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In the 8 years that I’ve been a mama, I’ve read countless books on parenting and motherhood. Books teach, encourage, inspire and help me grow as a parent. A few of the parenting books I read, earn a place in my library and are  reread, sometimes as often as annually and are such an encouragement in this mothering journey.

Books by Sally Clarkson are among my favorite mothering books. Copies of The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, Own Your Life, The Life Giving Home and The Life Giving Table adorn my shelves. Books written by Sally and/or her husband Clay can also be found on my shelves. We also own copies of Educating the Wholehearted Child, Heartfelt Discipline and Our 24 Family Ways – A Family Devotional Guide. These books have been such an encouragement in our parenting journey.

Learning that Clay and Sally had written another parenting book, titled The Life Giving Parent was exciting. I couldn’t wait until my copy arrived so I could soak up more wisdom from the Clarksons. It did not disappoint, I took several pages of notes that I will refer back to and it definitely has earned a spot on my bookshelf and I know it will be loaned out and reread over the years.

Some inspiring quotes from The Life Giving Parent:

“It’s about being the kind of life giving home culture that will stand as a testimony of God’s biblical design for family to a lost world whose sandy foundations are washing away.”

“We need to distinguish between a home that is considered Christian primarily because cultural Christianity happens there and a home that is Christian because Christ is alive and present in perceptible ways.”

“Children have appetite, just like adults, but with one big difference – they do not have the disciple and discernment at their young ages to control their appetites maturely. In the same way that parents naturally guard their children’s physical appetites so their bodies will be healthy, we as believing parents must also guard our children’s spiritual appetites so their hearts and spirits will be healthy.”

“The first priority for strengthening your children’s faith as a life giving parent is … to strengthen your own faith!”

“The way children act reveals their character. And one of the most telling character qualities is diligence – responding positively to parental influence and doing without delay what needs to be done.”

The last chapter of the book ends with, “It’s simply about choosing to invest your ‘one life to give’ into the hearts of your children. If that’s what you do, then you’ll be a life giving parent and the living God will be alive in your life – and in your children’s lives.” This is what I desire. Motherhood is a calling. I am called to mother these 4 little souls God has entrusted to me. We have yielded to that call on my life and it’s why I stay home and educate our children at home. It’s not easy – in fact there are many times I’m overwhelmed with the huge responsibility that comes with raising my children. However, I can’t think of a better way to invest my ‘one life to give’ than to invest it into the lives and hearts of my children.

The Life Giving Parent will challenge, teach, inspire and encourage you in your parenting journey to help you give your child a life worth living for Christ.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of The Life Giving Table in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network.

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When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, we talked quite a bit about the things we valued and the vision we had for our family. One of the things we decided to make a priority was sitting down to eat meals together.

We did not want to get caught up in the busyness and distractions of life and lose the connections with our family around meals. This decision was made in 2006, before the invention of the smartphone and the availability of constant distraction. I am so thankful we decided to make meal times together a priority and haven’t allowed the distractions of life to take over our meal times.

From the very beginning of our marriage, we have sat down to dinner each night. The children and I typically sit down and eat breakfast and lunch together also. We sometimes gather around our large bar to eat breakfast or lunch but we’re still gathered together and not planted in front of the television.

Since adding children into our family, we have continued to make our family meal times a priority and they’ve gotten so much more fun. Our kids are now 8, 6, 4 and 11 months and the conversations we have with the big kids are so enjoyable!

While gathering around the table has always been a priority, we haven’t always been intentional about our time together and I must confess that often the responsibility of preparing 3 meals a day for my growing family can feel more like a chore than a joy and I don’t put my best effort into creating delicious meals and delightful conversation. Having to prepare 3 meals a day each and every day (we rarely eat out) makes me somewhat of a utilitarian cook – I don’t always prepare meals focusing on delicious food. I tend to just fix something to minimize my time in the kitchen and the amount of dishes dirtied.

The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson has been such a convicting and inspiring book. The time gathered around the table should be viewed as invaluable for deep and meaningful connections with family as well as an opportunity to disciple our children, enjoy a beautiful relaxing environment and delicious food.

Some inspiring words from The Life Giving Table:

“Adults and children are not just bodies to be fed, but also minds to be challenged, hearts that depend on emotional input to survive and to grow as healthy human beings and spirits that long for connection with God and purpose in life.”

“Preparation for a meal indicates thoughtfulness, caring and intentionality. We show others their worth to us by considering how to best meet their needs and by intentionally arranging the environment to provide comfort and pleasure.”

“When we model to our children that pleasure, delight, laughter and food are not God’s after thoughts, but HIs generous gifts to us all, we do them a great favor.”

She writes about the importance of the blessing. We don’t always pray before meals, not because we’re not thankful but because we feel that sometimes it’s just a habit and not always heartfelt.

My thoughts about the importance of the blessing have changed after reading Sally’s words, “A blessings can also be a way for us to tune in to the sacrifice that is necessary for any of us to eat. Growing and living things in creation – plants and animals – must die in order to give us life.” When I came across this, I stopped and just pondered it for awhile. Every time I eat, something else must die.

My life is sustained by the sacrifice of something else. Since we have now begun raising our own food, we are reminded daily that our food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. The meat you eat was once alive and an animal had to die for you to eat it. Even plants give up their life in order to nourish you. I’m definitely more aware of what I’m eating, the true cost of my food and also profoundly thankful for the food I have to eat each and every day.

The Life Giving Table is one of those rare books that has a broad audience. We all eat and desire to connect with the ones we love. Whether you are single, newlywed, married with children or an empty nester, you can create a life giving table.

My hope is that my table becomes more than just a place where people are fed but a place where we enjoy delicious food (most of it grown here on the homestead), connect with each other and enjoy the good gifts God has given us.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of The Life Giving Table in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network. This post does contain affiliate links.

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Do you have a dream to stay home with your kids?

We knew even before our first baby arrived that I was going to stay home. It was a dream of ours and we spent the first years of our marriage planning our finances to make it work.

Knowing this shaped how we lived in our early years of marriage. When we married, we were still in college and living on a small income. During those first two years of marriage, we lived very frugally and learned how to stretch our dollars as far as they could go. We also learned contentment. We knew we couldn’t have everything we wanted when we wanted it but we were okay with making some sacrifices in regards to material possessions to put ourselves in a better financial position.

Once my husband graduated and had a full time job, we continued to live the same as we did in college. We did not purchase new vehicles, take extravagant vacations or purchase a lot of excessive material goods once our income nearly doubled.

During that time, we lived fully off of his income and anything I earned was either saved or applied towards the principal of our mortgage. Since we were already living on one income, the transition to becoming a stay at home mom after the birth of our son was easy.

I’ve been at home with our children for 8 years now. We feel like we’ve been able to thrive on one income thanks to contentment and frugality.

We know we can’t have the latest and greatest as far as electronics, clothing and vehicles go. But, our 14 and 16 year old vehicles are paid for. We buy as much as we can used via resale shops, thrift stores, yard sales, Craigslist or eBay. We rarely eat out these days because it’s just not in the budget.

The sacrifices of material things have been worth it and are still worth it. 

Not only has our frugality and careful spending allowed me to stay home, we’ve also been able to achieve our dream of living on a small homestead. While we do have a mortgage on our home and property, without the previous 12 years of saving and building equity, we would not be able to afford living where we do.

Life is full of choices. Knowing what you want and working towards that goal helps make the short term choice to sacrifice worth it for the long term goal.

Do you want to stay home with your children? 

If you’re engaged or newlyweds, talk about what your goals are for your future family. If you desire to have children and think one of you may want to stay home, decide to live off of one income during your early years of marriage. Build up an emergency fund, pay off debt and save the second income. Even if you decide not to stay home, you’ll be in a better position financially which will help your family.

For expectant parents and parents of young children, maybe you’re thinking about one of you staying home for the first time but don’t think you’ll be able to do it financially. Take some time and set some financial goals for your family. Create a budget based on one of your incomes and stick to it! Use the other income to pay off or pay down debt. Live as frugally as you can.

Staying home with your children is a choice. Saying yes to staying home often means saying no to many other things but if it’s your dream, it is possible.

If you do have the dream to stay home with your kids, my friend Erin has written a book just for you! You Can Stay Home with Your Kids!: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Ways to Make It Work on a Budget shows you how your family can thrive on one income.In this book you’ll learn how to curb spending, eat well on a budget, shop secondhand and sales, create more income and more! I’m so excited that she has written this book to help families realize that the dream of staying home can become a reality. A little creativity, frugality and contentment can help you stay home with your kids!

You Can Stay Home with Your Kids releases April 10. If it is your dream to stay home, it will be worth every single penny!

If you preorder the book, you will receive some exciting bonuses:

*Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. I was not compensated in any way to share about You Can Stay Home with Your Kids – I’m just passionate about mamas finding a way to stay home with their kids if that’s their hearts desire!

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Our dream to live on a small farm or homestead goes back to the very beginning of our marriage. We met through the FFA right after high school, married soon after and studied agriculture in college. We both grew up on family farms and had a desire to raise our children on a farm.

While preparing for graduation and entering the workforce, we still had that desire to have a little piece of land that was our own. Our first house was on an acre and we were able to garden there. After moving to Georgia, the second home we purchased was also on an acre. We had plans to garden and have chickens.

We soon learned that it was illegal to have any livestock in our county if you lived on less than 2 acres. After learning this in mid-2013, we were so ready to move. It was frustrating that you could live on an acre and not have a few hens in your backyard!

In 2014, we found a home on 7 acres that we really liked and even put our home on the market. We prayed and prayed and prayed some more but realized it was not the right time. That was hard. Then in early 2015, we found another home on several acres that we really liked and we submitted an offer after much prayer that was promptly refused. We stopped looking and in 2015 and 2016, we focused on making the most of what we had where we were – we gardened, planted fruit trees and did what we could. We still were dreaming of our own little piece of land but we were content where we were.

In early 2017, we felt a restlessness again and started browsing the real estate listings frequently. We looked at a couple houses that fit into what we were looking for but they weren’t right.

Then in late March, we found a newly listed home and property.  It wasn’t perfect, the house was a little weird to me and there was not even a complete driveway but it was in area we wanted to be in, less than 20 minutes from my husband’s office, was in our price range and at 1,800 square feet it gave our family room to grow but wasn’t too big. (We didn’t want a home over 2,000 square feet.)

We made an offer which was accepted and then worked hard to get our house ready to go on the market. We listed it and accepted an offer within 5 days! Everything just seemed to fall into place and we were confident that little piece of land was the place we had been waiting for all of these years.

We closed on May 2nd ( when I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant) and started working on making this house and land into our little homestead. Our baby girl was born in our home just 10 days later.

In the 10 months we’ve lived here, we’ve added chickens, pigs and sheep. We raised a batch of broilers (meat chickens) and have processed them. John David has an older tractor for pasture management, we’ve planted a small orchard and have two garden plots. And, we’re having a blast!

We decided to name our place Arrow Hill Homestead inspired by Psalms 127:3-4 “Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, children, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.”

I am so thankful everyday when I am able to feed animals and gather eggs – I can’t believe this is our reality, we are living our dream!

If you’re interested in following along our homesteading journey, we’ve started a family blog that will be covering everything from daily chores and baby chicks to butchering pigs and gardening.

Arrow Hill Homestead Website

Arrow Hill Homestead Facebook Page

Arrow HiIl Homestead Instagram

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It’s been so long since I’ve sat down to write anything that it’s hard to know where to start. So, I’m just going to write and share a bit of an update of life with our family.

We’re slowly settling into life as a family of 6 – moving and having a baby in the same month has been hard for me – my personality doesn’t naturally like change. We’ve been in our home 10 months now and I still don’t feel quite settled but this house is starting to really feel like home which I’m thankful for. (I just need to paint, put up pantry shelving, organize several spaces and so on!)

Having a 4th baby has been both easy and challenging. She is a such a sweetheart and we’re all enamored with her – the new hasn’t worn off for any of us! She is a pretty content baby girl but has not been the best night time sleeper which leaves me tired but I know this won’t last forever. The biggest challenge has been adapting to the management of life with 4 children – the laundry feels absolutely endless,  I’m learning to buy and prepare much larger quantities of food and we need more structure in our daily life.

The past 10 months have definitely been a time of growth, change and excitement. We’re still pinching ourselves that we have realized our dream of living on a small homestead and that we have chickens, pigs and sheep, plenty of land to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers and ample space for our children to roam and explore.

The homestead, caring for a baby, homeschooling, adjusting to life as a family of 6 and keeping everyone fed fills up my days and I have neglected some of the things that I enjoy – like writing. But, as I study more about my personality and know myself better, writing/blogging is one of those things that is worth making time for – it recharges me which makes me a better wife and mama. 
Our children are growing so fast. I am in awe of how much they grow and change in such a short period of time. Laura is nearly 10 months old, has 2 little teeth, is standing and cruising and looking more like a toddler everyday. Cecilia will be 4 this month, is such a big helper to me, loves to cook and is full of personality and sass. Weston is 6 and is our resident farmer – he owns several chickens and the sheep on the homestead belong to him. Paxton will be 8 next month, is in 2nd grade and in the past couple of months has turned into an absolute bookworm – I’ve been reading to him since he was a baby and he’s always loved books but since his reading abilities have gotten beyond easy readers, he can’t put the books down. And, I love it! 

I’m doing my best to just soak up this baby girl! Babies are a lot of work but they’re so sweet and such a gift. And, after 4 babies, I know how amazingly fast they grow.

Cecilia is loving having a sister and I love that they have each other. They have a few matching shirts and a pair of matching pajamas and she loves matching her sister. This picture was taken recently – they both were wearing matching pajamas and Cecilia pretended to be a baby in the crib with Laura that morning. 

It’s nearly spring so we have some baby chicks! These babies will grow up to be laying hens. We also have 3 baby piglets that were born last week. If you’re interested in the homesteading aspect of our life, I’ve started a new blog, Arrow Hill Homestead. There’s not much there just yet but I plan to use it as a journal of life on the homestead. 

I celebrated my 31st birthday yesterday. As I’m getting older, birthdays aren’t as eagerly anticipated as they once were but they’re fun – especially with kids who love celebrating. My boys picked out this cake and brought it home after church yesterday – they were so excited about it and I love that they know me so well – it was strawberry shortcake (I love strawberries – my birthday is typically celebrated with a strawberry cake or strawberry pie!) They also picked me daffodils that were growing on the edge of our property. 

When you’re grown up, sometimes you buy yourself your own gifts! I bought these daffodils as a gift to myself because they’re beautiful and I love daffodils since they’re always blooming on my birthday.

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Scripture Memory is such an important part of a Christian’s life. As Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Hiding the word in our hearts is such a treasure.

Teaching children, even very young children, can be fairly simple. Children love songs and stories and repetition and tend to soak up things like a sponge!

Here are a few of our favorite scripture memorization resources that we’ve used with our children.

Seeds Family Worship

Seeds Family Worship songs are amazing! The songs are scripture based and are really good. There are children singing the songs but they’re not childish and annoying like some Christian themed children’s songs can be. I actually love listening to these along with my children.

We purchased a pack of the first 7 CDs several years ago and still love them (they offer a pack of 10 now, it may seem a bit pricey but they’re really worth every penny!) They’re in my van and we frequently listen to them while driving. They have released more products over the years that I’m not familiar with but I’m sure anything you choose from them will be amazing.

AWANA

We started taking our children to AWANA at a local Baptist church since our church does not offer AWANA. We had not participated in AWANA as children but had heard great things about the program.

Paxton was 4 at the time and started in the Cubbies program (preschool/preK age children) and Weston started out in Puggles (for toddlers). Both boys loved it from the beginning. We’ve started our 4th year of AWANA at the same church. Cecilia is now in Cubbies and Paxton and Weston are in Sparks together which is the class for Kindergarten through Second Grade.

Our boys have learned a lot of scripture and Bible truths from AWANA, have made new friends and had a lot of fun. We’re so thankful for a church who welcomes our children and for amazing leaders who genuinely care for and love to teach our children.

Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible

The Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible is similar to other Bibles but with some resources that help with scripture memory. There are 100 verses which are featured throughout the scriptures and referred to as the Core 100.

Each ‘Core 100’ page has the core verse written out in the NLT, NIV and KJV versions as well as an ‘Explore & Apply’ section. There also is a ‘Digging Deeper’ section at the back of the text that has extra resources and questions to go along with each of the 100 core verses.

The back of the Bible features a Core 100 Verse Checklist to help keep track of verses memorized. There is also a Challenge Verse Checklist so you can keep track of memorizing the verses once the core verses are hidden in your heart.

One of my favorite features of this Bible is that there are 100 Scripture memory songs that you will have access to with a unique download copy in each Bible! Songs are just a fun way to memorize scripture and I like having more songs in addition to our Seeds songs.

We haven’t dived into this Bible and worked through the Core 100 yet but it is going to be an amazing scripture memory resource in the future. And, in the meantime, we’ll be learning the scriptures through song!

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of Hidden in My Heart Scripture Memory Bible in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network. I am not affiliated, associated with or sponsored by Seeds Family Worship or AWANA, those are just resources we use and want to share! This post does contain affiliate links which help support this site.

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Our fourth baby’s birth and the days leading up to it will always be remembered. After years of looking for a few acres of land, we finally found a property and made an offer with less than 2 months until my May 21st due date. We put our home on the market, had an offer within a week and started to prepare for closing on both properties.

On May 2 (only 19 days away from my due date), we closed on both houses and moved into our new home. The days leading up to the closing date were full of hope that I just wouldn’t go into labor early (my previous 2 babies had arrived 9 and 11 days early!) May 2 came and went thankfully with no baby.

In the next few days, I was able to get our bedroom, kitchen, the living room and the kids rooms organized and felt somewhat settled.

On May 7, I was 38 weeks pregnant and anticipating that baby could come at any time! Cecilia was born at 38 weeks, 3 days and Weston was born at 38 weeks, 5 days so I figured I was probably getting close.

We didn’t find out the gender this time (we did with both boys but not Cecilia). We were all kind of hoping for a baby girl so Cecilia would have a sister but would have been thrilled with a baby boy too! I really had no feelings regarding gender since this pregnancy was so similar to all of the others (minus the horrible hip and pubic pain I had with Cecilia’s pregnancy).

A week after moving, on May 9, my midwife, Michelle, had my home visit scheduled (it was scheduled so late since we were in a new house). She had to cancel due to another birth. I had been waiting for the home visit to feel fully ready to go into labor.

On Wednesday, May 10, I had a check up with Michelle. I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant (Cecilia was born at 38w3d). At the checkup, Michelle told me that she had driven by my house and knew exactly where it was so a home visit wasn’t necessary. That made me feel better, knowing that she knew where to go when the time came.

I started having contractions on the way to my check up Wednesday morning and had them off and on throughout the day but they were not regular or unmanageable.

I had contractions about every hour that night and thought things were going to start picking up and that we’d have a baby but I woke up on Thursday, May 11 still pregnant! When John David woke up, I told him I was up about every hour during the night with contractions so he went into work late that morning and I was able to sleep until 10:30. When I finally got out of bed, there was some blood tinged mucus which was somewhat encouraging knowing that those contractions were probably doing something.

I was very tired all day and still having contractions about every hour or so. These contractions were different than any of my previous labor contractions. They would start out low in the abdomen and work their way up instead of starting high and working down. I took a long nap and rested in bed that afternoon and let John David know that I wasn’t feeling well. We got the kids in bed around 9:30 and I sat on the couch and rested for a bit. Nights had been hard (trouble getting comfortable and sleeping) and I wasn’t quite ready to get in bed and try to sleep while having contractions.

Around 10:30, we went to bed and the contractions started up as soon and I laid down. I got up, went to the bathroom and came back to lie down but never was able to sleep. I did this every 10-15 minutes for about 2 hours before I was completely uncomfortable lying down and needed to start trying other positions. At 1:00, I downloaded a contraction timer app and started timing contractions, hoping to start to see a pattern. There was a pattern – they were about 10 minutes apart at this point.

I sat on my birth ball and worked my hips for awhile since I labored the entire time with Cecilia on the ball (and it was wonderful). The ball was not providing any relief so I stood up for awhile and went back to the ball. I probably labored about 2 hours while John David continued to sleep. I pulled out the large flannel back tablecloth (which my midwife recommends for keeping floors clean) and put it on the floor because I kept hoping contractions were going to get closer together and things would start happening.

I started dealing with back labor around 3 and woke John David up at this point because I was feeling very discouraged since my contractions were still 10 minutes apart and painful. (Contractions with both Weston and Cecilia were not painful at all to me, so this was new.) I labored on my hands and knees, on the ball, leaning against the ball, standing and swaying my hips and nothing was providing back labor relief. At this point, I was pretty sure that the baby was in a bad position because of the back labor and the fact that I wasn’t making any progress with contraction spacing after 2 hours of timing.

I was so confused as to whether I was even in labor. With my previous births, contractions have fairly quickly gone from 10 minutes to 8, to 6 and so on. We went to the hospital with Weston and called Michelle with Cecilia when they were about 5 minutes apart.  John David and I talked about calling Michelle but I didn’t want to wake her up for nothing.

After laboring through intense back contractions, I was very discouraged (I even told John David that I just wanted to go to the hospital and get an epidural!) I asked him to run some warm bath water in hopes that the tub would provide some relief.

By the time I got into the tub, the contractions were averaging 7 minutes apart so John David texted Michelle at 4:42 to let her know we thought something might be happening and that contractions were averaging 7 minutes apart and that I was getting into the tub. She texted back that the tub should help to speed things up (and I was hoping that would happen!) The warm water felt so good and the first few contractions in the tub were more comfortable but then the back labor started up again and the contractions were averaging 8-10 minutes apart which means they actually had slowed since getting into the tub.  At this point, I thought I might be dealing with prodromal labor because I had been laboring over 6 hours with very little progress – I thought I should have had a baby in my arms by this point if I was really in labor! (All 3 of my previous labors had been fairly fast, Paxton was born 5 hours from the time my water was broken, Weston’s was born less than 3 hours from waking up with contractions about 8 minutes apart and Cecilia’s was about 5 hours from the time my contractions started coming less than 8 minutes apart.)

John David sat with me through several contractions and since nothing was changing, he went back to bed and I stayed in the tub. (And, no, this didn’t bother me, I don’t like to be touched at all during labor so him going back to bed was no big deal, especially since we thought it was prodromal labor or just the very early stages.)

I got out of the tub around 6:00, the sun had risen and I was very discouraged. The water was cold and my back labor was not letting up so I knew I needed to try some other positions to try to get baby in an optimal position. I had the big flannel back tablecloth in the bedroom floor so I got down on hands and knees and rocked back and forth for a few contractions, then I leaned up against the ball for a few minutes and tried sitting on it. I was still timing contractions and they were ranging from 7-9 minutes apart. I started to feel like I needed to poo (which in hind sight should have been a sign but I had been a little gassy in the tub and with contractions ranging from 7-9 minutes apart, I was pretty sure it wasn’t pressure from the baby.)

Around 6:45, I sat on the toilet and I was still timing contractions which were about 7 minutes apart. John David was still sleeping at this point. I tried to go and felt myself really opening up and started to think that I might be getting close to delivery (which didn’t make sense because of the contraction pattern).

I started to notice a lot of mucus (or bloody show) which made me realize that the baby was probably getting close. I started to feel pressure and started vocalizing through contractions which woke John David up. He told me I needed to get off the toilet because it’s not good to sit there too long. Then I had another contraction and I think he realized what was happening. I think at this point, he texted Michelle (my phone says it was 6:56).

He ran and moved the tablecloth and under pads into the bathroom and I asked him if he saw anything and he said he didn’t. I couldn’t feel the baby’s head with my hands, nor did I feel like the baby had descended so I didn’t think I was about to have a baby.

He told me I had to get off of the toilet but I couldn’t move. He helped me get off and my water breaks as I’m getting up (into the toilet!) I drop down on all fours and start pushing (and yelling!) With the next contraction, I pushed baby’s head out. John David starts yelling “push, push, push” so I gently pushed but realized that I need to wait for another contraction before pushing to decrease my chances of tearing. With the next contraction, I pushed again and out she came, into her daddy’s arms and he tells me, “we have a baby girl” before I even get her in my arms. She was born at 6:59 am on Friday, May 12.

John David helps me sit down, puts our daughter on my chest and starts drying her off. I am completely in shock and crying (well, really bawling) at this point. Tears of joy for a daughter, that everything went well and that it was over which was such a relief after dealing with horrible back labor.

John David changed out the towels, covered us both up, put a hat on the baby’s head to keep her warm and propped a few pillows behind me (Michelle had given him instructions for what to do at our last appointment since I have a history of quick deliveries). I just laid in the floor with baby, waiting for Michelle to arrive and started nursing.

Michelle arrived around 25 minutes after the birth, delivered the placenta and had John David cut the cord. The baby had pooped into my hand while we were lying on the floor so John David took her and cleaned her off and wiped my hand off!

Michelle helped me into the herb bath and then put the baby in the bath to get her good and clean too.

By this time, Mary (Michelle’s assistant) had arrived and they helped me get dressed and into the bed while John David held the baby. All 3 kiddos were awake at this point (they had slept through everything) and anxiously awaiting to come into our room and meet the baby.

At some point while waiting, Paxton slipped a note under the door that said ‘let us n’!

Once I was settled in bed, they handed me our baby girl and let the kids come in and meet their new sister, Laura Kathryn. It was such a sweet moment, watching their excitement. All three were completely mesmerized by our tiny baby girl.

Once all of the kids held her, Michelle started the newborn exam. Laura weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces (just like Weston who was also born at 38 weeks, 5 days).

Michelle asked some questions about the delivery for her records and John David told her that the baby came out with her hands crossed and tucked up on her chest. Michelle said that is why my contractions stayed spaced so far the entire time and why I had back labor. So, it was somewhat encouraging to know that there was a reason the labor was so slow (as far as labors go for me.) It was 8 hours and 29 minutes from the time I tried to go to bed and started having contractions 10 minutes apart until the time she was born. And, up until probably 8 minutes before she was born, my contractions were still about 7 minutes apart. I went from 7 minutes apart (early labor) to delivery so this birth was technically considered a precipitous birth which I consider funny because it really was my longest and definitely my most discouraging labor.

And, thanks to pushing with the contractions and not being panicked, I had no tears and didn’t even feel like I had a baby which was amazing! My recovery was so, so easy.

Even though Michelle missed the delivery, this birth was so much like Cecilia’s – everything post delivery was exactly the same and I definitely appreciated the care that Michelle and Mary provided.

John David played a huge role in Laura’s birth! I probably would have delivered our baby in the toilet if it wasn’t for him. He knew exactly what to do and followed the instructions Michelle had given him. He kept such a clear head during the delivery, except for that 30 seconds when he was yelling ‘push, push, push’ because all he saw was a baby’s head and he had never delivered a baby before. Our kids said we should call him a ‘mid-husband’!

Once Michelle and Mary left around 9:30, we just took it easy all day. I stayed in bed with baby and John David took care of the kids and fed me. And, of course, I had little visitors in my room all day, wanting to look at their baby sister.

We’re so thankful for another complication free birth and a beautiful, healthy baby girl.

My other births:

First Baby – Paxton’s Birth Story 

Second Baby – Weston’s Birth Story

Third Baby – Cecilia’s Birth Story

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It’s been very quiet around here due to major life changes. At the end of March, we found a home on a little over 5 acres (after looking for nearly 3 years) and decided it was time to try to sell. We put our home on the market on a Wednesday and had 2 offers by Sunday evening, April 2 (which just so happened to be the 6 year anniversary of moving into this home!) The timing was right and everything has worked out wonderfully. We closed on both houses on May 2 and now are settling into our new home. We’ve been in our new home 5 days and have gotten quite a bit done and are feeling ready for baby (I’m 38 weeks today!)

I wanted to share the way our home looked when we started packing a few weeks ago for my memories and so you can see how everything was laid out and organized.

The view of the front door in the living room.

The living room. One of my favorite parts of this room was the gallery wall. It was one of the first things I laid out when we moved in. Of course, it’s changed over the years and the pictures have been changed out since we added 2 babies in that time!

A close up of our bookshelf tucked into the corner. We love our books!

The view from the living room into the kitchen. About 18 months ago, we started our kitchen renovation, putting down new floors, knocking out some cabinets, putting in a new stove and refrigerator. We worked on it slowly (paying cash as we went) and it was officially finished 3 days before we moved! (We had ordered a section of countertop on December 31 and the order was delayed, then messed up, then reordered and delayed so we never really had the opportunity to enjoy the fully completed kitchen.)

A view of the whole kitchen post renovation (with the new ‘bar’ countertop installed). So many meals and memories were made in this room.

And, here’s a bit of a close up of the new countertop section! I hope the new owners love this kitchen.

The dining room and kitchen are one open room. This was the most used room in our entire home. We ate here, we did school work here (school books and supplies were stored in the white cabinet), it was our main entry (thus the coat rack along the wall) and it was my office area. We spent hours here each day!

Here’s the view from the living room looking down the hall. These floors were put down as part of our renovation. To the left is Cecilia’s room and straight ahead is the door to the boys room. The door at the end of the hall is to the master, the bathroom is on the right and the other doors were storage closets and the pantry.

Our full bathroom.

Another view of the bathroom.

This is Cecilia’s room, her sweet little toddler bed and play kitchen. I painted this room when we first moved into this house for Paxton’s nursery. It has been Paxton’s nursery, a guest room, Weston’s nursery, a play room, Cecilia’s nursery and most recently was set up as a shared room for Cecilia and our new baby.

Here’s the baby’s area of the room. Even though the baby never lived here, we were ready for baby and didn’t think our 1,300 square feet was too small for our 4 children! (The bunting and the C would have been replaced at some point but it was still Cecilia’s room so I just kept it up!)

A view of the closet in this room. It stored Cecilia’s toys, her nice clothes, extra bedding and blankets, her memory box and some diapers for baby.

The master bedroom.

Another angle of our master bedroom.

Here’s a peek into our closet. By most standards, it is a small closet but was perfect for us. We added some shelving for shoe storage and since we both have minimal wardrobes, we had more than enough space.

Our boys room. This was a very large room/playroom that served our kiddos quite well over the years.

Another view of the boys room. That dresser was purchased for Paxton’s first nursery before he was born and I made those curtains a few years ago.

John David custom built this closet shelving and it has been great for toy, game and clothing storage. A little bit of smart design can transform a small closet into a very useful space!

This little gallery wall was one of my favorites of the boys room. All of the artwork was painted by me or the boys which makes everything special!

That’s the tour of our sweet little brick ranch. We lived in 4 different homes in less than 5 years but lived here for 6 years. We made so many memories while living in this home. Paxton turned one here, we found out we were expecting our second baby a month after we moved in, Cecilia was born in our bedroom, all 3 of our kiddos learned to walk here, we started homeschooling here and we found out we were having our 4th baby here.

Now, we’re looking forward to making new memories in our new home and adding a new baby to our family. The house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home. At just under 1,800 square feet, it gives us room to grow but it’s not too large of a home (we really wanted to stay under 2,000 square feet.) It feels absolutely massive to us right now! We have a little over 5 acres of land so we can have livestock here! We’re all pretty excited about living on our small farm. We already have honeybees and are looking forward to adding chickens very soon.

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For the past 5 years now, I have recorded a day in my life on a January day and shared about our everyday life. This year, I recorded our day in January once again but am just now sitting down to post about it over 2 months later!

Here’s a glimpse into my life as a stay at home, homeschooling mama of 3 (and one on the way!) on Wednesday, January 25, 2017:

8:30 – I’m awake and moving slow. At 23 weeks pregnant, I still need lots and lots of sleep!! I get out of bed, start a load of laundry and begin making breakfast.

9:30 – We’re all eating breakfast. Then we tidy up the table and begin our school work for the day.

10:30 – We’re in the midst of our school day. Paxton is working on his math worksheet while I read to him. While he is working, I take a quick break to move laundry from the washing machine to the dryer and begin another load.

11:30 – We’re reading Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride (a lesser known young female figure from the American Revolution). We spent the beginning of this semester reading anything we could get our hands on about the Revolutionary War period! This hour continues with more school work and of course breaking up the occasional fight between the younger two who don’t have any structured school work.

12:30 – Lunch time. Everybody is happily eating lunch. We have a little bit more school work to finish up, I check Paxton’s math and start tidying the kitchen.

1:30 – It’s story time! Oh, how I love reading to my little ones. We read a lot of books as part of our school work but there’s nothing quite like cozying up on the couch with story books that the kiddos pick out for me to read and snuggling – especially on a winter day!

2:30 – The boys are in their room resting (which means playing quietly with their toys or looking at books) while Cecilia and I are in bed. For several weeks, thanks to pregnancy tiredness, I’ve been taking an afternoon nap and she usually joins me. I’ll read a chapter or two in my books and then we snuggle up and nap.

3:30 – I’m awake from my afternoon nap and feeling rested to face the afternoon and evening while Cecilia is still snoozing.

4:30 – Starting dinner prep. Wednesdays are Awana night which means I have to have dinner ready earlier than our normal dinner time in order for the kiddos to have time to eat without being rushed before we leave around 6:10.

5:30 – Finishing up folding a load of laundry (I’m always doing laundry it seems) and getting ready to serve dinner to my crew.

And, from dinner time, the day got crazy and I stopped taking pictures! The kids have AWANA at 6:30 at a church in our community. It’s just 5 minutes from our home which is nice. Once I/we drop them off, we typically come home, clean up our dinner mess and relax for a little bit without kids. If John David is working late for whatever reason, I’ll just sit and read a book in silence!

I leave to pick them up around 7:45 and we’re all home by 8:15. The kiddos typically eat a snack after Awana and then we start our nighttime routine – get pajamas on, brush teeth, pick out books, cuddle up on the couch and read and then head to bed.

My days are not very exciting but how I love being able to stay home with my children, educate them at home and live such a wonderful life!

A Day in My Life from previous years:

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

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We’ll be welcoming our fourth baby this May! We’re excited and can hardly believe we just have a little over 3 months to go!

Cecilia is thrilled to become a big sister! She’s such a good little mama to her baby dolls.

This is a picture of our littlest from January 6 when we had our anatomy scan. We did not find out the gender and are looking forward to our surprise when baby arrives!

This is my 24 week belly on January 29.

I’m learning with each baby we have how little babies really need. I purchased a few new cloth diapers for this baby (we have a decent size stash of diapers from Cecilia) and we need to purchase a new car seat (planning to buy Cecilia a new one and let the baby use her current convertible seat.) I have a minimal gender neutral newborn wardrobe that was Cecilia’s and have managed to thrift a few muslin swaddles over the past few months. At this point, we pretty much need some newborn disposable diapers and a Rock N Play for the baby to sleep in for the first few weeks/months and we’ll be all ready to welcome baby number 4.

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