our casa.

my great granny, great granddad, and papaw as a baby in front of our little old house.

Talk about a blessing. When Ben and I were planning our wedding, we were also remodeling an old farmhouse that was built by my great-granddad. He and my granny lived in that old house their entire married lives. It started as a one room shack, and he eventually added 4 more rooms, plus a bathroom. My great-granddad died a year before I was born, and my granny died 6 years after that. For years, that old house sat abandoned. My papaw ended up renting it out a few times, and for the last several years, his step-daughter and her son lived there.

When Ben and I got engaged, the good Lord blessed us beyond imagination. My papaw said we could live in that old house if we wanted. It was considered ‘livable’, but we could and would probably need to fix it up. And we could stay there as long as we wanted. YES, PLEASE!

So we worked, and worked, and worked a little more, gutting the majority of the house as we went. With the help of an excellent handyman and my family, we were able to get the little old house in shape in about 5 months. I am so thankful for that little old house and that farm. Growing up, I didn’t have a concept of a yard because my ‘yard’ was a big farm that I could run wild on and build 2653 forts and treehouses. It’s funny, though, when I was younger I would get so mad at my dad for making me work in cows and tobacco on the weekend. I would long for a big city life that would get me the heck off of that farm. Now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I feel so blessed that God led us back to this little old house on the farm. I am so thankful that we’ll be able to raise PB with no ‘yard’ and we’ll be able to watch him run wild and build 2654 forts and treehouses.

I am so thankful for my sweet great-grandparents that built that little old house. It is so special to me knowing that they started off as ‘knewlyweds’ in that little old house, and they lived there until the day they died. That house has a lifetime of memories in it. And I hope we make a million more.

Farm behind the little old house.

View from our afternoon walks.


good lessons.

Having PB changed everything for Ben and I. And he changed things for the good. Besides the obvious things, like schedule and routine changes, he has also changed our spending habits. Before PB, I wouldn’t say that Ben and I were frivolous spenders, but we didn’t always think twice before we made our purchases. It was much easier for me to go to a store, grab something I liked, and buy it without really thinking about what I was doing. We were still pretty conservative with our money, but we didn’t go out of our way to save money.

With PB in the picture, our habits have changed for the best! Babies cost money. A LOT of money. But we aren’t necessarily changing our ways because we can’t afford to live right now. We are doing it for the future. We want to give PB the best life we can. We want to build a house (someday) and we want PB to be young enough that he can enjoy living there. With that being said, we knew we really needed to bear down and start saving. So we sat down and made a good, adaptable budget, and started highlighting ways we could save some money.
Here’s a couple of things we are doing:

1. Carpooling. Gas STINKS right now. I have a 45 minute commute, and I pretty much pass by Ben’s work (He has a 25 minute commute). We can’t carpool every day, but we are able to do so about 2 weeks out of the month, which saves us about $200. Not too shabby.

2. Paying closer attention to coupons/sales for food. I am so NOT a couponer. I wish I were, and I wish I could walk into a store and pay $2 for $500 worth of groceries. But I’m trying to make small steps, like grabbing a couple of coupons in the Sunday paper for things I know I’ll use. I have also started making a good grocery list based on the weekly sales and ‘semi’ planning my meals ahead of time. Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve noticed about $30-$40 worth of savings each grocery trip. Again, I’m such a rookie at this, but my goal this year is to get better at meal and grocery planning.

3. Gardening. This idea began when I went to the grocery store and green peppers were $1.69 a piece! I thought I would pass out in the produce section. I think we cook with green peppers in at least 80% of our meals. We live on acres of land, so there was really no excuse for us. My parents have had a garden in the past, but I’ve never really had anything to do with it. So this year, Ben and I bought some seeds and stuck em’ in the ground. We both have NO clue how to garden. But lo and behold, about 2 weeks later, real, live green little plants starting popping up! We were pumped. We’ll see how it turns out.

4. Being conscientious when I shop. I have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who is the HARDEST person to shop with. She can walk in a store the size of a bathroom, spend 2 hours in there, try on everything in the store, carry half of it around, and then walk out with nothing. It drives me nuts! I am/was the opposite. I walk in a store, see something I like, and buy it. I don’t even think twice about it. Now, as much as my friend’s shopping habits drove me nuts, I’m trying to be more like that. I’m thinking long and hard about my purchases now, and if it’s not on sale, or at a good price, it won’t come home to mi casa. It’s been a harder change for me, but I’m actually starting to enjoy shopping this way. When I find a good deal or bargain, I get PUMPED. I recently found a pair of really cute, dressy shorts for $11. I got so excited I didn’t think I would make it out of the store. I felt like running through the store and giving fist pumps and chest bumps to all the employees.

5. Being more conscientious in general. Like paying more attention to turning the lights/tv off when we’re not using it, and combining and limiting our trips in the car. We’re being more resourceful with our leftovers, and watching how much we eat out. We’re trying to be more ‘DIY-ers’ and tackle projects on our own, rather than paying someone else. (And let me say, that has actually been really fun; we are definitely rookies in every sense of the word, and we have a long way to go, but its super fun to learn).

6. Using the web. There are TONS of great blogs/sites that have great DIY resources. I have found some awesome projects that I’m working on that are great money-savers. I also use pinterest to find and store some really good ideas.

7. Celebrate the savings. Saving money has actually been fun for Ben and I. We like to think of it as a competition (against the stores I guess). When we go shopping or out to eat, we try to find the best sales and deals. Finding a good deal gives us an awesome sense of accomplishment. We’ll sing a little cheesy song we’ve made up and give a couple of high-fives and then walk out of the store feeling like a couple of money-saving bad ‘butts’. I know. We’re nerds.

I think I could write forever on this topic because we are learning a new way to save every day. It’s definitely a process, and something that takes a little time to figure out and get used to, but it gets easier (and more fun) every day. When I think about the payoff (giving my family the best life I can), it makes it all worth it.

Our little garden. See, there are real, live green plants in there! How the heck did that happen?!?!

Parenting: no place for wussies.

I just looked up wuss in the dictionary to see if it was even a recognized word and to see how in the heck you spell it. The definition is a weakling or a wimp. Yep, parenting is no place for the weak or the wimpy.

Are you ever really prepared to become a parent? Ben and I always wanted to have kids. We always pictured ourselves having kids when we were adults, you know, when Ben had a mustache and used aftershave, and I stopped chewing Big League gum and grew 3 or 4 inches. So last year when we found out we were expecting, Ben tried to grow out a mustache and beard and I tried to give up Big League. It didn’t work out for us.

It’s ironic, really. You are pregnant for 9 months and read all this stuff about what you should expect and how to ‘parent’ and then you have this little person at the hospital, strap him in the carseat to leave, and arrive home to realize 2 things:

1. You totally forgot everything you read about.
2. All babies are different and your baby didn’t come with an instruction manual.

I have to agree that being a parent is the single most incredible thing I’ve been blessed to do, but it is also the most challenging. And my PB isn’t even trying to smoke or drive fast cars yet! He started daycare on Monday. It was so hard to drop him off and leave him in a room full of strangers. It broke my heart. I know it will be good for him, though, and I’m excited to see watch him make baby friends and learn to play with others.

I love watching him grow and watching his little personality develop. It’s so fun to see all that he is learning. At the same time, I’m always sad to see one of his little ‘stages’ end. It seems to me that parenting is like a roller coaster. It is wonderful, happy, sad, scary, and fun all at the same time. How can that be?

When we took PB for his last set of shots, I saw the nurse come in with the needles, and as usual, I was ready to run, looking for the quickest way out. I wanted to leave the room and didn’t want to see him get that shot. But then it hit me that I AM his mom, and that I want to be with him so he doesn’t get so scared. As the nurse stuck the first needle in his little leg, I got weak, and seriously thought I would pass out. She then stuck him two more times. He cried for about 2 minutes, and then he found a string and start chewing on it, while Ben was making him laugh through the tears. I, on the other hand, had pit stains clear down to my jeans, was clammy, and had turned white.

Yep, parenting is no place for wussies.

PB’s birthday story (part ii).

I was scheduled to be induced a week early on November 8, 2010, due to my blood pressure. We would go in at 12:00 a.m. that Monday morning. What a surreal day Sunday was! When you are getting induced, you know what is about to happen. Ben and I kept thinking that tomorrow, Lord willing, we would be parents and have a new little boy! I think this sums up how we felt that day: @*(#&&*!&*!(!@)@()!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)(@*((!!!!!!!!!!)@@*(*(@

The drive to the hospital that night was weird. We were both pretty tired, but really excited too. We kept thinking the next time we were in that car together, there would be a little man in the backseat. We got to the hospital and walked about 78 miles to the OB floor. We checked in and went to our room. I got in my sexy hospital gown and hopped on the bed to fill out all the paperwork, you know, the papers that release them from liability in the unlikely event of your/your child’s death. VERY comforting. I was surprisingly calm and was thinking it wasn’t that bad actually. After all, this was my 3rd time there in the past 2 months. And then, it happened. The IV. The nurse came in and told me she would start the IV. DANGIT! I forgot I had to get one of those. Suddenly my cheery disposition and calm attitude went haywire, and I was looking for easy escape routes. The IV had to be the single most dreaded event of labor and delivery for me. After I begged the nurse not to give me one, and to just ‘pretend’ there was an IV in my arm, she stuck me. I wanted to cry, scream, and suck my thumb all at once. The penicillin drip I had was icing on the cake. OUCH!

The pitocin would start at 8 the next morning, so the nurses told us both to get some rest. It’s so funny that they tell you that. Really, who can rest in a hospital bed with an IV sticking out of your skin? Not me. So Ben napped and I watched the clock. My mom was supposed to get there at 7:00. At 3:30 a.m., she walked in my room, ready to go. I do love that woman.

The rest of the early morning was fairly uneventful. PB was handling the contractions very well. I was dilated to 6 cm, so I got the epidural. Long needle…in my back…I don’t want to talk about it. It lowered my blood pressure, so they gave me a shot of epinephrine, which increased my bp and heart rate. I felt a little funky after that, so I really don’t remember much more until the nurse came in to check me and said “it’s go time!”

By this point, my epidural was wearing off on one side, so I was feeling a lot and felt semi-delirious. My dad had been in the room watching Bonanza, so I have this fuzzy picture of my doctor, a med student, my nurse, mom, and Ben standing in the room trying to deliver PB while the Bonanza theme song was playing in the background. I pushed for around 30 minutes, and at 3:13 p.m., out popped PB! That was an amazing, surreal moment. I’ll never forget seeing him for the first time. He was blue and covered in gunk, and was still the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Ben and I were in awe. God blessed us this new little life to love, take care of, and raise to honor the Lord. How did He trust us so much to give us this sweet boy?

We had a whirlwind of friends and family to visit us at the hospital. It was such a joy watching everyone getting to meet our new little guy. I especially enjoyed the times at night, when it was just Ben, PB, and I. Ben and I would lay in the hospital bed, and we’d look over beside of us, and there was this precious little baby, looking at us with his big blue eyes. It was in that moment that we realized what an incredible blessing he was, what a huge responsibility we have now, and how much fun the rest of our lives is going to be!

Truthfully speaking, I had a wonderful pregnancy and delivery. I’m a big sissy when it comes to doctors, hospitals, and the like (have I mentioned that already?), but honestly, things went as good as I could have imagined and turned out perfectly. I don’t think I truly realized that I gave birth to another life until I got home and had time to reflect on the whole experience. When I think about my pregnancy and birth journey, I can do nothing but praise the Lord. He was and is so good to us. I love that I serve such a faithful God. When you need Him the most, He is there. I look at PB and feel so blessed that God chose us to be his parents. I know that the Lord has great things in store for him, and I pray that Ben and I can raise PB to please the Lord. He blessed us with such an awesome little life, and I hope that we can use our lives to glorify and honor Him. I look forward to this new journey as parents. When you take one look at that little snarled up nose and crooked smile, you can tell we’re going to have our hands full……

PB’s birthday story (part i).

I decided I would write PB’s birth story while I can still remember (most) of it (or at least the good parts). This first part is a little back story.

Prior to the BIG day, I had been to the hospital twice (neither times by my own choice). The first time was pretty early on (like 35 or so weeks) due to high blood pressure. The second time was at 38 weeks, again due to blood pressure.

Let me say this: I DESPISE going to the doctor. Really, I HATE going to the doctor. I don’t know what it is about the doctor, but as soon as I walk in the waiting room, I get sick. I could be going to the doctor with somebody else, and I still get sick. I could be delivering mail to the doctor’s office and I would still get sick. I get ‘the cramps’ as soon as I pull in the parking lot. The doctor’s office is not a good place for me. I trace this back to 1st grade and strep throat. I had strep throat 284891892 times in 1st grade, and I had to get a stinkin’ penicillin shot each time. I have NEVER recovered. The doctor’s office is my #1 fear, which would then make the hospital my #1 super-sized, don’t-ever-make-me-go-there, I-would-operate-on-myself-before-I-would-go-there, please-if-you-have-any-ounce-of-decency-don’t-take-me-there, fear. So you can imagine that having a baby, in a hospital, surrounded by doctors and nurses that give shots, was a rip-roaring good time for me.

The first time I was admitted to the hospital, I was pretty nervous. I had gone to my regular doc for a visit about my heart rate/rhythm, which had seemed to be a little out of whack during my pregnancy. I had an EKG, which was normal, but my blood pressure was 150/90, so off to the hospital they sent me. The car ride took about 14 hours I think, but by the time I made it over there, I was amazingly calm. The next time I was admitted at 38 weeks, it was the same thing with my blood pressure. Again, totally calm. I remember being upset when I was admitted those two times because I felt like my pregnancy wasn’t going the way it should and I was afraid that this would cause problems for me and PB. The day I arrived for my induction it suddenly made sense to me: God let me go to the hospital those other two times so that I would be more relaxed and comfortable, and know what to expect for the big day. Those two previous times were like trial runs, which God knew I desperately needed. To most people, this irrational fear of doctors and hospitals I have probably sounds ridiculous. But it is an incredibly real fear to me. Because I had already been twice before, I was much more relaxed for the big day. Isn’t it awesome how God knows exactly what we need?

Since I am the world’s biggest baby when it comes to docs/hospitals, I had started praying the day I found out I was pregnant for a couple of things:

1. A healthy, happy baby.
2. An uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery for PB.
3. God’s peace on delivery day, so that I could have little PB without having to be tranquilized and strapped to the bed so I wouldn’t try to run off and squat in the parking lot (not the hospital parking lot mind you; that would still make me nervous).

And the good Lord blessed me with all of those things, and more, on PB’s big birthday. It’s funny, when I look back at pictures and video the day and hours before I had PB, I’m asking myself WHO IN THE WORLD IS THAT GIRL IN THE CURSED HOSPITAL BED?!?! I want to tell that girl to get up and run out and ask her how in the world she is laying in a hospital bed and in a seemingly decent state of mind. In my irrational mind right now I’m thinking there is no way in this world that I would EVER stay in a hospital with doctors and iv’s and shots and penicillin and big needles. But I did, and I think that’s the beauty of God’s glory. He allows you to do the things that you think you cannot do. He gives you a sense of peace that you really can’t describe. In the moment when you need Him the most, He is right there. A couple of days after we got to come home with PB, I started thinking about that day. I kinda ‘freaked out’ thinking I had just given birth. It occurred to me that while I was there, I NEVER worried about PB. I didn’t worry about his health or his delivery. I didn’t worry about myself. The peace of God completely washed all of my worries away that day. I am so blessed to be a child of God. In the end, I just wanted to come home with my new little family and our new little healthy and happy baby boy. And that’s just what I did.

2 years.

It’s been a busy few weeks at the R home, with a quick trip to visit some family, finishing up school, having some friends visit, and taking care of a VERY wild and rambunctious 6 month old. But we’re alive, blessed, and still kicking!

PB had his 6 month checkup yesterday, which also meant his shots. He does pretty well with them generally. He screams bloody-murder for about 3-4 minutes and cries these big ole’ tears, and then he’s fine. He’s in the 28th percentile for weight; 85th for height; and 44th for head circumference. We thought HE had a big head; I’m just wondering what those other 46% of babies heads look like! As we were sitting in the exam room waiting on the doc to come in, I think Ben and I got a glimpse of our VERY near future. We had noticed in the waiting room earlier that the other babies (about his same age) were sitting quietly on the laps of their mommies, while PB was climbing all over Ben and I. He was trying to get in the floor and trying to jump in our laps. In the exam room, we literally had to take turns holding him because he was wearing us out. During the few minutes that we were in that room, he managed to rip the paper off of the bed, chew a tongue depressor, climb over both of us, grab at the doc’s things, almost kick her computer off the bed, and almost roll off of the table, all while smiling and sticking his tongue out. Our doc said we had a very active baby. I thought ACTIVE does not describe what this child is. As I was just about to get embarrassed at the little scene he was causing, I thought how blessed I am to have a healthy, happy, active baby. I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

Yesterday, Ben and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! Does that still make me ‘knewlywifed’!??! We’ve not been married for 65 years, nor do we have all the secrets to wedded bliss, but I think if you wake up every day, feeling just as excited about the person sleeping next to you as you did the day you were first married, I’d say you’re on the right track. I told Ben the other day that I still feel like I’m playing “house”. We feel like two big kids (who happen to have one little kid) who are playing ‘grown-ups’ in a pint-sized house. I really think that is love. When you are adults (at least they say we are), but you have so much fun together that you feel like you are just two big kids, that’s got to be love. I love the Christian man, husband, and daddy that Ben is. He makes me want to be better and holds me accountable to be a good Christian woman, wife, and mommy. Through all that happens during the day, my feet will always manage to find his under the covers and that suddenly makes the world a better place 🙂

Picture by Bert and Becky Vanderveen

the PBster now.

PB is growing up so fast. I remember hearing cliche ‘sayings’ when I was pregnant with him….’they grow up so fast’, ‘it is the best time of your life’, ‘kiss your sleep goodbye’…So far, these have all been dead on. Seriously, I just don’t think its comprehensible until it happens, but man oh man, I love that kid, and he grows and changes every day. Enough sappiness, here’s what he’s into/doing right now (3 days away from 6 months):

-Eating big boy foods! Faves so far are bananas, apples, pears, and squash.
-Laughing-he loves to laugh at noises he hears.
-Jumping-his #1 favorite thing, and really has been for several months. This kids loves to jump. If you hold him, he jumps. If you stand him up, he jumps. If he’s feet are on any surface, he will jump.
-Making noises-he loves to blow with his tongue and to jabber (he’s jabbered mamammamamamamamam and dadadadadadad a couple of times!)
-Screaming-not in a bad way though. It’s like he wants see how loud his voice will go.
-Coughing-he’s learned to cough without really needing to. We call it his sympathy cough.
-Sitting up-he will sit up for a couple of seconds by himself, but it is hard to get him to do. He would MUCH rather stand. He stiffens those little legs up and arches his back so he doesn’t have to sit.
-Trying to crawl-though it ends in a classic face plant.
-Sucking his toes-he’s been after those things for a while now, and finally caught them!
-Sleeping! Decently, at least. Usually bedtime is 9-9:30, and he wakes up around 6.
-Scratching his face, forehead, and ears when he gets sleepy-it seems to be his sleepy/anxious habit.

I thought of this the other day…what if babies had personals?
PB’s: Long, skinny, slightly bald boy baby seeks attractive and interesting girl baby. I enjoy jumping, sucking my toes and bottle, riding in my stroller, taking baths with my sailboats, and sleeping with my butt in the air. You must not drool, and should be able to intiate and carry on intelligent conversation in baby language. You should also be able to operate pertinent machinery, such as toy trucks and a super speed walker….just a thought:)

Not too much going on in the R house right now. Our big 2 year anniversary is around the corner. We are so blessed to have each other 🙂 He still makes me just as giddy as he did when we first met, and I still make him pick his clothes off of the floor. We’re a good match!