The winner is...

The panel of judges (Stacy's husband) has assessed the entries into the recent contest, and a winner has been determined.

Before we announce the winner, I want to thank all of you who participated, and give credit to those who did well.

As you know, we had a girl, our beautiful Audra Joy. The votes were exactly split on this one, so half of the 40 entries guessed this right, including our winner.

She was born on Sunday, February 22. Cutzi, Fletch, Duckygirl and Kimmie all had this right. Guessing only one day off were Lucy, alittlelife, Micah, Quinne, Michelle, Helen and EEEEMommy. We'd like to give thanks to Fletch for making this happen on a Sunday, because in his guess he noted that the 22nd was "a day of rest..."

That mango-munchin' Fletch also guessed that our baby would be born at "10AM (typical time for morning worship)." He was way off, but we did think of him when Stacy and I were standing in the church foyer (the kids remained in the sanctuary) at 10 a.m., trying to figure out if Stacy's water had just broken. It had.

Audra Joy was actually born at 9:05 p.m. Our dear friend Amy, who was with us during the birth (THANK YOU AMY!) guessed the closest. (No wonder she was saying "You can do it!" around 9 p.m.) The next closest was Duckygirl (8:53), followed by Hilary and Camee.

Audra Joy came into this world weighing 8 lbs, 14 oz. Here, the judges want to give a shout out to Beverly, who guessed this exactly right. This was the most impressive single guess in the contest. Angie and Jodi were 1 oz. off. Others who were within 4 oz. were: Hilary, Iowa Birdie, Quinne, Michelle, Angie, Duckygirl, Angela, mom of 3..., Sandi and Charlotte. A majority (70%) of the guesses were too high. We were also surprised at how "little" our bundle of joy is.

So... after tallying your votes using our secret scoring system, we're pleased to announce that the winner, with 26 points, is Duckygirl. Congrats. Well done. To claim your much-deserved prize, please email Stacy about which you'd prefer (Amazon or Starbucks). The second place finisher is Hilary, with 20 pts. No prize for you, Hilary, except for the fact that you live close enough that you will actually get to see and hold our sweet Audra Joy, which is priceless.

Again, thanks to all for participating. Once Stacy gets time and energy, she will post the entire birth story, with pictures.

And on a final note, the judges would like to say what an incredible, unbelievable, superb, astounding job Stacy did in carrying this baby and bringing her into the world. I am in awe; and forever and deeply grateful.

- Mark


...the newest little member of our family:

Audra Joy

I'll fill you in on all the details later, and we'll announce the contest winner soon.

For now, this mama needs some rest. We are just home from the hospital, and we're settling into home life. Our beautiful Audra is sleeping next to me in our bed, and I have promised Mark that I will join her in sleep just as soon as I finish typing this.

Blessings to each of you from this happy mama...

Happy Birthday, Adelia!

I hope to post Adelia's birthday letter soon. After I write it, that is. [I'm still finishing up Ella's, and her birthday was nearly three months ago!]

...So for now, just a picture of Adelia enjoying her birthday cupcake.

Due date. And an update.

I know some of you are faithfully checking in to see if I've had this baby yet, so let's go ahead and get that news out of the way first.

I haven't.

Today is my due date, though, so I had a doctor's appointment this morning. I'm only dilated to a "1" (that's usual for me at 40 wks) and nothing is happening. [I mean, other than the fact that this little sweetheart just really likes his or her home God created for this season and is perfectly happy to stay put. And I love that.]

We scheduled an induction for Friday, February 27th-- unless this baby decides to come out sooner than that, and if the childbirth rooms aren't full that particular day.

I'll keep you posted on any further developments.


Oh! ...Just a reminder to those of you who have not yet entered the baby contest...

Go here, leave a comment, and consider yourself entered!

Verse #4

Verse #3: Memorized.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Now I'm on to Verse #4, which is:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

As for the Bible reading plan? I'm a few days behind at the moment (and this is not even the first time I've been a few days behind in the past 17 days!), but I'm hanging in there and determined to keep reading and get caught up!

Are any of you still memorizing? How's it going for you?

Things I want to remember about this pregnancy

We found out we were pregnant on our anniversary getaway- in Canada.

The pregnancy test I took was confusing: the results it gave us were not pictured on the box or pamphlet: (super dark first line, nonexistent second line).

The news of this pregnancy was a direct answer to prayer. And a miracle. (Like all of our children have been.)

I felt stunned for the first several weeks (months?) Just a happy wonderment of, "Really?"

During that first trimester I went to sleep really early. Like 8pm early.

I've also wondered aloud at times to God, "What were You thinking?" (Especially due to challenges with our child-with-special-needs, and my being already so taxed with that every day, and then Adelia... so little; a baby herself.) But I trust that He knows *exactly* what He's doing. He does all things well.

People audibly gasp (or say stupid things) when they discover this is our fifth child.

We love it that this is our fifth child.

I was sick the first trimester. No throwing up (thank you, Lord!), but I didn't eat much, lost weight, and nothing sounded good. [Even ice cream, which is saying an awful lot.]

I've craved apples nearly every day of this pregnancy. I must have apples in the house. Gala apples.

I've also craved slushy, icy drinks. (Those Arctic Rushes at DQ? The old "Mr. Misty"? Those. And virgin margaritas. Lemonade blended with ice. Anything with blended ice.) During the summer I had several snow cones.

I've also had heartburn or acid reflux during this pregnancy. Never had that before. Taking TUMS every other day or so... eating smaller portions, gaining less weight. And feeling slightly crabby that I haven't gotten to take advantage of the "Eat whatever you want and as much as you want!!! You're eating for two!" mantra that I've so happily embraced during my previous two pregnancies.

I think it's a boy.

Mark thinks it's a girl. (Mark is usually right.)

It was really hard for us to settle on a girls' name this pregnancy. We had decided on one, and then around month 7 we both decided we didn't want that name, so began the search all over again.

Ella officially chose our girls' name.

It was much harder choosing names this pregnancy because all of our kids had an opinion, too.

I feel old this pregnancy.

And uncomfortable- in the evenings, especially. I can't sit comfortably, I feel like I'm constantly short of breath, my back aches... etc. [I don't remember these things in my other pregnancies.]

I feel complain-y in the evenings. Mark assures me that I'm not, but I feel grumbly about my discomfort. And then I immediately feel guilty because I am truly SO thankful.

My heart continues to ache for those who want so much to be pregnant and are not.. yet.

The time has gone by quickly. (Must be the four other little ones running around the house!)

I have been tired throughout this pregnancy. Every trimester.

Adelia has loved bouncing on my stomach.

Isaac, when saying "goodnight" or talking to baby, usually speaks to my boob. Which makes me laugh every single time.

Ella tells me I'm cute a lot. Which I love.

I love buying-- and wearing-- maternity clothes. And I can't remember what clothes I used to wear before switching to these ones.

I have worn the SAME pair of jeans nearly every day of this pregnancy. I have other maternity pants, but... this particular pair of jeans was so comfy that they were always my first choice. It's all about comfort for me.

So far --39 weeks-- no new stretch marks!

My belly button has never poked out before.

Mark is a wonderfully indulgent husband: late-night trips to the grocery store, back rubs, foot rubs, happy to let me get an entirely new wardrobe of clothes at Motherhood Maternity, wonderfully attentive and supportive.

I'm genuinely excited about delivery. Bring it on.

I'm so glad we haven't found out the gender. I so look forward to that surprise in the delivery room!

My wedding ring still fits.

This baby is REALLY active. REALLY. Mark says he can see it moving around more than he was able to with our other two.

Video link

My dear friend Michelle is home from Ethiopia. She posted a video on her blog with photos from their trip.

And the faces and voices of the children? So beautiful your heart will ache. Mine did.

Go see for yourself.

39 weeks and a contest!

*updated with photos

One of the best parts of pregnancy- especially at this stage- is playing the guessing game: Is this sweet one a boy or a girl? Will I deliver late? Will I need to be induced? How big will this baby be? Who will this little one look like? What color hair will he or she have?

So, indulge me if you will, by participating in our Baby Contest. Here's what you get to do:

Guess the following four outcomes about our baby:
1) birth date [My due date is officially February 19th, but read the rest of this post before you make a guess on this one!]
2) time of birth
3) weight
and last, but certainly not least:
4) boy or girl?

To help you out, here are the stats on our first two babies:
Ten days late
12:12 pm
9 lbs, 9 oz

Eight days late
9:51 am
9 lbs, 10 oz

To enter, just leave a comment with your four guesses. Please make sure to leave your name! The prize will be a $15 gift certificate to Amazon or a $15 Starbucks gift card. Winner's choice.

Happy guessing! I can't wait to see all of your responses!

Homemade doughnuts: first attempt

One of Ella's birthday gifts this past December was this cookbook, right here:

What I've learned is this: the thing about getting a cookbook for your daughter is that she will want to cook all sorts of things from said cookbook.

I keep putting her off with comments like these:

Oh, yes, honey... let's make that sometime.

Why don't you write down the ingredients and mommy will try to get those at the store one of these days? (Knowing full well that the list will likely never get completed, and if it does, she will likely forget about it. I know. I'm awful.)

This morning I was giving Adelia her morning bottle, listening to Isaias play at the kitchen table, and waiting for Isaac to wake up. We were all in our pajamas. And then Ella plopped down next to me and began thumbing through The Dreaded Cookbook.

I knew exactly what was on her mind.

And please note: I refer to it as "dreaded" not because it's not a wonderful cookbook (It really is wonderful!) Rather, because at this stage of my life, breakfasts at our house consist of three options:
1. cold cereal. USUALLY, it's cold cereal.
2. Costco muffins.
3. little packets of oatmeal.

Basically, the less fuss, the better.

Just as I'd feared, Ella asked: "Mommy, can we make something for breakfast from my Little House Cookbook?"

I groaned inwardly, and my first thought was: "But we have Costco muffins in the house!!!"

But my desire to be a fun, creative mama (even at 9 months pregnant) topped even the Costco muffins. I asked her what she had in mind. She began earnestly looking for recipes.
---"Codfish Balls?"

I am not even joking.

I laughed, then realized that she was completely serious. (She doesn't know what those are. Well now. As a matter of fact, even I do not know what those are.) She had simply read aloud from the first page she flipped to. And I think she was a might desperate to take advantage of my apparent willingness. See, we've made NOTHING from this cookbook-- nearly 3 months after her birthday.

So I asked, "Ummm...Isn't there a breakfast-section?"

Finally she began reading off some other options. My ears considerably perked at the "Doughnuts" option.

I agreed to try them. Until I saw that the recipe called for LARD. (Something we don't happen to have on hand, EVER.) I quickly tried to think of a substitution for the lard. (Shortening? Oil?) I even looked in the back of the book for a list of substitutions. There were none. So I took over and began to look for another recipe. One recipe I skimmed also listed "lard" but then noted: "You can substitute butter for lard." Aha!

So we waited for Isaac to wake up, donned our aprons, and began making the doughnuts Almanzo's mother made him.

Here they are, in process:

And here are our first few, done. You might be thinking we got creative, there, with those darker doughnuts. Cinnamon? Chocolate? Oh, no. Those are just burnt. Or over-cooked. Whatever. The butter got too hot (seems you need a candy thermometer for making doughnuts. Something I had read but thought I could manage without), and I ended up having to toss that batch of heated butter out. And begin all over again with new butter. (We're talking 2 lbs of butter, here- that these doughnuts need to boil in. Which is (ahem) A LOT of butter.)

But just look at how much fun they're having, sprinkling powdered sugar on these doughnuts!!

Best part? They tasted good. Even for a first attempt. But I may invest in a candy thermometer for future attempts to avoid our little overheated-butter-mishap. (Although I'll have you know: the "burnt" ones did get eaten, every last one of them. The undercooked ones ALSO got eaten, by the way.)

If anyone is wanting the recipe, let me know. I'll post it later.

Apparently we have another Settler's fan in the house

{My fault entirely. Instead of putting the game away in the hallway game closet, I set it on the floor in FRONT of the closet. (Sometimes I'm afraid to open the door lest a game or puzzle might topple out.) Clearly if you leave it on the floor, the same mishap might occur.}

{See that precious little foot in the bottom left-hand corner? So cute. She saw mama and decided to move on to other ventures, like trying to grab the camera out of my hand.}

Adelia walks

I think I went to sleep at 11:30 last night. By 2:30 I'd been up twice to go to the bathroom. Came back to bed after the 2:30 trip and could not get back to sleep.

Hence, it's now 3:37am and I'm wide awake. This is not good. I need my sleep. I have four young children in the house who will need an alert mama tomorrow, and it doesn't look like they're going to be getting one.

In the meantime, I'll just blather on here.

...About this cute girl:

{photo taken by Mike}

This past week, she learned to climb the stairs. You know, the I-can-go-up! stage (where she wants to try it every chance she gets), but I won't dare let her try it unless I am right behind her, because she hasn't learned the art of going down and we're not about to go there. (And yes, grammar-conscious people: I DO realize that was a total run-on sentence, but it's way too late (early!) for me to care right now.)

Then last night, she began walking. First six steps to daddy. And then for about the next hour she toddled around the room to various people: mommy, then Ella, then back to daddy, pivoting around again to mommy... I asked Mark last night: "Do you think she'll remember in the morning that she can do this?" [Secretly hoping that she would not.] And he laughed and said, "Yes. She'll have Ella reminding her." True.

As proud of her as I am for learning this newfound skill, these developmental milestones are hard on me. Especially this one. [And the no-more-bottles, which is surely next on her list.] It's just one more move towards independence from mommy, and I guess I like to be needed or something. She is my baby; she ought not be walking yet. Right?! She's eleven months old, for crying out loud.

But she was sure cute last night, pausing mid-stride to clap for herself, glowing under the cheers and claps from the rest of us. Ella called my mom immediately, and she came up, with Grandpa, to witness the big event. Adelia did not disappoint.

Now I'm wondering how this will change up our lives. Friends and strangers alike have pondered throughout my pregnancy- "I wonder if she'll be walking when the baby comes?"

Well, now we know.

[It's now 3:52. The battery on my laptop is running low, so maybe I'll give sleeping a try again.]

I laughed so hard I cried.

Read this.

Verse #2


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

And now I'm off to post my next verse in the shower.

One other thing I'm doing to be in the Bible more faithfully this year: The Discipleship Journal Bible reading plan. I've talked Mark into doing it with me, and I'm excited to be reading the same thing together each day and be able to share what God is speaking to each of us through those particular daily passages.

Also, I think it will be helpful for me to have something "set" for me to read each day, especially this year of my life with two little ones.

I've never been one to make it through the One Year Bible-- I usually start well, end up getting behind by a day or two... then a few more... and finally, so many days behind that I bag the idea altogether. I'm hoping that with this plan (with a brilliant 5 catch-up days each month!), and the accountability of Mark reading it, too- I can do better. [Thank you, Kendra, for the link to the plan!]

Happy February!

The things I'm excited about this month:

1. The SUPERBOWL is today! [Which I wouldn't be excited about at all if it weren't for the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing. But they are. So it's a big day.]

and... far more exciting are these:

2. I get to go away with Mark this next weekend!


3. Adelia's birthday is this month. My baby girl will be turning one. [Which also means we get to turn her carseat around. I always look forward to that.]


4. My due date is also this month!

What are you looking forward to this month?