Capri Raylissa

Having baby number three was so anti-climatic to me. There was nothing new about it. We already had one boy and one girl. I really struggled with looking forward to meeting her. With each baby I've worried about not being able to love them enough, but with this one I couldn't even get excited about that first meeting. 

Like the other two, I remained sick through the entire pregnancy, swelled a lot, was always lightheaded, would faint on some occasions, got constant remarks about how much weight I had gained, slept terribly (if at all), and to make matters worse, my husband was going through some of his own health problems, making me feel completely unsupported and alone through it all. 

On the Fourth of July, right before we found out that we were having a girl, I went for an hour long walk. Usually walking made me that much sicker, so that long a walk was rare for me - I could usually only stand 30 minutes. But that day was different. I prayed the entire time. I earnestly asked God to help me to bond with this baby. To get excited about it. I also asked Him to help me decide on a middle name if it was a girl (we already had a boy's name picked out). He spoke to me so gently, so subtly, but so clearly.

You see, my first three sibling line up is the same as my children. Boy, girl, girl. I have an older brother named GJ, I'm next and my sister, Melissa (Missi) is the second girl (#3 in the family). Growing up Missi and I were always especially close since we are only 19 months apart. Our relationship has just grown stronger the older we've gotten. I would say that Missi is my absolute best friend.

So that day on my walk God reminded me of the bond I have with the #3 child in my family. Memories of our childhood danced on the cinema screen of my mind and I cried. Yes. That's right. That #3 child is very very special to me. I knew then that this baby was a girl. Then God told me that her middle name should be a name that reminded me of my sister Melissa. Chris and I have chosen to use the C R initials with all of our children, so I immediately came up with Raylissa for Capri's middle name because it reminds me of Melissa. 

From that moment on I started to bond with Capri. I imagined how Cassi and Capri would be close. I remembered the thoughts and feelings my sister Melissa had being the #3 in our family and I chuckled to myself thinking that Capri might have those same feelings.

I continued to gripe and groan about my pregnancy, even with the new excitement about meeting her, but my griping got even worse when Capri decided to arrive later than I hoped.

The day she came, I broke down in front of a friend and shared with her my selfish immaturity about the situation. She so very sympathetically prayed over me. She prayed that I would have the baby right after a party I was going to that night. She prayed the baby would come quickly and that there would be enough time to get an epidural (something I decided to plan on after the trauma of my first two). She also prayed over the baby--that Capri would touch lives and be a powerful woman of God.

Capri's labor started right after the party that night that I was prayed over. My labor was very quick, but there was still enough time for an epidural for the last hour of my labor. The whole experience was super easy and as pain free as it could possibly be. And then there was Capri. Right there in my arms. The doctor let me have her right away and nurse her for quite a while before they took her away to clean her. In those special moments I knew that we were already bonded.

My little Capri has been more attached to me than my other two children. She actually cuddles, hugs, and kisses me and she did so at an earlier age than the other two.

She just turned 1 on Saturday. God was gracious to me even in my time of doubt, selfishness, and immaturity. Capri is a very precious gift that I did not deserve and I am so thankful for the past twelve months that I have had with her!

Happy Birthday Capri Raylissa!


School and Fall

Our unit study on ancient times and civilizations finished this week with a study on Jewish customs, so we ended our week with a makeshift Seder meal. Note that instead of a lamb bone we used sweet potato (my Google search informed me that Jewish vegetarians use the potato instead, and of course I believe everything I read on the internet).

Feels good to wrap up an entire unit for our history course at least. Looking forward to what's in store for the next unit!


Art Prize

The night after we took our family photos last week, we headed up to Grand Rapids, Michigan where my parents and a few brothers live. Chris had a work meeting with an organization there, and of course I wasn't about to let him go without the kids and I when I could see my family while he worked! 

The first night there my one brother (in town from Florida), and Chris and I treated the folks to a nice dinner downtown as a belated Birthday gift (my parents' Birthdays are within three days of each other). It was a lot of fun getting to go out and spend some adult time with my parents and brother without the children around to distract us. 

And then I invited my friend who is a former art teacher to come up from Ohio to go to Grand Rapids' Art Prize with me that same weekend. Art Prize is a three week long event in downtown Grand Rapids. Artists from all over the country enter their artwork and display it at any venue they wish in the downtown area of the city. The city then votes on the best art and there is a grand prize for the winner. My Mom acted as our tour guide and took us all around to the best spots for art. We even got to stop for lunch at the 616, a fabulous restaurant on the river. We rounded out the day with a trip to the mall after Art Prize and loaded up on some great deals. 

I love taking any chance I get to go home to Grand Rapids - such a good time with friends and family - and of course, another great Art Prize experience!



Has it been a week since I posted something here? Seems like just a few days ago. This past week has been very full and it looks like October is going to stay fast paced till the end. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Last week I decided last minute to get the family dressed up for some quick family photos before we left for Grand Rapids for the weekend. Looking ahead at my calendar I knew it was now or never. Taking photos right before dusk with an amateur camera and an even more amateur photographer (me) meant that our results were not quite as glorious as what I had in mind, but they will have to do and at least I like our outfits!

Ah, love this little family of mine! It has been such a good year of learning and discovering. Of finding my voice once again and focusing on the things that I really care about instead of chasing down a lot of silly goals that lead to nowhere. I think it has taken me up to this year to truly embrace the kind of mother I am and at the same time to find my identity outside of motherhood. I think I've even stopped worrying about what the world says about parenting and am finding my acceptance only in Christ. I wish I had embraced this the day CJ was born. It would have saved me a lot of stress.

Coming to this point doesn't mean that now my children behave and my house is perfectly organized, but it does mean that my vision is no longer clouded when I make decisions for my family. My patience has grown because I'm not as hard on myself or my children. My love is deeper because I can focus on just loving instead of what I should be doing to love better. 

Now that I'm reveling in this spiritual freedom, I am anticipating this next year. I'm looking forward to if God brings any new life into our family. I am excited about our next homeschool semester. I am feeling relieved about not style blogging as often (or at all maybe), and I am humbled and honored that I have the opportunity to continue my law school education and finally finish what I started 13 years ago!

But this man. Of course I wouldn't be where I am today without him. Without his love, encouragement, and complete faith in me, I'm sure I would have made so many more mistakes and would always doubt myself. But he is my hero. He has pursued his dreams and has achieved so much even in just the time I've known him. When we first met and dreamed about our lives together, we didn't even dream that life could be this good. 

So here we are. A little family of five living in a small rural town by the river in Northwest Ohio. Chris is working for an amazing non-profit organization that ministers to incarcerated fathers and their families - teaching them how to be better fathers and partners so they can re-enter civilization with a good job and a strong family bond. On top of that, he serves once a week on our City Council. I get to stay at home with my children, working part-time from home for the same organization my husband works for doing some data entry work, while I homeschool my second grader. 

And this guy, he's my right hand man. He helps me around the house and with the girls. He wants to be an engineer when he grows up. To practice for a career in engineering, he draws or builds using Legos or K'nex during his free time. He's already proving to be good at math and science, which is important if he truly does go into the engineering field. While he has the voice of an angel and is already getting good at piano, he tells me frequently that he does not want to be a musician . . . just an engineer. I'm fine with that, but I hope he'll sing to me forever.

This girl. She's in that stage of needing extra love and attention because she feels like so much time is spent with CJ during school and so much attention is spent on Capri because she's the baby. She needs a lot of one on one time playing make-up, hair bows, puzzles and games. She knows how to express herself better than some adults and wants to be just like her big brother, whom she adores. I do some school with her and she attends a couple of hours two days a week at a local Christian preschool. She's making new friends and loves that she gets to be in school just like CJ.

My baby. Capri is a cuddler. She wants to be held, hugged, and kissed all the time. Most of the time I happily oblige her, because ... oh those eyes! She is momma's girl through and through and is mostly wary of her big sister but adoring of her big brother, who, next to momma, is sometimes the only person she'll allow to hold her. 

And that's us. This little family of mine has totally swept me off my feet and I love them more and more each year. 

Perhaps this post would have been more appropriate for New Year's or a maybe even a Christmas update, but posting these pictures and listening to the rain outside inspired me today. So there you have it.