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.

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 

Labor Of Love

It was nine in the morning Thursday October twenty fifth we were at the dentist for Peter’s appointment. Once he was called my contractions began. I went out and walked in the halls and began breathing techniques. They became frequent so I started timing them. They were two in a half minutes apart. I texted Peter saying “I think we’re in labor.” After he was done we went to the little cafe. He got an eggnog latte and I got an eggnog. I couldn’t sit down so I stood and breathed through contractions thinking we had long road ahead but not realizing how long. After that we walked around Target. The contractions were still about two in a half minutes apart. We were in labor! I was so excited! we walked down the baby isle and then headed home. Four hours in labor we started texting people. I was still excited as the contractions started to get stronger.

We headed to the hospital at four thirty and checked in at five. They saw that the contractions were close but we still weren’t aloud to get a delivery room. I was dilated at a one and my water hadn’t broken. I was discouraged and didn’t want to go all the way back home trying to breath through it all in the Suburban. It was seven at night. They offered me pain medication that would ease the pain for two hours and a shot that would help me sleep. I was exhausted and tempted. So I asked about the side effects. They said hallucination. I passed on both. I was made to do this I told myself. So I passed. I knew I had to be focused and keep our baby safe so no sleeping pill for me. They suggested to take a Unisom when I got home and rest up for delivery. We were ten hours in by then. As we were leaving the ladies at the front desk suggested to walk the mall for an hour because some women’s water break right after being sent home. But I was tired and didn’t want to walk anymore.

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It was seven thirty at night by the time we got home. I go in the tub. Peter asked me if I wanted the Unisom. I passed. I was tired but wanted to keep going. I’ve trained for this and didn’t want to quit now. I had been waiting for this big day and chose not to medicate when I had Braxton hicks. This was unfamiliar pain that I wanted to teach my body in hopes for a natural labor. After getting out of the tub we did walking, and breathing together. Then we went in the room and Peter did pressure points pushing on my back to help ease the pain. 

Throughout the night Peter grazed on snacks keeping his energy up and having me sip on water and eat grapes between contractions. I was in so much pain. I knew I wanted to push through so I began to pray. During the hard ones I’d pray “Give me peace.” And when it was done I’d thank God for getting me through that round. When I was in the tub for the third time I’d find my focus point and pray and chant reminders in my head through the contractions.

God is my strength.

God is my peace.

God is joy.

God is going to get us through this.

God is good.

Thank you God that my baby is almost here.

It was six in the morning we twenty one hours in when we decided to try and go back to the hospital. Peter went around and grabbed the last bit of things. He got me my fuzzy body pillow that we bought when we found out we were pregnant as my comfort item. I wanted it with us for the end of the journey. I was afraid to get back in the Suburban. We took each step super slow. I had stopped on the steps. We stood and breathed through the pain. Right before we got in another contraction. Before we drove off we sat in the Suburban as it was heating up I squeezed my fuzzy pillow as more contractions came. One that set was finished Peter slowly started to drive. Most people in labor speed. But I asked him to drive slow. Speeding means something this urgent and wrong. Nothing was wrong. Had we sped it would’ve given me anxiety. Step by step and slowly is how we had to go about this. 

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I hugged and breathed into my pillow four sets of contractions. “We’re here.” Once Peter turned the car off I was breathing through my last set. Peter helped me out. As soon as I got out we breathed through another set. I looked at the hospital entrance hopeful. We shuffled to the doors. Three people offered us a wheelchair. Walking felt better at the time. We got in. Peter was telling the front desk we were there the night before and had checked in. As soon as we got in the room to see if we were aloud to stay and see if I had dilated more my water broke. We were standing next to the bed when I felt trickling down my leg as we were working through another set of contractions. “I think my water broke.” Peter checked and saw it running down my leg. A sense of relief and joy hit me. “My water broke” I kept saying. I couldn’t believe it. By this time we were twenty two hours in labor. I happily went to the bed hugging my pillow. I told Peter “They can’t kick us out, we’re here to stay.” 

When the nurse came in I thought she’d see I had dilated more. We told her my water broke and she said “lets get you checked in.” Because the next room was farther they wheel chaired me to the delivery room. At first I was hesitant. Peter gave me my fuzzy pillow. I hugged it tightly as we went. Contractions.  I was excited to enter our delivery room. As soon as we got there I was hooked up on IV’s on both arms, they put compression socks on me, a heart monitor for baby and a contraction monitor. I went from the wheelchair to the ball. It was fun to sit on but it didn’t seem to help. I went to the bed. I tried the Nitro Oxide gas but it only worked through a few contractions. They were getting too strong. It started to annoy me. When they saw I stopped using it I asked if could just hold it for psychological reasons. 

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The baths seemed to help me the most at home so I asked if I could take one. They asked me if I wanted to take the socks off. I said no. The less I was touched the better. We shuffled to the tub. I was aloud to be in it for only forty minutes, because they wanted me back on the heart and contraction monitor. After a quick forty minutes Peter helped me up. I stood….contractions. I stepped out. Contractions. We shuffled to the door. Contractions. They have gotten closer. I was getting less breaks. When I got to the bed they took off my compression socks and put on compression calf socks that would puff up. They were better because they could velcro off and on. I was back on the monitors.

I sat as we worked through some more. I stood up. I would squeeze Peter’s hand as we breathed through more contractions together. I saw that his hands were turning purple so I decided to squeeze his forearms instead. I needed his hands for pressure points. His forearms were hurting so he put on long sleeves. Every time we’d stand I would use peters shoes as a focus point. I’d stair at the laces. I kept getting checked for dilation progress. I was at a six. Time was lost. They checked me again and thought I was at a nine. I thought we’re going to make it. Almost to the finish line. I was eager and glad we went this far. 

When they said he was at a nine they said he needed to be turned and that we would be meeting him soon. They had me get up grab my fuzzy pillow and sat the bed up so I could get on my knees. A red arrow on the machine became my focus point. At every contraction I would command Peter to push. Peter pushed as hard as he could relieving my pain doing more pressure points. I’d peak over at the monitor watching the contractions sky rocket. Two hundred and fifty two is the highest I can remember. I took us three hours to turn him which only felt like fifteen minutes to me. Time had escaped me. 

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When the doctor came in to check on me she told me the news we didn’t want to hear. My heart sank. Here I thought we were so close. I felt defeated. Thirty four hours into labor to find out I was still at a six. I had a fever and his heart rate had dropped. It was time to make a decision. He couldn’t stay in longer. My fever could’ve given him an infection. She gave me the options Pitocin to induce or a c-section. She could tell I was afraid of both options and it was not what I had wanted. She said we should still induce because it will be closest to the kind of birth I wanted. I was supposed to be induced on October eighteenth but we asked to push it to October thirtieth in hopes to go into labor on my own. The one thing I tried to avoid was now my safest option.

My baby had to get out quick and safe. The doctor left the room giving me and Peter time to talk. When Peter and I were talking I asked him if we should c-section. “We are not doing a c-section” I’m so glad he said that. My mind wasn’t clear and before I told him to not let me do in unless it was the last option. When the doctor came back in we told her Epidural and Pitocin. She said my contraction levels were so high it was as if I had already been on Pitocin. I still asked for Epidural because I knew I needed the energy for pushing.

We worked through more contractions for twenty minutes. When it was time for epidural I had four big contractions before he put in the needle. I didn’t even feel it. Once I got my shot Peter went to take a nap. I chatted with the nurse. I could still feel some contractions but they were milder. Then I got the Pitocin. A few hours later it was time to practice pushing. Thankfully I was not completely numb. They said anytime I feel pressure to tell them. Three big pushes. They could see his head! They said I was a good pusher and I will see him soon. The doctor came in and I pushed she said it will be quick. I felt some stinging. 

Peter took pictures of his head starting to show. I pushed. I felt him slide out. The next thing I saw was my baby on a towel getting cleaned on my chest. Peter cut the chord. He didn’t cry at first. I was getting ready to hit his feet. But they got him to cough and make some noise. They rolled him to his side and used a sucker thing to get off the extra fluid on his face. They said he’s good they don’t need him to cry loud just a little noise is good. His cry was quiet and he stopped immediately when he was on me. 

Peter came and kissed me. As I was getting my stitch I closed my eyes holding my baby. He looked up at me. I looked back confused. It had all happened so fast. The nurses took pictures for us. Peter was the first to feed him. He was six pounds thirteen ounces, twenty one inches,  his Apgar scores were eight, he got all shots, hearing test, eye goop, and heal test.  It all finally hit me when we were getting ready to go home. This is my baby. 

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A Letter To Our Son

I grasp each day as our time comes to an end of our pregnancy.  After all this could be my last. A letter to our baby boy. 

 My baby boy, 

These are the last days I’ll ever be able to keep you this close to my heart. The last feeling of your little kicks. The last time you’ll hear my heart beat from the inside. The last days we will see your picture on a screen. The last days we get to hear your heart beat. The last days seeing you push and roll as you get stronger. These days will be missed and cherished forever.

But this is only the beginning….

When you come out to our world we will have new kind of closeness. For the first time we will look into each others eyes, and you will see another familiar voice who loves you so much, Daddy’s.  As we prepared the nursery and our hearts we have prayed for you. Our greatest desire is for you to know how much God loves you and for you to know him too. There is no greater love then the fathers love. 

We love you baby boy,

-Mommy and Daddy 

 

More on our pregnancy journey:

*Butterflies 

*Why My Heart Was Heavy On My First Mother’s Day

*Our Gender Reveal 

*The Bittersweetness Of Second Trimester

*Our Unknown Trial

 

 

Our Unknown Trial

Right before we have baby Peter was ordered to leave on a work trip. We saw this trip as a trial. There is so much to do still before baby gets here: house projects, ministry projects, and preparing for baby and yet God is our rock in the chaos.

James 1: 2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials for many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Everyone has their stuff and the old man haunting them. We were reminded of Romans 8 and Romans 12. Being separated made me realize how much I had been struggling with my identity in Christ. 

Through out the day the Holy Spirit would speak to my heart.

Romans 8: 1-2 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8: 26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Romans 12: 2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

As my heart would battle throughout the day I would be reminded who has everything under control and pray for peace. Sometimes our hearts have to break for us to be rebuilt. Each day after praying together Peter and I would talk about the victories we had in Christ. Each day my heart would struggle and I knew where to turn.  

One day my heart was really struggling. My mind was filled with lies and anger but my heart was reminded of the verse that says ‘all you need is the faith the size of a mustard seed’ as my heart believed I txted Peter the verse.  The phone rings right after. He calls to tell me he’s coming home!

Only God fully understands the aches of our hearts, how I longed to be with Peter and how to meet me where I was at. Peter is home now and we are so thankful how God has grown our marriage through the unexpected adventure we went through.