Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Put Away the Scoreboard

Note from the Editor:
Yes, I know that I am sadly failing from posting cute pics and funny anecdotes of Mr. Sam I Am and my life with three sons. But God has been at work in my heart, showing me so many areas that I need to change. As a result, I have been secretly working on a Bible study for some time now, and I am trying to organize my thoughts and my notes written throughout my random journals. I figured this would be one place to sort of "test the waters" with some of the topics that I am working on.

This excerpt is both the opening and closing on my study of Ephesians 4:29-32. God has used Ephesians 4 and 5 to speak volumes to my heart (the part about putting off falsehood has been an especially hard pill for me to swallow, but I will save that for a later post!)

Anyway, please feel free to leave comments. I value others' opinions and input as I strive to put this together, more for my own learning than for that of others.
So, here it is:
Put Away the Scoreboard!
Have you ever been to a baseball game and watched the people in the stadium? Since I am not a huge sports fan (I couldn’t tell you the names of more than three players on my “favorite” team), I often bore easily at these events and choose instead to indulge in my favorite sport: people watching.
You see all different types of individuals: the die-hard vocal fans who leave the stadium hoarse from their cheers and/or groans; the quiet, reserved stoics who take in each play and rarely break out emotions except during especially intense moments of action. But my favorite people to watch at a sporting event are the ones with the scorecard in hand. They not only do not want to miss any of the action, they choose to take part in as much action as possible by keeping track of all the players, their stats, and the runs scored. Those are the individuals who keep a running play-by-play of the action around them.

While this hobby is a well-defined discipline during a game, it is sadly an atrocity in the Christian life. Too many times we carry our own personal scorecards of friends and family around us. Whether we are tracking others’ financial success or personal victories, we mentally place a tally mark on our little scorecard, and a seed of discontementment is planted in our hearts. Then later, sometimes when we least expect it, something happens between us and an individual, and all of the past “tally marks” rush into the forefront of our minds. We are reminded of every time that person has outshined us or made a bribe at us or spoken to us . . . or about us.

We begin to lose sleep over the situation. It becomes an all-consuming focus of our brain. No matter what we do, we just can’t let the situation go. We begin to see that person in a negative light. Everything that individual says now seems like a target pointed directly at us.
What was once a seemingly harmless pastime has led to bitterness and envy. And if the hobby continues, those seeds of bitterness sprout into our hearts, their roots become firmly planted, and their fruit displays itself in our lives in the form of anger, slander, and malice toward that individual. Pretty soon, everyone around us knows the score that we have been keeping.

Is it any wonder that before Paul’s command to be “kind and compassionate” and to “forgive” one another, he urged the Ephesians to get rid of the bitterness in their lives? True forgiveness and restored relationships WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE unless the weeds of envy have been pulled out of our hearts, roots and all.

So today, I ask you: Do you have issue with someone? Is there a competition between you and a friend? Is there someone who just gets under your skin? Do you see the constant error in an individual and feel urged to “make it right” all the time with that individual?

If so, stop keeping score of that person’s life and start to examine your own. Perhaps you have planted seeds of bitterness in your heart. If left unattended that ugly weed will overgrow and kill the delicate fruits of the Spirit that God is trying to display in your life. Your testimony and service to God will be limited as the plant of envy completely overtakes your heart.
Cut down the weed of bitterness at the root. Ask God to rip it out of your heart. Only then will you truly be content with what God has placed in your life, and only then will God be able to use you as He truly desires.
Remember: The ground is level at the foot of the cross. God sees all believers the same on the playing field: through the blood of His Son. Let’s strive to see each other that way as well.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

From the Lord

"For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him. Therefore, I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD."

Thank you to all who have prayed for Samuel throughout this pregnancy. We are so thankful and blessed beyond measure to welcome this little gift from God.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Random Things, Part 4

I Love Your Daddy
Little One,
Eleven years ago, I married your Dad.

What a crazy, wild roller coaster ride this has been! It has not always been easy, but God has blessed our marriage in so many ways, namely in the three little blessings that God has chosen to give us.
I could go on and on, making this one of the mushiest posts ever, but that is not really your dad and me. Don't get me wrong; I love your Daddy very much, and I am all about the mushy stuff.
But what your dad and I have is built on something so much bigger than that. We have chosen to make a lifetime covenant between each other and our Heavenly Father. The love that comes from such a bond flows much deeper than heart flutters and daydreams.
I am so thankful that our marriage is based on commitment, trust, friendship, and love. Your dad and I are free to be ourselves, but we strive to be the best version of ourselves for each other - and for you, Andrew, and Jack.
We will never be perfect, and we will never see eye-to-eye on everything. So you may hear "discussions" and "arguments" from time to time, but I want you and your brothers to remember that the foundation that our family is built upon is firm. And we will do everything through God's strength and faithfulness to keep our home built and focused on Him.
So, little one, I want you to rest in the fact that I love your papa more than I ever thought possible. As I watch him playing with your two brothers, I can't help but imagine that in a few years, you get to join in the fun and craziness of time with daddy.

And that, baby, makes me one happy and thankful Mama!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Random Things, Part 3

3. Our House is beginning to look like a baby will live here soon!

The crib is all set up.
The teeny tiny clothes are washed and folded. (Thanks, Aunt Lisa and Grandma Donna!)
The Pack N Play is ready to be set up downstairs.
The cloth diapers are all sorted out in their sizes and stacks.
The car seat is ready to be installed in the van.
Mommy's bag is almost packed.
I finished sewing your receiving blankets yesterday, and I am trying to finish your burp cloths, quilt, and crocheted blanket.
So, what is still left to do? Well, first and foremost we probably need to get serious and decide on a name for you!
Here are some of the names Mommy and Daddy have been thinking about:
Luke (Daddy doesn't like this one at all, but it is still one of my favorites, so I had to include it on this list!)
Andrew still would like to name you Zacheus, but we assured him that you will not always be a "wee little man in mommy's tummy" and that you may need a different name.
Jack likes the names Isaac, Eli, Joshua, and Caleb.
Rest assured that by the time we get ready to take you home, we WILL have a name picked out for you!
As we get the final things in the house ready for your arrival, my mind is often pondering you.
What will you look like?
How will you act?
How big will you be?
When will you decide to come? (BTW: give me at least another week and a half, okay, buddy?)
As I think about all these things, I can't help but imagine in my mind a perfect little round face with a splotch of dark hair, and a tiny fist curled up to your perfect little cheek.
But you know what, little guy? If you end up being completely different from that mental image, it's okay. We will love you, no matter what.
So as I continue to ponder these little questions and finish the last-minute items on our list, I will be waiting for the moment that I can hold you close and whisper in your little ear,
"Momma loves you!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Random Things, Part 2

2. Our Not-So-Perfect Life.

Dearest Little One,
I have to laugh at all the little baby commercials where the mommy is a perfect size 6 with beautiful hair and makeup, cuddling her perfectly beautiful newborn baby. Her life seems like perfect bliss, and the maternal instinct of all women of child-bearing age kicks in.

What makes that perfect moment so funny? Because it is just that: perfect. And sweetie, that will NEVER happen here!

There will be many times in the next few months where Mommy is at my wit's end. Believe me, it happened when both your brothers were newborns. The combination of a recovering body (NOT a size 6), a tired mommy and daddy, rambunctious boys, and a crying newborn will soon be the norm in this household.

But, call me crazy, I am kind of looking forward to those moments, because it will be a part of life, the life that God has called me to. And you know what? I wouldn't change a thing.

I love my God. I love my church. I love my husband. I love my boys. I love my family. I love my friends.

I am blessed, and I cannot wait to hold you, my littlest blessing.

So, even though our life will not be perfect, you will forever be a part of it, because God has chosen to place you in our family.

And I, for one, am grateful.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Things I Want Baby Kealen to Know, Part 1

I was inspired by The Other Mamma's top ten list for her soon-to-be-arriving princess, and I thought it would be fun to let our little guy in on a few noteworthy items that he may want to be prepared for as well. So, here it goes . . .

1. You have two older brothers who can't wait to meet you!
Many times throughout the day there is a little boy hugging and kissing you inside your warm and safe home. And while I am excited that your brothers are so affectionate with you, I cringe at just how "affectionate" they may be once you meet them face to face. Just so you know, little one, we are trying to teach them good baby etiquette, but they are having a hard time with the idea of your needing personal space. So as your momma, I am apologizing now, and I will try to keep their loving on you at a tolerable level.

While we are on the subject of older brothers, I feel I must also warn you about the noise level you will most likely encounter. I know that according to the baby books and articles I have read, you already hear all the noise in our home. But again, I must remind you that what you hear is a muffled precursor. The decimal levels will be much louder outside the womb, I promise you!

To be fair to my first two boys, it isn't so much the volume level at our home as it is the constant chatter. And I do mean constant. You will learn a lot about Legos, Star Wars action figures, marine life, math facts, and Make Believe from your brothers. From the moment the first is up (usually by 6:30) until they both are in bed, there is chatter.

And for the record, I do enjoy it. Most of the time.

So, little buddy, as I think about adding your noise to this crazy place we call home, I can't help but smile. And if your mamma knows anything about you at all, I know that you will soon be able to keep up with both of your big brothers, and I KNOW that you will come to love them as much as your daddy and I do.

As much as I look forward to meeting you in person and getting to know you, I want to encourage you to stay put for a few weeks longer. Your home in my tummy is calm and quiet. Enjoy it while you can, because the moment you enter this world, you will forever be added to the crazy, constant chatter of this Kealen family.

While it may be a little loud, it is full of love. And we can't wait to officially welcome you into the mix.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gentle Reminders of a Great Big God

For the three people who sometimes follow my blog, you know that my blood pressure has been an issue for almost my entire pregnancy. Well, it seems that issue may play a part in our peanut's birthday!

At my last appointment, my doctor mentioned that we may need to induce a few weeks early. Over the next two days, my mind went to my very long to-do list, and I began to feel the pressures of all my expectations rising. I had so much I wanted to do before this baby came. What if I didn't get them all done? What if my blood pressure created real health concerns for both me and the baby? What if . . .

As my jumbled thoughts went into high gear last night, I was reminded to be still.
My heart wanted to argue, "But Lord, what if people stop by our parsonage? It needs to be spotless.
And, Lord, I have so many loose ends that need to be tied. If someone else tries to step in and take care of all of them, they will become one giant jumbled knot!
And what about the health of my baby?"
Again, I remembered, "Be still."
As I began to calm my heart and ponder on Psalm 46:10, I realized that there are two commands that I need to follow.
First, I do need to be still. I need to stop all motion and craziness and busyness in my life.
But I also need to know (and accept) my God as being Who He is:
- the loving Father Who is gently forming my little one in His perfect way.
- the sovereign faithful Lord Who holds my future and my baby's future in His hands.
That verse continues with the promise that God will be exalted. His sovereign plans will be carried out, and nothing, NOTHING that happens in my life will EVER come as a surprise to Him.
For me, it is not enough just to stop fretting and be still. I must also consciously recognize and trust in my God to do what He sees best for my family.
And you know what? When I began to focus on my faithful Father, the worries stopped. The fear of uncertainty gave way to a peace, and my spirit was able to rest quietly in the faithful and trustworthy hands of my God.
So today, if your thoughts are struggling with unanswered questions and the craziness of life, take time to
"Be still and KNOW that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Ever-Growing List

Preparing for baby needs to get kicked into high gear around here! A friend of mine asked me yesterday what I still needed to do before this baby gets here. I responded.

A lot, but I have a few more months. She looked at me and smiled. "Actually," she commented, "you have a little under two months!"


Her comment made me realize that I have a lot to do in the next seven weeks. So, here goes the beginning of my ever-growing list.

1. Set up the crib.
2. Wash the baby bedding.
3. Wash all the tiny, adorable baby boy clothes. (Thanks, Jennifer, for dressing my baby for his first few months of life!)
4. Packing my hospital bag.
5. Getting a new pediatrician! (Our practice will no longer have a pediatrician on staff!)
6. Register Jack for second grade.
7. Purchase Jack's school supplies.
8. Finish cleaning/organizing the kitchen cabinets (only three more sets of cabinets to go!)
9. Heavy-duty cleaning of the house!
10. Prepping and preparing freezer meals.
11. Finishing my baby sewing.
12. Choosing a name for this baby!
13. Finishing the blanket I am crocheting.

Just looking at this list makes me want to take a nap! I will be one busy mommy in the next seven weeks, and I am already praying that I will not stress too much if some things on my list don't get done.

While I know that I have put off doing some major projects, I have taken time each day in the last few weeks to spend quality time with my two boys. I have had such a fun summer with them, and I would not trade those moments with them for anything!

But now . . . I must get my rear in gear and get busy.

(Oh, and if I find the cord to my camera, I will post some new pics of some of these projects!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Soaking in Life

The last three weeks have been crazy for us. Trying to cram outpatient surgery, VBS, and a national conference into a twenty-three day span has left my family a little groggy.
While my list of household duties and "before baby" projects seems never ending, God keeps gently reminding me that I need to soak in life with my two precious little boys. Their lives will change - for the better - in ten short weeks, and I want to love on them and enjoy the remaining time that I have to devote completely to them.

In my last pregnancy, I couldn't wait for it to be over. While I know there will be days ahead when I am ready to be done, I hope to soak in every moment with the two little boys who are growing up so quickly. And, I cherish each little movement of my youngest who is nestled under and in my heart.

As God continues to prepare our family to welcome this new little life, I am begging Him to give me the strength and endurance to be a faithful wife, selflessly meet the needs of a newborn, and to also serve Jack and Andrew. I know that as I rely on Him He will give me the strength to handle these challenges. I hope I can do so with a joyous heart and a humble spirit.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Family Update

Baby Kealen at 28 weeks.
Wow! I can't believe I actually posted this picture! At today's visit, Baby Kealen weighed just an ounce shy of 3 pounds and is measuring exactly ten days ahead of schedule!
It was sooo much fun to get a peek at this little guy. He was stretching and sucking his thumb. It was a lot of fun to see him again, and aside from hearing that he seems to be doing well, my favorite news was that he has hair!!!!!!!!!

In other news, the other two Kealen boys in my home are enjoying summer. Today was the first day of VBS, and I love, love, love hearing the first three words of the theme song floating throuhgout my home. My only hope is they soon pick up the rest of the song! :-)
Jack is recovering very well from his eye surgery. Praise the Lord, the initial post-op visit showed that the surgery on his left eye was successful. We praise the Lord for His goodness and protection in bringing Jack safely through his surgery.

Now my main goal for the rest of the summer is to stay out of the hospital until this little guy makes his appearance, Lord willing not before the very end of August!
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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Summer Has Begun!

Jack is home from school, and both boys need to adjust to a new summer schedule. While I am aware of our June craziness, it is very important for me to maintain some semblance of order in our home. Here are my summer goals for the boys.
Two (maybe three?) library reading programs
School review for Jack and preschool prep for Andrew
A daily chore plan
Lots and lots of fun in the sun - and water!
On the baby front, I am 27 weeks along! The time seems to have gone by so quickly, but then I flip through the calendar, thinking how far away September 2 is. My goal for the summer is to relish every moment with my growing belly. Lord willing, this will be the last pregnancy for us, and I want to make soak up every moment of having this little one nestled under my heart.
At yesterday's appointment, my blood pressure was a healthy 122/60. Praise the Lord for keeping blood pressure issues at bay! I had to drink the crazy glucose juice for my gestational diabetes test, and I will hopefully hear the results today.
I am already measuring almost two weeks ahead of schedule, so my doctor wants to see me every two weeks from now on to monitor baby boy's growth.
And, sadly, we are still referring to him as baby boy. I have a feeling it is going to take us awhile to decide on a name for this little man. Both Andrew and Jack have strong Biblical names, and each has a family name as well. I kind of want to carry on the same pattern for this little guy, but so far nothing is clicking. Oh, well, we have a few more weeks to decide!
So, that is our life right now! It is full, but sooooo much fun!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Almost-Midnight Ramblings

I am usually asleep well before 10:30. However a two hour afternoon nap and a very active unborn babe has my mind rambling at this late hour.
This weekend was our "calm before the storm." June looms ahead as our busiest month of the year. In a month of 30 days our family will be busy with the following activities:
Mommy's doctor appointments
Five eye/doctor appointments for Jack
Eye surgery for Jack (scheduled for June 10)
VBS at Germantown Hills Baptist Church (June 14-18)
GARBC National Conference in Schaumburg, Illinois (June 21-25)

I will be using this week to get organized with a cleaning plan and a monthly menu in place for our busy month.

The good news is that by the end of this month I will be within 10 weeks of my due date. So, maybe a busy month will make the days go quickly before I get to meet this precious little guy.

In the meantime, just thinking about our upcoming craziness is working to make me sleepy.

G'night, all!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

My Greatest Gifts

Today I am once again reminded that God has given me the humbling privilege of rasing these little men.


Jack and Andrew, I am blessed beyond measure to be your mommy. I thank God for both of you, and I desire above all else to lead you and draw you both closer to Him.
Thank you for bringing me smiles and laughter, and thank you for making this day the best Mother's Day ever, just because you are here with me.
And, to our little boy yet to come, I look forward to meeting you in person, but for now know that Mommy and Daddy have already fallen in love with you. We are already praying for you, just as we pray for your big brothers.
I love all three of you dearly!
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Monday, May 03, 2010

Action Figures and Cupcakes

I have learned the hard way to watch where I am stepping at our house. Case in point:

And, it looks like we will have lots more action figures to watch out for in our future,

our newest little cupcake is DEFINITELY BLUE!
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Edited to add: These cupcakes are blue, even though they look green in this picture!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Body during Pregnancy Update!

Today marks the twenty-two week milestone for me! Praise to the Almighty that my blood pressure is still within the normal range.

On the baby front, this little one is active. Very active. Waking me up at 3:00 in the morning active. I don't ever remember being awakened this early in either of my two previous pregnancies, but I really am enjoying these early morning chats with my little one!

It is a precious comfort to me to feel the little pokes and jabs. I often find myself wondering, "Is that a foot? a hand? does this baby have the hiccups?!?" During those moments, I take great comfort in Psalm 139 and know that God is continuing to form this little one into the person that God wants him or her to be.

Speaking of him or her, Monday is the big day. I am not yet counting down the hours, but boy am I tempted to start! I am so excited to find out the sex of this baby! Everyone is teasing me that I am hoping for a girl, and I must admit that I am bookmarking a ton of online tutorials for baby girl dresses, tights, and hair bows, just in case.

However, if this precious little early-morning kicker happens to be another boy, I will quickly begin focusing on the cute masculine fabric color choices at JoAnns and my favorite little quilting shop.

And how could I not be thrilled to add another little boy to these two cuties?

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Friday, April 16, 2010

A Little Less of Me

Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those about me, let me praise a little more.
Let me be when I am weary, just a little but more cheery,
Think a little more of others and a little less of me.

Let me be a little braver when temptation bids me waver,
Let me try a little harder to be all that I should be.
Let me be a little meeker with the brother who is weaker,
Let me think more of my neighbor and a little less of me.

Let me be when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery,
Let me serve a little better those who I am striving for,
Let me be a little meeker with the brother who is weaker,
Think a little more of others and a little less of me.

Let me be when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery,
Think a little more of others and a little less of me.

I know this song was written in the 60s, but the message means so much to me today. This weekend, I am speaking at a ladies luncheon on "The Tie That Binds Us." Can you imagine how much God could use a group of ladies who followed Philippians 2:1-4 and the words of this song?
May God truly give me a heart that strives to think a little more of others and a little less of me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Body During Baby Pregnancy Update!

In two days I will be exactly halfway through this pregnancy! In the last few weeks I have been trying to naturally keep my blood pressure under control, and it seems to be working! My average for the past week has been 122/75. That has been a huge praise!
This little peanut is starting to make his or her presence known, in more ways than one! While I love feeling all the little jabs and pokes, I must admit that I will be much happier when he or she decides to stop sitting on my bladder! :-)

We will find out what this little one is in a few weeks, and I am looking for a cute and fun way to share the news with family and friends. If you have any ideas, please pass them along!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Easter, Part Two




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Easter Fun, Part One




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Adventures with Andrew

Andrew: "I can't get this off my head."


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Daddy to the rescue!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mama Notes: For Pregnant Mamas: Body DURING Baby

Mama Notes: For Pregnant Mamas: Body DURING Baby
Today marks the beginning of week 17. I am feeling great, but I must admit that I am nervous for my blood pressure recheck this morning. I have been monitoring it at home since my appointment on Monday and my sentence of house arrest (aka bed rest). For the most part, my bp stays within the normal range, as long as I am sitting and relaxing. However, last night I fixed dinner and then went to church. When I got home my b/p was 155/109. Not good. Not good at all. It took a good fifteen minutes of laying quietly to get it down to a normal number.
This morning I was reminded by my precious niece of Psalm 61:2. I will cling to that verse today as I head back to the doctor's office at 11:00.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mmmmmm . . . Cinnamon Rolls!

As a teen, my mom spoiled my family with hoomemade sourdough bread. This bread is lightly sweet, and it makes wonderful cinnamon rolls. After I got married, I followed my mom's tradition and made her sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls. I received many rave reviews, and never imagined a better recipe. That is, until I came across this recipe.

Pioneer Woman's.

They are out of this world, and the dough works really well as dinner rolls as well.
Make some Saturday afternoon to have for breakfast on Sunday.
That is, if they last that long!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

House Arrest

Well, it appears that I am on house arrest until Thursday.

Not a good sign when I am only 16 weeks along!

My blood pressure was 144/102 at the doctor's office yesterday. (YIKES!) The good news is that it went down right away (within ten minutes of laying on my left side it was down to 133/84). The bad news is that this is the second time that my blood pressure has skyrocketed at the doctor's office (last time it was 180/80, but then went down right away to 132/74).

I have been monitoring my blood pressure at home regularly, and while I do have periodic high spikes (around 150/90), most of the time it is within the normal range that they want.

So, until Thursday at 11:00 I am on "limited bed rest" (which feels more like house arrest to me). We will see what my doctor says then.

In the meantime, I am trying to look on the positive side and do all of the things I can do while laying down. (Who knew a person can fold laundry while laying on her left side?!?!)

To help me stay on the bright side of things, here are my goals for the next few days:
Hopefully I can get caught up with our church's Bible reading plan!
I can finish the book I started a week ago!
I can organize my recipes! (Something I have been meaning to do in the last three months!)

Those are my lofty goals. We will see if I can accomplish them!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sewing Update

Well, the skirt is cut out, but I had more pressing matters to work on first (as in VBS deadline and a pair of pants that fit my belly).
I did manage to remake my jeans that were on the way to the thrift shop.
I started following a tutorial I found online, but quickly deviated to my own idea. I really like having jeans that fit my ever growing tummy and yet still feel like "my jeans."

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So, these are the finished products. They are really low, which I like because then I have no crazy high rise pant waist covering my belly. They also do not fall or slide.
Now, after I finish my skirt, I might take a look at a few of my pairs of capris. Maybe I can remake them into maternity pants . . .

Friday, February 12, 2010

Future Sewing Projects

Once I get my machine back from her annual cleaning, I hope to begin my long list of sewing projects. Here are just a few of the things I am planning to make in the near future:

Cute, cute maternity skirt

Nursing cover

Baby sling

Yes, I hope to be able to finish these and a whole list of other fun projects before this little one arrives, Lord willing around September 7.