Oliver's Story.

 I cannot remember all the details of your birth, but I do remember the feeling that
surrounded your arrival. It was so very fast, so very sweet, and the closest I have been
to heaven. It was the beginning of life and the moment I became a mother to a son.

On the night you were born, I went to bed wondering, and I awoke knowing.
You were coming fast.
So quickly I could hardly grasp what was happening. A light was turned on,
but I do not remember doing it. Our house filled with hurried bodies, but I can't
recall when they arrived. I know that I was begging you to just come, while wishing
for a break and a breath. The labor happened quickly, full of long moments that seemed
unending and continuous. "Slow down" my mind whispered as my heart screamed "Hurry up!!"

Prayers were fervently and furiously spoken, the intensity of each drawn out second was overwhelming. And God was there, sweet one. On the night you were born, His presence
was so very near and He was with me. He was with you, too, whispering one last dream
into your heart before you entered this world.

And, in less than two hours, there you were. A boy child, all small
and chubby and quietly staring. You felt at home on my chest as I stared back
at my son. I already knew you by heart. There is no greater moment. I could relive
it unendingly in my mind, and each detail is purely precious. Your lake blue eyes
reflected a similar feeling I shared with your sister, and my heart will never forget.

Your father named you Oliver Steven. Because we had a promise from
God that you would be peaceful. And because your Grandpa Steve is one of the
greatest men to ever live and there is no one we would rather you be like.

On the night you were born my world shifted and my heart grew even bigger.
I had known you were coming, but I never realized what I was missing
until I could not imagine my world without you in it.

Dear little Oliver, you are a promise and a prayer that was answered.
On the night you were born, our family became one step closer to complete.
 Note: It's been quite a while since I posted last, and it will probably be a while before I do again.
This is like a journal of my life, and I wanted to record it here before I forgot.


Round Two: Seventeen Weeks

"One of these days, I'm going to wake up feeling great." I keep telling myself that. One of these days, it will happen.
how far along // 17 weeks!

maternity clothes // a little. maternity leggings have got to be the most comfy article of clothing ever invented.

movement // nothing too noticeable yet.

sleep // when Rosemary sleeps, I sleep. soundly, solidly, without waking up at all.
what I miss // enjoying food.

cravings // nothing. I feel too sick to think about food that way.
symptoms // morning sickness (still!), migraines (not fun!)  

favorite moment this week // timmy and I, for the first time ever, agreed on a boy name. 

So far, this pregnancy has left me reeling. Throwing up, gagging, dragging. I'm hoping that a happy stomach will arrive with some warm springtime weather.

Aaand, just for fun, here's me at 17 weeks with Rosemary.



*while watching our favorite TV series*
 Timmy: I think my favorite character is Michael.

Me: … Michael? Do you mean Matthew??

Timmy: Oh, is that his name?

Me: He's your favorite character
and you don't even know his name??

Timmy: I guess I just go by feelings, not names.


The Best Apps for a Toddler.

We try to use the iPad sparingly at our house, but it is a favorite toy of Rosemary's. She loves it, of course. And when I just want a minute of stillness, I really really love it too. We have a folder of "Rosemary's Apps" and I'm always on the lookout for a good one. I tend to prefer ones with good design and some sort of educational value. And so, we have a few favorites that I thought I would pass along to any fellow iPad parents out there. 

Here they are, in no specific order.
(ONE) Squiggles, by Lazoo
This app is geared toward older children, but Rosemary LOVES it. Basically, you draw "squiggles" on different animated coloring pages. The squiggles you draw activate the animation, so it's a good lesson in cause and effect. Also, the illustrations are pretty cute.

(TWO) Interactive Alphabet, by Pi'ikea Street
This one may be my very favorite. The overall design is eye-catching and I even enjoy playing with it. Every letter of the alphabet has an interactive animation. It teaches uppercase and lowercase letters, letter sounds, and a variety of great words. I actually love all the apps by the company, Pi'ikea Street, and my love for it has NOTHING to do with the fact that it's based in Hawaii…

(THREE) Peekaboo Barn, by Night and Day Studios
This app is very simple, but very entertaining. The barn opens and closes to reveal a variety of barn animals. You then hear the animal sound and the name of the animal. Rose especially loves this one because her current obsession is learning animal noises. 

(FOUR) Peekaboo Forest, by Night and Day Studios
This app is the same concept as Peekaboo Barn, only it's set in the forest with different seasons. I actually prefer this one because the illustrations are so captivating. Both are favorites and she never seems to tire of discovering the same animals over and over again.

(FIVE) Endless Alphabet, by Callaway Digital Arts
This is a new one, but it has quickly become a favorite. There are many different alphabet cards, all with a different word on it. When you choose the card, it scrambles the letters of the word and you match them back up. After matching, you are rewarded with a short animation.

There you have it. 18-month-old approved apps. Have fun!


House Mouse.

 (some new wall art in my art studio)
My house-mouse preferences are taking over more and more of our days. I feel like I have a very short list of somewhat valid reasons as to why I feel like my hermitage is justified. But I am nearly positive that listing them would end in a yawn on your end, so let's move on to the important stuff.

I found a new brand of makeup that I love. Tarte Cosmetics. It's all natural, it doesn't have lead or formaldehyde in it, and it increases both my beauty and confidence. I bought pretty much the entire line, so I can confidently recommend almost any product on their site. I love it all. It's beautiful. You should go buy yourself some as a late Valentine's Day present.

I'm still nursing Rosemary. Nursing a 17 month old is like wrangling a crocodile and hosting a three ring circus at the same time. The other day I questioned her, "Can't you be pleasant while you're eating?" and she responded by pulling away and doing her most impressive lion "ROAR" to date. Apparently not.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I found three gray hairs on my head this morning, and they were all named Rosemary. And since she has now discovered how to climb on the dining room chairs, and from the chairs to the table, and from the table to almost-the-counter-if-i-take-a-running-jump, I am anticipating many more gray hairs to come.

Today we are leaving the house. When I told Timmy he was clearly wowed and commented "You're leaving the hobbit hole?!" Yes. There are some things you can't buy online.


A Conversation: About Chicken

Tim: What are we having for dinner sweetie?
Me: Chicken tacos.
Tim: Oh. I've never had a chicken taco before.
Me: You had one last night. That's what you always get at Chipotle....
Tim: You make a strong case.

I've had several people ask me why I started eating chicken again, and it is a fair question that deserves an explanation. I had been vegan for ten years! So here it is, in summary.

I became vegan for health reasons – I wanted to be healthier. There are many many benefits to being vegan, and I still believe it to be a very nutritious lifestyle. But, I've never believed it to be the only healthy way of eating, and I truly believe that it's more about the quality of the foods you do eat. Such as, eating fresh, organic, locally grown, non-gmo, etc. I think that we sometimes make it too hard and want people to fit into our idea of what exactly they should be eating (gluten-free, raw, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, etc.), instead of focusing on good, solid nutrition. Let's eat vegetables, people! And say NO to McDonald's!

So, when Tim and I discuss what we want our future family to look like, the topic of food comes up often. We want our whole family to be united and to eat the same healthy meals. It just made sense for me to start eating chicken occasionally. Chicken wasn't something he was willing to give up, and I couldn't really see a reason to not start incorporating it into our family diet. Honestly, I've been enjoying it. 

And Rosie ate an egg tonight. Let's add that to the list of three things she is willing to eat and rejoice. 


Unplanned Traditions.

Tim rocks Rosemary to sleep every night. While he rocks, he sings "Amazing Grace" and gazes into her eyes. He has told me that nothing is sweeter than keeping eye contact with her as she falls asleep. Every now and then she will peep an eye open to see if he's still looking. He always is.

I can't be certain of when this tradition started. It definitely wasn't intentional, but somewhere along the way, bedtime became something special between the two of them.

Every day, after Rosemary's afternoon nap, we have ice cream. "Do you want some ice cream?" I ask, and she smiles and nods her head excitedly in response. We sit at the table, eating ice cream and watching for people and puppies walking by outside the window. Our version of "ice cream" happens to be little more than frozen coconut milk, but it's special and she knows it.

It's a tradition that started without forethought, but continues with intentionality.

Unplanned traditions. They happen spontaneously. And they're extra sweet.



My Valentine surprise from Mr. Valentine included a babysitter, a festively decorated hotel room, a yummy meal, vegan chocolates, sparkling juice, roses, candles… and a two hour nap.

The nap was the best part. Really.

We had the hotel room and the babysitter for about six hours. And while I have never heard of anyone renting a hotel room for just half of a day, I must say that it was a perfect idea. I've been feeling a little sick these past days and Rosemary hasn't been sleeping well. A cozy little space to curl up in, snuggle, and sleep was just exactly the very best way to spend Valentine's Day 2013.


Five Things on a Monday.

1. I recently started teaching Rosemary sign language, and I've been amazed at how quickly she catches on. This morning she made the sign for "food" and then the sign for "more". This is doubly fantastic, as she typically doesn't express the desire to eat "more" of anything except breastmilk. Progress? I hope so.

2. I really love my husband. He's so cool and funny. Valentine's Day may be my favorite holiday, and I know he has something planned… 

3. Rosemary has been sleeping with us a lot lately. She's getting four teeth right now, and nights have been hard. When she has woken up for the third time and it's only midnight, co-sleeping looks like a desirable option to no sleeping. And, while it's definitely not my ideal scenario for a restful nights sleep, I kind of love to feel her warm little body nuzzled close to mine. 

4. My life has been pretty boring lately. What have we been up to? Rosie and I camp out in our jammies all day, reading books and playing with baby dolls. The weather here has been less than pleasant, and the thought of leaving the house in an ice storm or a blizzard is even less pleasant. So I have been ordering things online and making the delivery people bring me things in this less than pleasant weather. Online shopping is great.

5. Rosemary pooped on the floor last night during naked time. Nobody noticed until I almost laid down in it. Then she walked in it and got it all over her feet and the floor. Potty training is off to a roaring start.



 I really love Jillian Michaels and her 30 Day Shred. I really dislike Jillian Michaels and her 30 Day Shred. Somehow it is possible to feel both emotions strongly at the same time.

Crazy J kicks my butt every single day. I have been panting my way through the "Level One" workout for months now and only just recently worked up the courage to try "Level Two". After twenty minutes of what could only be described as breathless TORTURE… I decided that "Level One" is a great place to be. And stay.

No matter the level, this workout works and so I love it.

Rosemary likes to help out by making things a little more difficult for me. She especially loves to sit on my back while I do push-ups. I can now do thirty push-ups in a row with a baby on my back. Is that impressive? I'm not sure, but I feel like it must be.

If you're looking for a somewhat painful but really rewarding workout, this one is for you. I recommend hitting "mute" once you have the moves down. I can only listen to Jillian yell "Come on buddy!" so many times…



Me: I guess we're going to have an early Spring!
Timmy: Oh? Did the hedgehog see its wings?

Happy Groundhog Day!



 We left the house today. It was the first time in, quite literally, weeks. Rosemary and I changed out of our pajamas and into real clothes. We went to Target and bought diapers and juice and a shower curtain. Then we stopped to visit Tim at work and he commented "Wow, you look hot! Is this the first time you straightened your hair in a while?" Yes.

It's been a sick winter for us. Rosemary caught the stomach flu at the beginning of December and she threw up for weeks. Not kidding. It was awful and she lost two pounds in one month. I had high hopes for January. But then we all caught the worst cold imaginable and much misery followed. Three weeks later, we're not quite certain if we're better or not. Coughing is still happening and also a sneaky little fever that keeps coming back.

So we've been inside. Inside where it's warm and cozy and where pajamas are encouraged. And, for the most part, the hermit in me does not care to leave. And after shivering our way through -5 degree weather this morning, we may just decide to stay here until Spring. 



These coconut balls are incredibly delicious and surprisingly healthy. They are gluten-free, dairy free, sugar free, egg free, and completely raw! Yum!
Everyone who tries them ends up asking for the recipe. So here's the recipe, even though you didn't ask. You'll thank me later…

2 cups raw cashews
1 cup gluten-free oats
10 pitted medjool dates
1 1/2 TB coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup

Combine all the ingredients except the maple syrup in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped and mixed together. Turn the processor on low and pour in the maple syrup. The consistency should be a little sticky. If it appears too dry, add more maple syrup as needed. Once the maple syrup is added, let the processor run on a medium speed for about a minute, until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Scoop out and roll into balls. 

Variation: Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup cocoa powder for a delicious chocolate version!


Five Things on a Monday.

 1. We have all been so sick. So sick. After two weeks, I still feel awful. Rosemary is still coughing and not sleeping. Tim took over at 2AM last night, to get her back to sleep (for the third time that night). I woke up at 3:30AM and noticed Tim wasn't in bed, and I couldn't hear the baby crying. I tiptoed into the nursery to find the two of them snuggled on a blanket together… on the floor. After considering the situation, I decided to go back to bed, and the next thing I knew, it was 7AM. I'm pretty sure I made a good decision.

1. I'm eating chicken now. I feel like, in reality, this makes me an ex-vegan. But I like to think of myself as a vegan who eats chicken on a semi-regular basis.

2. "Doodle-loodle-loodle-loo" is Rosemary's new little saying. She says it when she is happy, she says it when she is crying, and (my favorite) she whispers it as she is falling asleep. 

3. I just bought myself a "swim dress" online. This makes me sound like an old lady, but I think it's surprisingly cute and appropriately modest.

4. Timmy and I don't really celebrate Lent, but we do love the idea of fasting for a long stretch of days once a year. We typically do it at the same time as Lent, because that makes it easy to remember. This year, we decided to do it earlier. So our 40-day fast starts tomorrow. I'm giving up gluten, all refined sugar, and Netflix. Timmy is giving up coffee! Rosemary is giving up Baby Einstein. It should be a fun filled 40 days…

5. But at the end of the 40 days – and we timed this perfectly on purpose – we have Hawaii.



*after being awakened by Rosemary crying at some wee hour of the night*

Me: Uhgggggggg. What time is it?
Timmy: … I don't know… Don't be mad at me.
Me: Huh? What TIME is it?
Timmy: Don't be mad.
Me: I asked you what TIME IT IS?
Timmy: I'm sorry. I'm trying so hard…

I think it's obvious that a clock on my side of the bed is a good idea.



It's been a sad week at our house. Rosemary caught the flu, which then turned into the croup. Her coughing, coughing, coughing was unbearable. I held her for hours in the middle of the night, listening to her shuddering breaths and counting the minutes between another gasping, coughing attack. There was usually only about two to five minutes of rest before another one hit. She was awake, literally, for days on end because she could not fall asleep. My poor, poor baby.

Of course, after being coughed on for days and days, Timmy and I caught the same flu. So we have all been coughing ourselves silly. Not much can truly help an awful cough. But we did find something soothing, and I'm sharing it with you - in case you find yourself awake at midnight in a similarly unfortunate situation. 
Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Once boiling, add one generous tablespoon of oregano, thyme, and sage. Stir in and let steep for 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Pour the hot liquid into a large bowl. Put a towel over your head and the bowl and inhale deeply. Try to keep it up for about ten minutes.

This requires two adults. Pour the hot liquid into a large bowl. Put the bowl on the floor. Have one adult hold the baby in their lap, being very (VERY!) careful not to let the baby touch the boiling hot water. Have the other adult hold a large blanket over their heads and the bowl, making a "tent". All the steam will stay under the blanket. The baby will probably cry (mine sure did) but that's actually good because that makes them inhale more deeply. Try to keep them under for about ten minutes. The longer the better.

These herbs are antibacterial and antiviral and will immediately start working to clear up the cold in your throat and lungs. Cold viruses are sensitive to heat and the warm air will help to loosen congestion. We did this every night and saw a definite difference.



 When I met Timmy, he was wild. Marvelously so. He dreamed of climbing mountains and jumping off cliffs. He was loud and intense and passionate and unstoppable. I said "Oh no! Please don't climb that!" and I said "That's dangerous!" and I said "You're going to hurt yourself!" many, many times. 

When I look into my daughter's eyes, I see Timmy. She is wild. Beautifully so. She dreams of climbing the piano and jumping off chairs. She is loud and dramatic and passionate and stubborn. I say "Don't climb that!" and I say "That's danger!" and I say "You're going to get hurt." many, many times.

They still climb. And when one obstacle is conquered, they look ever higher to the next. And the next. When they are together all I hear is squeals and screams and giggling. 

And tears, of course, because I'm usually right with my admonitions.

But even still, I'm glad that our daughter was born with the heart of her father. She is brave and she is sweet and she is mine.



Hawaii is two months away, but I'm already planning and packing. Partly because being organized is the only thing that makes sense when you're embarking on a long journey with a toddler. And partly because it's just really very fun.

So here is what Rosemary will be wearing on the sunny beaches of Hawaii.

I shudder to think of how unhappy a baby with a sunburned scalp would be.
A sweet and snugly fitting swim cap is the perfect answer. 

A super cute – but ladylike – swimsuit. Perfect.

Baby aviators? Not much could be cuter – or cooler.

There will be plenty of beach walking and beach running,
so very small water shoes are a very good idea.




What makes Rosemary smile?
Movies of herself.
Coconut milk.



*While discussing the pros and cons of a potential road trip.*
Me: I don't know babe. Maybe we shouldn't go. 
We could get in a car accident and die.

Timmy: Yes. But what if we do go and our house gets hit 
by a meteor while we're gone?? We'll be so glad we went!



In the meanwhile
and in the betweens, 
we've lost count of smiles
and fallen into a very beautiful

In the meanwhile,
and in the paused spaces,
we've caught our breath
and found ourselves to be

In the meanwhile,
and in the unsaid phrases,
we've whispered with our eyes
and deeper still we've fallen
in love.



weight // 20 pounds
height // 29.5 inches

wearing // 12 month size clothes

saying // mama, dada, guh (grandpa), uh-oh, dut (duck)
she can also roar like a lion, moo like a cow, woof like a puppy, and scrunch her nose like a bunny. Tim plans to teach her to "scream like an eagle" next…

 tricks // she knows where her nose, eyes, ears, tongue and belly button are. she also dances, waves, and blows kisses. she will pretty much mimic anything we say or do.

eating // her favorite foods are applesauce and sweet potatoes, we are also still nursing several times a day 

sleeping // rose takes one daytime nap from 11-2 every day. her bedtime is at 8. she will typically sleep until 6 or 7 the next morning, but does wake up a couple times in between. when she does wake up, a good back scratch is all she needs to fall back asleep.

playing // she loves books, tents, stuffed animals, and boxes. she screams with sheer joy whenever we go outside, and her absolute favorite activity is to dance around the living room naked. she likes to play peek-a-boo in the living room curtains. she LOVES to put on my shoes and shuffle around the house in them.

teething // she has ten teeth and is currently getting three molars and an eye tooth. which means we are currently getting not much sleep.

potty training // we are working on potty training and hope to have her completely trained by 18 months. 

This girl. She makes every day an adventure.


BEST OF 2012

 ONE. Rosemary
This little flower had just turned four months old at the beginning of 2012, and by the end of it she was nearly sixteen months - with a lot of growing done in between. She got her first tooth in April, she started crawling on Mother's Day, she took her first steps just a couple weeks later, and she's been running ever since. Her first word was "mama" but her favorite word is "daDA". She is adorable, hilarious, and contagiously happy. When she smiles she crinkles her nose. She is perfectly ours and the very best of the best. 

 TWO. Hawaii
 In March we took a family trip to Hawaii with Mom and Dad. In case you were wondering if my complete obsession with this island paradise has dimmed in the past year - rest assured that I love it more than ever. Hawaii has my perfect combination of sunlight, beauty, and an overwhelming aura of relaxation. Bliss. We had a blast, and we're planning a second trip for this coming March…

THREE. Painting
This summer I painted the oak cabinets in my kitchen white. And then I started painting ALL the trim in my house white. And all the doors. If I had realized what a big project this would turn out to be, I may not have started it. And once you start this sort of thing, you simply can not stop. But it's amazing how much lighter and brighter our home feels with all the white white white, so continue on I shall. 

 FOUR. California
In November the three of us took a little vacation to sunny Newport Beach, California. We visited several dear friends and spent a lot of time chasing seagulls, which was Rosemary's favorite part. 

FIVE. Rosemary's First Birthday
 She turned one year old in September. Time flies when you're having fun, and we were having a lot of fun. So her birthday just kind of whizzed up on us, arrived with a burst of PINK, and disappeared into a beautiful and mysterious realm called "toddlerhood". We did manage to have a really great celebration in honor of our quickly blossoming Rose, and it was a very festive occasion. 

SIX. Marriage Conference
 Timmy and I attended a marriage conference in Indianapolis with our favorite little Rynn and Caleb. It was part of the Real Marriage tour done by Mark Driscoll, and it was amazing. Mark Driscoll is even cooler in person, and it was an all-around happy happening.

 SEVEN. Family Time
When I asked Timmy what his favorite part of 2012 was, "family time" was his answer. We really learned how to be a family this last year, and our life is so much sweeter as three.

  EIGHT. My Birthday Celebration
I turned 26 on the 26th of November and Timmy took me to Chicago to celebrate my long-awaited Golden Birthday. (My parents watched Rosemary and she had a great time with them!) We went to IKEA, ate yummy food, and stayed in a luxurious hotel. 

  NINE. New Camera
Timmy bought me a new camera for Rosemary's birthday. I can't quite explain how that makes sense, so I'll quote him saying it was "for keeping Rose alive for a whole year!" I'd say, when you look at it that way, my new camera was well-deserved. I love it.

(photo credit: Laura Zastrow Photography, www.laurazastrow.com)
TEN. God
The best part of anything is always God, and this past year He has really shown himself to be faithful, loving, and very patient.



I needed a break and I took one.

Our family slid inward, and our focus was simply trying to figure out how to be the best of parents. Distractions needed to disappear in order for priorities to be in the right places. I had to focus on what God had placed before me.

These past ten months have been sweet ones. We cried and laughed and learned and stretched and grew. New accomplishments, new trials, new adventures, and the same old everyday occurrences slipped by.

And now, I am longing to write again and my fingers are itching to type out all the whispers and songs and shouts housed within my heart. I'm ready to peep my head out of our snug little nest and to return to my very small space. This new year will bring…

more words,
more stories,
more blogging.

And here is a small taste of what we've been up to since I last posted:



 I am at a very happy place in my life. This past weekend my parents and my Granny stopped by for a visit. It was so special to see the culmination of generations of loving and growing and giving. That "someday" when I'll be holding grandbabies of my own seems so far off, and yet I know it will be here quicker than I could prepare for. 

Each phase of life brings such sweetness. I've witnessed my parents grow older and simultaneously grow happier.

It's such a funny thought, to think I could ever be happier than I am right now. 

And yet,

watching Daddy sing to Rosemary,
seeing Granny soak up Rosie smiles,
and silently feeling the joy of Mom as she is surrounded by those she loves…

I have proof that happiness grows…

and grows and grows.



 (Timmy and older brother Kyle, 1985)

Timmy's older brother recently gave him this photo of the two of them in 1985. It is one of the few baby pictures I have of him, and when I look at his chubby, grinning face, I feel like I'm looking right at Rosemary. They have the same face shape, the same eyes, and that same adorable smirk.

(Me and my older sister Liz, 1988)

Tim says he wants Rosemary to look just like me, but I'm definitely in favor of her looking more like Timmy. 

I love my two blue-eyed babes. 


Shades for Rosemary.

Rosemary got herself some pretty cool shades today at Target. She's all ready to soak up some Hawaiian sunshine. 

This is her current face. She sucks her bottom lip and looks so darn adorable I can hardly stand it.

Oh, and our teething crisis is finally starting to pay off. The tiniest little nubbin of a tooth is poking through – her bottom left eye tooth. Which seems like a pretty hilarious first tooth. She's going to look like a baby dinosaur.