the one about hope

I am sad to say that I had to take a week off of my Project 365. Unforeseen circumstances caused me to not be near my camera for a few days, and I didn't have the energy to lift it for the remainder of the week.

Last Monday, following a routine appointment with my doctor, I found myself admitted to the hospital for preterm labor. My little guy decided to scare us all with contractions that wouldn't stop, so we had to take action. Two steroid injections for his lung development, a few liters of IV fluids, 48 hours on a magnesium drip (which forced me to be in the bed the entire time), lots of antibiotics, and an additional 12 hours for observation later....and I was released to go home (and still pregnant, thank God). I was so thankful to have not given birth at 32 weeks pregnant. That felt like a very real outcome on Monday night, so I feel like I got a second chance to grow this baby.

Since coming home, I have had a difficult time with my energy level. As it turns out, being in a hospital bed for nearly 3 days and eating very little food will make you very weak, tired, lethargic, and exhausted by any little thing. I have really been trying to lay down as much as possible while still attempting to get up every now and then so I don't continue to lose stamina...but both situations have proved to be challenging. Laying down with small children to care for is not very realistic, and getting up and moving when my body wants to just be at rest has been burdensome. It is not like me to "lay low." I don't enjoy it and love being productive, but I am determined to keep this baby in for another few weeks (37 is the magic number). I will do whatever it takes.

While I was in the hospital, I had a lot of time to think. This is a luxury I do not typically have. Many days, it is not until the girls go to bed that I can be alone with my thoughts, and by that time, my brain might as well be mush anyway. As I was listening to the little one on the fetal monitor for hours on end, I actually asked myself, "Why do we as women put ourselves through such misery to have babies?" You can tell what my mindset was at that time. I may have been feeling just a little sorry for myself.

I got caught up in thinking about the fact that we had some scares with Shiloh's pregnancy, and maybe I was a fool to take this on again. Maybe I should have known that we would have similar complications and that I could potentially risk the life of my unborn baby. This pregnancy, though I was hopeful would be different, has had all the bells and whistles that Shiloh's did and then some. We have done cervical length ultrasounds for months now. We have done progesterone injections weekly. We have done daily medications for contractions. I am now insulin-dependent with my gestational diabetes. With the recent hospital stay, I don't even want to think about how high the medical bills are going to be...and that's before the baby actually arrives.

Why? Why did we take this on?

We have three beautiful, smart, fun, healthy, wild, strong, and energetic girls. Could have stopped there, but we didn't. We wanted this baby. We wanted this challenge. We wanted this journey. But the fear and the worry and the uncertainty of last Monday night caused me to question everything.

In prayer and in solitude, I kept asking this question and the answer hit me hard today. The answer, to me, is hope. We took on the responsibility of bringing another child into the world, regardless of how difficult and arduous the journey, because of hope.

Hope for the future. Hope for change. Hope for more goodness. Hope for this world.

Each day, we see such terrible headlines in the news. It has become painful to watch and read. If I think too much about it, I get scared. I become leery. I tell myself that this world is evil, and that I just don't understand the point anymore.

But when I think about this baby...the very one that is kicking and punching me and hiccuping all the time inside of my body...I have hope. I have hope that he will be good. I have hope that he will be kind. I have hope that he will be strong enough to shoulder the burdens and temptations and challenges that he will undoubtedly face as he goes through life.

This little boy may be the change we wish to see in the world, and for that, I have hope.

This is why children are so incredible. Their lives have only just begun. Their stories are in the early chapters, and we have no idea how their books will end. My children, all children, give me hope...and that is reason enough to go through a physically and emotionally challenging pregnancy punctuated by expensive treatments and care.

I have had a different boy's name picked out for each pregnancy. With our first, we waited to be surprised at birth so if Noelle would have been a boy, her name would have been Max. I have never gone back to Max for any other pregnancy. For me, it felt like that name belonged to that pregnancy and I couldn't "use it" again. For the first half or so of this pregnancy, I thought we were going to name him one name -- until it hit me one day a few months ago that this baby's name was Leo.

I couldn't explain it. I didn't know why. There wasn't any rhyme or reason to it. I just liked it. It's not a family name. It's not short for anything. I hadn't even really heard it anywhere else. It just felt right. I tried to continue calling him the name we had originally planned, but he just seemed like a Leo.

And now, after what we went through last week and what we still have yet to face, it feels like Leo, which is Latin for lion, is the perfect name. I don't know if he is the fierce one or if I am inspired to be fierce for him, but knowing his name has such a brave and powerful connotation gives me great peace.

Brave, fierce, strong, and tenacious might be how I describe a lion, but the name Leo also seems soft, warm, and gentle. It is a common name for popes, saints, and priests, and this little guy has done nothing but fortify my faith by the day.

I think my favorite thing about the name Leo is that he and I are forever connected in the stars. My zodiac sign is Cancer, and the one right next to Cancer is Leo. I love the symbolism that he is right there next to me even in the biggest, darkest, most uncertain sky.

A few weeks ago, my friend, Kira, met me at our new property to take some maternity photos...just by myself. I wanted to be able to remember the bright spots of this pregnancy and not the times when I felt like I couldn't take one more pill or go in for one more ultrasound or check my blood sugar one more time or stand one more needle in my body. I wanted to just be alone with Leo and thank him for the opportunity to be his mama. She captured what I wanted perfectly, and I am so thankful that I have these to remind me of the miracle of life and the true power of hope.

project 365-2017; days 99-105

We have crossed the 100 day mark in this photo project. There are times when it feels like a very difficult task to pick up my camera and find something to photograph. Maybe I am tired. Maybe it hasn't been a great day. Maybe I am not inspired. But... I take the picture anyway.

This week brought us Easter preparations mixed with daily randomness. We enjoyed dying Easter eggs in addition to visiting our property to snip daffodils put in vases...incredibly small moments smushed together to represent a week in the life of a mama with three very precocious girls.


Noelle had a turn with the yardwork, so these little ones needed a turn, too.


"HEYYYYY!" Shiloh wasn't impressed that her Jenga blocks fell over so easily.


Mismatched outfits and a veggie straw sword fight. Sounds about right. 


The daffodils on our new property have hit their fullest potential this week, so we have enjoyed snipping a few to enjoy in our home. I snapped this of Noelle and now can't stop staring it. She is just so beautiful. Her blue eyes, freckly skin, and curly hair make her a classic beauty. You also have to love the toothless smile.


Noelle's class at school put on a play about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Here Noelle is reading the second station of the cross as Jesus stands behind her. It was a really powerful presentation, and I am so thankful that Noelle understands the actual reason for celebrating Easter.


The girls enjoyed dying their Easter eggs. Always a tedious process, so I am thankful we could be outside for this messy tradition.


It hit 85 degrees over the weekend, so the girls were anxious to have some water play time. I unearthed the water table from behind the tool shed. I was a little afraid to pull it out as I didn't know what creatures were living in the murky water that settled in the table...but I was brave and scrubbed it clean. 

Bonus Photos:

Here are a few more from our daffodil adventures this week...


The one about the tree house: it's taking shape

I haven't done a Tree HousE update in a little while, but work is being completed daily at the property. It also seems like Luke and I are making some sort of decision regarding the materials of the house each and every day as well.

Since our last update, we ordered hardwood floors for the main level of the house. We took advantage of a good sale from Lumber Liquidators. We went back and forth on whether or not to use hardwood, engineered wood, or laminate, but we decided that we wanted the real thing for the longevity factor. We know our family will be hard on our floors, so the fact that we can sand them down and refinish them over the next 40-50 years is appealing.

After going to the store and looking at dozens of different types and colors of wood, we picked a 3.25" wide maple floor made by Bellawood. We are really excited to see what it will look like in our great room, fireplace room, and hallway.

We also ordered our front door! Luke and I go to Lowe's and/or Menard's weekly (sometimes more than once per week) and just walk the aisles. We happened to be in Lowe's a few weeks ago and saw that their entry doors were on sale. They carried a brand we had our eye on, the Pulse line from Therma Tru, so we were excited to learn that a door that was going to cost quite a bit of money elsewhere was on sale. You can buy an entry door for a couple hundred dollars, but of course the one we just had to have was the most expensive (as in 4-5 times as expensive as your standard entry door). However, we reasoned that we had worked too hard to make sure this house was the modern vision we had in our head, so we decided that a modern front door was really important. It will be a focal point of the home for people who drive by and for anyone who enters, so we wanted it to be exactly what we had in mind. Hopefully, this will be the first, last, and only front door we have to buy for this house and that the money will be a worthwhile investment.

This is basically what it will look like, except there will be two sidelights instead of just one. We might paint it bright never know.

Luke met with the person who will be helping us order our windows this week to begin finalizing our order. This will be our most expensive purchase to date, and we don't want to screw it up! It is a tedious process...going through each and every room and verifying the size and shape of every window in the house... if we want the window to be fixed or if we want it to open...if we want the window to have grills or be plain glass...lots of decisions! Thankfully, Luke took on this responsibility. We decided to go with black windows on both the exterior and interior of the house to keep the modern look consistent. We also opted not to have any kind of grills (or dividers) in the glass so that we would have unobstructed views of our property.

As for the house itself, the I-joists (I think that is the name....) have gone in for the great room over the crawl space. The basement walls have been framed in, which is really exciting and creates actual shape to the rooms down there. It is fun to walk around actually see where furniture might go or how big the actual space will be. I am still giddy with excitement that there is a room in the basement called "The Mom Room" and it is entirely for my stuff. I can have my desk, my computer, my sewing machine, my beads, my craft supplies, my snacks, my wine... all of it will be there in a room that will have a door with a lock. I am so excited about this, and to see it framed in really gave me something to smile about.

The floor trusses will be delivered this week. These will go across the basement ceiling and allow the rest of the house to have a floor. Once these go in, it will really start to take shape. I am not sure, but I think walls on the main floor will be coming pretty soon, which I am super excited about. We will get our roof ordered shortly after, and then it will really be a house.

Many times throughout this process, I stop to think about how crazy it is that we are actually doing this. A year ago, we thought we were going in a completely different direction with a general contractor who promised us something he couldn't deliver. When we were told in August that he was no longer interested in this project, we were devastated. In fact, it ranks right up there in one of my top 5 disappointments in my life. I remember feeling like he had punched us right in the gut and that because of him, our dreams could no longer come true. Approximately 3 weeks before he quit the project, he told us that we could be moved into this house by in...right now. It was hard to accept that April would no longer be a reality for us, but here we are...making progress, each day getting closer to the only reality we ever cared about which was living on this beautiful property together with our babies. I know we will look back on the experience and be relieved that "the other guy" didn't receive a penny of our money nor one word of praise for this project.

Here are some photos from the last couple of weeks.

 We have had a pretty rainy Spring so far, which has been a little bit of a bummer. Here is the crawl space before it was finished (and dry).
 Beginning of basement framing.

Working on the crawl space.

 I-joists up over the great room crawl space. Luke is looking out over the basement.

Basement interior walls are framed in. Those beams show where the stairs going down to the basement will be.

 Luke standing in the crawl space in the great room.

project 365-2017; days 92-98

This week, the weather was absolutely crazy. We had rain, sun, wind, and even temperatures that could support snow flurries (although I don't think we actually got any). You have to love Indiana weather!

The girls are itching to get outside any chance they have, so we put them to work in our yard. Noelle loves riding her bike down our street while we watch. It is impressive how quickly she has gained the confidence to ride.

Other highlights of the week, not all necessarily pictured but highlights nonetheless, Shiloh had her first haircut (at the age of 2 1/2 years old), Charlotte used her last Pull-Up at bedtime (and stayed dry all night), and I spent the entire weekend organizing, purging, and cleaning in preparation for the baby's arrival. My nesting instinct is going crazy, and I know none of it "really matters," but it makes me feel better to at least be productive....even when my body is screaming at me to just lay down.

We are anxiously awaiting the day when our little guy can be in these daily photos -- but until then...


The girls found this old camera in a drawer and have been enjoying "taking pictures" around the house. Shiloh was taking a picture of me....or of her's debatable.


Charlotte has sworn off naps for quite some time now, so when she passes out on her own during the day, it is a pretty big deal. I think she is growing, because I have caught her napping on the couch couple times this week.


Charlotte picked "a scary show" on Netflix (it was Room on the Broom which is a cartoon adaptation of a children's book), and Shiloh was "skeered." 


 I took all three girls to get haircuts this week, but this was Shiloh's first cut! She sat perfectly still and did a great job! 


Luke has been a great "girl dad" for all these years, but I think he is counting the minutes until we add our sweet boy to the family. 


We put the girls to work spreading fertilizer this week. They were excited to help (and we were happy to let them).


We enjoyed a family dinner with Luke's family this weekend. The highlight for Charlotte was helping give her cousin, Magnolia, a bath in the sink. I think they both loved it!

project 365-2017; days 85-91

Holy smokes! I am almost to 100 days of this photo challenge. I am surprised that I have been able to keep up with it as life seems to get busier by the day. Subsequently, the busier we are, the lazier I feel (I don't know how that is possible, other than the fact that I am 30+ weeks pregnant with 3 other children who need me, so any free time I have involves a lot of lying down and watching the iPad).

I did have an innocent slip-up this week that I must confess. Luke was out of town for a few days, which means we all managed to function in a fog of chaos, Netflix, take-out food, and extreme exhaustion for this mama. I thought I had taken a photo each day this week, but when I was toggling back through them on my camera, I realized I missed a day in there when he was away.

Had I actually taken a photograph, it probably would have been of multiple unbathed children running around in just their underwear counting up all their new Happy Meal toys because they visited McDonald's 4 times in 3 days. Nothing worthy of preserving in a photograph for years to come, let me tell you.

So, I took two in one day to make up for it. I know, I know. Tell the Project 365 police that I cheated, but two years ago a misstep like this would have caused me to throw in the towel and quit completely. I didn't want to do that this year. I have come too far to give up now. Forgive me, will you?


Bedtimes without Papa are not anyone's favorite. I think was singing to Shiloh in this moment, but no one can do it like he does.


You would have thought the girls hit the lottery when I dug out two, new, unopened packages of markers for them to use. I seriously hate markers, but they seriously love this simple joy made for hours of fun for them. And can we just look at that grip? Way to go, Shiloh! :-) 


The light was right, and I just wanted to capture a couple of my favorite features of Charlotte's face. Her tooth gap is so amazing. With an identical gap on the top and bottom, she has the perfect little smile. And then a cleft chin that would make Clark Griswold jealous. She is so different and unique-looking. 


Papa returned from his trip, and the girls couldn't wait to "shoot hoops" with him. They look forward to it and enjoy it as much as he does. Shiloh had the perfect dunk with the perfect assist from Luke.


I caught Charlotte watching TV like this. I don't see how it would be comfortable at all, but she stayed like this for quite a while. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.


A rainy week meant we were happy to be outside in the sun and watching the clouds over the weekend. Noelle and Charlotte were pointing out the shapes, and Shiloh was in her own world looking in the opposite direction.


I give him the hardest time. I am not the best wife at all times. I have been a pregnant monster for several weeks. But he is so good to They love him more than anything and these moments remind me that I am so lucky.