Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Life :: An Update

Well, it has happened. The end has come. No more halycon summer days. Winter has reared her head, beautiful though it may be, and eaten away the last of the warmth.

Oh well.

I guess the snow is pretty.

(ahem. obviously we have hit the time of year that I do no particularly claim as my favorite)


So, here I sit with my second cup of coffee (why is it so much harder to get the ratio of coffee to cream right with the second cup?), listening to Rat Pack radio on Pandora. Grateful for today, as it is much better than yesterday, when I was taken down with an awful stomach bug (and no, that is not a coy way of mentioning morning sickness. it was definitely a bug!).

Anyways, I thought I should commemorate this first snow of the season with a brief update on what is happening in this happy* little household in the middle of the South Dakota prairie.

*happy = giggly, whiny, temper-tantrumy, snuggly, etc etc etc


-He is 3 and an ultimate threenager. Sassy, saucy, and mouthy. But sweet, funny, and smart!
-Started Head Start this fall, which means we have an awesome teacher come to our house once a week to teach him one on one (which, really is two on one, because of course Will wants to learn too!), and then he gets to go play with the other kiddos twice a month. He LOVES it all.
-Also started Sunday School, which is the highlight of his week next to preschool.
-Has quite an imagination. He has started setting up all these different scenarios, and he converses with all sorts of people that only he can see. Sometimes it comes across a bit Gollum-ish as he takes different sides to the same debate, but it's cute!
-Is very helpful, often running to get stuff for sister for me.
-Loves all things farming, including moving bales with the tractor (in real life and in pretend play) and cows (milking them with daddy and grandpa, etc), and talking about Grandma B's horses and donkeys. Also, watching movies.
-Is still small, but has managed to stay on the charts for the past year or so, so we are down to just every 6 month check-ups. Still super picky, and mostly lives on chocolate milk and peanut butter and meat.
-Is mostly potty trained!
-Has entered the questioning/'why' stage of life, much to the chagrin of his parents. One of his favorite questions to ask lately is 'are you SURE you want to keep that baby?' in reference to his baby sister (the answer is yes, yes I am sure buddy).


-He is 2 and showing it in every way! Independence-seeking, vocab increasing, wanting his own way getting.
-Slightly quirky, and I love it! Often is found with socks on his hands, or boots over his footie pajamas, or wearing a helmet in the car.
-Gets his way a bit too often with a flash of his big blue eyes and his heart-melting smile.
-Loves loves loves tractors, cows, Curious George, daddy, and grandpa.
-Mostly easy-going and will often go along with what Drew tells him to do. But has plenty of stubbornness and will dig in his heels when he wants to.
-Lives in his own little world of being a tractor, often picking up 'bales' (wooden blocks) and moving them around the house using his hands as the gear shift and the bucket.
-Has such a fun way of speaking ('tupper time!' for supper time, 'by turn' for my turn, 'bove you' for love you, 'haymers' for Sammers, our cat)


-She is 6 months old, no matter how much we try to deny it.
-Is ready to start eating real food, if the way she watches us like a hawk while we eat is any indication.
-Rolls all over the living room, playing with whatever toy meets her fancy.
-Is still a bit shaky on the whole sitting thing, but she's getting it!
-Is a pretty chill baby, unless she's tired. But she will just play and play and watch her brothers for hours. It's lovely.
-Loves her brothers and find them endlessly amusing, especially when they are throwing fits because then they're dynamic.
-Is our most talky baby, often cooing and growling. Will definitely put her brothers in their place if they need it!
-Still a mama's girl, but she loves her daddy and lights up when he comes in the room.
-Won't take a bottle, so she gets to spend most of her time with mommy.

-Luke is busy busy busy with his full time job, raising pheasants for a local preserve, and working for a neighbor.
-I am busy with managing my childrens' schedules. I also am a member of the Policy Council for Head Start, which involves several meetings a month.
-We also are blessed with family, friends and a community that gets us out and about on a regular basis. We are not ones to thrive on busyness, but it seems to find us anyways.
-We have also become those people that marvel at how fast time is passing, and how fast our children are growing.

Well, that is us in a nutshell. Still here, still thriving.

Friday, October 24, 2014

on this Friday::

I am ...

believing random pictures of my kiddos are an integral part of this random blog post

believing in extra snuggles, extra kisses, extra apologies.

believing in this life we have built together, the two of us side by side, BFFEAE, no matter what.

believing that my children are the most beautiful, smartest, sweetest, rascal-ist children in the whole wide world (but I am more than a little biased, so take that with a grain of salt).

believing that I can push myself forward, even if day by day it doesn't feel like it.

believing that movie nights are not complete without popcorn and hot tamales.

believing that sunshine cures many ills. as does sleep. and food. because there is nothing worse than being hangry!

administering kisses to a little boy's head who is sitting on my lap while I type this (to which he says 'thank you but your face is yucky')
elbow-deep cleaning up this house of ours so we can start this weekend on a happy note
speed-reading this book so I can finish the trilogy without having to renew my library books AGAIN
vacillating about whether or not to buy new clothes for family pictures
borrowing this book from my mom
missing spending fall in MN
craving pop. always pop.
eating whatever is the easiest and quickest thing to grab, even if that happens to be a fun-size Twix bar.
thinking about what craft projects I want to put time and effort into
loving that my husband is the perfect husband for me
praying for eyes to see the gifts He has given me
gearing up for starting a new season of life that is going to involve going to board meetings and using my adult brain
wishing for contentment that settles into my bones

inspiration for this blog post from Kathleen and Nora

Saturday, September 20, 2014

becoming 30

Some of you looong time readers (as in you've stuck around through my ignoring this place over the past year) might remember some posts I wrote about my birthday.

Well, this year I turned 30. And a girl has to celebrate! So, many months ago, while I was hugely pregnant with our latest progeny, I proclaimed to Luke that for my birthday I wanted to climb a mountain. To be specific, a 14er in CO. Partly because I liked the sound of it, and partly because my brother lives in Denver and has been to known to climb a mountain or two (two to be exact. this was his third).

So, after having a baby, and spending the summer not getting in shape, and arranging childcare, and time-off, and coordinating schedules, Luke, Lucy and I took off late one Wednesday and drove into the setting sun.

Literally, as we were headed west.

We drove until late late that night and arrived in Silverthorne, CO at about 3:00 in the AM. After spending the next day resting and adjusting to the altitude, we were (mostly) ready.

The next morning the alarms started going off at 5:00 and we stumbled out of bed, quietly getting dressed. We ate a hearty pre-climbing breakfast at that bastion of healthy food and golden arches, and drove to the mountains.

We left the parking lot around 6:30 or so, after making sure we were bringing the right gear and last-minute bathroom breaks.

It was 4 miles up, and the first 2 1/2 - 3 aren't too bad. A little incline here and there, but also some straight stretches. Lucy was a trooper, just hanging out in the Ergo, nursing every once in awhile and napping the rest of the time.

(yes, those are socks on her hands. this mama forgot to pack her mittens! whoops)

Of course, in order to really climb a mountain, you have to climb. At a high altitude (it's not called a 14er for nothing!). Let's just say we slowed our momentum down after awhile. And there might have been lots of rest breaks.

But, we kept going!

Luke had to take Lucy from me about 2/3 the way up because I was getting dizzy from the high altitude and didn't want to fall and hurt her. I took the backpack from him, but soon enough he took it back from me because it was making me take even more breaks. Basically, he was a rockstar. 

It was not very pleasant on top of the mountain due to cold and wind, so we did not linger long. Lucy especially was not a fan.

A nice lady from Seattle and I took turns holding a coat shield for one another so we could *ahem* tend to business, then we set off down the mountain.

While going down has its challenges (feels like you are going to fall straight down), it was much nicer than going up as you are getting more and more oxygen!

The hardest mental challenge for me was the last 2 miles, because you just wanted to be done!! But we trucked on because I did not want to become a mountain dweller.

We collapsed back in the van at around 2:00 and celebrated that we had done it! 

After a little rest, we headed down the mountain and went to my brother's house in Parker, where we spent the next couple of days doing fun things due to the fact that it was my birthday weekend.

We also got to watch my nephew's first football game of the season:

Let's compare to the last football game of his we got to watch shall we?

What a difference 5 years make no?

(exactly 5 years, as we had gone to Denver to celebrate my 25th birthday soon after we started dating)

We hung out with my lovely family until Sunday, when we packed up and headed back to our other kiddos. It was a long trip back as we took some wrong turns and Lucy was extremely over the whole concept of a roadtrip, but we made it. And we ended the night with all of us snuggled up in our beds where we belonged.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lucy Jo :: What's In A Name

With our boys, we really struggled to name them. Especially with Drew. We dragged that process out as long as we possibly could!

But, obviously, we prevailed and named our children. And we remain happy with what we named them.

Drew Solon, meaning bold and courageous wise one.

Will Bennett, meaning blessed strong protector.

Not only do their names have great meaning, but they are also named after great men, our dads. Luke's dad's middle name is Andrew and my dad's name is Willard.

While I didn't set out on this naming journey with the idea that I would name my children after our families, I love that we ended up doing that. Since both grandpas were covered, that just left the grandmas. And so we played around with their names, and quickly came up with a combination of their middle names that we loved: Lucy Jo.

(Luke's mom's middle name is Lucille and my mom's middle name is Jo)

So, we knew even before we were pregnant that we would most likely name our first little girl Lucy Jo. Then, at our 20 week ultrasound when we found out that it was indeed a girl, that just solidified our choice. However, as a commitment-phobe, I did not fully fully commit to naming her that until she was born. But, when she came out and they asked if we had a name, it felt right. And the longer she is part of our family, the more Lucy she becomes.

Lucy Jo, meaning beloved light.

(and in a weird coincidence, I love that all 3 kids have names that are 4 letters and short for another name. and that the last letter of drew is the beginning of will and the last letter of will is the beginning of lucy. having a harder time coming up with a name that starts with y, so we might have to break that cycle, but still fun in my nerdy brain!)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lucy Jo :: A Birth Story

Well, well, now that the shock of the news of another adorable Vander Ley inhabiting the world is over, come read all about how she came to be! It's another good one!

Wonderings at her existence started in my thoughts last August. I was experiencing some heightened emotions and general unwell feelings, and thought that perhaps God said that it was time for another one. I started taking pregnancy tests like crazy, but they all came up negative.

Finally, after a whirlwind weekend of family and the baptism of our two boys, I took one more test on a Monday morning in September. And there it was, clear as could be:

Luke and I shared a quick 'awe/ahhh!' before he went off to work and I went back to sleep.

(what? it was way early in the morning and I was knocked up - I needed all the sleep I could get!)

The pregnancy took off in the normal way and I soon began puking and laying around all day due to nausea. It was a fun little treat that instead of my typical 12 weeks of sickness, I got a full 16 weeks of puking glory. 

Of course I still had 2 little munchkins running/crawling around, so it wasn't like I was on my bum 24/7. More like 22/7. 

We told our families much earlier with this one, because, let's face it, there is only so much hiding of the puking I could do. They were all lovely and very excited. 

Soon enough, Christmas rolled around, as did my 20 week point. 

We were heading to MN for the last weekend in December, so we nabbed an ultrasound appt that Friday. After all the measuring, she asked if we wanted to know. 

Of course!

And, there it was, a girl. So exciting! Especially since we actually had a name picked out, which if you've been following any of our birth stories, you know is SO rare. 

It was a fun thing to share with our families and friends for the holidays. 

Time went on, and I got bigger and bigger. I had a questionable glucose test, and I was gaining weight rather rapidly. And the day I took the test, I had a suuuper high blood pressure, which was no bueno because the reason Drew came when he did was because pre-eclampsia. So, that won me some closer monitoring. 

And then week 32 came. And the contractions started. And they were every 10-15 minutes. And they weren't going away. And they didn't go away for the rest of the pregnancy. 

I was put on some medicine to help the contractions go away, which helped for a couple of weeks. And then it didn't help anymore. I was spending more and more time on basically non-dr ordered bedrest, just to calm my body down. We REALLY didn't want to end up in Sioux Falls with a preemie, so Luke started picking up a lot of slack and I spent a lot of time on the couch.

And then one day I went to see the doctor, and after talking to me about a lot of different symptoms and checking me, he casually threw in at the end of the appointment that from then on I was on total bed rest. I could only get up to pee. 

Ok then.

Not sure if you know this, but complete and total bed rest with 2 little kids at home? Not easy. We are super lucky in Luke's work schedule that he works 6-2, and we are late night people, so our kids sleep late in the morning, so I was really only on my own for a couple of hours, but its impossible to be fully down with a 2 year old and a 1 year old. 

After a couple weeks of that, and lots more doctors appointments, he reiterated how important it was that I stay down, so my MIL and SIL started taking turns coming to help me out in the morning. Family is such a wonderful thing!

It seemed that every time I went to the doctor, he would give me a plausible day we would do the c-section. So, I would plan on that. But, then things would interfere. For example, one time we were there talking about doing the c-section that weekend (which worked perfectly in our schedule because of family things), but then he talked to perinatologist, and he said don't do it. So, we waited, and waited, and planned mentally for one day, and then another. 

Finally, we went in on a Monday morning. Luke had stayed home from work so he could go with, on the off chance that we were going to do it that day. And the doctor did one last check of my cervix, one last symptom check-off, and told me to be in the hospital at 5:30 the next morning because this was it. 

So, we went home, did the last of the packing, sent the kiddos to his parents' for the night, and got ready to add another to our brood. Of course that night had to the night that our landlord broke a water line, and we were without water. It came back on briefly, but when I got up in the morning hoping for a shower, I was out of luck. Luckily we have the BEST hospital ever, so when we got there they let me hop in the shower before prepping me. 

Getting prepped was AWFUL. I got poked and prodded and a catheter placed. I was literally arching off the bed in pain. It made me feel all shaky and terrible before the surgery even started. But, they finally got me ready and I thought the worst was over.

Ha. Ha ha, and triple ha.

The worst was yet to come.

Because you see, part of having a c-section is having a spinal block. Not the most fun part, but doable right? Yeah, 45 (that's FORTY-FIVE!!) minutes later, the 3rd (THIRD!!) doctor to try finally got my block placed. The nurse that was holding me had to switch out with someone else because it got too hard to hold me up. My other nurse kept going out to update Luke on what was going on and to compose herself, because it was so awful to watch. I was one more try away from having to go completely under for the surgery, which would have been a huge bummer!

Afterwards my back was full of poke holes from failed tries and I spent the first two days sitting on ice packs. But, no harm,  no foul, and my back is totally fine now. 

Our nurse took our camera and took pictures of the process so we could see what happens on the other side of the curtain. I was so excited!

The little miss had a lot to say from the get-go as she started squawking before they even got her fully out of my tummy. Grandma B insists that what she said was she wanted a pony, which I am sure is exactly what every newborn is thinking about!

She came out a little low on her sugars, so the doctor wanted her to have some sugar water. I was still really shaky, because I had spent most of the surgery throwing up, so daddy got to give her the bottle.

After a couple of hours of recovery, she got to meet a bunch of her new family including her brothers, grandparents, two aunts and a cousin. It was a busy day for the little miss!

Drew being thrilled

Auntie Amber

Will showing supreme enthusiasm

Telling Auntie Jourdan all about it!

family of 5!

snuggle time with daddy, which is just the best!

showing off her little peepers

mommy and Lucy selfies

ready to go home!
(I am still mildly obsessed with her coming home outfit)

ready to head home as a family of 5!!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

tap tap :: is this thing still on??

hello all and sundry.

yes, yes, contrary to popular belief, I am still around. just ... not here.

you see, soon after my last post (ummm, a little under a year ago), I took on a momentous task, a task that consumed all of my fall, winter and spring.

would you like to see the result?

Miss Lucy Jo Vander Ley 
May 6, 2014  7:36 AM
7lbs 15 oz  19 1/2 in

that's right. we're THOSE people. the ones who decide the 3 kids in under 3 years is a wise idea. 

fun? a little crazy-making? full of diapers, cuddles, sneezes and tantrums? rewarding, frustrating, wonderful?

yes, yes, all of those things. 

wise? well, we'll see.

our little girl is now almost 3 months old, full of smiles and giggles, especially for her daddy. Will is 1 1/2, walking, talking, leaving a trail of destruction behind him wherever he goes. Drew is 3, an older brother extraordinaire, who takes the concept of being 3 very seriously. 

Luke and I are still here, perhaps a little more tired, but a lot more blessed. 

I will be back soon with a birth story, and pictures of the boys, and just general updates.