Gluten be gone!

A few months ago I legitimately thought I’d never again sleep through the night without interruption. It wasn’t that irrational of a fear either, like the one you have when the stomach flu hits your house and it finally gets to you and you vomit all day and start to wonder if you’ll ever be able to keep food down again… No, this fear was a little more founded. 

You see, my husband and I had been up almost all night with a screaming two year-old nearly every night for 2 and a half months.

Was she getting teeth? No.
Did she have an ear infection? No.
Did she appear to be in pain? Yes.
Would she point to an owie or explain anything to us? No.

(This is a very verbal two year-old we were dealing with, mind you. During the day she’d say things like, “Can I please have a tortilla?” or “There’s a hair in my mouth. Get it out.” So to have her refuse to speak to give us any indication of the problem was extremely frustrating.)

Not only was this girl problematic at night but she also refused to obey ANYTHING I asked of her during the day. She was more difficult than her twin older brothers were at that age COMBINED. Every day was an all out battle of the will and I, the parent, was losing.

On top of that, she’d rarely nap– and if she did it’d be after a 3 hour-long struggle to do so.

In addition to this, she would not sit down to read even one page of a book or watch more than 1 minute of TV— EVER!

Are you getting the picture?

Very little sleep at night, rarely napping during the day, no ability to sit for any length of time and no willingness to obey.

I felt like I was on the verge of being admitted for mental health services!

One afternoon I met with Rebecca, a dear friend of mine, and she asked how I was doing. I couldn’t even pretend I was okay, so I gave her my sob story: Luca will not stop waking up at night. She’s up for hours at a time crying and we have no idea why. She’s beyond horrible during the day. I’m exhausted and I can’t take it anymore!

Rebecca prayed for us and asked God to make it clear what was going on. I was so thankful that she brought our cares to the Lord. It was refreshing to see that seeking Him was her first solution, though, admittedly it was one of my last resorts.

The next night was Luca’s worst night up to that point. She woke up at 11pm and by 2am she was still awake, still screaming, still not telling me why.

So I decided to take her on a drive. I drove till 5am. She slept for about 45 minutes of that time.

In 6 hours she slept for less than one hour. I was going to lose my mind.

That day I begged God to either make it stop or give us answers. I begged him desperately.

My first thought the following morning: “I wonder if Luca has a gluten intolerance…”

Next thought: “Where in the world did that thought come from?”

I googled “gluten intolerance symptoms in toddlers”.

You guys!

She fit the bill. It was crazy!

Not only were the markers a. irritability due to pain, b. frequent waking up at night, c. little napping, and d. inability to concentrate, so were very foul smelling and frequent bowel movements separated by bouts of constipation (she would normally poop 5 times a day- and each time we’d have to evacuate the house because it was so pungent) and then once a week be constipated. Skin rashes were also common, and she had been suffering from them for a while.

I woke up my husband (which at the time seemed perfectly legit but looking back wasn’t very nice because he’d been up with a screaming two year-old that night!) and shared my preliminary findings.

We decided to visit the pediatrician to see if he had any answers.

We love and have the utmost respect for our pediatrician but guess what– the 100s of dollars we spent on tests gave us nothing conclusive. One of her blood levels tested *a tiny bit* high, her urine was *slightly* abnormal, her stool was fine, but all in all, it told us nothing.

We went gluten-free anyway. And within 3 days she was a different kid! I mean, she’s still 2 so we have our moments and not everything is perfect but she is:

Sleeping better at night. (She isn’t sleeping all the way through the night every night but she doesn’t scream anymore, especially not for hours on end.)

Taking naps willingly most days.

Obeying a good chunk of the time.

Sitting down for an entire book (or two or three!). 

Watching up to 20 minutes of a show a day. 😆

Having only 1-2 BMs most days and, of course it IS poop so it doesn’t smell good but not at all like it used to (unless she accidentally has gluten– then it’s BAD!).

Luca adapted to her new diet with tremendous ease. We are so thankful! She’ll point to a brownie at church and say, “Does this gluten in in in it?” (She always adds the extra “ins”. It’s cute:).) And if I say yes she replies, “Oh, then I can’t have it. It’ll make my tummy hurt.” A two year-old willingly gives up sweets to avoid a nasty tummy ache.  👈 If that’s not telling of a gluten sensitivity, I don’t know what is.

After after 2 and a half months of being gluten free, we are entirely convinced that she does NOT have Celiac disease but rather is gluten sensitive. Blood work doesn’t usually reflect that, so it makes sense why our tests were inconclusive. In order to be officially diagnosed she’d have to go back on gluten every day for the next 6 months and then have a biopsy done. Kerry and I and our pediatrician all agree that’s not worth it. If the GF diet is working stick with it!

Oh man, there is still SO MUCH I could say but this post is looooooong so I’m going to wrap it up. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will be sure to get back to you. 💕

the epitome of pride

Did you know that there is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death?

I had my friend, Robin, over several weeks ago and we decided to take the kids on a walk. From the beginning, before we even left the driveway, it was stressful. Emerson and Oakley argued about who would be first.  Luca was getting antsy in the stroller. The boys then became frustrated with their bike tires because they were low on air, so we had to go back to the garage to pump them up. When we realized one of their tires had a hole in it, making the bike unusable, the Radio Flyer tricycle was his alternative.  I was frazzled. We should have just stopped. We could have regrouped, prayed for better attitudes, laid some clearer expectations, etc.

But we trudged on. 

And what happened next is a memory I would love to forget but probably won’t ever be able to. 

At the very start of our route there is a 30-yard stretch on a busier road. The sidewalk is directly next to the street– there is no grass in between. The sidewalk is raised about 4 inches off the street level.

The boy riding the trike isn’t used to how it works and was struggling to get going. I was behind him maybe 15 yards and saw him veering to the left, toward the street. The left rear tire was about an inch away from the edge. I screamed his name in utter panic, knowing that if it slipped off he would topple into the road.

I was beyond scared. I was terrified.

Thankfully, he stopped immediately when he heard me.

A car drove past in that very moment, and, while the speed limit is only 30mph, had my son kept going that last inch, there would have been zero time for the driver to stop and he would have been run over without a doubt.

Run OVER without a doubt.

I caught up to him and frantically explained to him what had just happened. “You almost died!” I made him get off the trike and walk for his own safety. I wasn’t doing it out of anger or even as punishment. It was just safer. I didn’t want the riding of the tricycle to make this walk so dangerous.

He was angry though. He begrudgingly got off and yelled at me. “Stop it!! You’re making me mad!”

He didn’t understand my perspective. From his point of view, he was just trying to finally get going on this much-anticipated bike ride. He didn’t see that he nearly fell off the edge to his imminent death.

Instead of being grateful there was someone wiser who could see the bigger picture and cared enough to guide him on a safe path, he resented that his idea of fun was taken away.

Sounds an awful lot like me sometimes.
It is called pride, and it leads to destruction.

This all reminded me of my parents’ reactions to my first boyfriend: danger! They forbid me to see him because they knew he was FAR from God’s best for me. But I was just bound and determined to have what I wanted so I refused to listen and wound up hurt big time. To this date I still feel a sting of pain every time he crosses my mind– and our relationship ended nearly 15 years ago!

“There is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

May we be women who seek wise counsel– and who accept wise counsel even when we had no idea we needed it.
May we not resist the people trying to protect us by assuming they’re trying to ruin our fun or make our lives miserable.

May we be women who are not always looking back saying, “I wish I would have listened earlier.”

May we may not be riding so close to the edge that we will surely die with one wrong turn.

May we be women of careful obedience.

Why I’m not super pumped to hear “You look SO young!”

For as far back as I can remember I’ve looked terribly young. In junior high I looked like I was in 4th grade. In high school most people thought I was 11 or 12. In college they thought I was a freshman– in high school. And now I’m  28 and most strangers believe I’m no older than 20.

It’s in my genes. Hardly anyone thinks my mom is “old enough” to be a grandma. My grandma just turned 75 and doesn’t look a day over 60.

“So….what’s the problem?” you might ask. I mean, most women do anything they can to look and feel younger and often even lie about their age. (I lie about my age, too. Every year at my half birthday I start rounding up since I’m technically closer to the next age than the one I currently am. So for example, on December 7, I will start saying I’m 29, even though I’m not actually turning 29 for six more months. Been doing this since I was 14.😐).

Here is the problem. When people see me and incorrectly assume that I am only 20 years old walking around with my kids, they start making comments that sound like accusations.

“You have FOUR KIDS?? HOW OLD ARE YOU?! You look like you’re still in college!”

“I just can’t wrap my head around this! You barely look out of teenage years and you have two five year-olds. You must have been soooooooo young when you got pregnant.”

“Do you ever feel like you were a baby having babies?”

“You yourself ARE A CHILD.  How do you have four children already?! No, I’m serious, how old are you?!”

And my personal not-favorite: “4 kids already? What, did you start when you were 15?”

If you’re still not getting why I’m appalled by this, maybe I need to put it in a little more perspective. Let’s pretend I waited till I was 38 to have my first child. When she is 5, I would be 43. What if people were saying to me,

“Wow! You look like you could almost be a grandma and yet you have a 5 year-old!”

“I bet you have no energy at all to run after your child whose almost 40 years younger than you.” 

“Didn’t you think to yourself, ‘Man, I will be 56 at my child’s high school graduation!’?”

“You are too old to be having kids!”

Rude, right?! Like, no one would stand for that!

Here’s why it bothers me that ALMOST EVERY SINGLE TIME I’M IN PUBLIC (Costco, the gym, a park, birthday parties, restaurants, etc) I have to field these types of comments:

I’m distinctly pro-life.

So what if I was 20 years old right now walking around with a couple of 5 year- olds??? That means I would have had a teen pregnancy. That means life probably wasn’t a bed of roses for me, at least for the last 5 years. That means I was scared when I found out I was pregnant. That likely means I got dumped when the guy who made the baby decided he wasn’t gonna help out. That means I probably got ridiculed by my high school classmates for not “getting rid of it.” That means I had to grow up fast.  That means I chose life.

(Yeah, I get it. Not everyone who has a baby when they’re 15 leads a commendable life. But hello! Look at my kids. They’re dressed in good, clean clothes eating Chipotle and apples at a park and sharing snacks with kids they just met. I’m probably not a negligent teen mom.)

In faaaaaaaaact, I’m not, nor ever was I, a teen mom.

But if I was, I just wish people would have a little more compassion and a little less judgement and stop acting as if they weren’t messing around in high school too… I wish they’d say instead, if they feel they absolutely must comment on my appearance, “How do you stay looking so young with your busy lifestyle?” to which I’d be obliged to answer that it’s purely genetics and I can’t take any credit for it.

I’m climbing down from my soap box now. 😳

(And by the way, this blog post wasn’t intended to be a jab at anyone personally. My friends know my story and they don’t say things like this. Just strangers😜)

Chipotle on a budget

I just so appreciate the restaurant Chipotle. They have such high quality ingredients. The staff is friendly and capable.  In terms of “fast food” it is the cream of the crop in my opinion. But, with those things considered, I can’t justify paying $25 for the kids and I to eat there, which is what it would cost for me to get 3 kids meals and a chicken bowl with some guac (which, by the way, I had never even tried till after I graduated from college. Holy guacamole!).

So this summer I discovered how I can afford for the 4 kids (two 5 year olds, a 2 year old who eats as much as a 5 year old and an almost 9-month old) and I to eat at Chipotle for the occasional lunch out– and since I assume you love a good life hack as much as I do, I figured I would share it. 🙂

Now, the most difficult aspect of this hack is getting in and out of the car with the kids (which, let’s be honest: the only thing easy about that is the part where I lose my patience).

Also, I’ve been meaning to take photos of this during the past couple times we’ve done it but I’m so busy stuffing my face that the food is either gone or looking entirely unappealing by the time I grab the camera.

Anyway, here goes. Lunch for 4 kids and 1 adult for about $10 at Chipotle. 🍴

Start by locating the take out number for your local Chipotle. You can order ahead and skip the line, which is usually at least a dozen people long because everyone has caught on to the deliciousness of this place. So you’re like 💁, bypassing 👮 and 👲 and 👸 and 💃because none of them were as smart as you. 👅

When you call Chipotle, order the bowl. We do the chicken one so it comes to $6.89 after tax.

Before you load up the kids, grab some tortillas (always a staple in our pantry and $1.89 at Aldi), an avocado (ranges from $0.49-$1.09 at Aldi, but I usually get mine for $0.89 there), a spoon, a small knife, your water bottles, paper plates, and a few apples (cost totally depends on the season and what type of apple you like).

Now, get everyone out of the door and stay cheerful when so-and-so can’t find her shoes and when the baby poops the moment you walk out the door and when someone needs to pee as soon as he gets buckled in. Repeat after me. “Children are a blessing from the Lord. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Children are a blessing from the Lord.”

Good. Now drive to Chipotle.

Get all the aforementioned children out of the van and walk straight up to the cashier and tell him or her your name. This part gets me every time. I just love skipping the line!!!

After paying, load the kids back into the van. Drive to your favorite park.

Unload children again.

Find a picnic table.

Cut the avocado you brought from home. Spoon it out into your chicken bowl. Use the rest to feed baby. 🚼 Make 8-10 chicken tacos using your tortillas.

You guys. Why in the world isn’t there a taco emoji????

Enjoy with an apple.

Leave the mess of rice on the ground for the birds.

Throw away your trash and recycle the paper products if possible.

Go play!

Load the kids back up after an hour or so and head home for naps.

Yes.  It’s that easy. Eat well for less, my friends!!!!
💁

the master was full of praise

In my ideal world I would most definitely receive kudos every time I did something right, worked hard or accomplished something impressive. For example, if I finally conquered the bed time routine and it resulted in all children going to bed happily and sleeping completely through the night and waking up exactly at 8am, someone would say, “Wow, Kayla! You got this parenting thing going on! Teach us your waaaaaaaays!” Or if I was generous, someone would notice and say, “Here’s $100 for your generosity!” Or if I chose patience, someone would say, “I see how you didn’t fly off the handle there, Kayla! Bravo!”

Wouldn’t that be nice? I honestly believe I would make better choices more consistently if this was the case. Positive reinforcement is a great motivator.

Now, something I’ve noticed about kids is that they unashamedly seek what we all want (verbal affirmation), particularly from their parents but also from grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, neighbors, etc. You know what I’m talking about. It goes something like this:

“Mom! Watch my somersault under water! Did you see it, Mom? Wasn’t that so cool? Aren’t I so brave? I held my breath for 7 seconds! Wanna see me do it again?”

A few weeks ago I was listening to one of our pastors give a sermon in which he referred several times to Matthew 25:14-28, commonly known as The Parable of Three Servants. In this parable, before the master leaves on a long trip, he gives each of the servants some silver. Two of them invest well and work hard so when the master returns, they are excited to show him what they’ve accomplished. I bet they were secretly hoping for some verbal affirmation.

Check out verses 19-21.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more. 21 The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!'” (Emphasis added)

Hone in on the beginning of verse 21. The master was full of praise.

The master, God, was full of praise. He was eager to congratulate. He was excited to affirm a job well done. He even wanted to celebrate with the servants!

It immediately made me think of a different passage in Matthew 12 that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about.
36 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

This passage highlights the idea that God sees everything we do, good and bad, in the spirit or in the flesh, with loving or selfish motives. If we are in Christ and we have obeyed Him we won’t be able to escape the affirmation! This Master is full of praise!

All that positive reinforcement I’ve been craving is actually happening, just not always verbally. My master is full of praise.

Knowing the Lord is pleased with me is intensely propelling.

Now, when my kids are begging me to commend them for their awesome coloring skills, how they held their sister’s hand in the parking lot, the way they caught that frisbee, or how they finished all their food, I am remembering that my Master is full of praise and I will do well for my kids to be full of praise, too.

What a wonderful little nugget of truth. God’s Word is flawless. I encourage you to read it every day!

🙂

4 kids

[Disclaimer: I’m not trying to convince ANYONE to have 4 kids or wanting anyone to feel bad they don’t. I’m simply sharing what seems to be true of most families I’ve met who have had more than 3. All children are a blessing, and parenting is challenging whether you have 1 or 19 and counting!]

Raise your hand if you have three kids.

[many hands go up]

Now, how many of you with three kids think having three kids is EASIER than when you had two?

[most hands go down]

Agreed. The transition from 2-3 was even more difficult than the transition from 0-2 when we had our first born twins.

Life got a lot more complicated when we had our third born. From conception and beyond, our third born has been our most trying child. And then my husband and I took the plunge and had another– a FOURTH! We are crazy, right???

Someone who has known me for a long time, after finding out we were pregnant with our fourth said, “I admire you and Kerry having such a good attitude during this unplanned pregnancy.” When I corrected her and explained that this baby was actually very much planned, she was shocked. “You mean you WANT four kids?! Why?”

And ever since we had our fourth child last year, people (whether it be family members, neighbors, friends or perfect strangers who are standing behind me in Costco) constantly ask me with somewhat of a lamenting tone, “Sooooooo, how is it having 4 kids?” And to almost everyone’s surprise, I reply, “Easier than having three! I love it!”

I say “almost everyone” because I’m starting to notice a trend: parents of more than three children are not surprised. Parents of more than three say to me, “I love to see other families that were brave and went on to the fourth kid. Isn’t it just so much fun?”

You guys. I’m not kidding. Having four kids has been a dream!

You see, something happens when you have your third child that makes life significantly more difficult. Suddenly you and your husband are outnumbered. Bed time is no longer one on one. You used to have a parent for each kid when you’re walking through the parking lot, or if you were alone you at least had a hand for each one. Not anymore.

Then there’s the third wheel issue. It’s totally human nature to pair up so when sibs do this one of your children tends to be left out. But when you have four, everybody has a buddy. (This worked out especially nicely in our case because we had two boys and then two girls.)

Also, the transition to a bigger vehicle usually takes place in between two and three so your cool SUV goes bye-bye and a not-nearly-as-cool minivan takes its place and the sense of loss is just unbearable… (I’m only slightly exaggerating here. This was a sad, sad day for me.)

But when you have 4, I mean, you gave up trendy long ago when you got a minivan so it’s like, “Whatever. People will stare when they see all the people coming out of this vehicle and we will just smile and pretend not to notice.”😮

By the time you have your fourth, you become pretty adept at getting out the door at a reasonable time (👈 and by that I mean you just expect that it will take at least 45 minutes so you block that time out rather than leaving only 10 minutes to get ready and being a half hour late to everything…)

By the time you have your fourth, you typically have the breastfeeding thing down so well that you can do so in public with no cover and no one even notices.

By the time you have your fourth, you’re used to trips to the store being chaotic so there’s really no use stressing over it.

In our case, the Lord gave us our easiest (best eater, best sleeper, and happiest) baby as our fourth, so she has been nothing but blessing on blessing since day one.  I’m so glad we did it.

I love being a mom of four. We get asked a lot, “Are you done having kids now?” and to that I’ve started to say in a mostly-sarcastic-because-it’s-really-none-of-your-business-people kind of way, “I like having 4 so I think we’ll shoot for 4 more.” And then the bug eyes come out. And I just have to giggle.

4 inch stilettos

I am a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding coming up. She requested we wear gold heels of our choosing. I think it’ll be classy!
So I went shopping specifically for them all by myself because I rather dislike shopping and bringing 4 small children along makes the parts of shopping that I dislike even less pleasant. After much searching and getting quite bored of looking at and trying on overpriced shoes that I could never see myself wearing again, I found these nearly 4 inch stilettos. (The photo makes them look shorter than they are.)

image

As far as I can recall, this is the transcript of my actual thought process:

“Ooohhhhh those are cute gold heels!
Cute is not the right word. Sexy, perhaps?
Am I too old to wear them, though?! Well, Kim Kardashian is older than me and she would wear them… Whhhhhhyyyyyyy did I just justify anything based on what Kim Kardashian would do?!
They are really cool. I like them. But I should try them on because I don’t even know if I can walk in something like that anymore. It’s been years!
They fit! And I’m walking (maybe even gracefully but probably not…) and not falling! Everybody! Look! I’m not falling!
Waaaaait. I have 4 kids. How will I carry them while wearing these? Oh! Kerry can carry them… That’s his name, after all. 😉
Okay, I’m a homeschooling mom. Can a homeschooling mom really pull these off?! Sure, it flies in the face of the denim skirt stereotype but does it go overboard? Will people think, ‘Doesn’t that woman know she’s a homeschooling mother of 4? How dare she wear sexy gold heels!’ and then roll their eyes?
They may. They very well may. But is that a good reason NOT to buy them?
I genuinely like them and they’re a great price, plus I need to remind myself that my “beauty does not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or fine jewelry [or sexy gold heels] but is the unfading quality of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight.’ 1 Peter 3:3-4
Awwww! I remember when Kerry shared that verse with me after I dyed my hair blue in rebellion to him telling me he was in love with me for the first time. I’ll never forget that.
I’m beautiful not because of my style but because I was made in the image of God and He is beauty.
I’m not defined by my shoe choice. God has made me far more dynamic than that.
These shoes are not immodest, but they are pretty, unique, bold and fun. And I like that. I’m taking the plunge! 🎶 I am beautiful! No matter what they say. Words can’t bring me down. No, no. 🎶 That Christina Agulera has quite the voice! Where can I pay for these shoes?”

So I bought them.

image

And now I’m sitting here in my jogging (I use the term “jogging” loosely, as in, “I never go out jogging”) shorts writing this blog while wearing these heels because I gotta break them in over the next six weeks or I’mma be in heap of trouble in the form of a face-planting bridesmaid. Cheers to floor-length dresses!🙌

baby got VBAC

Happy Birthday, Luca!
image

On this here anniversary of my one and only vaginal birth (which happened to be after a c-section and is thus called a VBAC- Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) I would like to be a voice of truth and encouragement to a mom or two.

Disclaimer: This is, indeed, a story of a birth and, as such, may make some people uncomfortable. Even though I have aimed to make it palatable for most audiences, I respect your decision to quietly ignore this post if you so choose.

Let’s start out 5 years ago. We were on our first pregnancy, twin boys, 32 weeks along. My OB told me everything was going as expected and that everything about my pregnancy was normal. Less than 12 hours later I was fully dilated and 100% efface, being told a different story: these babies are coming tonight. After pushing for hours with exactly zero progress, we opted for a c-section.

It broke my heart.

Not only did my boys come unexpectedly early, I began to believe I didn’t actually give birth because they were taken out of me. It made me feel like a failure, like less of a mom than the women who pushed and pushed and pushed and finally pushed that baby right out.

When we got pregnant with our third child, who was due right after the boys turned three, I was bound and determined to have a VBAC, and an all- natural one at that. I had several motives for this, most of them quite sane and good, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was trying to prove my motherhood at least a little bit.

My [new and improved] OBs were supportive but assured me this was no easy task. Each member of the care team told me they believed I could have a successful VBAC and that it would be incredibly difficult.

My water broke (and I mean a serious, full-on, all over the place, the bag is totally empty water breakage) and then contractions got straight to work. It was INTENSE. I had no water to cushion me in those contractions. Man oh man.

We got to the hospital 7 hours into labor when my contractions were one full minute on and one full minute off. I was only dilated to a four but progressed to a 10 in about 45 minutes. With no epidural, heart rate monitors strapped to my belly (SOP for VBACs in my state), and husband at my side, I began to push… Buuuuuut, the baby’s heart rate kept dropping so I was forced to push 90% of my contractions while lying on my left side, holding my right leg bent in the air. Hooooooolyyyyyyyyy coooooooowwwwwww.

3 excruciatingly long hours later my precious baby girl entered the world. I was elated! A girl!!!!!! Some femininity would be added to my mom-of-boys world!

I was also relieved! I thought for sure if she took that long to push out she’d be like a 9 1/2 pounder.

6 pounds, 14 ounces.

All righty then.

A couple weeks later I recounted the aforementioned series of events to a fellow mom and was commenting on how much harder it was than I thought it’d be, especially given our daughter’s size. She replied, “Yeah, but that’s just because you had never given birth before. I mean, not in a normal way like the rest of us.”

Ouch. Now, she wasn’t trying to be mean. Really, she wasn’t. But it hurt to have the lie I had been believing (that I didn’t actually give birth) accidentally and unintentionally reinforced.

I again felt like I was just a wimp and like anyone else would have gotten her out quicker and more easily than I.

At my 6 week check-up, my doctor told me she was happy the VBAC was successful, despite the major difficulties.

My dental hygienist told me her birth stories a few months later. 10 pound vaginal birth, 9 pound emergency c-section, 6 pound VBAC. She told me, “I couldn’t believe it. My 6 pounder, my tiny little girl, was my hardest delivery and recovery. Something about that VBAC, I tell ya what. It’s a killer.”

If I didn’t have metal tools in my mouth at the time I would have thanked her profusely for sharing and hugged her. It finally clicked! All the professionals and experienced were saying the same thing: a woman’s first VBAC is so incredibly difficult.

It got me thinking more about why I didn’t feel like a real mother after my c-section. And then it hit me: there is so much more to motherhood than birth. Motherhood begins at conception but never ends. It’s the most beautiful job ever dreamed of.

So here’s my encouragement for this Mothers’ Day weekend—

To the woman who had a c-section, planned or totally unexpected: you’re not less of a mom because you didn’t go naturally. You needn’t compare yourself to others. Your child’s birth story is not what makes you a good mom or a bad mom: it only makes you a mom.

To the woman out there who has miscarried and never gotten to hold a baby of her own in her arms: you have the heart of a mother. You have loved and lost. You are that baby’s mommy, and you always will be.

To the woman whose baby was still born: I don’t know your pain but God does and I pray you find great comfort in Him. You are a mother. You have loved and lost in the highest sense. We will not forget about your baby.

To the woman out there who was never able to have biological children but chose to adopt: we tip our hats to you. You have the heart of a mother. You have pursued your child with great fervor and earned the title of Mommy.

To the woman out there who bravely carried her baby to full-term and then gave that precious one up for adoption in hopes of a better life for her than what you could provide: you may line up with the rest of us. You have the heart of a mother because you sacrificed for the betterment of your child. We give you our highest commendation.

And finally, to the woman who has had relatively normal pregnancies, labors, and deliveries: rock on girlfriend! You are blessed and your babies are special.

steady now

Spring time at our house is like running a marathon at 40-yard dash speed.

On top of my husband’s normal week (working full-time, being a landlord, leading Bible study, caring for our four kids and loving me well) in the spring he has many more responsibilities at work that keep him there 10-20 extra hours per week. That means less family time, more just-me-and-the-littles time. The weddings/bridal shower calendar starts filling up. Annnnnnnd we have 3 kids with birthdays in the span of 9 days. Then, the lawn starts to grow and needs to be cut and I’m like, “Seeeeriously. Just stahhhhhhhhhhp.”

Every year around this time I watch Kerry juggle this intense load with grace and humility. I marvel at him (especially when he comes home from his long day to read the kids a Bible story, tuck them in and clean up the kitchen so I don’t have to😍). And then somewhere along the way I usually hit a breaking point. (The trend shows me this happens after a couple days of being “too busy ” to make time for Jesus.)

At the breaking point, my heart races because I just can’t take it anymore. It’s like my world is caving in. I’m utterly overwhelmed and am drowning in the busyness so much so that I start to believe it will always be this way, that l will never get any rest and will always be this tired.

Our almost two-year old had been getting her molars for weeks, and our 5-month old had a nasty ear infection that just wouldn’t clear up. As a result, by no fault of their own, I was getting 3-4 hours of sleep every night. over. and over. and over again.

My perfect storm was about to become a hurricane.

I received news about several friends and family that broke my heart in a new way.

Everything was crazy at my house already- I wasn’t sleeping well, wasn’t working out, could barely stay awake during my time with the Lord, and now this?! This was bad news!

I became very worried and it affected my mood, my ability to have restful sleep in the few hours I was given each night, my eating habits, etc.

I was treading close to the breaking point. I could feel it.

A while later I needed to drop something off at my friend Jill’s house and when I came in I noticed a new chalkboard. On it was this verse:

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!…
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid.” Psalm 112:1,7-8a ESV

God was pressing in and saying, “Kayla, I got this.”

It was SUCH a relief.

I knew immediately what I needed to do: Thank Jesus for who He is and all He’s done and then entrust the cares of my heart to him. I had to choose to not let fear take over.

Of course, He came through like the knight in shining armor that He is. Hardly anything has changed circumstantially, but my heart is at peace.

And I’m steady now. I will not be shaken.

super hero up

Luca’s birthday is 9 days after the boys’ so last year we threw a big party for the 3 of them and it was insane to the membrane. We invited only family, and nearly 100 people were there, guests ranging in age from 0-89 with everything in between. It was scary at times, particularly during the three-way gift opening. 😮 While we are INCREDIBLY thankful for all the people who poured on the love to our sweet littles that day, we will not host a party for them that large till they graduate from high school. :mrgreen:

That said, we kept this year’s party to Kerry and my parents and siblings and their families, making it a much more manageable crowd of less than 25.

Now, one thing you have to know about our kids is that whatever they get into— they get REALLY into. We do one thing at a time and whatever that thing is, we go all out for it. My friend Jen introduced them to homemade superhero masks back in December and we have been making and wearing them every day since. So, naturally, it seemed appropriate to do a superhero themed party, assign everyone a superhero, have Kerry make the masks, then surprise everyone in attendance with the homemade masks and make them wear them… Because that’s normal, right?!?

Kerry spent 10 hours designing and creating these bad boys.

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They. Are. Awesome. 

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Neither Kerry nor I had any idea the other was flexing. Kinda cute. Kinda embarrassing. Whatever.

And everyone loved them.

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We played some superhero games that Kerry made up and I think most people had an absolute blast. Especially these two.

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The grill kept us fed, the company kept is laughing. Kerry pulled off one great party.

Props to him. No pun intended.