"You are sunshine on a cloudy day!"

During our premarital counseling, my husband and I both took surveys in order to better understand our individual personalities. One of the things the profiles both said was that we were each like... "sunshine on a cloudy day." To this day we enjoy teasing each other about this funny little fact. :)

Sometimes we are sunshine...and sometimes we're not. But, we are soooo in love and are completely enjoying our journey in life together.

As we grow in love and in numbers, I invite you to follow our blog! It is bound to be a messy, silly, fun and exciting adventure. Sit back, grab a blanket, maybe even a cup of tea and get ready for a laugh or two. Welcome to our family! May God greatly bless you today!

Monday, February 28, 2011

And the reality is...

So, I was reading a very popular blog the other day called "Thrifty Decor Chick"...and oh how I love this blog! The gal uses her home as a canvas of sorts to show how it looked "before" and "after". It is incredible how this lady turns Goodwill finds into works of art... making her home look absolutely magazine worthy!

Well, as with many things in life, I like to take things and look at them from a different perspective...you know just to keep things interesting. So, this morning as I looked around my house I thought to myself, "Self,
you should use your home as a canvas too! Ha, ha!

So, today my blog is not about turning things from drab to fab, but rather what a REAL home looks like, what a REAL mom looks like and what the REALity is for 99% of us out there! (If you are the 1%...I'd love to meet you!). Nothing I'm about to share with you is magazine worthy.

Do I like to post the picture on my facebook that makes my home look clean... or the family picture where you cannot see my double chin? You bet I do. Do I scramble around and try to create an image of perfection when my family and friends come over to visit? Um, ye-ah. (The REALity of it all is that I vacuum just enough to make those fresh lines, I dust just enough so that people with allergies won't get sick, I stuff things in closets and drawers... and...I hate to say it, but even my toilets often have that funky ring of mold -or whatever it is- until guests come over...at which point, I quickly scrub those bad boys out so no one will want to vomit when they use my toilets!)

Why? Why do we have to project perfection. God never once said in his Word, "Thou shalt be perfect" and believe it or not He was NOT the one to coin the phrase "cleanliness is next to Godliness." Thank goodness!Because...as much as I'd like people to think I've got it all together...I don't (I think my admission of the toilet thing solidifies that)!

So, today I've used my home and myself as a sort of canvas. A canvas that portrays reality...a canvas that is funny and at least from my perspective...is in its own unique (and figurative) way... BEAUTIFUL (Well, again, minus the toilet thing I mentioned).

Enjoy taking a peek into my reality... I hope you find it encouraging.

Here we have the before and after photo of "Kendall With Her Coffee Pot". Yes, that is what we call true "bed head" and me with no make up people...and that is the reality. What a beautiful blessing it is to stay up late and wake up early with my beautiful baby - and the ability to make and drink my coffee. Can I get an AMEN?!

Next up is a picture of what I like to call "Garbage". The reality is... I do not have shoes on to take it out right now (not to mention that it is currently 25 degrees and snowing out!), so it will probably sit there until my cute hubby comes home. What a beautiful blessing it is to be married to a man who is the "trash master!"

In this unique - yet oh so intriguing - picture... we have "The laundry room". The reality is... this is what it looks like to be "almost caught up" on laundry (see...there is nothing in the washer - go me!!!) Ha! What a beautiful blessing it is to have clean clothes to wear...and multiple outfits for my baby to poop, pee and spit up on each day! :-)

This next picture is a classic. This is what we call, "The Unmade Bed!" Now, to some of you this may look like a big mess. Actually, it's not. The reality is...according to much research (from a source I cannot remember), an unmade bed is a "healthy bed"! Did you know that bacteria and germs grow much less rapidly if you DO NOT make your bed?! Yes, this is one of those random pieces of information I keep stored in my mind for a time such as this. (Side Note: My hubby likes to toss his t-shirt over the lamp to "set the mood"... you know...creating a more dimly lit atmosphere... frankly, it just makes me laugh thinking about it now!)

Okay, so this next picture is how I like my coffee. My husband likes to say, "How much coffee would you like with your  creamer?" To that I say, "There is nothing wrong with a little more dairy in my diet!" The reality is... I'll definitely be the one with stronger bones when I'm old. Mmmm...hmmmm.

Ah yes...this next picture is one of those that I'm sure you all can relate to... the "Chair as Hanger" picture. I don't know what it is about chairs, but they make the most convenient hangers - of all time. The reality is...when advertising chairs manufacturers should really emphasize the duality of these fantastic creations! What a beautiful blessing it is to own a chair upon which we can hang our coats.

Ah, now it's time to get personal. I had a baby (over 2 months ago now) and this next picture is the "I've finally bought bigger jeans admission" pic. Yes, the reality is... babies change your body and the saying, "9 months on 9 months off" is ringing ever so true for me. The beautiful blessing is that my baby was born healthy, chunky and very cute thanks to my substantial food intake during my pregnancy. :-) On the left are the jeans I'd like to wear again someday...on the right is my reality. It may not be completely obvious, but they are four sizes larger...yes indeed.

Alright, if it's one more you want, it's two more you'll get. Yes, the reality is, my hair is not done, I have dried sour milk on my shirt, and I have a very strong urge to go fix the things in the pictures I've shown you, but...the reality is...I plan to finish eating my burnt peanut-butter toast and my coffee (which I do realize contains way too much creamer)... and then go pick up my sweet sleeping baby boy and snuggle with him. I'll probably get a shower in by...oh, say 3pm.

Well, I hope you're encouraged today. It's okay not to have it all together, it's okay not to be perfect and it's okay to not pretend you are... it's okay to be real. And that is the reality of it.
God's greatest blessings to you today!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The First Big Moen Family Adventure…

The First Big Moen Family Adventure…

As I sit holding my precious son, now only one month after giving birth, I find it challenging to remember the more intricate details of my pregnancy…so before I totally forget I’m going to do my best to remember this incredible, challenging and miraculous adventure.

It all began with a strange pain in my side as I was moving a large futon with my husband about a day or so after I’d missed my period. I remember thinking to myself, wow that was quite the cramp! It was only two to three days later while I was working out at the gym during a cardio kick class when an internal voice said, “slow down!” I remember thinking at that point… “What if?” What if I was pregnant?

After arriving home, I took a home pregnancy test only to have it come out negative. After another week of having that “funny sparkly feeling” and no period, I couldn’t help but think the test could have been wrong.

Sure enough, it was.

After a week of pure curiosity and questioning, I took another pregnancy test after arriving home from work on a blustery April afternoon…and then I took another…and then another. After three positive tests, I couldn’t wait to talk to Jon. Jon had been asking for days if “anything interesting” had a happened yet (referring to my period). That day something surely had. That afternoon I gave him my usual call to see when he was planning on being home for dinner, but what he didn’t know was that I had a very special surprise for him! When he asked me his usual question I couldn’t help but simply giggle and through a gasp from him on the other end say to him, “We’re going to have a baby!”

Jon was overjoyed, and although a huge surprise, he admitted he had tears in his eyes and couldn’t be more excited.

Telling our families was quite the adventure in itself. With my family part of our announcement was planned the other part was not. After scheduling a girls’ night out with my mom and sister (who was pregnant as well!) the topic of babies and pregnancy naturally came up. And, of course, my sister asked, “So when are you and Jon hoping to get pregnant?” To that, I think I turned three shades of red and then finally she said, “Kendall, are you pregnant?!” I couldn’t lie, so to both my mom and sister’s surprise I said, “Yup!” With dropped jaws and excited chatter, they were the first to know we were expecting.

To make the announcement to both my dad and stepmom I found a #1 grandpa t-shirt and gave that to my dad for father’s day…at first I think my dad may have thought it was a cruel joke (as he is an older dad to my sweet much younger siblings), but then he said, “No…you guys aren’t joking with me are you?!” And with that, we announced that they were going to be grandparents!

With Jon’s family we did our best to wait until Mother’s day…it was tough, but made for a big fun surprise with all of his family. With a trip to the waterfront in Seattle, we took time to celebrate the moms in the Moen family. It was funny because Ruth and Gary had purchased cute shirts for Heather and Elizabeth (because they are moms) and Ruth even mentioned, “Now, it’ll be fun to get you something cute when you’re a mom too!” Little did she know the announcement that was coming! So, at the opportune time, we handed Ruth her Mother’s Day gift which was a small little plaque that said something about enjoying the little precious things in life with a verse. When she opened it, we announced that we had something little and precious to share! We then announced we were pregnant! With some more dropped jaws, everyone quickly squealed with excitement. It made for a very special Mother’s Day for sure!

After months of naps and a somewhat exhausting end to the school year (teaching eighth and 9th grade science), I looked forward to summer when I could relax and take time to prepare for our new baby.

Summer was hot, but wonderful (thank the Lord for air conditioning!). I spent a lot of time sleeping, researching baby things and preparing for Baby Moen’s arrival.

August 6, 2010, we headed to our official ultrasound appointment to make sure Baby Moen was growing well…and to find out whether Baby Moen would be a “Micah Moen” or a “Grace Moen!” Jon was convinced that it was a “Micah,” while I remained unsure. After a cute little rear end shot with the camera I recognized we were having a “Micah” right away asking the ultrasound tech, “Is that what I think it is? Are we having a boy?” To which she said, “You sure are!” We were both thrilled…and… Jon was right all along (he loves hearing me say that)!

Mid August, we decided to have a weekend away in Port Angeles in order to have a mini “babymoon” of sorts. After a long drive and a lot of walking I noticed cramping in my abdomen, but really didn’t think too much of it. Unfortunately, the Braxton hicks continued…and continued… and continued.

With the start of school and a somewhat stressful fall, I continued to have false labor and continued contractions. By the beginning of November my body was starting to become strained and fatigued. November 9th I had extremely strong contractions and with some convincing from Jon we headed to the hospital. After stopping the contractions with medication we were sent home. Unfortunately, they came back again, and again. With another trip to the hospital two days later I was officially put on bed rest and never actually returned to work.

Unfortunately, after taking those trips to the hospital I became more and more stressed about giving birth. During my two trips to the hospital, I felt that things hadn’t been explained well to me and the medication that was given to me negatively affected both myself and baby Micah. Feeling out of control and having decisions made for me was my worst nightmare as a first time mom.

Thankfully, Jon and I had driven by a beautiful birth center on Lake Tapps called Lakeside Birth Center many times on our way into Bonney Lake from our home. Being only a mile up the road, I thought a lot about what it might be like to give birth in a homier and comfortable setting, but the “unknowns” made us unsure whether it would be a good option with our first child.

After many anxious days following my first and second hospital visits, I called up Lakeside Birth Center and spoke with Nancy Spencer (licensed midwife), her calm demeanor and professionalism could be felt even over the phone. I asked Jon if he’d be willing to go with me to meet with her to just explore our options. He agreed and we went to our appointment only days later.

Being so close to my due date (38 weeks), I had no idea what to expect or if I would even be able to birth at the center, but Jon and I both prayed before our appointment asking the Lord to give us peace and to make it clear if this was the right decision.

Upon meeting with Nancy, seeing the center and hearing her philosophy (safety first), we both agreed that this was how we wanted to have our first baby. I was so excited. The birth center was so beautiful, so serene and did I mention there was a HUGE deep bath tub to labor in while looking out over the lake? Pure serenity!

Instead of the anxiousness I’d once felt, I then felt a tremendous amount of excitement, peace, and comfort about giving birth to my first baby at Lakeside Birth Center. I knew we were doing the right thing and I felt at peace about our decision.

After meeting with Nancy only three times before giving birth, I felt very comfortable with her and looked forward to Micah’s birth day!

On December 29th, around 5am I woke with what I thought were VERY strong Braxton Hicks contractions, little did I know it was going to be Micah’s day to arrive! At around 7am Jon suggested that we call Nancy to see when we should go to see her. I anticipated a very long day ahead and was in no rush to leave the nice warm bath I ran for myself.

Nancy suggested we come in to see what kind of progress we were making. So, at around 8:30am we arrived at the birth center. Nancy happily announced that I had dilated to two centimeters and that “today might be the day!” She asked us if we’d be interested in stripping the membrane (fancy term for stretching out the cervix a bit) and so we went ahead.

Being first-timers Jon and I weren’t sure what to expect, but to our surprise Nancy said we could stay and watch a movie while laboring there or go home and be comfortable for a few hours since we only live a mile or so down the road. We opted to head home.

While home, we watched as many “Chuck” episodes (our favorite spy show) as I could and then headed back to the birth center around 2pm. After arriving, Nancy gave me some fluids via an IV drip and I labored through my contractions while playing a somewhat disjointed game of Scrabble. Ha!

Between Scrabble moves, Jon and I took a little time to ponder the wild and awesome adventure in which we were about to embark. We stood for a few moments looking out over the lake at what seemed to look like the fingers of heaven streaming down in several sun beams peaking through the clouds. Amazingly enough, there was even snow softly falling, gently hitting the lake at the same time. It was the most peaceful and serene scene I’ve ever witnessed. A perfect day for our amazing little boy to arrive.

After an hour, Nancy suggested we have another check to see the progress and then asked us if we’d like to go ahead and break the water. She mentioned this would be the point of “no return.” I was definitely game as I was very interested in having the contractions end sooner than later.

Nancy promised me that I could labor in the tub an hour after she had broken the water (as she didn’t want labor to slow by getting into the tub too fast). I was very much looking forward to that HUGE gorgeous tub. Fortunately and unfortunately, it seemed like I had to get out of the tub just as soon as I got in!

The contractions seemed to be one right on top of the other and at one point I’m pretty sure I pulled Jon’s entire arm into the tub with me. Thankfully, he didn’t mind and was an incredible support. My sister was also there holding my other hand. Although in a great state of concentration, and to be frank, extreme discomfort, I knew exactly where they both were the entire time and know realize I could not have done it without their love and support for both me and one another. It was intense and miraculous!

So, what seemed like a few minutes in the tub, Nancy suggested I get out as she could tell my moaning and groaning was sounding more and more like I needed to push. I agreed and with a very amazing team (Jon, Courtney and Nancy) they somehow managed to get me out, dry me off and walk me (what seemed to be a thousand miles) to the bed where only minutes later Micah would make his grand entrance.

With only six or seven pushes, a bit of oxygen and some broken blood vessels in my face, our beautiful little boy made his way out into his daddy’s hands. Yes, Jon caught Micah and placed him on my chest and then was given the opportunity to cut the cord.

Family was only minutes away, and helped us welcome Micah about 30 minutes after his birth. No one anticipated how quickly everything would happen, but it was a perfect day and I’m so thankful for a swift labor and delivery. All in all, I was in intense labor from 11am to 5:30pm. So, although it may seem I was “lucky,” I know it was what it was because of my support team and the incredible comfort I had feeling in full control, birthing in such a serene environment with such a knowledgeable and caring midwife.

I also know that I was being lifted up in prayer by so many friends and family members. I know the Lord was there that day and was protecting our family. What a truly blessed and incredible adventure this was…and will continue to be.

Will there be a next time if given the opportunity you might ask?... YOU BET!

“I will never leave you nor forsake you,” says the Lord. Hebrews 13:5