Monday, December 8, 2014

I Can't Believe You're Finally Done!

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Dear Nate,

You made it!  As of yesterday you're officially done with your master's degree.  This has been a long time coming and it's hard to believe that you're really done.  Sometimes along the way it felt like this day would never come.

When you started your program at Western three and a half years ago we were newlyweds, barely married a month.  We truly didn't know what we were in for and how different life would be when you finished.  Our lives have changed so much - we've grown and shifted - and we've learned so much about ourselves, the Lord, and one another.  We've learned how to love one another through good times and hard times.  We've learned to give one another grace and hold fast to the Grace of the Lord.  We learned how to be intentional with the limited amounts of time we had together and we learned how to do our own things when the other person was busy.  We had a baby boy.  We're not the same people we were when you began taking classes to get your degree.

God has shown up in amazing ways the past three and a half years.  He truly showed us His guiding hand throughout the whole process.  We have been able to get through this schooling without having to take out any more loans by His grace.  God has shown time and again that this opportunity for you to continue your education in order to learn more about Him and how to be in vocational ministry is the path He had for you.

It's amazing to look back on all you learned.  I'm so thankful I was able to take some of your classes with you and learn alongside you.  I've loved all the conversations we've had, processing things you're learning in your classes.  I've loved being challenged by you and challenging you.  I know those conversations will continue throughout the years, especially with how firm of a foundation we've set up for ourselves.

It's hard to picture how life will be different now.  Having free time together is such an unknown.  Instead of you doing hours of homework each night you'll come home from work and be free.  We can get involved in activities outside of school.  We'll be able to plan things over weekends and not have to work our plans around your studying.  So much is opening up to us now that you're done.

I'm excited to see where God will take us in the next season of our lives.  He has been so faithful and I know he will continue to guide us and show us what He desires us to do and where He desires for us to be involved in ministry.

I'm so unbelievably proud of you and I love you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Caleb's Birth Story

I guess Caleb's birth story really begins at my 37 week appointment with my midwife - a week and a half before Caleb was born.  I was not looking forward to the fact that this would be the first time I'd have to get my cervix checked.  I had heard it was painful and I was afraid I wouldn't have started progressing yet.  To be completely honest, as I was getting undressed I sent up a little prayer, asking God that I would get some good news that I was progressing.  My midwife, Peggy, checked me and, thankfully, said I was already two centimeters dilated.  She told me then that she'd be totally surprised if I didn't have the baby within two weeks.  She said she couldn't see me making it to my due date.

Throughout the next few days, when I'd tell people what my midwife said, they'd just laugh or shake their heads and wonder aloud why Peggy would have said that to me and gotten my hopes up.  Everyone encouraged me to not get too set on having Caleb early since women can walk around dilated for quite some time before the baby's born.  I smiled and agreed with them but secretly was certain Caleb would be coming soon.

The next week at my appointment I was checked again.  This time I was three centimeters dilated and 70% effaced.  Once again Peggy told me to expect Caleb to come early.  As I was leaving I chatted with the women at reception, telling them that I hoped I wouldn't see them again until Caleb was here.  I told them that Peggy thought he'd be coming early and they all smiled and nodded and said that Peggy's hardly ever wrong about that sort of thing.  That was Wednesday, the 12th.

Saturday, the 15th was a pretty average day.  Nate and I worked on some projects to finish up the nursery and did other chores around the house.  On and off all day I was having minor contractions.  I was hopeful that they would pick up and turn into full fledged labor but they never did.  Nate and I tried every trick we could think of to get labor going.  We went for walks three different times throughout the day, went out for spicy Thai food for dinner, and I drank cups of red raspberry leaf tea.  By the end of the night the contractions had died down and I knew Caleb wouldn't be showing up that day.

Sunday, the 16th was even more average of a day.  We went to church, I wrote blog posts, Nate worked on homework, and I tried not to think about the fact that I wasn't having any contractions.  All the progress I had hoped was happening the day before was gone.  That night, as Nate and I lay in bed, I vented about how much I hate ambiguity.  I told Nate that it would be so much easier for me to handle knowing that I still had two weeks to go that it was thinking that maybe it could be the following day.  I was fine with waiting but it was the ambiguity that was killing me.  At 11pm we turned out the lights and, literally as the lights were going out, a gush came out of me and the sheets were soaked.  I was shocked.  I didn't know if I had peed myself or if my water had broken.  I went to the restroom to try to figure it out and fluid just kept coming.  It was definitely my water that had broken.

Nate and I packed our last minute items into our hospital bags (we packed FAR too much stuff!), called my midwife, got in the car, and headed to the hospital.  All the way there we were laughing about how, so far, labor was not going the way we expected.  I did not expect to be heading to the hospital without having contractions.  It was so peaceful.  Since we were in no rush, when we pulled into the parking lot we stopped for a few minutes to pray - thanking God for our little guy, praying for a smooth delivery, and committing our parenting to Him.  It was such a special time for the two of us.

DSC01241Checking in at the hospital was a whirlwind.  There were so many things to do, papers to sign, and nurses to meet.  I was beyond happy that I wasn't in pain yet.  I got my IV for my antibiotics all hooked up (I HATE needles!), baby and I were monitored for a while, and I had my cervix checked.  I was at 4 centimeters and 80% effaced.  By the time all the check in and preliminary monitoring was done it was three in the morning and Nate and I decided it was high time to try to sleep.

Yeah right...

Of course, the moment I lay down my contractions began.  They started out pretty mild so I tried to ignore them while resting in the hospital bed.  I was able to ignore them until about four thirty when I got Nate up, letting him know it really was go time.

During this early labor we walked around the maternity ward, watched a couple tv shows, and I tried to relax through the contractions.  I decided that labor really wasn't that bad.

It seems like that instantly changed for me.  All of a sudden my back began hurting like crazy.  The contractions still weren't horrible but I felt like my back was about to break!  We tried all sorts of things to help me with my back pain - a birthing ball (which made it hurt worse), being on all fours (which helped a tiny bit but not much), and the birthing tub (which helped a ton!).  I decided I'd stay in the tub until that wasn't an option anymore.

As I was laboring in the tub my contractions got BAD!  I couldn't relax through them anymore and began moaning through them instead.  This is where Nate really stepped in and helped me get through it.  He encouraged me so well - moaning through the contractions with me and encouraging me while I wasn't having contractions.  He made sure I was remaining hydrated and reminded me to relax as much as I could.

At about nine my midwife showed up to check on me.  She tried to check how dilated I was but wasn't really able to tell because I was still in the tub and not at the greatest angle.  She did say that the way I was reacting to the contractions made her think I was either in transition or close to it and I was probably around eight centimeters dilated.  I told her about the back pain and she said that Caleb might be facing the wrong way, even though it didn't seem as though he was.  She showed Nate pressure points on my back to try to help me and told us to let the nurse know as soon as I felt the need to push and she'd be back.  After she left to see a few other patients Nate and I tried her techniques for the pain.  None of them helped at all. (We later found out that Caleb wasn't in the wrong position.  The fact that I already have a really bad back just multiplied while in labor and caused horrible pain)

About two hours later Peggy showed up again.  By this point I was struggling.  My back was killing me and, although contractions had been staying pretty consistent in their pain level, I didn't know how much longer I could take it.  Nate says that in between contractions II  appeared to be completely out of it but I was fully aware of what was going on.  I was just in such a state of recovery that I looked totally relaxed - almost passed out.  Peggy checked my cervix again and let me know some horrible news. 

I was only six centimeters dilated.

I was defeated.

Nate says that once Peggy told me that I was only six centimeters the look on my face was devastating.   I didn't think I could do it any longer.  I felt that if I was in so much pain, had been laboring HARD for about four hours, and had only gained two centimeters I couldn't do it naturally.  I still didn't want an epidural and wasn't really considering it yet (remember how I said I HATE needles?) but I didn't know what I was going to do.  I mustered up enough strength to say something along the lines of "Only two centimeters???  I can't do it!"

Peggy gently said to me "Yes, you can do it.  These next four centimeters are going to be very quick.  You'll be pushing in no time."  I didn't believe her but I tried to put on a mask of belief and tried to convince myself that what she said was true.  Even though she said I'd be pushing soon she also said that there was a pain medication I could have put through my IV that would help the back pain and take a bit of the edge off.  (I want to say it was Fentanyl but I honestly don't know that for sure...  If you haven't noticed, I was pretty out of it!)  I was still being stubborn and wanted to do it all naturally so she left once again to check on other patients letting me know that she'd see me soon when I was ready to push.

Half an hour later I gave in.  I couldn't do it by myself anymore and asked to have the pain medication.  Even though I had wanted to go all natural the pain in my back was far too intense for that.  Nate told me later that he was so happy I asked for it.  He wanted me to take it but didn't want to push me into taking it because he knew I'd regret the fact that I took it if I wasn't the one who asked for it.  Once I got it the pain was manageable pretty much immediately.  The pain was definitely not gone but it was lessened enough that I knew I could do it.  I could have this baby!

I continued laboring in the tub until a contraction hit that was different than any other.  This contraction was absolutely forcing me to push.  It was so strange that the pushing was completely involuntary.  I let Nate know what had just happened, he let our nurse know, and the nurse got Peggy.  Just like Peggy had said, in an hour and a half I had progressed the final four centimeters.  It was go time.

Through a few contractions I hobbled to my hospital bed, exhausted, but ready to meet my little man.  As contractions hit Nate lifted one leg, the nurse lifted the other, and Peggy did whatever it is that midwives do during delivery.  I don't want to know exactly what she was doing down there but I know there were times where she was really causing me some pain.  With each contraction I was encouraged to push down as hard as I could for ten seconds, take a breath, do it again, take another breath, and do it one last time.  Most of the time I was able to do three sets but there were times I just couldn't.  With Nate, Peggy, and the nurse encouraging me I felt horrible each time I wasn't able to complete the set of three.  I would tell them I couldn't, stop what I was doing, and then apologize profusely until the next contraction started.  Even in labor I struggle with people pleasing...  That must be something I need to work on.

Finally, after about forty five minutes of pushing, they told me that Caleb was just about here.  Peggy told me to push with all my might.  I did my three sets of ten and Peggy told me that if I were able to muster up the strength to do one more set I would get him out.  From somewhere deep inside I mustered up the strength to do one more big push and I felt him slide out.  Nate caught him and immediately set him on my chest.  My whole body gave out and all I could do was kiss the top of Caleb's head, breath a sigh of relief, and celebrate the fact that my little guy was here.

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As hard as it was, labor and delivery ended up being easier than I thought it would be.  I was in no way easy but all the nurses and my midwife said my body was really made to deliver babies.

I'm so in love with my little man and he is totally worth all the pain I went through to bring him into the world.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Simply Loving ~ Yellow Umbrella Stationary {Giveaway}

Disclosure: I received this product in return for a review.  Everything I say in this post is my honest feedback.

Other than my wedding, having Caleb has been the time in my life where I (or, really, I guess HE) have received the most presents.  Nate and I have felt so loved and supported in this season of life as we have been given gifts from those who love us and love Caleb.  Now, call me old fashioned but I definitely prefer handwritten thank you's versus texts, emails, or blanket Facebook statuses.  (I REALLY don't like blanket Facebook status thank you's.  Everyone deserves their own thank you at the very least)  Because of this, I have been writing thank you's left and right to show how much I appreciate those who have been loving on my family.

I was so excited to get to review a product from Yellow Umbrella.  Of course, I immediately gravitated toward the thank you cards but there were so many other amazing products I could have chosen.  The thank you's were cute, well made, and came with two different styles of paper - both of which I loved.  I certainly hope they brought joy to the friends and family who received them.

Brittany from Yellow Umbrella is offering one of you the opportunity to receive a $30 gift card to her shop just by entering the Rafflecopter below.  I hope you visit her site, show her some love, and even purchase a card or two (or ten).

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Check out some other great items Yellow Umbrella has to offer!


Set of 10 - True Love Card
$10

Set of 6 - Crosshatch Monogr...
$7.5

Set of 10 - Couple Wreath Ca...
$12.5

Set of 25 - Modern Floral We...
$50

Set of 10 - Floral Mr&Mrs Ca...
$10

Set of 10 - Special Day Than...
$10

Set of 6 - Patterned Card
$7.5

Set of 10 - Bonjour Card
$10

These bloggers made this giveaway possible: Samantha from Elah Tree, Libby from Health, Love, and Fire, and Natalie from A Tiny Traveler

If you would like to take part in a future Simply Loving Giveaway I'd love to have you as a sponsor.  Click here for more information and remember that every spot is always available for a swap!  If you run a business and would like to be featured in a future Simply Loving Giveaway please email me at susannah.kellogg@gmail.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Recipe Roundup

Holiday Recipe Roundup

With Thanksgiving on Thursday and Christmas right around the corner, some of us may be panicking a little bit about getting a great meal on the table for our family and friends.  I thought I'd ease all our struggles and pull together some of the best recipes from around the blog-o-sphere.  I'm thankful so many fabulous bloggers wanted to collaborate in order to get a wonderful, one stop recipe "book" put together.

If you're struggling to find the perfect recipe - whether breakfast, turkey, appetizer, or anything else your heart could be desiring - look no further than these yummy sounding treats!

Breakfast:

Bagel Dip - He Calls Me Grace
Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel - Sunny Days and Starry Nights
Pumpkin Bread - So Much at Home
Pumpkin Bread - Counter Cultural
Pumpkin Bread - The Olive Tree
Pumpkin Smoothie - No Small Life
Pumpkin Spice French Toast - Life, Unexpectedly
Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake - Cropped Stories

Appetizers:

Brie and Apple Butter Puffed Pastry - Runway Chef
Candied Almonds - Three Sisters and Us
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels - The Southern Thing
Gingersnap Dip - Robyn's Nest
Prosciutto Wrapped Apricots - Runway Chef
Pumpkin Dip - The Sequin Notebook
Stuffing Filled Latkes with Cranberry Aioli - Runway Chef
Thanksgiving Egg Rolls - Runway Chef
Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil - Luna Vida
Whipped Ricotta with Truffle Oil and Fig Butter - Runway Chef

Salad:

Lemony Kale Quinoa Salad - A Dish of Daily Life

Bonus: Croutons - Grace and Galoshes

Sides:

Bean Salad - Luna Vida
Blue Cheese and Bacon Mashed Potatoes - A Savory Feast
Bourbon Maple Sweet Potatoes - Eat, Pray, {Read}, Love
Cheesy Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin - Jade and Oak
Cheesy Corn Bake - Runway Chef
Cheesy Curried Mushroom & Onion Stuffed Delicata Squash - My So Called Chaos
Cole Slaw - Being a Wordsmith
Corn Casserole - Robyn's Nest
Corn Chowder - Sunny Days and Starry Nights
Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce - Sparkles and Shoes
Field's Potatoes - Simple Moments Stick
Glazed Carrots - Three Sisters and Us
Green Bean Casserole - The Artsy Cajun
Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds - Blissful Happenings
Macaroni and Cheese - Anchors Aweigh
Macaroni and Cheese - This Italian Family
Party Potatoes - Sandy's Point of View
Roasted Brussels Sprouts - A Touch of Grace
Seafood Gumbo - Being a Wordsmith
Spinach Casserole - Life According to Steph
Stovetop Mac and Cheese - Simple Moments Stick
Stuffed Peppers - Being a Wordsmith
Stuffing - Blissful Happenings
Twice Baked Butternut Squash - Taking Steps Home
Waldorf Fruit Salad - Life as Always
Wild Rice & Roasted Pepper Stuffed Acorn Squash - Runway Chef

Breads:

Kentucky Spoonbread - Anchors Aweigh
Wheat Bread - Oak and Oats

Turkey:

Apple Lemon Rosemary Turkey - Belong with Wildflowers
Crockpot Turkey - Everyday Thoughts
Rosemary Turkey - Life, Love, Lauren

Dessert:

Apple-Cranberry Pie - Beyond the Aisle
Apple Crisp - Oak and Oats
Apple Pie - Anchors Aweigh
Apple Pie - The Olive Tree
Apple Pie - Hockey Wife, Hockey Life
Apple Pie Cake - Sunny Days and Starry Nights
Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies - Happy. Pretty. Sweet
Butter Cake - The Southern Thing
Cherry Pie - Created to Glorify
Chocolate Fudge Cake - Sunny Days and Starry Nights
Coconut Macaroons {Gluten Free} - Aaron's Hands Ministries
Cookie Cupcakes - Cropped Stories
Monster Cookies - Oak and Oats
Peanut Butter Pie - Pursuit of Pink
Pear Crunch Cake - Sunny Days and Starry Nights
Pumpkin Bread Trifle - The Well Travelled Wife
Pumpkin Cake - A Worker at Home
Pumpkin Cheesecake - Notes from a Newlywed
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie - Life of a Little Songbird
Pumpkin Crunch Cake - Life on the Parson's Farm
Pumpkin Pie - Becoming a Godly Wife
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake - Mine to Live
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - Sunny Days and Starry Nights
Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies - Message on a Napkin
Sweet Potato Pecan Pie - Blessed (But Stressed)
Toffee Pecan Pie Cheesecake - Eat, Pray, {Read}, Love
York Mint Brownies - Oak and Oats

Drinks:

Apple Cider Margarita - A Well Crafted Party
Apple Cider - Sunshine to the Square Inch
Apple Cider Sangria - The Sequin Notebook
Cranberry Apple Cider {Slow Cooker} - A Savory Feast
Old Fashioned - Have Ashley Will Travel
Pear and Apple Cider Sangria - A Well Crafted Party
Pumpkin Spice Latte Martini - The Sequin Notebook
Sangria - Dearest Love
S'more Cocktail - A Well Crafted Party
Spiked Coffee - The Loudmouth Lifestyle

Leftover Turkey Recipes:

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup - So Much at Home
Pot Pie Muffins - Perception is Everything
Southwestern Turkey Soup - Twingle Mommy
White Chili - Passion, Pink, and Pearls

Friday, November 21, 2014

Meet Baby Caleb... And the Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop

  1. I'd love to introduce you all to little Caleb Russell Kellogg
    Born Monday, November 17th at 1:24pm
    8 lb and 20 inches
    Full Birth Story Coming Next Week!
  2. Faith and Fellowship Guidelines

1.  Link up a post (not just the link to your blog) from the week that shares what the Lord's been doing in your life or speaking to you.
2.  Put the button on your blog post or blog so that others can hear about this wonderful group of Godly women.
3.  Visit as many blogs as you're able and get to know your sisters in Christ!
4.  Share this blog hop on social media using #faithandfellowship or pin the button on pinterest.

Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop

Susannah1
Your Host:

Susannah from Simple Moments Stick


If you'd like to cohost in the future, please email Susannah at susannah.kellogg (at) gmail.com


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