So I realize that A is already almost 10 months old… as in five days from this moment. But oh well! I totally forgot to post his 9 month photos. They are too cute to not put up for the world to see, so please enjoy! : )
All my love,
This has been a really rough few weeks. Oh Lordy! I cannot begin to describe it. But as is usual, I would prefer to express myself in a different way anyhow. Even when the days are drag-down beat-up days, there is still so much I am thankful for.
Let me tell you, let me count the ways; My Boy is so unique and so particularly mine:
My boy is giggly, wiggly, snuggly and bright.
He has joy in his eyes, a spark of wonder–and light.
He can make me smile, even on the darkest day.
I couldn’t have imagined him, couldn’t have drawn him in a more perfect way.
He was designed, formed, planned.
He was created and molded. Gently, carefully by hand.
The days that get rough, days I can’t sleep…
The days I feel weak, like I’ll break down and weep…
On days when the house is a mess, the dog ran away…
Dinner was ruined and I’ve got nothing to say…
I remember the care that first brought him to life, I remember the joy as he first cried and cooed.
I recall how I gazed on his features and form.
His soft skin, his sweet face. How he smelled, looked–I was wooed!
I quickly realized my blessings and cards had been dealt– my new title of “Mom,” made me totally melt.
I would fall in love–such a love-laced heart attack!
Once you enter the world of a mother, you never once look back.
My Boy, you have changed me–because you are mine.
I am never going to be the same as I was, and that’s really just fine.
All my love,
It’s hard to believe, but my baby will be 8 months old soon. That isn’t far from a whole year… Which is incredible. I am certainly going to cry from joy and sadness at his first birthday, I’m just a sappy momma and I know it. I feel like things are moving too fast, and that it’s all gone by in the blink of an eye! He is a really inquisitive little man, and as we go about our days I see more and more of his personality, his likes and dislikes, and we are surprised lately by his toughness. He hardly cries sometimes when we expect him to let out a huge wail–and mishaps are happening more often now that he’s all over the place, mobile and exploratory. Crazy. Here are some photos from our life that I finally had a chance to edit–I caught our dogs chillaxing together too, they are so sweet together. Shadow & Lady make a wonderful pair… I think they’re somewhat inseparable, as much as Shadow likes to play the tough dog. They’re one of the best things that has happened to each other–him helping to rehabilitate her from her previous life (who knows, she was a rescue) and her bringing a more gentle, really playful side out of him. They look like an old married couple in these pics.
All my love,
My spirit has been lifted high and also brought low these past days. We were driving home from Liberty, where my hubby’s family lives, when we hit a deer. Rather, we were struck by one. I immediately screamed. I’ve never been in a crash, never done so much as accidentally backing into another car (while staring at my handsome then-boyfriend…oops!). So it was extremely scary to feel the force of our vehicle hitting something, especially a living animal. So I screamed. Tears instantly welled up in my eyes, and I’m not embarrassed to say so. Troy immediately thought of August being terrified because his mama was, and said, “Honey, try to hold it together for August.” He was visibly shaken, too. We couldn’t believe it. It happened so quickly, but also felt like slow motion. One second we were mulling over the holiday together, talking about what had happened and the people we had a chance to catch up with, the next we see this huge, beautiful male deer running into us. I saw its face, saw it look at us. And then boom.
When you have adrenaline pulsing through your veins, pushing into every part of your brain, you hardly think about how thankful you are to be alive. Those thoughts seem to finally work themselves into your mind sometime afterward. But gratitude did start to emerge as we turned around to look for the deer, and pulled into the icy driveway of a home close by. The inhabitants saw that we were parked there, and came out to see what the commotion was about. An older man, probably in his early sixties, helped my hubby assess the damage and offered a little comfort to us. I calmed our screaming baby as well as I could, and finally got him to laugh at me with a game of peek-a-boo. The force of the deer’s blow had made it impossible to open up my door except for an inch or so–I had to crawl over to the driver’s side door and let myself out to look at everything, too. The elderly man assured us that so many people hit deer on this road. A small country road, and a perfect place for deer to graze. His wife had hit a few, and he had too. The front end of our vehicle looked terrible. I felt shaky but thankful to know that things could have been so, so much worse. My motherly instincts gripped me strongly and deeply, letting me know that my child had been endangered & that I had to do everything to prevent that.
After climbing back into the car, we had silence. Troy was taking deep breaths, and I was thinking my own thoughts. After a few moments, we said “Thank you Lord… Thank you.” I was alive, we were all alive. Unfortunately, we saw that the deer was not. Poor thing. We were driving through his area and he somehow thought it was a good idea to come at us head on. I’ll never know what those deer are thinking when this happens! Our next thoughts were about money. “Crap.” We realized that we’d switched our auto deductible to a higher rate than before, and our budget didn’t have very much wiggle room for this. We had just depleted a lot of our emergency fund with the scary trip to the Animal ER when Shadow had an incident, and Troy and our friend Joe had put a new pipe in where there used to be a broken one–fixing a leak that was coming into our basement. We weren’t counting on a THIRD unforseen money emergency, but I guess that’s why they say these things come in triplets. Ugh. We would manage, but squishing finances around is never very enjoyable. Our hearts were heavy as we rode home, feeling upset, tired, dizzy. Not thinking straight. We got home, unloaded and put our belongings back, and hit the sack–thankful to be together, holding one another close.
The next day was Christmas. It was time to have my side of the family’s gathering, and I was excited. However, I was definitely still feeling edgy and weary after everything we had been through the evening before. When we arrived, my wee little Japanese grandma was looking out the front door. She must have been anticipating our arrival, and we could see her tiny silhouette standing in the entry. When we arrived, she grabbed me in a hug and said, “I’m glad you’re all safe, sorry you had an accident!” She was sweet. I gave my parents and uncle, and brother a hug. Happy to be here. We shared a beautiful meal, enjoying everything we had prepared and that had been provided. It was delicious–the kind of meal that stays with you for awhile. Then it was time for presents. My parents tree seemed to glow with a beauty more real and alive than I had seen in years. You start to look at things like that when you think you almost died! There were gifts piled high, all beautifully wrapped and tied up with bows. A sight to see, by all accounts. I soaked up the warmth, the joy. Trying to remember this forever. My baby’s first Christmas, Troy & my fourth together. Everything centered around our little guy, how cute he is, how big he is, how exciting it was. Babies have a way of bringing joy but stealing away all the attention. Haha.
When we sat down to open presents, we were just bombarded with blessings. My grandma told me that I needed to open up the card from her: First thing. So I did. It was a beautiful card, with Jesus manger on the front. It was addressed to Troy & I–we opened it and read it together. There was a check inside, and some bills as well. When I looked at the check, I had to do a double take. My mouth dropped open and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I think they probably fell out of my head then and there. The amount was more than I’d ever held in my hands before. I felt overwhelmed, not believing what I saw… “Grandma… oh my gosh.” She said, “Miranda, your grandpa had purchased that Christmas card before he died. He somehow knew to get it beforehand.” Grandpa passed in October. This was December. He had gone downhill for a long time. My grandpa had to have bought my Christmas card sometime over the summer. What a gift.
Suddenly, the collision with the deer seemed distant and somewhat forgotten. God had provided for us abundantly, more than we could’ve imagined, and we did not have to worry about the financial situation. What’s more, this gift of my Grandfather’s card gave me such comfort. I missed him dearly, as I know all of us did this Christmas, but somehow it felt as though he were with us then. My Gram also had one other gift for me–some photographs from when I was just a baby. What a perfect gift. Within the pages of a small flowered album there were precious photos I hadn’t ever seen. My grandparents holding me, my Grandma wearing a beautiful kimono and smile to match. A legacy.
Merry Christmas. This one will not soon be forgotten, for us.
All my Love,
So of course, you know the journey we’re on. It’s mostly all I can write/think/talk about for now. Of course, life has those interests and pleasures and joys that have nothing to do with small babies, but for the most part I am spent away dreaming of what my little guy will be like, what labor will entail, and how to prep myself and hubby for it. And that’s the way it should be: the growth that occurs during pregnancy and the coming onset of labor are so intense–how could I get them out of my mind!? Especially in the last few weeks, when our little man has made some fantastic leaps and bounds towards life outside the womb.
He hiccups ALL. THE. TIME. now.
It’s made me laugh numerous evenings, when I’ll be lying in bed, and I’ll let out a small chortle. Then in a few seconds, I’ll giggle again. I exclaimed yesterday, “Well babe, looks like this is the nightly ritual for our guy!” And I do find it a little strange that nobody quite knows what causes in-utero hiccups to occur like crazy, but so far in my research I like the idea of the hiccups helping to work the muscles necessary to his little lungs for breathing. I love it.
I’m definitely starting to get big. B-I-G, yo.
For real. There’s no denying this one, my belly is very noticeable. And everyone needs to say something. Sometimes this makes me laugh, smile, and feel generally loved and adored by many–then other days I wish they would just shut up and mind their own business. I suppose it’s something to struggle with when you’re publicly on display and everyone’s “allowed” to ask their questions of you. I believe I may have mastered the art of the “smile & nod.. and walk quickly away” with some degree of grace, but it certainly is difficult. I try to focus on the fact that I’m carrying a living being, that God chose me for this assignment in life, and that is pretty fascinating. And incredible. I try to love my big belly every day, try to think of it as my son’s first home (which it is) and am even trying to celebrate my FIRST REAL STRETCH MARKS… which made their appearance this week. I will not loathe them, I will celebrate them! They mean he’s getting stronger and more ready for the world!
His eyes are open!That just makes me smile. He can look around my womb. Something that nobody has ever done, and it’s his own private little living space for the next few months. He’s practicing for the day when he will be able to look around with amazement at this wide ole world. I always get filled with joy uncontainable when I see a new baby looking excitedly and with surprise all around them. I have to remember that the entire world is a new place for him or her. Every sound, every color, everything. God is so glorious in His creation & the means he uses to make it all happen.
As you can see, little guy is doing a lot. I can feel him often, he likes music, he enjoys rolling around and kicking me strongly from time to time. One of the most precious things that happened recently was when Troy got to feel some BIG, STRONG kicks. He had felt the flutters, but these are ginormous in comparison! I can feel him growing inside me, my belly feels all stretched and very tired at times. How can you explain that tired belly feeling to anyone who has never or will never experience it? This eludes me. But while my body is tired my brain is on overdrive: there is much to be done and much to settle our minds on before this little man gets here, but most of all, we must thank God for all of his provisions and remember (NO MATTER: how many things are still undone, how many things don’t seem to be going according to plan, etc.) that we have one another, that we have a great God, and that our little one is healthy and happy as a clam. Troy has to remind me because it makes me anxious looking at an un-finished, undecorated baby room. But he’s very good at reminding and comforting, and God knows how to take care of us, so I trust that.
Here are a few things I’ve been doing to prep:
A) Making lists of everything. Just in case. What to bring to the hospital. What to use during labor in order to help with pain/help me focus/help spur me onward. Rolling pin, teabags, massage oil, cute nightgown, fan, Seinfeld (to make us laugh, of course) frozen soda cans, scriptures about mothers and labor, a casette tape of a gurgling stream that we bought in TN… hm.. lots of ideas there.
B) Exercises from the book “Active Labor” in order to help my body stay in shape for the marathon that is labor. I’m going to do this naturally–no ifs, ands, or buts about it. That’s the mindset I have to have, I must steel myself if I want to do this. I know things may not ALL go according to plan, but that’s okay. I want my determination to be there no matter what. A few super helpful poses to practice have been: Tailor pose, Cat Cow pose, lots and lots of squats, and practicing low squatting for a minute at a time. I’ve also kept up a normal workout routine (albeit somewhat modified and thrown away if I feel really tired that day) that I make sure I’m doing a few times a week. I lift weights like usual, walk, do yoga, and have my Lindsay Brin DVD sets. Really great.
C) Reading, reading, reading. Ina May Gaskin’s book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” has really been an eye-opener for me. Who even knew that ultrasound wasn’t very well researched by the medical field before it just burst onto the OB scene and became common practice? I sure didn’t. If I had known what I know now, who knows if I would’ve even decided to get an ultrasound at all. Don’t get me wrong–I’m super thankful that I have been able to see my baby kicking and moving and doing all these adorable things. But I am VERY cautious with all of the practices that the medical world uses because HALF of them are only for convenience sake, and not that helpful–the other half are not very well regulated and turn out to be recalled (ahem… baby tylenol.. the recent phizer birth control recall… etc.) about 3 years after they are approved by our standardless FDA. The point is, I’d much rather be less technologically involved yet safe, rather than sorry in any situation. Back to the book, though: Ina May’s Guide is just a very empowering, close look at pregnancy, labor, and the female body’s monumental potential if given the correct care and circumstances. I am so thankful to have a midwife. I am so thankful to have read the birth stories in this book. Great preparation to make sure I know what it will be like (many varied different examples of what it “could” be like!) to help me know that everything is normal even if it feels crazy.
D) Envisioning, praying, vocalizing, having a routine:
This has been immensely helpful to me also. I’m planning to have a natural waterbirth, and so I’ve begun conditioning myself to see the bath as the place I go for comfort, for relaxation before bed, and ultimately as “My Zone.” This has worked out fairly well, because for one 1) how many women don’t see a nice soak in the bath as their relaxing zone? and 2) it’s a perfect way to imagine how my birth will go before I actually have to do it. I am very comfortable being in the bathtub, and I can’t imagine how much more I will be in a very large birthing pool. Praying for God’s guidance while I’m in the tub has been something I’ve tried to do as well. And then vocalizing, well.. while I’m in there, I do a kind of yoga-chant “OMMMM” thing. It’s really great, and you should try it if you need to relax. : )
That’s my big huge preparedness update for you!! We’re into the third trimester now, and it’s all moving so fast.
All my love,
“B” is for babies. And “B” is for bellies. And in case you didn’t know, it’s also for bubbles. I’m having the most amazing tiny, little bubbles popping around in the depths of my belly this evening! They are so precious that I just had to write it out. They feel different than any little pokes I’ve felt before because I can tell there’s not just one here and there, but there are a succession of them as if my little one were practicing some bicycle kicks inside me! Too cool. I can’t believe there’s really a little human being in my womb–yet there is. I am freaking out for Friday! We are both freaking out for Friday. But of course, every day I am reminding him that Friday is a day closer, because I’m just that filled with excitement and that in awe. We are going to have a boy. Or a girl. Whatever you are–little Irvin–I don’t care. I could care less if your hair is red or your eyes are green or brown (however, you know how attached I am to your father’s baby blue eyes, so knock yourself out if you’re busy working on a pair of those!). I am not really envisioning how you will look, because I know however God has created you will be wonderful. I’ve been praying for ten tiny toes. Ten tiny fingers. Praying for your little digestive system and heart and lungs. Your smart brain. Hoping and praying, and after that leaving it all in our good God’s hands. We just cannot wait to meet you and learn all about your personality and your passions, what could your little heart hold? It’s all so new and exciting.
Everything is changing. Your dad is getting comfy with the idea of you and likes to touch my tummy. He can’t wait to feel you moving. My belly feels like it gets bigger by the hour, and I feel much more tired after “normal” activities I would do (like taking the stairs to our bedroom two at a time, at a quick pace. That’s a doozy!). Your room is starting to change, bit by bit. A new stroller, and a new changing table. Two pairs of tiny socks that I really wanted because I like thinking about putting them on your tiny feet. Pretty soon in these next couple of months that room will get a redo, and it will hardly be recognizable. I can’t wait for that. It all feels right–preparing, and making you center stage. I’m not having a hard time of that at all, and I guess I shouldn’t fight it now because it’s how it should be. I find myself inclined to clean and organize, sort, declutter, and generally get rid of crap that will not do our new family any good. It’s a nice, new feeling. Thank God for hormones that help, right? Haha. I’m in total nesting mode now that school is over.
We can’t wait for you. I am overjoyed.
-M (is for Mom)
Life has brought many changes, both big and small, for the Irvins. With the heat of summer and the sweet, yet unexpected, hints of fall (cooler evenings, even when the heat index is in the 100s during the daytime hours!) I reminisce on life and reflect on how the seasons ebb and flow. I’ve always loved the transitions and watching it with expectations of the newness. Through the seasons changing, it seems God has given us a very constant reminder that “this too shall pass” when we’re in a tough spot of life, but also that we need to take time to cherish little memories that will be here one day and gone the next. Like a green leaf turning golden, we can’t forget to thoroughly enjoy the moments that pass us on our busy journeys to get “there”. Life is a stream of seasons that flows into one big ocean of time: it swiftly passes by, and sometimes I just feel like I’m taken as a passenger–along for the fast-paced ride!
I’m trying to describe our days to you, sweet reader, but its hard to sum up in words. I can simply say that I am thankful in the current season, yet rejoice in hopes to come. We recently went on a big road trip to the East Coast, and it was our first one together! What a fun time to spend recharging and just being in one another’s company. Stopping at many destinations along the way–What adventure we had. Our final stop was to see friends get married; their beautiful ceremony and vows caused springs of love to well up in my own heart for the amazing gift God gave us in this special bond with one another. It was a reminder of who He is, who He always promises to be: everlasting, the one who seeks out relationship with us, the one whose grace never refuses. That’s what marriage mirrors, and what a Christ-like love is centered upon. In our journey towards God’s given promises, it is so good to breathe in a moment and taste the goodness that is there.
Among other new news, we have sold Troy’s Accord (ahh, we’ll miss that snazzy car! ) after coming to terms with the new lifestyle we now embrace. Homeowning is not for the vain, and having a van, or a truck, or … an Element… would certainly make moving things around, buying and selling, helping others with their junk… a much more do-able task. We’ve had my friend Sam staying with us for the summer, keeping company, learning, growing, & being as silly as we please. We have adopted a new dog, Lady, who has taught me such patience as she has learned the art of being housebroken, not chewing the meaningful little trinkets I possess, and general good dog manners. She’s been the sweetest thing as I’ve learned that being a doggy mommy to TWO dogs is even better than just one: I can see how they interact, how Shadow leads her around, and how her nature is the exact opposite of his. It’s a beautiful thing. She is constantly making us laugh with her antics, and in need of correction for some of her manners, but she shows us so much love. I am coming up on my last semester (envision me raising the roof as I shout this) of undergrad, and Troy & I are thinking of things towards the future and what that means for us–with God’s vision to guide us. In about a month we will embark on our first real serving-centered trip together to help restore Joplin after all of the devastation, and we are eager to see what God will do there.
There’s a quick update, for any who are interested, and for now I’ll bid you adieu. God’s got a way to mend my brokenness by showing me the goodness all around, and I hope that He is helping to restore yours as well.
Though I am a student by day on some occasions, most often my role is to tend my home.
My battleground is the kitchen–my only weapons a towel and washcloth, ready to do my bidding. My station could be next to the dishwasher, humming a tune as I arrange our belongings in the wooden cabinets. My stomping-grounds are also by the laundry line in our basement, and my dogs serve as capable conversationalists watching me go about the day. As I hang the laundry, they pass me inquisitive looks. They can oft be heard to give a howl in response to my questions, or exclamations: “Wow!!!” “Ow, owwww!” Many times, though, they are simply silent sentinels, giving a loving companionship as I go about my tasks–able to show care through their glances my way, their wagging tails, nudges asking for a belly rub, and very sweet demeanors. What joy they bring.
On days like this, an anthem can be heard ringing through the doorways, hallways, crevices and cracks, the walls… a reviving melody comes forth from the very depths of my home, with a chorus that only I can hear. It speaks of home. The revving and vrooming washing machine wooshes and whirls in a comforting, rocking kind of way. Then a line from the vacuum cleaner cuts in. For certain the air is alive with the vibrant smell of fresh laundry hanging on the line, it wafts up from the basement into my living room. A quiet swooshing is heard as I fold laundry and it hits the covers on our bed. I can hear a distant drum, my footsteps up and down sets of stairs. Beating quickly, back and forth. Then–a pause. A breath, a short repose. A moment of reflection seeing all that is around, and then some. Seeing what is to come, seeing the work of my own hands. A sigh of thankfulness for the provisions of Grace. His Grace is sufficient as I survey the home around me. As I hear this anthem playing, as I look at all the day has given, I realize this is the anthem He gives just to me.
Some may not hear this song, nor even give value to its lines. But as I try to serve and learn to love this life, I hear it sweetly beckoning me towards Him. I see that perhaps this duty is more important than I had first realized, more important than many seem to think. To give a home its song, to sing along as the stanzas progress. This is my home and my passion that drives me forward and onward; this is the life He has called me to in this season.
Part of being married is the constancy of total together time, 24/7. When we’re having a ball–we’re together. When we’re having a catastrophe, we’re supporting each other too. I love it. While I love it, and while I love being a home-owner, home-maker, etc… things have seriously hit us with a nice reality smack lately. Everyday Troy & I kiss each other. Every day, we say I Love You. Every day, we learn that every day is a new beginning that God gave us. However, there are those days that hit you like a ton of bricks, in every vulnerable little place, and they drive you crazy! These days are the rain. Sometimes, it is pouring and howling, cats-and-dogs variety of rain. Then the fun, giggly, carefree and romantic days are the hallelujahs. Yet without the rain, we would have no idea how good things are, and the rain gives us cause to rejoice in the days filled with sun.
The smack in the face we’re getting right now is the homeowner’s heartache. We’ve put a lot of backbreaking work into our house thus far. Mostly Troy–a.k.a. Man Muscles. I have put a lot of love into it: freshly baked bread to keep my man fueled, cleaning up, finding things that have been misplaced… along with becoming the world’s best and most insane deranged cheerleader if need be. Anyhow, we’ve done a lot, and so far we have only taken on one monumental project: the bathroom. We had a small drip trickling down into our basement from the bathroom. Troy investigated, and voila! He found a ton of lovely mold lurking behind the tub surround. Our solution was to just whack it all out, make it mold-free, and re-model at the same time. Since it was in need of repair, we might as well make it prettier in the process.
This project grew legs and took off–with us just holding on for dear life. Oh the woes, the pains, and the craziness of remodeling any part of your home. Let alone the bathroom! I truly believe our sanity and our hygiene were seriously threatened because of this project. Though that may be the case (and if anyone suffered from our lack of shower time, we do apologize deeply) this process has truly been rewarding. While things have been difficult (the toll of massive time spent on this project, which we would previously spend on other areas of our household agenda.. or that would be spent caring for & loving on each other, has been felt by both parties) we can’t help but see the silver lining. Seeing a functioning end result is high up on the gratification list of life. Troy’s done so much! I am very proud of my perfectionist, hard-working, ingenious and wonderful husband who takes on these sorts of things. While I didn’t picture any of this on my wedding day (HA!) I am so thankful that we are doing this and working our way through the clutter together–it’s brought out the best, and the worst, of both of us. Seeing all the problems and coming up with solutions builds trust and mutual respect.
Experiencing out-of-my-element stuff has always boggled my mind. I am fascinated, and I love learning new things… I’ve also gained huge new appreciation for every handyman out there! I know what a wall is made of! I know how to lay tile. These are things I never thought i’d do. Seeing how much time, blood, sweat & tears this thing has emptied us of.. we may be hiring someone for help on a big project next time, but I am definitely excited for new home renovations & remodels to come. Doing this has been a work, but a valuable one: We learned how to do this ourselves, were able to save a load of cash while doing it, and reaped a reward of feeling good about what we’ve done. I’ll post some pictures to share our finished work when it’s totally done!