baby bump: week 40

 dear blythe,

you're here! you're here! it's our last bump picture with you really in it, on the outside. i knew this day was coming and yet it always seemed far away-- i'm so thankful you decided to make your appearance a bit early. i was actually at the end of my 39th week when you decided to show up. and show up you did in a rather speedy fashion. you didn't leave time for your dad or me to even think about what was happening…you just came. it was perfect, and scary, and beautiful, and unbelievable and left me in a little bit of shock. and then i got to hold you. oh blythe, in that moment it scared me a little how much i love you.

i've only cried twice since you were born, which is actually a bit surprising. however, as i'm typing this letter to you and looking at you sleep beside me, i am so overwhelmed at how perfect the end of this journey to YOU is. you are so tiny and so dependent on me for everything, but right now i wouldn't have it any other way. 

sometimes when we're up late at night during a feeding i don't rush right back to bed when you finish-- instead i just hold you and look at you and kiss your lips and thank god again that you are mine. 

so far you have had a pretty mild temperament. you tend to squeak when you're mad/need something instead of all out cry. you love to be swaddled and you love resting your head on daddy's neck while he sings to you. 

you are already so loved and have had many, many visitors. your nana stayed with daddy and me for the first while to make sure we were on our feet. she cooked lots of yummy food and did lots of laundry and made sure that i was resting and taking care of myself so that i would have a fast recovery and could take care of fully. and your dad, well, he has been a rockstar. i asked him what his favorite part of having you around has been so far and he said being up with you in the middle of the night and singing you back to sleep. watching him fall in love with you has been so amazing. 

spring is all around, and every time i see a new flower bloom i think of the new life god has granted us in you. it feels huge and daunting at times to think about the responsibility, but also exciting and wonderful. 

i love all 6 and 1/2 pounds of you, my sweet blythe kathleen, more than i can ever put into words. 



what's the story behind the name?

In case you were wondering, this blog will be invaded by all things Blythe for a little while.  I will return to my regularly scheduled programming at some point. :-) 

Thanks to Brent's updates in the hospital, I know you were informed of my sweet daughter's name: Blythe Kathleen. And if you know me, you know one of my favorite things to learn is "the story." What is the story behind…fill in the blank. What's the story behind this recipe? What's the story behind that outfit? What's the story behind this tradition? So if you're anything like me, you want to know the story behind the name. And here is is: The story behind "Blythe Kathleen".

I've always been "one of those girls" that liked to dream of baby names. Even before Brent was in the picture, I mulled around on baby names. I tried different combinations to see how they would roll off the tongue. I practiced writing some down to see if I liked the way they looked on the page. 

 And then along came Brent. This wonderful man. I decided he was more than I deserved and wanted to trade in my name for his. With this name change a new opinion entered the picture. Not only did I have to like a name, but Brent had to as well. And out went several I had scribbled and saved on a piece of orange paper. 

And then we got pregnant, and the real conversations began. It was different when we weren't just dreaming about about a child we didn't know far off in the future somewhere. There was a true son or daughter growing inside of me. God had given us a someone to name. 

And the funny thing? Once we were talking about our son or daughter, that was now growing flesh and blood inside of me, we decided very quickly. Once we said it, we knew that was her name, even though we had yet to meet her. We had our sonogram at twenty weeks, and when we got our first picture of her Brent looked at it and said, "It's Blythe," with tears in his eyes. 

And so it was, all along. Blythe Kathleen. We had selected traits we wanted to pray for her, and one of them was "joyfulness." Blithe means joy. We prayed, and continue to pray, that she would not only be filled with joy, but that she would bring others joy with her presence; that she will know that ultimate joy  flows from Christ, and be a source of that joy to others. 

"Blythe" also holds special meaning to us, as it is the last name of some very special people in our lives. This family has provided us support, love, and encouragement to me since I can remember. They have let Brent and I spend way too much time with their beautiful daughters, and we view them now as our own siblings. We are proud that our daughter now shares their name. 

And then there is "Kathleen." I've always liked my mom's middle name. I think it sounds pretty. And then I looked up the meaning and it means "pure." We pray our daughter is able to be pure in so many meanings of the word in a world where there is so much corruption. And my mom is an excellent example of such purity for our little girl, so it only made sense that we would want them to share middle names. 

And there is the story of Blythe Kathleen. 
May she be always joyful and pure, and a reflection of the wonderful people in her life. 

We love you so much, Blythe Kathleen, and we can't wait to see what the story behind your little life will be. 

THank you, Beth, for these beautiful pictures of our sweet daughter. 


 This is Brent, so this might not be the best post, but we'll see if we can't get some pictures up.  Enjoy!

This is just after she was born…being weighed


Kelsey looks amazing and beautiful.  She had a long night, not much sleep, but she's already showered today and is taking a nap around lunch.


Blythe Kathleen 
Born:   March 23rd, 2012 
at 11:12 pm
Weight:    6lbs 5oz
Length: 19 in
Hair brown  

Kelsey is doing great.  Came to the hospital at 8pm and had her by 11:12pm.  Fast delivery.  Wow, was it fast.  She jumped from 2 cm dilated to a 10 really quick and delivered in 10 minutes.

more pictures and updates to come! Stay tuned. 



CS LEWIS is one of my FAVORITE authors. [I'm not ruling out Harper Lee, and Steinbeck, and Dave Eggars…don't worry]. Ever since I picked up "Mere Christianity" in high school I couldn't get enough of his writing [and obviously I'd read some of the Narnia books as a child, but revisiting them as a college student was delightful]. 

Brent caught on to this and a lot of my gifts were CS Lewis books. The BEST one he got me was his book of quotes. I just have to go to "Community" and I can read anything he's ever written on community. Bliss. 

Well now that I have an iphone [yes…I remember THIS POST. And I still feel the same way], one of the very few "apps" I've downloaded is the CS LEWIS Quote a Day app. Awesome. I usually don't look at it until I get home from work, just so there is a little treat for me. There have already been some wonderful ones, but one in particular that  I wanted to share was about writing. 

He said, "Don't say it was delightful; make us say delightful when we've read the description. You see, all those words [horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquiste] are only like saying to your readers, "Please will you do the job for me?"  

And that, my dear blog reading friends, is why CS [Or Clives as I sometimes like to call him] is still being read and loved today. He knew how to weave beauty into his writing the way few writers successfully can. 

Although he did say this too, "I never exactly made a book. It's rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say." 

It is a dream of mine to some day attempt to write something worth publishing. I guess I'm just waiting to be given something to say. :) 

and still waiting on Lala to make her debut… one week until my due date! 


baby bump: week 38

dear baby,
i feel like i've been saying this for awhile now, but we are so very close. my doctor said it really could be any day, and i do kind of feel like a ticking time bomb! your due date is next week, so we'll see if you are timely or a little late like your mama always tends to be :). 

this week i was thinking about your heritage. because the weather has been nicer, i finally got to wear a more "summery" top that your aunt kali passed down to me. when i was wearing it i remembered a picture i have of her in the very same shirt when she was pregnant with caroline: your great grandma sch. is reaching over and feeling your cousin kick. caroline was one of the last great grandchildren that she got to meet. so i started thinking about the generations you are descending from. and every where i look i realize how blessed you are. all of your grandparents and great grandparents love jesus, and have raised their families and fed their marriages in beautiful ways. i can't wait for you to get to know the ones that are still living, and hear stories about your two great grandpa's and your great grandma that have passed away. 

speaking of heritage, your dad has been amazing lately. he is so, so excited to meet you. once you get to know him this won't be surprising to you, but he has been so good to your mama while you have been growing in me. he is always willing to help out, or rub my back, or do the dishes, or...anything he thinks may make your life and my life a little better. you will be so lucky to call him dad. 

and i guess it's time you should know, but your dad and i decided that i am going to stay home with you when you get here! we looked at several different options, and talked and prayed a lot of things over, but nothing else felt right in my heart. i can't wait to spend my days getting to know you, to play with you, and to teach you. 

i love you, little one, and very soon i will get to tell you that while looking in your eyes.

love, mom


decision: learning to imitate the trees

Every year around spring I am amazed that plants come back to life. But see, this is where I mess up because they have really just appeared dead. They'd been secretly living all along. The tree had to shed its leaves to provide enough oxygen and goods to its other, more essential parts for that season. When it dropped its leaves did it cease to be a tree? Did it cease to keep living? No. It just had to respond differently to its new climate so that now, in the Spring, it could continue to live the tree way of life. 

I feel a little bit like a tree these days. I feel like I needed to shed some leaves to adjust to my new climate in order to continue to live the way I need to. 

So, for those of you that don't know, this means I have decided to stay home when my daughter arrives. For me to feel like I can provide oxygen to the most essential parts of this tree for this season, it means being home with my daughter. 

This decision has not come easily. If you know me, or if you have read this blog for more than a month, you know that I LOVE my job. It is more than a job to me. I truly feel the Lord has led me into teaching and has blessed me  with specific abilities that allow me to be a great teacher. When I wake up in the morning and drive to work, I look forward to what awaits me. I enjoy being in my classroom with my students. I refer to my students as "my kids." And there is the hang up…in a week or so they will no longer be "my kids." I will have my own child. And I want to pour my days into her with the same passion I have poured myself into my students. 

It doesn't surprise me that as I'm writing this I'm getting teary eyed. I am so very excited to meet and welcome my daughter and bring her home. I am looking forward to devoting my days to her. However, I still feel a loss in letting teaching go for this time.

Teaching has become my identity for the last four years, and when I look back on college I realize this identity has been mine for closer to eight years. When someone asks, "So what do you do?" I respond proudly, "I am a teacher." And my answer to that question is about to drastically change. I have spent years of my life having conversations about writing and reading and curriculum and classroom management. I have built a network, a community, among other educators. I know myself, and am known, as a teacher. 

Middle and high schoolers have become my way of life for 4/5 years. I have sat in my classroom and just stared around countless times in the past couple of months. I look at their work sprawled all over the classroom walls and wonder if I will miss being the one to drag that poem out of them; if I will miss being the one to help them tap into something they'd never thought about tapping into before? I wonder if I will miss the silly, inside jokes we share? While I look at the blue chairs, covered in grime and dirt of hormonal teens, I wonder if they will be okay without me?  I wonder if they will like their new teacher next year? I wonder if their new teacher will actually like them the way I do? I wonder who will speak love into their hearts if I don't? 

And beyond these questions, I also wonder: if I take "teacher" out of my response, out of who I am, do I change? When 100 students don't consistently need me each day, what places inside me will stop growing? When I shed these leaves I know they are gone, even if I am doing it to let new ones grow in their place. 


I want to be with my daughter. I want to be the one that holds her when she cries. I want to be the one to sing her a lullaby when I lay her down for her nap. I want to be the one that teaches her where her nose is. I want to be the one to kiss her boo-boos when she falls. Do I think women who work and don't stay home are making the wrong choice? Absolutely not. But for me, I want to be with my daughter. 

And to sustain this part of the life I want to live, I must shed the other leaves. This does not mean the tree is dying. Even though when someone asks "So what do you do?" I won't be able to say,  "I'm a teacher", I will still be, and will always remain, a teacher. Those parts of me that God has created to teach will still be there. I will still use them. 

As I shared the news with my principal and my colleagues they were all so very supportive, which helped tremendously. When I shared the news with my students they were…well, not as supportive but we're managing and making the most of the last of our time together. :-) And Brent, not surprisingly, is supportive and excited and willing to do whatever it takes to make this dream of ours a reality. 

And I will return to teaching someday. There is not even a sliver of doubt in my mind about that. But for now, I want to focus on being a mother. I'm sure it will prove as challenging and leave me even more exhausted than my first year of teaching did.

I want to leave myself with note, similar to the one I wrote myself four summers ago before that first hot August in my new classroom in Kentucky. When I am ready to go back to teaching, I want to read this note to myself and remember the joy that it brought me; I want to have something to reignite the passion if it has wained. 

Dear Kelsey,

I'm writing this so that you remember just how much you love being a teacher. I am writing this so that you will remember that this is more than a job-- it is in your very marrow.

There will be days of frustration: the kids will be wound up, or cranky, or lethargic and the lesson will seem to fall flat. There will be days where the kids seem to pluck at all of your ever-lovin' last nerves. But hang on, keep coming back, because there will be even more days when the kids make you laugh, and you make them laugh, and it clicks and they understand why the protagonist of the story had to catch that bad break because all stories thrive on conflict. There will be days when that one student who you sometimes secretly hope is absent will be the one to say, "I look forward to your class everyday." 

When parent teacher conferences come around again, be confident in your abilities and decisions. Establish relationships with parents BEFORE these meetings come around, so that when they ask about a certain grade, you are not defending yourself or disagreeing with them or painting their child in a bad light, but rather you are continuing a conversation that began weeks earlier. And when another parent rushes to your table, waving their daughter's End of Course scores in their hands, don't assume they've come to yell… because they may be coming to thank you and they may be coming to inform you, with tears in their eyes, that they never thought she would be able to score in the "basic" category for reading, but that she did it! And they will thank you for that accomplishment, and it's okay to get a little teary-eyed with them. 

When you have a student that just can't seem to "get with the program," and you're about to throw in the towel, look for just ONE GOOD THING. And when she does that one good thing, whether it be remembering her book for class every.single.day that week, or only missing two on her quiz, or turning in her homework twice in a row, send a note home to let her parents/grandparents/stepparents know just how awesome you think she is. And then don't be surprised when she gets with the program. 

Although there will be days you want to, don't yell at your students. You are only waisting your breath and their time. Just expect them to behave, at all times, always, the way you want them to, and they usually will do just that. 

Pray for your students. When you are loving them and things are going well, thank God for them. When you are frustrated and exhausted, pray for them and for you. 

Get involved in activities with them outside of the classroom. Be the teacher that they see show up to their ball games. It only makes sense that when you show up for stuff they care about, they will "show up" in your class. 

Give them fair warning when you have a headache/stomach ace/back ache/or you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. They will appreciate, and usually heed, this warning and both of your days will be smoother because of it. 

If they don't LOVE writing, or the novel you're reading, or the project that's taken you days to prepare for, it's okay. You can still be excited about it and even if they don't buy into it, they'll appreciate your passion. And on the flip side, when you're teaching grammar, or Puritan literature, or something else obscure that you HAVE to cover, be honest with them that they may be bored to tears, but that you're all just going to pretend like it's fun.  They'll appreciate your candidness. 

Trust your students. And don't just fake-trust them, really trust them. They can tell the difference. The same goes for respect. 

Create a routine in your classroom that works for each class. What works for one group, may not work for the group next hour. Be open and flexible. But still create a routine. 

Make sure your classroom is a safe place for everyone. Make sure everyone feels validated. Make sure everyone knows it is not okay to laugh at someone else's expense. And the first time that happens, make sure you deal with it publicly, sternly, even vehemently, so that all present can see that you are serious about everyone being in a safe place. But beyond that, deal with conflict in private. If a student misbehaves, stop the action, but confront them about it one on one. They will be surprised by your control, but even more surprised that you've taken away their audience. 

Share your life with them. Don't expect them to be open with you if you are not open with them. 

Be creative. Don't settle for bookwork when a hands on activity can accomplish the same lesson. Don't make them sit in their seats when they could be writing on the sidewalks or walls. Don't make them stay awake through a lecture when they could be interacting with one another in conversation that will teach them the same thing. 

Remember you are good at what you do. They can tell when you are confident, and they want you to be confident. 

And above all, remember that nothing done in love is ever wasted. 


And so, when this sweet daughter comes and I wrap this school year up, I will be closing this chapter for a little while. I will pack up my classroom, pray for whomever will fill its space next year, and leave the building with tears in my eyes. I will stay a teacher at heart, and when the Lord gives me a nudge back in that direction I will read the above letter and return. 

But I will remind myself of the trees, and how they must shed leaves to produce healthy new ones. I will cherish the time I have with my daughter; time I do not have to share with work and other demands that it would entail. So do not be fooled, this tree is not dying-- it is just sustaining life in a different way now. 

And I will still remind myself every day that nothing done in love is ever wasted. 


baby bump: week 37

dear baby,
we are so very close to meeting. i have all of your clothes washed and ready, your stroller and carseat are set up, your bedding is fresh and clean, and your diapers have been stacked with care. now all i'm missing is a little someone that goes with all of that stuff! everyone is so ready to meet you. though i'm ready, i know you'll come when YOU are ready and that is what is most important so just do your thing, girl.

we had two more showers this week. your aunts and grandma i threw a wonderful shower on sunday and once again we were abundantly blessed. then my coworkers threw us another shower, and let me tell ya, i work with some awesome people [who are also very excited to meet you]. i hope when you grow up you get to experience working at a job that you love with people that support you like i have been able to do. 

the weather here has been awesome. this has been a very strange "winter" because we haven't really had winter. i hope that this hangs on so that when you come we can sit on the front porch and rock, and so we can fit in a lot of nice walks together. 

are you going to miss being in there, little one? because i'm going to miss being connected to you. even though i've had some aches and pains along this journey, i have truly loved being the place for you to grow...from the very beginning...i have loved it.

we'll see each other soon. 
love, mom


Chicken Parm done right

Brent and I eat a lot of pasta and chicken, so when I stumbled across this recipe I knew it was for us immediately. I thought we'd like it...little did I know it would be the source of my daydreams. [Yes, it is that good]. I typically have all of these items on hand, which is what I think constitutes the making of a great dish. So without further adieu, here is a recipe that may just change your life if you let it: [and if you don't have acid reflux like my father...sorry Dad, but this one might be the death of ya!]: 

4-6 thin sliced chicken breasts
italian seasoning [I also like to throw in a bit o' garlic powder for good measure]
tomato sauce [I like to get a four cheese or garlic flavored one, but traditional sauce works fine too!]
1 lb. of pasta, any kind
mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Sauté your chicken on medium heat in olive oil.  As it browns, keep turning it and season both sides with italian seasoning and a bit o' garlic powder]. This is why it's good to use thin sliced breasts, because you can trust they are cooked through without cutting them up. 
For good measure while you're cooking the chicken, throw some green beans in a saucepan with a healthy plop of butter :)  Phone pic…sorry it is a bit grainy
Once cooked through, add the tomato sauce right over the chicken and let that simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or so.  Then add the mozzarella cheese, and the parm to the top of that and put the whole pan in the oven [umm...make sure your man is capable of this...I guess if it's not then pour it into a casserole dish or something that is].  
After I took it out of the oven…yum!

Broil it for 10 minutes or so till your cheese is golden brown.  serve over pasta [with a little extra cheese if you're like me!] 

Seriously delicious.
Yum. Yum. Yum.

And for good measure, here is a picture of one of LaLa's newest outfits thanks to a wonderful lady who has raised 5 girls :) Hilarious and awesome. She will wear this to prom when I go check out my girls' dresses and dates :) 


LaLa's nursery

Sidenote: My dad has begun calling the baby "LaLa" since we aren't sharing the name. It has kind of stuck around these parts, but please do not worry, that will appear no where on her birth certificate.

Also, if you haven't noticed, there is a WATERMELON on the fruit-ticker up there!! And 18 days!! When did that happen? I got all my sub plans completed and ready to go for March 26 on, but I don't know if LaLa is going to be patient and wait it out that long. My doctor said she thinks the baby is about 7 pounds [how she can tell just by grabbing around on my belly, I have no idea]. If that is the case, she is welcome to come at any time. I'm anxious to meet her and hold her and begin getting to know her personality, but I'm also totally okay with whatever is God's timing at this point. March 19th, March 28th, April 5th…whatever! As long as she is healthy, I can be patient.

And now…to her nursery.

This is what the room looked like when we purchased the home. Duck border [Sorry, Kelly, it was a little outdated], green carpet, wood trim.
This was the room after we had lived here for the summer. Yep. It was bedroom #3 and became my storage room.
And then I got my tail in gear. I painted the room last summer, knowing it would soon be a nursery for either a boy or girl and I chose a dark gray color [which my mom did NOT approve of at first…but I think she has come around].

When you first walk in:
So here we go to today...There are still a few small things I need to get done in here, but for the most part here is a tour of her room:
To the left when you walk in:
I'm so proud of Kali, who got her crafting on and made the awesome pendant banner you see here. This crib was Kali's, and mine, and some of my cousins eventually. My Grandpa stripped it and refinished it and I love it. [Yes, it has drop sides!!! Don't worry, I think she'll be alright.] Above the crib to the left of the door will eventually be a canvas with her name on it, painted by the ever talented Micah [who has recently been busy doing other things like getting married].
Here are some close ups of the FABULOUS work my grandma did on the bedding. All I had to do was pick out fabric, give her a few "this-is-what-I'm-thinking" ideas, and viola! Out came this! She does awesome work, and I love the way the colors turned out together.

She had some extra fabric so she whipped up this cute pillow too, which will probably eventually migrate to the floor or chair area :). The bumper pad is also reversible.
One of my favorite things in the room are these paper lanterns. I think they add a lot of fun!
For those of you that don't know what "Pinterest" is, that's okay. I'm a little wishy-washy with my feelings about it; however, I did find this great idea on there. I modified it a little bit [the original ones I saw were made with scrap booking paper]. I took some of the extra fabric and modge-podged [Brent calls it "hodge-podge"] it onto the outlets in the room.

I'm quite pleased with the way they turned out and they actually add quite a bit to the room. I even covered the switch for the old baseboard heater in the room, which we thankfully don't have to use because we installed central heating now. But really, how cute?
Grandma also made these curtains, which are the reverse of the skirt on the crib. Super fun.
I love the polka dot cording detail at the top of them :)

I guess we can refer to this as the "play area" in the room? These shelves were originally black, which I thought would be okay, but then I got them into the space I just didn't like them. So Brent was a trooper and refinished them for me and now I like them…and Brent…so much better :)

These are vintage cards that my sister-in-law Beth gave me for Christmas. I just love the unique animals and drawings and wanted to do something with them. I strung them from twine and viola.

The final wall in the room. Again, Kali's creativity is displayed here with the pendant flags and I just love what they add to the room. Also there are a couple of fabric patterns she chose to incorporate that have a little pink in them, and I'm kind of glad there will be a little pink in this little lady's room. Brent and I put this dresser together which was quite the task, but I love how it turned out and it has a TON of drawer space [especially when the clothes I am filling it with are teeny tiny!] I will add the changing pad to the top soon. Grandma also is letting us use that super awesome, vintage lamp. Love it. Now moving on to a few of the other details...
This is the story of this chair: In college my roommate and I went garage sale-ing. We found two matching orange velvet chairs. We fell in love. They were super comfy and ten dollars a piece. They were also both in great shape. For the next three years the two orange chairs lived in harmony in our dorm, and later our apartment. And then we both go married and one chair went to Chicago, the other to Louisville. [Pictured in the far left is the orange chair in our sweet little one bedroom apartment in Louisville. Sigh. That was a good place].
We both knew we would never depart with the orange chair…seriously, best chair ever. Four years later, her chair is now in Wisconsin, mine is in Missouri. But the problem was, it was still orange. So my fabulous Aunt CeAnn who recovered a love seat for me also recovered my beloved orange chair [she too fell in love with it's comfort while working on it though and now says she misses having it around :)…I'm telling you…best chair ever]. And now it is like new, is washable, and I will get to rock my sweet baby girl here for years to come. [Fun fact: my roommate's chair is also rocking babies. And we have both sworn that if we ever are considering getting rid of the chair we will let the other know.]
I wanted something to fill the space above the chair, but didn't want anything too "nursery". So I had Brent go to the attic and find my bag of old mismatched frames I'd collected over the years. I painted them, hung up the flower hooks, and framed some pieces of fabric.

You may have noticed the giant space above the dresser/changing table. Don't worry. I made something to display her name that hangs there, but since we aren't revealing that until her debut, it is hidden for now.

I also painted these small canvases to go around where her name will be displayed. These are the FOUR TRAITS we have been praying for her. I used stickers and simply painted over the letters, then let the paint dry and peeled them off. I really like the way they turned out, and I'm glad I mismatched the upper and lower case together.

That is all for now. I think it will look much better in a few weeks when there is a baby in there. What do ya think?