Tuesday, March 21, 2017


These boys are the sweetest! I can't wait to see their friendship develop over the years.

I just want someone to look at me the way Isaiah looks at Baby Paul.

From what I hear, the tables will soon turn and Paul will look up to his big brother and idolize his every move. But for now Isaiah can't get enough of his tiny friend. All day, he wants to stare at him, touch him, and look out for him.

Just as I was typing this he said, "Baby Paul hungy," (not a typo.) Then he climbed up in my lap and tried to type saying, "Helps you."  This kid!
Zy wanted to join Paul in his "house" before even getting out of his pajamas or having his breakfast blueberry face wiped off.

I can't wait till they can play in the bath together, that'll be a game changer!

Paul can't even nurse in peace without his brother nearly smothering him.

Isaiah's 2-year check-up and Paul's 1-week weight check.

My prayer for these two is that in both joy and adversity they will be lifelong friends that can turn to each other for anything. Lord, may their differences complement each other as their loyalty grows deep and strong. May they learn from one another lessons we as parents can't teach them, and might they remind each other of the lessons we have already taught them. Jesus, help them to serve and love each other like You do.

My lap and heart are full!
Daddy's arms are full too!

I predict that in the not too distant future, Isaiah will be hollering, "Mommy, Paul's touching me!" So for now, I'll cherish these moments where Isaiah doesn't want to leave his side, and Paul can't get away, or complain about it. 

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." - Proverbs 17:17

Saturday, February 25, 2017

2 Years of True Love

This guy can make the gloomiest day brighter, or he can melt down at the drop of a hat. Yep, he's TWO! And we LOVE our fun, feisty, fragile little guy to pieces!

At his 2 year check-up he had finally caught up on all his motor skill milestones. Every previous check-up I was all, "Uh, he still can't hold his head up and he's like a year old, is this gonna be a problem?" (Only a slight exaggeration.) But just as our sweet pediatrician, and every seasoned parent out there had said, it would all work out, and it did. So, now he climbs on things and gets into trouble with the best of his toddler peers.
He blew out his candles effortlessly!
His weight is still on the chunky end of the spectrum, his head continues to fly off any traditional charts (I think these charts are overdue to be revised), and his height is hard to determine as he'd have to remain still for a few seconds to accurately measure him.

His joy is contagious! Unfortunately, often so is his angst.
He got his first professional haircut this year, clearly the stylist enjoyed it more than he did.
It's a special season full of novlelty and wonder as he discovers new skills all the time, tries out new words every day, and practices counting, letters, and colors with adorable errors.

But in all the newness, the most important thing that's rocked his little world recently, is of course becoming a big brother!

Fortunately, he has a really great role model on big siblings in his sister, and he's taking after her already.
We love you, Isaiah Brantly Charles. Your charm is irresistible, your humor keeps us in stitches, your gentle kindness helps us overlook your tantrums. But even if your moods swung low more than high, we'd love you to the moon and back, 'cause we've decided to. Because although you make it pretty easy, loving you is really a choice. And we will choose it for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Paul's Name Story's a Bit Less Intense Than His Birth Story

Our newest bundle of joy, Paul Jonathan Charles is named after two of my very favorite men, my grandfather and my husband, plus a whole lot of others who are really amazing as well.

Between Jon and I, we couldn't think of a single "Paul" we didn't like, we could barely think of any we didn't really love and admire. Is that a weird reason to choose a name for your baby?

Here are just a few of our heroes that inspired us to name our son Paul.

Dr. Paul Scott is my beloved maternal grandfather. My whole life I have been blown away by his selfless serving attitude. Even the rare moments he takes for himself to watch the news or work on his abundant garden are so easily cut short by the request of another for a true need, or even a simple whim, without complaint of the interruption. He constantly takes care of others before giving a thought to himself. His humor, gentleness, hospitality, intelligence, love for languages, thriftiness, and generosity are just a few of the traits we wouldn't mind if he passed down to his namesake and great grandson, Baby Paul.
Dr. Paul hasn't met Paulie yet, so here's a shot of me passing him a pumpkin from his abundant garden a few years ago (appropriate as I like to call Baby Paul, "Pumpkin.")

The New Testament Apostle Paul in the Bible is a second hero of ours, who nicely complements the Old Testament prophet Isaiah that his big brother is named after. When we were choosing a name for little Zy two years ago, Jon and I read through the book of Isaiah to help us decide. This time it was lovely to read through the Pauline epistles and be reminded of Paul's beautiful insights and encouragements to the churches he wrote to, with continued inspiration for us to this day. Here are the few quotes from Paul's writing we chose to frame for little Paulie's nursery, in hopes that they will speak to him throughout his life.

Here's Isaiah's print that shares a wall, and Isaiah's name story from two years ago. 

There are a number of other Pauls we love and respect. Two of whom are dear missionary friends serving overseas.

Paul Hoffman was my pastor, mentor, and beloved confidant as I served in Bolivia for three years. He led our church, challenged me daily to grow in my faith and walk with the Lord, and most heroically runs an orphanage for sick babies, Judah Quy with his wife, Kristin. Their family continues to grow in size and love as they add children through adoption, proving everything he preaches he truly believes and practices. His sacrificial life is evident to all. 

Dr. Paul Evans and his wife Alicia are sweet friends of mine going all the way back to vet school, 13 years ago. Over the past few years Jon has also had the pleasure of getting to know and love them. Last year, Paul sold his share of a vet practice, and they moved their family of five to Zambia to serve with Christian Veterinary Mission long-term. Their honesty, transparency, dry humor, and sweet nature are truly endearing. 

Regarding Paul's middle name, my Jon doesn't go by Jonathan often, but I do love the name. There's a tradition in Jon's family, going back to Baby Paul's great great grandfather, to give the firstborn son the father's first name as a middle name. We broke with that tradition with Isaiah Brantly, but are making it our own with his brother. Since Jon is a second born among a family of firstborns, he has a special place in his heart for the second baby. So we chose to honor Paul with Jon's name.

We'll never know if Jon would always have been as relational with any other name, or if David's friend Jonathan, in the Bible's 1 Samuel, influenced him to be the trusted friend that he is to so many. Either way, we hope Paul Jonathan will be as wonderful at serving, helping, listening to, and loving others as his daddy. 

"The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself." -1 Samuel 18:1

By naming him after so many great men, we don't mean to put too much pressure on him toward greatness, but hope to honor those men, and point Baby Paul Jonathan toward virtues we respect and would love to see in him as he grows into the unique man of character God intends him to be.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Birth Story... Cause Oh My Word!

I didn't post a birth story per se for Isaiah. I wrote a few notes about how it all went down in his baby book, but didn't want to make him feel too bad about his entry into the world, so I didn't go into many details of the horrors.

I don't know why we even have "birth plans." We didn't exactly have a "plan" this time, but we had a playlist of music ready for labor, some Jim Gaffigan stand-up comedy to distract me during early contractions, and hopes of getting into the birthing tub at the hospital before things got too intense. Jon would have liked to trim his beard and I wouldn't have minded getting a shower and looking presentable for those all-important first photos either. Ha! God must just laugh...

Because I'm an elderly 36 years-old, my OBGYN didn't want me to go past 40 weeks. We convinced them to hedge a tad and give me two days beyond my "due date." Jon had two very busy MBA night classes for the 5 weeks leading up to my due date, February 9th, ending in a final exam going till about 9:30pm that night, but then he had a week off school and could take a week off work. So, I really didn't want to go early. The Lord graciously did let us have that part of our plan.

On Friday, the 10th, Jon went to work and I started with the natural induction wives' tales while I finished up nesting around the house and wrapping up work. We went for a walk that sunny afternoon. Then headed out to Bonefish for some Bang Bang Shrimp, which worked with our firstborn, it seemed extra spicy this time. When we got home my parents, and aunt convinced us to try Castor Oil (Yuck!) to take advantage of the last few hours before I'd be shot up with Pitocin which was kinda the opposite of our "birth plan." I took 2 doses of 1 tablespoon of the laxative by 9:30pm. With my parents in the guest room to take care of the kids for the weekend, assuming we'd be headed to the hospital early in the morning for the induction, Jon and I finally hit our pillows just before 11:30pm, with no signs of labor, but some rumbling in my tummy.

At midnight, I woke up with severe abdominal pain and went to the restroom to see if the Castor Oil was moving things along in the way it's originally intended. It was, but the pains kept coming and when I stood up, the liquid I assumed was probably urine when I sat down, kept coming too. So, after about 3 contractions and some more confidence that my water had definitely broken, I woke Jon up. We had just gotten undressed an hour ago, but we scrambled between contractions to get redressed and gather our things. I think Jon had a hard time believing me when I told him about the start of each contraction so he could time them--they were already averaging 2 minutes apart!!

He called the hospital and told them my water had broken, they said to come on in, but to come through triage or something to get checked before they admitted me. "Tell them how far apart the contractions are!" I shrieked.

When we got to Norton Suburban, at 12:46am, we found a wheelchair, and I screamed as he pushed me through the check-in area. We had to stop to give the desk my social security number. Jon couldn't remember it, so I yelled it out in front a full waiting room. Whoops!

I guess they took me seriously at this point, cause when they found out my water had broken they let us go right back to a room. Things were so intense we didn't even make it to our intended 5b, but ended up in room 1a because it was closer.

I had been begging for someone to get the anesthesiologist since the parking lot, I wanted an epidural STAT! Annoyingly calmly they said they had to check me, get some blood work, and start an IV first. Turns out, they don't always get their plans either.

I was 9cm dilated and ready to push before they could get blood work or an IV. My doctor didn't even make it over from Baptist East (5 min away maybe) even though she ran a red light!

After barely an hour from start to finish (and only 21 minutes in the hospital) of agony, howling, and asking for an epidural, at 1:07am we met our little Paul Jonathan Charles! At 9lbs 11oz, he tore me up, but slightly less than Isaiah did. So, the next hour and a half was pretty miserable as the doctor's repair job took longer than Paul's demolition. Poor kid didn't come out unscathed either as his rapid entry into the world left him bruised and a bit traumatized. Part of the rush was that his heart rate was dropping in utero, so Jon didn't get to catch or cut the cord like he'd "planned" to. We were denied delayed cord clamping cause Paulie needed to get stimulated quickly to get his heart rate up. But after he recovered, we got some extended skin to skin for a couple hours, which was good for both our souls.

At 3:30 or 4am we were transferred to our Mother and Baby room. The nurses checked on us and we settled in. At 5am, a phone started vibrating, and I was all "Who is calling us at this hour?!" We identified the source as my phone in my purse. And as it kept buzzing, it hit me: it was my alarm. It was time to call the hospital and get ready for my induction!
Um, we won't be needing that alarm, or that induction, we're holding our baby now, thanks!!

When they handed me Isaiah 2 years ago, the first thing anyone said was "He's so alert!" Paul seems a little more chill as we've barely seen his eyes open in his first day of life. His feet almost didn't fit on the ink pad for the footprints, and newborn clothes are almost a joke.

Overall, the moral of the story is, you probably don't need to try ALL the wives' tales in one day. Unless you really want to risk having your baby in the car or in the hospital parking lot. Also, for the second time in a row, Bonefish Bang Bang Shrimp for the win!

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" -2 Corinthians 9:15

(Reasons for the name post to follow soon)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Potty Training for Over a Year

This is by no means a tutorial on potty training, the title should tell you that much. But if I had one tip for other mothers out there, it would be to get serious about potty training when you're 9 months pregnant. This may seem counterintuitive due to the exhaustion and all the necessary bending over, but if you're both having accidents together it sure helps bond you through the process. :)

When I posted the picture below in Isaiah's 9-month blog entry over a year ago, I was hoping to follow-up with some thoughts on how Elimination Communication had turned into Early Potty Training, but I'm not sure that was really our case.
At about 18-months of age, he was almost using the potty exclusively for a bit, and telling me with a nose scrunch when he needed to go (he made this up based on me sniffing his diaper to see if he was dirty.) But then we traveled a lot for my CVM Region Rep role and got him out of his routine, plus he got a cold, making the sniffing/nose scrunching more difficult.

REGRESSION IS REAL, folks! I didn't believe kids would really just lose a skill they had learned, but I'm a believer now! As we continued to passively train him by putting him on the potty after he woke up and when he looked like he needed to go, it didn't really lead to him holding it or giving me warnings like before, so I decided to opt for active potty training.

First, he picked out his Big Boy underwear. He chose fish, or as he calls them, in possibly the world's cutest mispronunciation, "Fooosh."
He liked them so much that he insisted on taking them out of the package in the store.
Deciding between his 7 designs was too much work so he often wanted to wear more
than one.
I had seen Martin Luther King Day weekend coming up and had noticed our schedule was unusually clear, so I asked Jon if he'd help me use those 3 days to potty train Isaiah before the new baby comes (the laundry of 2 littles in cloth diapers sounds overwhelming.) He reminded me he had to work on the car, but other than that he could help. Jon's morning with the car, ended up being the majority of the three days, to no avail. While I was sequestered in the house staring at our toddler and wondering when I was going to have to scurry him to the potty.

We did all the normal things you read about in the 3-day intense potty training methods, except for use a timer. We picked up some toddler books at the library on underpants and big boy potties (he loves books), added some juice to his water to entice him to drink more, and got some motivating treats for him. I stopped putting him in onesie style shirts and picked out all the tops that don't snap at the bottom, which was a small selection as I've loved onesies dearly since he was born, but they don't lend themselves well to quick potty trips. I also moved a bunch of his pants, socks, and all his underwear downstairs to the level with hardwood, where we camped out the whole weekend, to avoid accidents on the carpet, and unnecessary trips up the stairs for my hugely pregnant self. Seriously, if I'm pregnant much longer Jon's going to need a three day weekend to install an elevator.

On Day 2 or 3, I opted to ditch the pants and underpants until further notice. We started a fire in the fireplace to keep warm and let him run around commando to cut down on laundry.

He didn't mind a bit running around in half his birthday suit, but his big sister may have been a little traumatized by all the nudity.

His biggest motivators were: flushing the toilet, candy corn (beating out M&Ms, fruit snacks, and chocolate covered raisins), and marking a little chart in one of his potty training books. This last one unfortunately, has confused him about when it's okay to write in books. Ugh!

During his nap I was putting him in a cloth diaper, because the only thing harder than walking up the stairs this pregnant is changing crib sheets! On Day 4 an hour into his nap, I heard him say "Wet" (his word to tell me he needs to go) through the monitor, so I went to get him, but found he had taken off his velcro diaper and peed in the crib. At least he knew he wasn't supposed to go in his clothes... Velcro was a rookie mistake on my part.

Since we didn't do the strict timer method (putting him on the potty like every 10 minutes) because... sanity, it's taken more than 3 days, but sanity is worth it. We're now about a week in, he turned 23-months old today, and he's nearly accident free.  He even took his nap in his underpants today! Praise the Lord.

Here's to praying he doesn't regress again when the baby comes, but fully expecting it's likely. Also, are we the first parents on Earth to potty train our toddler before sleep training him? 

"Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Empathy Does Not Come Naturally to Me

Understanding what others are going through and fully relating to them in their trials is not one of my strong suits. If it's an ordeal I've already experienced however, I'm right there with you. For instance, childbirth; I'll identify with you at every turn as you endure the 9 months of carrying and waiting, and then try to survive the hours, or days, of bringing that baby into the outside world.

Other than the nausea, fatigue, heartburn, discomfort etc. of pregnancy though, I'm not particularly used to being sick. So, sometimes God hits me with a bug to remind me what others suffer through regularly when feeling horrible. And just recently, He helped me understand something much worse--having a sick kiddo.
Right before Christmas, Isaiah had an anaphylactic reaction to cashews on a drive between Lexington and Louisville. When he started vomiting all over his car seat, I could barely keep it together. Praise the Lord he never had difficulty breathing. And we're so thankful that Norton Hospital had a special Children's ER to get us in super fast and pamper him with stickers, videos, and treats, while they tortured him with needles and monitors.
The toe monitor was probably the most aggravating part of the whole ordeal for him.
Even with all the excitement, he didn't fall asleep till 1:00am in the ER.
Skin testing to find out what he's allergic to.
Blood testing to see how severe his allergies are.
So now, not only can I relate better to mommas with sick babies in the hospital, I'm starting to grasp what it's like to read labels, carry Epi-pens, and pay attention to what Isaiah and the rest of us are putting in our bodies.

If you're gluten free, vegetarian, allergic to tree nuts, or just trying to watch your carbs, I'm definitely more sensitive to your lifestyle than I was before. Now, if only I could empathize with others without walking a mile in their shoes, maybe God wouldn't see fit to lend me a pair every once in a while.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." - Romans 12:15

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Sometimes when you have a good day, you have to be sure to capture it on "film."

Last week, Facebook reminded me of some pretty cool memories.

8 years ago, I was on my 5th short-term mission trip to Mexico. Spaying and neutering our way through a couple towns, sharing Christ's love in broken Spanish, and building relationships that continue to this day. A CVM team just went back before Christmas, it sure would be nice to head back there myself some day.

Facebook also reminded me that I was on a mission trip the same day 7 years ago, in Bolivia. My future hubs, was visiting and we ventured into a very remote village called Lapiani with my Bolivian church to love on the folks in a tangible way. I did vet work on the local livestock and pets, while Jon impressed my socks off by washing feet, trimming toenails, and fitting the people for new shoes. All the heart eyes....
I lost the Facebook "Memory" but here's the image that it reminded me of 7 years ago.
And here's Jon unwittingly making me swoon.
Apparently all the other ladies were flocking to him as well.

Just one year later, as Facebook sweetly reminded me, was the day Angie moved in with me. She's been living with me for 6 years!! I love this photo of her first night as my family.

Things have changed a bit since January 3, 2011. Fast forward over half a decade, and this is what my current mission field looks like:
Long-term "missions" come at a higher price, requiring regular sacrifice for days and years on end. The mountaintop experience we have on a weeklong trip overseas doesn't come as often when we're in the trenches of "normal" life. However, the impact we have on those we invest in is greater. It's often difficult to look back on the time when adventure and service were simple, regular parts of my world years ago, without a bit of longing for such a lifestyle again. But I know what tribe God has given me to serve at present, and it's really a pretty awesome gig.