Category Archives: Kids

The bebe switch

There it is. Sitting right beside you…invisible to most, but not to you. It’s the SWITCH. The BABY SWITCH.

Look closely and you’ll see that it’s one of those fancy schmancy dimming switches. At the bottom, you find the setting “NO THANKS!” and the top basically screams “I. NEED. BABY.”

Since a lot of our friends are married and are having kids, we find ourselves in a discussion about future children quite often. We ask each other things like, “How many kids do you think you want?” and “Are you ready for another?” If you are married and you don’t want to be asked questions like that, don’t hang out with people. The questions always come. {If your marriage is in a tough spot or you’re going through infertility/loss…or just if you don’t like people all up in your grill, “the questions” are agonizing, amen?}

What was surreal for me was after three LONG years of my switch being agonizingly crammed into the top of the switch socket, basically begging for multiples…I found myself in the blessed lower register.

It all started in April 2013 when Annabelle popped out and life took an instant turn for chaos.  We adopted Coleton at birth and he was almost 14 months old, but all through his infancy we wanted more kids! Coleton was chill, easy (back then), and our philosophy had always been “the more the merrier!” But there in that delivery room with beautiful little Annabelle sitting (screaming) on my lap and shock waves of pain still reverberating through my…you know…it was like my subconscious reached over and slammed that blessed switch down into the “aaaand I’m good” slot.

I thought for sure in a few months all would settle, I would somehow heal up from the agonizing pain of childbirth and be ready to try for another baby, especially because we had so much trouble prior to Annabelle. But she was a fussy baby, so we chilled out. We waited. Aaaand waited, and waited…and waited.

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READ ME: That urge was NO WHERE to be found. Bless that switch. It stayed in the “I’m good” spot for what felt like forever. I was nursing and mommying and reading books about discipline (AKA freaking out about my parental insecurities) and was literally in shock at my “I’m SO STINKING GOOD” mentality. In fact, I was so positive I wasn’t ready (or if I would ever be ready again) for another child, I basically all-but wore a chastity belt when I was anywhere near ovulation (sorry, babe!) Where was that Mrs. Duggar spirit that used to live so strongly in me?!?!

I guess it didn’t matter where it was, because the desire just wasn’t there! I felt so NORMAL again!

You guys, it felt SO SO SO SO SO SO good to have that switch be off for awhile. I can’t even tell you how many years I have spent wanting babies. My desire to be a mom started  looooong before Kev put a ring on it, so after two years of being married but waiting plus three more years filled with miscarriage and heartbreak…I was grateful to feel like this was plenty. My heart and arms were so full I didn’t even want to think about peeing on sticks. (Hooray!!!)

And then, it happened. About five gosh darn days ago, I have no idea what happened but I could feel that switch creeping up. And I slammed that baby down. (Not our real baby, I’m talking about the switch.) “NO! We’re good! These kids aren’t even in preschool yet. They don’t understand what “OBEY MOMMY!” means! They still speak in a 90% noun-only vocabulary. It’s not time! No thanks,” I said, confident that my inner-self would chill out in a few days.

But the next day…like it had a mind of its own…my switch slid a little further away from the bottom again. Was it that beautiful, angelic newborn I cooed over at the farmers market? That sweet baby who giggled at me last week? The adorable mommy with the Ergo who peacefully shopped as her baby nuzzled into her chest? That 24th friend making her pregnancy announcement this month? The friend who is so chill and excited about her twins on the way, even with two littles at home? Maybe it’s that C and AB are increasingly fun and cute as the days pass.

Maybe it's me looking back at these pictures as I write this blog (making my ovaries hurt...)
Maybe it’s me looking back at these pictures as I write this blog (making my ovaries hurt…)

I’m sure it’s a combination of many things…now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not in the top of the switch range yet (“I NEED A BABY NOW”)—In fact, not even close. But for the first time in sixteen months, the thought of a third child in our tribe no longer sends me running for the guest bedroom. It intrigues me… slightly terrifies me…and excites me. I’m an adventurer and a free spirit after all. Maybe things have “settled” a little and my daring side is feeling neglected.

Has anyone else ever experienced your baby switch changing overnight?! I’m dealing with a little whiplash since I didn’t see it coming…but it’s all good.

Now, don’t hold your breath for a pregnancy announcement…for reals…it’s probably still a wayyyys away. In fact, it may never come. We always remind ourselves that if C and AB are the only kids we have forever and ever, we will be a million times grateful. It was no walk in the park getting to this point, and they’re beautiful and healthy and ENOUGH!

But instead of clinging so tightly to control, I’m believing that God has a sweet plan,  and I’m just along for the ride.

Parting thoughts: I like my baby switch positioned at the bottom…at the “no, thanks….I’m good” spot. Blessed are you guys who hang out down there, for real. You don’t know how good you have it! (or maybe you do) But the middle isn’t so bad either, and that’s where I am today.

Contentment is a beautiful thing.

Where’s yo baby switch sitting?

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Friday Favorites…Summer Style

 

Friday Favorites

 

-Being beckoned awake by the rising sun

-Sun streaming through the trees

Olivia Ryan Favorites-0016

-Sitting outside with a glass of wine

-Painted toenails in sandals

-Seeing my babies in swimming suits

-Pools and sprinklers

Swimsuit collage

-Trampoline jumping

-Iced Coffee

-Thunderstorms & snuggles

-The fresh fragrance a good rain leaves behind

-Rainbows and flowers

-Meeting new friends at the park

-Sundresses and maxi skirts

-Summer roadtrips

-Pink Lemonade Tropical Snow

-More excuses for Whitey’s Ice Cream

-Buns, buns buns. Messy and high buns. 😀

summer buns

Happy summer. It is a happy summer.

celebrate…don’t compare

You know those really cute dialogue things people post?

“This is me the parent saying something.”

“Then my kid says something cute back.”

“I ask said kid some clarifying question?”

“She or he responds with some off-the-wall-hilarious response that you couldn’t make up if you tried.”

I love this kind of facebook post. It excites me for the darndest things my kids will someday say. I will write them down in a notebook of “Coleton-isms” and “Annabelle-isms” and cherish them forever!

I’ve actually been waiting for them to start….but it might be a little while cuz Coleton doesn’t talk too much. He has made significant speaking strides, but he’s still on the “I talk very little” end of the spectrum for his age group. This is what I find myself saying to people who (probably) don’t even notice or care how much he is talking:

“It’s a few things I think:

1) He’s the first kid and I’ve probably anticipated his needs a little too much.

2) He’s a boy. Boys usually talk less than their female peers.

3) He’s an introvert and loves spending time alone in his crib or reading.”

Why do I feel the need to explain his language development to my peers? I would love Coleton the same amount if he hadn’t spoken ONE word in his little life, yet I find myself comparing his milestones to other kids his age and getting self conscious about it.

Sometimes it’s in my head, but sometimes it’s aloud on my playdates. I give disclaimers. I express my frustration or stress or fears about him not speaking conceptual thoughts or more than one, two or sometimes three word sentences. I make comments about how chunky Annabelle is. And frankly I’m embarrassed by myself. Why am I comparing my kids to my friend’s kids when I could just be celebrating my kids for who they are?!

You see, I am 100% in love with Annabelle’s kissable, squishable rolls. I love that Coleton isn’t growing up too fast or talking up a storm yet. He’s my sweet snugly boy who is emerging out of his cocoon on his own timing. I’m straight up enamored with my kids.

When I’m alone, I cherish them well. We have fun in the sprinkler, reading, playing, tickling, eating, etc…and I’m constantly amazed at how they’re growing and changing. These little peeps are magnificent.

But the ugly thing about comparison is that it robs me of delighting in who they are today.

I’m calling BS on myself. I’m calling BS on our culture that obsesses over our kids wanting to be doctors at like age 12. I’m challenging myself and anyone else who is convicted of comparing your kids to their peers to STOP. Whether your kid is the next Einstein or 9 years behind developmentally….STOP COMPARING and START CELEBRATING.

Our kids are these wonderful little beings, and there is no human who has ever been or will be exactly like them. God healed my broken mentality of constant comparison to other women, and He has given me so much joy in parenting these kiddos. Therefore, I will not let comparison sneak into my mom life and rob me of any of that joy. Coleton and Annabelle and any future children God wants to give us will be celebrated by their mommy no matter what they do or who they are. They will be free to grow and learn at whatever rate they grow and learn. They will be free to play and be kids as long as they will stay young.

For those of you who do a wonderful job of not comparing your kids, thank you. You inspire me. For the rest of us, let’s celebrate exactly where our kids are. Today.

Someday, I will post a cute and funny convo. But for today, it’s time to go get C and AB out of their cribs and enjoy their jibberish and new words and sweet smiles. And that’s plenty for me.IMG_8202ps. riding the bus at church from the far parking lot to the building is pretty much Coleton’s favorite weekly activity. Therefore, it’s one of mine too. 😉

Do you ever struggle with comparison? Share in the comments how you fight back.

 

My Love but mostly Hate relationship

Have you ever been on bed rest before?

If so, then you know how utterly hard it is, especially if you love to exercise and be on the go. I’ve not been on a 100% legit bedrest, because I’m taking care of a 24 pound baby and definitely still doing some daily functional shopping and household stuff, but exercise of ANY sort has been off limits.

This is why I hate you bedrest:

1. You are stealing from me the whole notion of being a “fit” pregnant person. Regardless of if my belly is big yet or not, (it’s not quite yet…although the pants are getting tighter), I am not in shape, nor are you allowing me the chance to try to be a fit preggo. This is sad to me, because fitness has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I have had to literally give it all up. Yoga, walking, running, etc. I just always imagined myself being really fit throughout my pregnancies. *sigh*

2. You give the OPPOSITE effect that coffee or an energy drink would give. Not only am I exhausted because HCG is overtaking my body, but also I don’t do any “extra” activity than is required of me, therefore I am completely and 100% lethargic…All. The. Time. The pregnancy perpetuates the bedrest (because we’re trying EVERYTHING!!) and the bedrest perpetuates exhaustion. This is awesome for being a wife of noble character (not). This leads to:

3. GUILT. You make me feel so darn guilty for so many reasons. I feel most guilty when I drive past a runner who looks like they have their second wind and I have flashbacks to my running days and have to look away or I might be tempted to go home and run (which is completely off limits.) I also feel like guilt is eating me alive at the end of each day when I try to recount to my super hard working husband what I’ve done throughout the day. “Uhh, well fed Coleton x amount of times and…put in a load of laundry?” haha. This is usally how that conversation goes. Followed by me breaking down into tears (ok the tears are only once or twice/weekly) because I want to be a “better wife and take good care of the house.” Then Kev usually reminds me that he doesn’t expect anything of me right now and he is so glad that I’m still sick and tired, and then we pray over my guilt for God to replace it with peace and it’s okay. Geesh.

4. You took away my Yoga!!! I am still teaching Holy Yoga occasionally, but without doing the poses myself. Oh, flexible and toned self, how I already miss you!

5. I am missing out my very favorite time of year! The leaves are changing, kids are playing outside, fit people are going on daily LONG RUNS and I’m indoors grasping onto what little bit of sanity I can find.

6. I’m embarrassingly out of breath after climbing steps or even during a quick shopping trip. I’m seriously being taught a lesson in humility.

And this is why I love you:

1. First and foremost, you have probably helped me make it through the trecherous first weeks of pregnancy…something lots of other things have failed to do.

{For this, I thank God for sending a few people into our lives. One being a woman at a wedding who told us she had 7 miscarriages and then was able to carry 3 babies to term doing bedrest, and also one of Kevin’s doctor clients who recommended that I “lay on the couch and eat ice cream” until I’m through the first trimester. We thank you both for your advice.}

2. In a selfish way I sorta like watching episodes of shows on Netflix and doing nothing. I’ve never experienced it in my life, and it’s strangely nice, feeling like this is what I’m supposed to be doing (ON OCCASION.) At least it is medically recommended laziness, I remind myself 🙂

3. “Dinner isn’t made again and you aren’t mad at me babe?” Of course not, you’re sick and pregnant and on bedrest. 🙂

4. I really feel like even though it’s extremely hard, I’m doing everything I can to ensure the health of this baby. With our first miscarriage, there were some strange correlations with a really intense workout I did around the time of our loss. I know people say it’s not from that, but giving up working out has been really freeing in some ways. I think I was always afraid that if I were to stop working out regularly I would balloon into a whale or something, but it hasn’t happened after 12 weeks of no exercise!! woot woot!

Now that we’re into the 13th week, Coleton and I (and Scotch-our labradoodle who desperately needs a bath) have started taking short walks around the block to get some fresh air, some sanity, and hopefully some much needed oxygen into this well rested body! GLORY HALLELUJAH!!

Coleton and I are obsessed with these walks. Hopefully little by little I’ll get stronger and they’ll get longer and it won’t be much of a risk. And oh my goodness I never thought I’d look so DESPERATELY forward to training for my first marathon after having this baby!~

So hopefully you have never had to be on bedrest, but if you have, I feel for you sista. But it’s only temporary, and maybe you can encourage me that it will be worth it!!

Much love,
liv

PS. I found a really funny bedrest pic on google, but I’m posting from our ipad while my computer is getting a new hard drive (tear) so I can’t figure out how to add it. You’ll just have to envision a funny pic on your own. :/ haha.

Wow.

I am at a loss for words really, for what I am about to say. At a loss for words on one hand, and on the other hand I am exploding with excitement and joy and so many thoughts I hardly know where to start!

SO, here it goes….I…AM…PREGNANT!!! Not just pregnant like the pee stick had 2 lines pregnant, but I have actually made it over the hump and am moving into the second trimester of pregnancy.

It is still extremely surreal! And although tomorrow is never promised, for babies and adults alike, we are choosing to rejoice and give God all the glory for what seems like it will be our first biological baby who will make it to full term! (we are in the 13th week.)

7 pregnancies. 6 miscarriages. Over 40 technical weeks of pregnancy and morning sickness to get to this point where we feel like we can be joyful in sharing this news with the world, rather than just somberly telling a small circle of people for the purpose of asking prayers as we enter into another murky first trimester.

The reason I am so excited to share this post is not to JUST celebrate this new life…it’s so much more than that. It’s to share another point in this trecherous journey we call life, a point that we feel is completely due to God’s incredible mercy and grace.

Throughout our battle with infertility/miscarriages people have said to us, “You deserve to have a baby so much…” and I’m sure I’ve said this before, but we feel like we’ve come to this place of true humility…which has led us to realize that we don’t deserve anything from God. We can’t “earn” good things by living a good life. Scripture is so clear…”the wages of sin is death” and we all sin! “But the gift of God is eternal life…” Our reward is heaven, and nothing here on earth is promised. The word of God says is so much better than I could: Job 37:23 “We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty; but even though he his just and righteous, he does not destroy us.” Justice would mean for us to be destroyed!! Even the “good” people among us. But he DOES NOT DESTROY US. No, better yet…he saves us. He “makes the rain fall on barren land…He sends rain to satisfy the PARCHED ground and make the tender grass spring up.” (Job 38:26)

There have been days in the last couple years where my sight was cloudy and where it was incredibly difficult to accept or believe that God could provide all the comfort I needed and that heaven would be enough someday. I wanted babies “now.” But glimpse by glimpse, I started to see more clearly that my purpose in life is to glorify God. My selfishness has to die for that to happen. OH how we long to be “happy!” We think we know what will make us happy too…but isn’t it so true that when you get what you want you soon become unsatisfied again?? It’s not about me. This truth is FREEING.

In my PARCHED desert of a life (or so it felt)…the rain was starting to come down.

When we adopted sweet Coleton, God really opened our eyes to the utter truth that His plan is best. We were incredibly humbled through the adoption journey…as we clearly felt like God had ordained from the foundations of the world for Coleton to be a part of our family and that he could knit us together beautifully, in a different way than knitting him together in my womb.

The day we adopted Coleton, I miscarried for the fifth time. Although the loss is always painful, it was a healing day. God showed us that He doesn’t just take away. He also GIVES…and gives generously. We knew the moment we held Coleton in our arms that we could adopt a whole houseful of kids and be so fulfilled. Back in February when we brought Coleton home, a verse that I had prayed for myself resonated in my heart:

“He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.” Psalm 113:9

That was a scripture God graciously gave me in the months following our first and probably most devastating miscarriage, in a time that I DESPERATELY needed it.

“My heart pounds as I think of this. It trembles within me.” Job 37:1. I read Isaiah 51 and literally shake as it recalls the story of Sarah who was SO barren in her old age and God brings forth MANY nations through her son…and it goes on to say, “Sorrow and morning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness. ‘I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.'” (v11b-12a.)

I just want to encourage you all as you rejoice with us and read this post and these scriptures that God is the one who has comforted me in my deepest valleys and who will comfort you in yours.

“Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27)

I feel like I have so much more to say…and if you’re still reading…I’ll say some of it now and some in more posts later. =)

1) I have been pretty sick…and taking care of Coleton has been my #1 focus…so basically that is why my blog has been MIA in the last couple months. I am hoping now that you know what is going on that I can just share what’s on my heart!! (oh yeah…I’ve been doing modified bedrest..that’ll be fun to tell you about. Also 2x acupuncture a week and drinking some really um…yummy…(insert GAG) herbs from a fertility specialist)

2) Don’t worry, I am not going to be posting belly pictures…or probably even ultrasound pictures. I have been in the “infertility” camp and have SO many close friends going through different aspects of that right now. And oh how I know that these can be such painful reminders of where you maybe aren’t. So PLEASE don’t run away if you’re going through that! I will do my best to be sensitive.

3) I know this might sound silly…but I seriously do not want to hear that “oh, you know what…it’s totally because you adopted a baby that you’re having one now” or anything along those lines. We don’t believe that adopting Coleton has ANYTHING to do with God’s timing for giving us another baby…and our ultimate goal was definitely not just to have biological babies. We definitely still feel called to adopt again and see that as just as much of a joy and gift as this baby is.

4) We know that the babes are going to be 14 months apart!! (insert Gasp!) Some people think this is crazy. Some people like babies a LOT and are okay with chaos 🙂 We would be a part of the second group, and are nothing but thrilled. I know it will be lots of diapers, etc… So please don’t ask about if we’re like…up for the challenge. We totally are, k?

Love you all and THANK YOU SO much for your prayers and support on this CRAZY journey.
Xoxo,
Liv

Sweet Spot

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There have been so many hard times in the last 2.5 years for us. So many losses and heartbreaks, in a deep intimate way. Hurts that shook my foundation and belief system. Hurts that gave me reasons to cry in the shower, cry out to God, and just cry. 

Obviously, those 2.5 years weren’t LADEN with only bad. There were good things too, like friends getting married and having babies. Like getting our wonderful house and making it into a home. Like getting our sweet puppy dog and seeing some really beautiful places in Europe with my love.

But I am just excited to say that I feel like I am in a sweet spot of life, and I don’t want to miss it. Sweet cuddles. Sweet family. Sweet Summer is here….SUNSHINE, cookouts with friends, farmers markets and iced coffees. Sweet baby sounds and smells. Sweet baby that I get excited EVERY MORNING to get our of his crib 🙂 Sweet husband that I’m so thankful to fall asleep next to every night. 

I recently found the final paper that I wrote at the end of my Theology degree at St. Ambrose, and it was on the Covenant relationship of marriage. Words can’t explain or express the joy and fulfillment that a true covenantal marriage brings, and I feel like God has graciously given us a marriage built on a covenant promise. Highs and lows in the last almost 4 years of marriage have brought us closer than I ever thought a human relationship possible. (OBV, we are not even close to perfect, but we are learning and it’s so freaking fun.) Forgiveness is present, and we give it generously. I love my husband. (And the Mother’s day card he gave me last Sunday…geez, talk about making a woman choke up.) 

My little sis recently moved in with us for an internship in the QCA this summer, and she is generously and happily spending lots of time little Coleton, which provides us not only date nights but helps me feel like our family is getting to know the joy that this amazing baby brings. 🙂 I’m excited to get closer to her over the summer. 

Life is good, and I hope even in the midst of hurts you can find some serious sweetness this summer. Don’t miss out on the sweet spots in your life. 

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