Our greatest gift! [540-600]

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Two weeks ago, this stunning gift from God came into our lives!

At almost four weeks early, our miracle baby boy was born on November 7th. Nolan is such a joy. It’s been two weeks and I still cannot believe he is here. We absolutely love him and are so blessed to be his parents. I’m already looking forward to seeing what kind of person he becomes… but of course, holding onto all these baby moments as much as I can while they’re still here. Loving the awe in his eyes as he looks around. Loving the strong grip of his little fingers. Loving his warm body against mine, his gentle breathing reminding me to slow down and take it all in. Loving this new ‘normal’ as a family of three.

Two weeks ago, God’s plans totally wiped mine out. As usual.

I thought I was going to spend that Monday getting things together and ready for the baby. I had no idea my water was going to break late Sunday night. I had no idea that we’d be spending that day at the hospital. I had no idea that instead of my routine OB-GYN appointment, we’d actually be pushing him out. I had no idea I’d be holding a sweet, snuggly, warm bundle of love in my hands that afternoon. I also know that nothing really ever goes according to plan, but I am so thankful that I was able to have the natural birth that I had hoped for. So thankful for that experience, my doctor for working with me on it, and the nurses for being awesome. And, oh, it has been awesome seeing my husband totally take on his new role as father, being so gentle with this fragile little life.

And oh my goodness, my heart is overflowing with gratitude.

Gratitude for the healthy birth of this healthy boy, gratitude for my wonderful doctor and the entire staff at the hospital that helped take care of us, gratitude for a good birth experience, gratitude for the friends that have dropped by to visit and provide us with plenty of food (which has been a huge blessing because I do not feel like cooking anything), gratitude that my in-laws were able to come and visit their new grandson (and the meals they cooked for us!), gratefulness towards all the gifts people have brought and sent (including surprise packages on our doorstep), thankfulness towards all the women that have reached out to me with their breastfeeding struggle stories and support, and so much thankfulness for this adorable little boy that we’ve been blessed with. He is the cutest and I can’t get enough of him! Just so, so thankful. All the good things happening this month has more than made up for all the not-so-good things in the last two years. I think things are finally looking up for us again. Full of love, joy, and gratitude. I sound like a broken record…. but I mean it.

Here’s to life being completely different from now on…..

I’ve barely gotten anything done in the last two weeks. Normally this drives me nuts, and admittedly still does a bit, but this boy needs my attention. And sometimes he just needs me to hold him while I do nothing else at all. Just be with him. And I’m going to hold him, hoping to remember this years from now when he won’t want me to hold him anymore. And all these moments focused on him are more important than other tasks that can wait a bit. Right now, today matters more than tomorrow.

And with that, here is my updated list of gifts….❤

540. warmth coming from the earth on a chilly evening. 541. flock of birds flying overhead; a reminder of a promise from God. 542. crescent moon at dusk. 543. community in an open field. 544. exploding pumpkins. 545. chocolate. 546. frost on the windows. 547. beautiful baby shower. 548. amazing homemade cake by  a sweet friend. 549. feeling loved and blessed by a circle of women. 550. my water breaking on its own. 551. doctors respecting my wishes. 552. having a new friend be one of my attending nurses during the birth! 553. seeing my son for the first time. 554. feeling his warm skin against mine. 555. kind nurses tending to me. 556. cooling gel pads. 557. warm sitz baths. 558. decent hospital food. 559. excited visitors. 560. fast healing. 561. mothers’ milk tea. 562. honey. 563. a breast pump helping me keep a supply. 564. warm meals brought to my house. 565. visits from friends. 566. baby’s wrinkly forehead. 567. pursed lips. 568. warm baby body. 569. tiny hands that grip my finger tight. 570. bright eyes looking around intensely. 571. baby finally eating enough and gaining weight. 572. a five-hour stretch of sleep. 573. tiny soft head full of hair. 574. stinky milk breath. 575. moby wrap keeping him snug against me. 576. soft baby blankets. 577. photographs. 578. being able to give to the church thanksgiving offering. 579. lazy evening watching Home Improvement. 580. frost on the grass. 581. fake fireplace warmth. 582. having a full tank of propane gas for winter heat. 583. seeing my husband snuggle with the baby. 584. husband looking at me with lots of love (this is making me tear up!). 585. in-laws visiting and loving baby. 586. baby yawns. 586. gassy smiles. 588. minor breastfeeding success. 589. baby asleep on my chest. 590. paper towels. 591. unexpected baby gifts. 592. unexpected mail. 593. a phone call bringing more hope for the year ahead. 594. twinkling lights on houses. 595. having a radio! 596. holiday music on the radio. 597. dancing with my [probably confused] baby. 598. a sleepy household. 599. Golden Girls. 600. heart overflowing with love for this little boy…..

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Wishing you a joyful Thanksgiving reflecting on all that you have and everything you hold dear. Praying that you are able to enjoy the holiday to its fullest, with a heart of gratitude. And please, please hold your loved ones tight and put off the holiday shopping until another time. Those material things don’t matter at all. As I write this, I’ve just heard about another fatal car accident in our small town involving a couple young people. Praying for those families. I can’t even imagine the loss they must be feeling, especially around the holidays. Praying for everyone who has lost a loved one this year. Praying for peace. Praying for you. Much love.

Goatbusters Gratitude. [505-539]

November brings plenty of thankfulness. Since the beginning of the month, I’ve seen several friends share things they are thankful for each day. I love it. I wish people did it more. I wish I did it more. But I do have this little gratitude project, which I’m enjoying, even if I’m forgetting to write some things down and trying not to repeat items already on this list of a thousand. And let me tell you — sometimes that’s hard! I find myself thankful for the same thing every day, like my regular cup of coffee, or kisses from my husband. I don’t list repeats, but they exist — these little moments and observations that I cherish daily.

Before I move onto my current list of gratitude, can I just take a few moments to talk about one of the most incredible things that happened in the sports world this week!? You know what I’m talking about. The Chicago Cubs finally broke their 108 year streak and won the World Series!!! I’m not really a sports person, but I do love the Cubs and have definitely been paying attention to them the last several months (thanks in part to my Cubs fanatic husband).

Not only that, but it was a fantastic seven-game series that went into an extra inning at the end (with a rain delay)! Both teams played hard, emotions were high, and the Cubs had a marvelous comeback from being down 3-1 in the series. Historical, indeed. Chicago’s going crazy. The curse of the goat has been busted. This is one of those times I wish I was there to celebrate.

I tear up every time I replay the final outs of the game. And when I think about how Ross hit a home run in his final career game. And when I think about how just a month before the Cubs won the series we were able to see them play their last game of the season despite not being in Chicago (and that was a great game too). And when I see all the statuses on my feed from excited fans and people who aren’t fans, but still excited. Of course, my emotions are running a bit high at the moment, anyway.

Fantastic start to November, indeed.

Along with that, it really has been a nice couple of weeks as October ended and this month of thankfulness began. I used to hate November. I thought November was the worst month of the year: full of dead leaves, cold air, a holiday revolving around food, and the pressure of Christmas to come. Then, I don’t know — in the last few years, I grew to love November. November is that sweet month of gratitude and preparation for the holiday season and the celebration of Christ’s birth. It’s when the leaves are dead, but beautiful. It’s when we prepare for a season of rest and hibernation. It’s the start of warm soups and cozy blankets. Connection. Hope. And all that food? YUM.

And this month…. whoa. Who knows what the end of the month will bring…!!

I plan to savor every moment that I can.

The last two weeks, I’m thankful for:

505. different opinions. 506. understanding. 507. beautiful fox. 508. trying a new recipe that both Kyle and I like. 509. so many eggs in the coop. 510. a bath! 511. glitter from the LUSH bath bomb swirling in the tub. 512. watching a classic movie (Gone With the Wind). 513. Cubs going to the World Series!!!! 514. hard-boiled eggs. 515. dog’s tail wagging. 516. soft, fuzzy yarn. 517. succeeding at a last-minute Halloween costume project. 518. funny sight of chickens roosting on a picnic table. 519. silhouette of cows on hills with a beautiful sunset. 520. Halloween dinner party with friends. 521. bonfire. 522. kids running around the yard. 523. piles of leaves. 524. delicious taco soups. 525. homemade bread. 526. all the pets piled in bed one lazy morning. 527. squirrel with apple in its mouth, prepping for cold weather. 528. brilliant stars in the morning sky. 529. caramel apple pops. 530. Indian summer vibes. 531. CUBS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!! 532. $1 coffee from McDonald’s. no shame. 533. birds fluttering around in bare branches. 534. berries showing up on trees. 535. God’s invitation and acceptance being worth more than any person’s rejection. 536. unexpected gifts. 537. seeing people all over the country, especially in Chicago, come together to celebrate. 538. hearing young voices sing. 539. sweatshirt weather.