Baby E at 6 months.

Oh, has it been two months since I've posted? Well, Elijah is now 6.5 months old and just exploding in development. It's amazing and so much fun. He is eating baby food, sleeping long stretches (one night it was 8.5 hours and it was awwwesome!), rolling over, sitting up, and making new noises. Still on vowel sounds, but I know those consonants will come soon enough.

My heart just melts looking at this pic (and a bunch more I took on this particular day … and honestly every pic of Elijah haha). I miss him so much during the day. He is a big boy! At his 6-month checkup, he weighed in at 21 lbs., 1.5 oz (95th percentile) and was 28.5 inches long (97th percentile)! He is wearing 12-month size clothes.

This week he has had a little cold and haaaates when I try to wipe his nose with anything—warm washcloth, dry tissue, soft blanket. But he loves baths so we get those crusties off that way. We also got a cold mist humidifier for his room which seems to help.

We love him! Like a lot!


bathtime is our favorite.

Elijah Ray at 19 weeks (4.5 mos)
Our sweet, sweet baby boy. We love him so much!


elijah ray: almost 4 months!

My baby is already growing out of so many clothes and my maternity leave is almost over! Where has the summer gone? So thankful that our childcare plans have lined up. We will miss having family visiting. Life is about to get even busier so keep your expectations low on how often this blog gets updated. :-)


2 months old.

Elijah is 2 months old now! Like 9 weeks and some days, but I think I'll just start counting months. He's been napping for 2.5 hours, so I'll type quickly. He should be waking up soon.

I might be biased, but he is SO CUTE! We share a Photo Stream with our family and literally have more than 2,500 photos posted since his birth. Check these out.

Elijah has so many facial expressions. Plus he is starting to chub up a bit. Those little leg rolls! We are kind of getting into a routine/schedule. Mostly sleeping and eating with an hour or two of awake time in between. I like to read to him (just finished A.A. Milne's The World of Christopher Robin … great poetry!) or listen to music and sing. (We love Rain for Roots.)

And since 6 weeks, Elijah has been SMILING! Adorable. He is doing it more often now. Mostly for me, but Nate got him to crack a grin this morning. Elijah loves looking at himself in the mirror, napping in his swing, sleeping in the car (as long as we're moving), and listening to me read books.

Oh, and baths. He loves baths! When I was pregnant, I hoped he would because I thought bathtime would be a fun time, and I looked forward to it. He loves the water. Plus this hippo hooded towel. I mean, c'mon!

This week we nailed down a babysitter for when I go back to work in August. Praise the Lord! What an answer to prayer. We found someone who is close to us, can work with our schedule needs, and has a little boy of her own. So thankful. It'll be huge to be able to go back to work knowing Elijah is in good hands.

We love him!


bath time.

Elijah is 5½ weeks old now. He has been on many outings around Nashville, is a generally good sleeper at night (though alert most of the day when he'd like to do nothing but eat), and he loves bath time. I am very glad about this because when I was pregnant, I imagined bath time would be fun. I'm sure some babies hate it and scream through it, but Elijah is a little water bug. And he's pretty stinkin' cute.


Elijah's birth.

Daddy and Elijah (5 days old) at his first pediatrician appt.
Elijah is two and a half weeks old now. He's currently sleeping in his pack-n-play. Nate is off to an officer's meeting at church and I've collapsed on the couch after cleaning out the fridge/freezer of old or expired food and then cleaning some (but not all) of the dishes.

The first weeks of parenthood have been a blur. Our weekends include visitors but during the week we take it super easy—spending time with Elijah: sleeping in until 10 if he does (that's after being up at 12, 2, and 6), trying to get out for a brief mid-day adventure (he sleeps like a rock in the car seat), and then home again for seemingly innumerable feedings and diaper changes. We are in love.

Shortly after we got home from the hospital, I typed out what I could remember of Elijah's birth. All the details in a very non-poetic way. Little sleep affects my ability to write coherently, but I wanted to record the details. Let's be honest, though. You don't need to hear all the graphic details. But his birth was not what we were expecting, so here's the semi-condensed version.

Elijah's due date was originally April 12, but based on measurements during the early ultrasound, they calculated his due date to be a week later: April 19. By early April, I felt ready and anxious to meet our little boy. Any day would be just fine with me.

April 12 was a Saturday. I think Nate worked most of the day and came home in the evening. I had spent a lot of the day trying to get things cleaned up around the house. Elijah's room had stacks of books in it. We hadn't finished preparing it; it had been Nate's study/library. I didn't know where to put all the books. I ended up putting many of them in totes and found a place (attic, box, or trash/recycle). Nate got home and I was still working hard. He said, "Honey, why don't you go to bed? We can finish this up tomorrow." I had already planned to lounge/nap after church on Sunday. "No, I'll finish. I don't want to have to do this tomorrow." Hindsight is 20/20: This was classic "nesting."

On Sunday, I woke up around 6. I felt the first contraction around 6:30—a tightening at the front of my abdomen, like period cramps. Googling. I had never had Braxton-Hicks contractions during pregnancy, and I always assumed I would just know when I was actually in labor. I didn't know, so I wondered if this was false labor. Some early practice contractions. Labor could be many hours or even days away.

Nate and I got up and showered. He got ready to go to church early to handle coffee and go to his Porterbrook class. I would join him later. I got ready and ate breakfast, trying to figure out if there was any regularity to the contractions. Our instructions from the hospital was to come or call if the contractions lasted 60 seconds or more and were difficult to endure and had been like that for 2 hours. All of our friends had advised staying home as long as possible because laboring at home was easier than laboring at the hospital, and they might send you home. Everything we heard made us expect a labor that could last 20 hours. So this was supposedly just the beginning.

The contractions seemed to come more frequently. Around 8:30 a.m., I started timing them on an app. Five minutes apart. Sometimes four minutes. I tried breathing through each one and they were really starting to hurt! I thought, If this is just the beginning of labor, I am the biggest wimp! I take back everything I said about having a high pain tolerance! Then I texted Nate and said, "Can you come home after Porterbrook? Even if this isn't the real thing, I can't handle the pain alone." Nate called immediately and I started to cry. He came home right away.

I was trying to breathe and move around. No position helped. Nothing helped the pain, and it was getting worse. Nate came in the door and looked at the app. Contractions were two to three minutes apart. He didn't say so at the time, but he assumed the app was broken or I was just trigger-happy in starting/stopping it. I told him I wanted to go to the hospital. Maybe they could at least get some epidural started or some other pain meds. I needed something; I was starting to despair. "I can't do this!"

My hospital bag was mostly packed, but I had nothing for Nate. He pulled things together as I tried telling him what we still needed to pack. He loaded things into the car. I wanted to go now, but kept pausing. After this contraction, I'll go. Then another would start and I'd need to wait it out. Our friend Amy had told me to stay home until you aren't sure you can ride in the car. I had no idea how I'd ride in the car with pain like this. I started contemplating an ambulance.

Finally, I got shoes on and hurried to the car. I was in a tank top and shorts but my appearance was the least of my concerns. I had to close my eyes through the contractions, and in the car I just kept them closed. I didn't want to see the road or how long it was taking to get to Vanderbilt. I leaned the seat back and tried to get semi-comfortable, and then I'd shout: "Starting!" and Nate would start timing the app, and then I'd finally say, "Okay, okay. Over."

When we got to Vanderbilt, we tried to find the entrance they told us to go to when we took the childbirth class. We didn't have time to park in the East Garage. I told Nate to just valet the car. The first entrance we went to didn't have valet. I said, "Just run in and tell them we need a wheelchair!" Nate did, and they told him to go in through the ER. So we did. A lady came out with a wheelchair and I got in, leaned back (against her, I think) and closed my eyes, breathing and contracting and in a lot of pain. They rushed me to triage and told me I could stop using the app. That was 10:15 a.m.

A doctor (or nurse?) gave me a gown to put on and checked me. "You're 9 centimeters."


"What?" I asked. Had I heard her right? "9 centimeters," she said.

Another nurse asked if I wanted to go to the delivery room in a wheelchair or on the gurney. "I can't move," I said. So they pushed me down the hall on the gurney, and then helped me onto the delivery bed. I kept my eyes closed. It hurt. Nate tells me the room flooded with nurses and doctors. The midwife on call introduced herself. A nurse stood to my left and Nate was at my right. I told the nurse on the left, "I want epidural." I think she said, "I know, honey." I didn't know Nate had already told them I had planned on epidural. They told him, "Uh … we'll see." Instead, they tried to quickly find a vein and start an IV to administer any pain meds they could, but they had a lot of trouble finding a vein. Stuck me four times and pulled off my sock to look at my feet/ankles for one before hitting it in my left hand.

They told me I was going to start pushing. How in the world? We hadn't told anyone we were even heading to the hospital. Admissions had handed Nate a bunch of papers to fill out but they sat blank. What a surprise this would be. I remember I was thirsty and asked more than once for water, and a nurse said no. I started to shout/moan through the pain. The nurse at my side was firm with me. She told me not to make a noise, to focus all my energy on pushing. Her directions were helpful, and Nate repeated them. I heard Nate more than the nurse, and I remember thinking, What is Nate talking about? How does he know what I'm supposed to be doing?

I made a few attempts at pushing. Then they said that I wasn't making much progress, and they were worried about the baby's heart rate dropping. They asked if we'd be okay with them assisting with forceps. We had heard about forceps during our birthing class and had talked about how we didn't love the idea, but at this point we trusted the doctors to do what was necessary and I was thinking, Do whatever you have to do to get him out!

Before long, I felt relief as Elijah entered the world (at 10:46 a.m. … about 30 minutes after we arrived at the hospital). They briefly set him on my stomach before moving him away to clean him up and suction out some meconium he had apparently swallowed while in the womb. Then they brought him back to me. I was tired but couldn't believe it was over and our baby boy was here.

Mommy and Elijah after moving into our recovery room
The nurses told Nate I was a rockstar for delivering him without any pain meds, especially with forceps assistance which they said is not often done without epidural. They said, "What's your favorite meal?" I laid back, exhausted. "Steak," I said, "…and cheesecake." I guess they asked that to say that's the kind of meal I deserved because nutrition brought me a turkey sandwich for lunch.

I had inadvertently joined the "natural birth club." Though I am very thankful everything went like it did and labor was quick, if I have the option next time I am going for the epidural. And we will try to get to the hospital as soon as I feel anything that even slightly resembles labor.

Sweet Elijah Raymond Jones
We're figuring out parenthood a day at a time. We love it. To quote Lisa-Jo Baker's three things she learned about being a mother: "Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is glorious. Motherhood is hard." What an adventure it will be.


introducing …

Elijah Raymond Jones is here! Today is his due date, but he was born Sunday, April 13, 2014, weighing in at 7 lbs, 6 oz. We are tired and overjoyed. The birth was a whirlwind. Contractions began at 6:30 a.m., and he was born at 10:46 a.m. … 30 minutes after we got to the hospital. No time for any pain meds or epidural. Not at all what we expected, but the experience at Vanderbilt was great and we can't believe this gift of grace. We are smitten. More later.



The bump at 38.5 weeks
I got a haircut! It had been way too long. Tuesday after work, I went to Style Kitchen. I had been once before, a year or two ago, so I knew what to expect and it wasn't intimidating at all. I basically told the stylist I wanted something easy to manage with a baby. It's much easier to get ready in the mornings. I like it.

Also, the bump at 38.5 weeks. I'm 9 days away from due date, and I am so ready. Not completely; I mean, there's plenty of cleaning/organizing/decluttering we could still do around the house. But we'd be ready if Baby Jones came anytime. I have my weekly check-up at lunchtime today, but so far no signs of any progress. No contractions. Some nausea and lots of uncomfortableness.

Baby E is a mover and shaker, mostly first thing in the morning and in the mid-afternoon/evening. He hasn't woken me up moving in the night, so hopefully that means he has the right sleep schedule already figured out! :)


dos meses mas.

Photo from 37.5 weeks
Here's a bump photo from a few days ago. Today I am officially 38 weeks. No signs of impending labor, but we are ready to meet Baby E. I guess he's giving us time to get some more things done on the to-do list.

One thing I'd really like to do is get my hair cut, but I don't know where to go. I am not super "stylish"; hair salons in Nashville are so intimidating, and I don't want to spend $50 at a place that makes me feel like I don't belong there … I am so not the type of person who hugs her hair stylist! (I had a bad experience at a place that was so unwelcoming; I actually walked out 20 min. after my appt was supposed to start and hadn't yet. No one was friendly.) So I'm looking for recommendations. I need a few inches off because I can't spend 30 minutes drying and straightening my hair when we have a baby.

Also, as they do every spring, the weeds are taking over our yard. Usually I'm out there spraying the whole front and back yards with weed killer this time of year, but that's probably not safe while pregnant. So if anyone comes out to visit and wants something to do, you could kill the clover and dandelions. I'll buy the weedkiller and give you the garden hoses. Seriously 15 minutes start-to-finish to spray down the whole yard. Consider it. :) I think now that I've lived in Nashville five years, I should have by now just torn up the yard and planted some grass (I think we literally have none). Though it's high on my "wish list," these days it's just not high on the priority list.

Last night was date night. Nate and I went to Maggiano's with a gift card and spent all but 7 cents! Since it was our first time there, our server brought us a sample of fried zucchini. Mmmm. I am also a big fan of Italian bread dipped in olive oil/Parmesan/black pepper/vinaigrette. Plus we came home with at least two meals worth of pasta and chicken parmesan. So good. I was so full.

We planned on going to the movies to see Noah but had some time to kill, so we walked around the Green Hills mall. Of course we ended up at the Apple store. I've had my iPhone 4S for quite awhile. I became eligible for an upgrade in November. Figured I really didn't need to spend $199 for the 5S. Sure, it's lighter and has a better camera. We figured we'd go ahead and get the upgrade for me.

The girl helping us out reminded us that Apple has a recycling program so you can trade in your old phone. She inspected mine (no damage; I have never broken a phone), entered some info into their system … and said, "Wow! Looks like we can offer you $199 for your 4S." That's more than a lot of 4S phones are going for on CL or eBay! So basically for the upgrade, I just had to pay tax which was less than $20. Sweet!

Anyway, by the time we got done, we were feeling a little tired and decided to postpone our movie plans. We went home and Nate tried out some home roasting of coffee. He had some green coffee beans, and we got a popcorn air popper that he used to roast them. It made a mess but worked great and this morning he made coffee with them. I'm not a coffee drinker, but the beans smelled really good after degassing overnight. He's going to experiment with variables and learn to roast his own perfect coffee.

Nate's working today, so I'm taking it easy. Enjoyed orange sweet rolls and tea this morning with Nate. Just doing laundry and a little vacuuming, and some reading. Watching Final Four tonight. and waiting on baby.



bump from 36.5 weeks
April is here, and Baby Jones' due date is in April. Whaaaat. April 19. We're on the final countdown.

This evening I'm hoping to install the car seat and get a hospital bag packed. There are a bajillion lists on the Internet suggesting what to pack in a hospital bag, but fortunately I found a more simple list from Vanderbilt. Basically those are the last essentials and I'll be ready to get this show on the road. I've been sleeping horribly, like 3–4 hours last night, which people say is just preparation for baby. Fair enough, but at least I'll have a baby to care for and some time off work so I can be super tired at home and not sitting at my desk trying to write and edit.

We have some organizing/cleaning that needs to be done but it's mostly "ideally we'll get this done" and not so much "we have to get this done." Nate reminds me not to worry about the stuff that doesn't really matter. I think it was Sunday morning that I woke up feeling overwhelmed and he said, "You just worry about being pregnant." I wailed, "You mean I can't worry about the weeds in the yard?" (This time of year I'm usually out dumping weed killer on our grassless yard. Thankfully our neighbor Kevin just mowed everything down yesterday.) We did make some big progress organizing Saturday and took a huge box of clothes to Goodwill. I just gotta remind myself that now is not the time to worry about whether or not we need a new roof or our house needs painted or that big tree in the front yard needs trimmed. It can wait.

This is the first week that Nashville actually feels like spring. 70s all week. Yesterday after work I went to the zoo to walk for about an hour. I hadn't seen the kangaroo exhibit that opened last fall. It's cool; you can walk around where the kangaroos are and thus potentially pet one—but you have to stay on the path and yesterday all of the kangaroos were laying in the grass taking naps so I didn't even get close to touching one.


assembly required.

Friday night, in between basketball games, Nate and his dad got to work putting together our new dresser/changing table. We ordered it from Target and it shipped from Quebec, Canada. We knew it had arrived because we heard the FedEx Ground guy literally dragging the 120-pound package up the driveway and sidewalk … without a dolly.

The box contained a bazillion parts, and it was probably the most complicated piece of furniture to put together. I helped by reading the directions, which had over 40 steps. They finished 5 to 6 hours later, close to midnight. And there were some screws that required a Robertson screwdriver. I had never even heard of that before, but these screws had squared heads. Fortunately I found a bit set at Walmart on Saturday that included three square bits—a whole package of bits for just 97 cents. It did the job to finish tightening those last screws.

Ta-da! It is very sturdy and exactly what we needed. Storage for clothes and blankets and diapers and wipes. And a place for a changing pad. The little top piece comes off so it could be used as a normal dresser too—which is good because after the assembly process, Nate said, "He's using this until he's 18."

Our second bedroom/nursery/former study is still a disaster zone. We can't quite figure out where to put all the books. We can put some in the attic, but still want to have access to most of them. I really need to do a big spring cleaning and take a car load of stuff to Goodwill and recycle or trash some things too. Lots of organizing and decluttering, which I feel like I have zero energy to do right now. Nate told me to give him a honey-do list which I will gladly do. :)

I'm now 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant; Easter weekend is coming up fast! We have friends who were four weeks early and some who were a couple weeks late, so who knows when this baby will make his entrance! Tonight I'm meeting a pediatrician and this week begins the weekly check-ups with the doctor. We can't wait but I also think we will never quite feel ready.


day trip: chattanooga.

Lisa, Lyle, and Nate at the Tennessee Aquarium
Yesterday was Nate's birthday! The big 3-0. Nate and I both took the day off, and we day-tripped it down to Chattanooga with Nate's parents. We actually drove down Tuesday night so we could have a full day Wednesday; that was way better than driving down and back in the same day.

We did a whole lot of walking! First stop: the Tennessee Aquarium. Nate and I first visited Chattanooga and the aquarium two years ago for my birthday. You'd think it wouldn't be too busy in the middle of the week, but there were 15 different groups of school kids there on field trips. So, a little chaotic and noisy but they moved through pretty fast so we lingered and enjoyed ourselves.

After the aquarium, we walked to find some lunch. We stopped a local who was walking her dog, and she recommended checking out the Bluffview Art District. We came across a place called Tony's Pasta Shop and it was amazing. I had Chicken Parmesan. Mmm. Their bread is baked fresh next door every day.

Next, we went to the Hunter American Museum of Art. They had a special exhibit from the Smithsonian on African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond. I think my favorite type of art is photography—especially black and whites. To get from the museum back to the aquarium and pedestrian bridge (which we crossed after parking on the North Shore), you cross the Holmberg glass pedestrian bridge over the interstate. It's kind of nerve-wracking because you can see through the bridge and several of the glass panels had red tape around them because they had started to crack. I walked directly over a big supporting I-beam just in case.

To avoid having to pay for parking, we parked in a neighborhood on the North Shore. We walked back to the car because we wanted to check out Lookout Mountain before it got dark. We intended to go in the morning, but heavy fog covered the top of the mountain. Unfortunately when we got up to Point Park, the fog was still too heavy and you couldn't see the city at all.

We drove back down the mountain to have dinner at the Terminal Brewhouse. Nate and I wanted to go there last time we were in town, but it was a Friday night and the wait was too long. No wait this time. Next door was the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, so we went in to look around. We were not impressed. It looks like it might have been a happenin' place in the '90s, but it wasn't super clean and could definitely use some updating.

We hit the road back toward Nashville, thankful to gain back an hour with the change into Central Time. A fun day! We packed a lot in and still left plenty on the list of things Lyle and Lisa want to see their next trip back, like the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.

I headed back to work today, but Nate has two more days off. We are looking forward to watching lots of basketball this weekend. :)


practice run.

This is our buddy Eli. He came over for a couple hours last night, and he was sleeeepy. We broke out some of Baby Jones' new toys and he played in a daze, not making a peep. Poor guy! Then I read Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and layed him down around 7 and he went right to sleep. What a chill kid. His parents, Patrick and Molly, are our friends from church and they live exactly one mile from us. We love having them so close by. They started a care group a few weeks ago, and we are a part of that.

Four weeks and a four days until due date! (That's 32 days, if you're counting!) Next Monday, I am meeting a pediatrician whom a friend recommended. Saturday, Nate and I went and looked at dresser/changing tables at Babies R Us and found one we liked but not in the right color. So we stood in the store Googling and found basically the same one, in white, from Target for less and ordered it. That's our last piece of furniture we need, though I'd like to find some type of rug.

Today the guy who brings mail to our floor at work surprised me today with a gift of diapers and wipes. I've only talked to him a handful of times and don't even know his name, but how thoughtful.

Nate's parents arrived in Nashville last night. After work (Nate was working until 7:30p) I met up with Nate's parents at Fort Negley. It was chilly, but we walked around the fort and read about the Civil War history there. Lisa has been to a lot of Civil War sites in Nashville and the pieces are starting to come together. It's interesting to hear the history and recognize so many names from neighborhoods or streets.

Tomorrow is Nate's birthday—the big 3-0! I'm taking a vacation day and we are driving down to Chattanooga for a day trip.


baby shower.

Yesterday my coworkers threw us a baby shower. It was fun to celebrate with them; almost three years ago they were throwing us a bridal shower. Nate was able to take a break from work to enjoy cake and gifts.

Super cute cake. (I find myself saying "super cute" a lot these days.) My team copied the design on our crib bedding for the cake and invitations. Lots of elephants for Baby Jones.

We are five weeks and one day away from the due date—April 19. I had another checkup yesterday and everything looked good. Baby Jones is growing as he should. I am not in much waddling pain anymore, but my back is sore, especially in the evenings. And it's getting hard to sleep. I can still fall asleep at 8:30 or earlier, but I wake up at 11:30. Or midnight. And 1:30. And 3. And 4:30. A lot, and often for seemingly no reason. I just can't sleep. Some people say it's practice for not sleeping much when the baby is here, but at least then when you wake up, you'll have a baby to care for. It's just pointless now. :)


basketball jones.

I'm 6 weeks and 3 days away from my due date (April 19), which is surreal and exciting. So much to do before then. It seems that first babies typically come around or after their due dates, but I've heard of a few people being a week or two early. Hoping to get everything settled and ready by April 1!

Here's the latest bump photo—33 weeks. Looking at this photo makes me start humming "Basketball Jones … I gotta basketball Jones … I gotta basketball Jones, oh baby, oooh-ooooh-oooh." Nate said he's never heard that song. I Googled it, and it's by Cheech and Chong … so I had no idea why I knew it and then I realized it was in the movie Space Jam.

My midwife told me I could take Pepcid for my terrible heartburn, twice a day as a preventative measure, and it has worked wonders! But I am hitting the point where I am no longer physically comfortable at all. I crash hard at 8:30 p.m. and then wake up at 1:30 a.m. and it's off and on the rest of the night.

Yesterday I suddenly felt like I had pulled a groin muscle. I'm pretty sure I didn't actually do anything to injure myself; I suspect it's just things loosening and widening but it literally hurts to walk. And so I'm waddling; apparently pain is why pregnant women waddle, not because you're just carrying a big belly. It really is a pain in the bones. I described it to Nate as feeling like someone took a baseball bat to my pelvis. He helps me put on my shoes in the morning. :)



What a whirlwind of a weekend. It was packed. We got up early on Saturday to go to an all-day (9:00-4:30) childbirth class taught at Vanderbilt's 100 Oaks location. Nate had to work through the two-hour breastfeeding class I took a couple weeks ago, but he got the day off for this which was good. He needs to know what's going on. There were videos that I'm sure he would like to unsee, but from what I hear from friends, the videos we saw were much less graphic/more censored than the videos some classes show.

Our teacher was great and I definitely feel a lot less nervous about giving birth and confident in my decision to use epidural. The class also helped generate some specific questions I can ask my midwife at my next appointment.

The weather this weekend was wonderful! We were sad to spend most of Saturday indoors, but we did get to sit outside for lunch. I think the high reached into the 70s. Yesterday was in the high 60s, but unfortunately today's high is like 41. I am so ready for spring!

After class, we drove down to Franklin to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday. It was fun to spend the evening with lots of friends from Immanuel. We monitored the score of the KU game and made it home to see the end of the Wichita State game. March Madness is right around the corner. It's pretty much the best time of the year.

On Sunday, Jerry Root preached at Immanuel. Dr. Root is a renowned C.S. Lewis scholar and professor at Wheaton College. He is an excellent teacher and preached on God's love, even paralleling God's relationship with us and our dementia about our great love story with the plot from The Notebook. You can listen to the sermon through Immanuel's podcast page.

Then I drove up to Springfield—a 45-minute drive—to pick up a crib. So, so thankful for the generosity of friends (and strangers)! This crib is super nice; we are borrowing it from friends of friends who don't need it for awhile. Baby Jones' room and closet is starting to fill up with clothes and gear, and we are getting more and more excited about his arrival. I think the only "big" thing we still need is some sort of dresser we can also use as a changing table. We might use Nate's old dresser and just get him a new one because it's really small, but it definitely needs cleaned up and maybe some fresh paint.

I got home in time to start making some seasoned beef for tacos. Got that cooked up and headed to care group. We just started a care group at the home of some friends who live barely over a mile from us, which is awesome. Care groups are groups of Immanuel friends who get together a couple times a month to share life and pray for each other. Nate had to work this week, but we enjoyed potluck taco salads and asked the Lord to do big things. We are blessed by these friends.

Somehow I managed to get a couple loads of laundry in during the day. Nate beat me home and folded the laundry that was done and moved the second load into the dryer. We went to bed/collapsed on clean sheets and pillowcases—my favorite.


From Announcements to Invites: Baby Stationery for the Modern Mom

(This guest post is brought to you by Shutterfly.)

In the olden days, the news of a mom’s pregnancy or a baby’s birth traveled the good old-fashioned way—via word of mouth. Nowadays, many like to go the all-digital route, announcing their pregnancy on their favorite social media site – but what if you want to land somewhere in the middle? Fortunately, modern-day moms have several options at their fingertips, and it all starts with stationery.

Today, moms-to-be can design and order customized stationery for every stage of their pregnancy and baby’s birth. Oftentimes you can even get matching suites of stationery! You can choose from a variety of colors and fonts to customize your own stationery to your liking. Don’t have an eye for design? One great option is to use templates, which allow you to drop your own photos and wording into a layout that’s pleasing to the eye.

Here are some baby stationery options to help you celebrate the birth of your little one and share it with your world:
  • Pregnancy announcements. This is like the save the dates of the pregnancy experience. Just like engaged couples share their joy by announcing their upcoming wedding date, you get to announce the impending arrival of your little bundle of joy. A lot of women opt for pregnancy photo sessions with their significant other and any other children they may have. You can include these photos on the announcement or not – do what’s comfortable.
  • Baby shower invites. Even though the mom-to-be does not typically send out baby showerinvitations – it’s usually a friend or family member throwing the shower – you can recommend sending out customized invites that match the rest of your stationery suite.
  • Thank you cards. After a shower, it’s awesome to have thank you cards on hand. Why not order cards that match your invites and other stationery items? It will make your cards stand out from the rest – and besides, it’s just fun! Remember to order extra in case you receive gifts after your baby arrives.
  • Birth announcements. Probably the most important piece of stationery, birth announcements are the perfect way to let your family and friends know about the arrival of your angel. It’s a good idea to design the perfect announcement ahead of time so all you have to do once your baby arrives is insert a picture and any other details (weight, time of birth, etc.) – and click order!
  • Address labels. Of course, matching address labels aren’t necessary, but they sure are adorable and fun. What better way to send your announcements and thank you cards off in style than to post them with a return label featuring your new son or daughter’s name and picture?
This is by no means a comprehensive list! Other stationery options include notepads, gift tags, baptism invitations, mommy cards, and more. As a modern mom-to-be, examine your options and create fun stationery to celebrate the birth of your little miracle.

Author Bio: Heather Hewitt is a seasoned writer and guest author who enjoys connecting people with thoughtful products, services and ideas as they relate to crafting, photography, gift giving and personal expression.


baby cat.

Miles has been jumping into the bassinet on his own. I even caught Otis in it once. We are definitely going to have to de-hair a few things before Baby Jones arrives. :-)


snow dome.

There have been a lot of snow days for local schools that didn't actually include any snow. I don't mind. Living in Nashville has kind of turned Nate and me into softies. We don't get excited about snow. I mean, we don't freak out like the Southerners do, but it's a pain trying to drive in a place that is not prepared to deal with snow.

Nashville has not received more than an inch of snow from a single storm since February 9, 2011. Three years! And on that day, we got 1.4" and there were reports of people's typically brief commutes lasting hours. Fortunately I was home early that day. So suspicions arose that Nashville is covered by a mysterious snow dome, keeping snow away from Music City. And now I believe it:


domestic efforts.

Nate worked most of Saturday, so I spent the day cleaning. I think it's nesting starting to kick in. That and having clutter and cat hair everywhere and a sink full of dirty dishes just makes me stressed out. I've been intending to do a good cleaning but have lacked motivation, so I decided I'd not only clean but do a little rearranging.

My efforts were concentrated on the living room. I moved a couple of short bookcases from the study (soon to be baby room) into the front room, pushed the TV to a spot under the window, and slightly moved the couches a bit to the south. The result was a room that not only feels clean, it feels inviting. The arrangement opened up a little more floor space, and the bookshelves make it a room to come sit and read, not just watch TV.

When Nate got home, he carried my mixer down from the attic so I could make a strawberry cheesecake. Our last trip to the Cheesecake Factory, we skipped dessert because the cheesecake always disappoints us, especially for the price. I used a strawberry cheesecake recipe that is easy. Unfortunately the instructions on the website are just one big paragraph, so I wrote it out as 1) crust, 2) strawberry sauce, and 3) cheesecake.

Maybe I let it mix long enough to get plenty of air into it, but this cheesecake turned out to be the best—the creamiest and most beautiful—cheesecake I've ever made. It didn't even crack in the oven.

The worst part about cheesecake is having to refrigerate it overnight, which means waiting to eat it. But we enjoyed it on Sunday afternoon. Mmmm.

Sunday afternoons always make me worry we have a carbon monoxide leak. Naps for everyone! (We have a CO detector, don't worry.) We just crash really hard and wake up feeling like we got hit by a truck. That's what Sunday afternoons are for, right?

Baby Jones countdown: 9 weeks, 5 days.


january in a nutshell.

How has it already been a month since Christmas? January has been so busy for us. Awesome, but busy. Here's a quick recap.

Dr. John Piper preaching at Immanuel Nashville
January 11–12, Immanuel hosted John Piper for the Immanuel Theology Group. Originally it was going to be part of the closed group for the 130 or so men who registered for ITG but a week out with interest rising, the decision was made to open it to the public … for free. So instead of 130 attendees, we had upwards of 800. He spoke on the Supremacy of God and the Great Commission and it was great. Dr. Piper also preached on Sunday. Our average attendance on Sunday is about 400, and that Sunday we had 1,150—beyond what we thought was our capacity (900). We went through a lot of coffee that weekend. Pounds and pounds and gallons and gallons, for the glory of God.

Last weekend was the Women's Immanuel Theology Group. Jayne Clark came from Westminster Theological Seminary and taught about comforting sufferers. She has like 20 years experience in biblical counseling so it was really helpful and practical. She recommended a number of CCEF resources, including Relationships: A Mess Worth Making which I downloaded for Kindle for only $3. I'm only two chapters in so far but it is so good. I recommend it for anyone who struggles with less-than-perfect relationships in a fallen world—which is everyone, and Christ can redeem that.

Me sleeping with Odie on my Bump Nest pillow.
I'm a few days away from the third trimester which means only 12 weeks and a few days left before my due date. Crazy! I've felt awesome since 17 weeks and now at 27, I am starting to get more tired again. Like fall-asleep-at-7:30 tired. Fortunately still alert during the whole workday but I crash when I get home. Nate's sister Hannah sent me a Bump Nest pillow and it has revolutionized my sleep. I keep saying, "I feel like I'm being hugged by clouds!" It makes sleeping on my side a lot easier and more comfortable. When I get up for work, if Nate works later, he likes to take my place in the pillow. I offered it to him this morning when I left but he said, "No, if I use it, I'll sleep til noon."

Nate and I both had Monday off, so we took advantage of a Cheesecake Factory gift card and discounted movie tickets (employee perks program) and free popcorn (movie theater loyalty program). We saw American Hustle and then got a delicious dinner. I had steak and potatoes and went to bed uncomfortable because I was so full!

Last night we had our first experience with actually frying anything, and I wouldn't recommend frying without one. Nate found a recipe for beer battered fish and went to the store and got everything we needed. I made up the batter, we thawed the fish, and started heating the oil in a huge pot on the stove. We were trying to use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature because of course the stove just has Low to High. And it got too hot too fast. Like over 400 and it was supposed to be 365. And it was smoking and crackling and my eyes were burning and we were opening the kitchen door to air things out and trying to cool down the oil and I was googling "How to prevent a grease fire" and reading things like "If it's smoking, it's nearing the flash point … very dangerous!"

Finally it cooled and Nate was standing there with everything lined up: fish on a plate, batter in a bowl, oil in the pot. He was wearing long sleeves, an apron, and yellow gloves … and holding long tongs. I was standing nearby with a plate of paper towels for when he was done. It took forever and the batter fell off most of the fish. We did fry some chicken tenderloins and baby bella mushrooms too. It wasn't pretty but it tasted pretty good. Too much work, though. Probably won't do that again. :) We have been trying to do better (and have been) about eating out less this year and cooking at home to save money, but if we want fried fish, we can go out. :)

I think I'm like 87 days away from my due date … Baby Jones is moving around all the time. Nate looked at me the other day and said, "You look uncomfortable." I am a little. I'm not eight-months-pregnant huge, but I'm six-months-pregnant big. Sometimes it's hard to roll over in bed. Sometimes I do dishes and step back from the sink with a wet belly. There's still so much to do. I haven't quite started nesting. I think February will bring that out. Oh, boy! :)


the best calzones ever.

In an effort to save a little money on the food budget this year, I've been trying really hard to cook almost every night. The carryout got a little crazy when I was crazy sick in the first trimester, but now that I'm enjoying the end of the second trimester with all its energy and feeling-goodness, I made a list of some meals and a grocery list and got to it.

Last night, I made calzones. I found a recipe on Pioneer Woman, modified it a bit, and it was not only surprisingly easy, it was the most delicious calzone/pizza-style dinner I've ever made.

First, I heated up some EVOO in a pan on the stove and cooked up all the veggies—mushrooms (fresh, not canned or jarred), black olives, onions, bell peppers, and sliced fresh grape tomatoes. I added Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes and let it cook until everything was soft and smelled ah-mazing.

Meanwhile, I made the dough just with two packets of the 68-cent just-add-water Kroger pizza crust mix. I divided the dough in half (for two really big calzones) and rolled out the first half on an olive-oiled up baking sheet.

In a bowl, I mixed an Italian 5-cheese blend (by Kraft … it has parmesan, romano, provolone, mozarella, and asiago) with one egg and salt and pepper. Spoon out half of this mixture onto your dough (pile it on one side of the dough) and top with turkey pepperoni. Then I topped that with the cooked veggies, folded the dough over, curled up the edges, and used a fork to help seal the edges. Do that again with the second calzone.

Then I scrambled an egg with a bit of garlic salt and more Italian seasoning and brushed it over the dough. Bake at 400 for 8–12 minutes.

The Pioneer Woman serves hers with marinara sauce. I had pizza sauce, but didn't use it. I think it would be good with a little pizza sauce on the inside too. When you make them, the crust gets way bigger so don't be afraid to stuff them full of toppings.

The end result was so good. The egg brushed on top makes the crust nice and crispy. Nate didn't even finish all of his. He said, "I'm full." I threw my arms up in the air and shouted, "I DID IT!" (Filling up Nate is a difficult task!)
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