Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Katie's 6th Birthday Letter

At Chipotle for your birthday lunch
Dear Katie,

When Joshua's birthday rolled around, I realized that in the midst of first trimester haze, I neglected to write you a letter on your 6th birthday.

Now it's been over seven months since you turned six. I'm so sorry this letter is so late, sweet girl. I guess better late than never is still true.

It's crazy to me that it's been six entire years since I held you for the first time! I look at you and am daily amazed at how grown up you are. After mothering only very young children for so long, it's incredible to me that my daughter is old enough to have mature conversations. I love talking with you and hearing about what you have on your mind and what you think about the world.

You still have quite the strong will. It frequently gets you into trouble, but I believe that as the Lord continues to work in you, your strong will is a trait that will serve you and Christ's Kingdom well one day. Despite your strong will, you have such a soft and tender heart. You are quick to apologize sincerely when you've behaved poorly, and you're often very sweet and motherly with the boys (though you do your share of buggjng them too!).

It has been just precious to see you with your new baby sister. You are so excited to have another girl in the family and I can't wait to see the friendship between the two of you blossom as the years go by. Your reaction to the news at our gender ultrasound in May was just precious--you literally jumped up and down and cheered for joy as soon as you heard.

You are well on your way to completing first grade. Reading has really clicked for you and you've taken off! Truthfully, though, you'd much rather play outside than do school.

You've also become such a good helper around the house. You and your brothers clean up your room and the living room every day, and you have taken it upon yourself to clear and wash the dining room table as well. With a new baby in the house and Daddy working the hours he works, the extra help from y'all is such a blessing!

Since your birthday, you've lost three teeth and one more is about ready to fall out. You're concerned you look goofy, but I think you look adorable.

As most little girls your age, you are enthralled by all things princess-y. You still love playing with dolls. Despite being such a girly girl, you still love watching Superhero cartoons and playing cars, planes, and trains with your brothers. I think it's a good mix, personally!

Katie Lee, you are so precious to me. I love you more than you can fathom and I'm so blessed to be your mama, your teacher, and your friend. I hope the Lord will help me do better with all of those things as each year passes.

I pray that the Lord will see fit to grant you repentance and faith even now as a young child. May you serve Him faithfully all your days and teach many others to do the same!


Monday, February 16, 2015

Announcing Murch Baby #4!

We are expecting our fourth baby, due October 15, 2015! After battling with my health for many months and often wondering if I'd ever be healthy enough to carry another baby, I am truly overcome with joy and gratitude that the Lord has restored my health and opened my womb once again. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

My bump on Friday--at 5 weeks, 1 day

The Back Story (which contains some details probably only ladies would be interested in):

As I have mentioned previously, I started struggling with my health in a major way about a year and a half ago when I started having gallbladder attacks. I spent many months with no energy and frequently in severe pain. I had a hard time keeping up with basic household duties and caring for my husband and children. I was the recipient of much help, and by God's mercy, and with the help of a wonderful doctor, I am doing SO much better (and I do still have my gallbladder!).

Throughout the months of dealing with my gallbladder, I was still nursing Joshua (I realize I could have stopped, but I really didn't want to--a discussion for another day!). I was eating a diet of little to no saturated fat for many months and I lost a tremendous amount of weight. I also hadn't had a menstrual cycle since January of 2012 when I got pregnant with Joshua. 

Joshua weaned in September of last year and I went right into GAPS Intro. I had been doing the full GAPS diet for about 6 months and still had lingering issues with my digestion. Doing that made all the difference for me. I was able to eat animals fats liberally and tolerate them well for the first time in over a year--beef, eggs, chicken with skin, ghee. I also added nuts back into my diet. Finished with the intro, I was feeling really good. I was eating plenty of fat, carbs, and protein and not having any pain in my gallbladder! I gained some weight back and eventually had a cycle again about 4 months after Joshua stopped nursing.

During the months of feeling really bad, I had prayed that the Lord would close my womb until I was healthy enough to be pregnant, and for the first time I really felt like I was healthy enough. I was mentally prepared for it to take a while to conceive since my body had been through so much and since it had been so long since I had a cycle, but I truly wanted to be pregnant.

A few weeks after my period, I started to have some pregnancy symptoms, but I brushed them off as other hormonal stuff since I didn't want to get my hopes up. I was super hungry and drinking a lot more water, among other things. I tested at 28 days and it was negative. Same at 29 and 32. Then on the afternoon of Day 35 (at church, after the service--a little bit impatient!) I took another test and almost immediately there were two pink lines!

I am so thankful for this sweet babe. I'm tired and hungry and already feeling a bit round, but truly, I am SO thankful. With my other children, I never had to wonder whether I'd be able to conceive again. I think going through what I went through with my health and then praying that the Lord would restore my fertility and praying that He would bless us with another child has given me a whole new level of gratitude for the privilege of carrying new life in my womb.

"My soul doth magnify the Lord,And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden...
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation." ~Luke 1:46-50

Friday, January 9, 2015

Benjamin's 4th Birthday Letter

Dear Benjamin,

Apparently 2014 was my year for late birthday letters. Joshua's birthday letter was late and now I'm writing yours almost two weeks after your birthday. Hopefully I'll do better this year!

My sweet, sweet son, you are four! I can hardly believe it. You are such a joy to have in our family. You are so kind and sensitive. You respond quickly to correction and often apologize without being asked, which is a blessing to me. You love to snuggle with your mama and tell me often that you love me, and you still say "yuv" instead of "love" which is pretty sweet. I know you'll grow out of it someday, so I'll enjoy it while I can! You do have a little bit of a mischievous streak, though, and you just love to pester your older sister; you like to bug Joshua too, sometimes, but Katie definitely bears the brunt of it.

Sensitive though you are, you are still all boy to be sure. You love superheroes. Your favorites are Captain America, Batman, and Spider Man. You got hooked after we watched The Avengers together as a family this fall. You got action figures for Christmas and a Captain America dress-up outfit for your birthday. But of course, your love for cars hasn't lessened any and that's what you spend most of your playtime doing. You've rubbed off on Joshua and y'all have a great time playing cars together every day. He may actually be a little more obsessed than you are.

Of all my children, I think you are the neatest. You don't always clean up without being asked, but when I ask you to clean something, you pretty much always do a good job and you usually don't complain about it. You also concentrate really hard when you're doing something, whether it's organizing your cars or putting a puzzle together.

You are very rarely at a loss for words.You talk a mile a minute to anyone who will listen, children and grown-ups alike. It's amazing to me how well my four year-old boy can carry on a conversation with an adult. You've always been ahead for your age with your speech and vocabulary, but it really took off over the last year. You also have a great memory. Over the past couple of months you and Katie have been memorizing Psalm 1 and you're doing such a great job with it!

In recent months, you have been asking me more questions about the things of God, expressing concern for your soul. You seem very soft to God's word much of the time and I'm so thankful you are thinking about these things even now.

The older you get, the more you keep looking like your Grandpa Dale. The resemblance is truly amazing. It makes my heart happy that you are named after your daddy and look so much like my daddy.

My sweet Benjamin, your smile makes my days so much sweeter. I am so grateful for the time I have at home with you being your mama. I so often fall short, but you just keep on loving me anyway. I am so thankful the Lord gave you to our family. I pray that you will be converted as a young child and be faithful to the Lord all your days, that you'll grow into a strong, godly man and lead a family in advancing Christ's Kingdom. May you be zealous in your love for the Scriptures and diligent in applying them to your life.

I love you so, so, so, so much, my son.

Happy birthday!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Joshua's Second Birthday Letter

Dear Joshua,

Tomorrow it will be a whole month since you turned 2 and I'm just now sitting down to write your birthday letter. I'm sorry it's late, sweet boy. Better late than never, I suppose!

Every year is a big deal when you're a child, but the change from 1 to 2 is truly astounding. You have gone from my baby boy to being one of the big kids and you just keep growing and changing. You are a really big boy. At your most recent check-up, you weighed in at 33 pounds and were in the 95th or higher percentile for all your stats!

In the last few months it's been so fun to see your vocabulary grow my leaps and bounds. Being able to communicate better with you certainly makes life easier for all of us. You are pretty hard-headed and have your own ideas about how things ought to be. The ability to communicate those ideas to us pleases you, and so often is a source of smiles and laughter in our home.

I think you are the most strong-willed of my children at this age, which is really saying something since Miss Katie certainly gave us a run for our money at 2! Behind the strong will, though, is a sweet, sweet boy who still loves a good snuggle with mama (at any and all hours of the day and night...*sigh*). Many times each day, you love to shower me with kisses and "yuh"'s, your sweet way of saying, "I love you." It is so precious!

You nursed longer than your brother and sister, making it until 23 months. I was sad for our nursing relationship to end, as I always have been, but it was time. And I am so thankful for the extra time we had! You sure did love your "wilk," and still occasionally ask about it. But, you're always happy with a cup of raw milk and don't really seem to miss nursing a bit.

You are a pretty good eater and have recently "graduated" from only cooked veggies to eating some salad too. It's not your favorite, but you'll usually eat it when I tell you to. Your favorite foods are probably bread, cheese, and milk.

If ever a little boy loved cars, you certainly do. Anything with wheels (including the vacuum cleaner and the bottom drawer in the dishwasher!) is immediately turned into a car, train, or truck in your mind and you get such delight from seeing vehicles when we go out. A plane in the sky gets you particularly excited. You literally spend hours every day playing with cars and will listen very intently to books about cars and trains--even really long ones!

Right after your birthday, we moved to a new house. That's largely why your birthday letter is late. The move was a lot of work! It was bittersweet to say, "Goodbye," to the house where you and your brother were born, but the move has been a good change for our family.

It has been fun to see you blossom this year from a baby to Katie and Benjamin's little side kick. I'm so thankful for the joy, sweetness, and laughter to add to our family. You truly are a gift from God, my sweet, sweet son.

We plugged your stats into a size predictor online this week and it estimated you would grow up to be 6'6". I know these toddler days, these days when your chubby feet follow me around and you beg me in toddler-speak to hold you again, these days are fleeting. Some day, you'll be all grown up. These days are precious, and even though they're often exhausting, I love them. And I love you.

Oh, how I love you!

My sweet boy, I have loved you since the moment I knew you were a little poppy-seed sized babe in my womb. You captured my heart when I first held you in my arms, and now two years later, I can truly say I love you even more now than I did then. My prayer for you on your second birthday is the same as it has always been. May you grow up to be a faithful man and serve Christ all your days. As your mama, that is my heart's greatest desire and my most important mission.

Happy birthday, Joshua.


Note: I wrote this some time ago (about a month), but didn't get it edited and posted until today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Gallbladder Saga (and how I ended up on GAPS)

Back in September of last year, I had a gall bladder attack. The next day, my chiropractor referred me to a naturopath, I did the cleanse she recommended, started taking some digestive enzymes, and went along my merry way assuming all would be well. Until I had another attack...and another...and another...and so on. Though I did have some improvement in that my attacks were less frequent, less severe, and shorter, after experimenting with diet and supplements (and repeating the cleanse 5 times) and continuing to have attacks, my naturopath recommended that I visit a licensed doctor.

I knew a conventionally-minded MD would probably just want to remove my gallbladder and that wasn't the route I wanted to go unless a life-threatening emergency presented itself. Yes, attacks are very painful, in some ways more-so than unmedicated childbirth. But, I'm convinced that in most cases the gallbladder is not the underlying issue and removing it may (or may not!) help with symptoms, but you'll be left still with a very compromised digestive system, which it was gets you to the place of gallbladder attacks in the first place. After a lot of research and phone calls, I found a DO [what is an osteopathic doctor?] about an hour and a half from me who was able to fit me in the following week. That was in November.

Now it's March and I'm still not completely better, though I am doing much better than I was. I am eating some fat with every meal (olive oil and avocados) and after taking a close look at my diet while I kept my fat intake very consistent for a month, we finally figured out that it was the type of carbohydrates I was eating rather than the type of fats that trigger my symptoms. This was not something I had expected!

With that piece of information, we were able to conclude what I stated before: my gallbladder is not the problem, but rather a compromised and dysfunctional digestive system that can't digest more complex starches. Those starches, in turn, sit in my stomach so that when I eat fat, my body needs extra bile to digest it because all the enzymes are being used to digest the starches, and then my biliary system goes into panic mode and I have an attack.

So, what next?

Enter: The GAPS Diet.

At my doctor's encouragement, I officially started the GAPS Diet today. Because I'm still nursing, I'm skipping the introduction and going straight to full GAPS, which is basically a diet consisting of lots of meat stock, meat (in my case lean chicken and turkey for now), vegetables, fermented foods, and after the first few weeks, fruit and honey, and then eventually fermented dairy products. No grains, no sweet potatoes or potatoes, no sugar/sucanat/maple syrup/etc, no beans except for lentils and navy beans. For 1.5 to 2 years. Challenging? Yes. But worth it if it works.

I have a whole host of autoimmune diseases in my family, and the more research I do, the more firmly I believe that autoimmune issues begin in the gut. Hopefully in addition to taking care of the problem I've been dealing with over the past six months, this GAPS diet journey will help me to avoid those.

For the curious, I'm not planning to put my family on this diet for now. My husband absolutely does not want to do it, and my children aren't showing any real signs of needing it right now. Hopefully it says that way. Thankfully, while I enjoy really good food, I don't mind terribly much eating the same thing several days in a row, so I plan to stay sane while cooking two sets of meals by making myself large batches of things and eating them over and over again. 

I think I'll keep a journal of sorts on here about the process, largely for my own records, but also because I know I enjoy reading that sort of thing on other people's blogs. So, if you care to stick along for the ride, you're more than welcome!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Goals for 2014: February Update

Thankfully, I was able to keep up with most of these goals for another month. I'm hoping to make some extra progress with a couple this month to make up for lost time!

Personal Goals

1. Read through The Quiet Place in the mornings-Done
2. Memorize Ephesians 1 and 2-Memorized 1:6-10
3. Read 12 books-I have completed three books so far
4. Wrap up my Family Herbalist Course and complete the first two modules of the Holistic Wellness Professional course.-Completed the first unit of Module 1

Marriage Goals
5. Go on one date per month-Done in February
6. Have one overnight stay sans children this year (this would be a first for us since our honeymoon!)
7. Write 12 love notes-None in February
8. Iron Ben's dress shirts every week-Still failing here.
Parenting Goals
9. Finish Kindergarten with Katie-We are making progress here.
10. Start preschool with Benjamin
11. Train the children to diligently help with chores-They are helping keep their room clean and helping with bathroom cleaning; want to work more on having them help with the living area
12. Memorize through Question 75 in the children's catechism with Katie and Question 20 with Benjamin-Making progress, though slower than I had hoped
13. Set aside at least one hour every week to just play with the kids-Done in February

Homemaking Goals
14. Establish a cleaning routine that works for me-Still enjoying The Confident Mom planner
15. Use Flava app on my phone and a notebook to keep track of milestones/funny things the kids say each month-Did not do much with this in February
16. Upload and organize our photos every month-Haven't done this at all yet.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Katie's 5th Birthday Letter

This is late! My sweet Katie turned 5 on February 26. But, better late than never, I suppose! :)

Dear Katie,

Five seems like such a big age--and yet here we are, on your fifth birthday. Time sure has flown since you emerged out of my womb and into this big world. You were the answer to my prayers and the fulfillment of my life-long dream to become a mama. As much as I loved you then, how much more do I love you now!

You are such a sweet girl, Miss Katie. I am touched by the way you love your brothers and help me take care of them (even though they do drive you completely batty at times!). You are becoming a willing helper to me around the house, which I really do appreciate! As I've struggled with some health issues in recent months, you have been so sweet and understanding, and showed a lot of maturity.

We started your formal schooling this school year and I think we've both really enjoyed it so far--even though some days you say it isn't fun anymore (like when you'd much prefer to be playing outside). You have recently caught on to reading and are doing great with small, simple books. Since you're my firstborn and my home school guinea pig, I find this progress very encouraging! When we started school, you absolutely despised handwriting, but over the weeks, you've worked at it and improved so much, and you don't complain about it nearly as much as you used to.

In addition to your reading easy readers, you have grown to love listening to me read chapter books, which I have really enjoyed after years of reading lots and lots of picture books! We've made our way through the first nine books in the Boxcar Children, three books in the Imagination Station series, and several other books as well. Pretty much every time we finish, you beg me to read, "just one more chapter!" You are also usually disappointed when we actually finish a book because you don't want it to be over. I think this is really cute.

Thanks to your Aunt Hannah's influence on you, for which I am very thankful, you have become extremely interested in art over the past several months. You are on your way to becoming quite the little artist, always drawing pictures and making cards for people you love. I may need to come up with a budget category for paper the way you go through it, but that's alright. It's worth it--especially if you end up teaching me to be an artist like you've promised. ;)

In addition to your love of art, you really have a love of all things beautiful. You save every lovely thing you come across and use it for a decoration on your night stand. Few things make you happier than fresh flowers and things that sparkle.

Almost all of your pretend play involves princesses in some way. You spend most of your time in dress-up clothes and always have an elaborate plot going on. Baby dolls almost always make their way into your playtime as well. Even though your playing preferences are decidedly girly, you manage to involve your brothers most of the time without emasculating them in any way. They are usually your princes or knights--and they frequently make appearances as bad guys as well.

As you've gotten older, you've also began to form some friendships with other girls at church. Most of them are older than you are, but you manage to fit right in with them and have a lot of fun together. This process as been really sweet for me to watch. You're not the least bit shy around other children and are quick to make new kids feel welcome.

Probably my favorite part of the last year has been the clear evidence I've seen of the Lord working in your life. You're so tender and quick to reform you behavior when I rebuke you with God's word. You are quick to apologize when you do something wrong, and you're full of questions about God and His word.

I pray that the Lord will continue to work in your heart and bring you to faith and repentance even as a young child that you may live all your days out in service to Him.

You are such a blessing to me, Katie, and I love you so, so much.

Happy birthday!