completely set up and hold my body up when I couldn’t hold myself. But having him sit next to me and hold my hand was just as important to me as that “practical” stuff. I am incredibly thankful for him as my husband, my birth coach, and the father to my children. 

            As with Eden’s labor and delivery, I am so thankful for my birth team! Toni is a wonderful midwife who handles everything with patience, peace, and discernment. She had an opportunity to guide me more through more labor this time because she was there for more of the labor. I’m grateful for that. Both of the assistants, Cheryl and Karen, were extremely helpful. Jessica, my sister-in-law who lives with us, helped Adam fill up the pool, was in charge of videos and photos, and did various other helpful things. When we told her I was in labor, she jumped in and seemed to know exactly what to do—like she was a pro at this! I’m beyond grateful to have everything documented. It is a treasure to look back on the births of my children and remember things that I never would have remembered without it being documented. I am incredibly thankful for her. And of course, Adam was obviously indispensable and wonderful! Adam’s parents were here and were helping to warm water on the stove, making my "labor-aid," and I’m sure were helping in ways I do not even know! My mom came over towards the end of labor and was able to come in the room right as I was pushing Jack out. With arms ready, she was the first one to get to hold him after I held him in the pool.

            Jack was born at 11:55pm on November 29th. He weighed 7 lb 2 oz and was 19 ¾ inches long. It took us (Adam) 36 hours or so to decide on his name, which we anticipated because we have a hard time with boy names! I am still in awe of how smooth and quick everything went. I do not know if it could have gone any better! The Lord has been so very good to us and words can’t express how overwhelmed and grateful I feel to have a perfectly healthy and beautiful little girl and baby boy. Giving birth to a baby boy on the first Sunday of Advent drew me into the Christmas story in a new way this year. God came into the world as a helpless baby boy  and we had our very own baby boy during this season of remembrance. 

 Jessica and her dad boiling water

Toni and her assistants 
 Eden wanted to change his diaper right when she met him

 First meeting: hi-five, brother!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eden's Birth Story

The long story is very long and not for the faint of heart. Read whichever you desire, at your own risk.
The short story:
My water broke around 11:45pm on September 3rd along with mild contractions. Contractions increased and around 3:30am they had become very intense and close together and I needed Adam massaging my lower back and working with me the rest of the time. I took a bath and that helped relieve some pain, but I didn’t stay in for too long. Toni got here at 5:45 and I was at 8cm! We were shocked and so happy! Adam and Jessica quickly filled the birth-pool, just in time. I began pushing around 6:35, in the pool. That sensation was quite intense and I didn’t know what to do with it. I only pushed for 24 minutes, though! Eden was born at 7:03 am. I had quite a rough recovery because I had some stomach issues after delivery but became more stable by the evening. 

The long, detailed story:

      I was 40 weeks and 3 days when labor started, so she is technically 4 days late. I had not had any signs of labor. I had had Braxton Hicks since the end of the 2nd trimester, so I was very used to that. Nothing painful, just uncomfortable, and mainly just when I was active. I had prepared myself to be late so the impatience did not start setting in until 40 weeks, so I wasn't too bad yet! But I had been trying different ideas to induce for a few days.

      On September 3rd, at 11:45 pm, I had just lain down in bed and was doing nipple stimulation when I felt a little "gush." I went to the bathroom and it looked like it was just the primrose oil that I’ve been putting in nightly. But then I stood up and a little more gushed out. This time it was pink.
     I called Toni, my midwife, and told her what happened. She said it could be my water or it could be my cervix ripening and a little bloody show. She said that if it keeps gushing as I move around, then it is probably my water. She said the most important thing right now is for me to try and sleep.  She also said to take the antibiotic I had (because at one point in pregnancy I had tested positive for Strep B and the protocol is to take antibiotics if your labor begins with water breaking). I REALLY did not want to take an antibiotic so I didn’t do it right away. I wanted to be positive it was my water and just feel more peace about it.
      Since the time I had been doing the nipple stimulation, I had mild contractions. Those continued and were spread out. Adam went to sleep and I tried to as well but it always takes me a long time to go to sleep, even when I’m not having contractions and my water hadn’t just broken. The water continued to gush out a little at a time, so I became convinced this was really happening. The contractions continued to get closer together and more intense over the next few hours. 
These photos are in no particular order and they do not go along chronologically with the story. We only got photos and videos of second stage labor/the pushing stage, because it happened so fast!
Around 2:30am I walked around the house to find something to do, since I was not able to sleep. Walking made the contractions worse and I ended up laying on the ground for a couple of contractions. I went straight back to bed after that and around 3:00 they had become pretty intense. I had to really focus on relaxing and breathing.

My deep breaths woke Adam up around 3:30. The moment he woke up, he instantaneously went into “Coach-mode.” He popped up and started stroking my body, telling me to relax here and there. He started giving me visual relaxation guides and lots of encouraging words. That was good for a few contractions, but then I told him I needed him massaging my lower back as that was were the most pain was. The contractions always wrapped around my lower back. He was trying to time the contractions on a website we googled (we don’t have smart phones), while using tennis balls to massage my back. I’m sure that would have been entertaining to watch. We really didn’t need to time them for long to realize that they were 4-5 minutes apart, and by 4:00ish, it was really hard to tell when the contractions stopped. The pain seemed to be lasting 2.5 minutes sometimes. At some point, I decided I didn’t really want Adam talking. The massaging was all I needed and was very helpful. If he talked, I just moaned louder to drown him out (or drown Toni out, or anyone else I could hear). =) I tried the whole “not making noise thing,” but I’m a vocal person and moaning, or making some low-pitch noise was helpful to me.

I texted Toni about what was happening. She asked if I wanted her to come. I didn’t know what to say at first, but by the next contraction, I said, “yes come.” Since this was my first, I think both her and I were prepared for a very long labor. I knew it was possible that I could be having intense contractions, but not be dilated very far. Or I could stall at some point. Or what if Toni got here and everything stopped?

Anyways, I wasn’t getting any relief at all so I decided to take a bath, hoping this would help ease the pain, but not stop labor. It was perfect. It did exactly that. The contractions slowed down a bit and were slightly more bearable in the bath. But it didn’t stop labor. I probably only stayed in there around 20 minutes (?) because I didn’t want to slow it down too much. Adam called our parents at this point. If we would have known how quick it was going to be, we would have called sooner, but given that it was the middle of the night and we really thought it would be a while, we didn’t want to get everyone excited and rush over for a long labor. I decided to take the antibiotic at 4:00 as I was positive labor was in full swing and I didn’t really care about things like I did a few hours before. We were in a different world now. =)

After the bath, I continued to labor in bed. Adam had been blowing up the birth pool and getting things ready. Toni showed up around 5:45. She checked me and said I was 8 cm! I was shocked. That was the best news I’d heard….ever! Adam was shocked as well. It also made him a bit nervous because the pool was not ready for me to deliver in. He put it in high-gear and began to try and fill up the pool, while I labored in bed. In a minute, I heard some loud shouts and exclamations coming from Adam, along with the sound of water spraying. Adam was trying to hook the hose up to the hot water-heater to fill up the pool and the cap popped off and shot water all over the laundry room! This lasted several minutes. 

All I could do was continue to have contractions and labor in bed, hoping Adam could figure it out. I honestly didn’t care if our house flooded at that moment. There was only one thing I could think about in that moment, and that was making it through the next contraction. There really were no moments of relief at this point, but there were some moments that were more bearable than others.

I texted Jessica, Adam’s sister, who lives upstairs and told her that she should come down because I was in labor and she should help Adam. The plan was to have her around for most of the labor taking a few videos and pictures sporadically through out labor, but that didn’t work out. They immediately got the pool filling up with the hose, buckets of cold water, and ice cubes to cool down the hot water. They were running around and working very hard as it was taking longer than anticipated and it seemed that I was getting very close to pushing. 

Andrea, who is Toni’s assistant (and a midwife), showed up at 6:00am. Heather, a friend of mine who is in nursing school (with plans of becoming a nurse-midwife AND has assisted in many births at a birth center in Haiti), also showed up at 6:00. I had a rock-star team! Everyone was busy getting things ready when I began saying things like, “I feel like I have to poop.” Adam got real nervous upon hearing that because he was not finished with the pool and he had learned in Bradley class that those words typically mean, “I need to push.” At some point right before I started feeling the pushing feeling, I threw up. Transition?? 

I cannot describe the sensation I was beginning to feel. I thought my bottom was going to explode. Bradley class says that the pushing stage feels like a huge bowel movement. They are not lying. It felt like I was having a bowel movement of a bowling ball. Even though I was prepared for that, it scared me! How was I going to get a bowling ball out of me??? I was prepared for a baby, not this! How do I get a baby out when my butt is about to explode?? I have had absolutely terrible menstrual cramps my whole life and I do believe they prepared me for labor contractions. Contractions were much worse, of course, but they were in the same ballpark. The pushing sensation was a completely different game. I did not know what to do with this feeling. I was saying things like, “What do I do??”
“You’re going to push the baby out.”
“How?? How do I push it out?? I don’t know how!”
      Toni encouraged me to just push when my body tells me to, which was just the reminder I needed…Or maybe I didn’t need it, because a moment later, I was answering my own question. There was no question about ‘how’ to push the baby out—my body just did it. My body just started pushing. I think I did it once or twice in the bed. Then they moved me to the birth stool next to the bed for one contraction. Toni said the stool would be easier for her, but if I wanted to be the pool, I could be. She probably could have helped more with stretching me from the stool as well. But the pool sounded glorious, so we moved there. And indeed, it was. I was able to float my bottom up off the bottom of the pool, which helped with the extreme pressure situation. Every time a contraction came, I would scream out the classic “lady having a baby” scream, involuntarily. It just came out as I felt my entire head and body exploding. The team reminded me each time to bring the noise down to my uterus, to the baby. Use that energy to push the baby down, instead of  pushing the screaming up and out. This was helpful, but I needed a reminder after the initial push of each contraction, because it was like the scream just flew out of me each time! Between contractions, I felt like I was having such a hard time getting oxygen. They had to remind me to take long, deep breaths, which was helpful. At one point they gave me an oxygen mask, which was nice for a few contractions. I pushed for about 24 minutes before the baby was born! 

When she came out, the cord was wrapped all around her so they laid her on my belly and were trying to get her to cry and warmed-up. She was fine, but three minutes went by before we were able to lift her up and see her gender! We were both shocked, because we had been expecting a boy more than a girl for some reason. The moment I realized we had sweet Eden Faye, at 7:03 am, was a moment I can never, ever forget. 

I got back in bed to deliver the placenta. I was ready for the pain to be over, but it didn’t stop. More contractions. More pushing. And lots of soreness. Then I threw up. Then I was extremely dizzy and weak and out-of-it and everyone was worried. At one point, Toni said, “If we can’t get you stable soon, we’re going to the hospital.” Go to the hospital AFTER I delivered the baby? No way! So I did everything I could to at least seem like I was okay. =) I had not lost an extreme amount of blood and there were no other obvious issues, so no one was quite sure what was going on. My vitals were normal. I was on the verge of passing out after any movement, I felt nauseous, and I felt weak in every way. After several hours went by of all of this, we started to realize that something else was gong on other than labor issues. It seemed that I was having a stomach issue. Maybe I ate something bad the night before? Maybe taking the antibiotic on an empty stomach did it to me? Maybe I caught some bug?? But this was definitely not normal post-delivery, and it seemed unrelated. 

I became more stable by that evening and was able to go to the bathroom earlier as well. After that, I just had to fight off a cold that had begun right before labor started, and recover from the normal delivery process! Well, I did do something to my tailbone during labor, but we do not know what. Perhaps the baby's head broke it or bruised it? I could not walk normal for a couple of weeks. The first week postpartum, I experienced awful pressure on my tailbone. It eventually went away, but it was a pretty awful addition to normal recovery. 

Words cannot describe how grateful I am for my birth team. I don’t know what we would have done if any one of them hadn’t have been there. Adam was perfect in every way and filled the exact role I knew he would. I am so thankful we took the Bradley classes, as I believe they truly prepared both he and I. Without Jessica helping Adam fill the pool, I don’t think I would have been able to deliver in there. And without her amazing double-handed video and camera skills, we would not have had this most amazing moment in our lives documented. She was all-hands-on-deck and ready to do anything that needed to be done. Andrea was a rock, helping Toni with everything and taking over when Toni needed to step away. Heather was another rock, who never left my side, was always doing something useful or getting in my face reminding me of the truths I needed to hear. She stayed all day long, till I was stable. She got Eden to breastfeed both times when I was so out-of-it. And then she came back twice to help me figure that whole thing out. Inviting her to come was more of a “last minute” idea, but I am beyond glad that I thought of that! And Toni was incredible. This woman just makes things happens, knows exactly what to say and when to say it, and knows exactly what to do and when to do it. Anytime she told me something, I would focus in on her face and use all my concentration to take-in what she was saying because I knew she the one who was going to get me through this. And she did!

In those last few weeks I was slightly nervous about having to transport to the hospital and not have our planned home-birth, but I just kept trusting my good God with the whole experience. It paid off and not only did I get a home-birth, but a very quick one! Thank you to the Giver of all good things!

We hope to have a video edited and ready for viewing soon. Also not for the faint of heart. =)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Marred Identity

". . . Abject misery is a level of daily suffering that boggles the human mind. When people have lived only in abject misery, they begin to operate from a marred identity. Marred identity is the internalization of external misery. People who have known nothing but the horrors of extreme poverty begin to believe that they actually deserve their devastating circumstances. They believe that the powers that be or the gods of fate have relegated them to this way of life and that there is nothing they or anybody else can do to change their lot in life. The more they wrestle with marred identity, the faster they sink into listlessness, lifelessness, and a form of hopelessness that is palpable for everyone who observes them."

This relationship between poverty and identity and psychological well-being speaks deeply to me because it so eloquently pin-points my motivation to know, serve, and love "the poor." This is why I go to pot-lucks. This is why I went to Uganda. This is why we may move to Ghana. Not to give people some food that will be gone tomorrow. Not just to give them material things that will rot away.

But to change their identities.

Traveling to Third World countries or going to the ghettos of America can turn a lot of people upside-down because of what they see and experience of poverty. A lot of us can't get back to where we were before.

When that happens, it helps us understand with greater clarity why, "when Jesus launched his ministry, he said that he and his followers were going to confront the structures and the systems and the people that work together in darkness of mind and spirit to keep those who are poor entangled in poverty."

One perspective of what Jesus could have been saying when he was on earth is, "We're going to announce some good news to those people who are very close to having a marred identity. And we're going to work until the sun goes down on this world's existence to let a certain group of people know that they are not forgotten, they are not damaged goods, they are not hopeless and they are not beyond the possibility of being loved by our great God and by his followers."

See, by the manner in which Jesus lived, he identified with the poor. He associated with them and hung out with them. "He healed those who had no recourse for medicine. He fed the hungry by the thousands. And he said to those with marred identities,

 'You're treasured creations of the Most High God.
I will redeem you and call you my own.'"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fair trade

I added a list of Fair trade companies to my blog that I think are wonderful.

I encourage you to check these are and, if you're up for it, make an effort to buy gifts only from fair trade places like these. Well, as much as possible. (i know it doesn't make sense a lot of times)

I have been researching and trying to "buy fair trade" for several years now and it is slowly becoming more and more apart of my life.

I hope that in 20 years I'll be able to look around my material possessions and find almost all fair trade or hand-made-from-people-I-know, or recycled possessions. I really hope to be buying only fair trade, etc gifts for people one day too! But since I'm a big "gifter," I have a firm rule that I don't buy for people things that JULIETTE wants, but I buy what that person wants. Some people buy things that THEY like for someone else, and that annoys me. Unless of course I'm buying clothes for my husband. (in that case I have a firm belief that I should buy what I like on him since i'm the one who looks at him and he could care less)

Anyways, please refer to this list for Christmas, birthdays, Mother's days, etc! And let me know if you find other great companies!

Monday, April 9, 2012


the gardener

Even now I can feel him.
Hands buried in my heart,
reaching deep to upturn old, unwanted roots,
roots long hidden from the light, fooling me
of their power to grow and squelch the new life sprouting.
I grimace at all this sifting
now wedging dirt beneath his fingernails.
He, soiled with me,
plowing the dark forests of my hurt and shame,
and I scream, “go away,”
retreating to shadows amidst tangled roots.
But still he
to the muddled life cloaked in trees and clouds
but hacks at those stems that separate us
with the resurrected sun
and an emptied pocket full of seeds.

--Bethany Douglass

I just had to share this which deeply spoke to my heart this morning
on a dear friend's blog (which daily speaks to me.)

Monday, April 2, 2012


The front door to our new rent house we painted.
(And by we, I mean Adam)

This is the door to my new life.
New and incredibly wonderful.
I simply couldn't ask for more right now. Full, I am.
After an insanely overwhelming and busy and long season of life last year, I get to slow down.
I get to rest.
(Not that I'm really going THAT slow, but comparatively people. . . .)

Our garden

One of the highlights of my new life is this precious garden that Adam and I planted.

Hot peppers for this cajun girl, of course.

Even though Adam and I don't like tomatoes, we're giving it a shot because we just feel weird having a garden with no tomatoes. .

Cucumber of course!


Look at this wonderful fence Adam made.
My resourceful man noticed the abandoned lot next to our house had a fence falling down. . .and it just so happens that we needed a little fencing around our garden. . . so Adam put his plan into action, got an old saw from the tool house that came with our house (filled with lots of tools), hooked up a very long extension cord (thank you outdoor wedding), and literally sawed down the top half of a fence for at least an hour. (And I actually helped) Then he sawed it down even more and set it up around our garden! Now, our wonderful little pet can't disturb our produce!

Marigolds to help our veggies grow!
And to make me think of Meg.



(these herbs will be used daily.
Oh how I <3 fresh herbs.)


What the heeeelll is this, eh?
Oh just some poop we put in our garden.
Compost poop.
Been growin in for years and finally got to use it!

Compost bin, ready for more!
Here it is!

Here he is, people.
My new best friend.
go ahead and laugh.
Get it out.
Its true.
I own a basset hound.
Named "Bull," at that.
How did that happen to me?
I figured it out--surely this is what God had in mind when I vowed, " I will embrace troubled times, and count it joy to suffer with you". . . .or, "count it joy to suffer through a the presence of dog. Like this one."

2 things here:
1. my favorite man ever, put me up a wonderful clothes line and I feel like I'm in Uganda again.
2. Several of these shirts you see here I just got for free!
My friend, Becca, had a Clothes Swap party where we all brought clothes that we just don't need/want anymore, but are still in good condition (which is almost ALL of our closets, lets be honest.) And then we traded with other girls and got new-to-us items! Ingenious idea.

These are beautiful gifts left in our yard for us from the old man who lived in the house for many years. Roses everywhere!!!

The front of our house. . .landscaped. =)

My amazing mom came to our humble abode and helped us pick out and plant beautiful flowers to liven up the front of our ooooollllddd house.

Lovely flowers my mommy planted

These actually came with the house! How nice!

These, too, came with the house! Any idea what they're called?

2 things here:
1. more flowers my mom potted for me!
2. This pot is special to us because it belonged to a friend of ours, Mark, who was incarcerated back in July. He broke the law. He went to jail. And we love him still. A group of us helped him clean out his yard last spring before he had to go to jail. He had TONS of garden stuff because he was a master gardener. Let's just say, we got the hook up on lots of great garden stuff because of our dear friend mark! This pot was one of them and I'm honored to have it on my door step to remind me of our friends who sinned in a way that got them locked up, who are lonely, and probably at rock-bottom in prison. To remind me to think of them, pray for them, love them, and of course, write to them. =)

These are more mom got. They make me think of you, Mom, and my childhood.
I guess you planted lots of these or something.

love. love. love.
Big one here:
I don't know if you make out what this one is called, but it says "African Daisy." My mom bought this for us right after we told her we have an opportunity to move to Africa in a year that we are highly considering. This is a huge deal to me. I would have expected my mom to have seen this plant and ripped it to shreds then spitting on it after we told her the news. Instead, she bought it for me, planted it for me, and left the name tag up for all to see! Love that woman!

Don't these just look radiant and make you want to go to Africa?

I am oh, so grateful to Mr. Ward for all the rose bushes he left us around our house because every moment I look at these beautiful creations, I think of Mimi and Nanee. The roses of my life. The beauty of this rose hardly compares to the beauty you both radiated, and to me, this rose is beyond stunning.

And so, I have opened a door to a new life.
In a bright white house with a radiant red door.