Thursday, April 10, 2014

After deciding to stay in the USA for the unforeseen future we began talking about if we should invest in a home. We've always rented partially because we planned on going overseas and we didn't want to be tied to a mortgage. Now that we're settling here we wanted a place to call home that could eventually translate easily into a rental property if we decided to go overseas. We haven't navigated house buying territory at all so we wanted a clear picture of where we were at before we made any kind of decision. About a week before Zara was born Neal met with a lender to see what we could get pre-approved for. They met on Thursday and we were pre-approved on Friday. At this point we were anxiously awaiting for Zara to be born and we didn't think we would even look at houses seriously for at least several months if not a year. At the same time we wanted to be prepared to buy if something came up. We talked with our real estate agent and he sent us a listings website. I searched just out of curiosity and fell in love with the first listing I saw. We went to look at it the next day and it really was everything we could have hoped for. Literally. We had a list of "must haves" and "would likes" and it checked off on every single item on both lists. We put in an offer the next day. 2 days later they counter offered, we accepted, did an inspection and now we're just waiting to close on May 15th.  

All of this was such a crazy whirlwind. It all happened the week Zara was born. She was born the day we were supposed to meet with the house inspector to go over his report. It's been a quick process with lots of tears from me. I'm a slow decision maker and it's hard for me when something feels rushed, not to mention I was overdue and soooooo hormonal (still am). Yet, the more we prayed about it the more we realized that it was perfect for us. 

I never ever thought that we would own a home. Really. One, I didn't think we'd ever be able to afford it. Two, it just seemed like a really big deal. Three, I thought we'd always be moving from place to place. So one, after talking with our lender we realized how doable it is for us financially and thanks to my hubby's hard work with maintaining our credit we qualified for a really awesome program making our down payment and monthly payment super affordable with relatively low interest rates. And two, a purchase this large shouldn't be taken lightly but at the same time multiple friends of ours (whom are older and we respect a lot) have reminded us that it's not as big a deal as we were making it out to be. It's not a permanent decision. It's not a marriage or a child. It's a home - that can be sold if need be. Lastly, I still can't believe we won't be moving from place to place for who knows how long. Really, I don't think I've grasped it yet. 

Our new home is in the city. This is scary for me : ) Our neighborhood/street is really family friendly but the surrounding ones...not so much. We've met a few of our neighbors and are excited to get to know them. A lot of young families are moving into that area because housing is so affordable and we're hoping things just get better and better. I've never lived anywhere remotely urban. Neal is so very comfortable in the city and it really is a dream for him to live there. I have a lot to learn and though I get nervous I'm excited at the same time. This city is where we fell in love and it's surreal to be calling it home. We'll be minutes from favorite coffee shops and restaurants and a ton of places that are just bursting with memories. We're excited : ) 

This is our home. I'm excited to share it with you. It's more space than we've had before so I'm thinking it'll be pretty barren for a while as we slowly collect furniture and pieces we love. We're excited about thrifting and browsing through yard sales. The red door charmed us right away : )


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We live here. Our church is here. Our community is here. And we've decided were going to stay for a while. 

Over the last few months we have felt really conflicted over our move to France. There have been so many things calling our name and we'd begun to feel pulled in too many directions. Preparing for France has been a slow process and through it all we've been constantly asking God to make our path straight.  A few weeks before Zara was born Neal sat down with one of his leaders at the church and hashed out everything we'd been feeling. It was realized that we felt more called to be a part of our church here than we did to go to France…at least for now. Our hope is that one day we will move our family overseas but now is not that time. My hubby does a really good job of explaining our heart for this decision so I'll turn it over to him. I think this is the first time he's posted on my blog : ) Here he is:

I want to admit something as I begin. I am not great at writing, it intimidates me to no end. Tash is so incredible at it and there is rarely a post that I see from her that does not bring me to tears. If you are a parent of a teenager in my youth group you probably can tell the difference between my emails and the ones my wife has edited and rewritten for me. : ) With that said and gotten out of the way, I am thankful that Tash is giving me a plug in her blog. God has done a tremendous work in my heart and it is so full it could burst the majority of the time. I could write about so many different things that pertain to our decision to stay here, and in an hour I am sure I will think of a completely different direction that I should have taken. But to keep things on course and to avoid bunny trails I will simply give an account of the story that led up to us staying and then share my desire in this season. 

One thing I would like to clearly say right from the beginning is that the call to France is as valid today as it was a month ago. The process of hearing God’s calling for us to go was long and hard. But at the end of that process we stood together and affirmed it as from the Lord and then I did something so foolish. I marched in to my leaders office and declared it and told him that it’s all settled and my family and I are moving to France and we are out of here. What I should have done is opened up a dialogue with him and submitted to him and all the leadership of our church Bethany. In hindsight I am so glad I did not do that and chose to do things the wrong way. If I had done it the right way over a year ago I do not think I would have learned the things that I am learning now and the results would not have been what they are now. 

God has been working in our church and calling our church to do new things and to trust his leadership. I believe God is calling Bethany to become completely dependent upon Him and his grace. When the Lord convicted my heart through his word about how I had not gone to leadership properly I was able to humble myself before them and the conversation was amazing. I will not spend time here going through all of it but the fruit of several conversations my wife and I had was that committing ourselves to our church was what the Lord has for us for right now. I love church, I love when the local church is aligning itself with Jesus and allowing the Lord to have complete leadership over it. I believe that is what God is doing at Bethany and we want to be apart of it - the messy parts and the awesome parts. We most of all want to be in community with everyone at Bethany. I believe that God has called my family and I to make the people of Bethany our family. If you are in our local church I want to spend time with you and your family and I want to know you and I want you to be a catalyst in my life to be more like Jesus. I want to do life with you. This is what we are giving ourselves to. When we do missions some day in a cross cultural setting our desire is that it will be a great loss to leave Bethany. To people outside of our community I believe God is doing a work in his global Church and I believe its centered around community and love. God moves locally in each of our churches and he is the same God and that is beautiful. What He is doing in my church, I am committed to until he tells me and my leadership that it is time to set apart the Marcelluses and bless them as they leave. That may be anywhere from 50 years to 50 months - I do not care about the timeline. I signed up to give the authority of my life and that of my family to the Lord and in faith, we trust Him. Through Him we will endure and run well the race he has us on.


Monday, April 7, 2014

We've been home from the hospital for a little over a week now and are slowly adjusting to being a family of 5. My Mom is here with us and we have been so incredibly thankful for all of her help. She wrangles the older two and cooks and cleans and is generally a super hero in our house right now. I'm able to spend my time resting and snuggling our teeniest one. I don't know how I would do this without her help.

So far this recovery feels the hardest. I remember being ready to take on the world a lot sooner with the other two. I realize it's only been a week : ) so I'm not too concerned about it. Mostly we're just exhausted and I'm still feeling like the littlest things overwhelm me.

I can say this though - I am thankful. God has been fostering a thankful heart in me the last few weeks and though days can be long and circumstances can be stressful I am learning to be thankful and to daily experience the goodness of God.

The day we met Zara Jayne was different than I expected it to be. On Wednesday, March 26th I had an appointment with my midwife in order to get an ultrasound to ensure that everything was still progressing in a healthy way. After my ultrasound they told me that I had an excessive amount of amniotic fluid which explains why I was MASSIVE and had gained 4 lbs in one week. It also explains why I had felt like I was going into labor for the last two weeks but hadn't gotten anywhere. The medical term for it is Polyhydramnios. She explained it by saying that the amount of fluid was so high that I couldn't contract properly and effectively. She told me that I could keep waiting if I wanted to but that it was likely I would need to be induced. I figured that if I was going to get induced either way I'd rather just get it over with so we went into the hospital that evening. It was really surreal driving there, not in labor, knowing that one way or another we would meet our little girl very soon. Things were already not what I had expected. After Maddox's quick birth I was hoping for something more like that. My biggest hope was to deliver in the water again.

Once at the hospital, they put me on Cervadil for the night. I dilated to a 3 by morning and we decided to try Pitocin for 2 hours and see what happened. I was GBS positive this time so I had an IV of antibiotics also. My midwife put me on the lowest dose and I started having regular contractions right away that were about 5 minutes apart. After two hours they stopped the Pitocin and broke my water. Labor continued steadily and I actually enjoyed a normal progression of labor for the first time.  I listened to Shane & Shane or Josh Garrels and steadily worked through each contraction with Neal. Once the contractions were about 2 minutes apart and more painful I decided to get in the tub. Everything stopped. Once I got out of the tub contractions started up again and returned to being about 3 minutes apart. I got in the tub and everything stopped. It was probably around 1 or 2pm by now. I can't remember how many times I did this but every time I got in the tub my contractions completely stopped. I was so disappointed. Around 3pm I gave up on my water birth and was just ready to be done. At this point I was at 7cm. We started Pitocin again and I needed another round of antibiotics. Once on Pitocin my contractions were 1-2 minutes apart and as painful as I remember them getting. This is the part that gets hazy. Birth. It really hurts : ). I just remember being so overwhelmed and unable to calm down whenever I had a contraction. My guess is that they were 1-2 minutes apart for an hour or two but I don't really know. After those few hours I was still 7cm and her head wasn't engaging properly. My midwife suggested that because of the amount of amniotic fluid I had that my uterus was overstretched and tired and that if I couldn't relax, my muscles wouldn't allow for Zara to be in the right position. We tried a bunch of different positions to get baby in the right position but nothing worked. I decided to get an epidural and I remember being so upset that once I made the decision I still had to wait for the anesthesiologist. He put the epidural in and it didn't work. Go figure : ) My midwife checked where I was at and within those 20 minutes of deciding to get an epidural and actually getting one I had dilated to a 10 and baby was at +2. She said I could forget the epidural and try pushing or we could call the anesthesiologist back and get it redone. I went with option #1.  I think I pushed for about 20 minutes before we met our sweet little one. The first thing everyone said was, "Wow. That's a big baby." : ) I got to hold her for a moment before they took her away because she wasn't crying or breathing properly. She needed a breathing tube for a few minutes and was quickly returned to me and started nursing like a champ right away.

That's how it went. That's the play by play. It's easy to go through the circumstances and tell a story but it's harder to try and convey the emotions behind everything. It was so different from what I wanted and what I was expecting. I didn't want to be hooked up to monitors and IVs. I didn't want to use drugs and I didn't want to deliver on the bed on my back. I remember crying to Neal as I decided to get an epidural saying that I was disappointed in myself. I love my husband. He is and was the very best supporter and partner. Even the nurses said that they rarely see a husband who is so adoring and doting. He lovingly walked with me throughout the whole day and was reassuring when things didn't go the way I had wanted them to. At the end of the day her birth was perfect. There are a thousand things that could have gone wrong or been so much worse. How many women have stories wrought with tears and sorrow and loss? I cannot compare. I am humbled and thankful. A tube or two and needle or two are not worth my emotions and are not going to steal away what is always going to be true: we have been given a little soul to care for. It seems silly to dwell on anything else. 

Should I have just waited it out instead of getting induced? Maybe. Would things have gone differently? I don't know. It's not really worth my time to think about it. Each of my babies has a very different story and each of those stories has done different things in my heart. This time around I am again (like with Selah) reminded of insecurities that arise in me when circumstances aren't what I predict. I am again reminded that my confidence cannot lie in anything but Christ. Pain has a way of reminding us of our humanity and fragility. Life is brought through pain and endurance. It's never easy but it's always beautiful.

Zara Jayne Marcellus, our third baby, our second daughter, was joyfully welcomed into the world on March 27th at 6:36pm. She weighed 10lbs and was 21 and 1/4 inches long. She has a head full of hair and the sweetest pouty lips. She loves to sleep in our bed and she likes listening to music with Daddy. We are delighted by her. Each of our babies is a new miracle, someone beautiful to marvel at and enjoy. I cannot believe we have 3. It's wonderful and terrifying all at the same time : )

My dear friend Laurel of Boom Boom Photography spent the entire day with us. I wasn't sure how I would feel about having someone photograph one of my births since I tend to be extremely private but I was so glad she was there all day. She was thoughtful and professional and wonderful. Oh friend, I cannot thank you enough! It was a huge blessing and we've been given the most beautiful photos to remember Zara's birth.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

We're home.
We're healthy.
We're a family of 5.

Zara Jayne was born on March 27, 2014 at 6:36pm. She weighed in at 10lbs even and is 21 1/4" long. 
We love her dearly. 
I'll get more pictures up in the next few days.

Here's a little pronunciation video for you : ) Zara...like car-uh.


Monday, March 24, 2014

40 weeks and 5 days over here. I had an appointment today and everything is normal. Once I hit 41 weeks they'll start doing ultrasounds and such to make sure baby is still safe. Unless something is wrong I'm allowed to wait until 43 weeks before they start talking about an induction. With my last pregnancy they were still only allowing you to go until 42 weeks so this is new. Maddox was born at 41 weeks and 4 days. We'll see what happens! I'm doing pretty well. I'm definitely ready to have this baby at any point and each day seems to get longer and more difficult. I pretty much roll and waddle everywhere I go : ) I'm so very thankful for my Mom who is here helping us out. I take naps : ) and I go grocery shopping alone. I feel so much more rested than I know would if she wasn't here. It's been so so nice. 3 babies. Goodness me. I never thought I would be here. It boggles my mind. We're so ready to meet this sweet girl!


Friday, March 7, 2014

When we became pregnant with our third we planned on putting Selah and Maddox on bunk beds and the crib would be used for the baby. Once we started looking into options we realized that what I had in my mind just didn't exist. Everything was too big, too clunky and too tall! We eventually settled on a low loft bed from Ikea, bought one on Craig's List, and assembled it. Once it was up I hated it. It took over the entire room and just made everything feel cramped and uncomfortable. So I headed off to Pinterest and tried to see if anyone else had run into this problem. We needed a bunk bed that was smaller than twin size. Do they even exist? Yes they do, but unless you want to pay $600-$800 for a toddler size bunk from the few companies that make them, you're stuck. So I thought we should just build one. Bless Neal…he jumped on board and we made a plan. I decided I liked how the Ikea bed was set up (with a low loft and a floor bed for the smaller child) and I found another blogger who had made one for her little girls. Lucky me! Her post can be found here. We used that basic plan with a few changes. As you can see from the pictures, I chose not to put solid boards on the top (and we still need to put the rails on one end). I like that ours is open and airy and still safe. Here are the cuts that we used:

4@52" (long sides)
4@48" (posts)
8@27" (short sides)
1@46.5" (post for ladder)
3@14" (ladder rungs)
2@36.5" (upper bunk side rail)
11@10.25" (rails for the top bunk)

12@28.5" (mattress supports)

We had a few issues with the assembly but ended up using little corner braces to secure some of the rails. This project ended up taking basically all day (it wouldn't take nearly as much time if half of the team wasn't nine months pregnant and if there weren't screaming babies running around). Let me know if you have any questions (if you ever want to make one), we learned a lot and would probably be much more efficient if we made it a second time. We laughed our way through it for the most part. Neal and I both really love building things. At the same time, we don't really do it much (or ever). The bed isn't perfect : ) It has some silly mistakes and a few cosmetic things that I pretend not to notice but over all I LOVE IT. I have a thing for natural, unfinished wood and clean, simple lines. It speaks to me. I'm sure most people would want to paint it, or stain it, or add something frilly but not this Mama. I'm super happy with it just the way it is. I'm pretty sure the little Marcelluses like it as well since they're sleeping soundly in their new beds as I type : ) 

Maddox is so sweet on his little bed. I like that it's on the floor. He can get into it easily and it's nice for playing too. When he was in his crib I had some art up on the wall where he couldn't reach but I'm a bit stumped as to what to do with it now. I want each of their little spaces to reflect them. At the same time he'll break, rip, ruin, tear, or throw anything that's within reach. I was thinking of a really secure mirror and maybe some vinyl things (as long as he doesn't peel them off of the wall). Any ideas?


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Burp cloths aren't something I use very much. Selah spit up maybe twice as a baby and Maddox's "spit up period" was pretty short. But I felt like sewing and they're super easy so now I have a handful of them should I end up needing them. I bought a 3 pack of flour sack cloths at Walmart for $1.99 and then picked out some grey double fold bias tape. I cut the existing hems off of each cloth and then folded them in half. Then I divided the halves into three parts. Each burb cloth is double layered so one flour sack cloth made three of them. Then I just sewed the bias tape around the perimeter. Done. They're certainly not perfect. Folding the bias tape around the corner was not my strong suit…but I like them and they'll do the job.

I love flour sack cloth. It's soft and absorbent and crisp and clean…for now at least : ) Plus, I haven't met a stain that oxyclean doesn't get out so I'm not too worried about the fact that they're white. I love baby things. I love baby things that are simple and clean cut. I'm not crazy about cutesy prints and typical "girly" things. Finding these things in a retail setting seems nearly impossible unless I want to pay much MUCH more for top brands and organic products. It's so much easier, cheaper and more fun to just make my own!