quincy august {a birth story}

Quincy (KWIN-see): A name that we found when Lionel was just a wee baby; we held this name – and the dream of another son – in our hearts. (French): estate of the fifth son.

August (AW-guhst): Our second son’s middle name was chosen to honor Jordan’s eldest ancestor, August Gillis, who immigrated to the United States from Belgium. (Latin): revered, exalted.

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Dear Sweet Quincy August,

The contractions started as our lips kissed your big brother’s cheeks, nose, lips, head, our little family’s nightly ritual of story books, songs and snuggles finished for the day. This was the second time this pregnancy that I felt those familiar little currents of tightness run through my belly – the first labor scare came at nearly 34 weeks, which was too soon for this mama, too soon for the doctors, and, thankfully, you decided, after two rounds of medication to stall my contractions, it was also too soon for you. Yet, just 2.5 weeks later, on a Wednesday night in mid-November, I grabbed a glass of ice water and tried to rest as I assured your Daddy that this round of regular contractions was just practice, just a warm-up exercise, like last time.

Because your first attempt at making your debut left me dilated two centimeters, the nurse’s voice on the phone that night was a bit more strained than I expected once I told her my symptoms – regular pains, seemingly coming one on top of the other, for an hour. “You need to be seen,” she said to me. We called your Grandma Patty to stay with our slumbering Lionel, and after brushing his cheeks with a few quick kisses, your Daddy and I left in a flurry for the hospital.

I remember your Daddy testing the validity of my contraction pain on the way to the hospital by offering to procure a variety of food items for me. Certainly, he remembered your brother’s birth, when I wasn’t permitted a single taste of “real” food for nearly 30 hours, and while his offers of pizza and ice cream and cake and red wine were laughable and adorable – two words that aptly describe your father – these favorite foods of mine did not seem even slightly appetizing to me. This, I’m sure, perked up your father’s sense of what, as we would shortly discover, you had in store for us that Wednesday night – well, rather, that Thursday morning.

I remember feeling grateful that since our last trip to the labor and delivery triage unit just 2.5 weeks prior, I felt more at ease upon entering the doors of our local hospital that night. Perhaps I was simply feeling relieved that your Daddy didn’t turn on the wrong road en route to the hospital this time. Or, maybe I was feeling hopeful about being sent home again, allowing you to remain inside of me a little longer. Or, yet another possibility, perhaps I was comforted because I had packed my hospital bag and readied your room, as well as your little haven in our bedroom. Even still, I lifted up prayer after silent prayer to God, begging Him to be present and to hold tightly to all of us as we made our way to the hospital, and as you made your way to our world.

After a quick admission process and some time spent monitoring my contractions, which were coming about 2-3 minutes apart, the medical staff checked my cervix, which hadn’t changed from two centimeters dilated. Fortunately, your heartbeat continued to be stellar throughout all of the contractions and monitoring, which was a relief – just like your brother who came before you, we felt so blessed that we didn’t have to worry about you during the birth process. The nurse midwife on call – who I liked a lot, dear boy – then decided to give me a dose of terbutaline to attempt to slow my contractions. I had already experienced how this medication made me feel when we visited labor and delivery 2.5 weeks earlier, so the next hour went by without much surprise. I didn’t dilate any further during that hour of monitoring, despite the fact that I was still enduring contractions {albeit with more space between them}, so the nurse midwife gave us two options: since I didn’t dilate any further, there was no medical reason for them to keep me, so option no. 1 was to go home and rest, and return if my contractions intensified. Option no. 2, on the other hand, was something called therapeutic sleep, which involved staying at the hospital and electing for medication, including morphine and a muscle relaxer, which would work together {while I got some much-needed rest} to help my uterus – a muscle – to determine its course of action {either to continue contracting or to relax}. Because I was still experiencing contraction pain, I elected for the therapeutic sleep option. At this point, we were moved to another room, and I was given medication to begin the therapeutic sleep process. Your Daddy quickly took up camp on the pull-out couch in the room; he was as eager himself as I was for a restful few hours of sleep.

On that night, circumstances changed dramatically as my nurse walked out of the room after administering the medication for therapeutic sleep, as it was then that I felt a marked, pulsating pain ripple through my abdomen. Believing wholeheartedly that the medication just needed time to kick in, I breathed through the contraction, just as I had been doing throughout the night thus far – except – oh, the inevitable “except” – except the contractions didn’t stop coming: they intensified. For the next ten minutes, in the muted light of the middle of the night, inside a birthing room that I never anticipated being mine until early December, I endured contraction after contraction, with little more than thirty seconds of rest before another wave would hit. A quick glance at the ever-noisy machine that was monitoring my contractions showed me numbers in the high nineties, and that was all that I needed to see to know that what I was feeling was, indeed, for real. As I hit the call button on my hospital bed, I informed the nurse {who calmly asked via intercom, “How can I help you?”} in an exasperated hiss of urgency that my contractions were coming so hard, so fast, and that this was not what I was expecting out of therapeutic sleep.

Two nurses came running fast into my room, one of whom I recognized as the nurse assigned to me; the other introduced herself as the head nurse on the labor and delivery floor and proceeded to check my cervix for further dilation. I was now dilated to three centimeters, so the nursing staff attempted to contact the nurse midwife who had prescribed the therapeutic sleep process earlier in the evening. In the meantime, I awoke your Daddy and begged for his hand to hold as I continued to battle intense, fast-moving contractions.

By the time that the nurse midwife arrived in my room – perhaps twenty minutes later – I was dilated to five centimeters. She looked me in the eyes and said the words that I didn’t think that we would hear that night: “You’re having this baby.” My mouth dropped open in surprise, and as the nurses began moving faster and faster to ready me for a repeat c-section, my eyes, anxious and fearful, scanned the room for your Daddy’s. In his eyes I found the same anxiety and fear, yet he concealed his emotions with an air of composure that I simply couldn’t muster in that moment.


“I’m scared,” I told him. “It’s too early. I’m only 36 weeks and 4 days along.”

“Everything will be fine,” he told me.

“I don’t want things to just be ‘fine,'” I replied, my voice making known the panic that I was feeling inside.

“Everything will be great,” he said, emphasizing the word “great.” “We’re going to meet our boy!”

At some point, another nurse introduced herself as the nurse who would be attending to my needs during the c-section. She was unbelievably kind as she informed us that all births at our hospital are attended by the NICU staff, regardless of the baby’s gestational age, but that their hope was that you, our baby, wouldn’t be in need of their services. She asked what felt like a million questions about my pregnancy and birth with Lionel, about my current pregnancy, and about our reasoning for a repeat c-section, and I barked out answers to these questions as I breathed through contractions that seemed endless.

I remember asking your father to contact your grandparents to check on Lionel, who was, of course, fast asleep, as the clock ticked away the first hours of November 13. After some time, I remember someone throwing your Daddy some scrubs, and I remember giggling when he asked for bigger booties to cover his size 12 shoes. The giggles gave me a quick respite from the nerves that I was feeling, so I asked your father to snap a few pictures of me, scrub cap and all, to mark the moment before my bed was wheeled down to the OR, where we would finally, yet prematurely, meet you, our second son.

I remember the nurse anesthetist greeting me as I was wheeled into the OR, and I remember thinking how kind he was as he cracked jokes with me while we waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive to give me my spinal. I remember meeting my surgeon and thinking to myself how calm she seemed in comparison to my desperate desire to jump outside of my body for the next few minutes, like one of those creepy Jack-in-the-Box toys that children play with. I remember looking off to my right side at the baby warmer and thinking about you, the little boy that I was about to meet, and how in just a matter of moments, you would be placed in that bassinet, newly in existence in our world. I remember thinking, at every moment, from the instance that I jostled my body from my hospital bed to the surgical table, that this experience – this opportunity to be conscious and awake for your arrival, for the birth of my second child – was quite awesome, and, at the same time, was unbelievably overwhelming for me, precisely because I didn’t have that opportunity when Lionel arrived.

A few moments after your Daddy entered the operating room and took his place by my side, I remember feeling the odd tugging of pressure, a sensation that was new to me because I wasn’t able to be conscious during Lionel’s birth. As tears flooded my eyes and slipped down the sides of my cheeks, I remember feeling surprised, embarrassed and a bit shameful about my reaction to actually being able to experience your birth, for by the time that the surgeon peeked around the curtain, her gloved hands holding you, a tiny baby boy, pink and beautiful and boasting spiky hair and not making a single sound, my tears had morphed into sobs.


With every ounce of strength that I had, I let out a sigh of relief upon seeing your little body, your sweet face cradled in the surgeon’s arms. Between sobs, I begged your father to be by your side as the medical staff checked you out. Your father looked so proud to stand by your side as you experienced your first moments in our world; I had missed experiencing these first moments with your brother, and I felt so overwhelmed with the emotion of seeing your father as a new {again} Daddy.

The nurses announced your weight – five pounds, eight ounces – and another heaving sob escaped my throat; I couldn’t believe how small you were. Your little lungs needed some help at first, so after a few minutes of oxygen, you finally let out a wonderful burst of noise – your first cry – and I dissolved into a sobbing mess once again.

“He’s so small…he came too early,” I choked out between sobs to your Daddy, who was still by your side.

“He’s perfect,” your Daddy said. The nurse anesthetist echoed his sentiments, too, to try and ease my worries as the surgeon continued her work on me.

My sobs only continued when your Daddy finally brought you over to me. You were swaddled tightly in a blanket with just your sweet plump-cheeked face greeting mine, and I stared and stared at your little face through my tears, begging you to be okay, to be strong, to be healthy.

I know that people always say this about childbirth, and about children in general, but it became clear to me, as my eyes met yours for the first time, that I have experienced two distinct moments in my life in which I truly saw God, in which I could feel His presence at the helm of my life, and both resulted in the birth of a beautiful boy. While I have long loved God as someone in great need of grace, I realized that never before in my life – not during times of worship, not in moments of stress, of grief, of complete joy or utter sadness – have I so intimately felt God’s hands around mine, and around those of my children, than in the moments in which you and your brother were born. Oh, to feel His love realized in the form of a baby, my baby; yes, as I looked at your sweet face and promised you the best of me – to be for you, and for your brother too, an indestructible, endless net of love and faithfulness, ever positioned so that I will always catch you – I was able to glimpse how immense our Father’s love is for us.


As tears continued to wet my face, I asked your Daddy to bring your cheeks close to my lips so that I could kiss you, just like I do to your brother countless times throughout each day, just like I will do for his, and for your, entire life. When my lips finally brushed your skin, an act of love that left evidence of my tears on your sweet face, my sobs finally calmed, and I relished in the joy of your beautiful, unexpected arrival.


{all photos by Creative Kindling}

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welcome baby quincy!

in the wee hours of the morning just one week ago, Jord, Lionel and i welcomed little Quincy August Gillis into our world. he has quickly charmed his way into our hearts, and we couldn’t be happier to have him in our family!

his early arrival {2.5 weeks ahead of his scheduled c-section, at just 36.5 weeks} granted him a short {36 hours-ish} stay in the NICU due to issues with maintaining his blood sugar levels, but {all thanks to God}, he rebounded quickly, and we were able to come home together as a family this past Sunday.

here’s our youngest boy at birth; he came to us at 3:39 in the morning, arriving at 5 pounds, 8 ounces and 17.25″ long:


and with his big brother, who {thus far} has been incredibly kind and gentle with his baby brother:


that’s all for now – birth story to come. xoxo, Sara, Jord, Lionel and Quincy

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{#simplify2014} November goal-setting.

hi all! as promised, i’m back with my list of intentions for the month of November. here goes:

#lovehard #simplify2014

  • finish the boys’ shared bedroom. all we are waiting on is the crib bedding and Lionel’s repainted rocking chair, and then we can do one last round of cleaning before photos – woo!
  • finish the baby’s haven in the master bedroom. i ordered a super-cool geometric wooden shelf from Etsy a few weeks ago, and it should be here soon. once it arrives, i’ll hang it up {along with the artwork i’ve added – can’t wait to show these pieces to you!}, add some Lionel art for baby {gotta find time this weekend to have an arts ‘n’ crafts session with our busy two-year-old boy!}, and call the haven space officially DONE. also, the bedding for the Moses basket is all done, washed and ready for baby’s arrival, and it looks so adorable – double woo!!
  • continue on my journey to reconnect with far-away friends and beloved relatives.
  • buy a “big-boy stool” for Lionel to use during meals. our little guy is telling us {through his actions!} that he’s totally “over” his booster-seat, so we’re on the hunt for a stool for him to call his very own.
  • take a date night with Jordan. i CANNOT. WAIT. to see the Hunger Games movie that’s coming out in a few weeks – baby boy no. 2 better stay put until we’ve had our date night, because i am so anxious to see the movie and have a good excuse to hold my husband’s hand in the dark!
  • decorate for Christmas. CHECK – we completed this last weekend on my birthday {woo 28!}, and our home {well, the upstairs at least} looks so Christmas cheery!
  • celebrate my birthday. again, CHECK – we celebrated the start of my 28th year on Sunday with donuts in the morning, spaghetti in the evening, and a {small} glass of my favorite fall red wine before bed. :)
  • celebrate Thanksgiving. because we have no idea if baby boy no. 2 will attempt to join us early {especially after this scare}, we are sticking around town this year for Thanksgiving and will be heading to our parents’ homes to partake in food, family and merriment – provided that i don’t feel like a humongous, uncomfortable beached whale by then…

in terms of ongoing goals, here’s what i’m continuing to prioritize:

  • reading for enjoyment. i’m thinking of diving into a new book this month, but haven’t settled on one yet – any recommendations?
  • blogging. hi there! :)
  • taking Mama dates with Lionel. ever since i started my big girl job, Lionel and i periodically take Mama-Lionel dates to Barnes & Noble to see the choo-choos, or to the local mall to have a pretzel or a cookie and ride the fire truck ride. i love, love, LOVE our special time together, and i want to continue to prioritize these times before baby brother joins us!
  • self-care and prayer. two things that are always hard, but so, so important for me – taking time for myself, and taking time for God. i’m working on it!
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{#simplify2014} october #Powersheets update.

last time we chatted about all things #simplify2014, i confessed that i had fallen off the #powersheets wagon a bit since the beginning of the year. well, i am happy to report that i am back on track and feeling great about it! to be truthful, i am the type of person who needs a bit of direction in my life, and i tend to struggle at times without a “plan” to follow. while i totally believe {and feel so, so grateful for} God’s masterful plan for my life, i can’t help but try to focus my energy and my heart on things like to-do’s and goals while i {impatiently, most of the time!} wait for God to reveal His will and His work.

so, with that being said, here’s what i tackled in the month of October and how i did:

ready the boys’ shared bedroom for photos/reveal. as of my last report on the boys’ shared room, we still had a few things to check off of the list. at this point, i still have a few updates to make to the room, but i feel confident in saying that the room is about 99% done! i can’t wait to show the room to you, and to see how Baby Boy likes his shared room with his big brother, who already seems smitten with the space!

locate, bring in and clean baby gear. CHECK!

purchase twin mattresses, sheets and a pillow for L. CHECK, as i noted here.

wash baby’s 3 month clothes. no progress on this one, although my Mom assures me that i will have plenty of time to ready these clothes before Baby Boy actually needs them :)

pursue church membership. once we got settled in our home, we began the search for a new church home. we very much enjoyed the church environment of our last church home, so we decided to look around for a similar church. yet, after finding one close to home that fits the bill, i didn’t feel excited to pursue making that church our permanent home. so, we are back on the hunt!

celebrate birthdays in our family. CHECK!

celebrate Halloween. CHECK! L loved Halloween this year – just check out this photo of our heroic little Super Lionel:


organize + ready guest room for guests (when baby comes). since we are in the process of transitioning L to his big boy bed {!!}, after thinking through it, i realized that setting up the guest room downstairs – a whole floor away from L and Baby’s room – is futile, since whoever stays with us {such as my parents, who have agreed to watch L for a night or two after Baby’s birthday} won’t want to be so far away from L. thus, i have tabled this task for later!

i also have been working on a few ongoing goals, including reading for enjoyment {success on this one – i read Gone Girl this month!}, reconnecting with family and friends, blogging more, praying regularly, and prioritizing “me time.” the last one continues to be a struggle, but this past month, i enjoyed many a Pumpkin Chai Latte from a local coffeehouse, which delighted me as i worked in the mornings – i consider that to be a good start!

i’ll be back soon with a look at what i am working on for November!

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Extra-Life 2014: Play Games, Heal Kids

Last year’s team!

For the fourth straight year, we’re back and better than ever. Team Dynasty is raising money for local children’s hospitals through the annual Extra-Life event. Cyle and Josh Scherger, Brad Tyler and myself (Jordan Gillis) are setting our goal to raise over $2,000 for Sioux Falls Sanford Children’s Miracle Network. Extra-Life is a grassroots fundraising event; there is no overhead, as it is run by volunteers. What this means is that 100% of your donation goes to helping sick children and their families in need in the Sioux Empire. Last year, our group raised over $1,000, and we look to double it this year. Every dollar counts to help beat cancer and making a difference in the lives of those who need it!

Be a giver and healer, support our Extra-Life cause by clicking the button below!
Support Us!

Please donate today. With your donation, you are helping kids, and you are supporting us playing the Extra-Life marathon. On November 15th, 2014, we will be gathering together to play a video game marathon. In 2012, we did 24 hours of gaming. In 2013, we did 25 hours of gaming, and in 2014, we are pushing for 26 hours of games! Wow! Please click the donation button above and donate today, tomorrow, and the next day! Thank you for all of your support, and please share this with everyone you know to help grow a great cause.

{baby Gillis no. 2} preterm labor scare.

let me preface this story with the following: Baby Boy and i are doing very well – he’s still inside my belly, kicking and walloping up a storm, and we are so, so thankful for that.

when i titled my last post “crunch time’s a-coming,” i had no idea how right i was, or could be.


on saturday night, October 25, i started experiencing contractions around 7:15PM. i was nearly 34 weeks pregnant. Jord and i were watching The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Netflix when i began to feel regular bouts of tightness in my belly. thinking it was just heartburn, as i had just inhaled about five pieces of Jord’s famous homemade pizza, i decided to take a bath in order to ease my upset stomach.

however, the contractions in my belly didn’t stop or slow as the water washed over my swollen belly – instead, they persisted, and they slowly grew more intense.

{side note: while i was soaking in the bath tub, breathing deeply through each contraction, little Lionel was right by my side, rubbing my arm and talking to me. “Mama in the bath!” he exclaimed. “i wash Mama,” he said. he demanded soap – not Mama’s soap, but Lionel’s bath soap, of course – and proceeded to rub his hands together – just like Mama and Daddy do – to build up a lather of soap bubbles. “Mama’s belly hurts, buddy,” i said to him. at that moment, he leaned over, his little hands drip-dropping water, and kissed my bare belly, which was taut with uncomfortable tightness. “all better, Mommy,” he said. oh, how i wished his kisses were the magic potion that i needed to stop the discomfort in my belly. in other words, our little L couldn’t have been more tender and sweet while i was battling contractions.}

i soon decided that the bath water wasn’t helping to calm my contractions, so i got out of the tub and called my Mom. she recommended calling my doctor’s office and speaking to the nurse on call – again, it was Saturday night, and by this time, i had been feeling contractions for approximately 40 minutes. the RN that i spoke with recommended lying down on my left side and drinking a few glasses of water in order to try to stop the contractions; however, she cautioned that if the contractions persisted for another 30-45 minutes or longer, i should be seen by Labor & Delivery.

sure enough, more time passed, and my contractions were still coming, and regularly, too – my attempts to time them showed that they were two minutes apart. Jord and i decided to head to the hospital.

my Mom came to stay with Lionel, who at this time was pajama-clad and ready for bed. once she arrived at our home, we gave L kisses, raced to the hospital and checked into Labor & Delivery. they took us to a triage room, where i changed into a gown and they hooked me up to various monitors to check on the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. after a short time of monitoring me, the RN and the Nurse Midwife determined that my contractions were coming fast and furious with little to no time in between them, and that i was 2 centimeters dilated.

it was in this moment that Jord and i looked at each other and realized that we might be meeting our baby much, much sooner than expected, and we were scared. we updated our families and close friends as to what had transpired over the past 90 minutes, and we were flooded with responses that promised prayers and help.

delivering at 34 weeks is certainly not the most dangerous time to have a child, especially given the fact that our hospital has a very capable NICU, but, as our Nurse Midwife said to us that night, “we want this baby to stay in the hotel a bit longer.” at our hospital, a baby delivered at 34 weeks automatically is sent to the NICU for an undisclosed amount of time in order for baby’s breathing and feeding capabilities, as well as body temperature regulation, to develop further. the nurse on staff prepared us for at least a two-week NICU stay for our baby under normal or ideal conditions. needless to say, if we could help baby to stay in my belly until 36 weeks at least {which is considered full term}, we were ready and willing to do whatever was possible in order to make that happen.

in order to stop my contractions, the medical staff gave me two injections of terbutaline, which were given approximately one hour apart. the first dose stopped my contractions for about an hour exactly, which is the typical time frame in which the medicine is effective. around that one-hour mark, the contractions returned; this time, however, they were located lower in my abdomen and were stronger and more intense. i received another injection of terbutaline, which, thankfully, then stopped my contractions entirely. since i hadn’t dilated any further in the time that i was experiencing contractions, and since my contractions had stopped, we were sent home around 11:30PM and were told to return to Labor & Delivery if the contractions returned or i experienced any leakage of fluid {i.e. my water broke} or bleeding.

thankfully, since that night, i haven’t experienced another contraction or any symptoms of labor. while my body can’t or won’t necessarily “un-dilate” itself {meaning that i’m still 2 centimeters dilated as i sit here telling this story}, the medical staff did not see a reason for us to worry about another bout of preterm labor, or delivering sooner than our scheduled c-section date of December 1. in short, the RN explained that baby could have just been readying himself to join our world in a few more weeks, and that these things happen from time to time. the Nurse Midwife also reinforced the importance of staying hydrated in order to help baby to stay put.

we returned home that night to a sound-asleep Lionel. in the morning, we told L all about how the doctors made Mama’s belly feel better, which soon became his favorite phrase to repeat over and over again for the rest of the weekend.

so, as i sit here today, at 34 weeks and 2 days, i’m feeling extremely grateful for the love, help and support of family and friends, and for the dedicated medical staff at our local hospital that helped to stop my contractions. while we would have been overjoyed to meet our baby boy this past weekend, we are quite content to wait a few more weeks.

crunch time’s a-coming! {boys’ shared bedroom + baby haven}

i’m back again with yet another update on the boys’ shared bedroom – the room is {almost} ready!

as a reminder, here’s the overall look that we’re going for in the boys’ shared bedroom:


and now, here’s our updated to-do list:

1. take down the ceiling fan.

2. paint the ceiling {in Benjamin Moore’s Lacey Pearl} and touch up paint on the walls.

3. hang the warehouse light fixture.

4. install DIY custom shelving flanking the window in the room {two wooden shelves – stained grey – on each side of the window, hung with hefty, exposed black brackets}.

5. order two monogram pillows and a metal photo print, courtesy of Tiny Prints.

6. order the rug {pictured above on the left side of the inspiration board, from Urban Outfitters}, as well as a few knick-knacks for the boys’ shelves that i’ve been coveting on Etsy :)

7. print and frame some custom artwork that i made for the boys’ room, as well as a piece of printable artwork that i purchased from Etsy {we’re about halfway through this process, hence the half-checked-off text}.

8. pick up the repainted bed frame, the repainted Moses basket stand, the DIY Moses basket bedding, the DIY changing pad cover, and the repainted rocking chairs from my parents’ house.

9. hang the curtain rod + curtains, hang the artwork and vinyl decals, and dress L’s bed and baby’s crib – really, this is the time to decorate our hearts out!

the triangle vinyl decals {from this Etsy seller} look outstanding in the room, but my favorite moment happened when L walked into his room after i hung the decals. as soon as he saw them on the wall, he said, “Look at all the triangles!” and instantly wanted to touch them :) he loves them!

the biggest room-maker, though, has been the custom shelving. my engineer brother worked VERY hard late into the night to hang these shelves for us – we’re so grateful! we hung two shelves on each side flanking the window. plus, i’ve officially put away my drill and hammer as well – all of the wall decor in the boys’ shared bedroom is in place!

we also were able to dress L’s bed and officially start the move to the big boy bed this past week. {the bed transition has been a journey in itself, and i promise you a post on that process soon!} his bedding looks adorable; he especially loves picking out the trucks and the cars on his bed sheets and naming the colors of each one that he sees! baby boy no. 2’s crib bedding should be shipping soon from this Etsy seller – i can’t WAIT to see how it looks in the room!

my Mom also spent some quality time with her sewing machine over the past week or so, and the Moses basket bedding and changing pad covers are nearly done and looking OUTSTANDING! all that’s left is to pick up a few last-minute items from the fabric store to finish out the bedding, and then we’ll officially be ready to embark on decorating the baby’s “haven” in our master bedroom, which is what we’re calling the {one!} wall of space that baby no. 2 will have in our bedroom for the majority of his first year.

also happening in the “haven” – on another visit to our home, my brother built our Raskog cart from IKEA, our non-permanent storage solution for diapers and other baby necessities while Baby Boy lives in our bedroom – the fun turquoise color looks great with our indigo walls in the master bedroom, and the cart is fully stocked with cloth diapers in anticipation of baby’s arrival! i’m still collecting artwork and other items to hang on the wall above baby’s “haven,” but i hope to get started on the hanging process very soon – i can’t believe that in five-and-a-half short weeks, we’ll have another boy in our home!

in other news, we’ve decided to ditch the fun geometric rug from Urban Outfitters – the original plan was to put it in the boys’ room, but after arranging the furniture in the room, there wasn’t enough open floor space for the rug to make an impact. so, we thought about moving the rug into our bedroom, but the scale is just too small for the open floor space that we have in there, so back to the store it goes!

what projects are you working on around your home?

autumn ritual {apple orchard 2014}

every fall, our little family makes the one-mile drive {yes, only one mile!} to our local apple orchard. last year’s photos of our time at the apple orchard were some of my favorites all year; in fact, a few shots from the day are still hanging up in my cubicle at work!

this past weekend, the weather was unseasonably nice {especially for South Dakota!}, so when the temperatures topped out at 70 degrees, Jord, L and I made our way to check out the apples. my parents tagged along this year, just like they did last year, which is becoming a tradition of its own – it’s so much fun to take them with us!

here’s a few of my favorite photos from this year’s apple orchard outing:






L even took a ride on the train this year…and he hated it.

photo evidence {i couldn’t help myself}:


the highlight of this year’s outing, though, was what happened seconds after this moment:


L officially fed his first goat, and he was EXCITED. happy claps all around.

what fall traditions do you do with your family?


Conversation Breakdown {The Two-Year-Old Version}.

The first time I wrote this post, Sara rejected it like any good English teacher would. The post lacked focus and a thesis. I’d argue that my blogging style {which is whimsical, out of focus, and thought-jumpy} is as much my signature as is her choice to forget how to press the shift key. However, she’s the boss and she wins, so three…two…one…focus!


Lionel talks. A LOT. I have no idea what’s normal conversation or word knowledge for a two-year-old, but I have this feeling that Lionel’s vocabulary is relatively impressive. My feelings are backed up by the comments and compliments that are often received from friends, family and complete strangers. Lionel knows a lot of words. What’s even better is that Lionel, in my opinion, knows the context of how most of these words are supposed to be used; however, I don’t believe he understands all the words that’s he’s using.

I have taken child development and child psychology courses throughout my many years of study, and there’s sufficient proof that talking and reading to your child is a great way to develop their language and communication skills. However, I don’t remember reading about what parents could/should/shouldn’t do when communication breaks down between an adult and a two-year-old. Conversation breakdowns with a child are confusing for me to navigate, and I think it’s equally confusing and frustrating for Lionel as well.

Last week {when I was originally writing this post}, I told the story of having breakfast with Lionel. One day last week, I was standing in the kitchen, trying to encourage Lionel to tell me what he wanted to eat for breakfast. To set the stage: each morning, I pick Lionel out of bed because he’s about as good as his parents at jumping out of bed (we like to hit the snooze). I then place him in his seat at the table and promptly say “Good morning!” I then ask about his dreams (the kid dreams like his mama – vivid and random), and then I ask him about breakfast. It’s part of our routine.

However, the question about breakfast turned into a battle that morning. On this day, I offered Lionel the typical choices – Frosted Flakes, jelly toast, or peanut butter toast. He responds “no” to all of them. I asked him again to tell me what he wants. He then picks one of the choices that I presented, and I’m pretty sure he chose the last option that I offered: toast.

But, when I start to grab for the bread to make toast, he shrieks, “NO toast!”

I then calmly rolled through the choices again. As I did, I noticed that as I continued to offer food options, my voice was getting tense, despite my best efforts. The clock stared at me:  I was running late, Lionel still needed to eat, and Sara was still sleeping.

Then, he said, “Watch Elmo.”

Our communication had broken down, so he returned to his favorite, frequent comfort statement. He knows he likes Elmo, and he’ll be satisfied if he gets the iPad to watch Elmo. This told me that breakfast had become stressful for Lionel.

I quit asking him questions for a moment as I tried to process the interaction. Our breakfast conversation wasn’t a negative exchange of words by any means, but it wasn’t a positive experience. I had a conversation with a two-year-old child who knows how to hold a conversation, but it became clear in that moment that he didn’t understand every word or phrase that he was using. That was frustrating, both to him and to me.

I denied Lionel’s request for Elmo and disengaged for another second while I set us both up with some cereal.

I then watched as he happily ate his entire bowl of cereal, not a complaint in sight.

Parenting a two-year-old is ever-changing and really interesting. I love talking with Lionel, and talking through conversations with him. But, I think there’s times when what originates as a positive interaction can turn into a negative one. For instance, when I get home from work at night and I ask him about his day, I have all night for him to process the words that he needs to communicate to me. In the morning, I have about 90 seconds. Despite his wealth of understanding, I can’t have the same conversation at the crack of dawn with Lionel that I could have Sara or with friends. It just doesn’t work – yet.

So, with one additional week’s perspective on the interactions that I’ve been having with Lionel, I’m realizing this: if I have time for Lionel to make decisions, I let him make the decisions. But, if we’re pressed for time, I make the decisions for him, like many parents do. And since following this general idea, our interactions have gone more smoothly.

With his expansive vocabulary and voice inflection, it is really easy to forget that Lionel is just two years old. He says some of the funniest and goofiest things, and he is consistently surprising me with what he knows and understands. But, he’s still just two, and he’s still learning.

Or maybe he just stinks at waking up like his parents do.

baby gear, round II {what’s the same + what will be different}

as we continue to prepare to welcome Baby Boy no. 2 into our lives in just six and a half weeks (!!), i thought i’d share with you what we will continue to do/use with Baby Boy that we did with L, and what’s new this go-around. so, here goes!


what we’ll still do:

swaddle. as i mentioned here when L was still a squishly little baby, we LOVED the velcro swaddle blankets by SwaddleMe, and sure enough, i’ve already ordered four sets of swaddles for Baby Boy. what’s new this time, however, is that we’re also trying out a new swaddle {still by SwaddleMe} that is made just for newborns – it is quite small in profile and has a zipper closure instead of velcro. i only purchased one pack of these newborn swaddles, but i can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about! as a reminder, the book that taught us all about the value of the swaddle {as well as the other four S’s – side/stomach hold, shushing, swinging and sucking} was The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp.

breastfeed. as long as Baby Boy {and, ahem, my body} both cooperate, nursing is something that i am so looking forward to with Baby Boy. breastfeeding L helped me so much to bond and to feel close to him, and i am anxious to experience that closeness again with Baby Boy. one thing about breastfeeding is changing, however…see below!

bouncy seat and swing. we’ve brought out our trusty Fisher Price swing and our vibrating bouncy seat for Baby Boy, and L has had a blast placing his baby doll {which is a boy, of course} in the seats and practicing his “sssh, sssh, sssh.” of course, he then grabs the baby doll by the head and flings him across the living room, but what’s important to note is that he’s practicing, ladies and gentlemen. he’s PRACTICING. {hopefully he figures it out by the time that Baby Boy arrives…}

cloth diaper. that’s right – this past weekend, i resized all of L’s Fuzzibunz One-Size Elite cloth diapers down to itty-bitty for Baby Boy, and i can’t wait to diaper his cute little bum in all the colors of the rainbow. of course, until Baby Boy is big enough to fit in to the one-size diapers {L was around X months old}, we’ll use disposable diapers. as i mentioned here, we’d still like to add 12-18 BumGenius cloth diapers to our stash, to try out that brand, but that’s a to-be-determined cost that our budget isn’t ready to tackle yet. so, stay tuned!

and now, for what we’re doing differently this time.

what’s new:

Moses basket. as i’ve shared multiple times, my Mom gifted us a gently used Moses basket and rocking stand for Baby Boy no. 2. while we coslept with L when he was a baby, we wanted to try out a different sleeping plan this time around for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is selfish, admittedly – we want our bed to ourselves, thank-you-very-much! plus, with L transitioning into his own big-boy bed {which is happening this upcoming weekend!!}, we wanted to keep his sleep schedule as uninterrupted as possible while still allowing ourselves to be in close proximity with both the baby {who will live in our bedroom for a time} and L {whose bedroom – which he will eventually share with Baby Boy – is located across the hall from our bedroom}.

infant car seat. while we sang the praises of a convertible car seat when L was a youngster {and we still very much love it!}, i wanted to have a little bit more mobility this time around, now that we’ll have two little ones. i also was {am} nervous about having a winter baby {L was born in June} and keeping his little body cozy and warm, so we’re on Camp Infant Car Seat for Baby Boy no. 2. after a bunch of research {including lifting many a car seat in the store!} and asking many trusted mamas what they used for their kiddos, we went with the Chicco Keyfit 30 {we chose the Snapdragon colors so that it matches with L’s convertible car seat; yes, i am that anal}. i’m psyched to see what i think of it, especially for the daily drop-off and pick-up routine at daycare!

double-electric breast pump. when we had L, i was just finishing up my master’s studies in English literature, so i was able to stay home with L for 15 wonderful {albeit stressful at times} months. because i didn’t pump very often, i didn’t understand the need to spend a large sum of money on an electric breast pump, so i purchased an inexpensive Avent manual pump that got the job done when it needed to. however, with this pregnancy, i will be returning to my full-time teaching position at a local technical college when Baby Boy is two{ish} weeks shy of four months old. therefore, i see the need this time to invest in a double-electric breast pump. what’s great is that in the time between when L was born and when Baby Boy will join our family, we’ve switched insurance plans because of my job, and my insurance now covers a Medela double-electric breast pump! i’m a bit anxious about how the pumping experience will go once i return to work, but i feel relieved that i have almost four months to figure it out!

what did you do differently between kiddos? i’d love to hear your perspective!

{picture of L’s adorable baby toes by Creative Kindling, who will also be taking Baby Boy no. 2’s newborn photos!}