Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas happenings and a tribute to a friend

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! We did. :) It was more fun this year, because Claire understood more of what was happening. I love having a child to celebrate Christmas with!

We had a busy weekend. Three evenings in a row, we had dinner with Quentin's family, including two brothers from out of town. Friday night (22nd) was at his brother Justin's house. We played some fun games and had a yummy dinner. We enjoyed meeting Claire's newest cousin, Ruthie, and Claire got to meet Doug for the first time.



Saturday (23rd) we hosted at our house. After an early dinner, we walked through McAdenville (aka Christmas Town), seeing the pretty lights and saying Merry Christmas to people in the cars driving through.





Sunday (Christmas Eve) we went to our church's Christmas Eve service in the morning, then went to Quentin's parents' house for dinner. We exchanged gifts after dinner, which was fun, and the kids acted out the story of Jesus' birth, which was pretty neat to watch. We stayed up too late, but it was worth it being with family. :)



Christmas morning, I made cinnamon rolls with breakfast. I thought it was funny that my mom and my sisters all made cinnamon rolls, too. Claire had fun opening her presents - a fun toy from my parents, and a new baby doll from us. We got some cool gifts, too. :) Then we hosted my family for dinner (we missed having Mom, Dad, and Ben there) and exchanging gifts. It went by too fast, like it usually does, but I'm thankful for the fun memories that were made.




Now on to something very sad, but also hopeful.
On Christmas night, a young man I knew passed away. I considered him my friend, even though we didn't hang out much. We grew up in the same church for years, knew a lot of the same people, went to a lot of the same events, and I even lived in the house nextdoor to him for almost two years.




Hunter was an incredible young man. He always treated everyone with respect and put others before himself, a true gentleman. He loved the Lord, which was evident through his joy - he always had a smile on his face, no matter what he was going through, because his hope was fully in God. Kind, gentle, humble, joyful, are all words that describe Hunter, a man who can never be replaced.

He truly left a legacy. I scroll down through Facebook, and all I see are posts about how amazing he was, how great a friend he was, how much he is already missed. His life touched so many, countless others, including my own. I can hardly believe he's actually gone.

I'm mourning with his family, grieving with them in their loss. It is sad that Hunter's last days here were full of sickness and pain. But I know that he is with his Savior in Heaven now, and for that I rejoice. He is no longer sick or in pain, he is whole and in the presence of Jesus. So I say, "Good-bye for now, until we meet again." 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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Claire had fun trick-or-treating with her cousins on Halloween. I had fun too. :) Here's a picture of her in the monkey costume we found at Goodwill.





Isn't she cute?

Last week, my family got to have dinner together for the first time in a while - everyone except Ben, who is still in boot camp recovering from shoulder surgery. We had a good time, but it would have been better if Ben was there.

This week I went grocery shopping at the new store, Lidl, for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of their products are less expensive than Aldi (which is where I normally shop). For example, a half gallon of milk was 93 cents at Lidl and $1.29 at Aldi, and a dozen eggs at Lidl are only 36 cents! I'll definitely be going back. :)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Many Blessings

So many happy/exciting things happened in the past 2.5 weeks!
  • Anna had her baby on the 10th - a boy! William is so cute, and Claire likes him already. :)
  • We found out another Whitaker cousin is due in March, so Claire will have 3 younger cousins by Springtime. 
  • Quentin had his 32nd birthday. Claire and I surprised him at his work during lunch break, which was very fun. :) I enjoyed meeting Quentin's co-workers, and they all loved Claire. 
  • Two Saturdays ago, we hiked at Crowder's Mountain, where Quentin and I met 4 years ago. It was fun reminiscing about that first day of seeing each other. 
  • This past weekend, I went on a retreat with the ladies from our church. We stayed at a beautiful house in Boone. I enjoyed getting to know some of the ladies better, and having extra time to focus on Jesus and what it means to find joy in Him. (the theme of the retreat was Fighting for Joy) It was hard leaving Claire (first time leaving her overnight), but Quentin did an amazing job of taking care of her while I was away. I'm so thankful that Claire has such a good daddy.
  • Christianne and Mika got engaged on Sunday! So very happy and excited for them! They've been dating for a few years, and it's clear that they belong together. :) 

Wow, all that in just 2.5 weeks. God has truly blessed us.
Here are a few pictures.

                                                            holding baby William

                                           the house we stayed in at the retreat

                                         the mountain view

                           we made s'mores and sang to Jesus around the fire in the evening.

Oh, yeah, I'm actually excited about Halloween this year. Quentin's nephew has a birthday on Nov. 1, but he's having his party a day early, and will include trick-or-treating. I bought a costume for Claire yesterday, and can't wait to take her around the neighborhood. She'll be so cute! I'll post again after, so I can share her cuteness. :)

Guess that's all for now. I'll also share more of what I learned at the retreat later.

Monday, August 7, 2017

One Year!

I've been so caught up in being a mom to Claire and a wife to Quentin that I haven't posted on this blog for a year. What? Crazy!

So much has happened, as you can imagine. Here are just a few highlights of the past year.

- We went on a crazy beach trip with my family, involving hurricane Matthew, flooded roads, hotel stays, and not much beach time. Still fun to be with everyone though. :)

- Mom and Dad moved up north the end of October. They are now a two-day drive away from all us kids, instead of 20 minutes. I miss them being here, but I'm glad that they are happy where they are. They love it up there!

- Quentin and I went to his grandma's house for Christmas 2016. It was my first Christmas apart from my family. While I did have a lot of fun with Quentin's family, it wasn't quite the same as being with mine. It helped that we got to drive east to my grandparents two days after Christmas, and spend some time with them as well as two of my aunts. They all loved getting to meet Claire. :) She was a great traveler too, hardly fussed at all in the car.

- We found out that Claire is getting a little cousin this Fall. Two, actually. One on each side of the family. We are so excited! My sister Anna's baby shower was this past weekend, and she's due the last day of September. Amanda Whitaker is expecting a baby girl on November 1. It will be fun to see how Claire interacts with her new cousins.

- My youngest brother, Ben, is currently in Marine Corp boot camp. Unfortunately, he dislocated his shoulder a few weeks ago, and is in medical trying to heal up. It's uncertain right now if he will be able to finish his training, but I really really hope that he can. Prayers for him are appreciated!

And, of course, Claire turned one year old in June. We had a party for her the Sunday after her birthday, with both sides of the family. It was fun having everyone together! We mostly just sat and talked, then sang to Claire and let her try a cupcake. She got messy, but had fun eating it. :)







Claire sleeps through the night now, which is very nice. She crawls around so fast, sometimes it's hard to keep up. She can walk while holding onto things, but not by herself yet. Her favorite word is "uh-oh", and she can also say MaMa, DaDa, Up, and Dat (that). It's so cute when she babbles incessantly like she's telling a story. :) Her favorite time of day is when Quentin comes home. I'll say "Daddy's home", and she immediately looks toward the door and smiles when he comes in. She loves her daddy.

Well, I guess that's all. I would really like to post more often. I'll try to make it happen.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

2 Months

Claire was born 2 months ago yesterday!

Isn't she the cutest? :-)
She has discovered her hands and is starting to grab things, like her dress in the picture. She can fit into 0-3 months clothes, and her newborn clothes barely fit now. Claire is becoming vocal - cooing and "ah"ing, which is so cute. She's also smiling a lot, especially at Quentin. When Claire hears Quentin's voice on the phone, she smiles. I think she'll be a daddy's girl.

It's been so fun watching Claire grow and learn in these first two months. But it's also been challenging to learn how to take care of her, particularly the first 3 weeks. For me, the postpartum recovery while learning to care for a newborn was the most difficult part of becoming a mom - yes even harder than labor and delivery. There were multiple times when all I wanted was for someone else to take the baby so I could have a break. I had never been more exhausted or emotionally unstable in my life.
But God was there with me and brought me through it. He blessed me far beyond what I deserved - friends and family provided meals so that I didn't cook any dinner for the entire first month! Quentin was a huge help and encouragement, super sweet and always there for me if I needed him.

Today I'm mostly back to normal, by God's grace. Claire is a great night sleeper. She usually only wakes up once during the night to nurse, around 2:00 or 3:00am. God is so kind.

We love you, Claire bear! :-)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Claire's Birth Story

Baby Claire is here! I've been wanting to post her story, but haven't had the chance. Here goes. (it's rather long)

Tuesday June 7, my estimated due date, came with much anticipation. Both Quentin and I were hoping that this was the day we'd get to meet our little one. Here's a picture of me on my due date.

Baby girl was very low in my pelvis. But that didn't stop me from running errands! I went to the grocery store, then to my appointment at the birthing center. After the midwife finished checking me (everything was good), we set up a 41 week appointment. She said, "You'll most likely not need this appointment. We just make it to break it." As I was leaving, I said, "Who knows, I might be back here tomorrow." I had no idea that would prove true.

As we went to bed on the night of the 7th, Quentin and I talked about how the baby would probably come on the weekend. We went to sleep around 9:30, and everything was normal.

June 7, 11:30pm - I woke up to a slightly painful cramp in my lower belly. I thought it might be a contraction, but I didn't want to get too excited. So I went back to sleep. 15 minutes later, I woke again to a more painful cramp. I started using my contraction timer app on my phone. I could tell when one was coming. My belly felt like it was tightening slowly, then the painful cramping came, then it slowly loosened.

I think I woke Quentin a little before midnight to tell him I was in labor. The contractions were coming 7 minutes apart, lasting for almost 1 minute each. I thought that was a little fast for early labor. As the pain got more intense, I had to get on my hands and knees in bed and sway my hips.

June 8, 2am - Contractions were coming 3 to 5 minutes apart, and I was finding it a bit harder to make it through each one. We called the birthing center around 2:45am, and the midwife asked if we wanted to come in. She gave us the option! I didn't know what we should do, 'cause I thought I'd be in labor for at least 6 more hours. But, Quentin helped me decide to go in at 4am.

June 8, 3:30am - As we were getting ready to leave for the birthing center, contractions were 1.5 to 2 minutes apart, and very intense. I thought, "If I have to do this for 6 more hours, there's no way I will make it." With the contraction right before we headed out the door, I actually said aloud, "I can't do this!" Quentin encouraged me by saying I could do it and, "You're doing a great job, sweetie." The car ride wasn't fun. I couldn't move like I had been to get through contractions. But, Quentin let me squeeze his hand, which did help. He was so sweet.

June 8, 4am - We got to the birthing center. Stephanie was the midwife who was there waiting for us. She had set up one of the birthing suites for us. The building was very quiet and inviting. I felt safe there, like it was a second home. The suite was dimly lit, which was nice. When we got into the room, Stephanie checked me and told me that I was fully dilated. I replied, "Really? Already?" (I had only been in labor for a little over 4.5 hours at this point) She confirmed it, and said she would call her birth assistant, Rebeca, to come help. 

Stephanie asked if I wanted to try for a waterbirth. I said yes, so she filled up the tub in the room. Rebeca arrived at some point before I got in the tub. Contractions were coming farther apart then, so I got a little break before the big finish. The warm water in the tub felt so good, it helped me relax more.

The pushing stage was the hardest for me. I was scared to push because I didn't want to tear, and I said this out loud. At 5:14am the water bag broke, and I kinda freaked out a bit, saying "Oh no! I tore!" Stephanie was quick to say, "No you didn't. That was your water." After that, contractions were stronger and so was the urge to push. I got on my knees and had my hands on the rim of the tub. Quentin, who was sitting outside the tub at my head, let me squeeze his hand. I squeezed so hard that he had to take his ring off. And I was very vocal at this point - moaning and yelling "Ow". I'm glad no one else could hear me.

Baby crowned at 5:25am, then she was born at 5:30am. She cried very briefly, then just looked around while Stephanie held her partly submerged in the water. After a few minutes, Rebeca helped me out of the tub and over to the bed, while Stephanie carried Claire still attached by the cord. Once I got into bed, Stephanie laid Claire on my chest and I got to look at her. I immediately fell in love, especially with her cute little nose. :)

I got some stitches, because I did end up tearing. It wasn't my perineum though, thankfully. The rest of the morning was a blur of getting to know Claire, having the midwife check on us, and sending text announcements out to family and friends. Claire was measured and weighed about 2 hours after she was born. 7 pounds even, and 19 1/4 inches. We were sent home at 11am, just 5.5 hours after birth. It was nice to come home so soon, and not have to stay for days.

Ok, here are some pictures!

 Claire's first minute of life outside the womb. (sorry it's upside down)



Claire, 2 days old. Cutie pie!


Her first dress. 
      

Our little family of 3. :)



Bonus tip for pregnant moms! Want to know how I had such a short labor? Well, it was all God's plan, but I think some of what I did while I was pregnant helped too.

1. I kept doing all the normal things I always did before I was pregnant. I didn't use pregnancy as an excuse to sit around and watch movies all day. Most days I was on my feet for the majority of the time, even in the last few days of pregnancy. Exercise is super helpful for a smooth labor!

2. During the last month of pregnancy, I drank raspberry leaf tea and ate dates every day. I drank at least one cup of tea a day, sometimes 2. And I ate 6 dates every day. I found these tips online, so I gave them a try and they worked!

   

Friday, June 3, 2016

4 Days Left

My estimated due date is only 4 days away. What? Crazy how close that is!

I'm doing well. A bit tired and uncomfortable, but that's normal when you're almost 40 weeks pregnant. :)
Dresses are my favorite thing right now. I just don't like anything touching my belly anymore. And dresses keep me cooler too. The weather has been in the 80's lately!
I've been having a few sporadic, very mild contractions/cramping the past couple days, which my midwife said is my body getting warmed up for birth. Exciting times!

Here's a silhouette of my growing belly.


On Monday, for Memorial Day, Quentin was off work. I love getting to spend the whole day with him! We went to the Botanical Gardens, where we saw a lot of pretty flowers and butterflies. And then we went to a mini golf course to play a few rounds. That was fun, 'cause I haven't played in a while. :) After that, we went out for dinner, then came home and watched a war movie. Long but fun day!
















Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Yesterday I celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mom. No, our baby hasn't been born yet. But I consider myself a mom already. :-) Here's me and my baby girl.

And, yes, we have decided on a name - Claire. She is due in one month! Hard to believe it's that close. We have a pack-n-play with a bassinet set up in our room, baby clothes size newborn to 3 months washed and put in her closet, and a few freezer meals ready. At my 35 week check-up, Claire was head down and had a good heartbeat. I hope she stays head down.
I'm feeling pretty good. I added beef to my diet because I found out I'm anemic. And I'm eating something with Vitamin C in it, whenever I eat something with iron in it (vitamin C helps you absorb iron). I was going to get a prescription iron supplement, but found out how much it costs and it is way too expensive. So, I'm trying to increase my iron naturally by eating more iron-rich foods.
Also I am prepping my body for an unmedicated labor. Eating dates and drinking Raspberry Leaf tea every day has been known to help make labor easier, so that's what I'm doing. The plan is to have Claire at a birthing center, which is really nice. I'm both excited and nervous about childbirth. It will be quite an adventure!

Ok, back to Mother's Day.
We went to the Daniel Stowe gardens with Quentin's parents. The flowers were pretty, but there were /so/ many people there. (all moms got free admission) We still had fun though. :-)


 


This is me and Andrea, my beautiful mother-in-law. She truly is my second mom. I enjoy spending time with her, she gives great advice, and she never fails to point me to Jesus and the gospel. I'm so thankful for how easily she has accepted me into her family and treats me as her own daughter. And I'm extremely grateful for the values and wisdom that she instilled in Quentin while she raised him. My husband is amazing because his mom did an amazing job of bringing him up in the Way he should go. I love you, Andrea!


(Yes, the following picture is edited. I thought it was a cool effect.)

Me and my gorgeous mom. Apart from Quentin, Mom is my favorite person to spend time with. She gives the best advice, is extremely generous, and always knows how to put a smile on my face. I could make a 100 page list of all the reasons I love Mom and am thankful for her. Here are just a few:
  • she homeschooled me from kindergarten to high school graduation. I loved being able to do school at home, since I could wear mostly whatever I wanted and got to spend more time with her and my siblings.  
  • she taught me to cook, bake, clean, sew, and all the other little things involved in taking care of a house and a husband. I really appreciate being able to learn from a stay-at-home mom all my life.
  • she was there for me, always willing to talk when I was having panic attacks. That was probably my least favorite phase of my life, but it definitely helped me knowing that I could call her whenever I needed her to talk through my anxiety.
  • she was and still is my advocate, always for me. She is genuinely excited for me when I share about something I'm excited about, and encourages me to "go for it" when I tell her about something new I want to try.
  • she loves me unconditionally, no matter how much I mess up or forget to show her my appreciation for her. I will only fully understand her love for me when my daughter is born. There is no love like a mother's love.
I love you so much, Mom!