Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Updates and Such

I feel like I haven't kept great track of all our happenings lately, so this is going to be one big smorgasbord of our life recently. I know one day I'll want to look back and remember it all.

Shortly after Christmas, I posted this on instagram- all the the sweet things we've gotten or been given for baby boy. I admit I went a little nuts on ebay...and maaaaaybe a few other online boutique stores after we learned we were expecting a him and not a her. This will be my last baby boy forever and he will be the best dressed boy on the planet.

At 28 weeks, I officially made it to the THIRD TRIMESTER! Still battling morning sickness a bit, but what can you do? I'm trying to savor it all regardless.
Side view. Large, in charge, quite the barge. Sigh.

Someone's just a tad excited about all this. She won't be my baby anymore.

Just yesterday, nesting mode hit me FULL-ON so this drawer doesn't look like this today. I washed all the light-colored clothes and blankets and burp cloths, and swooned over each single thing as I folded it back up. Smells so good! I can't believe in two months there will be a baby inside these clothes!

Wow, those blue eyes! Each of the boys has different colored eyes- Ethan's are grey-blue, Jonah's are pure hazel with flecks of gold, and Caleb's are dreamy bright blues. I wonder what this guy's eyes will be like! This was actually a horrific day- our beloved Odyssey had been spending too much time in the garage, and costing us too much money, so we made the decision to trade her in. It was really tough because we don't want to get caught up in the idea of "bigger and better," and we wanted to keep our van until the very end. Well I guess the very end came sooner than we'd hoped.

Also, an hour before this photo, I'd been strapped up to monitors at the doctor's office because it had been so long since I'd felt movement. So scary! Hot tears just poured down my cheeks as the nurse tried to find a heartbeat, and finally, she did. I just bawled and bawled in sheer relief, and everyone in the office was so sweet. They had me stay a while after hooking me up to some other monitor, just to be sure. Everything looked perfect. Of course he chose that very moment to resume his usual Olympic movements.

And then, Bill informed me that a co-worker's daughter had lost her four-year long battle with cancer the evening before. She was nineteen years old, their only child. I can't imagine their grief. Needless to say, this was the most emotional car-buying experience of my life.

He's going to be so mad at me for posting these! But hey, when you play with Mom's phone, that's the risk you take, ha. Oldest and youngest...for now. These two have such a special relationship. I love it!

Sunday best.

Jonah had an eye appointment before school, so of course we just had to eat breakfast out. Isn't that what early morning appointments are code for? Excuse my major hat head.

I've been a sewing fanatic these days. Here's Isabelle sporting one of her new fleece hats. So cute!

30 weeks!!!

I'm 31 weeks now, and I'm feeling it. I keep falling asleep on the couch, or in the middle of doing something, I get so exhausted I have to go lay down. The worst is only being able to run errands at one store at a time. I can't handle multiple destinations anymore. And groceries are the worst! I need a nap after making it through shopping and then having to put all the stuff away. Not much longer now, though... eek!

I have a different instagram if you want to follow along there- I post some of these snippets and lots of other things that don't seem to make it to the blog. My username is bethanylivs_life

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter Campfire Birthday Party for Our New Teen

I think I just grimaced a bit when I wrote that title. How can my little boy be a teenager?!? I'm probably not more of a wreck about it because of this new baby boy coming so soon. And he better not grow up this fast!

We had originally invited some old and new friends to come over for pizza and then to see the Star Wars movie, but first we had a snowstorm, and then half his pals couldn't come on the date we'd rescheduled for. And then I blinked and it was halfway through January. I'm not sure when the idea for a campfire party entered my mind, but it ended up being so fun and SO easy to put together.

Since Caleb is past the age of cutesy decorations, I opted to keep things very simple. Balloons, a bright blue tablecloth, and some things for the party spread out on the table. At first I wasn't sure what to put the S'mores stuff in, but then I got the idea to put the candy in the iron skillet. I really liked how that looked. The tin pans were perfect for the marshmallows and graham crackers, plus they made a great caddy to bring everything outside later on.

I always keep extra sparklers on hand from the summer months. Good thing, ha!

We hung the glowsticks around the fence out back to have a little colorful illumination, but they were kind of a flop. They didn't glow very brightly, and we thought they'd died by the end of the night...until I was up at 1 am and saw these cute little lights glowing in the yard. Weird! Maybe the brightness of the campfire made them appear duller?

Roasting marshmallows and making S'mores was a big hit. If the wind had picked up, we were going to send everyone downstairs to the rec room with popcorn and a movie, so I'm glad the weather cooperated because this was much more fun. (And messy! Those huge campfire marshmallows are no joke. We all had gooey fluff dripping down our wrists and off our chins by the end!)

Little sister had lots of fun, too.

That look says it all. Fire, friends, and yummy food. Everything a thirteen year old boy needs.  =)

Afterwards, Ethan impressed them with some physics experiments he'd done back in the fall. They were mesmerized and super excited all at the same time. It does look pretty cool! 

I almost felt guilty about how little effort this party took to put together. Since we'd celebrated Caleb's actual birthday with family in December, I bought an ice cream cake for this party, another time -and sanity!-saver. Caleb has told us over and over again how much fun he had (and has thanked us continually...awww...), and that's the only thing that matters to me. I wanted him to feel celebrated, and in a slightly more mature way than in the past now that he's older, and he did!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Gender Reveal: How We Told Our Family

I'm still pinching myself that in just a couple of months, we will have a new baby boy. A brand new baby boy!!!

We had our big ultrasound back in November, and honestly, I was a little surprised. Kinda. I'd had three very specific dreams about having a girl baby, so I'd begun to think that maybe... but really, I didn't have any idea, and all I cared about was that he or she was growing well and healthy and strong. The year prior to this was one filled with loss and grief- sorry I can't share more right now- and to see that tiny baby wriggling about on the monitor and to see that strong little heartbeat flashing at a solid 170 beats per minute just filled me with such joy and relief. I'll never forget that feeling as long as I live. I never quite understood when people referred to things as "such a gift from God," although I'm not sure why. Maybe because in my mind, I feel like we are ultimately more responsible for the things that happen in our lives than He is, and I know in my head that simply isn't true. Now I know it in my heart as well.

This baby is the sweetest, most precious gift from the Lord. He didn't have to bless us with this child, and I would still love and trust Him if He hadn't, hard as that can be sometimes. I feel like a broken record in a way- the best way, I hope!- but I cannot stop thanking God and am completely overwhelmed with gratitude.

Prior to finding out the gender, I'd begun to wonder how all of this would affect our Isabelle. Since she is our only daughter, and only child I have not given birth to, might she feel displaced somehow? Not quite as important? Cherished? These were all thoughts that swirled around my mind in between bouts of insomnia and morning (all day/evening) sickness. Ultimately we decided that we will leave our future in God's hands. We still grieve over orphans in the world, and if He leads us toward another adoption, then we will trust and obey. Just like that old song. ;) Simple yet so profound. Plus, I like to think that it would be so special to adopt another little girl one day, for Isabelle to have that bond with her sister.

So with all this in mind, my husband and I decided to keep it a special little secret between the two of us for a few weeks. We'd often find ourselves giggling about it, or giving The Look when the other of us almost slipped and revealed something in conversation with somebody. Those weeks were very sweet for us.

Of course, we had to do a little fibbing since our children and other family members knew about the big ultrasound. Our story was that baby was so incredibly active- true!!- that we just couldn't tell and would have to wait until the next ultrasound. And as Ferris Bueller would say, They bought it. Not that we condone lying or anything...

When we sensed that the time was right, I knew I wanted to tell Isabelle in a special way. She told everyone under the sun how she longed for a baby sister, and I wanted to be as sensitive to that as possible. Of course I knew that she would love and adore a baby brother just as much, but it was all a little different from her point of view. God was so good to us by way of arranging the boys to be gifted hockey tickets for Friday night, which meant that I could take full advantage of Mommy-Daughter time. I took her out for dinner at a small Italian restaurant in town and told her what a wonderful big sister she will be...and then I told her that I actually had some important news, and it was okay if she felt disappointed at first, and that we were going to go shopping for something special for her and brother. She had guessed before I'd even finished my speech, smart cookie, and I'd been rambling on and on by that point because I was nervous and wanted to say just the right things (much like I'm rambling here, ha). Then I told her that nobody else except Daddy knew the secret, and she loved that!

I mentioned some ideas about how to tell the boys the next day, and Isabelle opted for the cake route. So after shopping and staying out waaaaay later than her bedtime, we whipped up a packaged golden cake when we got home. I panicked when I couldn't find the food coloring gels, as we'd already packed up half the house by that point, but I found a couple of old ones in the back of an upper cabinet. And there was blue! Phew.

I wondered how Isabelle would handle the big secret on Saturday, especially when she kept asking if the boys could have cake for breakfast. Ha Ha But she made it till later that evening, and then I gave each one a knife with the instructions to gently slice (yeah, right) into the cake to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. All three looked at me like, HUH? What in the world? Clearly my adolescent sons don't spend as much time scouring Pinterest as I do. But they quickly figured it out when spots of blue cake began to appear, and they were super excited. It was really quite sweet.

 So much for my Pinterest-worthy photo of the gender reveal cake! Our boys ripped into that poor cake with utter abandon, and the moment was absolutely priceless. I'll never forget it, nice photo or not. ;)

All six of us held onto our secret for the next several days, and then right before Thanksgiving, we visited with each of our parents to tell them. I had put one of the outfits Isabelle and I bought, along with the cutest pair of argyle socks- yes, I have a serious thing for baby boys and argyle!- into a gift bag and handed the bag to our Moms. My mother-in-law was so cute. She started squealing and jumping up and down, saying how excited she was to have a new grandson after all these years.

The one thing I had wanted to do so badly was to get a picture taken of Isabelle holding onto a pale blue balloon standing next to me, or maybe up ahead of me. I can totally picture it in my mind, and it was going to look fabulous. ;) Sadly, the weather this fall/early winter was completely uncooperative, and my morning sickness came back with a vengeance for a few straight weeks, and the picture never happened. Maybe we can try again in a few weeks.

We entertained the idea of not telling anybody outside of the family, but that just feels like way too much pressure. Plus, I just love talking about him, so I knew I could never pull that one off. We are going to keep his name a secret, but really that's no big feat, considering that we rarely even settle on a name before labor begins, ha!

And just so I remember all these details, he has started to move and respond to my touch. He'll either kick or push back at my hand a few times, and rubbing my belly seems to make him very happy and calm. Mostly he is a night owl to the extreme, something I'm praying will ease up juuuuust a bit, but even when I'm exhausted and lying there wide awake with him, I don't even care about sleeping. The reassurance of his wriggly little and not-so-little movements is so much more important. I can't help but lay there in the dark with the most grateful heart and the biggest smile on my face. Oh how I love this baby.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

One Month House Anniversary

Today marks one month of living in our new home! I thought that was worthy of a little celebration, which included everyone's favorites...Whoopie Pies.  =)

Somehow, though, the cookie pies came out flat as pancakes. Just pitiful looking! I have no idea, but I didn't let it rain on my parade. And wouldn't you know, the last sheet of them came out looking great, so three people had lovely looking Whoopie Pies, ha. When I was assembling them, one accidentally fell in my mouth, and it didn't matter that it was sad and flat, it tasted so good!

You know I dislike posts without any pictures, so here's an old one (because I can't be bothered to upload from my phone right now). I'll link to the recipe HERE also- flat or not, they are yummy!

Tonight at dinner we prayed that God would bless this house as well as the people who live here and who will come to visit. We want this to be a place of encouragement, integrity, and FUN. Christians were never called to live a life void of fun. We have more reasons to celebrate than anybody else!

Friday, January 8, 2016


I've always enjoyed doing laundry. Bubbles, clean scents, warm clothes, and in the warm months, hanging things out on the line in the fresh air and sunshine. Ahh. The putting away of said that's another story.

In our last house, the washer and dryer were located in the coldest, darkest part of the basement. Had we stayed for another year or more, we had big plans to move them over to the lighter side. But we moved, and in this house, the laundry area is tucked inside the breezeway/informal entry, right beside the kitchen. I'm so in love. It's just a large closet more than an actual room, but after having trudged down two flights of stairs to the dungeon for three years, this just makes my heart go pitter patter.

We still have a few boxes left to be unpacked, but for the most part, I know what I wanted on the shelves above the washer and dryer. And I didn't want everything to be totally utilitarian, either. Practical? Yes. But pleasing to the eyes as well. Oh! And I didn't want to purchase anything new (although we will need a hook-rack-thing for the things with handles).

My one rule for this tidying up project: no more than two items must be moved in order to get to something else. I tend to over-pack the shelves and it gets so annoying having to move thirty other things out of the way in order to get to the flashlight in the back.

Not sure why this looks so dark, but it makes for a much more dramatic BEFORE picture  =)

Using up baskets and boxes I already had...and adding some touches of whimsy as well. My homemade laundry detergent is in the ceramic jar in the basket, and I cut dryer sheets in half and store them in the smaller jar on the left.

I never would've thought of storing scissors and pens, etc on the laundry shelves, but it just works. And it frees up counter space, too! Sometimes you just gotta think outside the box I guess.

These two prints were wedding gifts that hung in our old kitchen, but they didn't quite fit in with this new kitchen. I LOVE my kitchen....can't wait to share pics! I adore them on the wall here. They make me smile every single time I see them.

Here is an older post I wrote with some of my best Laundry Tips if you'd like to read it.

I just's FRIDAY! Have a great weekend!