1/1/14

Happy birthday, Margot!

How did we get to this milestone so quickly, seeming to fly by the seat of our pants most days? With a lot of grace, a lot of love, and a lot of support from people who love Margot and us.

Kyle and I have been brainstorming this girl's first birthday party for quite some time. Personally, I've been thinking about it since before she was born. I thought about dress she wore today, a special little Mini Boden dress I purchased when she was still in my belly, saving it just for today.


I thought about the tea cups, which I've been collecting for just such an occasion for the last four or so years. I thought about the cupcakes, a special splurge from our favorite bakery.


I thought about the special tea we'd send home with our guests, something blended in her honor


Not every detail was executed just as I dreamed. For example, I wanted to have a really big bash with all our friends and their kids, and I wanted to host it at The London Tea Room downtown. Sometimes, a girl has to simplify. We settled for family and our little flat.


Mostly, though, when I thought about today, I thought about the smile on our sweet girl's face. I thought about a year of memories with our darling little one. I thought about what it would feel like to have been a family of three for a whole year, never guessing we'd be on our way to a family of four. I thought about how we'd be able to look back and see the goodness of God in one whole year of life together.


Now that I'm looking back, I see the joy, the struggle, the giggles, the tears, the strength, the fear, the things we've learned, and how much we still have to learn.  I hear her cry for the first time while laying on the operating table.  I see the sleeping newborn in my arms. I hear Bon Iver playing all night in our room as we try to keep her calm and soothed. I see Kyle's confidence as a daddy grow, and watch his face gleam with pride and joy every time she does something new. I feel my heart racing like never before the first time I thought she was hurt, and the knotted twinge in my gut when she lets out a terrible cry. I feel my heart swell every time she says "hi" in her sweet, small voice, and makes strangers smile back at her. I feel it all...

A year full of emotion, the good and the difficult. A year full of life with our sweet Margot Jane.

Happy first and golden birthday to our sweet, happy girl.

12/9/13

Vulnerable.

Well, this blog has been neglected, as have many other aspects of life over the past two months. It has been a time of many ups and downs, many joys, and many, many challenges. I can hardly think about all of it without feeling like I might cry, or have a panic attack, or both. SO now I'm going to get a little vulnerable about life...

Margot is growing like crazy and doing new things every day. She is so fun and silly, and at the same time increasingly difficult to watch. It's a joy and a challenge. All the growth and change comes with new skills, new mobility, new curiosity, and little fear or understanding of what's safe or unsafe. Just holding her these days can be like a workout, as she likes to throw herself all over the place. It's adorable and exhausting.

I suppose of I had just one word to describe the last couple months, it would be exhausting. About 10 weeks ago, we found out we were expecting baby number two.  It was very unexpected, but very exciting.  Just a couple weeks later, Kyle got a hernia.  Apparently, it was one he was born with, but had just never given him problems until then, when it gave him a LOT of problems.  About 10 days after that, he had surgery to correct it. It was supposed to be an outpatient procedure, but he did not do well in recovery, and had to be admitted to the hospital. Thankfully, he was released the next day. Since then, it has been a very slow recovery with a lot of ups and downs.  He still is not able to lift Margot, or anything heavier than 10 pounds. He is still sore at the end of almost every day, and there have been a few times when he thought he might have re-aggravated it.  This has thrown a HUGE wrench into our daily lives, and made our schedules, routines, and rhythms completely wacky.

We are grateful for the grace many have extended to us, and ask for continued grace from the many people we've neglected, and those who've made up slack for our shortcomings as we just try to keep our heads above water.  It seems like a battle to just "get through" each day.

In addition to the woes of Kyle's hernia and recovery, we've had a difficult few weeks with our new downstairs neighbor. There have been so many complaints we could share, but to keep it brief, he smokes a lot of pot. And he may not only be smoking it, as there has been a lot of suspicious activity coming from his apartment the last two weeks. That's right, it has only been two weeks, but we have a huge laundry list of things going wrong.  Today, a maintenance man from our building came out to try and seal the duct work to prevent the two apartments from sharing air, but this afternoon, I am smelling it again as if someone were smoking in my own living room. We are praying for wisdom on how to act, and a speedy resolution.

This has brought out a lot of emotion in me. On top of all the hormones, I'm struggling with trusting God in all of this. I have struggled with doubting his will for us for a while, and struggling to be content in this phase of life. We have finally finished school, finally both have jobs, finally have our sweet baby and another on the way. After following the Lord to get to this place, and feeling so sure that it was his will for us to move to St. Louis, go back to school, etc. Now we are severely burdened with student loans, feeling stuck in an apartment that is becoming increasingly unlivable, working long hours, and feeling as if we are missing so much. Missing time with each other. Missing important times with Margot. Missing out on any kind of peace.

A friend of mine was able to put into words what I've been feeling, "It's hard to feel so far behind, when you did something to get ahead." With all of this comes a lot of dashed expectations. I thought life would be easier after school. I thought we wouldn't have to worry over finances, we'd be able to pay our loans off quickly, buy a nice home, save money, take vacations, and not worry every single day about our finances. The reality has been so very different.  I don't know how to recover from this.

We are trying to figure it out one day at time, praying for guidance and peace, and asking that God would renew our vision for what life looks like going forward. If I'm being completely honest, I'm terrified.  I have no idea what is ahead for us. In my very limited perspective, it looks like a giant mess.

We have so much to be thankful for, a happy, healthy marriage, a happy, healthy baby girl, another sweet one coming in June, an amazing church family and actual family who are walking through all of this with us, and a God who knows our struggles and sorrows more deeply than even we do, and who can see what's on the other side.

Thanks for letting me be vulnerable. Thanks for praying with us. I pray the peace of Jesus meets each of us this Christmas season.

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8/5/13

Seven Months.

Well, I'm just a few days late on writing Margot's seven month update, and in the summer-Bar-exam-madness, I never even wrote a six month one. Oopsies! Sorry, Margot.
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A lot has happened since her five month update. One of the most exciting things is that she has two teeth now! It's pretty much impossible to catch them on camera. The two on bottom started coming in a couple weeks ago, and we think she may be working on a couple more on top. Once in a while the poor girl just lets out a wail and puts her hands to her mouth as if there's a sudden wave of pain. Most of her seven-month pictures reflect this. :(
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We are still doing a combination of nursing and giving her formula, and now she's eating solids, too. Just before she turned six months old, she went through a huge growth spurt and my body just couldn't keep up. I tried every recommended thing to give it a boost, but it simply wasn't enough. She is doing really well on the breastmilk/formula combo, and growing like crazy. The transition was not so bad, despite a little constipation off and on. I still nurse her as much as I can, and she does well switching between the two. She LOVES eating purees now. The only things she does not seem to like so far are broccoli and peaches. I think the peaches were just too tart, and who could blame her on the broccoli?!
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She has experienced many "firsts" in the last couple months, many first foods, first trips to new places, first time having both parents at home, and neither of which are studying for anything! We also had a first in our marriage, first time purchasing a car! We are the proud owners of a Toyota Prius V, and we couldn't be more excited. Since we are not studying and not bound by a small, impractical car, we have a few road trips in our future. The first trip will have to be to see Papa Mo and GranNan down in Anna for a weekend, another first for MJ!
We're feeling very sunny this morning. :)

She rolls all over the place. She is trying hard to Army crawl, and she can kind of do it when she gets her head involved. It's a strange sight. She can sit up unsupported, but only if you help her get there. She's not yet able to pull herself up from laying to sitting, but she's getting close! She still loves to be outside and go on walks. She loves being in the Ergo carrier or in her stroller, it really doesn't matter as long as she is outside!
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Today we took her to the Saint Louis Zoo for the first time. We all enjoyed one more family day before Daddy starts work full-time tomorrow.
Greetings from Sea Lion Sound!
It had been quite a while since Kyle and I had visited the zoo, and there were many new attractions. The Sea Lion show was great! Kyle and I couldn't help but grin throughout the show at the sweet, playful creatures. Margot didn't really get it, but that's okay.
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Margot's favorite part was the butterfly house. She was mesmerized by the magical, fluttering creatures, the brightly colored flowers, and the peaceful atmosphere. Mommy was, too.


It was really a wonderful day with our sweet, happy, seven-month-old girl! I can't believe how big she is, how much she's changing, and much more we love her every day.  You are a joy and a blessing, sweet Margot Jane. Mommy and Daddy love you so, so much!

7/29/13

Great is Thy Faithfulness

As Kyle held me and kissed me goodbye to leave for Jefferson City, MO to take the Bar exam, he expressed his love and gratitude for my support, helping him through law school, etc. I had to fight back tears, not because I was sad he was leaving for two days, but because I thought of just how faithful God has been to us in our marriage.

It has been almost seven years since we entered into this covenant. When we made our vows and walked down the aisle as one flesh to face the world, our futures were so unknown. Some people have big dreams and a vision for their lives. My only dreams involved Kyle, and what I hoped would be our future children. Truthfully, I didn't really care much about where we lived or what we did, he was my only dream. To this day, that is still the truth.

Sure, I have more clear ideas about our future now. I have more specific dreams about where we'll live and what we'll do, but ultimately, Kyle is still my dream. No matter where the Lord takes us, or what challenges we face, Kyle is still the one I want there by my side as we face them together.

We're once again heading into uncharted waters in our marriage. The last several years have been heading for this moment, getting through the Bar exam. We haven't really made many plans for what comes next.

Right now, all I can do is reflect on the last few years and think of how good God has been. How gracious. How faithful.  Not just in our circumstances, but in our minds and hearts. We feel blessed that He sustained us through so many trials, and feel so much more confident that He will continue to do so.

It is good to worship an unchanging God in our very changeable lives. He holds us together as one. He increases our love day after day, year after year.

As Kyle goes to face what may be two of the most mentally and emotionally grueling days of his life thus far, two lines from an old hymn come to mind.
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand bedside... All I hath needed, Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
I love you, Kyle Bass! God is faithful. He made you and He sustains you. He will keep you in these next two days and forever. You are covered in love and prayer.

Bar Exam Eve

Greetings, friends! It's Bar Exam Eve, and I've come out of hibernation to ask for your prayers for Kyle. What I mean by that is that you will really pray, not send positive thoughts, not just say you're going to pray, not think about him for 10 seconds and then forget, but that you will commit to petition God and intercede on his behalf, for real. We are desperate for real intercession here.

In the 10 years I've been with Kyle, I can honestly say I've never seen him shaken by anything, not even three years of law school. He somehow always manages to take everything in stride, and approaches all of life with a peaceful, God-trusting attitude. But he. is. shaken. Doubting everything he knows, everything he has learned, his study skills, all his work not being enough, and generally fretful about anything that could go wrong. This is not the Kyle I have known, and the pressure he feels is something I can only kind-of relate to.

Please don't keep telling him, "I'm sure you'll pass!" As many previous bar-takers have told me, it isn't helpful. Please do pray. Please do remind Kyle that God is good, that he is not alone, and that you love him and believe in him.
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If you'll commit to pray for him, really pray for him, let us know what day and time you'll really be praying. If you pick a time and comment what time you choose, I'll come back and put your name down. The test is two days long, so I'd love to see someone commit to praying for him every hour on those two days. Set yourself a reminder on your phone if you pick a time!

Tuesday, July 30th
8am: Ryan P., Patti F., Grandma and Grandpa L., Kevin L., Janet R.
9am: Ryan P., Deanna H.
10am: Ryan P., Stephanie C.
11am: Ryan P. Bobbie A.
12pm: Ryan P., Grandma and Grandpa L.
1pm: Ryan P., Luann B.
2pm: Ryan P., Annie R.
3pm: Ryan P., Amber F., Heather O.
4pm: Ryan P., Keith B., Grandma and Grandpa L., Kevin L., Stacy H.

Wednesday, July 31st
8am: Ryan P., Patti F., Grandma and Grandpa L., Kevin L., Janet R.
9am: Ryan P., Sherye S.
10am: Ryan P., Amy B.
11am: Ryan P., Christine D.
12pm: Ryan P., Grandma and Grandpa L.
1pm: Ryan P., Luann B.
2pm: Ryan P., Annie R.
3pm: Ryan P., Amber F., Heather O.
4pm: Ryan P., Grandma and Grandpa L., Kevin L.

Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Thanks for your unconditional love.