Monday, March 30, 2015

A trip to the zoo

The West Valley has a gem of a zoo - the Wildlife World Zoo - and we enjoy going each time!  After an early start, my high school friend met us at 9am, right as the zoo was opening.  After applying lots of sunscreen we set out on our adventure.

 First stop: Shipwreck Cove.  This was actually the first time we saw this attraction - it was being built a year ago and despite visiting just last month with our whole family, we never made it over.  The Sea Lions were awesome to watch though - seeing them made me excited to take the kids to Sea World this summer!

 Next stop was the giraffe feeding station.  This is probably my favorite attraction at this zoo - you can literally reach out and touch these bad boys, and it only costs 50 cents to get them to come over (the price of some giraffe food)! Katherine attempted sharing her fruit snacks but the giraffe only wanted the real stuff.  Oh, and I got a whiff of this guy and learned that giraffes are totally stinky!

Our last stop was the new Cheetah exhibit and (thankfully?) it was hot by noon, and the Cheetah's decided to nap right by the shaded cover.  We were only a few feet away!  Richard wasn't opposed to a selfie at this stop as long as he could prop his feet on my face.

We headed for the parking lot after seeing the Cheetah's and K literally fell asleep in Tanya's arms as soon as she picked her up.  We had so much fun with our "Aunt" Tanya!  So glad she came along for the adventure!

Then God said, "Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind - livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals." And that is what happened. God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1: 24-25)  After our visit to the Zoo, we are reminded of God's amazing creation and thankful that it is SO good!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Family {Maternity} Photos

Richard has been done baking for almost five months now.  We are settling into a new groove as a family, and I love it.  But before too much more time passes I wanted to share some of the maternity/family photos we had taken by my sister's sister-in-law.  (Did you follow that?  My brother-in-law's sister.)  Carmella did a great job and we are so thankful for the sweet moments that she captured.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Deuteronomy: the law of love

Due to some poor planning on my part, I missed the first two studies in this six-part Beth Moore lecture series.  However, because we serve an awesome and perfect God, lesson three was the first lesson I got to listen to and it was perfectly timed.  The lecture portion of the study focused on portions of Deuteronomy chapter 8 where God has brought the Israelites out of Egypt and to the doorstep of Canaan, the Promised Land.  In verses 7-10, the word land is mentioned 7 times and 7 types of produce are listed.  Being that 7 is the number of perfection, we could insinuate that this land is completely good and perfectly productive.  The interesting thing about this though was that the Israelites were going to have to allow themselves to be used by God to reap the blessings of this good land.  There were fields and fields of wheat, but it had to be made into bread.  Phillipians 4:13 says that we can do all things through Christ.  It doesn't say Christ will do all things.  It says we can do all things through Christ.  The Promised Land was a place where man would participate alongside God so his glory could be put on display.  Isn't this true in our lives too?  God withholds no good thing from those who love him (2 Cor 9:8).  But are we willing to do the work alongside Christ to reap the full benefit of what Christ has given us?  Just as the Israelites had to harvest the wheat and process it to make bread, we too must harvest the good things in our life. 

“Good” references
2 Timothy 3:7
Colossians 1:10
1 Timothy 6:8
1 Timothy 1:18
Romans 12:21
Romans 8:28

One of the points in this lesson that hit home the most was that the Israelites sure knew how to have a “bad time” in a “good land.”  Beth Moore said that spiritual amnesia can kill, and it’s so true.  Deuteronomy Chapter 8 in my bible is subtitled “A Call to Remember and Obey.”  This message is repeated often throughout the chapter.
-Verse 2: And you shall remember
-Verse 11: Take care lest you forget
-Verse 14: Then you heart be lifted up and you forget
-Verse 18: You shall remember
-Verse 19: And if you forget you will surely perish

God had been so good to the Israelites yet they forgot how bad it was in Egypt as soon as they left.  Isn’t the same true of my life?  How often I praise God for something good then I forget what life was like before the blessing.  Sadly, I take God for granted.  To really get personal, this season of my life is an example of this.  I feel like our family is going through a time of testing our attachment to physical, worldly goods and how much we trust God to provide all things.  We suffered through months of hard to find water leaks and atrocious water bills, where one leak led to the next.  After a huge rainstorm last fall, we lost electricity to the bathroom and laundry room on the west side of our house for six months.  The cost to have Richard was five times more expensive than it was to have either HB or Katherine so our medical bills this past year were huge.  The list could go on and on.  But as I sat and listened to Beth Moore talk about spiritual amnesia it struck me that I suffer from the same ailment.  Has God ever failed to provide for my family?  Certainly not.  Then why in the world am I fretting and stressing that the God of this world will fail to provide for our needs now?

After six long months having no electricity in my bathroom, an electrician friend of ours helped us find a screw that had touched the wiring coming from the breaker box and ended up shorting all power from that particular breaker.  Who knew this could happen after Kelly living in this house for 19 years?  I can’t remember the last time I felt such delight at such a simple thing…electricity.  In my bathroom.  PRAISE THE LORD.  God is good, and he cares about even the simplest things in our lives like having lights on in your bathroom.  It is my prayer that I leave this study remembering the powerful lessons contained in Deuteronomy 8.  I plan on reading this chapter often so I can revisit the deep and profound delight I experienced during this difficult season of testing and refinement for our family.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Richard is 5 months!

At five months old, our handsome son:

-is starting to be a real ham.  He loves to laugh and smile!
-has started laughing at the antics of his older siblings.  Even if they are driving me crazy, he thinks they're hilarious.
-is trying to grab everything.  Plates.  Food.  Hands. Hair.  Phones.
-can be found chewing on his thumb or pointer finger a lot of the time.
-is becoming more and more vocal, squawking and babbling all the time!

Friday, March 13, 2015

HB's Birth Story

The end of my pregnancy with HB brought incredible pain in my lower back and hip.  It was increasingly becoming worse.  On the Monday before my due date, I directed my Plant Science class to the greenhouse to spend the class period maintaining hydroponic tomato plants.  I trailed behind the students essentially “waddling” because walking was painful due to my hip and back pain.  I knew by the end of the day that I couldn't teach any longer; my body had reached its breaking point.  I let the school secretary know that my substitute teacher would be starting the next day.  I spent the remainder of that week trying to sleep, tidy the house and pretty much anything to make time go by.  I even washed Colby and JR in hopes it might help get the ball rolling.  I didn't have any contractions or signs that labor was even close to starting so it was a very uneventful but relaxing week.

HB’s official due date was Friday, April 20, four days after my last day of teaching.  I had a student whose birthday that same day so he was really hoping HB would come “on time.”  My 40-week OB appointment was scheduled for Friday afternoon.  I wasn't dilated at all so my OB suggested stripping my membrane as a possibility to start contractions.  She said it would hurt a little but I wasn't prepared for truly how bad.  I cried afterwardsL Thankfully it worked though and my contractions started almost exactly an hour later.  I can’t remember how consistent they were, but enough that I was having several an hour.  I made a green chile beef casserole for dinner and Dad and I headed to bed early.  Finally around 4am Saturday morning, I told Dad I thought we should go in.  I was fairly uncomfortable, although I didn't really know how much more intense my contractions could be since this was my first pregnancy.  I was also really worried about missing the window for an epidural so I may have been a bit over eagerJ We arrived at Banner Estrella Hospital and after checking into triage, the nurse checked my cervix and I was only dilated a little (maybe 4cm). They told me I wasn't dilated enough so I needed to try walking.  We headed outdoors – being the hungry pregnant person I was, I wanted McDonald’s before walking around the parking lot a few times. (I totally craved McDonald’s for breakfast during this pregnancy!) We went back around two hours later to get checked again and I wasn't dilated anymore.  I was totally disappointed, and frustrated, and even felt like a failure a little bit.  The nurse gave me a Percocet to help me get some rest.  At the time I didn't think I’d take it but ended up doing so at home and was so glad.  I was able to snooze on and off all day and not really even think about the contractions I was having.  Sarah Schroder brought La Placita by for lunch.  I think Dad and I both fell asleep in the living room watching TV that night; I remember waking him up to go to bed.  I had a restless night as my contractions continued to get stronger.   Around midnight on Sunday I was getting very uncomfortable with the contractions combined with my hip and lower back pain so we decided to go back to the hospital.  Again, I was nervous about missing the “window” for my epidural and at this point I didn't think I could deliver HB without one.

After arriving at the hospital and checking into triage a second time, we found out I wasn't dilated anymore than I was before, almost 24 hours ago.  When the nurse left so I could get dressed to walk the halls again I started crying and told Dad I didn't know if I could do this.  My hip and lower back pain was so bad.  I knew I had to try though because that was the only option I was given.  The nurse said we couldn't be admitted without being in active labor since there were no beds available.  (Who knew that would be the same problem we faced 2 ½ years later when we were ready with Richard? J)  Walking up and down the hall was a bit of a stretch, it was more like trudging.  I stopped every few feet to weather another contraction and the growing intensity of my hip pain.  I hadn't even made a full circle yet when I saw a nurse coming to get us.  She told us a bed had just opened up.  I would have jumped up and down and hugged her if I could have.  We picked up the pace a little and they showed us to our labor room.

Some of the next details are a bit fuzzy since I am writing this almost three years later.  The nurse requested an epidural immediately and once it started taking effect, I could actually relax.  I truly believe the epidural helped my body relax amidst the incredible pain I was feeling in my back and hip which helped me dilate further.  Even this much later I still think the pain in my hip was far worse than the contractions I was experiencing.  I think fell asleep between 4-5am and woke up around 7am when the nurses changed shifts.  My nurse for the remainder of labor was a sweet black woman named Sherry.  She was so kind and she told me to quit apologizing for asking for things.  Kelly left a little after 7am to get breakfast in the cafeteria (yes, biscuits and gravy) and my water broke, of course, while he was gone.  I dilated super quickly after that.  We were both certain HB would be here by lunch time.

I think I started pushing around 11-11:30am.  We didn't know it at the time but HB had a huge head for a newborn which made the whole process take a lot longer than this first time momma expected.  It seemed I was not making any progress.  I pushed and pushed and pushed, and the little guy did not seem to be getting any closer.  Thankfully, HB showed no signs of stress throughout the entire active labor period.  Just as we were nearing the end Sherry gave me a face mask with oxygen.  It was the only thing throughout my entire labor that annoyed me – it kept all of my hot breath inside and made me feel really sweaty and gross and like I could not breathe.  Kelly, being the sweet man he is, tried adjusting it to make it more comfortable and I remember snapping at him that I just didn't want to wear the mask.  I literally felt like I couldn't push anymore, and just about voiced my concern when finally, a little after 1:30pm, our sweet first born arrived with a full head of hair and made the entire process worth it.  My “official” OB Dr. Fernandez was not on call, so another doctor from the practice, Dr. Suarez, delivered HB and did a great job.  I was so nervous throughout my entire pregnancy about having a male obstetrician deliver our baby but in the moment I didn't even give it a second thought. 

It was all so surreal.  Three years later, as I write this, it’s a little less surreal, but I still have to pinch myself.  I got pregnant.  I baked a baby for nine months.  I had contractions for almost 48 hours.  I delivered said baby.  And then parenting began.  At the time I almost felt like I should have completed some type of training course at the hospital before we were discharged but looking back I know there is no teacher like experience itself. 

It’s been a joyful {almost} three years with our son.  I am tearing up as I write this.  Three years?  Time has truly gone by too fast.  Just last night HB came out to the living room about 30 minutes after I had put him to bed.  He’s been making this a habit so I warned him not to come out or a spanking would be waiting for him.  Just as I was about to chastise him, I heard a little voice telling me that he will only be this little for awhile longer.  It will only be for a little while that he wants to sit on my lap and just rock after his brother and sister have fallen asleep.  So instead of swatting him, I pulled him into my lap and smelled the little boy smell on his temple and laid a few smooches on his cheek.  I still can’t believe we get to call HB our son every day.