Father’s Day, in pictures

Oreos after liturgy

One wonderful smiling baby

Playing at Grandpa’s house

Blowing “bubboos” with Aunt Juju

Enthusiastic with the bubbles

Basketball with cousins, sisters, and best friends

Sing along to Goetye


Yesterday marked “9 weeks postpartum” for me.

Here’s a bit of a true confession– just like with Gregory, I’m starting to get impatient. I want my “old body” back.

Anybody who’s had a kid can tell you the real hard truth: although the numbers may go back to normal, everything has shifted. Nothing looks the same, which makes perfect sense! Having a baby requires your ab muscles to virtually separate and disappear. Your organs have to rearrange themselves (at the very end of my pregnancy, I felt my stomach growl, and it was under my rib cage, near my back! Tell me that isn’t some serious shifting!).

I’ve avoided working out based on my experience last time. I started exercising waaayyy too soon, and, as a result, not only re-injured my tailbone (stupid Pilates…) but also started losing weight like crazy. I vowed that I would not make the same mistake again.

But it’s a definite temptation of mine. When I see my post-partum tummy, I want to hit the gym HARD, eat only lean meats and veggies, and never look back. It has nothing to do with numbers on a scale or clothes I want to wear. I just remember and miss my old stomach, even the one I had post-Gregory (yes, after 7-8 weeks my abs did go back to a semi-normal “flat” state).

Knowing this temptation of mine, I purposely put an extended “hold” on my gym membership until July. I knew that if I set foot inside, I would be unable to hold back.

Because I’ve realized something– knowing what I know about myself and my metabolism, it would be pure selfishness to do any sort of hard exercising right now. I know, almost without a doubt, what it will do to my milk supply, and, therefore, Anthony’s health.

The impatient part of me that almost doesn’t care?

My strong sense of entitlement and selfishness, front and center.

But this is just another area of my heart that I get to see the Lord change in me. I get to realize that my body is no longer mine, but an offering to God for His service. That part in the Romans where Paul says to “offer yourself as a living sacrifice”? Totally starting to get that now. I don’t get to decide what I do with my body apart from God’s plan for it, or I am clearly no better than Jonah, running away in the hull of some ship.

I’ve mentioned on this blog the  huge struggles I had with eating disorders in high school. While peer pressure is definitely a factor for many teens, I think the biggest factor is control– we like to pretend we are mini-gods, masters of our own universe. Our culture tells us that we can have anything we want if we just want it badly enough, and eating disorders are no different. Genetics? Who cares. Proper health measures? Forget about it. I’m young and invincible, and if I want to eat in a way that defies the natural way of things, so be it!

I’ve tried “playing god” with my body, and I’ve never been so miserable in all my life.

Which brings me to another lesson God’s been teaching me.

When I stop taking control away from Him, I get to see, no, experience His plan.

For instance, instead of having rock hard abs for my own vanity (my plan), I grew two human beings! It’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that my body was able to grow and keep three people (myself included) alive for the past 2.5 years!! That’s so incredible! I still haven’t comprehended how cool God made a woman’s body– in January, 2010, Gregory was just an embryo, no bigger than a pea. Now, he can walk, talk and throw a baseball, largely due to my body and the miracle it was able to produce! Not to mention being responsible for  keeping him alive with breastmilk!

Suppose I was stuck on Mount Everest for 3 days and I somehow, by the grace of God, managed to keep myself and two others alive, despite the dangers all around us. That would be an accomplishment, no? And wouldn’t it be wrong for someone to look at all the bruises and frost-bitten limbs and say, “You look terrible!” Wouldn’t that totally be missing the point of the miracle that just took place?

I think postpartum women (especially myself) need to give ourselves a break. We didn’t just keep someone alive for a few days, we did it for months, even years! For me to look at myself and “want” my body back is to do serious injury to the miracle that God did. Who am I to say that this miracle isn’t enough for a lifetime?

Anthony’s 2 Month Letter

Dearest Anthony,

You are already 2 months old. No one would know it by looking at you. People have guessed 5 or 6 months, but never 8 weeks. You already weigh 14 pounds and are 25″ long! For a frame of reference, your brother wasn’t this big until he was half a year old.

But you are your own unique little person, marching to the beat of your own drum, and we LOVE that about you. Your many many rolls (Mommy counted 6 per thigh tonight! Wowza!), your full head of thick (yet so soft…) black hair, your beautiful blue eyes that occasionally look Asian, your ginormous umbilical hernia– you are already so special in so many ways.

So big!

We are beginning to see more and more of your personality each day now. You have so many sounds, gurgles and coos, and we are starting to have lots of little “conversations”. You smile lots, you fall asleep during tummy time, you have different cries for different needs. You recognize Mommy now. In fact, you made her morning the other day– you woke up fussing, and the moment she reached over to get you, you cracked the biggest grin. What a charmer.

You still love being cuddled. Since Mommy and Daddy made the decision not to use an infant carseat, you get held in either a sling, the Moby wrap or the Mei Tai a LOT. Even short grocery trip runs are pleasant when Mommy gets to snuggle you the whole time! You fall asleep when you’re being cuddled close, making it easy to do chores, play with your brother, even eat dinner while “wearing” you. This is how you made your first beach and zoo trip!

You’re in there, somewhere, with your little hat to keep the sun off

You love to play in your floor gym, staring at yourself in the mirror for many minutes at a time. You always fall asleep the moment we hit 35 mph in the car (and we can’t fool you either! 30 just doesn’t quite cut it!). You have long active stretches during the day where you perform your aerobics, kicking and punching constantly (reminds Mommy very much of when you were inside her!).

During a particularly active session

This month, you were baptized and chrismated! You only screamed through the “exorcism” portion and the actual water part, but you were good the rest of the time. Your godparents, Gregory and Joanna, flew all the way out from Scotland for you! They brought you a beautiful cross necklace and icon of Saint Anthony. They held you as much as possible before leaving again. We hope that you will get to know them well!

With your godparents

You have continued to be a good sleeper, so long as you are well fed, recently changed and swaddled. Almost every night, you sleep from 1am until the sun rises. You never sleep with a pacifier– we only use it to calm you down when you’re having a huge fit. Speaking of fits…you have one huge set of lungs! You can go from fast asleep to screaming with huge TEARS in under 20 seconds. Not exaggerating. You have some intense extremes, kiddo.

That’s one big yawn!

You have been struggling with some reflux, and it’s so heartbreaking. Your cries are so sad, so painful sounding that everyone around just looks at you with sympathy. We help by burping you lots, sometimes 2-3x during a feeding and then several times afterwards. The Dr. prescribed you a small dosage of Zantac today, so we’ll see if that helps. Given all that pain, it’s no wonder you’ve been spitting up after almost every single feeding (you even “projectiled” one into Mommy’s EAR yesterday!).

But we don’t resent you for it.

Because you are our little Anthony.

Our “Anton”. Our “Barnacle”. Our “Wee”.

Your quiet and sweet intensity is a perfect addition to our little family, and we love living with you 🙂

Love, Mommy


The last two days have been busy and more than a tad overwhelming.

Saturday morning, we woke up and G had a 103 fever. Seeing as this is his first since he was Anthony’s age, we didn’t even have Tylenol. We had to call my mom and ask her to bring some from her house! He’s not complaining of any other symptoms, he’s just super lethargic when the fever is at its peak. It BREAKS my heart to watch him still try to throw a ball (yes, not even a 103 fever stops him) while he stumbles around the living room.

Meanwhile, it seemed like nothing in our house was working. I couldn’t figure out the correct cycles on our dryer, so our clothes were continuously wet (stupid Energy Star! Totally a first-world problem though, I understand). Our dishwasher only washed half the dishes we put in it.

Somehow, we made it in one piece to the graduation ceremony on Saturday. Autie, Brooke and my mom watched the sick baby and infant in the cry room while I got to walk in with the faculty. Fun fact– I had the same graduation in the same exact place 9 years ago with many of the same teachers! In fact, I sat next to one of them. It was surreal and kept making me giggle a little bit. Jesse’s speech was FANTASTIC, and he’s been getting rave reviews ever since. Even last night at Paso High’s baccelaureate ceremony, someone random came up and asked, “weren’t you the speaker at NCCS graduation last night? I’m friends with so and so, and I can see why they say such awesome things about you!”

But, just as always when Jesse gets praise and accolades from those around him, I want to make and buy Courtney’s t-shirt idea. At one time, we all wanted to make shirts that said, “You may love Jesse,” on the front, and, “but WE loved him FIRST.” on the back. The rest of the evening, people introduced me to others as, “the wife of the speaker.” Hmmm…..

Anyways, we were exhausted by the time we got done with the various after-graduation parties and such. Luckily, one of the parties was actually being hosted at my parents’ house for Kelly Cannon, so I was able to put G down to sleep there and then leave with Jesse to visit others.

But Sunday brought a whole new set of challenges….on top of STILL having a toddler with a 103 temperature, our dishwasher still wasn’t working 100%, I still couldn’t figure out our dryer so the clothes from Saturday were still wet, our GARAGE DOOR stopped working (there’s a manual function, so thank God our car won’t be stuck inside!), AND we found a potentially venomous dead spider not a foot from Gregory’s crib. It moved while Jesse was poking it, so he stabbed it with his big knife. As a result, we can’t say for sure whether it’s a brown recluse or not, but we should know soon.

And, in all the shuffle of Saturday, I managed to somehow misplace my cell phone (still haven’t found it!).

So I pulled another “MAYDAY!!” alert on my mom. While Jesse went to Paso’s Baccalaureate service for Emily, my mom came over and watched the babies with me. She even did our dishes and folded all of our laundry (I had figured out the dryer by then…). I was able to finish out a stressful day eating pizza and chatting with my mom on the sofa. When Jesse got home, I made tea and we watched a movie.

Moral of the Story: Live 1 mile away from your mom. It’s worth it when you have 2 kids and one of them is sick. Promise.

Dallas Auditions

Jesse and I stumbled across this audition from this year’s So You Think You Can Dance. This 29 year old stay at home mom from McKinney (30 min. north of where we used to live) brought her children with her to audition, and let’s just say….TV GOLD ensued. Wait until the very end for the best part! 🙂

bad joke eel

I must be more tired than I thought… this had me laughing pretty hard.

As always, courtesy of Pinterest 🙂

Small Town Living

You know you live in a small town when the evening news includes reports of a bear who wandered onto the freeway near the outlet mall…


I’ve been very tired and crabby the last couple of days. “Apparently” it’s difficult to move with two babies during the last month of the semester! It’s the first time I’ve ever moved into a house with babies in tow (my parents’ house didn’t count, since they already had all the essentials unpacked), and it’s tough! There are certain things that cannot wait to be unpacked, you know? That first day or two is craaazy, like where are the wipes? Where are their clothes? Where are the diapers? We’re out of them? NOOO!!!!

We’ve also had an immense amount of grading to do (although not much prep, admittedly, since they are working on their papers instead of having reading assignments). Jesse has the additional burden benefit of needing to prepare dozens of little speeches (he’s presenting a few awards at baccalaureate tonight), along with his big key-note address for the Senior Graduation tomorrow!

Since Anthony is going through an extreme case of, “HOLD ME 24/7 OR I WILL SCREAM!”, this last week has found him in my Mei Tai wrap, sometimes for the majority of the day, while I do dishes, while I sit at the table grading papers and even while I run around the backyard with Gregory. My mom and I took a break from our labors (she has been doing a lot of yard work in preparation for a graduation party they are hosting at their house this weekend) and walked to a huge rummage sale around the corner, Anthony in his wrap, Gregory in the stroller. It actually worked quite well.

Last night, we also hosted an icecream party for the teens who helped us move. It was a very fun time, especially since most of them were seniors, graduating tomorrow. They had a lot of thoughts about their high school experience, and it was fun to be able to debrief with them. Jesse, in particular, is so great at listening to them while also providing needed criticism and insight.

But they didn’t leave until 11pm. So, here I am, dragging, trying to keep Gregory entertained while I grade a stack of thesis papers, Anthony asleep in my wrap.

Long and short, we are really worn out. We cannot WAIT for our summer break (only 5 more days of school for Jesse, 1 for me! And 4 of them are half days!).

But despite how grumpy I’ve been, God has given me beautiful glimpses here and there of the life we have now. These little snapshots are key, because all at once, I realize it– I’m living my dream.

A few examples:

— Last Sunday, at Gregory’s baptism, we were surrounded by our families who had all driven 1+ hours to sit through 3+ hours of church. All because it was a special day for Anthony, and they wouldn’t miss it. Anthony’s godparents travelled thousands of miles to be there, because they love us and they already loved him. Watching everyone laughing and having a good time afterwards in the parish hall….I realized that this was one of my dreams. The privilege of having our big family around us, celebrating one of the more important moments in my life. They were all such a tangible reminder of why it is that we moved here. You can’t buy beautiful moments like that.

— Yesterday, teaching my high schoolers, I realized how blessed I am to have such a terrific group of kids. They recited Evangeline passages that they’d prepared, and most of them were flawless– not because they are super-geniuses with photographic memories, but because they are HARD WORKERS. They spent hours listening to the recordings I gave them, practicing their lines to anyone who would listen. I was even more proud when, in continuing a discussion started by Tim when he lead my class on Tuesday (he is studying Longfellow in his PhD program, so it only made sense that he taught a little of Evangeline!), it was apparent that they had gone home and thought long and hard about the question. Their answers were not brilliant, but they were insightful and from the heart, showing that although their education MATTERS to them (over-achievers!), their souls matter more. I always dreamt of getting to teach kids like this, and they have made this year beautiful and blessed.

— This morning, making eggs for Gregory and I, yawning the whole way through, trying to find my coffee through half-closed eyes, I suddenly realized that this was another one of my dreams. Waking up, making breakfast for my boys (both of whom happened to be independently entertaining themselves, Gregory with his new train, Anthony in his floor gym– a rarity!!!), hanging out in our little house, my little messy kingdom. This kingdom has been toddler-ized”, as I put it, but it’s also cozy and cute. Our life together while Jesse is away, the 3 of us, is downright beautiful at times. Sure, just yesterday I was pulling my hair out and asking my mom to come over early or so-help-me I was going to LOSE it, but…I have two kids! Two beautiful boys! One of them is incredibly smart beyond his age (he’s counting and sounding out words!), but also sweet and loving with a great personality. The other is HUGE and healthy!

What more could I ask for, really?

I’m so thankful that God provides these reminders on a daily basis, despite how hard things seem whilst “in the trenches”.

For so many years, I dreamt of what my life would be like when we finished “x” or found “x”. Now, due to God’s graciousness, we have nearly all of those things that I dreamt about! We are not in a “waiting” stage anymore, it is here. I get to experience it. And I feel so blessed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have papers to grade. And a lion and a zebra at my left, waiting for me to play pretend.


Anthony James’ Baptism!

Today, my 6.5 week old Baby Giant was baptized.

Lest you think I’m kidding about the giant part, I was given a 9 month baptismal garment some time ago from a friend. Anthony wore it. And it only looked a TINY bit too big.

Also, he’s currently in 3-6 month clothing. Huh.

Anyways, back to the baptism. A few months ago, we asked Tim and Hope, our long time good friends, to be the godparents for Anthony.

A little reminder of how we know these guys 🙂

Tim and Jesse have been best friends since they were babies, and I’ve been friends with both of them since high school (although I knew both of them prior). I arrived at Biola 2 years after they did and met their good friend, Ben Rhodes, who was just coming back to Biola after being at Oxford for a semester. A year later, I met Ben’s little sister, Hope. She also came to our wedding (along with Tim and Ben, who were actually in the wedding), but got stuck in a row boat out on the lake at the reception (long story… 🙂 )

This is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding. The ceremony had already finished and the boys were being goofy. You can see Tim to Jesse’s right. You can see Ben to HIS right.

Fast forward to a year later. Tim and Hope started dating (which was…interesting, since Tim and Ben were roommates at the time!).

Another year later and they got married! Just as Tim was Jesse’s best man, Jesse was also Tim’s best man. I was a bridesmaid and I walked down the aisle with…you guessed it…Ben. Oh, what a small world 🙂

Ben and I. Single ladies, don’t worry. He’s not always this serious.

We always knew that the Bartels should be the godparents to one of our kids someday. It was a long shot, seeing as they currently live in Scotland (Tim is getting his PhD from Saint Andrews), but they decided to combine the baptism with a 2 week vacay to visit friends and family in CA.

What we got was one beautiful baptism!

Anthony only screamed through this and the exorcism. Fitting, no?

Do you see those chubby thighs??? LOVE!

The money shot– he is SPITTING MAD! Also, before you comment on his “outie” belly button, remember that he has an umbilical hernia (should go away on its own…they say…)

Hope putting on Anthony’s cross. He was calm and sedate for the rest of the time, even slept through the entire liturgy and churching!

We had over a dozen family and friends who made the hour drive down to our church for the event. Even though the service was early in the morning, nearly the entire parish congregation showed up as well! The church wasn’t packed, but it was close! 🙂

After everything was over, we had a nice reception in the parish hall. Everyone was so warm and friendly, as though we’d been a part of the parish for years instead of just a few months! It was nice to “be” served, instead of serving, as is usual for us. We were given a few very generous cash gifts as well (I plan to buy a zoo membership for the boys!).

Once we left the church, we all met at Panera Bread in San Luis Obispo to hang out just a little bit longer.

Did I mention that Hope is 19 weeks preggo? 🙂



I just made this and hung it up, all by myself. So.proud!

I got the most beat up board I could find at Home Depot, white-washed it with a light gray and green (2 coats), sanded it a bit, then stenciled the letters on with $2 paint from Michaels! I also bought a 50 pound hanging hook from Home Depot and screwed that in. I made the stencils using, get ready for it, a piece of paper traced over Microsoft Word on my laptop.

I almost went with some “french” saying, since that’s all the decorating rage right now, but nixed it for two reasons. 1. I don’t speak French. 2. Pretentious much?

Instead, I went with one of my favorite lyrics from one of my favorite songs. There’s actually a “Jesse/Kelly” romance story in this one. The fall of my first semester at Biola, just weeks/days before we started dating, we went to Lake San Antonio with our church youth group (warning– people actually DO fall in love during youth group events. Don’t let any teens try to assure you otherwise).

Jesse and I got into a horrible argument while driving up (which poor Tim can attest to, since he carpooled with us). It all started with my need to find a suitable public restroom during the 6 hour drive. Jesse was on a “schedule” and couldn’t be bothered to find a decent one. He wanted me to use the poor excuse for a poo-hole at a gas station. I refused, saying I didn’t want to get HIV from the toilet seat. He wouldn’t budge. So I had to use the gas station toilet, and I was spitting mad. The seat was complete with carvings and tattoos from gang members. There was poo smeared on the walls. I still remember it vividly.

So, by the time we arrived at the lake, we weren’t really on speaking terms. We’d been flirting for weeks, when all of a sudden we just stopped talking to each other. Like that. Over a gross bathroom incident. Haha, actually sounds a lot like marriage…

During “campfire time”, Jesse tried to talk to me, but I deliberately ignored him and even went so far as to start flirting with other guys (did I mention that I was in a bit of a rough place at that time in my life?).

All of a sudden, I heard it– Jesse had picked up his guitar and was singing, “You are my sunshine”, looking right over at me.  Months prior, I had told him that it was one of my favorite songs, mostly because my mom would always sing it to me. I had mentioned that I always felt loved when I heard it.

He totally remembered. It wasn’t quite an apology, but it was close enough for me. 🙂