Wednesday, December 16, 2015


I was scrolling my Facebook Newsfeed, and saw a post from my friend, Kim to her Young Living Group Team Page. She asked what our word was for 2016. Our focus. Our mission statement. What word would we pursue for 2016 and learn how to encompass OR what word will we allow to encompass our lives for the year 2016.
This felt good. "This is just what I need!" My mind said to itself. A focal point. It was easy, as I rocked my Katie Beth for a nap. Bennett is already in bed. The Yule Log is playing on my tv.
"I crave quiet." I said to myself. Ha! You may say, "Good luck with that girl!"
I realized a solemn truth about myself, which, for some reason - I am going to share. I crave quiet in my mind. I crave quiet in my soul. "Be still and know that I am God." I breathe slower and deeper, just whispering those words. I am tired of the conversations that have no use. I am tired of explaining myself. I am tired of listening to myself speak of dreams and conquests to then keep a standard of mediocrity.
In reflection of 2015 - I think the word or phrase I didn't intentionally choose but my life encompassed was "stay afloat". I did it. I am a champion of treading water.
Now, it is time to enter "Sanctuary" physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I have slowly been making steps towards this - not knowing that 4-6 months later my theme for the new year would be to enter a preserve for my mind.
I have had my time to "come down" from the emotions of Katie's birth and hospital stay. [Not to say, I don't still get emotional - it is already far less.]  Now is time for quiet and sanctuary and to get a new plan. Right now, the plan is Sanctuary. Preserve me, listen to my heart, be still and know. I am excited for 2017 now. I imagine, I'll have come through 2016 with a plan and a much more solid knowing of God and myself for my future.
I feel it though, in my bones, 2016 is a year of grounding and sanctuary and zero hoops to jump through.
I already feel this won't be easy. Much resistance when you are doing what is good for you - I have come to experience. Oh well. I am a refugee with my papers stamped and approved for sanctuary.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Brave or Botched?

I figure, I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a lover.
I have breast fed. I have formula fed. I have used my breasts for more than feeding my children and [gasp] enjoyed it!
I have something to say about this normalize breastfeeding campaign that is, in my face every week, on social media.

I get the nature of media to sensationalize stories and to push buttons for the most "hits", the most shares, the most comments. Yesterday, my buttons were pushed. I chose not to enter the arguments in the comments of the stories.

It was a story I saw from two different sources, in my Facebook newsfeed. You may or may not have seen it. It was the photo of a breastfeeding mother, in a restaurant, with her breast exposed by pulling it out over the neck hole of her shirt. Baby covered the nipple. If you read the "story", it was the mother whining because another woman was giving her dirty looks and she was staring the oppressor down, a true act of defiance. Ugh.

From what I could tell, and for as long as I read comments, before turning away because my blood pressure was rising - most were shocked to open the link and see the entire picture (darn near entire boob)- and they voiced it upset them.

Just a couple thoughts......
I have seen the argument over and again about how the breast is solely for nurturing and nourishing a baby. Huh. Interesting. Seems practical. How in the world do we strip males of their fascination with this part of the female anatomy then? Because this is also practical. Am I the only one who feels a  minority is ignoring the fact, just like women have breasts, that men like breasts? Does this minority also expect us to emasculate men for this because it is a frivolous and shallow instinct? I assure you it is not shallow. It is nature. Raising is amazing how quickly these age-old instincts kick in. Have you been around old guys? It never leaves. It's ok. It's normal. I did an experiment last Summer. We were on a road trip. I stayed in the car to nurse our daughter while the rest of the family went in to Arby's. For the record, I did not stay in the car, in a huff, because I "had" to be isolated from regular society since I breastfeed. I know she, our daughter, is easily distracted and wouldn't nurse well unless it was calm and quiet. Also I don't like exposing my breast to anyone than my husband. At the time, there was another HUGE hub-bub about "normalizing" breastfeeding online. Kathie Lee and Hoda's Facebook wall was inundated with brelfies or breastfeeding selfies. I decided to take one. When my husband returned, I showed it to him and asked, "What do you think when you see that?" His response? "That is HOT!" We laughed and I said, "Exactly."
Why are breastfeeding mothers shaming humans for looking at a breast when it is sticking out like in the picture that has "taken the internet by storm" as a sign of "bravery" for breastfeeding mothers everywhere? Breasts are sensual. They are beautiful. Some of us, like me, recognize the virility and drive of a man. When my husband is doing physical labor and comes in sweaty and a grungy mess, it turns me on. Just as I admire and respect my husband for providing and doing his utmost to keep us safe, I know many men who *greatly appreciate* women who cook their meals and take care of their children. It is how we are made. I am also raising 2 boys, 2 future men. I am not interested in a society that tries to strip down men's drive and nature in order to elevate women's rights.
There is no need to normalize breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been normal since ....forever. It wasn't popular when my mom was raising kids, or maybe it was and she just didn't want to do that. I don't care. Honestly, how have humans nourished babies since the beginning of time? When I make a choice that may not be popular, I am not looking for everyone to validate me and coddle me and give me props. I do what I have to do. I follow my gut and act accordingly. If others don't like it, not my problem- it's theirs. Most of the time, I can even extend grace that they have no clue why I chose what I did and just smile through it. Even when I am criticized for my choices, I don't get in their face. I ignore them. Sometimes, it hurts when I get criticized for my choices, if they are people I love or thought I had a relationship with. But I don't attempt to intimidate strangers, people I could give two sh*ts about what they think of me. I carry on. That bothers me more than an entire boob staring at me in a restaurant. If you are going to make a decision, stop acting like everyone has to love it and/or like it. Make your decision, take your action and quit expecting others to recognize you and call you "brave". I know brave mothers. They are not the ones flopping their breast out in public. I could give you examples......for another post.
I encourage breastfeeding mothers everywhere- if you want to nurse, great! I encourage formula feeding mothers everywhere - if you want to not breastfeed and use formula - good for you, I applaud you!
I encourage all mothers that if you want to do what you are convicted to do, do it! If you feel it appropriate to expose yourself to a restaurant or store or football stadium, to feed your baby, do it! Be sure of yourself and do it graciously. Doing anything else only screams insecurity in your decision. If you feel it appropriate to cover yourself or excuse yourself from a public setting, to feed your baby - enjoy that! But then don't bellyache and blubber that you feel isolated, because maybe you should be showing your boobs to the world instead of being a victim.
As for me, I chose using a light cover or scarf, or nursing away from the public. I didn't see it as oppression - it was a phase, which came to an end quite quickly. I did and still do see my baby's feeds as an intimate time with my baby, whether I nursed or bottle fed. I only nurse now for morning and bedtime. Myself and generations of mothers before me didn't feel they were in need of a brigade to normalize exposed breasts.

I have said my piece.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Inner Child

Between this & that
I ask myself, "Which hat?"
You're known so bubbly and resilient
Today you need to be real about it.
I have trained myself to be what those around me need.
I have trained myself to ignore what matters to me.

It's hard for many, you see
to ask for help and hugs in the midst of their mystery.
Loved ones and well-wishers alike
will express their will for you to just move on.
Because they want what they want and can't allow your life change,
your pain, your pleas to impact what they have always wanted.
You will not be permitted to be a disruption.

........This. Is. Mean.

You see, many of us know there is this thing, our destiny.
We simply can't make out how to get there
Breathe in and breathe out - some days this is a huge accomplishment.
Is there anyone who notices?

I was raised to not draw attention to myself.
"Don't be a prima donna!
You get enough attention as it is.
They spoil and shower you and you are the definition of confidence.
You don't need any of this."
Now, all grown up and grown up for some time, I wonder,
"was it Envy that robbed me of getting all I needed?"

I can't go back and undo it all. I am not one to blame others. It's becoming clear
as I attempt to live without fear that I have more to live for, than a child's game,
being played by mothers.

So right now, this moment, and I don't know for how many more, I am resting. I am going back to find that little girl, who lost her twirl. She was beautiful and gracious. It's time to bring her center stage and watch her transform into a beautiful grown woman.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Touch Not of this Place

Let me tell you sweet darling why I can't stop holding you. I want you to know there is a reason why I can't bear to not be with you every moment of every day.
I know where you came from - it's a place I have not seen, only felt. It is a place where I have lost dear loved ones to. A place I felt rejection when they left and I wanted to follow.
Time lessens that feeling. Time is the only thing to lessen that sting.
You came here, as a long-lost promise from our Maker to me. I surrendered that He'd give me three sons but not a daughter. Acceptance and Joy nonetheless.
When I learned I was with child, yet again.......Fear, fear like I have known the last two times, only times 1000. There were to be no more, no more without consequence of me joining those who rejected me for residence, not of this place.
See, I know this place is sacred, peaceful, beautiful beyond comprehension and the ultimate knowing of one's existence. I try not to think of this Place often, because it is Home. It is where I wanted to run back to and feared that I couldn't carry on if I lost anymore life from inside of me. It is where we return when our experience here is finished. The time is not for us to know, it is up to us to live. To relish the struggle and greatness of conquering this foreign domain, by being in relationship with our Creator while we breathe this air.
My heart cried out, with no voice. I kept it inside for weeks. How could I face the place, yet again, where such pain was, for sure... waiting?
Then they told me you were a girl. The veil of fear lifted - I knew He would not fail me. He would not tease me only to keep you.
A few weeks of peace and planning. Lately, I am thrown into remembrance of what I was doing a year ago and all the signs were there for the outcome that was coming to us.
Then, the gate opened and your world, inside of me, changed. A normal occurrence for a normal expectancy. This is when you revealed you are extraordinary. All the fear returned to me and loneliness as I had to be removed and put in a womb, just for me - so we could have you.
Brave face on. It wasn't just a face. It is what we do when we have a combat mission. Strap up and boots on. Let's do this.
I was in denial that you could come 16 weeks early. I refused to see the NICU. "We have 10 more weeks to go." Harumph. Back off with the suggestion to get a tour of the NICU.
When we had 14 weeks to go, you let me know it's "go time and I'm coming."
As I lay on the table, with your daddy playing with my hair, my body trembling, I sang. I sang praises to our Maker because we had to focus on Him. As hard as it is, we can't lose sight that He fights our battles. I was in battle for  your life and mine.
When the cutting, tugging, pulling, stapling was finished - I asked, "How much does she weigh?"
Nothing could prepare me for their reply......."1 lb. 11oz. and 13 inches long".
I could feel myself want to crash.
How? What??? No!
How will she live? What are You doing to me???? No! That can't be correct!
We remained in this womb of sorts. It felt like a refuge to finish our pregnancy - for both of us. It is called the NICU. Thank you God for the NICU. For the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and staff. We love you University of Iowa Children's Hospital!
The next day, when I laid eyes on you........I didn't recognize you. I was so sick still and felt such guilt that I couldn't keep you safe. But you looked back at me and you knew me. Sometimes, you still look at me as if to study my soul through my eyes and tell me, "We got this Mama."
Nineteen days later, it was time to hold you. I have heard other mommies stories of being so overcome with joy. I was still afraid. I felt like I was putting you in harm's way by wanting to hold you. We didn't get comfy. They laid you on my chest and I froze. I didn't want to move to make any monitor go off, where they'd tear you from me again. It still didn't feel real. But hold you I did. Even skin to skin, we had to cover you in layers of fleece. It was good to hold you. You loved it. This was the next big bullet point you issued: You were just so excited to be mine and to be here.
We called you Warrior Princess. You are not from this place Katharine. You are a miracle. 87 days in the NICU and you never faltered, waivered. You steadily gained every inch of ground.
Praise be to God that you are healthy, vibrant, strong, growing, with no concerns. Thank you Katie Beth for your warrior spirit. I don't want to pressure that you are to accomplish great things, but I cannot deny that I know better than anyone what you are made of: Strength, Tenacity and Grace.
Thank you for this past year!! We are almost to  your first birthday. You are the perfect addition to our family. Your brothers adore you. Your daddy and I will always delight in you.
As we enter November, we will celebrate our experience of YOU! It is an honor to forever hold a Touch, not of this Place.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Our Breastfeeding Story

Do you remember the first time you saw a mother breast feed her infant? I do. It was my dad's cousin's wife, feeding her son. Until that moment, and I was 10, I had no idea that was the reason women had breasts. I also didn't know any other reason. I remember wondering why men had nipples and no "bumps". I was 10. Once I learned that breasts could feed babies, well, my baby dolls experienced a whole  new level of play time. I remember stuffing my dolls under my shirts to nurse. My mom formula fed my sister, brother and me. The idea that I could hold my baby and feed her from my body was very cool to me.

When Jacob was born and we put him to breast, the little buddy latched on right away and started growling. The nurses giggled and were literally like hens clucking all around me. There were 3 of them all positioning my baby and my boob. I giggled with glee and such a sense of accomplishment after he started nursing.

Bennett was born and rushed to the NICU, was fed by an NG tube for 10 days and we started bottle feeding. We tried to get him to latch on, but at 35 weeks, the whole breathe, suck, swallow wasn't developed and it took about another 10 days and we were home by that point, before I could ditch the nipple shield and just breast feed him.

I nursed both boys for 3 months. If I knew then, what I know now about breastfeeding, I may have continued to BF. Then again....maybe not.

Katie was born and again, whisked away to the NICU because she was a micropreemie. She was born at 26 weeks. She weighed 1 lb. 11oz. I didn't even ask for days if it was a possibility for her to breastfeed ever. I was engrossed in pumping. In fact, Katie was born on a Friday evening. By Sunday morning because of the trauma of everything, lack of sleep - I couldn't sleep, the surgery, being away from my boys, and knowing the baby that I anticipated to be a 3 lb. baby was not even 2 lbs., the nurses had to swaddle me with warm blankets and give me a muscle relaxer because I had the first anxiety attack of my life. I could have gone with the donor milk. I was told by the neonatologist that took care of Bennett though that the donor milk is pasteurized. The donations are taken, thrown into a vat and cooked to kill bacteria. Problem is that it also kills all the vital enzymes and bacteria that baby needs for ....everything. She told me that she would prefer I use formula over donor milk. Now, that was 4 years ago....maybe things have changed. But that was the information I had at the time Katie was born and I was determined to start pumping because if a "normal" baby needs mother's milk - micropreemie was definitely going to need the best option possible because the entire final trimester of her pregnancy was not, in my womb. I had committed mind, body and soul to getting her my breastmilk.

I pumped every 2 hours for the first 2 months of her life. [I am sure I will post again about the regimen of pumping for a micropreemie another time.] At 32 weeks, she was ready to start putting at my breast and start bonding that way. The nurses also knew that would boost my supply. At this point, I had only held Katie about 5 times. She was 6 weeks old. The first time we tried this, I was completely scared for Katie. Her head was the size of an orange and to have "one of the girls" coming at her freaked me out for her. I told the nurse, "Let's just rest her head here and we'll try to latch another time." The nurses thought my reaction was funny. They told me she'd be fine but I told them if I were her, I'd feel ganged up with "all of that" coming at me. The next day, we tried again and this time, had the nipple shield ready. Do you want to know what my little punkin' did? She latched on like a pro [32 weeks gestation, with an NG tube and O2 tube up her nose and down her throat] and she nursed for 32 minutes!!!!!! This was the biggest highlight of the NICU experience for me. It was doubtful that she'd ever actually breast feed. I had done research online and other mommies in the NICU were exclusively pumping to provide milk for their baby......not many nursed and certainly not as early as 32 weeks. Once she discharged at 37 weeks, I tried to follow the NICU's instructions of adding a fortifier to my breastmilk and giving her a couple bottles a day. I erred my not picking up the exact brand the NICU used and Katie reared her head back, spit out the milk and arched her back every time I attempted a bottle. I decided I could either freak out, or just nurse. Nursing tuckers out babies, especially preemies because it's more work than the bottle, initially. In the NICU, she got to nurse about 3-4 feedings/day and the rest were bottles. I was nervous that she wouldn't gain weight or that Katie would be too tuckered out to eat. But she never did. She thrived. She nurses to this day.

About a month ago, I was at my wit's end with breastfeeding. It was the first time, I started thinking about using formula. Katie's feeds, in the evenings, since discharge were high demand and after months of cluster feeding every evening, I was done. I talked to Steve about it and as I was telling him my total frustration, then came the fear. She was born a micropreemie and we are heading into flu/RSV season. Katie NEEDS the antibodies and goodness of mother's milk for as long as possible. I am not a breastmilk nazi. Some mothers are insane and judgmental about mother's that choose formula. That's not me. This time around was different though - I feel convicted about breastmilk. For a month, we had been feeding her one bottle, in the evening. We used the milk I expressed, in the NICU. A reserve, we thought would take months to deplete, got pretty low, after a month of Daddy getting to feed her a 7oz. bottle each evening. But that little bit helped my sanity SOOOO much. I could spend time with the boys, I could do laundry in peace. Sometimes, I just sat without having Katie attached and I felt........human. When we saw how little milk we had left, I started freaking out because I had a taste of freedom and couldn't go back to cluster feeds! Guess what our Warrior Princess showed she was ready to do? She started eating solids like a champ. Right on target 6 1/2 months adjusted, 10 months actual. Our pediatrician, also a neonatologist, had suggested I attempt since she was 4 months adjusted [7 months actual] to introduce her to avocado and greek yogurt. I did this off and on. Our pediatrician was adamant about trying to get the tongue used to what comes naturally to "termies" [term babies] because she had seen many cases of preemies not getting this down, dropping weight and having to go back to NG tube, with a button in the stomach. Katie had no interest and she just dribbled it out all over herself until a month ago and then she took off! This has been a god send because I still primarily nurse her, but the cluster feeding has ended. She eats lunch and supper with the family. :D She growls if we don't shovel it in fast enough. I have started making baby food, which is super fun.

Our hope is to continue to breastfeed until she weans. We hope that will be her adjusted 12 month birthday in February. I have learned so much more of what makes breastfeeding successful, with Katie. I am by no means a mama that wants to keep her attached forever, but I also cherish this gift and reflect on how badly I wanted to be able to do this with my last baby. It's a small miracle, in the sea of miracles, that Katie swims in. It's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The treasures of having a micropreemie

I have shared the raw emotion I have dealt with for the past year. Let me share with you what is fascinating about a micropreemie. The joys. The upside. The breaks.
These items are in no particular order, except as they came into my mind. 

#1) By the time you bring your micropreemie home, you are completely recovered from the C-section and all that you dealth with, physically, after the birth.
#2) You are used to sleep deprivation, from pumping every 2 hours around the clock.
#3) Once your milk supply is built up, you have nights to be good to yourself,  to get 5 hours of sleep at a time. Katie was 2 months old when I felt confident and freedom to power pump at 10pm and get up at 4AM to power pump. Getting one's sleep is NOT overrated, as any mommy knows.
#4) A micropreemie is still tiny and stays small, longer. Lots may find this a troubling fact - but I find that it is wonderful. Clothes last longer! When my boys were Katie's age they were 18 and 20lbs. Everything is going to last longer: her swing, her floor toys, her exersaucer, carseat. Katie is now moving into 6-9 month clothes and she is almost 10 months old. I was so tired with my boys at her size, and they grew so fast. I remember wishing they would slow down so I could savor their baby-ness. With Katie, I still don't want her to grow too fast, after all, she is my last baby - but I am loving that she is a peanut. She is healthy and happy and she has rolls. Her tinyness is part because she is a micropreemie. I like to believe, her petite and tiny frame is favoring me, as a baby and child. I was teeny tiny for a long time. I wore a size 6X from first grade through 3rd grade.
#5) You can buy a big box of diapers and they last longer because at size 2's, which she will be in a while longer (probably another 3 months), we get more bang for our buck because the smaller the diaper, the more fit in the box!
#6) You get the honor of watching your baby develop outside of the womb. They are miraculous. All the beeps and alarms and tubes and lines that baby is covered by, in the beginning, all go away. One by one signaling, your baby is getting ready to go home because your baby's systems are developing everything she needs. Your baby is producing all fluids, enzymes, hormones she needs to survive.
#7) You get to see a tiny baby, with eyes wide open and interact. A month after we came home with Katie, we had friends come to meet our Warrior Princess. The common sentiment? Shock that a baby so young was so interactive and attentive. I think it really demonstrates what a Warrior Princess looks like - Surreal yet....real! She is magical.
#8) Coming out on the other side of PPROM, having a micropreemie, being separated from your 2 other babies at home and the man that means more than other human being to you, is strength! Faith! Honor! Authenticity! Self-worth! Resilience! Priorities! All of that has taken several months to surface after coming home - or it did me. I know now, that while it was traumatic and hard and it sucked........I would do it all over again because of the weekends and evenings I have with my beautiful family of 5, sitting in one room, laughing, wrestling, dancing, snuggling.
#9) Having a micropreemie is a call to LIVE. You watch this tiny human being struggle to breathe  and fight to live. Suddenly, you realize this tiny human being is so damn excited to be here and chooses to be here. Do I look at my life that way? What do I want in life? What is inside of me that has been lying dormant? What have I been afraid of and want to overcome? What I have settled for and am sick of putting up with? What is the lesson I need to learn to stop cycles?
#10) My favorite think about having my micropreemie is she is 10 months old tomorrow. She is still all about snuggling during my favorite season - Fall. She's not about crawling and getting into everything yet. ;)

xoxo ~ Beth

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's a freaking Honor!

It's been a weekend of grounding, revelation, passion, cleaning out my temple as well as our home- a VERY productive weekend. My home is still a bit of a mess - but it is making sense.

As I worshipped God this morning, a picture of the scariest, most vulnerable moments all came flooding in, from the past 5 years. Yes, it will be 5 years since Levi went to Heaven. If you go back to the beginning of this blog, the experience of losing and loving our little boy in Heaven is what started Hallelujah Mama. This picture flashed just like a Year in Review on social media. Levi, Bennett's birth and his NICU stay, to the past year and a half with our move and pregnancy of Katie and ending with her birth and NICU stay.

When I saw these pictures, in my mind, I held my arms up to say, "Stop! I can't take it anymore!" Just as I did that, a new thought entered my mind. This thought had a window no wider than a crack to eek through before I had the window slammed shut. Ready for it? .......................

"Look at that! Look at all you overcame!" As soon as I allowed this to occur, a new flood of images washed on the shore of mind, in Year In Review mode. Only, these images were of my entire life before Levi. I cannot go over all those in my blog because some of them are also incredibly intense and would hurt those I love. I haven't stopped those actions from loving those I love so dearly. We all have those actions taken against us that are not justified...but also can't be controlled or erased. They also should not be denied by one's self. They shape us. This morning, they came in a flood back and again, it was a collage of every ugly, destructive thing that has either happened at the hands of others, or as product of an imperfect world. I don't believe God "allows" these troubles. However, I know He knows that I'd have to face them.

You know what? A sense of honor and strength rose up inside of me! I keep having these triggers - signaling a form of PTSD. The smells of the seasons changing, the stupid Facebook memories that I have stopped looking at, when the pump on my Cetaphil bottle broke, when someone asked me a question about PPROM, songs, things Bennett says to me, hearing the roar of the Hawkeye football crowd at Kinnick on the TV.....there are many more to come. We are a little less than 2 months away from when my water broke. I have cried in HyVee when I saw a 9 month old that was a giant compared to my Katie who is the same age. I fought back tears at Jacob's school ice cream social last week because  there was a 3 month old baby the same size as my Katie. The triggers and reminders of what we've been through can no longer be masked by hiding in our home. You know what they are instead? They are a reminder that the pain is a freaking honor! God knew I would never meet or hold a son, in my arms. He waits for me. God knew I would deliver Bennett 5 weeks early and deal with a horrible birth. God knew I had a daughter coming when I thought we were done. God knew the pregnancy was hard when family members were clueless and insensitive about how much I struggled with her pregnancy. God knew the day after we had a gorgeous day with amazing friends in Independence that Steve and I would have a heavy conversation, lying in bed, We talked about death and how neither of us would allow the other "off the hook" by checking out early. That we were and are in it for the long haul, sickness and in health - that we'd get done kissing and as I moved to get out of bed for a bedtime snack - my water would break at 24 weeks. He knew when I thought she'd be 3 lbs. that she would be born 1 lb. 11 oz.

I could go on and on about what He knew that I had no idea was coming. But He also knew that He was bringing to life, amazing human beings through Steve and I. He gave us these babies - and they are amazing and I have come to a conclusion this morning  that because He knew how I would handle the hardships, that I would come out giving Him glory! For I am fearfully and wonderfully made! After all of this, Through all of this - there is nothing I can't do because He is on my side. He made me a rock star....He made me this way. He's been waiting for me to embrace it. It is not arrogant to say so! That is a lie! That is what we are trained to believe...that false humility is best. False humility is just.....fake! The Maker of the Heavens and Earth resides in me! The Maker of worlds unseen and trillions of light years away, called me worthy to live through it all! It's a freaking honor!!!!

He is waiting for you to do that too! You each have a story that is so intricate and gut-wrenching and beautiful. It is easy to get caught up in feeling sorry and wishing for others to show they are trying to understand and love you through it.................we all have our hurts, pains and areas we long for validation, for comfort, for acceptance and you know what? If you believe in a Good, good Father - we already have it! We have all of that and more!

I am going to stop stifling the cries. The groans of my soul when I see something that reminds me of any pain from the course of this life- it is a freaking honor to feel, to experience what I have experienced. Some of these things are so deep that this shell I reside in, cannot express but in groans. My brain cannot grasp because all of "this" resides in a domain far beyond my brain. I am loved. If I had no person on this earth to love me, I am still loved by the great I AM.

I want to live out loud! This is just the beginning! All of this to lead me......HERE!

Abba, thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Do you Believe it or Not?

I have a confession: I felt safe in the NICU. It was frightening at first. At first, I wept when Steve left and when my mom left. There I was. However, soon, the staff helped gird me up. I wasn't alone. I have another confession to make:  I wasn't relying on God. I was relying on my own strength. I did good too. While my ego soars, knowing this, my spirit is yet to even surface. I went into self-protection mode. I have aged 10 years, in 6 months. I left the NICU and there was no one to pat me on the back and hug me and credit me for my strength. Confession #3: Coming home has been the hardest part of the entire adventure. So many things to face. My husband who wanted everything to go back the way things were before Nov. 2 [and if I am honest, things changed drastically inside of me when I realized I was pregnant], a community I didn't know with no close friends - friendly people yes! But you know what I am saying when I say that my friends are miles away or in the community we left 3 months before we found ourselves expecting our Katie, there are countless other details and demands that were to come. And the criticism and judgment for how I handled things from those that "love" me. I went from  the doctors and nurses, on two different occasions, asking me how they could clone me as a model NICU mom to......nothing. The day before Katie was discharged, the nurse practitioner and nurse played a joke to lock me in Katie's room once I arrived at the NICU that morning, to never let me go. That felt really good. There was none of that from anyone but my mom. I don't say this for sympathy. I say this because I need to be honest with myself. With my readers. And I know my punctuation sucks - oh well. In case you don't know me well, this is what I feed on. I feed on affirmation, on proving myself to those I deem "better" than me in whatever is at task. As a child, it was being the teacher's pet. In my music passion, it was to get lead roles and accolades for playing my instrument and choir. My favorite teacher in high school offered to walk me out on Senior Parents night for football. My mom was not a sports person and my dad was not around. I was our football manager. It meant so much that a male teacher [never inappropriate by the way] would see that much in me and be willing to stand in front of our school and say, I will escort this girl out, on the football field. It meant so much that he was proud of me..and he was my teacher....truly my favorite teacher. I didn't allow him that because it was enough to me that he believed in me to offer. Do you see my theme? I am fueled from gaining approval from those that I desperately want it from. Every job I have had, I was promoted. When there is no way, I make a way. I am tired. I am weary. I feel old and worn down.
Here we are 9 months later..................
We visited a church a couple months ago which we have committed to attend regularly, starting Sunday. At that service, I heard worship music that moved me. It caused stirrings I haven't felt in 15 years. I realized that while my blog is called "Hallelujah Mama" my husband doesn't even know the vessel I used to be and the passion I had for Jesus. For God. For the Holy Spirit using me. My kids don't know that my favorite thing in the world is to sing. To be with like-minded believers and have a jam session and see what happens. It has been really eating at me. It would be like our kids never knowing that their daddy is a Cubs fan. One afternoon, after coming back from vacation which fell short of what I pictured as "vacation".....I stumbled on a song called "Forever" by Kari Jobe on YouTube. There is a line, "Now death where is your sting? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated! [into chorus] Forever He is glorified! Forever He is lifted high! Forever He is risen! He is alive!" I started to weep. To cry like I haven't in months....maybe years. This question pierced through my mind, "Do you believe it or not??" I started to think about that. If death has no sting - and He has overcome for me, then why do I carry so much pain? Right after that question, the next song was another Kari Jobe song called, "I Am Not Alone". For a bit of humor, said in my best Eliza Doolittle voice, "This song done me in!"

Read these lyrics:

I Am Not Alone

By Kari Jobe
When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I'm standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear
You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own
You're my strength
You're my defender
You're my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You've always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul
For non-commercial use only.
For non-commercial use only.
Data from: LyricFind 
I mean seriously....all the approval I wanted...from people....what's it matter? I have been accepted by the Most High and He has never failed me. He never will fail me. In fact, He thinks I am awesome just the way I am. He doesn't want anything from me but relationship. He is my Healer. He is the balm I need to fix my brokenness. I feel broken. I don't know when I'll stop crying. I don't know when I will feel "normal". I'd like to think that all this breaking down is my new normal. I have been craving a depth from life I haven't experienced....this is just the beginning.
After hearing those songs and having this feeling wash over me, I remembered many years ago when I had to be tough as nails as a property manager for low-income housing. I had to evict people. I had to get in people's faces to keep our properties safe. I had to be in partnership with the police department because I was known as the "cleaner-upper", to the property management firm I worked for. The picture that flashed, in my mind's eye was when I had to go to court for any reason, I was always nervous, not because I was afraid I wouldn't get the judgment but because someone had to find a new place to live because I was doing my job. I stood alone, in front of a judge, across from a person that would have to find a new place to live. We didn't hire attorneys for evictions. I had to follow the procedures, the paperwork filed, evidence in my file to present to the magistrate. As long as I had my "ducks in a row"....I won or was given the judgment in favor of the property. It really was a simple process. 1,2,3, judgment granted. I didn't express anything but facts. I never had emotion during these proceedings. I felt like God was showing me that as long as I rest on him, praise Him [not only when trauma is in my face], keep my heart clean - He's got me. He's got whatever I am facing. Rest. Rest. Rest. I am re-training my brain to rest. Every day, I have a tally list a mile long of what I must do and accomplish to prove to Steve that I do stuff as a stay at home mom. I am throwing it out. I need rest. God's got me. He's got all of us. I have all I need because the spirit of Jesus is alive and lives in me. I am not alone because the lover of my soul, the Father of Lights resides in me. On my own strength, I am weary. In Jesus, I have rest and refreshment and youth. I don't feel this yet. That's ok. I will.
I am sorry if this sounds like gibberish....but it's why I haven't posted in a couple weeks. I couldn't do small talk when I feel like after all the medical procedures I have had the past now, feels like, rhetorically speaking, I am in open heart surgery. All is well. Please pray for me. There is an awful lot of hurt coming to the surface. Hurt that goes back to my youth. I know that there is freedom. My kids are doing great. Really great. Bringing Katie home had been, up til now, about getting the kids stabilized and thriving, which they are. Now, I feel it's time to take care of me. Thank you for your love, for your prayers and for your kindness.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Packing and ......Unpacking

Good morning friends! My family and I are leaving for our first family vacation soon. I wanted to post before we do to let you know I will post regularly again, when we return. Is there anything better than when your husband comes home the night before and you know he's with you for the next 6 days? We leave for vacation tomorrow, but everything instantly relaxed and changed in our atmosphere when Dad came home last night. Vacation began, even though, it's crazy packing and preparing. By the way, a difference I have noticed between baby girls and boys is the packing process. I had to pull out my bottle of Peace&Calming and inhale, as I was choosing which adorable outfits to pack for Katie. I didn't do that for the boys when we packed to go somewhere. I chose outfits that I didn't care if they dumped red kool-aid on. I always packed one "good" outfit, expecting it would need replaced along the trip. Packing for Katie, I feel like I am preparing a trunk show for Paris. I have agonized over the cutest tops and dresses and head bands, tutus and ruffles on bums, to please perfect strangers that may gaze upon my gorgeous girl. Who am I? It cracks me up.

I have read that the way to grow a blog is to know who your audience is. I have no idea who my audience is. I am writing organically, as I feel it. I started this blog post 2 hours ago and it went to a very different topic about life after the NICU, following the above paragraph. I can't post all that. It needs some work. I think a lot of it was really for my journal. I think it is time to accept that I am dealing with PTSD. Bear with me folks. I feel really weird that this adventure of my daughter being born was hardest on her, she overcame so much- and she is absolutely perfect and yet....all the unraveling I am still is weird indeed. I feel like her birth has brought me new life, in more ways than her own life. I feel like the dogma of my life has been exposed and I see it. I feel like the relationships, in my life, I see in a very different light, the light of what they are. Some relationships have blossomed and I wonder what I did to deserve such good friends. Some relationships I am seeing for the first time and realizing they are not what I thought they were - and for those, I am coming to peace to say, "It's all good."  And it is really hard for me to express myself in any form than writing. I tried holding an intelligent conversation with two people in a coffee shop last week - I walked away feeling quite embarrassed. Words from my tongue are not in sync with my brain. Please don't hold it against me, when you are used to me prattling on and on and being jovial and ready to fill dead air with something. I am loving the sound of silence these days. With that...I must get ready for our trip. It's exactly what we need.

xoxo -Beth


Friday, July 31, 2015

Surrender vs. Quitting


verb (used without object)
6. to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.
verb (used without object)
11. to stop trying, struggling, or the like; accept or acknowledge defeat.
The difference between these two words or actions, for me, is the feeling I get after I have decided to either surrender or quit. When I have surrendered, I feel like I have started a new chapter. I feel empowered. When I quit, I feel defeated, like I gave in and then struggle with guilt. They have a strong characteristic that is the same - I choose to stop struggling. But for me, the difference is the feeling I have after I either surrender or quit.
I have been reflecting on examples of each, from my own life. This has been a sobering and humbling revelation. When I surrender, the power I give myself over to is God. When I quit, I give up to no one, I appease my ego that has been screaming at me.
I was 25 and hadn't dated anyone seriously in 4 years. Since I was a little girl, I dreamed and desired more than anything else to be a wife and mommy. I mean...that was my life mission. I couldn't imagine anything better than that. [I have since learned that it's awesome AND there is even more!;)] Mr. Wonderful wasn't showing up. I found all my decisions were being based on where I may find this dude that was going to realize what a gem I was. Then.....I realized I was really weary from that. I surrendered and said to myself, "He'll show up or he won't. IN the meantime, I am going to enjoy life now." It might have been a month later. A Friday night. It had been a tough week at work. My girlfriend and I decided to go to a bar in Coralville to commiserate and chill with a couple brews. To get a picture how much I was at peace with my decision that "he'd show up when it was right", I truly looked terrible. I am the kind of gal that HAS to wear make up. And I have never had a hair cut that didn't require at least 10 minutes of styling, in order to look public-ready. I didn't do either of these things. I had a pair of mom jeans on and a long-sleeve t shirt that was 5 or 6 years old. I was relaxed. While it is a story I love to Inigo Montoya's words, "Let me 'splain. No, there is too much, let me sum up." Mr. Wonderful was there.  That night, I met my husband. It was the night I looked at myself, in the mirror, leaving my apartment and said, "Ha! have a good time."  I had a blast. I was sweaty and clammy and sheepish because this big, strapping ginger covered in freckles was definitely interested. [Anyone who knows me, knows I have a big thing for red hair and freckles.] We will be married 10 years in a few months.  That is an example of when I surrendered. A fun example.
Later that year, I decided to go back to school. I was attending classes and found it very difficult to juggle a full time job - a demanding job as a district property manager for a region of Section 42 housing, and my new-found social life with Mr. Wonderful. I didn't have my priorities straight and I quit school. A much shorter story, isn't it? No empowerment. No excitement. No peace except I cut myself a big break...which I still regret. Guess what? I started school another year after that, only left the good job I had, moved in with my dad and stepmom to save on expenses only to quit school again. Lots of factors, but if I had realized then how fast 2-4 years go - well...that's all I can really say about that.
I am now realizing I have, countless examples of when I surrendered and when I quit. I've been thinking back on the "big" decisions, in my life. As I sit here, I realize I surrender and quit countless times each day, as a wife and mom. Like this.....Bennett comes downstairs from where I have a pile of stuff that I still have to go through from the NICU.....
I was annoyed at first because I don't want him going through stuff I have yet to go through. After a moment, I realize he can play with that if he wants to. I have several other flanges and that one is WAY too small. lolol He wanted to use it as a trumpet. "Go for it!"  Four minutes later, he is telling me he's hungry. I offer an apple? A cheese stick? Grapes? Watermelon? He stands in front of the rice krispy log I made. He didn't even communicate with words. It was all eyes and shlumpy shoulders and I gave in. I quit because I just wanted to get this blog post done before Katie woke up from her nap. I felt bad. He didn't. He was over the moon. Oh well....that's example 4 minutes apart on a much smaller scale of life. ;)
What is my point of writing this? I know there are issues we are each facing. Let's surrender more. Let's surrender the images we hold of ourselves to God. Let's surrender the relationships that have broken our hearts to God. Let's surrender the health of family members to God. Let's surrender the way the perfect picture of how family and success look. I think back to the NICU days.....I was so freaked out about getting a milk supply built up for my micropreemie because that rested on me and I didn't quit. But I was not freaked out about the miracle transpiring and transforming, in an incubator, 2 feet away. Honestly, I am pretty sure Bennett's birth and 13 day NICU stay helped prepare me for what we would go through with Katie. Katie's birth was bigger than anything I had experienced. I knew she was a promise -another example of surrendering a vivid vision I had of a baby girl 5 years ago. I had no hope of her ever coming to pass. We were done having babies........until we weren't. In my heart, when I met her, I handed her to our Maker - the Father of Lights who gives us every good and perfect gift. I didn't know I did it until I watched other mommies breathe down my neck about why wasn't I calling every 30 minutes from RMH?? I knew if she was here, she was in the very best possible place. I look forward to the day - a long time from now - when we live in Iowa City so I can help and volunteer time and energy and love for NICU parents and the nurses. Oh my gosh I love my peeps at UIHC NICU and Mother/Baby and Labor/Delivery.
Listen to this song. It is my "theme" song for the past week and for who knows how long. I think it "sums up" perfectly what I have been feeling and why I feel this idea of surrendering is a really good one.
I am taking the weekend off from the blog. We have another busy weekend, who doesn't? It's August - gotta cram in as much as possible before school starts. However, I will be excited to post and show you some further changes - another example of surrender. You're flipping out, aren't you? What could it be?
xoxo ~Beth

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jacob's birthday cake and frosting recipes

Well, good morning! After waking up at 4:45 to take Tilly out and feeding Katie at 5AM, I have made a pot of coffee, started laundry for the day, played with Tilly acting as a fellow ewok, [An ewok she resembles, yes?] so I may sit down and tell you how much I appreciate all the love and comments on the blog and Facebook last night over the post about Katie's birth. Thank you!!!! I am working on more posts, from our NICU and post NICU adventure. For today, I want to share the recipes I used Sunday for Jacob's birthday cake and frosting.

I discovered these recipes several years ago when I had a baking business, out of our home. I have been told numerous times, this chocolate cake is the best ever eaten. It is from scratch. It is heavier than a box cake, but so moist and so tasty. Another thing I like is it doesn't call for eggs! It's great! I don't  understand the science of how this recipe works. Any Alton Brown commentary is welcome so we can learn.

I acquired the recipe from

Oh! That's right! It is a cupcake recipe and this was the first time I made it into a filled cake. I have often used the batter recipe without the "surprise" to bake a cake. However, I decided to try something different Sunday. I poured a portion of the chocolate batter in bottom of my 9x13 cake pan. Then I dotted that with the cream cheese filling until it was mostly covered and I gently spread to fill in the holes. After that came the rest of the chocolate batter poured over the top. I baked at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

My family and I do not enjoy a heavy buttercream frosting. I used to feel I had no option to decorate cakes but in a buttercream, until I stumbled upon this gem of a frosting recipe!

It is another recipe. It calls for cream cheese, so it can't be left out in Iowa heat and humidity for hours at a time. However, it holds it's form better than any buttercream recipe I have used. It is light and just the right amount of sweet. We love it. I also love that it makes so much. I have enough in the fridge to frost another 9x13 cake or cupcakes.

After the cake was frosted, I put it in the fridge. It tastes really good after it is chilled. It doesn't need to be chilled, but in summer? Oh yeah. Steven is not a huge sweet tooth. He told me two nights ago, "Please don't make this often. It's so good I could sit down with a fork and eat it out of the pan." Is there anything more satisfying, as a wife and mommy to have your main man and the litte men rave about what you cook or bake them?

Voila! I am done. Jacob just woke up, Steve is getting ready for work. Bennett will be up soon. Enjoy
your day lovely folks! Feel free to share and keep giving me feedback. I should also say, if you have questions about Katie, please feel free to ask! I believe her story is important to share.

xoxo ~Beth

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Warrior Princess is born!

I haven't written about the night Katie was born. No where. It has been coming up for me. I am going to write about it now.

November 2, 2014 my water broke at 24 weeks 3 days pregnancy. The events of that evening are a story of their own. I relay it to give a short backdrop. Waverly hospital and Dr. Lau sent me by ambulance to UIHC. There, I was told I would stay until I either started labor or took infection and they would take my baby by C-section.. The goal? 10 weeks. Make it to 34 weeks with a dried up uterus and deliver by C-section a baby that would go to NICU until she could go home. That is not how they described it to me. That is how I was thinking of it. I made it 12 days. 26 weeks 1 day pregnant. The morning before Katie was born, I finally expressed to the team of wonderful doctors, my fear of a C-section and spinal/epidural and what the plan is IF I didn't make it another 8 weeks. Bennett's birth was very traumatic to me. I had been dreading the actual birth of our daughter ever since I peed on a stick and it showed positive. Understand, I welcomed the life I would bring into the world. I didn't welcome the process. Looking back, it is amazing how we just know stuff, isn't it? I'll never forget the somber tone the room took after asking the doctors. It was as though, they had been waiting for me to bring it up. Up til that morning, by the time rounds happened every morning by 8AM, I was showered, dressed, oiled-up and make-up, "game face" on waiting for them. I started crying and the High Risk OB {there were always 5 staff that entered my room every morning} looked me square in the face, "Your uterus is a topic of our discussion several times a day." As I remember it, I felt relieved and also reminded that this was a big deal.

The next day, November 14. I had no idea Katie would be born by the end of that day. We were closing on a house we sold in Independence. Our realtor was coming to my hospital room where Steve and I would close that chapter. Kari came and we enjoyed our closing, between contractions. I had no idea they were contractions. They didn't feel like contractions because ....I'd never had contractions with no water in a uterus. Honestly? I was sitting there, in great discomfort, quickly transitioning to pain, thinking, "Beth get yourself together because she is growing in there and there is no buoyancy for her to shift and move this is going to hurt more as she grows over the next 8 weeks." I went on like this until I felt chilled. I knew what a fever felt like. I called the nurse, and quickly my angel nurse practitioner Lastascia entered. She sat on the side of my bed, held my hand and assured me all would be well and that we'd have our Katie in an hour. I almost made it to the 3rd trimester. We called our boys. I called my parents. To be honest? I trusted the baby would come out ok....but I didn't know how my body would take a 5th abdominal procedure and was sort of preparing to say goodbye just in case. I was tired and it was so overwhelming. I had been in denial and then everything changed so rapidly.
It was closing in on 6pm when prep started. I walked to operating room and there....was my angel doctor...Dr. Wernimont. Her shift was almost done and she was coming in with me when she was 37 weeks pregnant. Remembering her sweet face and Lastascia - make me emotional. SO emotional. They are the best at their job. They don't treat it like a job. They love their patients. They are passionate. I truly love them. I still have days where I wish I was in the hospital just to feel that reinforcement. Mommies at UIHC are so blessed to have the best attention and support and reinforcement. Dr. Wernimont came in the OR to hold my hands and help me concentrate while I got the epidural. She took every bit of squeezing of those hands I gave her. She reminded me to keep my breath slow as the anesthesiologist couldn't get the catheter fed through my spine in the first port and had to put a second one in. I wanted to die. I can still feel where they fed both those lines through in my back. I will never understand women that want a hole poked in their back to feed a line through to avoid child birth pain. I don't judge. I simply do not understand. INVASIVE! in the world then does one lie on their back with a thing stuck in their back? Too late....will never know the particulars because I am over spinals. I told Steve that I will never have another one, ever again, for anything ...ever. I can't imagine what else would come up to require one, but never again.

Steve brought my headphones. After Bennett's birth and when we learned we were expecting again...I knew I would not want to hear the operation chatter. I had hoped to have a play list made of inspirational songs...My playlist ended  up being one song, on repeat.  I decided I was tuning the rest of the world out. Even Steve. I needed him to sit there with me and play with my hair while I listened and sang, 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. Katie Beth was a promise to me after Levi died. We weren't trying to get pregnant. Lordy....not to be TMI...but it was a "dry season" if you catch my drift. As the table shook with them using their tools and tugging and pulling on my skin and organs, I knew I wanted this sweet baby to come into her world hearing praise being sung by her mama to God. Remember that song, "Praise You in the Storm" which was my theme after Levi? I know this mode. I think about the Israelites, battle after battle with all their color and pageantry and instruments and songs, ahead of the soldiers. In some bible stories, this action struck fear in their enemy's hearts merely by singing praise to their God. The bible says, "God inhabits the praises of his people." I knew that night - I wanted his presence in the room our 14 week early daughter would enter. I sang and sang. I sang until it was too tight across my chest. I sang while I shook from the anesthesia. I sang when Steve would lift the ear buds from my ears to ask me a question or tell me something. I shouted to stick the ear buds back in my ears when the doctors and nurses wanted to ask me a question. I wouldn't take the risk anything they may say, could reach my ears, strike fear, doubt or anxiety and begin to chink away at my faith.  I couldn't have possibly been in the right key or sang my best - and I didn't care. I was in battle mode. When I am myself and singing I am nervous to sound anything less than terrific. Not this night. I don't care how poor I sounded. I believe in a principle, "Avert focus to my Maker when I am scared and He shows up." He's never really not there, worshipping Him, reveals Him.

At 6:29pm, Katharine "Katie" Beth was born. I asked how much she weighed. The doctor said, in a tone quite different than I heard for our boys, "1 pound 11oz." She was in an incubator and wheeled over for us to see her. I pretended I could see her, but I couldn't. I was in shock at how tiny she was. I was expecting to hear 3lbs. and something. I mean, that was what the ticker on Baby Center showed for 26 weeks pregnant. At that point, I knew this adventure had only just begun. We were in for a bigger battle. Also, it was a several days later, I surrendered. I surrendered because there wasn't a thing I could do except get out of the way. There's a difference between surrendering and quitting. But that's for another post. We had no formula. We had no idea what in the heck we were doing. But God did. And just look at what a gift He gave us!

Just after she was born....1 lb. 11 oz and 13 inches long.

She is teething. 8 months actual, 5 adjusted. She loves life! She just couldn't wait to start living it!

I love this picture. Last night, Jacob fed her a bottle. It was his first time. She thought he did a fabulous job.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Meet Matilda!

I had a great weekend. Truly. We celebrated our firstborn's 9th birthday. Jacob also known as Boy Wonder - had a great weekend. This weekend had a little bit of everything: new family member [see below], short time with friends, short time with extended family, birthday celebration with really good turkey breast. I may have made the best cake of my life for Jacob. Maybe not. Maybe it was just really nice to enjoy baking a cake for my #1.

Photo courtesy of his Grandma Diers. I will post the recipes for this cake. It was so yummy.

 Jacob's birthday was Sunday. Steve and I had something in the works for Saturday. We decided now is as good as any time to get a puppy. We are adjusted to not sleeping at night with Katie. heehee [I don't know why I say, "we". I don't carry a turd around in my pocket.] When this stage is over, the stage of middle of night feedings [yes, 4-5AM feedings is still in the middle of the night] is over. We ain't going back. Therefore, let's get our puppy now. My classmate from high school posted on Facebook she was breeding her dog. Ginger is a Bichon/shih Tzu mix. She mated with a Maltese and........we get a...............................Tilly.

Steve picked her name. Turns out he is real great at picking girl names. He liked the name Matilda and we call her Tilly for short. She is the sweetest and sassy little darling. She tuckers out easily and when this photo was taken, she had the biggest day of her  young life. She has already been such therapy to each of us. We all are smitten.

Bennett & Tilly. Just after this pic was snapped, Tilly jumped out of his arms, landed on all short legs. Bennett exclaimed, "She just jumped right out of my arms!"

This picture doesn't need a caption. A very happy boy with his new puppy. He did say for the rest of the weekend, " I can't believe we have a puppy!"

After a super weekend - these two were zonked. Steve got to reap that benefit. Snuggles!

My girls and me. I can't tell you how pleased I am to have the male/female energies balanced. hahahahaha!

 I feel inspired to write more...but that is a draft for another post. This was a big weekend. A special weekend.


Friday, July 24, 2015

After the NICU triggers: "Are you coming home tonight?"

Last night, Katie and I traveled to Mason City to finish up birthday gift shopping.  We also started and finished shopping for a BIG, BIG change coming to our family this weekend. Stay tuned Monday for that post. :D IF I can wait that long to share!

I was leaving Mason City, it was 8:41. I received a text from hubby. I called him and told him, I was hoping I could drive the 33 miles home before having to feed Katie, but I was going to have to pull over and nurse our girl. The boys wanted to say, "good night" since they were getting ready for bed. Their voices are so sweet. One of these days, they will have deep, low voices - I am realizing how fast this is coming with Jacob halfway to 18 this weekend. Jacob got on the phone after Bennett, "Hi Mom!" In a cautiously positive but bracing for disappointment tone, he asked, "Are you coming home tonight Mommy?" ....PANG in my heart and THUD in my throat .... It was one of those unexpected moments that happen and I don't know how long they will continue to happen. When they happen, I have to let it out. I choked and said, "Yes honey. Katie and I are on our way home. I have to stop to feed her first though. We'll be home when you are asleep, and I'll see you in the morning." He was satisfied and put his dad on the phone. I was crying. My boys and hubby will never know the physical pain I felt not being in two places at once for those days and nights from November 2 to February 9. My mom knew. I would cry with her on the phone - and she could feel through my sobbing. I remember her crying with me several times because she could feel how much it hurt. I explained to the boys during this weird reality -  we couldn't leave our littlest, newest family member 2 1/2 hours away from all of her very own family. Of course, I left for Thanksgiving and Christmas and the occasional over night. But at the end, I went 21 days without seeing my boys. That was the longest stretch we'd endured without seeing and spending time together. The weather was too unreliable for travel. Also, as Katie progressed, on her feedings, I needed to be close for breastfeeding, not to mention, simply producing.

 I don't regret how we dealt with the birth and hospitalization of Katie Beth. We did what we knew to do. We did our best. I have to say, not all wives could rely on their husband to take care of two little boys for 3 months. He did it. Only 8 months into a brand new job, he was cutting out at 3pm to pick up the older one from school , the younger one from daycare and spend the evening keeping it somewhat "normal". I am crying again. It was hard. Steve is the best husband and daddy, simply because he put down everything else to do what needed to be done and he loved on our boys which is what they needed. I wish every kid was blessed with such a daddy.

We will celebrate 10 years of marriage this Fall. We heard Daughtry's song, "Home" on the radio Sunday afternoon. I asked Steve if he knew what that song made me think of. He didn't. I told him, "You. Wherever you are, is home."

This was our very first "Family of 5" picture. Katie was 2 months old.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What does it mean when your favorite color has changed?

This is a random question that I am throwing out to any and all whom have an answer. :) My favorite color used to be lime green. I really liked lime green combined with navy blue. Since the pregnancy of my daughter, Katie Beth, I have been drawn to magenta. Magenta is my new favorite color. ????? I do not find Magenta is a color I want to decorate everything in our home with, but I do want more "pops" of the color. I am also heavily drawn to two blues. This tissue box [see below] is inspiration for my kitchen. I love the two blue colors. I bought this box of tissues while Katie was in the NICU. I have kept it for when I paint our kitchen. [that will require a small act of God, unless any local readers are handy with sand paper, removing hardware, painting, and installing new, updated hardware and you are willing to come make this a party time with me? I make a yummy cup of coffee and an even yummier beer margarita.]

Tissue box with that luxurious blue and is that an aquamarine teal? I have already bought paint in the darker blue to paint a lamp we have to make an accent piece in our living room. Surprisingly, I didn't realize I picked a paint card at Sherwin Williams with the very same dark blue that is in this tissue box for my kitchen. So there should be a nice flow.

Now, a favorite color, changing may not be big news. I find it interesting though. It has to be a reflection of something. I have been a jewel-tone gal since I got my first apartment. In our homes, I have gravitated towards warm browns and greens and rusts and oranges. Suddenly - I love BRIGHT and HAPPY and COOL tones. I begin painting in the living/dining area next week. I will do before and after pics. I have curtains and I think I want to create my own artwork for above the fire place. Next week, you'll see why. ;)

This week has been more organization and off-loading AND getting ready for this guy's 9th birthday!
Look at Boy Wonder, finishing up today's golf clinic session. Jacob has had the biggest transformation physically and emotionally this past year. I am proud beyond words. He is a great kid and an incredible big brother.



Finally, when we returned from picking up Jacob, Bennett sweetly asked me, "Mommy will you come to my shop? I want to make you sumfin." I grabbed my cup of heaven a.k.a. coffee, and sat down in the toy room. Bennett brought me his "fish bowl" with the pretend fish named "Goldie like from Peppa Pig" [his words].
Bennett's fish bowl, see Goldie? :)
 I was gazing at Bennett's fish bowl when he brought me my morning special. A "chocolate and white cookie". I told him it was the best cookie I had eaten since Jacob baked me a cookie 4 years ago. I asked Bennett to cook supper tonight. He said he would. I asked him what we would have. He said, "Cookies and meat." Daddy will like tonight's supper!
My "chocolate and white cookie" with Aromas Sulawesi Toraja roasted coffee.
 Enjoy the rest of your Thursday!



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Aunt Chook's blueberry sour cream pie

Fareway had a deal on blueberries this past week. I picked up 3 pints for $5. I saw that amount of blueberries and knew I'd have enough to make a sentimental treat.....after I had eaten 1/3 of those berries myself. ;)

My Aunt Chook, is my dad's aunt. She is a special lady to me. We [my brother, sister and I] spent many weekends and summer days "on the farm", as kids. I remember Sunday dinners, after church, she and my gram scrambling around the kitchen, to get that meal on the table for about 10-12 of us to sit down to. It was always good eats, especially this time of the year because there would be sweet corn my great Uncle Don and Aunt Betty (Chookie's little brother) grew. Those were the days.......stable childhood....with no crystal ball to look into the future to see how much would change - I expected life would be just like that and that some day I would bring my kids there and so on and so forth. Being at "the farm" was exactly like a story from a Reminisce magazine.

When I saw the blueberries at Fareway, Friday night. I pictured one of Aunt Chook's blueberry sour cream pies cooling on her kitchen counter. She has never been able to give me the recipe because she just eye-balled everything. I have tried on two other occasions to duplicate her work of a pie, with no success. Yesterday, I googled "blueberry sour cream pie". I went to images to pick the picture that looks the most like I remember it. I chose:

Only, I used about 3 cups of blueberries and I substituted plain greek yogurt for the sour cream. I probably baked it for 10 minutes longer too.

Jacob, Steve and I had a piece with a dollop of vanilla ice cream last night before hitting the hay. It was delicious.

That will be all. I must finish off the pot of coffee with a slice of sweet memories.

xoxo Beth

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Frank & Joy

My distributor id # is 1456580.

I am an avid Young Living essential oil user. I am not an avid network marketer. is how this works. I will share my stories, my experiences, point out what references I use to learn more about my oils because let's face it - if one is serious about using essential oils and incorporating them into their lives, have to learn about it and since we aren't kindergartners, have to have resources to research. If you choose you'd like to enroll with me - great! Let me know and I will hook you up with these wonderful bottles of healing Nature. I love them - they will always be a part of my life because I have reaped so many benefits from them. Today, I want to introduce you to "Frank & Joy".

 ***I do not diagnose or prescribe.*** I share a product that has been on the earth as long as we have. I choose, when possible, to use holistic methods for health. I believe the symptoms we experience are a result of our environment - physically, mentally, spiritually. I do not have anything against modern medicine. Modern medicine has saved my life and the lives of 2 of my children. I believe in a balance. If we could appreciate the marriage between Nature and modern medicine.....who knows how different our society could become? I strongly believe ultimate health comes from a basis of fueling our bodies with nutrients. REAL nutrients.

I had been without these 2 oils the past few months. Young Living also has great supplements, which is what I had been budgeting for after the pregnancy and as a nursing mommy - to build up my body.

I hold Frankincense above my head about 6 inches and anoint my crown. Did you know our crown is the energy field which is our direct connection to God? I like being plugged in to my Source - Jesus. Frankincense supports the immune system as well as our emotions and is great for prayer and meditation. I was so excited the first time I was going to get to smell Frankincense. I was a gift the Wise Men brought baby Jesus. My friend handed me the bottle of oil, I got in my reflective mode and expression, put it under my nose, reared back and put my scrunched up "Yuck" face on and exclaimed, "they brought THAT to baby Jesus? Poor baby." ;) Obviously, this oil was not one of my favorites. It is a perfume - sweet smelling in a way I had not known. I started to use the oil and the fragrance grew on me. It is a precious oil. I have enjoyed the preciousness of it on my head for 2 years.

Joy is a blend of oils, created by D. Gary Young. It was created with the frequencies and properties in mind to guessed I apply a drop of it directly on my heart. Joy is also an oil I didn't appreciate at the beginning. It is very floral smelling. However, I find it is a wonderful oil to diffuse when I have company or when my kids are owly and growly.  It is fresh and smells wonderful through the diffuser. I used Joy every day I was in the hospital. The doctors and nurses would enter my room and  Katie's room and want to linger. That is what they told me. I didn't diffuse in the hospital because it is a cool mist humidifier.

When I wear the oils, I am a human wick. Once I got used to using oils, I couldn't go back to Scentsy or air fresheners....even my favorite perfume. It gave me headaches, because of the chemicals and toxins in it. fill my home and wherever I go with a clean aromatic presence, boosting their immune systems and presence of minds - I feel like I am doing the best I can with the knowledge I have, for my family. That feels GOOD!!


Monday, July 20, 2015

My now....

This video sums up what I won't miss out on when I am present, in the present. The past year has been a ...I don't even know the right word. I was inclined to say tornado because it was that violent, that sudden, that ground-shaking and uprooting. Thoughts, beliefs I have nurtured my entire life or any portion thereof, have been called into question. It has been another season of the Father whispering and calling to me, "I am speaking to you. You know what is best for you, for your family because I am in you. Stop. Listen. Allow yourself peace. And grace."

That [above] is what I would share with NICU parents going home once their darling is discharged.

Enjoy this video. I think it is an awesome picture of how I want my kids to remember me.  In the moments when the "should dos" mount up as a rebellion....I will sit down with my kids. They are beautiful spirits and deserve my best. Not stress. Not pressure I feel from things that don't matter. Not me trying to please others. I am enough. Not "when will you get back to this or that..". Right now - this moment is all that matters.

The video is after Bennett's bath last night. Katie Beth just finished a feeding.

Love & Grace,



Burrito Gravy.....Mmmmmmm

I had you at burrito gravy, did I?

My husband suggested I write about this. We left church yesterday and decided to head to Mason City Panchero's. I don't know the history of Panchero's. My husband does. In fact, his time attending the University of Iowa - he is the one that launched this simple, authentic Mexican food haven into turbo growth mode. He averaged...I believe he told me....4 burritos a week.

Hubby and I have been together for almost 13 years. He has been trying for all that time to get me to enjoy Panchero's. I don't know if it was his torrid love affair with their burrito, which felt like a rival to me, or if it was how badly he wanted me to love Panchero's, or if it was what I always said, "That looks like a cloth diaper ....full...and not of Mexican food." - but I have had no interest in enjoying Panchero's.

Two months ago, we were in Waterloo. It was lunch time. My family was hungry. We entered Panchero's. All these years, when I go to Panchero's with Steve, I felt like it is one of my ways to say, "See? I love  you. I will go here and order something I am not excited about -one of their salads- and eat it while you devour a burrito the way T-Rex tears apart an insurance man in Jurassic Park." I wasn't particularly hungry this time and ordered chips and salsa. Here I need to tell you that while I stayed at Ronald McDonald House [daughter's premature birth landed us an 87 day NICU stay- a story for another post] I did fall in love with Panchero's salsa. The entire pregnancy of our daughter, I craved salsa. Panchero's delivered to RMH at least twice that I know of while I lived there. They would leave behind little black cups, filled with their fabulous salsa. I am not ashamed to say that on several occasions when I couldn't sleep at night, I would scurry to the kitchen of RMH and raid the fridge. The night shade concoction helped put me to sleep. It is the best salsa of my life.

Back to the day in Waterloo..I ordered salsa and chips. I watched my boys eat their cheese quesadillas and realized I am hungrier than I thought. Steve offered me a bite of burrito, on a whim, I took it. Upon that bite, I looked up at him with my big doe eyes, holding that huge burrito in my hands, salsa running from my lower lip.....he said I never looked "hotter". I sheepishly asked him, "Would you please go get me one of these?" He asked me to marry him again. Ever since, I crave a burrito at least once a week. This has been really good for our marriage.

On our drive to Mason City yesterday, I grabbed Steve's hand and said, "Oh man...I can't wait to eat one of those burritos. The way the sour cream, guacamole and mild salsa mix's like.....burrito gravy." He pulled my hand to his mouth while driving and kissed it. "That's good honey. You should write about burrito gravy." he said.
Do you see the "gravy"?