Holy Week

It’s Holy Week. The most important, best week of the Christian calendar. I love this week. The world of greeting cards and mushy feel-good holiday half-truths has not hijacked Easter quite like it’s hijacked Christmas, and while celebrating God becoming man is amazing and right and good, remembering his death and resurrection is the true heart of the Christian faith. You cannot fake Easter. Easter is about the Gospel. It just is.

In so many ways, my work as an NP takes place in a setting that makes me keenly aware of the world’s need for a Savior, of my need for a Savior. Holy. Wow. My patients witness and experience on a daily basis the very most difficult things this world has to offer. And I am being humbled all the time, shown how little I myself live the way I want to live, the way I’m called to live. Oh how we all need a Savior. The story of the world is that the world desperately needs saving. And the news is so good. SO GOOD. Because the news is that everyone everywhere–all people–are offered a chance to be made right with and before God, by what He did through His son for us.

I love this week so much, because what is means to be a Christian is stripped down to the very core of our faith. The story of Easter is bare bones, people. It’s the only thing we have to hold on to. The very message of Easter is that Jesus’ work for us on the cross is literally what makes us Christians. This is the true story of our faith, that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” as Paul says in Romans (3:23). This is not a way. This is the way. There is no other way.

We’re studying the book of Matthew in BSF, and these weeks leading up to and through Holy Week we’ve been reading the various gospel accounts of the events leading up to Jesus trial and crucifixion. Have you read these? Have you read these lately? Read them. Holy wow. I’ve been a Christian for 20+ years and I’ve been amazed at how striking some of these passages are. I hope you are encouraged by the message of Easter, and that it produces in you (and myself) sober joy, gratitude, humility, the kind of repentance which brings freedom, and a renewed sense of what it means to follow Jesus. Blessings on you this Holy Week! Cheers, friends.

Five months of baby loooove

Last time I wrote, Ez was seven weeks, and full-time work as an NP was locked down but sitting at a safe distance. It feels like I am living in an entirely different universe these days. And the child is getting bigger, older, changing aaaall the time. Its already been 5 months!!!

2mo2 months

3mo3 months

4mo4 months

5mo5 months

He is still such a delight. The kid stopped sleeping through the night and has since become an I-love-to-wake-up-every-two-to-three-hours baby, but ohhhh how he smiles and giggles and always wakes up in the morning cooing, babbling, and grinning.

Going back to work full-time rocked our world. Those first two weeks were ROUGH. Ez stopped sleeping through the night pretty much immediately, I got sick my second day, then Ez got sick (with a persistent, wheezy cough), then Jer of course, all while Chicago was hitting record-breaking lows in the middle of what’s turned out to be the longest winter of my life.

Life has settled down a little since those first weeks, in part because we made the decision for me to decrease my working hours by one day. It means two extra years of paying back my scholarship, but we’re pretty sure we’ll be in Chicago for at least that long, and after experiencing how not sustainable having me out of the house five days a week was, the decision felt like a no-brainer. SO. I have a few areas to cover since I last wrote, yes? Here we go!

WORRRRRRK. Yeah, that’s happening now. Its as official as official gets. Licensed. Seeing patients. Writing orders, prescribing medications, diagnosing and managing a wide variety of medical problems. Its just insane. It’s actually wonderful and exciting and challenging and stressful and terrifying all at once. Starting a new job is always an adjustment, and this certainly has been a difficult one. But I can tell God is working on me, using a challenging season to produce growth. And along the way he has truly provided for my needs. My collaborating physician is a gem, and my boss really truly cares about the wellbeing of the providers at my work. Still so thankful for this job.

MOTHERRRRHOOOOOOOD. I am in utter disbelief that in less than one month this baby of ours will be six months. I know, I know. Time just flies, everyone says it. But serious! For example in less than one month, I am supposed to start feeding this child real human food. Say whaaaaat. Its wild. In some ways it feels like time is flyyying by, but at the same time, it’s crazy to think it was only a little over five months ago that Ezra came. It kind of feels like he’s been around forever. I feel like we just struck gold with Ezra. He is seriously such a delight. [And I’m really enjoying his sunny disposition and go-with-the-flow attitude while it’s here, because I’ve been told I was an absolutely dreamy baby, but I happen to know I was also a not so easy to deal with toddler-to-pre-teen (reeeally hoping this kid didn’t get this part of my DNA).] I wish I had some wise or clever or even organized reflections on new momhood for you.

In fact, I think I probably have more updates to share, but it’s 10pm (which my body now tries to tell me is something like 3 hours past bedtime), there is nothing else in my brain right now, and this is the third time this week I’ve sat down to try and finish writing! Yikes! This will have to do for now.

seven weeks

It’s amazing how time just passes. Seven weeks to the day Ez was born and it feels like an eternity ago. One week and a day ago I was taking my FNP boards and I can hardly imagine wondering whether I’d pass, which I was doing for a good two months up to that date.

Autumn especially flies by around here because the season is so brief before suddenly Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner and everyone is hoping for snow. This season is a unique time for me this year. I am eagerly awaiting the holidays as usual, and yet mentally slamming on the breaks, trying to slow their arrival and soak up every minute I’ve got at home before January comes and full-time Nurse Practitionerdom is upon me.

I start as an FNP in internal medicine at a community health center not far from us on January 6th. I’ve been hoping, praying, scheming for a job at this clinic since before I even started my grad program. I couldn’t be more excited. It’s seriously my current dream job and I’m still in a bit of disbelief that I landed it. Also last week when Jer and I started talking childcare logistics after getting my schedule I kind of wanted to crawl under a rock and never come out. Blegh.

I’ve just been a little amazed at how much I love spending the days with our little man. I don’t think it’s that I feel guilt about my plans to work full-time, or fear that we won’t be able to find someone trustworthy to help care for him. I just really like being at home with the bub. God has inconveniently given us a delightful firstborn, which has prevented me from getting those get-me-out-of-the-house-and-take-this-baby-off-my-hands-or-I’m-going-to-lose-it feelings enough to make me eager to get back to working full-time. Dead gum.

I know (or at least trust) that God will somehow get me through leaving Ezra on a daily basis to work. Millions of parents do it, and get through it. I will be one of them. But for now I am seriously working to be present in the moments I am blessed to have in this season. To rest, and enjoy new motherhood, so that I can carry the joys of this time into the tougher days ahead. I really want to lean into this time. Pray for me. Pray for the days ahead, but pray for the days I’ve got now, that I would listen to what God has to show me today, and allow him to prepare me for what’s to come.

here

IMG_4206Twenty-two days ago, baby Ez came. I can hardly believe it was only just over three weeks ago that we were waiting, wondering when this little man would show up. It feels like months since I was pregnant, pondering what this little person would be like, finding it hard to imagine what it would be like when we’d finally meet.

The evening of September 27th (the day after my due date–also historically the day women in my family have gone into labor) was a beautiful one. I had spent the day studying hard for NP boards with my friends while Jeremy worked from home, and we decided we had better spend the evening enjoying the gorgeous weather and relaxing a little after a hard day’s work.

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It was my absolute favorite kind of evening. We walked to the square for a picnic dinner, stopping at one of our favorite places (Half Italian) for provisions. We ate on the grass and took the long way home to stroll down our favorite neighborhood streets. It was lovely in every way. Gorgeous weather, the best company, and plenty of time to slow down and just enjoy this short season of life for an evening.

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We half-jokingly referred to all our jaunting around the neighborhood as a “baby march,” and wouldn’t you know it–by 8pm the contractions started. Also, remember that my sister-in-law was pregnant with my next baby niece, due the very same day as me? Well that evening she was also still waiting for her little one to arrive, and we had been texting a lot over the previous days and weeks–constantly checking in with each other. “How are you doing? Hello?? ARE YOU IN LABOR?!?!” You know, that sort of thing. So of course I texted her when I started having these contractions. And THIS HAPPENED:

laborstartingNo joke. My niece was born later that night. !!! Amazing. I could not believe we ended up going into labor on the same day (at the same TIME!!!), and having our kids less than 24 hours apart. Yowwwwza! It was pretty special, and certainly an encouragement (not to mention an inspiration) to hear of my niece’s arrival as I was in the beginning stages of labor.

I won’t go into all the details of my labor and delivery, but I know some of you are probably curious as to whether we went through with the home birth we were planning (or maybe more accurately how we survived it), so I’ll give you the short version. There’s nothing really crazy or surprising to tell. My labor was about 17 hours. Contractions steadily increased in frequency, duration, and intensity. It all started around 8 at night, and by the time we got into bed, contractions were painful enough that there wasn’t much hope for me sleeping. By 10am the next morning, our doula headed over and our midwives showed up around 11am. By noon I was 7 1/2cm dilated and around 3ish I got in the infamous tub and started pushing. Ez was born at 4:47pm. Giving birth was freaking intense. By far the hardest thing I’d ever done. But the vibe in our apartment was more chill than I imagined it would be during labor and I managed to get through it without doing anything crazy or swearing at my husband, which I consider a major win.

Honestly the best part about having a home birth was being home riiiight after the baby came. We so very much love our home, and it was soooooo wonderful to be in a place that we love and which feels so familiar and important to us. Also, within the first week of having Ez we had to take him to the hospital for jaundice, so it was especially a blessing to have been home those first few days. The very evening Ez was born, both sets of our parents, my sister, and my nephew Wyatt came over, and it was sooooo wonderful to have everyone with our new baby in our cozy living room. I would totally have another kid this way, even though it means no drugz (and let me tell you, I totally get why people opt for epidurals during labor 🙂 ).

Having a newborn is not easy peasy, but we totally love this kid, think he’s a gem, and I am lo-ving not being pregnant.

I gave myself two weeks to rest hard core and mainly not think about my NP boards. But those two weeks have come and gone and I have officially scheduled my exam, so you can start praying for me immediately. I’m trying not to think too much about how hard they will be and whether I will pass and what I will do if I don’t etc. etc. so as not to go crazy, but let me tell you having that exam on the calendar is fa-fa-freaky. SO. We had a child, but life keeps on trucking along. Yikes!!! God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, right? Pray pray pray and I will keep you posted on what happens!

before he comes

It’s September 25th. The day before I’m due to have a baby. How on Earth did this day ever come?

In some ways, I feel like I will never have this baby. Like he’s just cozied up inside of me and will be for the next… I don’t know, forever? Part of it is that [praise Jesus] I’m not awfully terribly uncomfortable like it seems so many women are as they approach 40 weeks. I think another part of it is that labor just comes when it comes, right? There’s really no this-certainly-happens-the-day-before-you’ll-go-into-labor things. Any indicators of being “close” to actually popping out a human are awfully vague, and usually mean baby’s coming in either the next several days or the next several weeks.

For the most part, the waiting has been ok, but it messes with the part of me that prefers to plan and more importantly mentally prepare for things. It’s so odd to caveat all your plans with “well, as long as the baby’s not here yet.” I’ve sort of been making two sets of mental plans for the next couple weeks and its striking how wildly different they feel. For example: Friday I’ll meet my friends at a coffee shop and study for NP boards for as long as I can handle. OR I’ll be passed out on our couch (that’s what you do after labor, right?) with a new baby, my mom will be in town, Jer will be home, and my in-laws will be on their way. It’ll be buckle-down-and-study mode, or sleep/vacation/family/not-at-all-thinking-about-boards mode. Vierd, ja.

The crazy thing about having your due date riiiiight around the corner is that once you get this close, you start to think about the very real (and seemingly likely) possibility of going past that date, and by more than just a couple days. I can sort of wrap my head around this kid coming Friday, or Saturday, or even Sunday. But October? Even second week of October?? Ohhhh Lordy. I don’t know if my brain can handle fourteen more days of wondering, dual-planning, caveating.

Of course I understand that shortly there will be a tiny human in my house and I’ll hardly be able to fathom having written this blog post. I guess that’s sort of what inspired me to ramble a bit here today. I have this sense that everything is about to change, but here I am, still my normal self, pre-baby, pre-parent, unaware of what the other side of all of this actually holds.

Its a quiet, peaceful morning here in my home today. The last several weeks really have been good. For the most part, the Lord has marked my days with peace and contentment through the waiting. I haven’t been consumed by a desire to fast forward, and for that I am extremely thankful. Jeremy and I have really enjoyed putting the baby boy’s room together, and home life has felt a little more sane than usual. We’ve been able to do some of the things we love to do together most, and I’ve been struck by what a joy it is that we share so many of our quirks [read: crazy]. We took a trip to ikea the other night and both fell completely in love with a not-really-actually-very-babyish floor lamp that we both saw as perfect for the nursery. We responsibly walked away from the lamp, and shortly after both agreed we better have a second look at the lamp, which we ultimately brought home with us.

I think Jer’s gotten into a bit of a groove with his studies and work commitments, which is huge considering the significant increase in intensity and sheer hours required that this semester and the beginning of fall have brought. I’ve had great times of work and study for boards with my grad school friends, and its been such a blessing to spend time with them again after having not seen much of each other since the end of our program.

There’s really no rush for baby to arrive. I’ve been praying and praying that he would come at the exact perfect right time, and I really believe that he will. God knows aaaall the factors to consider surrounding his arrival–far more than I do–and that’s comforting. The boy will come when he comes.

This God–his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30.

beautiful mornings and stroller dramer

I rise before the dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Psalm 119:147

What a beautiful, short but sweet passage of Scripture. After hearing these words preached on Sunday this past weekend, Jeremy and I have resolved to cultivate a habit of getting out of bed before dawn, as the sun is coming up and before it feels like the rest of the world is up to remind us we had better get moving on all the tasks of our little lives.

Today was my first day. I woke up around 4:30am to work on possibly getting a shift, so after about five hours of periodically interrupted sleep and one and a half lying in bed before 6am arrived, I was seriously tempted to stay put. But I really am convinced that slow, quiet time in the Word and in prayer warrants high prioritization, and that I want to build a habit of doing this every day, before I can convince myself there is too much else to get done. So I got out of bed.

What a sweet time. The sun was just beginning to come up, a low glowing along the horizon. The house was quiet and dark, and in spite of my fatigue, this little morning chunk of time with God was a wonderful blessing to me. There is so much going on in our lives right now, and yet so much will change in the next month that could make these past few months feel like a time of rest. What a gift to be able to have this morning. I really want to treasure these last weeks before we become a family of three, being marked by peace and patience as I inch closer to our due date.

Jeremy and I bought a stroller last week. [First off, let’s just pause and recognize how bizarre it is to suddenly find yourself in a place where you’ve acquired an insane amount of knowledge on something like strollers, suddenly also having actual opinions on what you want out of something like a stroller. Its very, very, (can I add one more?) very strange.] I sort of set my heart on a sweet stroller called the Maclaren Techno XT. One of my friends has it, loves it, thinks its awesome, (which it is) etc. Its only downfall is that it’s a $350 (WHAT?!) stroller. So off to Craig’s List we went, looking to see if anyone in the Chicago area happened to be off loading one of these babies.

We were in luck! Found a seller getting rid of a five-year-old Techno XT for $40–INSANE. There were apparently some minor issues with it, which we were totally cool with. A bit of sun bleaching on the seat, and the mechanism which keeps the stroller folded up was broken, so instead of a handy dandy fold-and-grab type of situation, collapsing this thing would be more of a fold-and-hook-your-bungee-around-it-so-it-doesn’t-fall-open kind of thing. No big deal, we thought, because we like most of our possessions to have a little bit of ghetto flare.

We drove hecka far for this thing and it was pouring rain and getting dark when we got there. Naturally, instead of having us into her dry garage, our Craig’s-Lister had us stand under a tree [read: in the pouring rain] in her front yard to look at the thing. It looked a little different than I was expecting after seeing her pictures on Craig’s List and it struck me as looking older than five years. It was missing some key features that I thought were a part of the techno xt model, but then again what did I know? I had read a bunch about strollers and of course creeped on families with strollers in parks a little to get closer looks, but I’d never actually really tried to buy a stroller myself. I felt a little unsure, but I was really motivated to get out of the pouring rain, we had just driven and hour and fifteen minutes for this thing, and the stroller was FORTY BUCKS I mean come on, that’s a ridiculous price. Could we seriously do better? We could always resell it if we changed our mind, we told ourselves.

We forked over the cash, threw the stroller in the back of the car, and were on our way.

Now the thing is, Jeremy and I are not amateur Craig’s Listers. Nearly all of our furniture and house decor came straight from the list. We’ve bought and sold a crazy amount of things on Craig’s List. We are totally the kinds of people that will paint and then re-paint a room because we’re not pro at choosing colors. We are not the kinds of people who buy stuff on Craig’s List that we don’t actually end up wanting.

But I was becoming increasingly suspicious of this purchase we just made. So I started doing a little research. Turns out the stroller we bought was actually not five but at least nine years old. Also that it was recalled. For amputating small childrens’ fingers. Ohhhhhhhhhkay.

YOU LIVE AND YOU LEARN, PEOPLE. I was on Craig’s List that very night, looking for better options, and armed with questions like, “HOW OLD IS THIS STROLLER? WHAT KIND OF CONDITION IS IT IN? HAS IT EVER EATEN ANY OF YOUR CHILDRENS’ FINGERS?”

Fortunately we found a great other option. Not a fancy pants Techno XT, but still pretty fancy in the pants, and honestly totally more appropriate for our own stroller needs. PARENTHOOD, MAN. It’s coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

at long last : a few snaps of the first floor, RENOVATED

You’d think that after all of the projects Jer and I have finished in this house, I would have learned my lesson and picked up the habit of thorough “before” documentation. Well unfortunately this is not the case, and the first floor renovation causes me the most regret for skipping out on before pics because of what an incredibly dramatic change this new apartment is from the old. I’m going to do my best to give you mental before snapshots, but ohhhhh how I wish you could have seen this place pre-transformation! I mean, YOWZA.

Our friends are all moved in and getting settled, and they were gracious enough to let me sneak into their place for some after pics while they enjoyed their honeymoon out of state. I skipped the bedrooms and bathroom, as these rooms’ transformations were a lot more about making weird spaces normal instead of massive change. Also, taking pictures of the teeny tiny bedrooms in this house basically translates into a bunch of photos of corners of rooms, which I think can be a little more disorienting than helpful. HOKAY. Here we go!

So time for you to use your imagination. This apartment is set up just like ours (front to back–living room, dining room, long hallway, then kitchen, with bedrooms all along the western side of the house). The first two rooms (living and dining) are the first you’ll see. Pre-renovation these rooms were all carpeted, and both rooms were in serious need of some love to the walls, as there was a decent amount of cracked plaster throughout. The carpet was ancient, and not salvageable, so we tore it up in hopes that we’d find wood flooring somewhere underneath. The other major project which started in these two front rooms involved reconfiguring the electrical. The few outlets around the rooms had a real ghetto burnt look to them, and our electrician ended up completely replacing all the old wiring with new.

Ok. So are you picturing it? Really bad carpet, cracking walls, sketchy-looking outlets? Here’s after all of our work:

IMG_4091Just to give you an idea of the layout, here’s from a bit of a different angle:

IMG_4096This picture also shows the sweet crown molding that isn’t in any of the other apartments in the building. All of the original wood trim and molding in these first two rooms was in incredible shape, which we were pumped about. Here’s a shot from the door to the hallway, with the dining room in the foreground:

IMG_4082It’s really quite amazing to think back to how this place looked before and consider that this is the same space. Cray cray.

Ok. THE KITCHEN. Ohhhhhh em gee. Alright. Time for the set up. Floors were linoleum. Not in awful shape, but seriously outdated. The walls and ceiling needed a lot of work. The walls were covered up to about four feet with some sort of plastic panels made to look like tile, sort of a high tile wainscoting knock-off with a sort of yellow and brown color scheme. Aside from being crazy looking stuff, it was all buckling off the walls so there were large spots that stuck out which you could push on, causing it to sort of crinkle into the wall and bounce back. Above this stuff there was some cracking plaster, and REAL busy wallpaper everywhere.

The ceiling was a bummer. The second and third floor apartments in our house have these sweet old tin ceilings, and when we tore up the cracking ceiling throughout the first floor kitchen and hallway, we found the same stuff, although in real bad shape. We hoped we could salvage it but, alas, we could not. So instead we had a new ceiling put in, and canned lighting while we were at it.

The cupboards and appliances were all crazy old. The stove was actually kind of neat-looking (aside from the creamy yellow finish), but the oven was probably about half the size of a normal one. No regulation-sized cookie sheets goin in there anytime soon, no ma’am. We ended up tearing all of this out and starting from scratch.

Ok. So old kitchen: weird buckling plastic fake tile all around the perimeters. Cracking walls. Cracking ceiling. Craaaazy wallpaper everywhere. Weird old cabinets and appliances. Got it? K here’s the glorious after:

IMG_4087Aaaand the other side of the kitchen:

IMG_4090Our friends built the countertop with legs over the radiator, which matches insanely well and makes so much sense functionally. Jer put in the tile backsplash behind the sink, which was totally worth the extra time, effort, money. After that piece of the project, he’s dreaming about the day he can put one of those babies in our own apartment.

So there you have it. A few shots of the place after all the crazy. Hope you enjoyed!