Well, this blog has been neglected, as have many other aspects of life over the past two months. It has been a time of many ups and downs, many joys, and many, many challenges. I can hardly think about all of it without feeling like I might cry, or have a panic attack, or both. SO now I'm going to get a little vulnerable about life...

Margot is growing like crazy and doing new things every day. She is so fun and silly, and at the same time increasingly difficult to watch. It's a joy and a challenge. All the growth and change comes with new skills, new mobility, new curiosity, and little fear or understanding of what's safe or unsafe. Just holding her these days can be like a workout, as she likes to throw herself all over the place. It's adorable and exhausting.

I suppose of I had just one word to describe the last couple months, it would be exhausting. About 10 weeks ago, we found out we were expecting baby number two.  It was very unexpected, but very exciting.  Just a couple weeks later, Kyle got a hernia.  Apparently, it was one he was born with, but had just never given him problems until then, when it gave him a LOT of problems.  About 10 days after that, he had surgery to correct it. It was supposed to be an outpatient procedure, but he did not do well in recovery, and had to be admitted to the hospital. Thankfully, he was released the next day. Since then, it has been a very slow recovery with a lot of ups and downs.  He still is not able to lift Margot, or anything heavier than 10 pounds. He is still sore at the end of almost every day, and there have been a few times when he thought he might have re-aggravated it.  This has thrown a HUGE wrench into our daily lives, and made our schedules, routines, and rhythms completely wacky.

We are grateful for the grace many have extended to us, and ask for continued grace from the many people we've neglected, and those who've made up slack for our shortcomings as we just try to keep our heads above water.  It seems like a battle to just "get through" each day.

In addition to the woes of Kyle's hernia and recovery, we've had a difficult few weeks with our new downstairs neighbor. There have been so many complaints we could share, but to keep it brief, he smokes a lot of pot. And he may not only be smoking it, as there has been a lot of suspicious activity coming from his apartment the last two weeks. That's right, it has only been two weeks, but we have a huge laundry list of things going wrong.  Today, a maintenance man from our building came out to try and seal the duct work to prevent the two apartments from sharing air, but this afternoon, I am smelling it again as if someone were smoking in my own living room. We are praying for wisdom on how to act, and a speedy resolution.

This has brought out a lot of emotion in me. On top of all the hormones, I'm struggling with trusting God in all of this. I have struggled with doubting his will for us for a while, and struggling to be content in this phase of life. We have finally finished school, finally both have jobs, finally have our sweet baby and another on the way. After following the Lord to get to this place, and feeling so sure that it was his will for us to move to St. Louis, go back to school, etc. Now we are severely burdened with student loans, feeling stuck in an apartment that is becoming increasingly unlivable, working long hours, and feeling as if we are missing so much. Missing time with each other. Missing important times with Margot. Missing out on any kind of peace.

A friend of mine was able to put into words what I've been feeling, "It's hard to feel so far behind, when you did something to get ahead." With all of this comes a lot of dashed expectations. I thought life would be easier after school. I thought we wouldn't have to worry over finances, we'd be able to pay our loans off quickly, buy a nice home, save money, take vacations, and not worry every single day about our finances. The reality has been so very different.  I don't know how to recover from this.

We are trying to figure it out one day at time, praying for guidance and peace, and asking that God would renew our vision for what life looks like going forward. If I'm being completely honest, I'm terrified.  I have no idea what is ahead for us. In my very limited perspective, it looks like a giant mess.

We have so much to be thankful for, a happy, healthy marriage, a happy, healthy baby girl, another sweet one coming in June, an amazing church family and actual family who are walking through all of this with us, and a God who knows our struggles and sorrows more deeply than even we do, and who can see what's on the other side.

Thanks for letting me be vulnerable. Thanks for praying with us. I pray the peace of Jesus meets each of us this Christmas season.



Seven Months.

Well, I'm just a few days late on writing Margot's seven month update, and in the summer-Bar-exam-madness, I never even wrote a six month one. Oopsies! Sorry, Margot.

A lot has happened since her five month update. One of the most exciting things is that she has two teeth now! It's pretty much impossible to catch them on camera. The two on bottom started coming in a couple weeks ago, and we think she may be working on a couple more on top. Once in a while the poor girl just lets out a wail and puts her hands to her mouth as if there's a sudden wave of pain. Most of her seven-month pictures reflect this. :(

We are still doing a combination of nursing and giving her formula, and now she's eating solids, too. Just before she turned six months old, she went through a huge growth spurt and my body just couldn't keep up. I tried every recommended thing to give it a boost, but it simply wasn't enough. She is doing really well on the breastmilk/formula combo, and growing like crazy. The transition was not so bad, despite a little constipation off and on. I still nurse her as much as I can, and she does well switching between the two. She LOVES eating purees now. The only things she does not seem to like so far are broccoli and peaches. I think the peaches were just too tart, and who could blame her on the broccoli?!

She has experienced many "firsts" in the last couple months, many first foods, first trips to new places, first time having both parents at home, and neither of which are studying for anything! We also had a first in our marriage, first time purchasing a car! We are the proud owners of a Toyota Prius V, and we couldn't be more excited. Since we are not studying and not bound by a small, impractical car, we have a few road trips in our future. The first trip will have to be to see Papa Mo and GranNan down in Anna for a weekend, another first for MJ!
We're feeling very sunny this morning. :)

She rolls all over the place. She is trying hard to Army crawl, and she can kind of do it when she gets her head involved. It's a strange sight. She can sit up unsupported, but only if you help her get there. She's not yet able to pull herself up from laying to sitting, but she's getting close! She still loves to be outside and go on walks. She loves being in the Ergo carrier or in her stroller, it really doesn't matter as long as she is outside!

Today we took her to the Saint Louis Zoo for the first time. We all enjoyed one more family day before Daddy starts work full-time tomorrow.
Greetings from Sea Lion Sound!
It had been quite a while since Kyle and I had visited the zoo, and there were many new attractions. The Sea Lion show was great! Kyle and I couldn't help but grin throughout the show at the sweet, playful creatures. Margot didn't really get it, but that's okay.

Margot's favorite part was the butterfly house. She was mesmerized by the magical, fluttering creatures, the brightly colored flowers, and the peaceful atmosphere. Mommy was, too.

It was really a wonderful day with our sweet, happy, seven-month-old girl! I can't believe how big she is, how much she's changing, and much more we love her every day.  You are a joy and a blessing, sweet Margot Jane. Mommy and Daddy love you so, so much!


Great is Thy Faithfulness

As Kyle held me and kissed me goodbye to leave for Jefferson City, MO to take the Bar exam, he expressed his love and gratitude for my support, helping him through law school, etc. I had to fight back tears, not because I was sad he was leaving for two days, but because I thought of just how faithful God has been to us in our marriage.

It has been almost seven years since we entered into this covenant. When we made our vows and walked down the aisle as one flesh to face the world, our futures were so unknown. Some people have big dreams and a vision for their lives. My only dreams involved Kyle, and what I hoped would be our future children. Truthfully, I didn't really care much about where we lived or what we did, he was my only dream. To this day, that is still the truth.

Sure, I have more clear ideas about our future now. I have more specific dreams about where we'll live and what we'll do, but ultimately, Kyle is still my dream. No matter where the Lord takes us, or what challenges we face, Kyle is still the one I want there by my side as we face them together.

We're once again heading into uncharted waters in our marriage. The last several years have been heading for this moment, getting through the Bar exam. We haven't really made many plans for what comes next.

Right now, all I can do is reflect on the last few years and think of how good God has been. How gracious. How faithful.  Not just in our circumstances, but in our minds and hearts. We feel blessed that He sustained us through so many trials, and feel so much more confident that He will continue to do so.

It is good to worship an unchanging God in our very changeable lives. He holds us together as one. He increases our love day after day, year after year.

As Kyle goes to face what may be two of the most mentally and emotionally grueling days of his life thus far, two lines from an old hymn come to mind.
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand bedside... All I hath needed, Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
I love you, Kyle Bass! God is faithful. He made you and He sustains you. He will keep you in these next two days and forever. You are covered in love and prayer.

Bar Exam Eve

Greetings, friends! It's Bar Exam Eve, and I've come out of hibernation to ask for your prayers for Kyle. What I mean by that is that you will really pray, not send positive thoughts, not just say you're going to pray, not think about him for 10 seconds and then forget, but that you will commit to petition God and intercede on his behalf, for real. We are desperate for real intercession here.

In the 10 years I've been with Kyle, I can honestly say I've never seen him shaken by anything, not even three years of law school. He somehow always manages to take everything in stride, and approaches all of life with a peaceful, God-trusting attitude. But he. is. shaken. Doubting everything he knows, everything he has learned, his study skills, all his work not being enough, and generally fretful about anything that could go wrong. This is not the Kyle I have known, and the pressure he feels is something I can only kind-of relate to.

Please don't keep telling him, "I'm sure you'll pass!" As many previous bar-takers have told me, it isn't helpful. Please do pray. Please do remind Kyle that God is good, that he is not alone, and that you love him and believe in him.
If you'll commit to pray for him, really pray for him, let us know what day and time you'll really be praying. If you pick a time and comment what time you choose, I'll come back and put your name down. The test is two days long, so I'd love to see someone commit to praying for him every hour on those two days. Set yourself a reminder on your phone if you pick a time!

Tuesday, July 30th
8am: Ryan P., Patti F., Grandma and Grandpa L., Kevin L., Janet R.
9am: Ryan P., Deanna H.
10am: Ryan P., Stephanie C.
11am: Ryan P. Bobbie A.
12pm: Ryan P., Grandma and Grandpa L.
1pm: Ryan P., Luann B.
2pm: Ryan P., Annie R.
3pm: Ryan P., Amber F., Heather O.
4pm: Ryan P., Keith B., Grandma and Grandpa L., Kevin L., Stacy H.

Wednesday, July 31st
8am: Ryan P., Patti F., Grandma and Grandpa L., Kevin L., Janet R.
9am: Ryan P., Sherye S.
10am: Ryan P., Amy B.
11am: Ryan P., Christine D.
12pm: Ryan P., Grandma and Grandpa L.
1pm: Ryan P., Luann B.
2pm: Ryan P., Annie R.
3pm: Ryan P., Amber F., Heather O.
4pm: Ryan P., Grandma and Grandpa L., Kevin L.

Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Thanks for your unconditional love.


Law school is done.

I finished grad school a year ago, and as of today, Kyle is officially done with law school.  Together we have a whole bunch of initials after our names, which don't mean that much in the grand scheme of things, but we're pretty excited about them anyway. Frankly, I'm a little jealous that Kyle has a doctoral degree while mine is just a measly old master's degree, but that's a tale for another day. ;) Today is a day for thanks, praise, and celebration.

Thanks to our friends and family.  I can't even tell you how grateful we are to you all.  Our families have provided so much for us throughout our marriage, but especially in the last three years of this crazy grad school adventure.  We look at our lives, and so clearly see how generous our family has been to us in supporting this dream of ours.  We couldn't have done it without our parents and grandparents. We also have so many friends who have been such a blessing and so encouraging.  This has not been an easy three years, but coming to a new city, we couldn't have found a better community than our August Gate family.  Many of them have seen up close the frantic, glazed look in our eyes when we were so overwhelmed, and have walked with us through some difficult moments.  We are so thankful.

Praise to God. All the glory to Jesus. He is our great provider and sustainer. On all the days we were running on empty, he filled us with grace and turned our eyes upward rather than inward.  He gave us a deeper love for his son, and for each other.  Somehow, in the craziest three years of our marriage thus far, he managed to increase our joy and love, showing us every day that he loves us, he is good, and we can trust him.  There will be many more days in life that we are running on empty, and He will always give what we we need. We have so many reasons to praise him each and every day.

Celebration of this great moment.  We are in a "happy place." We know that troubles will come and go, but right now, life is pretty swell.  I am SO incredibly proud of my sweet, brilliant, hard-working, generous, charming, kind, and extremely attractive husband.  He is an amazing husband, daddy, friend, employee, and so much more.  I love him.  I love him more than I can say.  

Congratulations, my dear husband. We made it.  By the grace of God, and the skin of our teeth, we made it. This is a fantastic day, one that we will never forget.  I am so proud, and so thankful you are mine. Thank you for working so hard. I know that you did it in large part for our family, so that you could make a better living for us.  In the meantime, you found a career that you love, a firm that values you, and a job that excites and challenges you to use that big brain of yours every day.  You're my favorite person. You're the best.  I love this crazy little life of ours.  Thanks for making it so great. 


Four months.

Margot has been a part of our family for over a year now, since the moment we found out she existed on 4/24/12.  What a blessed year this has been.  This, her fourth month "on the outside," brought a few firsts.
She started giggling every day. This is pretty much the best thing we've ever heard. We are constantly trying to catch it on video because it just gets better and better, but the videos never seem to do it justice! We've both become addicted to that little, squealy laugh, and will make the biggest fools of ourselves and do just about anything to bring it out of her.
She went to her first (and second) Cardinals game. The first happened to fall on the same night as Kyle getting his official full-time job offer at work, so it ended up being one of the most fun, happy nights either of us can remember.  We will never forget it! Margot was super happy, all snuggled up in the Ergo carrier. Even though it was a bit chilly out, we had the PERFECT seats (thanks to the law firm) in the Redbird Club, and we were plenty warm. We even got to invite Josh and Kim to join us, meet up with a few family members who were also at the game, and see Shelby Miller get a W for our Redbirds.
First family baseball game!
MJ is trying so hard to roll over. She is getting really good at scooting on her back, and she can get over to her side pretty easily.  Most mornings we find her in some cockeyed position in her crib, and laugh at how in the world she got herself there overnight. Watson often likes to bring her his toys (see bone below). Occasionally he even brings her his frisbee or ball, and then sits in front of her waiting for her to throw it.  Some day, buddy.  Some day.
Trying to roll.
She is also enjoying more sit-up time in her Bumbo seat, strengthening that back and neck a little every day. She definitely shows preference to certain toys and teethers, and she really likes variety.  She is putting everything in her mouth, and getting very good at grabbing what she wants and bringing it to her mouth by herself.  Her favorite thing right now is being outside. She could be screaming at the top of her lungs, but once that fresh air hits her, she is a happy little clam again.  I try to take her on as many walks as I can, usually wearing her in the Ergo. I want to wear and snuggle her as much as I can while I can! It is so neat to see her face light up in wonder as she takes in trees, flowers, buildings, birds, and so much more. I can hardly imagine what it would be like to see green leaves for the first time, but if I had to judge from her face, it must be pretty spectacular.
We've yet to try any rice cereal, and we're thinking about skipping it all together. She is sleeping great and gaining weight, so we're thinking of just waiting until 6 months when we can start her on veggies and fruits. I haven't talked to many other parents about this, but from what I've read there isn't much nutritional value to the rice cereal anyway, right? Is there really a good reason to do it?
Mommy geeked out when she said her first CV syllable (that's consonant-vowel, for you non SLPs.) So far, I've heard /k, g, p, d, m, ng/. While I'm not in any huge hurry for her to get big and crawl or walk, I can't wait for her to talk!
She is such a joy, and we love her so much! We are learning every day how to be the parents she needs, and it is a challenge, but so wonderful.  My friend Megan shared this quote last week that really stuck with me:
"I thought parenting was going to portray my strengths, never realizing that God had ordained it to reveal my weaknesses." 
Boy, is that the truth! It is shaping us as parents, as husband and wife, and as followers of Christ, for the better.  It is exciting to think about what the next month will bring for Margot and us, including the conclusion of law school for Kyle. What a journey this has been! We are feeling the goodness of God as we look back and see how he carried us through every day, and thankful that he equipped us to build this life and love on him, our solid rock, our firm foundation, our only hope.
Happy four months, Margot Jane! We love you so very much.


Three months.

Margot is three months old. I just can't believe it.  Now, she seems such a permanent fixture of our lives. It's as if she's always been part of our family, and yet we've only just begun to learn to love her.
She giggles and wiggles. She fusses and pouts. She increasingly demands our attention.  She LOVES to be talked to, played with, and walked around. She knows her mommy. She knows her daddy.
Her two favorites places (other than mommy's arms) are her changing table and her swing. She loves to grab at things, especially if she can twist her little fingers around it, like mommy's hair, OUCH! Haha.
She got to celebrate her first Easter with daddy, mommy, and Grandpa TJ. Her basket was full of colorful eggs, books, teether toys, and a new Bumbo seat. She is not sure what to think of the seat as it requires a bit of a workout to hold herself up. 
All in all, she's pretty spectacular. 
Every week feels so busy and goes so quickly.  We keep feeling like we are just barely keeping our heads above water between our jobs, law school, church life, trying to keep a household running, and getting as much quality time with Margot as we can.  I hope it doesn't always feel this way. I hate that feeling of "just getting by." I hope once law school is out of that equation, things might ease up just a bit. Even if they don't, however, we are completely grateful for the grace God has given us to get through, particularly with my return to work full-time this past month.  It has not been easy, but He has provided us with enough energy, patience, and strength to get through, and given us so much love and joy for each other!


Two months.

Where have the last two months gone? I know that's such a cliché thing to say, but it's so true! This time has flown by. Margot has grown, our hearts have swelled even more with love for her, and our lives are continually changing.

This month brought a lot of firsts, meeting new friends and family, and little outings to fun places. I can't even begin to recount every one, but it has been busy and fun. Everywhere I take her, I feel like I'm showing her off. No matter where we go, she makes people smile and everyone exclaims, "Look at that hair! She's so cute!"


We are really seeing lots of smiles now and hearing her little voice coo every day. Sometimes she gets so smiley, we think we're going to get a giggle out of her, but she's not quite there yet.
We sure are crazy about this precious baby!


One month.

Little miss Margot is one month old today! I want to smile and cry. I can't believe how fast the month has gone. We are so blessed by this pretty little sugar plum.

She had her one month checkup this morning with her pediatrician. (Side bar: I LOVE her pediatrician. Is it weird if I say that I really just want to be friends with her? She's fab.) Margot is growing beautifully and is exactly in the 50th percentile for weight and 75th percentile for height.

She is changing every day it seems! Everywhere we take her, she delights the masses with her bright eyes and head full of downy soft hair. We just can't get enough of her cooing and smiles.

She hasn't shown much interest in any toys or stuffed animals yet, but she does seem to have a favorite song, Harry Belefonte's "Jump in the Line." It was stuck in my head one day when she was fussing, so I tracked down this Youtube video so we could listen to it and dance, and she immediately calmed down. Every time I tried to change the song, she started fussing again, so we listened to it on repeat for a solid 45 minutes. We have danced to it every day since!
Thank you, Jesus, and thank you, MJ, for an amazing first month as a family of three!


37 Hours

Labor was absolutely nothing like what I expected. I'd watched all kinds of documentaries, read books, talked to 100 moms, met with my doula friend, and mentally prepared myself as much as possible, and couldn't have planned for the reality of my own labor.

Some of you are probably curious about Margot's birth, given that when announcing it I used the word "dramatic." It was dramatic to us, anyway. I woke up Sunday morning, 12/30, feeling tons of pain and pressure, enough that we stayed home from church so I could rest and get comfortable.  At 2pm, I started feeling contractions. It started very slowly. They weren't super painful or regular, so we relaxed as much as possible and made it through Fellowship of the Ring and the first half of The Two Towers. At that point we decided to get some rest while we could.

I slept for three hours and then woke up at 1am when the contractions were too strong to ignore. At that point they were just 3 minutes apart and we figured it was time to go to the hospital. We got admitted and I was only 3cm. While that was a bit discouraging, I knew that it could progress quickly, and really thought it would given that the contractions were strong and regular.

I hit a wall at 7cm. At that point, I'd already been laboring for over 24 hours, was hungry and exhausted, and felt I could hardly hold myself up. The hospital staff recommended that they break my water, and that would speed things up. She would be there by dinner time, with plenty of time to recover and watch that NYE ball drop. The ball drop came and went, and I still wasn't fully dilated.

Some time around 1:30 am on 1/1, they said it was time to push. At that point, they had not yet told me that I was running a fever or that Margot was sideways and not turned all the way, or that her heart rate was really high. All I knew was that I was exhausted and didn't know how in the world I was going to muster the strength to get her here, but my husband was whispering in my ear that I could do it, and that was what I needed to hear. So I pushed. And pushed.

After over two hours of pushing, the docs finally came and said that my fever was weakening my contractions, there was infection in my fluid around the baby, that her heart rate was indicating a lot of stress, and that it was time for them to cut her out.  Oddly, after all my plans of natural childbirth, I was relieved and even rejoicing over this. "Let's do it!" Kyle looked terrified, and then told our families who were also terrified.

They prepped me quickly and wheeled me away to the operating room where they gave me some incredible drugs.  "Thank you, Jesus!" I immediately felt relief and more alert than I had been in many, many hours. Kyle was surprised to walk in and find me calmly chatting with the OR staff. He and I chatted and even laughed while they did their jobs.

He stood and watched her come out, cut her umbilical cord, watched them clean her and weigh her, and then brought her to me. When we heard her cry for the first time, it did something to both of us. Something I'll probably never be able to explain. When I kissed her little cheeks and saw that mess of hair, I was so ecstatic that she was finally here, and thankful that we made it.


For the following days, I continued to fight a fever and very low blood pressure. I lost a lot of blood during the surgery and I am still dealing with the fluid loss, swelling, and general peakedness on top of the pain of having major surgery. Each day gets a bit better and I see that I can do a little more.

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man,

The purpose of the Lord for us was to bring home a beautiful, healthy baby girl, and He provided skilled people who helped us get her here as safely as possible, and family and friends who continue to support and take care of us in these early days as a family of three.  His purpose for us was and is grace upon grace, upon grace.


Thank you, Lord. Thank you, family. Thank you, friends. We love you all.