38 Weeks

It's Friday night.  I'm super tired.  I'm 38 weeks pregnant and feeling every bit of those 38 weeks!  
This week was VBS (vacation Bible school) at our church and we all went everyday.  I have worked in registration for the last 6 or 7 years and my kiddos get to be in the early childhood program with all their little buddies.  It's a very laid back role that keeps me sitting at a table counting kids, filling out new registrations in the classrooms, and adding up every penny of the offering they bring in each day, while drinking a coffee and catching up with some fun ladies!  It's really a pretty great exchange in order to have my kids entertained every single morning until lunchtime and it makes the week fly by!  Trav and the student ministry staff are in charge of the rec time for 1,000+ kids all week, so believe me we are all worn out tonight!  But I knew I needed some distractions at the end of this pregnancy because when I'm at home I just can't do a whole lot and then I have to try and keep the kids busy too.  VBS was a perfect way to spend our week! 
Here are some of the friends I got to laugh with all week!  
 And here are the little VBS attendees!  They had so much fun everyday and slept like rocks at night.  They loved being with their friends, making tons of fun crafts with their cousin Bette, singing all the new songs with the dance team, playing at the playground, and hearing the lesson everyday from a sweet lady who worked so hard to teach them truth about God's word that they could absorb on their level.  Ava can always articulate what she learns pretty well these days, but this was the first time Carter really came home and talked our ears off about Jesus.  It was so fun for us to hear his thoughts and his take-away every day!  I love that about parenting.  You spend so much time and effort trying to teach things to your kids, impressing truth on their hearts and wondering if/when they will "get it"?  But then sometimes the Lord takes the foundation He's helped us lay and he uses another  voice to build on it in order to really capture their hearts.  This week He used the Bible teacher in early childhood to really break through to Carter's heart and help him understand a little more about Jesus and salvation.  And that is worth every early morning and then some!!  Travis and I are so grateful for the many people who love our kids and invest in them too.  What a blessing!!  We are very, very thankful that our church loves kids and prioritizes their spiritual development.  
And speaking of kids, we are at the tail end of our wait for Walker now and the kids are asking me a million times a day about when he is coming and how much longer it will be??  They clearly don't have a strong grasp on time yet and often get confused so I finally made a little countdown chain for each of them last night, mostly for my own selfish benefit!  I'm so tired of answering the same question, 5 times every hour!  ha ha!  I knew they would love doing this each morning and today, they did.  We have one more week left to enjoy before their baby brother is "scheduled" to arrive.  Of course he could come anytime now, but we are praying he sticks to "the plan" and waits for his big day.  Not that I wouldn't love to welcome him early, I totally would, but his Daddy is gone at JH camp this next week and I really want him to stay put so we can welcome him without a frantic drive home (for Trav, not me!) and some added chaos.  
 We do have a plan in place if I do go into labor early, but only the Lord knows how this is all going to happen so I'm not worrying about it because I can't do a thing about it anyway!  I did go to my OB appt today and all is well with Walker and I.  They think he's around 7 pounds or so at this point, but really that's just their best guess.  My plan for this next week is to do nothing!  My Mom will be here with us in case anything happens and to help me get the final things ready around here.  It's my first year in the 8 years we've been here that I won't be at camp with Trav, which is a little sad, however being this pregnant at camp would be miserable!!  So I'm not losing sleep over it  :)  But I will miss him like crazy and I wish I could be there to help him.  I guess I'll be running my own camp at home this year!  I'm really glad to have a camp nurse and a camp cook joining me though!!  
And speaking of cooking, I barely did any of this week because I was so very tired every night, but I did manage to make room for this rhubarb cake I made for Trav on Father's Day last weekend!  Oh my word, it is SO GOOD.  And I ate way too much.  But that's about all I can do right now...well, besides napping, which I also did almost every afternoon this week!  
Last week I was pretty productive, cleaning some and getting lots done in Walker's room.  But this week??  Not so much.  Several afternoons I took 2 hour naps and each night Trav and I were in bed at 10!!  I had very little energy after being out every morning so it was wonderful to come home and sleep.  My kids were troopers, playing together or watching a movie so I could sleep.  Occasionally I woke up to someone yelling at the other one or to a request for a snack, but for the most part they just made a huge mess and had fun!  At this stage in the game that was totally ok with me if it meant I could sleep.  This was my view from my pillow!  My toes barely stick up for me to see them and I only last on my back for about 20 seconds before my sciatic starts causing all kinds of trouble for me.  Thankfully I am sleeping at night with some great pain meds and an ice-pack or two.  It almost makes me giddy to think I'm just about done with this pelvic/sciatic trouble!!  I literally think I might cry when I can roll over in bed again or just walk without thinking my body will break!  

But truly, if I'm being very honest and totally serious, I am trying to just cherish these last days.  Being pregnant and carrying  a baby for 9 months is totally amazing.  It's a miracle and a privilege and even though this one has given me a run for my money, I can already say that Walker is SO worth all of the pain and discomfort, the sacrifice and the prayers!  I still marvel at how GRACIOUS God has been to let us do this three times over now.  He has blessed us with 4 gifts from Heaven and I never want to lose sight of that or complain, because I know that many women would LOVE this privilege (me included during those years we couldn't get pregnant) and it's not something to take for granted.  I also know that families are built in lots of different ways and there are many women who make hard and selfless decisions to give up the baby they are carrying so that another Mom could have the chance to welcome and love a little one into her family too.  Every life is precious and how your babies come to you is up the Lord!  As His plan for our family has unfolded over these last 6 years, we continue to marvel and wonder at the unique ways and perfect timing He chose for each one of our children to make their way into our arms.  Trav and I were at my appointment today, amazed at how quickly this has flown by and remembering when we came for all the appointments for Ava and Carter too.  To think we doubted Him for a season and wondered why He was not letting us get pregnant??  I hate to think about the anger I had at him during that season, and yet He used it to draw me close and to grow me up in character and to remind me about who He is.  None of it has been wasted!  His timing and His ways are sovereign over mine and I couldn't have scripted a better outcome than the one we have been given.  What a ride we've been on and what a blessing all of our kids are to us.  

But I won't lie, I'm so happy to be at the end and almost done!!!  Can't wait to pull Walker close and kiss those cheeks and his little face.  We are SO excited over here and so ready to do this all over again.  But for now, I'm already up past my bedtime and ready to call it a week.  10 days to go now!!  We would love your prayers for God's perfect plan regarding Walker's timing and for all the details to come together so that we can both be there! I'm really not stressing and I'm choosing to just believe He's going to work it all out for us.  

Happy weekend, friends!  


Just Keep Swimming!

Last week we spent our afternoons with our favorite swim instructor for some swimming lessons.  I knew I wanted to get these in for the kids before the baby came, knowing it would be nearly impossible afterwards.  Thankfully we were able to squeeze them in just in time!  Our kids love Miss Steph and so do Trav and I.  She is a great teacher and we had another fun round of lessons!  

 For the most part, the kids did great and tried everything she asked them to do, but every now and then one of them would protest a little or get nervous.  Carter was cracking me up with his favorite line here, "I think this is a bad idea!"  He can be so stubborn sometimes and when Steph asked him to do something he didn't want to do, he usually told her three or four times before we got him to try, "I don't know about this, I think this is a bad idea!"  
 He was not a fan of the goggles at all, but he sure looked adorable in them!  

 For some reason, both kids got a wild hair that they'd like to go off the diving board at the end of their lesson, which I knew would never happen.  
 Carter got as close as the end of the board, but then he decided for real this time, that wasn't a good idea after all!   
 So off the side he went instead! 

 Miss Ava also had a great week and was totally cute in her goggles.  She was a little more nervous about her goal of swimming on her own but she did a great job and demonstrated that she can definitely do it, she just needs some more practice and confidence.  Something we can definitely help her with this summer!

 Looking so grown up these days...

 And just like her brother, she thought she'd give the old diving board a try...
 ...until she got to the edge :) 
A leap off the side it was for her too! 
What a great week! I was proud of both of my little swimmers and exhausted from getting us all there and back every day.  
 Thanks Miss Steph!  We sure love swimming with you! 
In classic Minnesota fashion these two had to swim in all kinds of weather.  One day it was in the 60's, two days we were near 80 and the last day it was a whopping 59 degrees!  Thankfully it was a heated pool, but I thought they deserved some treats to celebrate their hard work and perseverance :) 
Another year of swimming lessons in the books, now to practice, practice and practice some more!  
Or as Dory says in Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming!!"  


Happy Father's Day 2014

Happy Father's Day to the two men I adore the most! 
 My Dad is one of the greatest gifts of my life.  God gave me an amazing Dad who has loved me every single day of my life and who continues to show me how much he adores me too.  Even as I've grown up and become a Mom myself, I know that I still hold the same place in his heart and he goes to great lengths still to make sure I know that he is always in my corner, he's proud of me and he's always praying for me.  I have no doubt that the Lord has stepped in to intervene in my life many times, because of the faithful intercession of my Dad.  Several times when I've called to tell him something incredible that the Lord did or a way He provided for us, my Dad has listened with great excitement and then told me that's exactly what he's been praying about.  There is no greater gift than that, except that I am spoiled and not only can I count on his prayers but I can also just count on him.  He makes me laugh, me encourages me, he listens, he sacrifices for his family, he gives wise and Godly counsel, he loves my Mom more and more with every year, he loves my husband and of course, he adores my kids.  
I know it's a great reward for parents to enjoy their grandchildren but I'd also add that it's a great blessing for adult kids to watch their parents enjoy their grandchildren too!
 My kids think their Grampy hung the moon and I have to agree with them!  He is one of a kind and we love him so.  Happy Father's Day Dad!  You are the first man I loved and the one I am so thankful to still love today.  You've been a great Dad and continue to be. We love you so much!!
 Thanks for loving all of us so well! 

The other man I adore is my own husband.  Although he's not MY Dad, he is my children's Daddy and I am SO VERY GRATEFUL that they have him.  When we were dating and I was head over heels in love with him, one of the many things I loved about him was watching him interact with little kids and seeing so many things that were similar to my own Dad.  I always knew he would be an incredible Father and in many ways, he has exceeded my expectations!  He works very, very hard to provide for us and makes every effort to create memories with our kids and to make time for them before he makes time for his job or his personal preferences.  He's not missed a thing in their growing up years and I know that will be something they will cherish as they get older.  He's so intentional about building spiritual things into them, about teaching God's Word to them and modeling a lifestyle that honors Jesus.  He also loves me well and they've picked up on so many ways that he cherishes me too.  Carter loves to call me "Babe" and then burst into a fit of giggles and Ava likes it when "Daddy kisses Mommy" which Travis is always happy to thrill her with!  They watch his every move these days and they both live for the minute his car pulls in and he walks through the front door.  "Daddy's home!!!" is a familiar refrain everyday that I enjoy so much.  I just love to see the look on his face too when his welcoming committee greets him and squeezes him tight.  It's a reward he's earned for all of the time and love he pours out on them.  I know what it's like to have an amazing Dad and my heart swells to see my own kids experience that too!  

I thought it would be fun to ask the kids a few questions about their Daddy, because their answers are so entertaining these days!!  I'm giving you exactly what they said, although some are hilariously far from the truth!  Ha ha!  Enjoy these, Travis...
 How Old is your Dad? 
Ava- 16
Carter- 2
(Stephanie- Old enough to start becoming my silver fox!) 
 What is your Dad's Favorite Meal? 
Ava- Basghetti 
Carter- Macaroni
(Stephanie- Texas Style BBQ)
 What Does Daddy Love to Do? 
Ava- He loves to play with me
Carter- He loves to snuggle up wif me and wrestle me
(Stephanie- see Carter's answer!  Ha ha!) 
 What is Daddy Really Good at? 
Ava- Whistling 
Carter- Talking
(Stephanie- Anything athletic or sports related)
 What is Daddy Afraid of? 
Ava- Us scaring him (when playing hide n seek)
Carter- Us finding him  (when playing hide n seek)
(Stephanie- When I go to the mall alone!) 
 What Does Daddy do All day? 
Ava- Goes to work
Carter- Works
(Stephanie- Enjoys some peace and quiet while dining out for lunch all over the metro everyday! Ha ha! ) 
What Does Daddy Do at Work? 
Ava- Has a Bible Study, a meeting with the kids and with Raschelle (his JH associate)
Carter- Just plays
(Stephanie- Answers a lot of requests, spends a lot of time studying God's Word, shoulders many burdens with hurting people, and lots of other  things I wouldn't want to do, truth be told!) 
Where Does Daddy Love to Go? 
Ava- The place with the climbing wall and military clothes and stuff (???-REI is my best guess) 
Carter- The ice-cream place (DQ or Freeziac)
(Stephanie- On a dinner date with me, discovering new restaurants!) 
 What is Daddy's Favorite Movie? 
Ava- The Croods
Carter- The Croods
(Stephanie- Impossible to answer, he loves movies!) 
What Does Daddy Do for You That You Love? 
Ava- He buys us donuts
Carter- He takes us to the jumpin place
(Stephanie- He makes me laugh, forgives me quickly, and loves Jesus with everything in him, which affects everything about the way he loves and treats us.) 
What Do You Want to Tell Daddy on Father's Day? 
Ava- I love him, I like him and I want him to be here! (home from Church) 
Carter- Thank you for playing with me Dad.
(Stephanie- You are an amazing Dad and I'm so proud of the man you are!)  
 What Do You Hope Daddy Gets to Do This Year? 
Ava- Take us to the park
Carter- Play!
(Stephanie- Conquer a personal goal or see a dream fulfilled)
 What's One Word That Describes Daddy? 
Ava- I LOVE him so much!  (not easy for them to pick one word!) 
Carter- Love!  I LOVE him!!
(Stephanie- Faithful.)
I loved their little hearts and it's no secret how they feel about you Trav!  I can't thank you enough for the way that you love them and treat all of us with such kindness and tenderness and selflessness.  You love so well and you make it very easy to love you in return.  Raising kids with you is an adventure I'm so grateful to be on!  I love our life together so much and I'm very thankful for the ways you make me want to parent better and model Jesus more.  
 I also can't thank you enough for your ability to make us all laugh and to keep things silly and lighthearted around here!  You bring JOY into our home and give us that gift every day.  I'm certain your easy going personality has disarmed many a meltdown by me (!!) and certainly provides so much grace for all of us to be who we are without criticism or sharp judgement.  
You shine the love of Jesus into our lives and give of yourself daily.  I know that everything you give us comes from what Jesus gives you as you spend time with Him each day.  We love you!!  
It's a joy to celebrate you today and everyday!  
Happy Father's Day, Travy!!