Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Merry Christmas to all...

Whew! What an amazing Christmas week we had! We were so blessed to have the boys for the week before Christmas to do all kinds of fun and adventures! Here's just a snippet of what we did!

Jason, Olivia, and I went to get the boys on the 16th. We headed to downtown Fort Worth to take some Christmas pictures with the gigantic tree in downtown and in front of this massive collection of LED trees. It was cold and Olivia refused to wear socks but we got some great family shots. Jason's become an expert at the taking of pictures with the giant tree. Thanks to this, we were only outside in downtown for a short time. We warmed up by looking at Christmas lights and heading home for some hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. YUM!

Saturday, Andrew had practice at church for the performance the kids department would be doing in the service the next day. After he got home, we watched Christmas movies! He had a sleepover that night, so while he was gone, the rest of us watched one of MY favorite Christmas movies "The Christmas Toy". Yes, it's corny and outdated, but still one of my favorites!

Sunday, we all headed to get Andrew and then on to church! Andrew did an awesome job in the performance and even got to be one of the prop holders! It was so much fun watching him sing! We headed to a thrift store after church to get the final pieces of the costumes for the murder mystery dinner theater that my family would be doing later on in the week. It was actually a hilarious trip because during our searching through racks, someone actually came over the loudspeaker and asked if anyone knew if they had a Ouiji board! I certainly hope they didn't! That afternoon, we headed over to Dallas to celebrate my niece's 1st birthday party. Since my sister and her family live in Virginia, we weren't all able to go to her actual party, but this gathering was an awesome substitute. Jacob and Andrew really enjoyed hanging out with my brother in his fabulous Lord of the Rings/Star Wars/vintage Nintendo office.

Monday, I had to work. Thankfully, of all the days the boys were with us for Christmas, this was the ONLY one I had to work! Hooray for a job that gives me time off to be with family! Jason, Jacob, and Andrew headed out to play golf with my dad while Olivia hung out with my mom for the day. They ended up getting rained out on the 10th hole, but still had fun in the process.

Tuesday, we piled in the car and headed to Jason's mom's house in Denison. She had a Christmas dinner waiting for us and the kids were able to open their Christmas presents with her. It was a quick trip, but still fun and the roads were thankfully not too crowded there and back. After we got home, everyone was pretty tired so we played it low key for the rest of the night. Jason went and played "Santa" and picked up all the multitude of presents we had wrapped the previous week and were storing at his dad's house. The boys were both asleep when he got back so they were able to go to sleep with no presents under the tree and wake up in amazement at the collection!

Wednesday was our Christmas with the boys. The precious angels waited EVER so patiently until 8:30AM (hey, I could NEVER have waited that long...I have no idea how they did it!) to wake us up! We opened presents as a family and got to be a part of two very excited boys! Olivia was a noisy observer and mostly was intrigued by the red tissue paper! Jason's step mom came over with her presents for the boys and the Christmas fun continued! After all the opening and the eating of yummy breakfast, the boys were itching to spend their Christmas money. We headed out shopping and did find a few good deals. Jason made a full Christmas dinner complete with ham, dressing, corn, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes. YUM! We were stuffed!

Thursday we headed to my grandma's house in Wimberley! This was one of the things I had been itching to do since I met the boys. I just knew they would love roaming about the woods and seeing all the awesome stuff in my grandma's house. Her house is filled with treasures from all over the world that my grandparents collected during their time in the military. Olivia did amazingly well on her first long car trip and we made it down there without too many distractions. Olivia met my grandma for the first time and it was love at first sight.

Friday, we woke up nice and early (I mean, it's the country...it's just what you do!) and the boys were out the door to explore the woods. I kept seeing flashes of them and their Nerf guns go by. They were outside for several hours, even though it was FRIGID! They helped Jason and my dad with some "grandma chores", but were able to explore the entire 17 acres. We anxiously awaited the rest of the family's arrival. Michael, Jen, Kim, Evan, and Aubrey rolled in around 3 or so. My cousin Cory was the last to arrive around 5. Connie, mom, and I had been working on dinner items for the murder mystery dinner. Andrew and I made 2 pies (he's the best helper EVER!), a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie. SO fun! Promptly at 7, the festivities began and my family emerged from their respective dressing rooms clothed in 20's garb for the murder mystery dinner. One word: hilarious. My mom and sister in law were in full flapper regalia complete with fringe. My husband, father, and cousin were gangsters. My brother in law was a booze dealer. My sister was some sort of lounge singer. My brother was a crooked police chief. Andrew was a movie producer. Jacob was the mayor. I was the speakeasy owner. My aunt was the private investigator. SO MUCH FUN. Jacob and Andrew were a little nervous going in, but caught on REALLY quickly. They both did awesome.


Saturday, we opened the Russell Christmas presents since we were heading back to Fort Worth that afternoon. After the opening, we packed up the car and the whole family headed to town. We adopt a needy family in the town every year and we were so blessed to deliver the Christmas gifts to them. It was a single mom and her three children who were SO very thankful. What an amazing way to show the boys the true meaning of Christmas. It's always one thing to talk about it, but a completely different thing to actually follow through. I think they enjoyed seeing the family so happy! We all went to town to eat lunch and then our family headed back home so the boys could be with their mother for the rest of Christmas Eve and Christmas day. It was very hard giving them up after having them for that amount of time. Olivia actually cried after they left. She loves all the attention they give her!

On Christmas, Jason, Olivia, and I spent the morning together and then headed out to his dad's house to a family dinner in the afternoon. His step mom was GLOWING as it was the first time she'd had all her kids for a Christmas dinner in several years. We deemed our Christmas traveling complete and spent the rest of the evening just the three of us in front of a warm fireplace.

Can you see why I started the update with WHEW? Jason and I keep talking about how much fun we had and how BLESSED we were to be able to share the days with the boys and the rest of our family. We were able to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior. What an amazing experience!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Christmas spirit

I love Christmas! I always have. I think you have to be silly to not love this time of year, yet it always amazes me how many people don't. To me, the spirit is contagious.

Christmas was always a big deal growing up. My siblings and I usually had some sort of countdown going, most often represented by one of those red and green paper chains. Our family took one whole Saturday to get our tree (always a real one!) and decorate the house. We would get SO very excited watching my mother unwrap all of our favorite ornaments each year. To this day, I still have my favorites: The glass Smurfette (of course we have a smurf. We're children of the 80's!), the miniature German figurines, Pinocchio (the German one, not the Disney one), and the one of me as an angel (don't laugh, I look precious!) are some of those. Michael, Kimberly, and I would always fight over the setting up of the nativity, most specificially whose camel got to sit up on the balcony of the stable. Yes, I realize it sounds silly, but it's tradition. Of course, no one would make a big deal out of switching their camel...it was more like a covert operation. Those were the days before DVR when you had to scour the TV guide (oh my gosh, the one on actual PAPER!) for the Christmas specials and you waited eagerly for Charlie Brown Christmas, Garfield Christmas, The Christmas Toy (a Jim Henson special...it's AWESOME), the Grinch, and It's a Wonderful Life to make their appearance.

This past weekend, Christmas has exploded into our house. There is literally NOT a space in the house that doesn't scream Christmas! The tree, the mantle, the bookshelves, the DVD cabinet, the bathroom counters, etc... Jason and I set up most of the apt on Thursday and eagerly awaited the boys weekend arrival to set up the tree. On Saturday, amidst the horrific cold and rain, we hiked out to get our tree. Yes, it was frigid and wet, but that didn't matter. We were successful and brought our tree home for beautification. Jason and Jacob hung lights, while Andrew decorated his miniature tree complete with lights and ornaments. Olivia pretty much just hung out and squirmed around on the floor (her new favorite pastime!) On Sunday, after the tree had all the water it wanted and the branches had fallen out, we went into decoration mode! It took quite a while, but at the end of the evening, we had a fabulous tree that took everyone's breath away!

The boys will be with us starting on the 16th and going through Christmas Eve. We have lots of fabulous plans! We'll be taking them down to the beautiful Christmas tree in downtown Fort Worth. Last year, we got some amazing pictures in front of both the massive Christmas tree and the menagerie of LED trees. Hopefully, Miss Olivia will decide to behave for pictures so we can get some good family shots! We've also got LOTS of Christmas movies to watch! It's always so much fun to snuggle up in blankets and air mattresses for the nightly movie-thon. We're also planning cooking baking and painting! Thursday morning, we'll pack up the car and head to my Grandma's house for a few days of merriment. The majority of my family will be there and I'll get to introduce Jacob and Andrew to the fun of Grandma's house at Christmastime. We'll head back home on Christmas Eve afternoon so the boys can spend Christmas with their mother. Jason, Olivia, and I will spend the day celebrating Olivia's first Christmas and preparing for the after Christmas decorating sales! We are not planning to be in the apartment next Christmas, so we're gonna need more decorations to revel in the merriment.

As the time gets closer, I get more and more excited to share the Christmas season with my husband and kiddos. Celebrating the birth of our Lord is such an amazing experience to share with family. I know Olivia won't understand any of it this year, but I still see the way she looks at the Christmas tree and it makes me very happy!

This weekend, we'll spend getting things finalized for the kiddos Christmas fun. I've got a wonderous grocery and Costco list going, so I'm sure that will be in the plan. Besides, I LOVE Costco during the holidays...so why not! :)

I hope your Christmas season is going as wonderfully as mine. Remember the true reason for the season...the birth of our LORD!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving of thanks

2011 has been such an amazing year for our family. I have so much to be thankful for. I couldn't even begin to list all of it, but I thought I'd put down the highlights!

I am thankful for...
1. A husband who loves me unconditionally and makes me smile every day. He loves Jesus with all his heart and wants what is best for our family. I am amazed at the wonderful man God brought me.
2. Jacob! At 15, most boys would despise the "wicked stepmother", but Jacob and I get along swimmingly. He has such a tender heart. I wish I had a 10th of his musical talent! I always have such a good time with him, whether we're discussing music or his latest girl crush. I really enjoy seeing him with Olivia. He is so gentle with her and she absolutely eats it up.
3. Andrew! This almost 10 year old spitfire is usually either making me laugh or making my eyes get big and think "Where did he come up with that?". He is a mini-Jason and I see it SO much as he gets older. He's spunky and has an amazing sense of humor. He would be perfectly happy with his set of drumsticks and a pile of pillows that he will make into a drum set. I love watching him carry Olivia around and just parking her next to him so they can "hang out".
4. Olivia! This 12lb chub has brought a whole new dimension to my little family. It's so much fun watching 3 guys dote so heavily over one little girl. She is SO loved. She's such a good baby too. I try to remember that when she has moments of evening fussiness. She doesn't have colic. She doesn't reflux. She doesn't have a heart condition. She's absolutely perfect. God truly blessed us when he gave us that 5lb 10oz spitfire on August 25. She certainly came into the world dramatically and she has continued to form her own kind of drama. I still am in shock that she will be 3 months old on Friday.
5. A roof over our heads. It isn't the prettiest roof or the largest roof, but seeing as there are people who don't have one, I am certainly thankful. I am thankful for 600 square feet because it lets us be so close together, especially when the boys are home. There's no hiding out in a room far away from the rest of the family when there is limited space. Jason and I are planning to relocate by the time our lease is out next spring, but for now, I am just thankful we have what we do.
6. A job! In January, I was blessed to find this nursing job. I work with great nurses and amazing patients. Since I work out of two different clinics, I have two managers who are both so supportive of my family and great to work for.
7. Health! I had a "high risk" pregnancy with my lovely blood disorders, but I was so blessed to sail through under the protection of God and the watchful eye of my doctor. I had an emergency C-Section to get our daughter out ASAP, but neither she or I have any issues now.

I could go on and on. All of these above things are reason enough to get up every day and be thankful. I am the MOST thankful for my Savior. Because of HIM, I was given all those things. I was given the chance to be forever with HIM. In the end, that is the most important thing I have. It is my greatest blessing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

In just a blink

Is November really here? Wasn't it just August and I was completely miserable and huge? Wow. Fast forward almost 11 weeks and that brings us to now! Whew!

Life continues to be good in the Russell household. I'm in my 4th week back at work and even though I don't like it, I am thankful for a job that is so low stress the majority of the time. I only have to work 3 days a week and then get to spend the remaining 4 being blessed by my family. My co-workers and patients are so good to let me show picture upon picture of the sweetness of our household.

Miss Olivia continues to amaze me. Now, I know I'm her mommy, but I seriously think she is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. No prejudice there or anything! :) That aside, she is growing up WAY TOO FAST. She turns 11 weeks on Thursday and I never cease to be amazed by what she can do! Just in the last week or so, she has started laughing, batting at her toys, and just yesterday, she grabbed hold of a toy to play with it. She has 2 long sleep times during the night and naps a few times during the day. She's almost out of all her newborn clothes, and I really need to pack them away, but I can't bring myself to admit how big she is getting! She has a doctor's appointment this week, so it will be fun to see how long and heavy she has become!

Jacob and Andrew are still head over heels for this little sister of theirs. When they are over, someone is typically carrying her around or playing with her. The other day, we got home from church and Olivia was sleeping soundly in her car seat. I didn't take her out, but just let her sleep in the bedroom in the seat. About 10 minutes later, I hear "Olivia? Please wake up!" and about 5 minutes after that, Andrew came around the corner with her and said "She woke up and wanted me to take her out and play with her." We've been going to get them every Sunday that they aren't already at the house and taking them to church with us. They are really enjoying that! Our church has an amazing kids ministry, and Andrew is always bursting forth with what he learned that day. Jacob sits with us during the service and last week talked to the pastor about wanting to be baptized. Wahoo! :) Olivia just started going to the nursery and they LOVE her. In fact, when I dropped her off last week, the girl who took her said "Oh look guys! She's awake this week!"

I can't believe Thanksgiving is 2 weeks from Thursday! Jason and I are eating dinner with his family on Thursday. Friday, we'll be having Black Friday fun with my sister who gets to come visit from Virginia with Aubrey! Hooray! :) I'm pretty much guessing that Aubrey and Olivia's grandma will volunteer to watch them for part of the morning whilst we shop! Just a guess. :)

I suppose I should get on with my day. It's going to be a long one, compounded by the fact that at night, Miss O is falling asleep in my arms and then getting highly irritated and upset when she is put down to sleep. She loves her family too much to be put to bed, I guess! Thanks for reading and thanks for keeping our family in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Growing like a weed!

I can not believe that another month has gone by. Our family has been having such a fun time that I haven't even had a moment to think!

Jacob and Andrew L O V E their little sister. They are completely smitten with her. I don't blame them since her dad and I are as well! She loves them too. When they left the other day, she was fussy for a good hour afterwards. It's absolutely precious!

Miss Olivia is almost 2 months old now and growing like a weed. She weighed 9.5lbs at her last appointment and was 21 inches long! Such a difference from the little thing we brought home from the hospital! She eats like a champ and is such a good baby! She usually only has one really fussy time during the day, but is otherwise very content. She's starting to really enjoy the play gym and being on her stomach. I'm breaking out more of her toys since she's starting to really watch and interact with them.

Jason and I continue to be blessed with our sweet family. God is truly watching over us and keeping us safe. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A month gone by.

Exactly 1 month ago, I was in terrible, terrible pain. I had just had my water broken and contractions were coming every 45 seconds. As most mothers will tell you though, the pain is a distant memory. What are my most vivid memories? Seeing that beautiful face for the first time and hearing her squawk so loudly that it turned my sad and worried tears into tears of joy.

And now a month has passed. Our little girl has changed so much! Of course, her main activities are still sleeping, eating, and pooping, but she's added some new ones. She will now watch faces intently. She has started smiling at a select few. She will lay on the floor and watch herself in the mirror. Her physical features are changing as well. Gone is the 5lb 4oz little waif we brought home from the hospital. I'm not quite sure how much she weighs now, but I know it's enough to have an adorable double chin! Her legs and arms are starting to get sweet little rolls and fat dimples. Her cheeks are filling out. She is beautiful.

She is SO very loved. Last weekend, her brothers were here and fell completely head over heels in love with her. Anytime there was a little whimper or cry, there was a brother shortly to her side. They wanted to hold her, feed her, and just love on her. No one is volunteering to change her yet, but I'll work on that. :) At the end of the weekend, Jacob declared that she was a good addition to the family. Andrew could not stop saying how much he loved her. Precious!

We're working hard on her sleeping and eating patterns, mostly by letting her dictate exactly what she wants to do when! I figure, there's no point in trying to get her on a schedule at this point! She's predictable enough to take shopping and we've only had one major meltdown so far. Of course, do you blame her? It was at Walmart and the checker was EVER so slow and she was HUNGRY. Nope. Not her fault at all!

We've loved listening to her little noises, watching her little expressions, and just experiencing her little life. So far, she's proving herself to be opinionated, just as she was inside of the womb. It's hard to go back to the time when she wasn't a part of our family and it hasn't been that long yet! Amazing.

For now, we'll continue to love these three little lives that God has blessed us with. What more could I ask for?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

It feels like a year!

Whew! I can't believe that our daughter is nearly 2 weeks old. The time seems to be flying by on some days, then other days, it seems like it's creeping along!

Olivia is doing wonderfully. She eats, sleeps, potties, and does all the things she's supposed to do like a champ. Jason and I can't seem to get enough of her! Her brothers keep asking about her, but because Andrew's had a weird sickness that he picked up at school, they haven't been able to come love on her. Hopefully the time of contagiousness will have passed and they can come spend time with her in the next week or so.

She doesn't go back to the pediatrician for another 3 weeks or so, but I'm pretty certain she's gaining weight like she should. She eats all the time, so I don't have any doubt that she is back up to her birth weight. I have to take her for her routine newborn screen on Friday, so I might stop in at the breastfeeding center at the hospital for a weight check. The lactation consultants are really sweet and said I could drop in at any time to see how she was doing!

Today was a big day for our sweet girl. She got to meet Hannah's mom! It was such a special time and I can't wait for her to get older so she can learn all about the amazing and strong little girl she is named for. Amanda brought Olivia the most special gift! In her very first hospitalization, Hannah received 2 stuffed animals from the gift shop. One had a heart that said "Hannah", the other said "Olivia". Our sweet Olivia is now the proud owner of that second stuffed animal. Stinkin' post partum hormones almost made me lose it. I am still constantly blown away by the love people have for our little girl.

I think the next week will continue to be low key. I got a glowing report at my 2 week up doctor visit. Considering how fast my c-section went, I am very thankful that all is healing as it should. I am still pretty uncomfortable at night, but I can see gradual improvements. YAY for that! With the change in the weather to beautiful cool temperatures, I need to start walking with Miss Olivia to continue the good recovery.

Thanks for checking in on us. Please keep Andrew in your prayers as he recovers from his sickness. We can't wait to all be together as a family!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Olivia's birth story

She's here! She blasted into this world completely different than ANYONE anticipated, but she is safe and loved. And let me tell you the story!

As I've said before, we were scheduled for induction on Wednesday night, starting at 7PM. All our bags were packed, Liberty was dropped off at Aunt Connie's, and we headed to the hospital. We checked in, met our sweet nurse April, and readied for the night of fun to begin. They put Olivia's heart rate and contractions on the fetal monitor, placed the induction medicine, signed a whole bunch of forms, and starting the sit in.

I started having mild contractions with some discomfort, but not too bad. Jason and I watched TV, ate dinner, and just hung out. Around midnight, they checked me and found that my cervix had thinned out a bit, but still was dilated to a 1-2. They put in more medicine, and we waited. About 2:30, the nurse came in to adjust the monitor (Olivia's a fan of sneaking off the monitors) and during this fun, Miss Olivia decided to drop her heart rate from its normal 130-140 to 80's. Not fun. I was immediately put on oxygen, given fluid boluses, and flipped from side to side until her heart rate normalized. It only took a few minutes and the nurse went to go call the doctor and let him know of the feistiness of our daughter, which I'm certain he already knew! I WAS thankful that I had just asked for some pain medicine which would have had to be given IV. The IV was already in when they needed to do fluid boluses. Our doctor decided at that point we should start the pitocin a few hours earlier than planned, at 5AM.

At 5, the pitocin was started and we continued to try and rest. Around 5:30, it was turned up a notch and this is where it really started to be fun. Olivia told us she did NOT appreciate this medication and her heart rate dropped again. I was again flipped from side to side and given oxygen and fluid boluses. They also turned the pitocin off. Olivia's heart rate returned to normal and the quiet and peaceful resting continued. At 7:30, my doctor came in to break my water. This is where it became un fun and horrid. My contractions went from 4 minutes apart and mild to every 45 seconds and exceptionally intense. They were to the point where I had tears running down my cheeks and told the nurse to get the anesthesiologist in there ASAP because I wasn't able to handle it after about 5 minutes.

It took about 20 minutes to summon the anesthesiologist. I got my epidural and let me tell you what a relief that was. I was suddenly able to go through a contraction without crying! They were still about 45 seconds apart, but at that point, I could handle just about anything! Unfortunately, Olivia could not. Her heart rate dipped again and the nurses decided to put a heart monitor on her scalp. It showed a heart rate back down to the 80's. My doctor was called and told to get back to the hospital. I got bags and bags of fluid and there were suddenly 4 nurses in the room, each focusing on a different part of me. My doctor walked in the room and said "C-section NOW".

Within about 5 minutes, Jason was handed scrubs and I was being wheeled off to the operating room. I was prepped lightening fast, especially since they checked her heart rate again in the OR and found it to be still in the 80's. My doctor started cutting me open and Jason was let into the room to sit by my head. After less than 5 minutes, our daughter was plucked from my womb, carried by my head, and given to the NICU nurses who had been called down to check her out. After 25 very VERY long seconds, we heard the most beautiful sound. Two small coughs and the LOUDEST screeching wail I have ever heard! The tears of fear that had been rolling down my face turned to tears of joy. Jason took lots of pictures of our beautiful girl and then had a grand time watching the doctor sew me back up! I'd told him that they take the uterus out of the body, place it on the abdomen, and sew it up. Now he got to see it!

After she was cleaned up a bit, the nurses brought Olivia over to me and let me kiss her and then she and Jason went to the nursery to be checked out. I was sewn up and taken to the recovery room. They brought her in to eat and the sweet girl knew just what to do. God made babies so smart! After about an hour, I was wheeled to my post partum room while Jason helped bathe Olivia in the nursery. Jason's dad, step mom, and two sweet boys met me in the room while we all waited for them to bring in Olivia. She was then held by her two brothers, which had been Jason and I's plan all along. I was so thankful that an emergency c-section had not ruined that part of our plan! They were completely enamored. I don't think Andrew wanted to give her up!

The rest of the hospital stay was uneventful. Olivia got to meet SO many family members. Jacob and Andrew ended coming back over on Saturday because they wanted to spend more time with their sister. So precious. We ended up going home on Sunday, even though our sweet girl had a touch of jaundice. Since then, we've had appointments every day this week, mostly to check up on her. We had to get more blood drawn today because her levels had gone up again. She doesn't show any signs of being sick. She eats well, potties on cue, and is an absolute joy to have in our house. Jason has been the most amazing dad. He's such a pro at the baby love, diapering, and general caring for the whims of a post partum mommy. My mom has been here the last four days helping get caught up on the shopping, laundry, cooking, and just general loving on the baby. I feel better every day and am loving all the time with our special little girl.

So much happened so fast on the day of her birth, but I thought I'd list a few things that we are so thankful for.
1. A very pro-active labor and delivery nurse who was vigilant in checking on our sweet girl.
2. The foresight of our L&D nurse to start my IV when she did so I could get fluid when Olivia's heart rate dropped.
3. The fact that I had my epidural when I went to the OR. If I had not had it, I would have had to be put completely under anesthesia.
4. The lactation consultants at Harris HEB who were so supportive and helpful.
5. All the family and friends who have either stopped by, called, or texted their support and willingness to help us anyway they can.

Olivia has changed our family already. Andrew called the other day and asked if she missed him. I love that. I've gone from just me to a family of 5 in less than three years. How blessed am I? I love my life!

Thanks to everyone who supports our family. It means more to us than you know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I don't know where she gets it....

Oh Olivia. You are a sneaky and feisty girl. Your daddy and I love you so much already. I am so glad you have a spunky side. I know you will need this to keep up with your hilarious and ever active brothers. You are being born into a family that has both sides filled with craziness and spirit. I know, you just gotta keep up.

But, sweet girl, you've decided that you will come into this world in your own time and in your own way. We will let you. Why? Because we know that God has you in His perfect plan and it will happen exactly as He wants it to. Whether you wait to come when the doctor gives me medicine or you sneak out before that time, you are your own girl with a heavenly Father who loves you and knows the plans He already has for you.

So until that time, your daddy and I will continue to pray for your safe delivery. Your brothers will anxiously wait to hold you and love you.

You are so loved, wanted, and prayed for. You are a miracle that we are being blessed with. We can't wait.

So until that time when we meet you, either of your own accord or after we check into the hospital Wednesday night, please know that so many people are already loving you.


Your mommy

PS: Please try not to hurt mommy TOO much. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Same story, Second Verse

Another week has flown by! Another doctor's appointment down, another Olivia report ready to go!

I obviously haven't given birth yet! She is happily sitting in the right position and getting lower every week. So low in fact, that my OB did not want to induce this week because he believes she may have it in her to come on her own. She weighed in at 6lb, 4oz with a beautifully strong heartbeat of 144. She is poised and ready to go. I am contracting like crazy and remain completely addicted to crunchy cubed ice (the Sonic ice!) and goldfish. The current plan is to go back to the doctor on Tuesday, assess the dilation level, and that will determine what time we are induced on Wednesday. If I'm not dilated at all, we'll check in Wednesday night. If I am, we'll be in around noon. I can tell from the way my OB is talking that he really wants her to come naturally and that he thinks she still may.

Big prayer request follows: I am on daily blood thinner shots for my blood clotting disorders. The catch 22 is that most anesthesiologists won't do an epidural on someone who has had a shot within 18-24 hours. So, the best case scenerio would be for me to go into labor in the evening so we don't do my shot that night. This way, I'll have had the proper amount of time between shots. As it stands now, my last shot will be Monday night in preparation for the Wednesday induction. If it is any sooner than the recommended 18 hours, the anesthesiologist is going to put up a fuss which scares me. I know God has Olivia in His ultimate plan and her birth story has already been written. It will happen the way He has designed and I just need to continue having faith that she is in His protection. If I can't have an epidural because it won't be safe, then I'll make it.

Jacob and Andrew are coming over this weekend, right before school starts for them on Tuesday. I'm so excited to see them! I'm hoping that I don't look like too much of a wimp with all the contraction fun. I hope they don't get too bored since I am not moving around town too much! I don't think they will...they just love being over here, even when we do nothing! I finished their vacation memory books last week and am so looking forward to seeing their faces when they start looking through them. What great memories! I still can't believe I did all that walking at 30 weeks and continue to be blessed at the grace that was shown to me by having nearly no discomfort during the trip!

So up until the time when we are joined by a beautiful baby girl, Jason and I will be spending lots of time together with the boys as a family and being thankful for a healthy pregnancy. We'll hole up together, watch movies, eat goodies, and wait for the next step in our lives as a family. How exciting!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Olivia 1, Mommy 0

Let me just start by saying I am NOT a complainer. I pretty much go through life taking situations as they come and learning to handle them with God's help and the love and support of my friends and family. That being said, I am trying my very hardest to maintain this attitude during the last few days/weeks of my pregnancy. It is NOT easy. Compounded by the fact that the weather has been absolutely wretched, I don't feel fabulous. I am tired, sore, and generally miserable. When in nursing school and studying the effects of pregnancy on the female body, you read about how much stress and strain this growing life places on the mom. Elevated blood flow, exhaustion, inability to go more than 30 minutes without the bathroom, insomnia, etc. While I am doing my best to stay vertical and not in bed all day, Miss Olivia is growing beautifully and right on schedule. What a miracle that is! My husband told me this morning that I am a beautiful pregnant woman. This makes it all worthwhile.

At our appointment this week, she weighed a dainty 5lb, 14oz. We're thinking she'll be just under 6.5lbs at birth. I think she's going to be a long one since her daddy is tall, but we'll see. It feels like she's curled up pretty long inside me. Jason is guessing 18 inches. She's in the absolute perfect position to be born, her head facing down and right up against the exit door! So, the only thing we have to do at this time is wait. Since she had made some progress as to her positioning from last week, the doctor was hesitant to make any definite plans yet. I go in for another appointment on Tuesday and we'll make more decisions at that time, based both on what she's doing and what my body is doing in preparation for her arrival. Most likely, we'll schedule her to be induced either starting late Wednesday afternoon or early Thursday morning. My doctor would prefer to have her move things on her own, but there's just no telling what this little spitfire will decide.

Jason and I have been overwhelmingly blessed this past week by two baby showers thrown in Miss Olivia's honor. Saturday, Connie and Becca threw us the first. It was such a wonderful gathering of friends and family! I was thankful that Jason had brought the big SUV to cart all our stuff home in! It just barely fits in our little home. This little girl was blessed with so many amazing things...toys, clothes, necessities...you name it. It's very humbling. Just when I thought I had everything arranged and put away, I was thrown a surprise work shower on Monday! Wow! I left that shower almost in tears because of the kindness of others. I haven't completely figured out where all that stuff is going yet, but hopefully we'll still have room in the apt for Olivia! :)

I know as she gets older, she'll be told so many stories about the months of preparation and waiting for her arrival. No doubt one of the first will be the insane weather conditions we are having! We're on our 41st day of temperatures over 100. We will break the all-time record on Saturday which was set way back in 1980. What a summer to be in one's 3rd trimester...UGH!

Thank you for the continued support and love you show my family. Going from a single girl three years ago to a family of five in a matter of days has been a whirlwhind, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am so blessed.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

And the days tick right on by...

Was I not just doing a post that started out with "I can't believe it's July?" For crying out loud, where did that month go? How have I finally reached the month where I'm going to give birth? Can my freak out officially begin now?

Wow. August. This is nuts. I am still in shock that the time has gone by so quickly, but it's nearly time. Our house tells me that she's almost here. Walking into the living room runs you into the swing, the bouncy seat, stroller, and car seat. Turning the corner into the bedroom sees her bed, piles upon piles of clothes, and other collections of baby gear. Even our closet is starting to overflow with the baby kingdom.

My body is absolutely telling me that she's almost here. I now waddle profusely, but I'm not really certain if it's just my hips loosening for labor or the fact that it feels better to do that so she stays off my sciatic nerve! I'm having daily contractions, some absolutely worse than others. I've had 2 nights when I though maybe it was the beginning of the end, but not quite yet. On her weekly sonogram yesterday, little bit weighed 5lb, 8 oz and all looked beautiful. I'm still not dilated or showing any signs that her arrival is imminent, but as all mommies know, this can change on a dime. The current plan is to let her come on her own, with a tentative induction date scheduled for the 17th or 18th. I would much rather not have this second option occur.

However and whenever Miss O decides to make her appearance, I think we're ready for her. My precious family and friends are having a shower for us on Saturday, so that will be tons of fun! Jacob and Andrew are excited as well. The plan is for them to be the first two (besides J and I obviously) to meet Olivia after she decides to appear. It's so important to cement our family as a group and I know this will be such a special time.

Please keep us in your prayers. I'm a pain-a-phobe and am not looking forward to that part of labor, although I know in the end, it will all be worth it. My sweet husband has been so wonderful already, and I know that he will be a great support and source of strength during that day. Pray for my doctor, the nurses, and everyone who will be in contact with our daughter both before and after she arrives.

Thank you for your continued prayers. They are so appreciated and welcomed. See you in a week!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


There's a lot of preparations in the Russell household this week! On Tuesday, we went and picked up two eager boys for a few days this week while I was off! We went to Target and did EPIC school supply shopping! WOWSERS does that stuff get expensive! I think the companies just lure you in with their pencils for a quarter and paper for less than that. What they don't tell you is amidst the cheapness, they've jacked up the prices of things that used to be a reasonable cost...like backpacks. Anyone bought a backpack lately? Seriously? $40 for a good quality one? Ridiculous!

After the marathon shopping spree, we were all pretty worn out! We came home and decided to red box it for the night. We watched Rango, ate yummy popcorn, and fell asleep almost as soon as the movie ended! One of the most precious things that happened before the movie time was the discovery of Olivia's bed and all the gear that has trickled into our house over the last 2 weeks. I found Andrew looking through it several times saying "It's So SMALL!" and "Is it time yet for her to come? I want to hold her!"

Wednesday, we stuffed ourselves with pancake and bacon yumminess and headed out to Olivia's weekly check up. The boys got to watch her dance around on sonogram. She, in true diva fashion, put her hand over her face as if to say "Please, no more pictures!" It was hilarious! After the appointment, we went bowling and then came back to the house to enjoy the air conditioning. I'm telling you, 28+days of 100 degrees or higher is not pleasant for anyone!

As far as Miss Olivia is concerned, she is growing wonderfully! This week, she weighs a whopping 5lb, 2oz and her length/head measure about 36 weeks. I am not dilated or effaced yet, so all the fun contracting that she's been doing hasn't led to any progress yet. Tis okay though, the girl has time to cook! :) The doctor is watching her closely because of my multitude of blood disorder fun, but she's taking it like a champ. I have no doubt that she'll come when she's good and ready. After nights like last night where she doesn't do anything but wrestle around and endure contractions all night, I'm hoping that's sooner rather than later, but we're really in no rush.

I am still in shock that Monday is the first day of August. Where does the time go? UGH! The reality of our growing family is upon me and I can't WAIT to meet Olivia, but I'm also hesitant...if that makes sense :)

Guess I should get on with my day...the next few are busy ones! Thanks for praying for my family!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Protection, both inside and out

As Olivia gets larger and decidedly more opinionated, I'm convinced she is my tiny little patience tester. I, of course, was the most angelic and perfect child, never once testing my parents patience. I'm certain they took one look at that head full of red curls and thought to themselves "This child is the supreme example of good behavior." Okay, now that I'm done crouching beneath the table for fear of lightening strikes, I'll continue.

Olivia LOVES to move. She's hardly ever still. I don't know where she's going to find the strength to sleep all day as a newborn, but I eagerly anticipate this time. She spends my waking hours rotating her rear end from the right side of my diaphram and ribs to the center and back again. She's quite the acrobat. There are times during the day when I have to lay down or sit up absolutely perfectly straight or I can't breathe. I have a beautiful lop-sided stomach, but then again, that's okay.

I think every parent worries about how to raise the gift that God has blessed them with. I know I do. I worry that I won't be a good example to Jacob, Andrew, and now Olivia. I worry that I won't be able to keep them safe and protected from the evils of the world until they are able to discern for themselves what is good vs evil. While Olivia grows inside me, I can protect her. She is formed enough now that all her parts are working well and could survive outside of my protective cave. There's a large part of me that wishes I could keep here inside, safe and sound. So what that I can't breathe? Or go for an hour without peeing? Or sleep without a pillow fortress? Or wear clothes without pregnancy panels (although I may never want to give those up anyway....SO comfy!)?

This is not what we have been charged to do as Christians. This is:

Psalm 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Deut 4:9: "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them."

Whew! Scary, but if we want the next generation to fear the Lord, this is our charge. I pray every day (and multiple times during the day!) that I will do these things for these three little ones. They are only ours for a season, and Jason and I's desire is to train them to not just know of the Lord, but to KNOW HIM. It's an important task. Your continued prayers would be appreciated.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Beautiful girl

She is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I can't stop looking at her pictures. Her daddy is in awe of how much she looks like her brothers. I am in awe that this amazingly and perfectly put together human is living inside me.

She is a feisty one, to say the least. She LOVES to push her rear end under my rib cage on the right side. She won't put it back down until I give it a reassuring pat and then she calms. She spends her days kicking my ribs and generally making me out of breath. It's a torture I am willing to endure to bring this gift into the world.

She's 34 weeks on Tuesday, ready to make her appearance in 4-6 weeks. Wow. Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday that I spent hours feeling my stomach, willing her to move so I could feel her. Now, in just the time it has taken to type this blog, I've been kicked and prodded at least 5 times. She is about to change her daddy, brothers, and my life forever. Wow. I'm at a loss for words.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Busy Busy Busy!

Whew! It's been a crazy few days, but I'm not really certain that it's going to calm down any time soon. The weekend was a good one. We had lunch with my family on Sunday, including my sister and niece who were still in town. I picked the two of them up early Monday morning for some sister fun! We went shopping and just rambled around town. Kim had requested Jason make his divine biscuits and gravy for dinner, so we just hung out after the shopping, enjoying pool time and delicious food. I took her to the airport Tuesday morning for her flight back home. Unfortunately, that flight was diverted due to weather and it took her MUCH longer to get back to her husband and home, but she's safely there now.

Yesterday afternoon, Jason and I traipsed once again to the doctor's office for a visit and a sonogram check up of our sweet little girl. Since I am high risk due to my clotting disorders, the doctor wanted to check my placenta and umbilical cord to ensure there aren't any issues there. The sonographer was amazing and even switched over to the 4D view since we hadn't been able to catch little miss sneaky with our two other attempts. He called it the "Tuesday afternoon special"! We learned that our daughter is now head down and no longer breech! She decided to move on her own...what a huge blessing! :) She weighs 4 1/2 lbs and looked abolutely perfect. The images we saw of her beautiful face brought tears to both Jason and I's eyes as we saw her smoosh her sweet little face against the uterine wall. We got to see her breathing and opening and closing her mouth. The sonographer had a student with him so they were looking once again at all her important parts and finding that she truly is fearfuly and wonderfully made. In our meeting with the doctor, he is moving me now to once a week doctor visits with sonograms at each visit. He said he will NOT be letting me go past the 40 weeks, but would rather me deliver between 38-40. He doesn't want to have to induce labor because he'd rather let her come on her own, a plan that Jason and I both were very happy to hear. I continue to be thankful that we found this doctor when we needed to switch from my previous Dallas doctor. He really has a personal interest in his patients and their children.

I am working the rest of this week-Wed/Thurs/Friday and then off the weekend. I think the boys will be coming over in the next day or so, so we'll be able to have some fun times with them while I'm not working those few days! Yippee! I'm hoping to get some school supply shopping done in the next week or so, but we'll see. Andrew is going to a brand new school this year, and I'm not quite sure of his list yet. I LOVE to shop for school supplies, which is partly why we didn't just buy the school supply pack through the PTA! Jacob will be going to HIGH SCHOOL where they have no lockers and he gets to carry around his supplies in a back pack. I'm certain that will be an interesting situation. I'm guessing we're not going to know much of what he needs beyond the basics until after school starts. It's so amazing to see these sweet boys growing up and becoming young men.

I keep reading in my pregnancy emails that Miss Olivia's movement will be less as she continues to gain weight. I haven't noticed this yet. This little 4.5lb spitfire has become even more active if this is possible. I'm convinced she's just doing the opposite of what the "norm" is. I have no idea where she's received this trait. Mysterious.

Guess I should go think about something productive today. HA! Thanks for tuning in.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A week's adventures

It has been busy around here, but then again, when is it not? I worked Tuesday through Friday of last week, then Jason and I went to my grandma's in Wimberley, then back home for a few days of rest before more work!

We had a great time at Grandma's house for the 4th of July! We left here on Saturday afternoon and traversed down by way of the kolache bakery of course! On Sunday, we had the opportunity to go with Grandma to the church patriotic service (complete with community band!) and the VFW Rodeo. The 4th was a lazy day, complete with TV fireworks (stupid burn ban)and grilling. We came home on Tuesday afternoon. The boys were with their mom for the 4th, but I know both of us wished they could experience the fun at grandma's. We played Catchphrase, ate ourselves silly, and just relaxed! Hopefully, they will get to enjoy the Goodman mayhem soon! We were all together for Andrew's birthday this year, and both boys had a great time!

We've actually gotten a lot accomplished since we got home on Tuesday. I've been meaning to clean out the area where Olivia will be sleeping, but just haven't had the time or energy. I got a renewed burst when we got home and folded all the laundry, cleaned the window sills and baseboards, and put all the junk away! Jason moved furniture, vacuumed, and put together her bed so we now have a place for our sweet little girl to sleep! I think my next step is to start organizing all her clothes and getting them washed! I have at least started thinking about the hospital bag and maybe that will get done in the next week or so.

My hours at work got switched around again, and I'm back to working 12 hour shifts. I'm not really sure what I think about this yet, but I do know that I'll be happy to only be working 3 shifts a week most of the time. I will have to pick up 1 weekend a month, but since those days are short, it won't be too terribly bad. My director has been great to do the schedule so I will normally only do 2 long days in a row. I have no idea when this little girl will decide she wants to come be with us, but I do know I do not have any intention of working myself into a labor situation! I am thankful for a low stress job that I get to sit down as much as I need to!

Since the 4D machine was broken last week, we won't be able to get that view of our little girl, but we will still get to see her sweet self on Tuesday. My OB is considering me "high risk" because of the blood clotting fun, and just wants to check to make sure everything looks ok. I don't have any problem with that! :)

Kimberly is in town until Tuesday! I'll probably go fetch her from Grandma's on Monday morning for a sleep-over and then to the airport on Tuesday morning. We had the opportunity to play with sweet little Aubrey in Wimberley this weekend and see the wonderful momma that Kim is. She is such a good baby! Her favorite toys of the weekend were a plastic spoon and a sponge! She's a cheap one!

Whew! It seems overwhelming when I go back and read all that's happened over the last week! Please keep praying for our little family...the prayers are greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Completely and totally worth it!!

Wow. I don't really know if there's another word in my vocabulary that can express the last 8 days so vividly. Jason and I have just been overwhelmed with how blessed we are. Seeing these two sweet boys experience all the "firsts" has been completely mind boggling. I will try to share all the magic with you, but I know that my human words will completely fall short of how much was experienced.

Monday: The start of the fun was at 4:30AM when we all got up and started getting ready for the adventure! My fabulous aunt graciously agreed to not only watch Liberty during our excursion, but also take us to the airport at 6AM. Thank goodness we live 5 minutes from the airport and didn't have to get up any earlier! Andrew was a ball of nerves but a quick trip to Walmart to get him a drawing notebook and pencils seemed to calm him down. We made it to the airport without a hitch, breezed through security, and got on our plane for the boys very first plane ride. I took an amazing video of Andrew experiencing take-off. He laughs harder than I've ever seen him laugh before! I think Jacob probably had the same thing going, but seeing as I was in the row ahead of them, I couldn't get both reactions. We landed in LA, grabbed our luggage and rent car, which was NOT waiting for us at the gate, much to Andrew's disappointment, and headed out to find food. In-and-Out Burger was the meal of champions (and much better since we only waited 5 minutes and not the 125 minutes that they are still experiencing in Frisco at the new one!) and decided that the boys just HAD to see the beach! We found our way to the Santa Monica pier and spent the next few hours splashing happily in the ocean and teaching the boys how to body surf the waves. It was a frigid 65 degrees (considering we had left TX at 100!), but the sun still kissed us a tad. I think I got the worst of anyone! We left the beach and headed to our hotel in Anaheim and checked in right in time to watch the Disney firework show out our balcony! What an amazing experience!

Tuesday: Disneyland adventures begin! Let me start out by saying this was not my first trip to a Disney park. I'd consider myself an expert...not to brag, but this was just one of my family's favorite vacation spots. Going so many times allowed me to have an idea of how to maneuver the parks the most efficient way possible! Introducing the Disney experience to two people who had no idea what to expect was phenomenal. Our hotel was a short walk away from the tram station so we didn't have to pay to park! We got there as the doors were opening and started the amazing day! I don't think the boys have walked that much in a day before! SO many cool rides and things to experience! I was able to go on quite a bit, but did have to miss out on some of my favorites. It absolutely did NOT matter though! Seeing those faces come off Space Mountain and Indiana Jones was enough! Everyone got the cherished Mickey Mouse ears, including Olivia's tiny pink set. We finished out the day around 9PM and dragged our tired and worn out bodies back to our hotel!

Wednesday: One of the boys favorite rides from the day before was the brand new 3D Star Wars ride, so we went back to the Disneyland park to ride it first thing. While we were there waiting to get on, we rode Andrew's favorite Haunted Mansion for the 3rd time. After the Star Wars ride, we went over to the Disney California Adventure park and rode fabulous things! Since that park is more new, it doesn't have quite the amount of rides as the original, so after we had conquered all at that park, we went right back over to Disneyland and rode more, including the 4th go at Haunted Mansion! :) The boys were SO exhausted, but kept right on trekking. I introduced them to the very fabulous Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar, my absolute favorite thing to eat at the park. Because of my surgery, I wasn't able to enjoy one the last time I was there, but thanks to the pregnancy hormones, I took full advantage! I think the only downside to these two days was that the boys were wearing Converse shoes, not the best choice for L O N G days of walking, but they were so determined to have fun that we didn't hear much about it! Another fabulous night closed out with our watching the fireworks from our very convenient hotel balcony!

Thursday: Break day! We all slept in and caught up on some much needed body and foot rest! After checking out of our hotel, we headed south to the San Diego area for leg 2 of the adventure. We stopped to get the boys some actual tennis shoes (for which their feet were supremely thankful!) and found our way to our hotel in Escondido, CA. Our plan was to get a hotel in the middle of our adventures in San Diego without being right in the heart of the city. It actually turned out to be a great location! We spent the afternoon swimming in the pool and just relaxing. By this time in the trip, I think Jason and I had both heard about 25 "thank you SO much for taking us on this amazing trip". Precious. We found a great little sushi restaurant, which is what Andrew had been asking to eat for nearly 2 weeks. He devoured his spicy tuna roll in no time flat!

Friday: Legoland! I've been hearing about this park for years, but had never actually been there! I was pretty sure that the rides wouldn't be the same caliber as Disneyland, but knowing the two Lego fanatics that were with us, I wasn't worried. It did not disappoint! The park itself was smaller than a Disney park, the rides less flashy, but the Legos were AMAZING. They even had a brand new Star Wars lego section that had only recently been unveiled. The park was so detailed, even down to the name badges of the employees! We saw mini versions of Washington DC, Las Vegas, New Orleans, New York, and of course, the many planets found in Star Wars! Jacob and Andrew's eyes just kept getting bigger and bigger! We ended the day in the Lego gift shop, which you can imagine was absolute heaven! I had NO idea that there were that many lego sets available! Michael always loved Legos and had a TON, but seeing as he and I probably haven't put a lego set together since about 1991, it's grown quite a bit! :) Both boys were able to get a really cool Star Wars set (naturally!). This park closes early, which was a nice change from the very late evenings the previous days. We decided to go scope out some beaches for San Diego beach fun, so it was a relaxing car trip down the coast.

Saturday: San Diego ZOO! Andrew had been waiting all week for this day! He actually woke up without a hesitation and said "I've been alive for NINE years and today I actually get to see a live panda!" He was off the wall excited from the moment he opened his eyes! We made our way to the Zoo and spent the day experiencing one of the cleanest and most well done zoos in the nation. The highlight was definitely the pandas! We got to their exhibit at the absolute perfect time...right after the opening rush had left and before everyone else found their way back there! Normally, there is a line outside waiting to go into the exhibit and you only get about 5 minutes to watch. We got about 20-25 minutes and actually saw the youngest panda wake up, waddle around, and eat! Andrew's eyes were as big as saucers. By early evening, everyone was tired and hungry so we headed back to our hotel for a much deserved rest.

Sunday: We checked out of our San Diego hotel and headed to the beach we had scoped out two days before! La Jolla Shores is one of the most widely photographed Southern California beaches. Ever since their first beach experience on Monday, the boys had been itching to get back in the water! We spent several hours playing in the surf, and then walking to the cliffs on the north side of the beach. This is where I learned the hard way that Target sunscreen is GARBAGE. Even at a high SPF and when reapplied in the correct fashion, all of us were burned. RUDE! I hate that! We left the beach and made our way to a fabulous hole in the wall pizza place that Jason had discovered online. We were STARVED and scarfed down an ginormous pizza in no time flat! After dinner, we piled our sandy bodies back into the car for the trip back up to Los Angeles for one more night. After checking into our hotel, it didn't take long for the effects of the day of sunshine to hit and everyone got to sleep quickly.

Monday: The hotel we were at actually had good HOT breakfast (not just the sugar rush party of donuts and juice), so we got up a little earlier than we needed in order to take advantage of it. Afterwards, we packed up the suitcases (one completely full of dirty clothes!) and checked out of the hotel. It's become our tradition to take the boys to see the new Pixar movie of the year, so we found a local movie theater and saw Cars 2. SO cute! I especially loved the fact that the Pixar short was a Toy Story themed one! We ate lunch at a place that Jason's been raving about (Tommy's Hamburgers...and with good reason. YUM!), and headed to the airport to drop off our car and start the long process of getting home. We finally got back to our house at 11PM to one very excited (and slightly chunky, a hazard of Camp Aunt Connie) Liberty. The boys barely had the energy to make their beds before passing out for the night. Jason and I did some small things around the house and then passed out ourselves!

Today, I'm back at work, trying desperately to not think about being in vacation mode still! I wish I was at home with my family. Of course, my sweet husband is being the laundry fairy today and I think it's gonna be a very lazy day for all the boys.

My favorite parts of the week would be hard to pinpoint, but I will attempt to list them in no particular order:
1. Seeing the faces of Jacob and Andrew as they put their feet in the ocean for the first time in their lives.
2. Having Olivia create a small show for her brothers so they could both SEE her moving around and feel her antics. Her new favorite pose is to stick her butt up right under my rib cage and make me appear deformed as she maneuvers her way around. My stomach then resembles a camel's hump. Awesome.
3. Deep conversations about Jesus in the car on the way to and from each of our locations. Both Jason and I love making these boys THINK and use those very smart brains they have both been given.
4. Spending time laughing and just being silly with my family. It didn't have to be anywhere special or while doing anything important.

WHEW! Now you know why we're all exhausted today! Olivia did fabulously and only had a few times where she just told me that I was doing too much and needed a slow down time. She's still exceptionally active, but I have no earthly idea whether she's turned or not. Our next dr. appointment and sonogram is Thursday, so we'll see whether or not she chooses to behave. I'm hoping she does, but I'm not laying any bets on this fiesty girl of ours.

I'll leave you with my favorite picture of the week. At the beginning of this pregnancy, I wanted to really make sure that these boys bonded with their sister, even in utero. Oh believe me, they have. Not a day goes by where I don't hear how much they can't wait to meet her and what they are going to do with her. This picture just makes me smile.

Thanks for reading about our adventures. We're gonna keep it chill here for a little bit...


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The mayhem before....the even BIGGER mayhem!

In my silly brain, I had imagined that this week would be a week of calm preparations. I would work, go to a class, and get all the cleaning/laundry done for our fabulous trip next week! The boys were coming over on Friday night and we'd spend the weekend finding fun places to go and eat while we weren't at theme parks. In talking to the boys last weekend, they both DESPERATELY wanted to come this past Sunday, stay the whole week, and just stay through vacation! I think that one week at home doing nothing got to them! So, Jason and I went grocery shopping last weekend to make sure we had the food in the house to feed those growing mouths and picked them up on Saturday afternoon. Gone was the week of calm before the storm, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Mind you, it's cramped, but homey. We have a 650 sq ft apartment, which sometimes feels small for just Jason and I. Now, put two growing boys in there and it gets REALLY fun! Having them here means we got to spend ALL day on Tuesday celebrating Jacob's 15th birthday! Whoo HOO! I love birthdays!! He opened presents, ate cake and ice cream, and went roaming around with Jason and Andrew until I got home from work.

Liberty just goes into happy dachshund shock while the boys are at the house. She always has a lap to jump into and most of the time, a hand giving her bits of goodness to snack on. She LOVES it. Yesterday, I came back from the pool while everyone else was finishing up and she sat at the door and whined until they both came inside. Pathetic.

And so, the countdown continues! We've got two VERY excited kiddos and two VERY excited parents! I get questions probably about 5 times a day about flying on the plane, and the rent car, and the parks, and....pretty much anything! Our plane leaves at 7:45AM on Monday, and I'm not sure there will be much sleep from anyone the night before!!!

We had our 7 month doctor appointment last Friday! Olivia did NOT behave for the 4D ultrasound because she is still breech. 75% of babies have turned by that point, but not our sweet girl! We did get to see a couple of quick pictures of her little face and her cute button nose. The doctor thinks everything is going swimmingly. My blood counts are a bit down, so that means I get to start the fantastic iron again, but otherwise goodness all around! I go back to the doctor in 2 weeks and hopefully we'll get our 4D at that point. We'll see if Miss Feisty decides to behave or not! The doctor wants to do another official sonogram the middle of July just to watch for additional bleeding/clotting. He said it's just a precaution because of my clotting disorder, and I would MUCH rather be overly safe with this little diva. She weighs a grand 2lb, 11oz and looks perfectly healthy at this point! She moves around most of the day, only sleeping for 15-20 min breaks at a time. She's SO active that I often catch Andrew staring at my stomach, just watching her thrash around in there! It's so sweet! He tells me all the time how much he can't WAIT to meet Olivia and how excited he is to hold her. It pretty much makes me cry every time he says it...stinkin' pregnancy hormones!

If you're my facebook friend, you can follow our exciting adventures next week as Jason and I chronicle our fun through the magic of the iPhone. Otherwise, stay tuned until we get home for the latest and greatest. Please keep our sweet family in your prayers as we go 1500 miles away. Prayers for safety and health would be greatly appreciated. Please pray for my stamina and for Olivia to continue to behave! Thanks in advance!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Blazing Inferno

Oh, the Texas summers are HOT! Yep, I hear some of you, TECHNICALLY, summer hasn't begun yet. Ah well, I'm 28 weeks pregnant, feel as big as a house, and am HOT outside. So there!

The 3rd trimester is upon us, and I'm constantly attacked by emails with the most terrifying titles. I believe every baby website is programmed to hold their most earth shattering and unnerving titles until the pregnant woman actually begins to realize that this child DOES have to come out in the near future. Things like "11 terrifying pregnancy symptoms" or "The 8 signs that early labor is looming" really don't inspire me to confident living! I'm just waiting for the ones to start popping up "My baby was too big for my pelvis" and "Emergency labor situations". Oh good grief! It's no wonder women entering their 3rd trimester think that it might be better to just keep that little one safe inside. Of course, by the time the 8th and 9th month roll around, there's quite a shift in the thought process. "GET THIS OUT OF ME!"....especially when one is massively pregnant in the fabulous Texas summer!

Tomorrow, we go for our 7th month doctor visit and 4D Ultrasound. Yippee! I can't wait to get a small glimpse into what our daughter looks like. After that, the more frequent doctor visits commence. Whew! I know that it's for Olivia's good, but I do NOT like going to the doctor. It will be a test of my patience and determination! It is Jason and I's constant prayer that this little one continues to be healthy and grow as she should.

She's getting a lot more active as the days go on. The last day or two, she's been spending a LOT of time attacking my lower right quadrant of my abdomen, kind of where your appendix is. Just when I think she should be sleeping, I'm viciously kicked or elbowed. She's just SO wild! I'd much rather know she's always there then have her calm down and stay silent.

It's less than 2 weeks until Andrew and Jacob's first BIG family vacation! WHOO HOO! Everytime I talk to them, they are SO very excited! Our next big hurdle is making sure they actually have clothing packed that they can wear (not like the last time when Andrew brought one shirt, three shorts, and 1 pair of underwear!). They've been eagerly planning what they want to bring on the plane and what they want to do during take off...and the most important part, how to get to the bathroom while flying. I love calling them after we buy park tickets or book hotels because it just makes it more and more REAL for them! I have to start getting my "Mom" bag planned out with snacks and goodies for the parks. That part excites me! Maybe I need to start a vacation countdown checklist...

Today is Liberty Grace Emerson Russell's 9th birthday. I'm planning on a celebratory blog post about her, but I'd rather do it with pictures...which are at home and not available to me at the moment. So perhaps that will go up tonight or tomorrow. She's a patient girl, she'll wait to be immortalized on the web! :)

And once again, I've rambled for an inordinate amount of time about things that may seem trivial, but are very important to me and my family. Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Times are flying

Yep, it's June. I'd like to say that the time on this pregnancy is slowly ticking by, but it seems to be the complete opposite. I am almost 28 weeks and feeling P R E G N A N T. Last night, Jason and I watched the game at a friend's house and I actually had to put a pillow under my stomach for support. Ugh. And the summer's just begun! :) I actually have so much to be thankful for. I've been reading the facebook pages of my friends who are also pregnant and am reminded of how God is taking care of even the little things! I haven't been swollen to the point where I can't wear my rings. I didn't throw up my entire first trimester. I haven't had to buy a huge maternity wardrobe because I was blessed to have a sister who is about the same size and was pregnant right before me. So many blessings!

Last weekend, we were able to have a nice and calm Memorial Day weekend. Jason went to a golf tournament (courtesy of my brother and his gift of tickets!) while I basked in the glory of Food Network, air conditioning, and a dachshund who just wanted mom snuggle time. It was a very nice start to my week! Even better, I got paid 8 hours of work for sitting at home on Monday, so I've only had to work 8 hour shifts this week! Yippee! I think the plans for this weekend are also pretty tranquil, aside from the uber exciting car evaluations for our two sad little hail damaged cars. The most horrid thing about living in an apartment (apart from the no privacy and the elephants that live upstairs!) is that our cars are open to all the elements. This usually isn't a problem, but a week and a half ago, we were blessed with tennis ball sized hail that did quite a number on the bodies of the car, as well as their windshields. We do have a lot to be thankful for in that both cars are still able to be driven, but it's just another added cost that we were not planning on.

Plans for our California adventure are going swimmingly! We now have tickets for Disneyland! I squealed with excitement as those printed off! I may or may not have done a happy dance...but just maybe. I think aside from buying the Legoland/Zoo tickets, I just still have to find a hotel for the last night we're in LA. After that, it's all planned out and just WAITING for our adventure to start! SO excited! We leave in 2.5 weeks...WOW. I continue to pray for my own stamina and that I don't hold anyone up whilst I waddle through the Golden State!

The next two weeks are pretty much the same...work and more work. I do have next Friday off, but that day brings my 7 month OB check up and our 4D look at our little princess. YAY! Unfortunately, I think that check up also brings every 2 week visits instead of monthly...soon to be followed by WEEKL?Y check ups until little O's arrival. Whew. How did this point get here already?

Please keep my sweet little friend K in your prayers. He's currently hospitalized and his precious parents are so dedicated to figuring out what all is going with him! He is one of my favorite little guys and I want so much for his issues to be worked out so he can go back to being a mighty man!

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Events and adventures

Whew! It's been a week! I feel like we've been going non stop, which is pretty much the truth. I worked Sunday through Thursday and was VERY excited to have Friday through today off! Friday, Jason and I went to Andrew's school to eat lunch with him and watch his field day. He'd been asking since the week before, and even though it was raining, he called me and left a VM saying "um, you should still come 'cause it will be pretty fun!" We wouldn't have missed it for the world! He was so happy to introduce us to his class and his teacher, who told us he'd been talking about us coming all week! Precious! After school, we snatched him up and went to pick Jacob up from school. Jacob met us at the school office BEAMING because he'd been awarded the "Best 8th grade boy in choir" medal. He loves to sing and I'm pretty sure that aside from the girls, choir is the best part of 8th grade! We took both of them home and just relaxed the rest of the night.

Saturday, we got up and went to the Colonial golf tournament. The boys were really excited about it, and not surprising, their dad was too! I went with my "mom bag", filled with sunscreen, water bottles, and other necessities for a day spent in the smothering Texas humidity. We had a great time, but were rained out on the 18th hole right before the boys favorite golfer, Rickie Fowler, was set to play. We made our way back to the bus through the rain and came home. The rest of the day was spent drying off and getting clean. Sunday, Andrew had to be back home early to work on a rainforest project for school, so we dropped them off with their mom and headed to Costco, my favorite weekend hang out. I got lots of free samples...it's a bypass patient's dream! We also went to see Bridesmaids which nearly made me wet myself at least four times. Darn that pregnant tiny bladder!

Today has been a L-A-Z-Y day! We've had some whopper thunderstorms come through, which has delighted me! This allows for lounging about in my pajamas and watching Food Network all day whilst catching up on laundry. Tonight, we are going to Jacob's last middle school choir concert. I can't believe he's going to be in high school next year! Whew! Time FLIES!

Olivia has been up to her regular antics this weekend. Saturday, I guess she was tired of all the boy time and wanted to make her presence known. She was kicking my stomach SO hard that it was visible to all around. Andrew got to see it and I think his eyes got as big as saucers! "What was THAT?" That was your sister. "WHOA. She's strong!" Yep, she's a feisty little thing! He is so proud of her! He asks about her every time we talk. He's going to be an amazing big brother.

We leave for California in less than a month! AAHH! I am so excited to show those sweet boys what fun vacation is! It's going to be hard for me in parts since I won't be able to ride some of my favorite rides, but there's enough for me to ride and seeing their joy will take away any sadness! And really, there can't be any sadness at Disney!

I work the rest of this week, so that will be fun and games. I am still really enjoying the people I work with and the environment. It's nice to feel appreciated!

Thank you for your continued prayers for my sweet family. They are most appreciated!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My funny boys

Jacob and Andrew are hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. They never cease to make me smile, laugh, or turn my head in the "huh?" position. Every time they have the opportunity to come be with us, we end up having a wonderful time, even if we're really not doing much. When I picked them up yesterday, Andrew looked at my belly and said "Woah. She got huge!" I laughed and asked him if he meant me or his sister. He quickly replied that I wasn't huge but Olivia's gotten so big that I really look pregnant. I was thinking the same thing, Andrew!

This weekend, my parents drove in from Houston since my mom had the day off of school on Friday. They wanted to take everyone to lunch on Saturday, including their two grandsons. Those boys really don't know a stranger. They can talk to anyone about anything! We went and met my parents, grandma, aunt and uncle, and another aunt for a fun meal of laughing and craziness. The boys fit right in and I think they had fun hearing stories about my childhood and telling the family about their own shenanigans!

After lunch, the four of us (and Olivia!) went home and watched Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It doesn't exactly follow the book to the tee, but really, what movie from a book does these days? It was still a cool movie! Jason and I were going to take the kiddos back home and then head to a graduation party we had already committed to. It ended up that the boys wanted to spend the night ("desperately!" in Andrew's words!), so they hung out with Liberty while we went to the party for a few hours. I guess they wore themselves out because they were both fast asleep when we got home.

This morning, I had to get up and go to work. Blah. Before I left, I got Liberty out of her bed and then got ready for the day. When I returned to the living room (where the boys sleep), I found Liberty snuggled up with Jacob and trying to share his pillow. It was supremely pathetic. The last sound I heard as I closed the front door was the thump, thump, thump of her very happy tail and the phrase "Lib, move over! You have to share the pillow!" HA!

This week will hopefully go by QUICKLY as I have a 4 day weekend coming up! Andrew asked me to come and eat lunch with him, so I'm planning to do that on Friday when he has field day. Then, I'll go find something to do for a few hours and go back to get both of them for a weekend where we don't have anything to do and can spend the weekend planning for our Disney trip!

I continue to be blessed to be a mom to these two. I am so thankful they have accepted me into their lives. My biggest prayer is that I continue to show them how special they are and how much their dad and I love them! Olivia truly will be the most blessed little sister in the world!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In other news...

Thank goodness my glucose test was NORMAL! There was no way in this whole world that I would be repeating that torturous test...for ANY reason. I also started having some Braxton Hicks contractions, but I think that may have been caused by my lack of good water drinking for a few days! I normally drink 2 44 oz cups of water at work to keep myself flushed through, but since I was off for 4 days, I threw my system off. Once I corrected the problem, little Olivia has still been actively dancing, but there haven't been any contractions. I know those type of contractions are normal, but that doesn't mean they don't freak me out! :)

Jason and I have been working on our fabulous summer vacation plans for those two sweet boys. Every time we talk I get more and more excited! We're actually going the day after Father's Day, so what a precious gift for my sweet husband and the boys! The next time they are over to the house, we're going to sit down and see exactly what things they want to see while we are there. We've got some extra time in Los Angeles and are gonna try and do all the fun Hollywood stuff...the sign, the walk of fame...all the things that are on TV all the time and would be neat to say "I've been there!" As a complete foodie, I'm also trying to think of all the places I've seen on TV that I want to go visit. I know Jason's excited about this restaurant called Tommy's Hamburgers. I would LOVE to go to Pink's Hot Dog stand, but we'll see. Diners, Drive Ins and Dives is one of my favorite shows (and the boys love it too!), so we may investigate some of the places from it!

Well, I guess I'd better get moving...work is calling me! Thanks for all who tune in and read the random events of the Russell household!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Bypass Beware

In 2008, I had my entire digestive system rerouted in the hopes that it would allow me to finally lose weight. It did the trick. 140lbs gone in 9 months! What it left me with is complete sugar intolerance and the inability to eat too much fatty food. No big deal! I can live with that!

When I realized I was pregnant, I suddenly noticed I was having sugar cravings, something I haven't had in almost 3 years. I was able to tolerate small bursts of sugary items because of the influx of pregnancy hormones. My doctor (who has also had weight loss surgery) said this is not unheard of, and that this will most likely go away after those surges are gone. Before pregnancy, I could probably only handle about 2-4 grams of sugar at a time, and sometimes not even that. NO sugar soda, no syrup, not even things like honey or agave syrup. I could do fruit sugar, but that was it. I can now do small bits of sugar, typically no more than about 25g of sugar at a time. Doing more means running to the potty (sorry about the TMI!) and horrid intestinal cramps. If I can avoid this torture, I absolutely will!

So when my doctor decided that it wouldn't be "that bad", even though I knew it would probably not be too fun for me, I defaulted to his judgement and that hopes that it would give information about my pregnancy that would be helpful. Oh heavens. I should have said no! Apparently, they were supposed to give me the drink to consume at home and then come in to the office. Thank goodness they did not because I would NEVER have made it. I started feeling icky about 2/3 through the 10 oz, 50g sugary torture device . In fact, I was on my way to the bathroom while drinking the last gulp and handing the container back to the nurse. The next few hours was badness, but I made it through! I will NEVER do that to myself again, so I hope everything turns out ok! :)

Other than the torture of the nasty orange badness, we also got another peek at our sweet girl. She was active as always, surprisingly laying side to side instead of her feet dancing on my bladder. She weighs 1 lb, 7oz which is simply perfect. I haven't gained much weight and what weight I am gaining is apparently all baby and baby growing apparati. She's a foot long, and extremely active (as if I didn't already know that part!). She is also "still a girl, NO penis". Awesome. So glad to know that! I still think it's amazing that the sono tech knew at 13 weeks who she was! I guess when you've been doing something for a long time, you should really know your stuff!

I'm free from the OB for another month, and then I'll have to move to every 2 week visits from that point on. I think once I hit 8 months, I go to weekly. UGH. I still can't believe that tomorrow marks the 6 month mark. We are so blessed to have this wee one growing for all that time. Keep up the good work, Olivia!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

In typical fashion....

Texas weather is BIZARRE. Last weekend, it was in the 40's at night. Today, it was over 90. I just don't even get it. Ah well, it's the price I pay for living here! Normally, I wouldn't mind except that yesterday evening, in typical apartment fashion, the air conditioner died...AGAIN! Of course, that's about the 5th time it's done it in the last 3 months. They just keep shoving freon into it and considering that "fixed". Cheap skates. Thankfully, since it was going to be in the 90's for the next few days, and the fact that I'm noticeably pregnant and crabby in heat, they brought over a window unit that is currently blasting freezing cold air! It's been getting so much nicer in here! I am thankful!

I am now working full time at my job and really enjoying it. I've moved locations, still the same company. It's been fun getting to know all the new people at this new location. The beauty of this new job is my boss is completely flexible with my hours! I'm actually off until Tuesday, and I am SO loving that!

Yesterday, we got a call from Andrew who wanted to know when he would get to see me because he has something to give me. I asked what it was, and he said it was a secret because of the special day on Sunday. This brought me to tears right in the car and I almost couldn't keep talking! Such a sweet boy. He also wanted to know how his acrobatic sister was doing!

We're in the middle of planning our family vacation for June. We've got plane tickets, hotel and car reservations, and two VERY excited little boys, as well as one estatic husband! It's going to be absolutely amazing seeing them experience this for the first time! Plans are in the works for a few days at Disney, Legoland, and the San Diego Zoo! YAY!

It's so amazing to me that I have so many friends right now that have either just HAD babies or are pregnant. How blessed we all are! It's nice to have a host of friends to go through this with! It's also amazing to have a husband who understands the craziness of pregnancy and has been through it before! I've been given such a wonderful gift!

Not sure what the rest of the weekend will hold, but I do know that relaxing will be involved! Monday morning, I have the dreaded glucose test at the OB's office. I am NOT NOT NOT looking forward to this. My hormones of pregnancy have allowed my bypassed intestines to tolerate more sugar that pre-pregnancy, but I have no idea how this will go down. It should be interesting, to say the least. We'll also have another ultrasound to look at our little girl. Hopefully the sono will be BEFORE the horrid sugar test! :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

An important milestone

Raising children is all about milestones. When did they first roll over? When did they walk? Talk? We compare our children (whether knowlingly or not)to others around them.

Today, Olivia has reached an important milestone. She is VIABLE. She has reached a developmental age that she COULD live outside the womb if she had to. Of course, this would not be without much help and assistance, but she still COULD. WOW. I've been growing her for 23 weeks and in the last 2 weeks, she has become so much more real to me. I can feel her move and dance. I can see her kick my stomach. When I press my stomach in, she kicks back.

Just because she COULD live on the outside, doesn't mean I am ready for her to. I'd like her to stay happy and growing, for at least 15 more weeks or so. Unfortunately, it's not my decision, but I certainly put in a good word for that time frame!

Last night, Jason and I toured the hospital where Olivia will be born. I've been in TONS of Labor and Delivery rooms, but I literally had the breath taken out of me when we were there. It just made it so much more real! To know that in 3 months, I'll be in the shoes of the women that I saw last night. AAH! I'm not ready! I have no doubt I'll be MORE than ready to end the days and nights of hot torture, only to replace it with the days and nights of not sleeping. Seeing the room layouts are really good for me because it makes it easier for me to put together in my head. I can see Jason going to get Jacob and Andrew so they can be the first two people to hold their new sister. We saw the waiting room where our families will anxiously await the arrival of this new life. We saw the nursery and the doors of patient rooms who have recently opened their hearts to a new family member. Whew! Overwhelming!

Little baby things have started to make their way into the house. A giant box of clothes from my sister...baby gear from friends...some tiny onesies and ballerina socks that my husband bought. It's been fun! I end up finding all things little people in my house. An Andrew shirt stuffed under the laundry hamper, a Jacob sock under the chair, and now starting to find Olivia gear too. I LOVE finding these little treasures. Last summer, Andrew left a pair of socks and we sent them back to him in the mail (cause didn't you LOVE to get mail as a child?) with a note from Liberty. He called me the second he got it to tell me about it. Precious!

Thanks for tuning in again. These sometimes turn rambly, but then again, this is how my brain works...so it seems to fit. Have a wonderful week! Enjoy the weather! It's GORGEOUS!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Counting my blessings

It's been one year since I decided to leave Children's....and what a year it has been! Sure, I've job hopped a little bit. I've had a complete turn around of my home situation. It has all served a purpose. Every little miniscule event.

Leaving Children's was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. It meant daring to imagine my life without the stability I had known for the last five years. It meant being a nurse without the safety net I had established for myself. It meant financial changes that I was not prepared for. But enough about the negative! It has taught me SO MANY THINGS! It has taught me to realize who my true friends are. These are the people who aren't my friends just because we work together, or because I take care of their children. I'll be honest, it has hurt to see the friendships that I thought were real fizzle away...messages unreturned, calls unanswered. As real as those friendships seemed at the time, it was an illusion. My true friends are the ones who are still around...through the thick and thin of my last year. The ones who have shared my joys and sorrows without judgement or opinions.

I've also learned that work is not who I am. It does not define me. It is a way to show the gifts I have been given, but even when I was not working, these gifts were still evident. In looking back, I can see an element of pride that needed to be sucked right on out of me. Believe me, the humbling I have received during the last year has taught me to realize what is really important. My husband, boys, and growing daughter are important. Work is not. Work is how I make my living and demonstrate the gifts I have been given, but even if I stopped being a nurse tomorrow, there would still be opportunities for me to share those God given talents with others.

After my period of being torn down, ripped apart, and rebuilt, God is choosing to bless me and my family once again. The job that I started in January has just offered me a promotion to full time guaranteed hours. Wow. Did NOT see that one coming! I have a simply phenomenal husband who sharpens me as iron sharpens iron, something this stubborn red-head greatly needs. I have two amazing/hilarious/precious sons who teach me how to be a good mom every day. I am growing Miss Olivia, who has already taught me patience and I'm certain will continue this task all of her life (I was a strong willed child, I don't have hopes of birthing one who isn't!) My family has a roof over our heads, food to eat, and a Savior who demonstrates to us that HE is powerful enough to provide. He is all we need.

As Easter approaches, I find more and more reasons to be amazed and blessed. To think that God would give his ONLY son for nasty, sinful, and ungrateful humans is mind-boggling. I know I wouldn't willingly give up Jacob, Andrew, or Olivia for anything. I can't imagine knowing exactly what we as humans were going to do to Jesus that God still followed through with his ultimate plan...but that's because HE is God and I am not. I am not going to understand it. My job is to be always grateful and thankful that someone died in my place so I can be with Jesus for all eternity. God didn't limit salvation to a chosen few...those with good jobs, a certain number of friends, or the ideal home situation. He opened it up to ANYONE who would call on the name of Jesus and accept the most perfect and unimaginable gift.

This weekend, I will continue to be thankful for what I have been given...an opportunity to work, an amazing husband, three beautiful children, and the chance to be with family. I am blessed.