Happy New Year

This year has felt like a whirlwind. You know how they say as you get older life gets faster? Well, kids speed that up exponentially.

A friend of mine asked me recently if we have any new years traditions that we celebrate. I’m from the east Coast and we have a Pennsylvania dutch tradition of sauerkraut, hot-dogs and kielbasa on New years eve or day. We also have a weird made up one since we have been married that we eat Chinese food for lunch and play board games on New Years Day. This year Nathan had to work and we completely forgot about that one.

One last thing that I’ve seen a lot more people doing around New Years that I think is a great way to start the year is to pick a word of intention to represent the coming year. Nathan and I have been doing this for a few years and its always been cool to look back on the year and see where that word was reflected, how God used it in our lives, and how meaningful it was. This year our word is consistency. There seem to be a lot of loose ends in our life right now that we need to tie up in 2019. It is easy at the end of a long day of working full time and raising babies to let everything else fall by the wayside but this year we want to focus on following through and staying consistent. Do you guys have a word for 2019? I’d love to hear them! Hope you had a wonderful New year!

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A Beautiful Sunday Morning

Recently I have become a little bit more adamant about the importance of regular church attendance. I think it is good for your spiritual and mental health. I also believe it has a great effect on the community that is often overlooked.

That being said…some mornings you just need some family today. Today was one of those days. We were all up and ready for church when we realized that we had hardly seen each other all week. We were longing for some time with each other so we decided to play hooky and head for the hills. We found a beautiful spot on the side of the mountain and just took some pictures and enjoyed each others company. It was the perfect “church” for us this morning.

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Sunrise on 2018

I don't really do New Years Resolutions anymore. I have found that they mostly do not work. What I try to focus on instead is changes of mindset and routine that can lead to more permanent change. This year my focus is going to be on improving my skillsets. I want to become proficient with my handgun, I want to learn first aid skills, and I want to become healthier. All of these things will require discipline and I think the best way to acquire discipline is to do things that take discipline. So the first thing I am going to work on this year is getting up before the sun everyday....starting today. 

I woke up and drove to the prettiest place I could find to watch the sun rise and welcome in the new year. It was a perfect start to 2018 for me. I hope to do a lot more exploring this year, it is one of the few things that brings peace to my soul. I hope you had a great start to the new year and I hope you have the discipline to make some awesome things happen for yourself this year. 

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River's Birth Story

It has taken me 3 months to tackle this post, not because I don't want to talk about it, but because it takes time to process the whole experience. Nathan and I chose to have a home birth which is what I always knew I wanted to do. I met my midwife when I was 12 weeks along and I knew instantly that she would take amazing care of us not only physically but spiritually. I had also asked my mother in law to be our "house mom" which is someone who can help in any way possible so that your husband doesn't have to leave your side. Half of the trick in having a home birth is having an amazing team. My midwife had been coaching me for months and Nathan and I took an amazing Bradley Methods class from a teacher who catered to home births. We had so much support and felt confident going in to the experience.

    It was 3am the morning of Oct 14 when I started to feel contractions. They were definitely different than anything I had been feeling before.  I happened to be off that day (So thankful for that detail) and got to relax and see if they were going to progress. Nathan, his mom, and I took a walk around the neighborhood and it was an amazingly beautiful fall day. The colors were perfect and I collected some leaves to keep (I just knew she was going to be born by the end of the day). It was time for Nathan to go to work and I told him to go ahead because my contractions were so random and very far apart. I had let my midwife know earlier that day and I was instructed to try and go about the day as normal. I tried to take a nap but every 15-20 minutes the contractions would painfully wake me out of my sleep so I texted some family and friends to keep them posted. 

    I went upstairs to hang out with my mother in law and sister and law who were making a "birthday cake" for River to pass the time. Fun random fact: Rainbow chip icing which is my favorite but had been discontinued was back on the shelf that day! Anyways, my mother in law could see how intense the contractions were already getting. She said "I think you should call Nathan and have him come home early". The crazy timing of this life event was that Nathan had just started a new job and was still in his 90 day "probation" period in which he was instructed that if a work day was missed he could lose the job at the end of the 90 days. We were trying to be so careful about him leaving and save it for when it was very necessary. "I think I'll try to wait a little longer" I told Kim. "I really think you need him here, even if its just for the emotional support" she responded. At this point the contractions were a little closer together and getting slightly more consistent but still too random. Right when I was about to call him to tell him to come home I get a call from Nathan. "They are sending me home early. I am on my way!". I was so relieved. 

    Nathan called our midwife and updated her while I tried to sit in the warm bathtub for awhile. The bathroom kind of cracked me up. My MIL and husband made it feel like a spa. There was a fruit tray in there along with my essential oil diffuser and candle light. The contractions had started to get so intense that I asked Nathan to call Anita our midwife even though they were still sporadic. The minute Anita showed up a wave of relief came over me and I was immediately more at peace. She went to check me not thinking I would be too far along and I was already at 7cm! “We are having this baby tonight” she gently said with a smile. She had me get in to my birthing clothes.

    From that point on, everything became so intense. The pain, the contractions, the frequency….everything. The thing about not having any pain medications during the entire process is you become insanely in tune with your body and the rest of the world becomes dead to you. I was so focused on the process, Nathan helping support me, and my midwife occasionally giving me instructions to change positions that I had no idea who else was even in the room (which turns out later was my MIL who was taking the pictures and my sister in law who I had not idea had even come in). Every so often Anita and her helper Midwife Katie would check River’s heartbeat (which was always strong and happy) and have me try a different position. Nathan was my rock and kept pushing on my pelvis for pain relief (which was extremely exhausting for him) giving me water, and encouraging me. I don't think I have ever loved him more than in that process. He was incredibly strong, supportive, and loving the whole time and I felt so taken care of by him. After some more time went by I was getting pretty exhausted. I was so exhausted that after every intense and painful contraction, I was falling asleep for a few seconds. The waiting to push part felt like it took forever although later while debriefing with Anita she mentioned that it was a normal amount of time. 

    It was finally time to push and I was so relieved! She started to progress nicely and finally the head was starting to show. “Look at all of her hair!” Anita said in an encouraging tone. “Reach down and feel her head! You are doing so good Courtney!”. I reached down and was encouraged by the progress. After a little more time went by it was discovered that River had a “nuchal hand” or her hand was up by her face causing the fit to be tighter needing more stretching and the process to take a bit longer. 

    After some time went by Anita could tell I was wearing down again. Now the next part of this story is my favorite part and also why I feel so blessed to have found a midwife that cared for us spiritually and not just physically. As you read this story I don’t quite know where you stand with God but I can assure you that out of the six people in the room and my father in law and friend Amy that were just outside of the room listening, this part of the story is confirmed by everyone. Right as I started to get tired again, my MIL got up to go out of the room and pray for me with my FIL. Anita, who was still in the room tending to me had a sense come over her and knew why my MIL had left the room even though she didn't say why she was leaving the room. A minute or so later Anita could see my exhaustion and that River wasn’t progressing as quickly (although again her heart beat was strong and in a great range) and my pushes were getting weaker. So Anita in that moment felt the need to pray over me. Anita prays out loud “Lord help Courtney and give her the strength…” and I felt a strong rush of energy and gave a huge push. I could feel River progress and as Anita was excitedly encouraging me thinking I was going to rest until the next push, I had enough energy for another strong push and River came right out! We laughed later because it happened so unexpectedly that Anita yelled out “Woah, ok I got her!” even though she had her the whole time. That whole moment will never leave my mind because I am so grateful that God chose that time in my life to so obviously remind me of his presence and complete faithfulness.   

    River was here and I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was as Anita placed her on my stomach (her cord was too short for my chest) and I waited to push out the placenta. Pushing out the placenta is the easiest joke after birthing your baby. River was born at 3:47am weighing 7lbs 8oz. Nathan cut the cord and I got to breast feed River before Anita helped me to the shower. While I was in the shower, Nathan got to hold her for the first time. I swear I heard the phrase “She’s so magical” from Nathan for the next few days about a thousand times. Before our midwives left there was a lot of checks for both me and River and then a lot of adrenaline and us all talking about the whole experience. Of course River also got her first Chiropractic adjustment from me as soon as possible. After we were all set we climbed in to our own bed with River on my chest and Anita and Katie left at about 6:30am to let us sleep. 

River is 4 months old now and we still can’t get over how much fuller our lives are with her in it. There are some very sleepy days but there are mostly “my heart loves you so much it could explode” days. We are definitely learning it takes a village and man are we thankful for that village. Thank you everyone who has sent us gifts, cards, prayers and encouragement. We really appreciate all of you and are thankful you are on this journey with us!

Easter Sunday (Plus a Special Announcement)

Easter morning is one of my favorite days of the year. I honestly appreciate it more than ever now that we are a part of the Bloom faith community. Bloom follows the church calendar. This is something that I honestly didn't know much about growing up but I have come to appreciate it so much. The Easter season starts 40 days before on Ash Wednesday. For the most part lent is a darker and more reflective time. It reaches a finale on Good Friday when the table is covered, the lights are turned out, and we enter a period of doubt. But then Sunday morning comes. There is hope again. 

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For all of lent the liturgy of our service changes. One of the biggest things is we cease to sing the Doxology. On Easter morning we bring it back. I sat there singing, and crying, thinking about how living in a community of faith is such a weird but beautiful thing. Sometimes life and faith can get kinda routine and normal, but then there are these times that are little glimpses that there is something more. The veil between the physical and the spiritual is stretched thin somehow and we can see a little bit of the true reality. 

After Easter service we made our way to my grandparents house. They were still at there Easter service so we prepared a big lunch for everybody. We were so busy that we didn't really get any pictures of this. In fact we kinda forgot to take pictures most of the day which isn't like us, we were just having so much fun that it slipped our mind. 

We enjoyed a great lunch with members of our family and then dyed some eggs, because its easter. :-)

Later in the day I got to spend some time with my dad flying remote control planes at the field. It's one of my dad's favorite hobbies and I love being able to share it with him. It was a beautiful night and flying planes is such a relaxing and fun way to enjoy it. 

As we were out at the field finishing up our last couple flights we got a really simple but beautiful sunset. It was really the perfect way to end such a beautiful day. 


Special Announcement!!!

We have a big announcement for you guys. Watch the video below for the latest news. It has been hard to hold this news in.