Saturday, July 27, 2019

Goodbye, Twenties: A 30th Birthday Reflection

And then, just like that, my twenties were over. I am a naturally reflective person by nature, nostalgic to a fault. My heart warms at fond memories and my husband is always amazed by the minute details I can suddenly conjure from the past, so specific that I'm nearly back in those very moments. Last year I wrote a birthday reflection on year 28, looking specifically at the year and all the iced coffee, chiropractor visits, and running goals that it brought. But now I feel the almost weightier task of reflecting upon an entire decade. The twenties: a time of so much unknown, so many major life decisions, such huge life events. A time of figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and who you want to share all of your days with. At 19, thirty seemed so far away- so old, so mature. And then I blinked, and here I am, starting my age with a new digit, new dreams, and a new outlook on life.

I entered my twenties as a single sorority girl, YoungLife leader, and English Education student at Mizzou. I had my eyes set on graduating college, finding my first "big girl job", and hopefully finding a nice young boy who loved Jesus and would chase Him right alongside me. I was right in the middle of an incredible community of folks my same age- something I definitely took for granted, but didn't realize until I was an adult out in the work world struggling to find the same type of deep and equally reciprocated friendships. I often wrestled with the lack of dating interest from guys in my college circles, but I see now that the time alone as just me was a gift: a pause to figure out my faith, who I was, and where I wanted to go without depending on someone else.

Now, I leave my twenties as a nearly nine year teaching veteran, a wife of six years, a home owner of six years, and a mom of one sweet baby boy with another kiddo on the way. Along the way, I fell in love, got engaged, got married, traveled the world, learned a lot, changed a lot, bought a house, bought a car, grew a baby, birthed a baby, jumped into the working mom world, coached some kiddos, started a blog, worked some side hustles, and jumped into a really big dream I alluded to in my recent post The Edge Pieces. There have been many ups and downs along the way, but I truly believe that I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and that I wouldn't be here without the hills and valleys I climbed to get here. And I can't wait for what's next.

If I could say one thing to a 20 year old, it would be this: there is so much good ahead. You will find way more joy than you ever thought possible in the sweet snuggles of a snoring baby on your chest, a simple evening home laughing around pepperoni pizza, and the soft murmurs of intentional conversation with those who really "get you". When gray hairs start to appear and laugh lines suddenly show up, you'll be less worried about your appearance and more grateful for the joyful moments that you've seen each and every day you've aged. You'll care less about the "popular" crowd and scene and more about just carving out and protecting precious time blowing bubbles with your not-so-little boy or sharing prayer requests with your best girls over brownie sundaes. You will look back on your twenties and you honestly will. not. miss. them. Because (for the most part, Lord-willing) you're still young, still healthy, still have amazing parents who are healthy and even better grandparents, and there is much too much life ahead for you to look back with sadness, longing for what came before.

I'm realizing more and more that aging is a gift, and that many would love to be able to see their loved ones hit 30. It is a number, not a definition or quality of life. It does not mean that I have to become old and decrepit, and it certainly doesn't mean I have to fully "grow up", because I'm not sure I can ever sign up for that. Instead, it means that a new era lies ahead: one where I get to watch my babies grow up, both marvel and hurt as they gradually need me less, chase after my dreams fully and more capably, grow older and more deeply in love with my husband, and not worry one bit about what others think or what the world says I should or shouldn't do. Aging may mean that I should probably schedule an eye exam or hearing test, and the gray hairs are coming in hot these days, but hey, that’s part of life. There are so many perks that come along with it.

So cheers to you, 30. I think you're going to be the best decade yet, and I'm excited for all that lies ahead! I'm so thankful for the amazing friends and family who have loved me for all or part of my first thirty years, and I'm ready for the next thirty to really knock my socks off. Goodbye, twenties. Hello, thirties! Let's do this thing.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Baby K is on the Way (Again): Coming January 2020

Oh baby, it's time for another one!! #BabyKisontheway: again! Ever since the start of 2019, I've been excited and ready for another baby, and it looks like God had that in the plans for us as well. We are so blessed. It's been super hard to avoid sharing for a while, but I feel like shouting it from the rooftops today! We're having another baby, y'all!! If you're interested in the details on my due date, how I've been feeling, and how we told our family, as well as some adorable videos of Eli discussing his new sibling, then this post is for you!

How We Found Out

We got pregnant with Eli the very first month, so we really weren't sure what to expect this time around. I was comfortable with trying for another baby once Eli turned two, so basically during the month of February. I didn't get pregnant for the first three months, but then May rolled around and I was only a few days from expecting my period. I felt different than I had the previous months, even though I got sick from the KC water issues back in March and was kind of convinced I was pregnant then, even though I wasn't. Anyways, I woke up early to use the bathroom on Thursday, May 9th and decided to take a test. I almost threw it away shortly after, thinking it was negative, but something made me keep it (though I was half asleep). I got back up out of bed and looked again and thought I saw a really faint line. I just wasn't sure.

Both Aaron and I inspected it that morning, and I sent a photo to a close friend who told me she thought it was positive. I took another test the next morning, May 10th and had the same result: super faint, yet a line. At this point, I was so done not knowing. I didn't want to get too excited about a false positive or test defect, but I needed to know definitively either way. So I dropped Eli off a few minutes early at his daycare, and then stopped by Sunfresh to buy a "pregnant" or "not pregnant" test at 7:15 am. They were locked in a case and there was no one working the pharmacy, so I was out of luck- who knew!? Luckily, there is a CVS right next to the High School I teach at, so I went inside and bought the more pricey ClearBlue test so I would have some clarity. I literally took it in the faculty bathroom at my school, and there it was: I was pregnant! I had to put on a pretty good poker face right away for my kids and co-workers, especially since I didn't have my pregnancy "confirmation visit" until May 29th, which was almost the last day of school.

When I'm Due

My official due date is January 19th, 2020 (although I was measuring almost a week ahead at my 12 week appointment). This means that Eli will be not quite three years old when Baby K makes his or her arrival. I had wanted to wait a bit longer to have another kiddo, and we are really excited about this age gap. We're hopeful that Eli will be completely out of diapers by then, and we will also just slide him over to the other bedroom and keep our gender neutral nursery without buying another crib. I don't have near as many days saved up as I had when I went on leave with Eli, so we're still figuring out just how long we'll take off when the Baby comes, but most likely I will only have to go back to work for about a month before summer comes, so that will be a nice way to ease back into it. To be honest, I'm a little nervous about going back and being a working mom with two kiddos, but I know that God always equips those that He calls to things (plus I've got some amazing help with grandmas, family, friends, and Eli's sitter).

How We Told Our Family (and Some Friends)

Since we found out just two days before Mother's Day, we considered telling our families then (when they were all at a lunch at our house), but we decided to wait and tell them on another day. I was seeing my mom and Aaron's mom every week when they came to watch Eli, so I knew I wanted to tell our families soon, because I felt like I was hiding something. We also never tell anyone else until our families know, so this meant we were keeping it a secret from basically everyone. I've always had the approach that it was okay to tell family and super close friends earlier, because I was going to need their support anyways if something did go wrong. It sure was sweet secretly knowing I was a mama of TWO on Mother's Day!

If you're a video person, just click here and you can see several announcements in action (along with my very favorite videos of Eli talking about being a big brother). I'll give you a hint- he is convinced he's getting a certain type of sibling! He just kills me.

For those of you word folks:
We decided to tell my parents the following Friday night at dinner. I needed to get a stroller from them anyways, so I talked to my mom about meeting up to grab that, then just casually asked if they had dinner plans. I had bought a couple of "One Question a Day for Grandparents" journals back around Christmas time, and they had just been sitting in the basement until we needed them. I planned to write "Becoming a Big Brother: January 2020" on a sticky notes and tuck it onto the January 19th page for my mom to find- with the journal being a thank you gift for watching him this year. I bombed on filming their reaction, but we did get a video of my parents talking a little bit about it (see video above).

We thought about telling Aaron's family that same weekend, but it was his sister's college graduation so we didn't want to take that from her. Instead, we waited until the next weekend, Memorial Day weekend, to tell them while we were all on our trip to Branson together. We used the same strategy with Aaron's mom that we did with mine over a pizza lunch. We also told my brothers and my sister-in-law at a dinner at my parents' house. My sister in law is a labor and delivery nurse who had recently graduated and gotten a job. We wrote in the card that she was going to be an awesome nurse, it's just too bad she wouldn't be at North Kansas City in January 2020!

We also had a lot of fun telling friends and family here and there with memes and the help of a server, over meals and date nights, and on our extended family trip to Colorado when Eli wore his "Big Brother" shirt for the first time. I didn't get photos and videos of all of those moments, but they sure were sweet. A second baby isn't as much of a "shock" as the first, but we still felt like it was worth celebrating and trying to tell people in some fun ways!

How I'm Feeling

I'm at 13 weeks pregnant, and all in all, I've been feeling pretty great! Compared to when I was pregnant with Eli, the morning sickness hasn't been as bad! With him, I was throwing up multiple times a day when we were in Greece, but this time around I've probably gotten sick less than ten times total. I have felt fairly constantly nauseous, and been pretty dang tired. Thankfully, I didn't feel sick until the last couple of days of school. One day while we were potty training Eli, he went over and fake puked over his little potty because he had seen me do it. He also told me that "Daddy's working. Mommy's puking." You're not wrong, buddy! But thankfully, just like when I was pregnant with E, this has all been during the summer, so I've been able to take naps while Eli is napping and rest as much as I needed. I'm so grateful I wasn't having to do that while being at school all day and wrangling Eli in the evenings. Also, let's just say that they aren't kidding when they say that bumps show up way quicker the second time around than they do the first time! Some of it is bloating, but still. I'm already seeing differences in my body that I feel like took much longer the first time I ever grew a baby. And apparently, I love taking my unborn children on trips overseas, as Baby K just got home from a 9 day trip to Scotland and England. Bumpdates to come!

Where I'm Planning to Deliver

Baby K will be born at North Kansas City Hospital just like Eli was. I have an amazing doctor that I love in the women's center there who delivered Eli, which was an overall fantastic experience! (Read all about his birth story here!) I know the drill there and feel very confident in the labor and delivery and mom and baby teams there. Of course we have no idea what this labor and delivery will look like, especially since Eli was ten days early, but I've got a bit more experience this time around, so no childbirth classes or as much reading for me!

Are We Going to Find Out the Gender? Do We Want a Boy or Girl?

In case you didn't know, we didn't find out if Eli was a boy or girl, so it was a total surprise the day he was born. (Here are our reasons why if you're curious, or are considering waiting for a surprise too!) People have asked us if we're going to find out this time, and I don't think we are! We already have gender neutral stuff for those first few weeks. We LOVED having Aaron tell me it was a boy in the delivery room, and of course we really just wanted a healthy baby. We would love to have a girl, and Eli is convinced he's getting a baby sister, but we also think that having brothers would be super fun (and not disappointing)!! We have always talked about having three kids, so it's not necessarily out of the question to have another shot at a girl if we have a boy this time. We'll see what happens!

Aaron and I are so, so grateful for the chance to love on another precious life, and we feel so blessed and overjoyed that Eli will be a big brother. Growing our family has always been a dream of ours, and we just pray this baby will continue to grow healthy and strong and will love Jesus with all that they have! We already love this precious gift so much. Thanks for being a part of this adventure with us!