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Levi Gabriel Logsdon: the meaning behind the name

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Oh, man, I definitely feel for all the second children (and third, fourth, fifth, etc…) out there.  With all the blogging I did when I was pregnant with Jedidiah, this poor baby hasn’t had a shred of blog-time.  Going from one to two has kept me extremely busy!

So, our second baby… I was sure it was a girl.  Of course, then our gender reveal showed that we were indeed having another boy and I was stumped!  It had been so easy to pick out Jedidiah’s name… in fact, I think we had his name picked out long before babies were ever even in the works.  But this time around… I’m not sure if it was because of the exhaustion or because of how busy Jedidiah kept us… but it was just harder.  It wasn’t even that there were names that we didn’t like.  There were lots of names that we liked, but we just couldn’t find the name that was the one.

I think we finally named Levi at 36 weeks, deciding on Levi Gabriel just a day or two before our two surprise baby showers (that just so happened to be on the same day).  So here’s the significance behind his name…

Levi is a Biblical name.  Levi was one of the 12 sons of Jacob (who God later renamed Israel) and the descendents of Levi, the Levites, were the tribe of Israel that served as priests.  It was this tribe that was set apart for holy service to the Lord.

I too, want my son to be set apart for service to the Lord and I pray that he would never forget his true identity in Christ:

“For you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

The Levites took care of the temple, performed offerings and served zealously in the Lord’s house.  Although we are no longer required to offer animal sacrifices to atone for our sins, our lives have now become our sacrifice to our God.  I pray that my son would not be conformed to the ways of this world, but that he would continue to be set apart and molded and guided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God at work in his life.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

Lastly, the Levites did not have any inheritance other than what was provided by the tithes brought in by the other 11 tribes of Israel.  God was their provider and he was their inheritance; He was their portion and their strength.  I pray that my son would not rely on anyone or anything other than his creator to fulfill, sustain and provide for him in his life.

“The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites” Numbers 18:20

Gabriel, his middle name, is also Biblical.  Gabriel was a prominent messenger in the Bible and has been considered one of the seven archangels based on extrabiblical texts.  The name Gabriel means “man of God,” and as an angel he was a “messenger of God.”  He was the one who bore the good news to Mary about the coming of Jesus and to Zacharias about who John the Baptist would be.  He was a bearer of good news!

So Levi Gabrielone who is set apart as a man/messenger of God. May he always and unashamedly declare the good news of God’s grace, love and mercy!

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Levi’s birth: A photographic journey

Levi’s birth: A photographic journey

So if you haven’t read my actual birth story, here is where you can find the narrative.  Below you will find a photo diary of our sweet Levi’s birth.  I will let the photos tell the story for themselves!  Many thanks to Joy Crampton of San Antonio Birth Photography, Shelby Miller, my doula (Blooming Water Lilies), and Yi-Han, my Taiwanese “daughter” for these precious, precious memories!

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Posted by on June 25, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Levi Gabriel- a birth story

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Levi’s birth began early Sunday morning, 11 LONG days after my due date, with my water breaking.  I actually woke up to a gushing feeling at 5:34 am.  My eyes shot awake and I darted out of bed to the bathroom.  However, after going to the bathroom, the water stopped coming, so I thought, well, maybe it wasn’t my water breaking after all.  I was about 98% sure that it was a different feeling than peeing myself… but at this point in pregnancy, you just never know.  When my water broke with Jedidiah, the water just kept coming, so it made me second guess myself!  I put on an ever-classy pair of Depends flexi-fit underwear and after texting my midwife and doula that my water had *maybe* broken, I decided to try to go back to sleep.

About an hour later (6:39), I awoke again to the same gushing feeling.  Again, I rushed to the bathroom (even though I was basically wearing a diaper) and then walked to the shower to note the COAT (color, odor, amount, and time of the amniotic fluid) so that I could let my midwives and doula know.  It was all clear, which gave me the all clear.  I was certain this time that my water had broken, so I texted our birth team again and let them know that we would, indeed, be having a baby today!

At this point, I was too excited to go back to sleep, plus I was super hungry, and I knew that my 2 and a half year old would be waking very soon.  I went out and poured myself a bowl of homemade granola with milk.  I had nearly finished when my toddler woke up.  Since I was already up, I went to get him out of bed.  I told him as I got him out of bed that today was going to be the day that baby Levi would come!  Shortly thereafter, the contractions started.

6:54am- super mild contractions began, but by just after 7am, I started timing them (just to see where we were at).  I texted our families on a group thread and let them know that my water had broken and that contractions had just started to get under way.  Jedidiah’s Nana and Popo texted that they were getting ready and would be on their way over to watch him.

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Jedi was still eating breakfast and I began to have a bit of a heavier contraction- one that caused me to pause and breathe a bit more intentionally.  He looked at me, concerned, and said, “Mommy, you okay?  You okay, momma?”  It was very sweet, his concern for me.  I told him that I was having a contraction.  “A contraction?” he asked.  I told him that the contractions were how I knew that baby Levi was coming.  He seemed satisfied with that answer and went back to eating his Cheerios.

Then I went to go wake Trent up.  I wanted to let him sleep as long as he could… after all, I didn’t know what we were in for as far as labor time would go. I wanted him to be as well-rested as he could possibly be!  I went in at around 7:50 or so, and then let him know that my water had broken and that things were starting to get rolling!

It was about that same time that the contractions started becoming much more rhythmic and were coming about every 5 minutes.  When I look back at my tracking, I see some longer gaps between contractions, but most of those times, I hadn’t recorded a contraction in between.  They were lasting from about 30-45 seconds, but weren’t really intense yet.

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2nd contraction

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Trent got up and began inflating the birthing tub.  Jedi played in it for a while (which was okay because we used a liner for the actual birth).  He had his snacks in a cup and his show on and he was happy as a clam!

Then Nana showed up and I retreated to the bedroom.  I turned on my birthing playlist, got the diffuser going (with Peace and Calming essential oil), and turned on my salt lamp.  I labored for the most part standing at the edge of the bed, leaning over my birthing ball, which was on top of my bed.

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Trent came back to check on me several times and then made the (very smart) decision to call Shelby Miller, our doula.  She hadn’t seen our texts yet so we quickly briefed her on all that was happening (and later were scolded for not calling as soon as my water broke).  She had asked how I was coping so far and I told her that I was still doing okay, but I knew she had about a half-hour to 40 minute drive to get here, and that I would need her by the time she arrived.

Not too long after, my midwife, Nikki, called to see how I was doing.  I was mid contraction when she called- she told me to put the phone down so she could listen and then pick it back up when it passed.  I had two contractions during our short phone call, and as we hung up, she told me that she was getting ready to head my way, just in case.

Shelby arrived at a pivotal moment, right as things were intensifying yet again.  She came in for one contraction, talked me through it, then I had to pee, so I got up to go the toilet.  I had barely sat down before I got really nauseous and did a quick flip around so I could vomit.  Shelby came in with a cool towel with peppermint oil and wiped down my face and neck and told me that, although it didn’t feel good, it would really help things keep moving.  After that, things are kind of a blur.  I didn’t make it out of the bathroom very far before the contractions started coming in waves.  They were getting VERY intense, and I sincerely mean this… without Shelby there, I would not have coped well at all!  She reminded me how to breathe and helped me to “sink into” each contraction.  She reminded me to let my body relax so that the contractions could do their job and to envision my baby moving down to meet me.  I stayed there by the side of the bed for contraction after contraction.  Often they came without much of a break at all between them… sometimes it was 10 seconds, sometimes it literally felt like one ended and another began immediately afterwards.  I do remember one time where there was like a minute break and I turned to her and said, “Gosh, I finally feel like I got enough of a break to catch my breath.”  And then it picked right back up.

At this point Nikki had arrived (a little after 10am).  She had Trent and the rest of the crew getting the birthing pool filled up and she was listening to baby’s heart tones.  I don’t remember much, but I do remember overhearing Nikki tell the guys out front that they had forgotten to put the liner in before filling it up, so they were busy scooping out water so that they could fill it appropriately.  Nikki asked me if I thought I could give her a urine sample, so I went back to the toilet and tried to pee… but these contractions were SO INTENSE!!!  Shelby was right by my side and told me, as much as I’d want to fight it, that I needed to really sink into the toilet with these contractions.  She was right… there was nothing I wanted to do less than to sink into these extremely painful moments, but it really did help move things along!  All of a sudden, the contractions started feeling different and I realized that baby was crowning.  I think at this point, I was involuntarily pushing.  Anyways, I REALLY didn’t want to have this baby on the toilet, so I asked to move to the birthing pool.

Little did I know that it wasn’t ready yet.  They had been filling it, but with HOT water, since the hot water usually runs out and then it’s easier to fill it up with cold water at that point.  So Nikki and Shelby walked me out to the living room and I basically posted up against the couch while everyone else was trying to get the water temperature right.  At this point I was literally dripping sweat, and my legs and arms were shaking from the intensity.  Again, I involuntarily pushed, and I remember both Nikki and Shelby coaching me to let him out gently.  So I tried to reign it in and do little pushes.  I still couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t in the pool and I was near tears in asking, but I said, “Can I PLEASE get in the water?  I REALLY want to be in the water.”  I think everyone thought I was crazy at this point.  Baby was already out to his eyebrows and ears (but of course I didn’t know that) and truthfully, I don’t think anyone thought I’d physically be able to climb in the pool like that.  But Nikki said, “I try not to ever tell my momma’s no, so if you feel like you need to get in the pool, you can try to get in.”  Well, apparently I was bound and determined to finish pushing in the water, because (with Nikki making sure his little face didn’t come out) I climbed into that pool like a boss.  It still wasn’t full, but I was able to kneel in the water and lean over the side.  Then I pushed again and I heard Nikki tell Trent to “keep pulling,” and then he was out!  Levi arrived at 10:37am.  I don’t even know how I was as calm as I was, but I just turned around and reached for our baby boy!  Trent was able to catch him and he passed him into my arms.  We sat in the water for a while, talking to and admiring our little Levi.

I had realized, while up against the couch, that our birth photographer had not yet arrived.  Joy walked in the door about 4 minutes after he was born, absolutely mortified that she had missed the birth, but she was still able to get photos of us with him in the tub.  We stayed there for a few more minutes and then Nikki wanted to get me back to my bed.  So we all got up.  Trent held Levi (who was still attached to me via umbilical cord) and the ladies helped me walk/shuffle down the hallway to my OWN bed, and crawl in.  They put baby back on my chest and let us have some time to bond.  We let the cord pulsate until it was completely finished and then delivered the placenta.  Joy took some pretty cool photos of him still attached to it and then Trent got to cut it.  Then I nursed baby Levi for the first time.

In all the hustle and bustle, I hadn’t realized that Jedidiah was still outside playing with Popo.  Nana told me that he kept asking to see me, and that they were trying to keep him distracted, but he didn’t even KNOW that his baby brother was here yet!  I wanted him to meet his baby brother, so Trent went out and brought him in.  At first I think Jedi was just overwhelmed with all the people in our tiny bedroom (2 midwives, a doula, a photographer, Nana, Yi-han, Trent and myself), but then I told him that his baby brother was here.  It took him a minute to take it all in, but I saw his little lips turn into a shy smile.  He climbed right up in bed with us and looked at his baby brother.  He was so proud!!!  I’m so thankful that Joy was able to capture some of the tender moments between Jedi and his baby brother!

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After I nursed, I let the ladies do all of their weighing/measuring/testing.  Trent held the scale as they measured baby Levi at a whopping 9 pounds 14 ounces!!!  I guess that’s what being 2 weeks late will do to you!  He had plenty of time to fatten up!  He was 22 inches long and he was 14.5 cm at his head, shoulders and waist!  No wonder Nikki told Trent to “keep pulling” as he was coming out!  Normally, once you get the head out, the baby just kind of slips out… but when he’s long and the same size all the way through… I guess you gotta keep pulling!

All in all, once my contractions started, my labor was 4 hours long (5 hours from when my water broke).  I was never checked to see dilation, my midwives and doula could tell what stages of labor I was in just from listening to me and watching me.  Despite having a very large baby, I had no real tearing (two super small tears that didn’t need any repair and are already back to normal).  And, even though it was very intense, I am SO very happy with my birthing experience.  My birth team was amazing… EVERYONE was amazing!  Joy, despite being horrified that she arrived late (she’s NEVER missed a birth), captured all of the most important moments (and everyone else on their cell phones captured the rest), and I can’t wait to do a separate photo blog post when I get all of the birth photos back from her!

 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Getting ready to birth at home

This pregnancy, we decided to have a home birth.  There were a lot of factors that went into our decision, but honestly, we had a really good experience with Jedidiah’s birth at the New Braunfels Family Birth Center and that gave us the confidence to try this time at our home.

We changed midwives this time around.  We loved our midwives last time- Amber and Galyn were both amazing!  But my mother-in-law had sent me an ad that she’d seen in the newspaper for Ms. Nikki McIver Brown, and she had her own practice out of Garden Ridge, which was closer to our home than New Braunfels had been.  That was more convenient for us for our prenatal visits.  I also had a good friend who was pregnant who was using Nikki and loved her!  We decided to set up an interview and see how things went!  When we met her, we really liked her.  She is a certified nurse midwife (CNM), which is a step above a regular midwife.  She has many years of experience, both in the hospital and then in her own private practice.  She has great relationships with the doctors/nurses/staff at the hospital in which she previously worked, which gave us some peace of mind should a hospital transfer become necessary.  The only catch… she only does home births!  That was one of the factors that influenced our decision.  If we decided to use Nikki, we were doing this thang at home!

But more than that, we just felt comfortable and empowered to be able to do it at home.  We took amazing birthing classes (for the second time) taught by Ms. Shelby Miller and we felt like we were ready to take this step.  And like I said, our experience at the birth center was great (minus the drive there and having to leave to go home afterwards).  We figured that this time, we’d cut out the traveling to and from, and just stay put, in the comfort of our own home, where Jedidiah can play while I labor and we have everything else we could possibly need right here!

Speaking of everything else we need… preparing for a home birth is a bit different than preparing for a hospital or even a birth center birth.  Nikki gave us a list of things we’d need to have on hand for the birth itself, for me afterwards and of course, for the baby.  We packed everything into a big bin, and ordered a separate birth kit that has everything that Nikki would medically need for the birth as well as some things for me after he’s born.  At our 37 week visit, Nikki came to our house and brought along the birth pool, which we will inflate ourselves when labor starts.  It is currently sitting in our living room, along with all the other necessities.  I personally love the bucket- “Let’s do this!”  AMEN!

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There are other perks to being able to create your own birth space.  I have my birthing play list ready on both of our laptops- one stationed in the living room (where the birthing pool will be set up) and the other one in our bedroom, where I hope to rest and send some of my early labor.  It is a bunch of worship songs that will hopefully focus my mind and spirit on the task at hand.  Labor is such a spiritual experience!  There are also candles (both real and fake) that are ready to be lit in different areas of our house to create a nice, dim lighting perfect for birthing.

I have a bulletin board in my room with some scriptures and affirmations and some photos of Trent, Jedi, both of our families and some of our very best friends.  I’m hoping that this will be a place I can go to refocus my energies.  DSC_0004

I also have an ultrasound photo of our little guy surrounded by a snow globe containing a photo of his great grandparents, who we lost earlier this year.  It gives me some peace knowing that they probably already know this little guy and are giving him some sound advice and wisdom for when he arrives.  On the other side of the snow globe is a photo of my parents, who live in Minnesota and won’t be present for his birth.  Also in that space is a special candle, which I made out of left-over shot glasses from our wedding 7 years ago.  They were our wedding favors, but they remind me of the love that made it possible for this little life to even exist!

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Also in our room, I have my Himalayan salt lamp and diffuser ready to rock and roll, next to a little journal where Trent and I write little “I love you because…” notes to each other.

There are other little spaces that are meaningful to me as well.  In our living room, there are several spots where we have created special reminders and memories.  On our TV stand, where Jedidiah often plays, are blocks that spell out Levi’s name.  Along with that is a photo frame that my mother-in-law made for me on my first Mother’s Day after Jedidiah was born.  It has a photo of us right after he made his appearance (we didn’t really have any good photos from his birth) and a verse from 1 Samuel 1:27 that says, “For this child I have prayed and the Lord has granted the desire of my heart.”  It reminds me that I’ve done this once before and that I can do it again!

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Hanging on our walls flanking our TV are two different collages.  The first is a series of little trinkets on little square shelves.  Not all of them are extremely impactful, but among them are a little army man from my dad (he loves to paint them and would always sneak them in my luggage when I would travel.  This one is Robert E. Lee, which ended up in my bags when I was making the big move to the “South” aka Texas), a “Best Parents” Grammy award, brought to us by Yi-han from her trip to Hollywood, and several trinkets from our travels to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico and the Bahamas (where we spent our honeymoon).  Of particular importance was our time in China, as it is a constant reminder that hard things are SO worth it!  God showed us his faithfulness time and time again while we were there and so these little trinkets are constant reminders that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

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On the other side is a sweet collage that Trent made me for our fifth anniversary with photos of different stages of our life together.  Some travels, our wedding, our birth announcement with Jedi and baby Jedidiah.  Below that is a tea set that we bought in Vietnam, and made an arduous trek (on motorbike) through a typhoon in the Philippines and still made it back to the US practically unscathed.  Behind that is a fan that Yi-han hand painted for us!  Then of course, are pictures of my two loves… Trent (back when we were first dating and still practically babies ourselves) and the other of Jedi when he was little!

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Last, we have a little reminder of one of our baby showers, the little stork cake-topper that was on top of our cake.  This reminds me that we are surrounded by people who love and care for us and who are excited to meet this little guy (whenever he finally decides to come).

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In addition to ALL of that, we had to prep some other things as well.  Our bed is covered in a plastic mattress cover (in case my water breaks) and then covered again with sheets.  We have all sorts of labor snacks prepared- some in the freezer, others in the fridge and some more out on the counter.  While in the hospital, you are not allowed to eat during labor; however, midwives encourage eating before, during and after labor.  Labor is like a marathon, you need all the fuel you can get!!!  I also made this homemade electrolyte drink that Jedidiah and I love (he calls it his “lemon”).  It was pretty easy and it has done a great job of keeping me hydrated.  If you want the recipe, I found it on https://www.carolinevencil.com/homemade-labor-aid/.

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So, all that being said, some people think I’m extremely “brave” for having a home birth.  Others think I’m coo-coo crazy.  Me, I just think that this is the best option for us.  I love the idea of freedom during labor- freedom to move around, eat, drink, and labor as I see fit, push when I’m ready, etc.  I love that when he’s born, we can climb right out of the tub and in our bed and rest.  I love that Jedidiah can be a part of what’s happening (to whatever extent that ends up being).

If you would, pray for us as we are SO READY to meet this little guy (40 weeks, 3 days).  Pray that this birth is quick and smooth and that there are no complications.  Pray that we can have little Levi right here in our living room and that everything will go well!

More to come when he’s finally here!

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

A year in review: 2017 with the Logsdons

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At the close of every year, I love to look back and reflect upon what this year brought- the good, the bad, the crazy…

2017 was a busy year for the Logsdons!

We rung in our new year in Minnesota with my family and have hit the ground running ever since!

Work

Trent is still working at IDEA Judson, where he is in charge of Special Education, RTI and 504.  As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he has also been working on getting his real estate license!

I am staying busy at home with Jedidiah, now 2 years old.  I’m teaching Spanish I and II on Thursdays for a national homeschool co-op.  I am still passionate about health and fitness and my job as a Beachbody coach.  This year Trent and I have teamed up to work for EF (Education First) where we match exchange students to host families and support them for the duration of their exchange year.  We’ve already had so much fun meeting all of these students from all over Europe and Asia!  We also help host monthly activities for the students and their host families.

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Travel

Unfortunately, in this phase of life- being a stay at home mom and living on a single teacher’s income, our travel summary isn’t quite as exotic as it used to be.  But we’ve still managed to go to some fun places together as a family!  We were in Minnesota at the beginning of the year as well as over the summer.  We always enjoy spending much needed time with the family!  fam silly

Having cousins close in age has also been such a blessing.  Jedi and Evie, although they don’t see each other often, just seem to pick up right where they left off.  They are sweet with each other, although very different.  And it was special (as it always is) to watch the two of them together this summer!

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While we were up there we were able to attend a Minnesota Twins game, which Jedidiah was absolutely enthralled with!  He absolutely loves baseball!

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Shortly after returning from MN, I headed off on a solo trip to New Orleans for the National Beachbody convention.  This was my first time away from my boys since Jedidiah was born… and for 4 days at that!  But it was much needed time to hang with my team of amazing ladies, renew my passion for life change, and recharge my battery.  I got to work out with the stars of the Beachbody workouts- Shawn T, Autumn Calibrese, Chalene Johnson, Joel and Jericho, Chris Downing <3… ahhhh, it was so much fun!  Total #fangirl right here!

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This summer also held a trip to Corpus Christi, to spend some time at the ocean. Despite a rough start (a flat tire on a 100 degree day), we all loved it! We stayed with our good friends and, in addition going swimming and playing in the sand, we got to take Jedidiah kayaking and fishing for the first time!  It was such a nice, relaxing trip!

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Big Changes

When we decided to work for EF (Education First), we also decided that we wanted to host an exchange student this year.  But, in our small little house, we weren’t sure it would be possible.  It certainly took some fandangling, but we ended up doing some renovations on the “man-cave,” which made it possible to move the office/music/storage/random stuff in the spare bedroom out there and open up a bedroom for us to use, well… as a bedroom!

In August, we geared up for the big change in our home and in our family as we welcomed Yi-Han, our exchange “daughter” from Taiwan, for the school year.  For the first week, we also had Clara from Germany stay with us.  We were able to show both of them around San Antonio and the surrounding areas.

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Yi Han has been such a wonderful addition to our family!  She is wonderful with Jedidiah and he absolutely adores her.  She is a huge help to me around the house and she has become Trent’s buddy for all the Spurs games.  She’s gotten involved in Student Council, is running the lights for theatre (and sometimes church), and helps us out at church.

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One of the biggest changes that came about for our family this year is that it not only grew by one teenager, but it will also soon grow by another baby!  Trent and I are expecting a baby boy in early May!

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Family

Trent and I celebrated our 6th year of marriage this year, and although we didn’t do anything major to celebrate, we did have a little fun reenacting some of our favorite wedding photos!  You can read about that here.

Jedidiah is our busy 2 year old that never stops moving and loves all things boy: cars, busses, trains, balls, jumping off things, bike rides, climbing, etc.

His biggest passion (currently) is baseball.  All he wants to do is hit the ball or throw it up and catch it in his glove.  We put his love of baseball to good use during our gender reveal for this new baby.  Jedi got to be the one to hit the special baseball filled with colored powder to let us know if baby #2 would be a boy or a girl.  After a few swings, we found out that it’s a boy!!!

gender coll

In March, we hosted my sister Christie and her husband Ryan and their daughter Evie over spring break this year!  We had such a great time just watching the cousins play together.  They enjoyed the San Antonio spring weather, and Ryan provided much needed expertise and help with our man-cave renovations!  It took all week, but the end result was totally worth it!

fam in sa blog

mancave renos

man cave finished collage

Other Activities

Trent and Angie are still very involved at Revolution church, the church they’ve called home for the past 5 and a half years.  They lead a small group, serve as prayer partners, greeters and I also help lead FPU (Financial Peace University).  We were just recognized this December as their volunteers of the month!  Oh, and we made it on TV in one of the Revolution Church ads!

rev collage

I have started attending MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) every other Tuesday, I watch my now 4th grade flower girl, Baylee, every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, attend Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) each Wednesday and I’ve been volunteering to watch the leaders’ kids at BSF once a month.

bay

Outings and such

Other than lots and lots of playdates, we have been intentionally going on at least one “family date” each month.  These “dates” have brought us to a great many places this year!  Also having Yi-Han here has forced us to get out and actually DO some of the things we’ve been talking about doing for quite a while.

Some of those things have been traditional “tourist” things, such as visiting the Alamo, walking along (and taking a riverboat along) the Riverwalk, seeing the Tower of the Americas, going to La Villita, River Center Mall, visiting the Missions, driving to Austin, etc…

Other things have been more exotic, such as going to the circus (where Jedidiah got to ride an elephant) or visiting Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, which is basically a hill-country safari in the middle of Texas.

wildlife ranch collage

One of the things that’s been on our bucket list for quite a while was going camping.  We bought a Texas State Park pass this year, on the recommendation of a friend, and we’ve already been so glad that we did!  We’ve been to Guadalupe State Park a couple of times, including once to see the solar eclipse.  We also went to Garner State Park (where we camped for 3 days), Lost Maples State Park, Enchanted Rock State Park and Padre Island National Seashore down in Corpus Christi.

guadalupe state parkGarner state park collageenchanted rock collage

Trent and I went on a couple of solo outings- I surprised him with a zombie escape room for his birthday.  That was tons of fun!  We also went on a hill-country winery tour with some of our best friends from China (who just happen to live in Austin, TX) and also joined them for a pirate murder mystery party.  We took a date day to Schlitterbahn, where we enjoyed the water rides, kid-free!  It was my first time going, and we had a lot of fun!  We also managed to score free tickets to the opera!  We saw “The Barber of Seville”… go figure-o (figero).  😉  We were also able to enjoy a night of comedy at Comedy Sportz.

dates

Additionally, we visited the Pearl Brewery and splash pad, Splashtown (a water park), the San Antonio Zoo, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, a friend’s strawberry farm, Landa Park, the Como Zoo (MN), Lake Nakomis, Lake Harriett, Chuck-E-Cheese, the Doseum, the Witte Museum, the Japanese Tea Gardens, the McKenna Children’s museum, the Asian Festival, a Star Wars convention, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and the Folklife Festival.

Races and Walks

Although no half marathons were in the cards for me this year, we did run and walk our share of 5K’s and such.  I ran the Chosen Super Hero 5K with Jedidiah in tow, Trent and I walked with Jedidiah in our yearly MS walk and even made the cover poster for their walk advertisement!  We’re practically famous!  We spent Martin Luther King Jr. day walking in the largest MLK walk in the country with some friends.  And finally, we did the World Vision Global 6K for water!

racesMLK walk6kforwaterOther noteworthy events

In August, I decided that after 7 years of long hair, it was time for a change!  I cut it drastically, but I’ve really enjoyed having short hair again!

hairs

Hurricane Harvey left us without power for a weekend in September.  Although inconvenient, we were thankful to have been spared from what more of South Texas and Houston experienced.  We passed the time making a fort, sitting on our porch and watching the wind and rain and spending time with family and friends that still had power.

hurricane

Another weather phenomenon- it SNOWED here in San Antonio for the first real time since 1985… 32 years people!  It was Yi-Han’s first time seeing snow and although it wasn’t Jedidiah’s first snow, it was the first time he’s enjoyed snow!  We all had a lot of fun building snowmen and making snowballs.

snow

All in all, 2017 was a year full of laughter, smiles, and family memories, of taking new risks, and enjoying new rewards.

Wishing your family a blessed, prosperous and joy-filled 2018!

PS.  If you’ve ever considered hosting an exchange student, let us know!  We’re always looking for great potential host families.  Also, if I can help you with your health and fitness goals, hit me up!  I may be preggo, but I’m still rocking that game!

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

That time we almost died… part 2

Again… sitting here as Hurricane Harvey has been making landfall, and I’m thinking of some of the crazy situations we’ve been in in our lives.  And this one just happens to have taken place in the Philippines…

So three years ago while we were teaching in China, Trent and I went on holiday to the Philippines.  We started on the island of Palawan- we rented a motorcycle and explored the island that way.  It was awesome.  I kind of felt like Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries!

 

moto

Our sweet ride

 

The countryside was absolutely breathtaking and we enjoyed seeing the mountains and the ocean and all the flowers and greenery.  scenery2

But that wasn’t all!  Between the vast expanses of untouched nature, we passed rice paddies, innumerable goats, basketball courts, schools and churches, and oh, so many friendly faces!!!

Oh, and did I mention water buffalo?!?!?  Yeah, like a million water buffalo.  In fact, for anyone who’s ever seen Veggie Tales… remember that episode of “Silly songs with Larry?”  Yeah, want to know what song was rolling through my head for almost the entirety of our trip?  You guessed it, “Everyone’s got a water buffalo!”  (if you haven’t seen it, look it up on YouTube before proceeding any further)

Okay, where was I… oh geesh, I digress.  Oh yeah, harrowing water experiences!  So we made it through most of our trip without incident.  We spent a lovely 2 days in El Nido, followed by a trip to Port Barton and then the final leg on that island… Sabang!  This is where we were going to see one of the new 7th wonders of Nature: The Subterranean River National Park.  It is considered one of the seven wonders right alongside the Amazon Rainforest/River, Jeju Island in South Korea, Komodo Island in Indonesia, Halong Bay in Vietnam, Table Mountain in South Africa and Iguazu Park in Argentina/Brazil.  It is an underground river more than 24 km long and boasts amazing limestone formations, impressive stalactites and stalagmites, and one of the largest cave domes in the world!  I was pretty psyched for this final stop before heading back to Puerto Princesa and moving on to Boracay.

However, the moment we left Port Barton, it started raining.  It rained and it rained, and it rained!  Thankfully, most of the dirt roads were at the beginning of this trip and we didn’t get caught in any terrible mud.  Anyways, we tried to cover our things as best as we could.  We donned our flimsy ponchos and helmets and hoped for the best!  It was supposed to be a three hour drive… but with the rain it took much longer.  We took things slowly to make sure we were safe.  cover up

We finally arrived and, although it shouldn’t have surprised us, we were saddened to find out that the park had closed because of the typhoon that was making landfall that day. In fact, they told us that another boat that morning had capsized, full of tourists!  That was enough for Trent to say- “forget it!  Let’s go!” Even so, I had still hoped we’d be able to do it.

puerto princesa

We stopped anyways to give our tired bums a rest and to get something to eat.  We wandered the beach for a few minutes and watched the dark, angry sky and the waves that crashed against the shore.  The red flag was up, meaning that it was a high hazard day, so we didn’t venture far.

beachcrazy weatherWe ended up stopping at one of the only little restaurant there and eating a quick lunch before heading back out on the road to get back to Puerto Princesa.  Our flight didn’t leave until the next day, but we didn’t want to be caught in the storm on our motorcycle without shelter!

sign

We continued on in the COLD, wet rain for a few more hours, stopping only occasionally for respite from the beating rain and freezing cold before arriving back in Puerto Princesa.

We quickly found a hotel for the night and started to strip down and unpack everything.  Although we had made an effort to cover what we had… I think EVERY. SINGLE. THING we owned was SOAKED (including our souvenirs from Vietnam on the earlier part of the trip).  This also meant that we didn’t have any dry clothes.  Not only that, but this particular hotel didn’t really have hot water for the shower, so we went from cold rain to cold shower to… nakedness.  We wrapped up in a towel and tried to get warm under the blankets (aka sheets) as best we could.  We laid out clothes and hung things wherever we could so that they could begin to dry.

drying everything out

We took to using a hair dryer to dry clothes and even to dry my Bible.  It had gotten soaked during the trip and I LOVE that Bible… it has YEARS worth of notes, thoughts and cross-references in it and I wasn’t about to let it die.  So I sat there on the bed, carefully blow-drying each individual page until the whole book was dry.  However, blow drying has the same effect on paper as it does on your hair… volume!!!  My Bible just about doubled in size!

Anyways, since the typhoon was coming, the next day’s air travel did NOT go as planned.  We arrived early in the morning for our flight, which got delayed (but not too bad) before we got to Manila (to go anywhere in the Philippines, you have to fly through Manila).

flightairport

But in Manila (where the typhoon was NOT an issue), we were delayed… and delayed… and finally cancelled.  There were no more flights going to Boracay Island that night.  So we were rerouted to Kalibo, another airport that was about a 2 hour bus ride away.  We arrived there around 8pm and then got on the bus (which the airline paid for, thankfully).  After a long, winding trip, we arrived at the port that would take us across the water to Boracay Island.  However, now it was not only dark (around 11pm), but the wind and the waves were CRAZY.

We walked out and watched our ship bob up and down and lurch left and right… and the ramp that was connecting the pier to the ship was swaying violently back and forth.  Trent and I looked at each other freaking out.  Was this a good idea?  Was this rickety little boat even going to make it across?  Would we die out here?!?  But on the other hand, where else would we go?  It was late at night and we had no idea what was around us… so we just decided to roll with it (quite literally).  Clutching our bags for dear life, we crossed over on that crazy ramp and got into the swaying boat.  Thankfully there were life jackets!  That made me feel a little bit better.  But after I already fell as I was walking to my seat (and another gentleman fell as well), I wasn’t super confident.  They weren’t even real seats… just benches that weren’t even secured to the boat!  Ay-yi-y!  Moments like these just make me pray harder… and that’s exactly what I did!  I prayed hard that God would get us to Boracay Island safely and that this little boat and it’s crew would be able to maneuver us on the crazy waves to get us there!

 

boat to boracay

Although this picture doesn’t capture the swelling of the waves, I promise it was CRAZY!

 

Long story short… we made it!  After that we still needed to take a rickshaw to our hostel, but we survived!  The next few days were crazy, windy and rainy, but we still very much enjoyed our time on Boracay Island.

crazy windWe didn’t let this damper our experience, we just let it be what it was, and wouldn’t you know… now it’s turned into a story.

Have you ever been caught in a typhoon?

 

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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That one time we almost died…

So as Hurricane Harvey is quickly approaching the southern Texas region, I have been reminded of several harrowing near-death water experiences that Trenton and I have shared.  So I figured, what better time to tell the stories than now (after the statute of limitations has expired)!

So, many moons ago, before Trent and I were even married, some mutual friends of ours invited us to go camping with them down by the Guadalupe River.  Of course, we decided to go.  So I borrowed my roommate’s tent, we packed a cooler, and headed down to the river.

We had a nice afternoon floating the Guadalupe, although as we were finishing, it started to sprinkle.  It continued to sprinkle on and off for a while thereafter.

It let up enough for us to cook dinner over the fire, and then it really let loose!  The heavens opened up and it POURED!!!  For hours and hours, we were all confined to our tents drowned out by the pounding of the rain, the peals of thunder and flashes of lightning.

We didn’t think much of it at first, after all, we’ve camped in the rain before… it gets a little messy and it proves to be a bit inconvenient, but it’s no big deal overall.  But as it continued to rain throughout the night, none of us could sleep!  The thunder was SO loud and the lightning was constant and we were actually scared.  We were surrounded by big trees and I kept envisioning one of them getting struck by lightning and falling on us.  That’d be a sad way to go:

Angie Settle (formerly): crushed by tree.  RIP…

Thankfully it didn’t happen that way.  It got later and later, but none of us could sleep.  Around 3am we were still up listening to the storm rage around us and were debating between ourselves whether we should stay in our tent or move to the car.  We quickly decided on the latter.  Although it wouldn’t offer superior protection if a tree fell on us, it had to be better than a tent!  We weren’t in the car for more than 10 minutes (listening to the weather) when a police car pulled up with it’s spotlight pointed at us.  Over the loudspeaker, the woman officer told us in no uncertain terms, “Leave or you could die.”  She said that a flash flood was going to be sweeping through the area, not to grab anything, but just to get in your cars and get to higher ground.  So… we listened!  We left everything where it was, and Trent and I (in our car) and Ana and Will (in hers) left.

By now it was getting closer to 5 in the morning.  We were hungry again.  Trent and I found a Denny’s that was open, so we stopped in for breakfast.  We ate and chatted, all the while the rain still pounded away.  We decided just to go back home and come back for all of our stuff later the next day.  So Trent dropped me off at my house and he went to his and we called it a day.

It wasn’t until later that we heard that not an hour after we left, a 20 foot swell had come through our campground, wiping away EVERYTHING that was there.  Ana and Will made it back before we did and texted us pictures of the campsite (or what was left of it).  There were picnic tables stuck in the tops of trees, there were scraps of tents and all sorts of other debris everywhere and there was nothing, I mean NOTHING left of what we brought.  Our tents, food, coolers, and all the equipment that we had was gone.  Where our tents had once been, there was a flipped over trailer that washed up from an RV park 500 yards up river (bottom left photo). One person even lost their life.  Scary stuff!!!  That could have been us had we chosen not to heed advice and high tail it outta there.  We are so thankful that we made it out alive!  Things can always be replaced, but people can’t!

PicMonkey Collagedestruction23

Ironically, before we stopped for breakfast, we had to fill up the car with gas.  The gas station we stopped at had some Bibles there.  Trent just happened to find one he really liked- the Living Water Bible… it’s the Bible he still uses to this day.  And it serves as a constant reminder for us to be thankful for God’s protection and provision over our lives!  It causes us to remember that our God is powerful and our God is faithful.  To this day, I am so thankful that that police officer came through and warned us, otherwise we all would have been swept away!  Not being from here (or from anywhere where flash floods are an issue), I had NO IDEA how dangerous they could be!  Lesson learned.  I now know what flash floods are and I know not to mess with them!

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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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