Our Christmas Letter 2020

We know the blog has been quiet for some time now and it will remain that way. My passion for writing hasn’t changed. My life has. And right now it is busy. I miss writing. I do and there are times I wish I had the energy for it. But for now I am learning to embrace the busy short season I am in. We had our second baby in May. For those who have been following me on my personal pages and the few posts on the blog you will see we became a family of four very quickly. Our boys are eighteen months apart. Each day is a gift and we are exhausted, learning, and transforming. I hope to share more on the blog what these past two years have been like but the details will remain quiet for now.

Our year has brought us both challenge and adventure. The challenge of figuring out this whole family thing and raising our babies and the adventure Peter’s job allows us to have.

This fall we went on our first work trip as a family in San Diego and lived there for a few months. We had the amazing opportunity to have the boys meet and see two of their aunties a few times. Jason celebrated his second birthday at Birch Aquarium. Logan’s second zoo was The San Diego zoo.

Each day our boys are showing more of their personalities and their interests. Jason is our tender hearted, fiery, sweet, smart, boy who loves his baby brother “Lolo”. He is always trying to find ways to include him with splashing in the bath, going on walks, reading books, and making him laugh. It is so sweet watching the bond start at such young ages.

Logan is our go getter, determined, laid back, strong, independent, smiley, hunk of love. Everyone is always commenting on his size. Everything about Logan is big and that’s what makes him so great.

I could go on and on about how much I love my boys and the adventure we are having but then I’d be up all night with this key board or a baby. That is our life right now. Tending to babies and the very little time that we have we try to make it for each other.

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How We Teach Our Children About Halloween

We have chosen to raise our children to celebrate Halloween in a fun and innocent way. In our home we give the pumpkin and season of fall itself the spot light. We do pumpkin painting every year, fall crafts, pumpkin story books, Charlie Brown movies, and trick or treating. Usually we would do a Trunk or Treat with our Church.

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Daddy and our oldest almost 2
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Both of the boys pumpkins
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(our youngest’s pumpkin. 4 months here)

I grew up seeing some friends not being able to Trick or Treat and felt as if they were missing out on so much fun. I wouldn’t want our children to miss out as well.

The HUGE dilemma with most parents is wanting to avoid the Halloween characters, as I call them. The: ghosts, goblins, skeletons, witches, vampires and werewolf’s.

The reality is they are everywhere and they are also PRETEND. Our two year old is starting to notice them in his pumpkin books, and in stores. We were walking through Walmart the other day and he pointed out the big blow up skeleton with the axe. “Yep baby that’s a Halloween character, he is spooky but he is pretend.”

He may not know what any of that means yet. But he will over time as we continue to talk about it each year. I use the term ‘character’ just as I would for the Leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day, The Easter Bunny for Easter, and Santa for Christmas. If we dramatize the ‘characters’ then they may appear more scary and real instead of pretend. I wouldn’t bring our children to a haunted house or show them scary movies to prove my point. But I cannot shut the Halloween characters out from the world we live in. So as we see them in books, and at the stores they are as I mentioned above PRETEND spooky but not real. They cannot hurt us.

We plan to celebrate the season, the pumpkin, and innocent fun that we choose Halloween to be for our family.

A Dog Called Grace

A dog I’ve never met touched my heart in a way only she could.

I reflect on the hurt of the loss the owner which strikes my heart every time I see a “Grace dog”. I delighted in watching her adventures on social media and reading the fun stories they once had.

A dog called Grace has touched my heart.

It was a week after the loss a year ago I saw a dog who looked just like her. My heavy heart froze. I got out of my car and my eyes locked with the dog sitting in the car parked next to ours. The no bark and long gaze caught me off guard. It was as if I was able to take the awkward stare down and be reminded to pray and to allow my heart to grieve before getting our little out of the back seat. Every “Grace dog” reminds me to say a silent prayer for his family.

Growing Pains

Five years married today I look back and see a lot of tears. 

Tears of pain, hurt, weariness, fear, confusion, anger, and relief. Yet, in the midst of my memories I also see growth. One thing I’ve been learning is we will be OK. Marriage is hard. Sharing life together in selflessness with iron sharpen iron. It’s grieving together, laughing together, encouraging one another, learning more about one another and Christ, and growing together. 

I see beauty in the growing pains.

I see our home, our bunnies, our beautiful baby boys and our faith. 

As I look ahead and I am eager for the next  to come. The new emotions that we will work through as we face new growing pains. 

 

 

Alive

As I stare at these silly cards I reflect on the other night watching my baby hand them one by one to a dear friend of mine as he leaned against her.
My baby hardly leans on people that are not mom and dad. I took the moment in watching him pass to a person that may have not have been there if someone didn’t listen. If someone didn’t notice, or stop in the business of their own life to hear her internal cry.
When someone tells you they are depressed, they are not being selfish. It’s a cry for help that should never be brushed aside. 
This moment of my child handing cards to my friend gripped my heart. It was only a few years ago when she attempted suicide. And here she was right where she needed to be.
ALIVE
Transforming each day into a Godly women working through her rejection, abuse, chaos, and turmoil. Battling, growing and leaning on the Holy Spirit and becoming the Princess warrior she was made to be.

February 29th, 2020

Happy Birthday To Baby #2

    It’s 11pm my body hurts. I’m thinking I’m in labor. Our 18 month old woke up crying at 11:24. So I go in the room to snuggle him. I knew I was in labor at that point. He was sad for about an hour but finally went to sleep. It’s like he knew something was going on with mommy.

    By 2:30 we called our friend to come stay with Jason. I was puking and pooping by then. He got to our house by 3:30.Thankfully Jason was able to get some sleep before we left. Saying goodbye to Jason went pretty well. We had him say hi to our friend and he went to him and I ran out before I started to get too emotional about leaving him.

We got to the birthing center by 4 a.m. I went in and puked. I jumped in the scale 145 lbs! After hours of laboring at the center I was at a 3 for progress. Then I got in the big beautiful tub. My water broke after at about 9:35. I lifted my stomach up and it broke! Five hours later of being at the center I was at an 8 for progress. But then even with pressure points I could start feeling the labor in my back. And our baby was trying to come out too early. When they asked if I wanted nitro oxide or go to the hospital to get an epidural to slow down the contractions. I was confused and soon felt a sense of failure as if I did something wrong. I chose the hospital.They said I was so swollen that I would’ve torn my cervix that could lead to a surgery.

I was afraid that he’s come out too early and if the nitro oxide didn’t work I would’ve had to go to the hospital anyway.

My mind was filled with negative thoughts:

I should’ve known something would’ve gone wrong.” 

“I should’ve seen this coming”

“This was a mistake”

I thought I was at home stretch. I was discouraged and afraid that I was going to have him in the car. We get in and all I feel is pressure. The contractions kept on pushing.

“I’m not going to let you have your baby in your car” One of the midwives reassured me.

I was afraid that he was going to slip out. Frantically I pretended  to blow birthday candles on the way. I could feel him pushing down. My midwife, Holly kept saying “Almost there. Longest part is the 10 minute car ride.”

When we got out of our car I hung on to her. Then a lady came out and asked why we were there. My midwife  said “Labor! I should have a room ready for her.” She had called before we had even left the birthing center and had a team lined up for me.

“They can’t tell we’re in labor?” She asked to me. I was so happy to have a midwife as straight forward as she was. 

 The receptionist tried to slow her down and  get us to do paper work. We kept walking with me and said “Nope no paper work I need a wheelchair now!  You guys should have a room ready for me. I called ahead. “

They came at me with a mask. (This is the time of COVID-19) I snapped “NO!” 

I needed to breathe I’m in labor and my baby was about to come out. As they wheeled me I kept asking for epidural. My midwife answered all questions for me. I chatted with her after I got it placed in. Peter went to get himself some food. We both napped. The nurse came in and said I had progressed at a 9 and 3/4 and I had the option to push if I wanted or I could wait till I got to 10. I said since I was on drugs I can wait. I’m so thankful I did. An hour and 43 minutes of pushing Logan came out. His shoulders got stuck and needed help out. Peter cut his cord. And oh was I sooo happy to hear his little cry. I looked to see and yep a boy! The first thing I said was “He’s fat!”

19hours 43minutes

6:43pm

May 11th 2020 8.7lbs

Logan peter.

I walk away with zero regrets of choosing a birthing center. They were with us the entire journey. They were intentional from the beginning. They included both my husband and our 18 month old in as much as they could. Our oldest would come to all my appointments and listen to Logan’s heart beat. They made sure I got the proper care I needed especially with fighting hyperemesis. I never once had to wait more then five minutes for my appointment and my appointments would last an hour making it worth the drive. I never felt like a visit was a waste of time. Twice I had missed an appointment and they were so understanding and just rescheduled me.  They even gave referrals for a new place to take our children for pediatric care. I have had my first postpartum visit and they lined me up with a lactacian consultant right away and I have been able to nurse Logan more smoothly since. I love that they do  check ups for post partum care and are checking in on our whole family not just me.  Looking back I would do the experience of this pregnancy and who was apart of our journey again. 

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When Time Is A Ministry

After I had my baby I didn’t want to leave the house. I had two friends who would come to see him and visit. Neither of them knew how much it meant to me for them to give me their time and remember my baby in the business of their own lives. It reminded me how giving our time can be used to minister to those around us.  

They never said anything about me rocking the leggings, messy bun, and T-shirts, or how tired I looked, or if there were dishes in the sink. Those simple visits meant the world to me. Neither of them knew I had been struggling with PPD (Post Partum Depression), or that I had been wanting to stay in contact with friends but leaving the house was a struggle for me.

Time is something you can’t get back and can be the most precious blessing to give. 

You never know what seeds you are planting or just reminding believers that God is good. We live in the world of excuses where most forget about friendships that could be made or hearts that could be encouraged by an hour of chatting over coffee. 

 

When Christians Grieve

One day at a time…But we don’t have to do it alone.

Grief has occupied  my mind a lot these past few weeks.

With sudden

loss,

worlds shaken,

shock,

time standing still,

God speaks softly to the broken hearted and in this short story he reminded me that we are not alone through it all.

“I’m babysitting my 2 1/2 year granddaughter and 1 year old grandson…..Cutest thing just happened.. (Name of child) showed me her Bible and I said it talks about Jesus. And she said a coyote too.. ha. Anyways.. then I said Jesus loves you and she said he’s in my heart. I said oh yes he is. And I said he’s always with you, you’re never alone. And she came back with .. even with Grandpa not here. She said we have to get Grandpa’s heart back. Oh my gosh.. I teared up and she ran and got Raggedy Ann for me to hug and then I hugged her. Told my son and daughter in law..You have taught her well.”

You see as believers we have a hope, and in seeing how believers react to grief reminds me it is well.  

Through the tears it is well

Through sorrow it is well

Through grief it is well

Because God is good.

 

I Get To Stay Home With You

I get to hold my baby as much as I want, capture his smiles, wipe away his tears, hear his baby chatter, and snuggle up with him on my chest with his small curled up body feeling the weight of him falling asleep. I get the honor of being a stay at home mom.

I don’t have to miss his firsts and ache from missing out. I don’t have to wonder if he is safe and if he misses mommy. I don’t have to share him with another person other then us. Because I get the peace of being a stay at home mom. 

I get to create memories with him every day and watch the wheels turn in his mind when he learns something new. I get to teach, make, and explore with him. I get the adventure of being a stay at home mom.

I don’t have to worry about him not being fed or being lonely. I don’t have to wonder if he is applauded for each mile stone he conquers because I’ll be there. I get the joy of being a stay at home mom.

Motherhood is an honor, adventure and joy it comes with a peace when we stop and slow down and embrace the beauty of it all. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Christmas Letter 2018

Two thousand and eighteen was filled with many surprises! This year God as filled us with many blessings through growing our family. 

In January we officially put in our request for a legally free child to hopefully adopt through foster care. 

In February we got our second bunny, Daisy and at the end of the month we found out we were pregnant! We had to pull back from doing respite care because of how bad my morning sickness was.  Over all we had watched thirteen children and some we had come back a few times. We are continuing to wait on a hopeful adoption. 

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Spring is  honestly a blur to us. Finding out we had a high risk pregnancy we still wanted to celebrate his life so we went on a small weekend trip. We did two more trips in the Summer: Minnesota and Utah. Our house projects are almost done! We have done the roof, refurbished the wood floors together, put up a new shed, and added new base board trim through out the house. 

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Before Jason was born Peter went on a work trip and was able to come back early for his birth. On October twenty seventh our son was born! While Peter continues to work at the shipyard as a welder I get the blessing to be a stay at home mom. 

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Merry Christmas and many blessings,

The Echols