I Took the Plunge

Guys, I have some good news…and I have some bad news. I’ll give you the bad news first.

…I am shutting this blog down. I will not be posting updates here anymore. Not about me and Theo, not about the baby, not about foster care, not about my/our life. Nope. Probably not one more post.

Oh dear. Has something happened?

NOPE! Now, I’ll give you the good news!

….I have purchased a domain, which means I now have my own blog website!

It is, in essence, a new blog that I can do a lot more with.

I have updated that blog with the why, how, what, etc. Please feel free to visit my new blog at www.suzannehines.org


Guys, this is HUGE for me, and something that I have quietly been thinking about doing for a while. For all my faithful readers here, you don’t have to do much to continue to be a faithful reader. Without too much hassle, you can continue to follow my blog. I will still be posting all the same things: updates on my life, our marriage, my teaching, our growing baby and our process in the foster care system. It will simply be at a new website. From the blogger’s point of view, this will give me many more opportunities. From the readers perspective, you simply have to go to a different location to read my updates.

So, what do you have to do?

Well, first, head on over to my new blog, check it out, feel free to leave a comment!

Next, you might want to unsubscribe from this blog. I don’t think it really matters, since I won’t be updating it, but it’s just one less email you will receive.

Then, MOST IMPORTANTLY, subscribe to my new blog! That is how you can best keep up with updates!

Thank you so much to everyone who has followed this blog from the beginning (you know who you are!). I greatly appreciate it. And all you who sneakily read this blog, but don’t tell me…thank you for reading, for following and supporting me in that way.

So….go check it out….www.suzannehines.org

12 weeks

*sorry this picture is SO much white wall! I need to edit and crop it, but wanted to get this post done before work*

How Far Along: 12 weeks

Size of Baby: A plum! 

Total Weight Gain: Still haven’t gained any… 

Maternity Clothes: None. But I’ve started unbuttoning my jeans as soon as I get home from work! haha!

Gender: Boy? Girl? I guess it’s 50/50, although we are still thinking BOY!

Movement: None yet! Can’t wait!

Sleep: Heavenly. I love it. I have never in all my memory been a nap taker, and I realized just yesterday that I’ve only taken two naps throughout the course of this first trimester. I guess that’s not overly typical. BUT, it does seem to help that I get somewhere between 9 and 11 hours of sleep every night. I guess that enough for me….for now.

What I miss: Having energy!!! Warmth

Food Cravings: Carrots. Cantaloupe. Pepperoni. Pasta anything. Thai food. It honestly changes every day. 

Food Aversions: Ranch dressing.

Symptoms: Tired, Digestional “issues”, some nausea, stretching and pulling around the dry skin on my back and tummy, otherwise not too bad. 

So far, I haven’t really displayed the range of emotions that I always hear about. I am usually a rather emotional person, pregnant or not, so Theo and I have both been surprised by this. I’ve only had one or two “breakdowns”, and those were both easily solved by going to bed. However, I have started to cry through TV shows and get choked up when I read something even slightly emotional. Last night, I bawled through The Biggest Loser, but, hey…it was makeover week, so I had a good excuse, right?

Worst Moment This Week: Dealing with the cold. I feel like I say this every week, but with temps in the negative for almost a week straight, I just can’t deal with it! This has literally been the thing that has brought me closest to legitimate tears. I just want to be able to exercise and run and stay in shape, but I cannot stand to be outside. 

It’s also been hard to slay that green monster of jealousy when it seems that everyone in the area has had multiple snow days/days off. Since my center is ALWAYS open, I have had to go to work every day. If it’s gonna be cold, at least give me a day off!!!

Best Moment This Week: Having Theo home. It’s so nice.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Garage Sales! I just realized this past week what good timing this little one will be for garage sales! I will have all summer to stop at garage sales and browse baby items! yayayayayay! 

Exercise this week: Theo and I have gone to the mall three times this week to walk. Like I said before, it’s honestly too cold to be outside, and the mall offers a perfect opportunity to go for a walk and still stay warm. I’ve also started stretching every day, and thanks to Pinterest have found stretches that help prepare for labor. Some of those stretches stretch muscles I didn’t even know I had, so I also feel like I’m getting a little workout in when I do that.

And just as a little comparison… 6 weeks on the left, 12 weeks on the right.

I FEEL a huge different, but looking at this picture I can see that there is not much of a difference! Haha! Although, I’m realizing that I really need a haircut…boy oh boy, that has grown out FAST!

January Fast: Spending

During the year of 2014, Theo and I have picked something different to fast from each month. I am recording this journey in my journal, but I also wanted to record some of it on my blog, both for myself, and for any readers who may be interested or curious about fasting themselves. This is halfway through January, so I am writing an update about where we are right now. At the end of January, I will do another update, and so on and so forth throughout the year. Sorry this post doesn’t have any pictures!

Fasting is a tricky thing. When we fast, we are supposed to be humbling ourselves before an Almighty God and growing closer to Him through the process. However, I always run the risk of making it about me and what I have “accomplished”. Fasting can either bring about pride, or humility.

Right now, unfortunately, I have been finding myself in the pride camp. Well, that is when I am thinking about this fasting thing at all. Today in my devotions God really spoke to me about how it’s NOT about me. It’s not about accomplishing each month with a clean track record and a successful fast.

Instead, it’s about saying, “God, I’m giving this up. Not so I can brag, or blog, or journal about it and show my grandkids one day. I’m giving this up so that their will be a hole in me. There will be something missing, something that I long for. And when I long for THAT thing, I will instead turn to You and let You fill that hole. And through that process, I will grow closer to You, and hopefully, learn to let go of earthly treasures.”

Fasting is hard. And the longer it goes, the harder it gets.

For January, we decided to fast from spending. Obviously, as responsible adults who need to eat and pay bills, it would be almost impossible to not spend ANY money for a month. So we decided that we would allow spending in three areas: groceries, bills and gas. As for groceries, we agreed to only buy from Aldi. That does limit us some, as Aldi does not always have everything we are looking for. So far, this has been very challenging. We have run into so many situations where Theo and I look at each other and say, ‘We need this. But….we aren’t spending money.” For example, windshield wipers. We need them. But we aren’t spending money. Sooo, we have to weigh which is more important: my safety driving, or sticking with the fast (I think you can probably guess which one we chose). Or, Theo needs new work shoes. The sole on his shoe randomly popped off. He has to wear black shoes, and he prefers to wear boots as he may be transporting a patient through parking lots, hospitals, grass, carpet, etc. So do we buy the much needed shoes, or do we go without for the rest of the month and Theo wears his black (and blue) tennis shoes? Ah, dilemma. Or what about gift cards? Can we go out to eat with a gift card? Technically, we aren’t SPENDING money, but we are enjoying the fruits of spending.

And then it all comes back to what I was saying in the beginning….am I not spending the money because I feel like I am accomplishing something, or because I am fully relying on God to fill that longing to spend/buy/have that item.

And baby stuff. Oh, I die. This month has been so good for me in holding off on baby stuff and random food cravings. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost stopped just to look at those little onsie’s, but instead remembered to turn my longings over to God.

This month has so far showed me that I am a failure. Yes, that is what it has taught me. Is that useful information? In the way of the world, no, it’s not. Why would you want to learn that you are a failure? Well, I now know that it is necessary to know that I am a failure in order to go through a month, or a year of fasting.

God is teaching us so much. He is starting with hearts that have no clue what they are getting into this year. He is starting with hearts that are filled with pride, and that are leaning on their own strength to get through this year of fasting. And what’s awesome is that I know he is going to do amazing things with those hearts. I continue to pray that he will change my heart from one of pride, to one of humility and complete reliance on Him. Will that be extremely difficult? Yes, it will, I have no doubt.

So, in conclusion, a couple things about this month so far:

1. We have broken our “rules”. We have bough groceries at Wal-mart (a couple times, actually). We have bought several books on Amazon that Theo needed for a class. We bought some tools to finally fix the windshield wipers on my car. We have NOT saved any more money than we would have if we weren’t fasting. But it’s not about saving money vs. spending money. It’s about our hearts. That was something that I had to really let go of, as I’m such a rule follower. I like rules, they keep me safe. But it’s not about the rules, it’s about the heart.

2. Fasting is a challenge between pride and humility. I’m only just realizing how prideful I am, and I have a long way to go.

3. Fasting is not, and should not be easy.


11 weeks!

I plan on doing these weekly updates, just so that my family who is far can keep up with my pregnancy. If you are getting tired of pregnancy updates on this blog, check back in a few days, and I will have more/different content! I don’t want to bore you all with week by week updates, when most things haven’t changed.

I didn’t do a chalkboard this week…I have no real reason why, I just never got around to it. I will try to do one tomorrow, just so when I look back I can have the details and the memories.

This week has been a tough one. I woke up this morning and the morning sickness seems to have disappeared (fingers crossed it’s for good!), but the rest of the week has just been ROUGH with sickness and energy. 


How Far Along: 11 weeks

Size of Baby: A lime

Total Weight Gain: Last week I mentioned that I lost a couple pounds. This week I’m gaining those pounds back, but still haven‘t gained weight since my pre-pregnancy weight.

Maternity Clothes: I usually wear leggings under my jeans to stay warm, but I found out yesterday that that is a thing of the past. I can still wear and button my jeans, but not with leggins underneath! My shirts are all still fitting, but some of my cami’s are getting tighter and just feel uncomfortable, so I will have to be on the lookout for some stretchy tanks. I’m going to be on the lookout for creative ways to stretch my current wardrobe, instead of spending tons of money on maternity clothes.

Gender: Everyone I have talked to predicts boy! We are planning on finding out the gender at 20 weeks. At first, we were going to wait, but now that we are SO convinced that it’s a boy I need to find out in order to prepare myself ahead of time if it’s a girl! We also already have names picked out, but won’t be announcing those for a LOOONG time yet. 

Movement: I can’t wait for this happen!

Sleep: It’s great, and I never want to get out of bed in the morning (a total switch from my normal morning-person self). I am waking up at least once to go to the bathroom.

What I miss: Having energy!!! Hoping it’s coming back this week or next… 

Food Cravings: Carrots. Cantaloupe. Fruit. Mexican, Italian or Asian food. Anything with a butt-load of carbs. 

Food Aversions: Sugar in anything doesn’t even appeal to me. I have also developed a strong dislike for the smell of garlic salt that Theo pours on everything he eats. I don’t mind the flavor when it gets mixed into the food, but the smell of the actual garlic salt almost sends me over. When I open my spice cupboard, it has the same effect. None of the spices bother me in and of themselves, but all the smells mixed together KILL me.

Symptoms: Starting to have pains here and there, mostly in my back, and my legs. I can literally feel my body growing and shifting to support the growth. The nausea is getting better each day, PRAISE THE LORD! The energy is still low, but hopefully improving. 

Worst Moment This Week: Having a student barf. Poor thing, and the teacher could hardly even help. I absolutely could not handle the smell. I haven’t puked yet this pregnancy, but that was the closest I have gotten!

Best Moment This Week: Waking up this morning and not feeling sick!

What I’m Looking Forward To: Summer. Finding out the gender. My parents coming back to the States to meet this little one.

Exercise this week: Few and far between. Ummm…two long walks, but that is it. I really need to get on this whole exercising routine thing. I know that it will help me more than I can even imagine.

And that’s week 11 for you!

The Business of Being Born (Review and Opinions!)

First, before I dive into this deep discussion, I have two disclaimers:

1. I’ve never had a baby. Therefore, I have never been in labor. I’m not an expert on this topic. I don’t claim to be. That is why this post is my opinion, not based on experience or fact.

2. I’m not a hippie. I like to do things “naturally” if I find it healthiest for my family. We have free range chickens/fresh eggs, we home-make our bread and all our meals, we live very minimally and frugally, I love to be barefoot (in the summer), and I want a natural birth. But I really wouldn’t consider myself a hippie, and most people who know me wouldn’t either.

So, a couple thoughts on the documentary, The Business of Being Born.

For those of you who have never heard of this documentary, it is a controversial documentary about how hospitals and OBGYN’s are using labor and delivery as a business, not as a way to help empower women during childbirth. The producer, a woman who had both a natural hospital birth and a birth center birth follows several women through their pregnancy, labor and delivery with a midwife. I think 3 out of 4 of the women had home births.

The documentary explains the history of hospital births, and points out that OBGYN’s are not trained to be there for a regular ol’ vaginal birth. They are surgeons, trained for emergency’s that can happen, but often don’t. Because of this, they are either constantly on the lookout for something that could go wrong, even if there is nothing (although it is a very good thing to have someone who knows the signs of something going wrong). However, midwives are also trained to recognize this and know how to deal with it. The documentary also lays out some interesting facts that I never really thought about:

In a hospital birth, the staff want you in and out ASAP. They are running a business, they are being paid per patient, per bed. In a hospital delivery, the doctor will most likely come in after several hours and say something along the lines of “you are not progressing fast enough”. This fast enough is NOT fast enough based on the mothers health or babies health, but on the needs of the hospital and staff.

Which leads to a second fact: medication. After determining that labor is not progressing “fast enough”, a drug is given that speeds up the contractions. It makes the contractions longer and harder, increasing the need for an epidural. Once an epidural is given, it slows the contractions down, causing them to need to give more of the first drug to speed labor up. This continues in a cycle, and can easily lead to maternal and/or fetal distress, then bringing in the need for a C-section. Again, all that points back to the moment that the doctor/nurse said “labor is not progressing fast enough”.

Another little fact: Most c-sections take place at 4 pm and 10 pm. Why? 4 pm- the doctor can be out by dinner time. 10 pm- the doctor can go home to bed. Woah.

Now, after all these horrible facts about how horrid hospital birth is, the whole documentary was not like that. As I said, they followed four women throughout their pregnancies and labors. 3 of these women gave birth at home (ummmm….also, their is no blurring of ANYTHING while they film labor and delivery. Just a warning, if you are watching with other people, the woman’s fully naked body is shown.), and their births were absolutely beautiful. The fourth woman, however, went into labor 5 weeks early. The baby was breech, so the midwife immediately took her to the hospital where a c-section was performed. I really appreciated that the documentary did not say “Home birth is the ONLY way.” or “Natural vaginal birth is the ONLY way.”

Instead, it said, “In the US, we have learned to associate natural labor and vaginal birth with FEAR. We go in wanting to get out of it, or make it as easy as possible. Instead, labor and delivery can be seen as a natural thing that the body will do, and it can be beautiful. Painful? Absolutely! Are their risks? Yes. Are we uninformed? Yes.”

I do highly recommend this documentary to anyone who is planning on having a baby. I don’t think that natural birth or home birth is the only way to go. If a pregnancy is high risk or has many complications, please don’t feel like you are doing something wrong to not deliver vaginally or naturally. However, I do think that we are not fully knowledgeable of this process,  and we as pregnant women can live in fear of labor and delivery, not letting our minds become prepared for this huge event.

For those of you wondering, if all goes according to plan, I will be delivering at a local birth center. It is connected to a hospital, but I hopefully won’t need that option. I’m sure I’ll be keeping all my faithful readers updated on that process. I am currently having all my prenatal care done by a team of 3 midwives and 2 OBGYN’s. I see each of them throughout my prenatal care, and then when I go into labor, the one who is on call will help me deliver. I will also have a Douala present. Like I said at the beginning, I really have no clue what I am doing. God could have totally different plans for me than the ones I am carefully laying out and researching. If anything goes wrong, I will not hesitate to involve a hospital or a doctor. However, I think that being informed is one of the most powerful things I can do at this point in my pregnancy. If you have questions, feels free to shoot them my way. I would be happy to try and answer whatever I can!

The documentary The Business of Being Born can be found on Netflix.


Nothing too serious or interesting to post today, just a couple updates on our home study, this pregnancy, and our January fast.
It has finally warmed up a little outside today, and I have been trying to work up the motivation to head outside for a walk or a jog. I’m wiped out, though. Usually I get many, many things done on Saturdays, but last night I slept 10 hours, and when I woke up, I got myself out of bed only to plop myself on the couch. I haven’t moved since. So, onto the meat of this post:

1. OUR HOME STUDY! We met with our case worker yesterday for part 1 (of 4) of the home study. Theo and I furiously cleaned the WHOLE house. I even cleaned INSIDE the closets of each of the rooms. I re-folded all of the towels and sheets in the linen cupboard. Theo spent time in the freezing garage organizing it and making sure it was clean. The lady walked it, said “hello”, and sat down at the dining room table. The only rooms she entered were the living room, the dining room and the bathroom. Well, at least I know for next time I can just throw everything into the (now organized) linen closet, and we won’t be judged for it. Ha! The meeting was over 3 hours long, and included going over paperwork, with the case worker explaining the paperwork that most people get tripped up on. We told her almost immediately about the pregnancy, and it didn’t cause any problems at all. She said we will continue the process as before, but we will be “on hold” until we decide that we are ready for a foster child. So, essentially, the ball is in our court. She did warn us, however, that if we wait too long, things will begin to expire. So for now we are praying that the Lord will show us WHEN to accept a foster child into our home. The meeting continued with a very thorough interview, asking us WHY we wanted to foster, WHAT we expected foster care to be like, what we thought the difference between foster care and adoption was. She then asked us a million questions about our childhood, our family history, and nitty-gritty details about our immediate family. It was funny because I doubt the interview would have taken as long if Theo didn’t have 6 brothers! Haha! We also spent a lot of time talking about my childhood, especially the boarding school part.

All in all, it went really well, and I’m much less nervous about the next meeting. We will continue to get our paperwork together, and continue the process until approval. When we get to approval, we will see where we are at in the pregnancy and go from there. Thank you all so much for your prayers and for asking about the home study!

2. This Pregnancy Roller Coaster. Oh. my. goodness. Those of you who know me probably think I am an emotional mess, but so far that has only happened once or twice (Theo finally picked me up and put me in bed, and said “we will talk about it in the morning”- of course, everything was fine in the morning!). Some days I absolutely LOVE being pregnant. Some days I kinda forget that I am. Some days I wonder what the heck has happened to me and how am I only 22 years old and carrying a child, that I will have responsibility for, for the rest of my life???? Ah! The morning sickness has gotten much better, and has gone from 24/7 to just in the morning before I eat something and in the evening when my body is telling me it’s done for the day. I am starting to get a little more energy, but it usually shows itself in brainstorming. “Oh, I would love to cook that recipe!” my brain says, to which my body replies, “But then I have to stand up and go to the kitchen, and get stuff out and cook it and then clean up. Ok, no thanks.” Or, “I should put make-up on and do my hair!” to which my body responds, “But then you have to stand up, and take a shower, and pick something nice to wear and put makeup on and do your hair, and then you will proceed to need a nap, which will make the whole thing pointless.”

Oh boy.

3. This weather- I’m confused. From two and half snowdays earlier this week, to weather in the 50s today. I’m confused. But I’ll take today’s weather over those awful negatives we experienced last week.

4. Our January Fast. Every month of this year, we are fasting from something different. January is our month to fast from spending. So far, it has been more challenging that I thought it would be. We decided that we would allow ourselves to spend only at Aldi, gas and medical bills. So far, we haven’t exactly saved any money this month. But I don’t think that the whole point of the month is saving money. It’s restraining ourselves from spending on this and that. So many times I stop at Wal-mart on my way to grab ONE item, and I leave with 5 or 6 things that I spotted and think I REALLY, REALLY need. Aldi is out of my way, and I have to intentionally make a list and drive all the way there to go shopping. It is really showing me what controls me, and what I don’t have control of (my spending!). It’s also really hard to not stop and get fast food! Since getting pregnant, the easiest thing to do after a long day is pick up that hamburger or that sub that I have been craving all day long. But to be free of spending this month means saying NO and going home to make myself a sub, instead of buying one. So far this month we have not been perfect. Theo needed some books for a class that he is taking, so we ended up ordering some books. We also had to buy some of our groceries at another store when the snow storm closed Aldi and we had just arrived back from 10 days in Michigan, meaning NO food in the house. I can’t believe we are only 11 days into January. I really hope that I make it through January in my regular jeans, though….cause I don’t think Aldi sells pregnancy stretch pants!

And for those of you wondering if we took into account pregnancy when we planned this year-long fast, we did. That is why I planed a fast from clothes in August (the month the little one should arrive), and a fast from food AFTER the baby is born.)

I will try to post 2-3 times a month about our fast, some posts may even be only about the fast. I challenge you to take at least one month of this year and fast from something, too!

Well, I guess that is all for now- and no pictures to share with you all, either! Sad day. I hope that your Saturday is warm, productive and enjoyable!

10 weeks!

I am going to start trying to do weekly updates on my pregnancy, especially for those who are far away and want to stay connected with me. I have been doing these since week 5, and will post a catch-up post sometime later this week, but for now, here is week 10!

How Far Along: 10 weeks

Size of Baby: A prune! (we had to look up what a prune actually looks like)

Total Weight Gain: According to my bathroom scale, I’ve lost a couple pounds.

Maternity Clothes: Regular clothes seem to be buttoning just fine, although I am certainly starting to notice a little pudge to my stomach, most likely from bloating. I may need some stretchier pants soon!

Gender: No idea, although Theo and I both have a hunch!

Movement: Nope, nope, nope. I can’t wait!

Sleep: I can’t get enough. I just got hit with a nasty head cold, and this is making it even worse. I usually go to bed and lately I have started waking up once or twice in the night to go to the bathroom. Usually, I don’t wake up because I have to go, but because something else wakes me up and I know I won‘t be able to fall back asleep until I go.

What I miss: Having energy, not feeling sick after a meal

I also really, really miss my family.

Food Cravings: Anything savory, or anything from the cookbook my Mom gave me. I guess all those foods are my comfort foods. I don’t let my myself think about Nigerien food, because I’m afraid I’ll start craving something I can’t get my hands on!

Food Aversions: Sweet stuff like chocolate. Meat.

Symptoms: Nausea, bloated, no energy, and now a darned cold to top it all off.

Worst Moment This Week: THE BLASTED COLD! I hate it! I can’t wait for summer!

Best Moment This Week: Finally letting the secret out! I don’t have to watch what I’m saying anymore, or pretend that I’m feeling great all the time. Plus, all the support has been beyond wonderful. It just makes me even more excited.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Summer.

Exercise this week: Few and far between. I have gotten into a morning walking routine, but the cold has kind of killed that. I have also tried some prenatal yoga and am continuing to do a short, simple workout (push-ups, sit-ups, wall sit, lunges, squats). I’ve only done that once or twice this week, though. Really want to start doing better at that, and throwing excuses (like the cold) out the window.

And there you have it! My 10th week of pregnancy…30 more to go!

P.S.- What do you think? Bump, bloat or nothing at all? Whatever it is, I have the feeling that I am going to get HUGE by the end of this pregnancy.


Why I’m REALLY, REALLY excited for 2014

Ok, so in my last post I posted about our goals and plans for 2014…but I left out one HUGE thing….


This has been SO hard to hold in for so long!

So for now, here is the story…

I suspected for a few weeks, but every time I took a test, it was negative. So, we played the waiting game. I so badly wanted to find out if I really was pregnant or not before we went to Florida for Thanksgiving. I wanted to be able to tell my family in person. But no such luck. I had all but given up, but decided to try one last time on our last day there. I peed on the stick and then just placed it on the counter, not really paying attention to it. I washed my hands, and then glanced down at the stick….and TWO PINK LINES! I almost screamed. I grabbed it and ran through the house screaming for Theo. Theo was still sleeping, and sat up with a very confused/concerned look on his face. I shoved the stick toward him and then he smiled this big smile. It was all very exciting and overwhelming, and we had no clue what to do, so we took off for Wal-mart to find some things to help us announce it to Daniel and Kelly.

We asked Daniel and Kelly to take a picture of us in front of an orange tree (honestly, we didn’t care where it was….we just wanted to tell them.) Kelly took a little bit of coercing as it was still pretty early and not really ideal weather for taking pictures. Daniel snapped a bunch and then we said… “Wait, we have a prop”…and pulled out a onesie and some baby booties. The looks on their faces was PRICELESS. I will never forget that moment.

We went inside and skyped with my parents, sending them the picture in an email while we skyped. The internet connection was not the best, so we just saw blurry pictures of them trying to download an email. Finally, they saw the picture, and screaming and yelling ensued. Also priceless. The whole time, my Grandparents were in the room, and we had put the baby booties right in front of Grandma’s plate. Finally, she asked…”is this an announcement?”. So fun. We were just so excited that we proceeded to tell most of the rest of Theo’s family over the phone later that day. Also priceless, since my sister-in-law started jumping and screaming at the grocery store when she heard the news.

I am 10 weeks along, and so far….sorta good. I certainly have all the symptoms of the first trimester of pregnancy. I have had mild nausea 24/7 and NO energy to do ANYTHING. I am so thankful for the timing, though, because I have had over a week off of work for Christmas, and several snow days, too. Theo has been amazing…I always tell him that he is doing more work to grow this baby because he is so good at taking care of me and what I need, even when I don’t feel like eating anything. Theo is the vitamin police, and I haven’t gone with my prenatals yet. 🙂

We have had one amazing ultrasound, courtesy of Theo’s Dad (it pays to have an obgyn in the family!), where we got to see the heartbeat. Yesterday I had my first appointment with my widwife (yes, midwife…more on that later), and while we didn’t get an ultrasound, we got to hear the heartbeat, and that brought tears to my eyes!

Thank you all SO MUCH for your excitement, support and being with us on this journey from the beginning. We are truly blessed.

And many of you have asked…Are we still doing foster care? YES, we are! We choose to do foster care knowing that we eventually wanted to have our own kids, too. We are not doing foster care for US, so that we can have a child. We are doing it so that together, we can help raise children who don’t have good homes. And I know that there is a lot in it for us to learn, so we are eagerly anticipating that, too. We actually have our first homestudy with the social worker on Friday, so keep us in your prayers. We will be telling them that we are expecting, and at this point we don’t know how much that will change our timeline of plans. We had originally wanted to have a foster child in our care by the end of this year, but with a new baby coming in August, that timeline might change a little bit. But we are still continuing with that journey!


Well, it’s a new year.

On all the blogs I follow, the trend this year seems to be to throw New Year’s resolutions out the window. I feel like this happens every year, though. New Year’s resolutions: either team DO IT or team NOT WORTH MY TIME/ENERGY/I-FAIL-EVERY-YEAR-ANYWAYS.

I am 100% team DO IT. I love lists. Any excuse to make a list/goals is totally my thing. I make a to-do list every day (there are some great smartphone apps for that!), and sometimes I even include ridiculous things, like shower, just so I can cross that off my list. So when the New Year rolls around, I absolutely love another reason to make some goals.

First, I dug out my journal from last year, and I checked out some of the goals that I had for the year:

Do a chore everyday I’m not entirely sure what I meant by this, but I did a pretty good job of creating a chore schedule and sticking with it.

Cook dinner at least 6x a week Well, I probably cooked dinner 7x a week most weeks of the year, but certainly not all.

Run a marathon Score. Check. Done and done.

Pray for at least 1 person/day I wish I had been better at this one. When I sit down to pray, I have a list of people to pray for, but I certainly did not do that on a daily basis.

Begin the process of adoption. A year ago, when I wrote that resolution, the picture in my head is totally different than where we are today. We have most certainly begun the process, although it happens to be the process of foster care, not necessarily adoption. Through several different books that I read, we felt led to begin the foster care process, and maybe be able to adopt from the foster care system. And, yes…we have our home study next Friday. So that process is certainly underway.

Graduate Cedarville with honors. Check. And make that high honors.

So, I didn’t do the best, but I probably did better at most of those tasks than if I hadn’t written them out at the beginning of the year.

This year, 2014, has more in store for us than we can even imagine! I am so excited to embark on the journeys that this year will bring us. One thing that we are doing is a year-long fast. After reading Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7,  I decided I wanted to do something similar. Jen Hatmaker chooses 7 things that are in excess in her life and spends one month fasting from each of them. I highly recommend her book.

Theo and I decided to change things a little bit, but to fast from something different each month of the this year. We picked 12 things and then assigned them to a month. Some months will be really tough, some months will be easier, some months will probably be harder than we would expect.

Here is our layout:

January: Fast from Spending (We can spend money for groceries (at Aldi ONLY), gas, and bills- including medical ones).

February: Fast from Music (No music in the house, car, etc.)

March: Fast from Media (No Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, Hulu, online gaming, etc. I’m still debating whether or not I will blog)

April: Fast from Possessions (Giving away what we do not need/use, and giving it directly to people in need of those items, not just a Goodwill dump)

May: Fast from Electricity (this one was all Theo’s idea! We are still debating whether we will cheat and use the oven/fridge and an outlet for charging our phones…but we have a couple months to decide. We do want to cook over our fireplace as much as possible that month, and no lights/fans/AC, washer/dryer or heat. Internet will be allowed, but only if we go to a different location with Internet, like Barnes and Noble or Panera)

June: Fast from Waste (use compost, recycle, buy Fair Trade/organic/local)

July: Fast from Stress (take a legitimate day of rest on Sundays, spend time in prayer 7x a day, at certain hours)

August: Fast from Clothing (Choose several articles of clothing, and only wear those for a month. We are still working out the details on this one.)

September: Fast from weekend commitments (just spend time as a family)

October: Fast for Hospitality (it’s not really a fast, but something that we really want to work on- so October we will be focusing on opening our home in very intentional ways- more to come on that)

November: Fast from Food (Still working out the details on this one, too, but there will be certain things that we will be forfeiting for the month. I don’t think it will be as extreme as a Daniel Fast, but something along the lines of going without sugars, or spices or other things that we are blessed to use on a daily basis, but that we take for granted)

December: Fast from Personal Bad Habits (Theo and I are doing this together, and we both have bad habits that we would like to break. Mine would probably by my iPhone or Facebook, but Theo’s would be totally different…so we are going to pick two personal bad habits and fast from them for the month).

Phew! There is a lot to look forward to, and a lot to plan for in the upcoming year! I am excited and nervous and really praying that God uses this year in our lives to grow us more like Him, and to grow our marriage to become more like a picture of Christ and the Church.

I also added a few more goals to the list:

– Read through the Bible at least 1x

– Start making money blogging

– Pay off all school loans and be DEBT-FREE!!!!

– Finish cooking through a cookbook

– Write at least 1 handwritten letter/note a week

– Log 300 miles of running/walking

Highlights of 2013

Hello there faithful readers!

I’m sorry I have been so absent from this blog lately! There are a couple reasons, but the main ones are that I was without internet access for 10 days, and I was hanging out with family for that whole time! So, that didn’t leave much time (or resources) left for blogging!

But I am now back home in Ohio, dreading starting work, and trying to milk the last few hours out of my break. In doing this, I wanted to do a little reflection on the year 2013. It has been an incredibly LONG year- I cannot believe that it was just a year ago that I started student teaching. It seems like FOREVER ago. I completed student teaching, I got a “big girl job”, we moved to a real house with a backyard (and chickens!), we researched, prayed, and started the foster care process, we grew in our marriage, ran a marathon, got involved in a church….I could go on and on. 2013 has been a challenging, fruitful, restful year. It has had surprises and setbacks, bills and traffic tickets, kitties, puppies, and chickens, life and death. Just thinking about it all reminds me of the faithfulness of God through it ALL. Through the celebrations and the funerals, the loans paid off and the traffic violations incurred (trust me…we got 4 tickets in this past year, none of which I think we deserve), God has been steady, constant, always there.

And so here is one highlight from each month of 2013:

January: The beginning of student teaching. Student teaching was the toughest 4 months of my life so far, and looking back at it makes me realize how many factors affected the whole experience. I am so thankful to have gone through it and gained the experience that I gained….but also thankful I never have to do it again!


February: February was a tough month for me, getting into the student teaching grind, feeling like there was no end in sight. Time with Theo was few and far between, and that just did not help at all. As I look through my pictures from the month, I realize how intentional we had to be with our time, and how much that paid off in the end. A highlight of February was Daniel and Kelly coming to visit, and Daniel and Theo treating Kelly and I to a spa day, complete with a massage, and hand and feet treatments!


March: We got some tats. Theo and I finally took the plunge and got our tattoos that we have always talked about but never done. I have honestly not regretted this decisions at all. I love the placement and the tat…but I don’t know if I would ever get another one.


April: Finishing up student teaching, meaning I was so close to the end, yet absolutely overwhelmed with the workload. Most evenings looked like this, with me working on a project and Theo helping me out. My Mom also arrived back in the States, adding so much excitement!


May: Graduation from Cedarville and a month of vacation! I cannot even explain how fantastic this month was. I got to see my family, I got to spend MUCH needed time with Theo, celebrated our first anniversary and a couple birthdays! I got to close one really difficult chapter and begin another.


June: June was a great month spent outside as much as possible. I also started my job and Theo started a full-time shift, so it wasn’t all play…but it sure beat those long winter months of student teaching! We tried to do stuff outside almost every day, and get ourselves to the pool or the canoeing place or SOMEWHERE outside each weekend. Oh, how I love summertime!


July: Joy’s Wedding

Theo and I traveled to New York for Peter and Joy’s wedding! It was a lot of fun.


August: Hines Family Reunion

We got to head up to Michigan for another family reunion, this one at the lake! It was dreary and overcast most of the weekend, but we took every chance we had to relax and head out on the water!


September: Completing our first marathon- together. Uh, yeah…enough said.


October: October was another month of just being- spending time outside, continuing to run, enjoying time with our cat and ourdog…all that jazz. And sometimes I think its ok to have months that aren’t a huge deal.


November: Trip to Florida for Thanksgiving!

Seeing the Hall side of the family, as well as Daniel and Kelly. Hanging out, plus the looong drive with the hubs.  We had a great time!


December: Trip to Michigan for Christmas

Spending lots of time with family, playing games, doing puzzles, relaxing, and of course, enjoying the outdoors when the temps actually got above 0.