Under the Apricot Tree

Savoring the Abundance of Simple Living

Category: Family & Friends

A Country Bouquet

Last night at sunset, Seth and I donned jackets and darted around in the wind, cutting armloads of flowers from our yard. Someone years ago must’ve planted a thousand daffodil bulbs because the place is bursting with them right now.

Today is Administrative Professionals Day and Seth’s counseling office wanted to thank their school secretaries for all their hard work.

In a pinch, we came up with a charming homespun vase solution. It was simple, pretty and practically free. This would make a sweet gift for a friend, your child’s teacher, or really anyone who likes receiving flowers (and who doesn’t?). This could also be a fun, casual centerpiece, with various sized “vases” and coordinating colors.

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Directions:
-Select clean used glass jar(s); Tall jars with narrow necks work well
-Place empty jar over the center of one piece colored tissue paper
-Around the neck of the jar, gather the excess paper and snugly tie with yarn or raffia
-Add and arrange your bouquet of flowers
-Using a funnel, add water, being careful not to spill on the delicate paper

That’s it! There’s nothing like fresh cut flowers to make someone feel special. And in my book, “homemade” is even better. ūüôā

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Spring greetings

Spring greetings!

As evidenced by my singular, solar-powered post last month, March was a busy one. My first full month back at work, I was hopping day and night. So many times I felt inspired and wanted to come write a new blog post for y’all, but could not find the free time to do so. Busyness is always a lame excuse, I know (especially for a blog extolling the virtues of simple–i.e., not overly-busy–living). But this little mama/working girl/wifey/chicken farmer/blogger is definitely in the process of figuring out how to manage my days and nights now that little William has entered the picture. But, oh, what a beautiful picture he makes!

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I never imagined how truly magical it is to be the mom of a miraculous little bundle of life. He fills my days with joy. Seth and I are head-over-heels in love with the little man. We waited seven years before having children, and that time was incredible–we were able to grow a ton in our marriage, fulfill our dream of traveling a bunch, get through a master’s degree without debt, and basically have a lot of fun together. If I’m totally honest, I never fully believed our friends with children when they urged us to start and said it was the best thing ever. Part of me thought they just wanted us to jump on the baby boat because misery loves company. Changing poopy diapers, getting spit up on, no sleep, no life outside the baby zone, no more international travel–no thanks, at least not yet! Isn’t that horrible? Well, it’s what I thought at the time. I knew I wanted children, but wasn’t in a rush to get there. Now that I’m experiencing it personally, though, it is an absolute marvel. I don’t regret our wait–we savored the season we were in–but if I’d known how amazing this is, I probably wouldn’t have waited so long!

Now that we are parents, focusing on our love relationship as husband and wife doesn’t come as easily. But we are finding times to be just the two of us and to “date” one another. The other night I made a decadent dessert and we had a yummy little date night at home after the baby went to bed. That is our best time for catching up with each other (when I’m not working late, that is).

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A key part of living simply is rolling with the flow of the seasons of life, and finding beauty in each one. This spring has brought us sunshine, snow, hail, rain, wind, and moments of stillness so calm you can hear a sparrow’s wing glide by. Sometimes we get all of that in one single day! Here are a couple images of spring on our place–the first brave flowers to grace us with their beauty, and a few days later, the first ¬†really big snow (“8 inches).Image

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And what is spring on a farm without some baby chicks? Last week, I picked up some special heritage breed chicks from a local breeder. Two French Black Copper Maran pullets who will lay a chocolate-brown egg, and three Delawares–two pullets who’ll lay a medium brown egg and one cockerel to guard the growing flock. I’m keeping the babies warm and safe in a brooder box with heat lamp in our mudroom. A few times a day, we go in to check on them, feed them treats like scrambled egg by hand, and hold them each. They love the attention and should grow up very tame and friendly. (Let’s hope the roo doesn’t go the way of the turkey tom and turn aggressive once his full-fledged testosterone kicks in!) My mom was out the other day and we took the babies outside on the grass in the sunshine. They seemed to enjoy themselves, running around and flapping their little wings, scratching at the dirt, and staying close to “mom”. William is endlessly entertained by them.

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Well, speaking of William, I hear him waking from his afternoon nap, so I’d better go. I’ll leave with a final image of spring and wish you a very special Easter as you remember our Lord’s sacrifice of love that has made new life possible for each one of us!

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Happy Easter!

The Connection Conundrum

“Technology is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”

~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

As people who value living intentionally and in the present, how do we make decisions about the technology we use?

This is a question I personally have been wrestling with lately. You see, I lost my old cell phone and need to replace it. But instead of getting another “dinosaur” ¬†phone, I am considering upgrading to a smart phone. There would be many benefits to me having an iPhone or Android, but I’m aware there’s also a downside. What I am unsure of is this: Do the perks outweigh the pitfalls?

The benefits are obvious.

  • As a work-from-home entrepreneur, being able to engage with my clients in a variety of platforms is important. Now that I keep different office hours and often have a baby in one arm, checking email and social media accounts from a hand-held device would be a convenient alternative to wielding my laptop computer.
  • We travel a lot and it would be great to have a GPS when navigating new territory.
  • I’d love to easily send photos and videos of our baby to grandparents and great-grands, as well as Skype with them from anywhere.
  • Clever apps could simplify my household management at home and on the go (menu planning & grocery lists, budget & bank account balances, etc)
  • And of course the entertainment and social factors!
The concerns are serious.
  • At what point do I become too connected and available to everyone in the world except for the people right in front of me? I do not want to become that person who is always on her phone, to the neglect of those she’s with physically.
  • I work hard at my career and I LOVE it! But especially when you work from home, it’s important to establish boundaries for yourself so that you don’t wind up always “at work.” What I like about a laptop computer is that it’s portable, but also easy to shut-off, close and walk away from when it’s time to shift gears.
  • Will I say after a month that “I could not live without it”? Technological dependency begs the question of whether the human is master or servant. Is there detriment to my “smart” phone thinking so that I don’t have to?
  • Even with the communication technologies I use now, it’s easy to spiral out of control in a Technology Loop. (Check out this hilarious Portlandia skit on YouTube for an example:¬†http://bit.ly/hTKXXY)

So how do I decide whether to invite this new (to me) level of communications technology into my life? Asking questions is always helpful. Questions to ask:

– Does this help me better fulfill my most important callings better (Christ-lover, wife, mother, professional, home manager, friend, etc)? Or does it hinder me from the most important?

РIs this in alignment with my core values (simplicity, mindfulness, relationships, health, spirituality, professional excellence, generosity, etc)?  Or does it undermine those values?

РBased on my track record with other tech tools, if I choose this, will I use it appropriately and moderately, or am I likely to overuse and end up in a perpetual Technology Loop? What specific boundaries would I set up for myself?

-Is this something I need to acquire now, or could the decision be made later?

– Does it make financial sense to upgrade? Is this the best way to spend those dollars?

At this point, I honestly could see myself going either way. As I spend time in these questions, I think my choice will become clear. It may seem to you like I’m making a big deal out of nothing–especially if you already have a smart phone and think it’s awesome! But don’t worry, I’m not losing any sleep over this–I just want to be intentional and not slide into decisions that will impact my life and relationships.

What about you? Help a sister out by sharing your perspective and experience! Specifically, do you have a smart phone or not, and why? If so, what do you use it most for and what’s the best/worst thing about it?¬†

The Gift

It‘s Christmas Eve morning and all is quiet in our house. A fire is blazing in the woodstove, the dog is sacked out in front of it, and, although he got up an hour ago to feed the dog, build the fire, and change the baby’s diaper, my husband is back in bed with our little baby boy curled up next to him. I offered to relieve him of baby duty so he could take a shower, but he glanced down at his son sleeping peacefully by his side and said, “There’s no way I’m leaving this.”

Soon the quiet moment will pass and we will gather up our gifts and overnight bags and head out of town to enjoy Christmas with my family. We’re all staying overnight at Mom and Dad’s house (aka “Mimi & Boppy’s”). My family gets loud when we get together; lots of joking, laughing and hugging. It’s William’s first Christmas and little Mary is now three years old, the age where Christmas gets really fun. And this Christmas is special for our family because we will all be together in the house where my sister and I spent nearly every major holiday of our childhood. The house my parents just moved into was built and lived in by my grandpa and grandma. So we all associate it with warm family memories and the scent of pumpkin pie.

On top of all that family goodness, this Christmas has special meaning to me for another reason. This year I understand in a fresh way the precious extravagance of that first Christmas Gift. When I think of how tenderly Seth and I love our only son, and how fiercely we would protect him from any person who threatened to harm him, it blows my mind that God the Father was willing to give us Jesus. As immense and perfect as their love for one another, they came up with a plan to win us back, to free us from the darkness. Their love was so big and so perfect that they suffered much in order to invite us into that love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17)

If you have ever associated Jesus Christ with condemnation and judgment, please re-read that second verse. He came to save us from condemnation.

This Christmas, I am amazed at the Gift and thankful to the Giver. Wherever you find yourself this weekend, I hope your Christmas is meaningful as you reflect on God’s extravagant love for you and all the world.

Merry Christmas!

William’s Birth Story

(It has taken me six weeks to write this blog post. Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard it is to get things done when you have a newborn?! Oh, wait. You did! ¬†ūüôā Thanks for the grace and patience with me. I hope you enjoy reading our birth story. Special thanks to Cara for having the presence of mind to take notes and jot down times so I could recall the details of that night.)

It was my 30th birthday and, as the oldies song goes, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” After patiently waiting¬†and¬†waiting some more¬†to have this baby, I was ten days past his estimated delivery date and starting to feel a bit desperate. When I cried on the phone with my doula Cara that afternoon, she said, “Don’t think I’m mean, but I’m glad you’re crying. It’s a good sign that you’re ready to have this baby.” I had slept poorly the night before and the hormones, emotions, and discomfort were having their way with me; I’d thought I would have had the baby by then, yet there I was, huge, bored and with empty arms on my birthday.

"Let's get on with it already!"

That night, my spirits lifted considerably when my parents and sister’s family came over to spend the evening with us. During dinner, I had to “check out” of the conversation every 20 minutes or so to breathe through a contraction. “Sorry for being so dramatic,” I said to my sister after a strong one. “You’re not at all!” she assured me. But the intensity I was feeling inside seemed dramatic to me. Even though the contractions I’d been experiencing intermittently for eight days were becoming more painful, I didn’t allow myself to believe I could finally be going into labor because I didn’t want to get my hopes up after so many false alarms.¬†Little did I know…I actually was in early labor as I ate cupcakes and laughed at my family’s antics! They were the perfect distraction to get me through that first stage.

At 9:30 pm, we hugged the partiers goodbye except my mom. She was staying the night to help with house projects the next day. Mom and I plopped on the couch where she rubbed my feet, focusing on reflexology pressure points that are supposed to stimulate the uterus. “I think you’re having this baby tonight,” said my mom for the third time that night. Though she’s known for her keen intuition, I was still in denial and chastised her to not get my hopes up. But there was no denying what happened next, as my contractions increased in frequency–every 12 minutes, now every 7.

Around 11:15 pm, I went upstairs and updated Seth. He said we should call Cara. On the phone, Cara emphasized to us the importance of keeping me relaxed and rested, to conserve my strength. A few more contractions came while we were on the phone with her and she said she would throw her things together and be on the road ASAP; an hour-long drive from Sisters to Madras was between us.

Seth and Mom sprung into action, drawing me a hot bath infused with an aromatherapeutic bath tea from Shalom Mama. Mom dimmed the lights and lit candles. Seth brought me a cup of my favorite herbal tea. As I slid into that soothing water, relaxation and gratitude swept over me. Here I was, laboring in the comfort of home and it was finally happening! Thank you, God! Knowing it could be a long night, I encouraged Mom to go upstairs and try to get some rest. I wanted Seth right by my side as we had planned and he held my hand through each contraction, gently reminding me to breathe and making me as comfortable as possible.   As the intensity built, I let myself sink into an instinctual moaning sound with each exhale through contractions. Game on!

By the time Cara arrived at 12:45, the bath water was cooling down but things were heating up. By this point, the initial calm I felt in the bath was evaporating and I had gone to that deep place where my focus was totally internalized. I didn’t feel panic, but such an intensity that I can’t even describe, almost animalistic. During each contraction, I fixed my eyes on a focal point in front of me; making eye contact with anyone was not an option. Seth later said I had a wild look in my eye that he didn’t care to see again. Using a suggestion girl friends had offered, I visualized the contractions as a set of waves and tried to “stay on top” of the wave and just let my body ride it out as I breathed. Two or three times ¬†a “sneaker” wave got the better of me and pulled me under, but Seth and Cara were there to bring me back up for air.¬†I remember wondering if I would really be able to do this; not knowing how much harder it would get, could I really deliver this baby naturally, without pain medications? I didn’t voice it out loud, but I questioned myself and feared that I might yell out, “Give me the epidural!” upon arrival to the hospital.¬†After witnessing a few contractions that were just two minutes apart, Cara observed that I was quite advanced in my labor process, and asked if I wanted to get out of the tub and head to the hospital. Yes, I was ready to go.

The effort to get out of the tub brought on more intense contractions and with a couple of them, I felt an urge to push. Hanging my arms around Seth’s neck and leaning on him, we “slow danced” through a few more while preparing to depart for the hospital. Cara suspected I may be in transition already. ¬†As I walked outside with Seth’s help and got into the car, I found the cool night air refreshing and the semi-reclined position very comfortable. I think next time around I will try a seated position more during labor, as that seemed to work well for me.

We left the house at 1:35 am and arrived at Mountain View Hospital at 1:50 am. We had to enter through the E.R. and I barely made it through the doors before another big contraction hit. I leaned into Seth and he “danced” me through it. Amid our dramatic entrance (accompanied by plenty of moaning from me), we were greeted by a night nurse who happened to be immensely pregnant with twins. She asked if I wanted to use the wheelchair to get to the family birthing unit. I looked at the chair and hesitated, then said, “No.” If I entered in a wheelchair, I sensed that would put me into a helpless mindset and I knew that I would need all the strength and confidence I could muster for what still lay ahead.

On the way down the hall, we had to stop and deal with a couple more contractions. I was feeling more pressure now and the desire to push. Only steps away from our birthing suite, my water broke! My attending nurse, Megan, tried to get me situated on the bed so she could put the monitor straps on my belly for fetal assessment, but she kept getting interrupted by another wave of contractions. She must have felt like she was trying to wrestle a momma bear! Once she got the thing strapped on me, a lab technician came in and indicated he was going to draw blood and start an IV. No IV, we told him! This baby was coming soon and hooking up to an IV would have been an unnecessary nuisance. This incident made us keenly aware that¬†our Birth Plan document had been left in the car and we really didn’t have time to go get it.

Megan checked me for cervical progress between contractions and found me to be at 10 cm already. We hadn’t planned on me being completely dilated¬†upon arrival to the hospital, but I certainly wasn’t complaining!

Now, if you’ve ever experienced a woman in labor, you know that pleasantries go out the window and the laboring mother can become very…shall we say…direct. Since we couldn’t reach my wonderful doctor by phone, she still hadn’t arrived. When the E.R. doctor, an older gentleman, walked calmly into the room and began lining out his arsenal of shiny metal objects on a table, I started barking out the key points of my birth plan to him inbetween contractions. He seemed content to let me have the natural birth I wanted. A second doctor’s arrival was announced and, not seeing the point of an additional doctor’s presence, I loudly protested, “What is he doing here?” I know, not a very nice way to welcome someone to the party.

This all happened very quickly. At approximately 2:30, I was on the bed and finally given the green light to push! In the midst of a big effort, I spontaneously shouted, “You’d better get that doctor in here!!!” A few minutes later, she arrived in a rush, apologizing that her cell phone never alerted her that she had a message. I was so glad to see her. Cara instructed me to direct my energy down to make pushing most effective. After the second push, the baby’s head crowned and I was able to reach down and touch my child’s head for the first time. Seth and Cara supported my legs and, within two more contractions, William was delivered at 2:43 am. Seth was going to catch him, but the baby came in such a rush and I had Seth’s hand pinned to my knee during the final push, so there was no chance for him to move away from my side!

"Hello, beautiful."

The next thing I knew, a hot little squirming baby was placed directly on my tummy. I eagerly gathered him up and we were covered with a warm blanket. “Hello, you beautiful, dirty little thing,” I remember saying to him. His color was slightly purple, but within moments, he was pinking up. Soft cries told us he was already breathing well. His eyes were wide open and he seemed much more calm and alert than I expected. He was beautiful. Absolutely perfect! Seth came over to my left side and spoke his greeting to William. At the sound of Dad’s voice, which he had been hearing in the womb, William looked up at Seth with his big dark blue eyes. Amazing!

In our own little world

For the first hour, Seth and I were in our own little world as William nursed  a little and rested on my chest. Seth cut his umbilical cord and gave the baby his first sponge bath. Then the nurse was finally allowed to weigh and measure him before returning him to our side. Soon, my mom came to meet her grandson and other family members would arrive later in the day. Though exhausted, I felt absolutely elated.

Hours later, I was still charged with adrenaline and the wonder of the experience. ¬†Giving birth to our son was definitely the most challenging, all-encompassing effort I have ever made. It was a long labor (8 consecutive days of contractions) and a short labor (only 4 hours once I realized I was in active labor). I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the incredible support and encouragement of my husband, who was the best helper I could’ve asked for. Cara, our doula, provided the information and support we needed to be empowered as a couple. My¬†desire was to be fully present mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally to the experience. And the reward of “going natural” was, for me, just that, an excruciatingly beautiful awareness of each moment. I am so grateful that I was able to have the natural birth experience I wanted, and I wouldn’t change one thing about it, aside from maybe believing my support team more each time they told me I was doing good.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Next time we have a child, Lord willing, I will bring him or her into the world in as natural and gentle way as possible. I look forward to being more aware of my body and the process next time, now that I know how to interpret what I’m feeling. This experience will always be something I cherish. Of course, the primary gooal and the greatest gift was bringing home a healthy, happy baby. His life is truly a miracle and source of endless joy to us.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read our birth story. I’d love to hear from you, about your experiences, hopes, thoughts, or questions. Every birth is as unique as the individuals involved!

~Jenni

Happy Thanksgiving

One more thing I’m grateful¬†for today is you, friends!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to you,

Jenni, Seth & William

Sweet William

Good news: I’m not pregnant anymore!

Last Thursday, I wrote what a great birthday present it would be for me to go into labor. Well, wishes come true and that night after dinner and Ida’s cupcakes with my family, we finally got things rolling.

God graciously allowed me to have the natural birth experience Seth and I had been hoping for…although it was much different than we imagined. And, most importantly, we now have a healthy, beautiful baby boy. (I’ll share the full birth story soon, for those who are interested.)

William John Burke was born on Friday morning at 2:43 am. He weighed in at 7 lbs 11 oz, 21 inches. His eyes are dark blue and his hair is¬†blonde or light brown. We think he has Seth’s chin and eyes, my nose and¬†forehead. But he’s definitely his own man. ūüôā

Seth is cashing in all his sick days for the year to stay home with us these first couple weeks, which has made these first days so very sweet. He has been SuperDad as I regain my strength, helping with all the baby and household tasks. Our little family of three is laying pretty low, with lots of snuggle time at home and nice brief visits from friends and family.

I fall more in love with my baby every minute of every day, it seems. This is a sweet time. Well worth the wait.

As mentioned above, I’ll share William’s birth story soon and resume my “regular” blog writing style in the days and weeks ahead. Post frequency may slide¬†to the once-a-week end of the scale for a while, as I adjust to motherhood and find time for writing. Under the Apricot Tree will continue to be a place where we can meet to chat and explore together what it might look like to live more simply and intentionally. Now, I’ll just be bouncing a baby on my knee as we talk. ūüėČ Thanks for sharing this journey with us.

I hope you’ll enjoy a few pictures of our new sweetheart.

~Jenni

The Passing of a Season

What’s your favorite season? I am definitely a summer girl. I love the long warm days and the carefree sensations of walking barefoot in grass, BBQing with friends, and staying outside late at night to watch the stars…without getting cold! Yesterday as this blog post idea came to me, I was sitting on my porch bed with the sun warming my back and a blanket on my lap, my body a living illustration of turning away from the long hot days of summer and facing the cooler, cozier months ahead.

Each season has its benefits and drawbacks, its pros & cons. And during times of transition, I think it’s valuable to reflect on what we’ll miss about the days behind us and what we look forward to in the days ahead. Reflection enriches the chapters of our lives with a unique identity and meaning, instead of just a continual blur of random, meaningless, unconnected events. This is true whether the transition is a turning of the calendar, the change of a job, a move to another town, or even the addition or subtraction of an important relationship. By naming what we’ll miss, we give ourselves permission to honestly mourn the loss of what was good, thereby allowing it a place of meaning in our personal history and honoring the rhythms of life. And by identifying what we gain, we can rightly celebrate the good to come and set a positive tone for the days ahead.

To me, autumn and spring feel like transitional seasons, whereas summer and winter seem more definitive and self-sustained. Maybe this is because I grew up in Central Oregon, where spring and autumn tend to be winter one day and summer the next. But all four seasons hold traditional and metaphorical symbolism shared across many cultures:

  • Spring represents rebirth and new life (the promise of what’s to come)
  • Summer represents vitality, nurturing, life (the celebration of vibrant life)
  • Autumn represents harvest and maturation (the preservation of what’s been achieved and preparation for subsistence)
  • Winter represents sleep, covering, and darkness (the sheltering and rest of hibernation)

Isn’t it amazing that our world is wrapped in this beautiful rhythm? It makes me grateful to live in a temperate climate, where we experience the extremities of the seasons. (Although, in February, I’ll be jealous of my Texas friends who enjoy two seasons: hot and hotter!) ūüôā

Some things I’ll miss about summer:

  • The garden
  • Our weekly CSA box of organic local produce
  • Breakfast and dinner on the porch
  • Swimming and sun bathing
  • The sound of the breeze in the tall trees
  • Endless sunshine
  • Casual outdoor get-togethers
  • The scent of a summer shower on hot asphalt
  • Kids running through sprinklers
  • Summer dresses and flip-flops
  • Hiking

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Some things I’m excited about for winter:

  • Pulling apples from my stash in the cellar
  • Hearty, oven-cooked dinners and soups
  • A white, sparkly blanket of snow
  • Baby’s first holidays
  • Deep heat from the wood stove
  • Family & friends gathered in a cozy house
  • Sweaters, jeans & boots
  • Running again
  • Bundling up our baby until he resembles a giant marshmallow
  • Hot tubbing in the woods at Mt Hood
  • Long quiet evenings of tea and reading on the couch (Oh, wait a second…that’s what we used to do pre-baby…check back with me on this! ūüėČ

What about you? What will you most miss about summer? What do you look forward to this winter?

(By the way, today is my birthday! There‚Äôs yet another good reason to reflect on the past, dream about the future‚Ķand celebrate today! Honestly, with the baby on the way, I haven’t given much though to my birthday this year. My family is coming over tonight and bringing dinner. Looks like we get to begin on the Winter Wonders list already, as family gathers together in our house, with plenty of food, warmth and festivity. Party on! If William should decide it’s time to go into real labor, all the better.)

Maternity Pics

Recently our very talented photographer friend Marina Koslow came out to the farm with her camera. I wasn’t sure¬†earlier on¬†if¬†Seth and I would¬†do maternity pics and I didn’t really take¬†the weekly¬†“mirror photos” to document my gradually growing midline during the pregnancy. But now¬†I am¬†so glad we decided to do this with Marina.¬†She¬†has such a sweet, calming spirit¬†and we had fun wandering around the property to capture this special time on camera, with this special place as the backdrop. A friend recently told me that her young son likes to look at pictures of when he was still in Mom’s belly, and I love the idea of William looking back on these images some day. I hope he sees the love and joy we had for him even before we ever¬†held him in our arms. ūüôā

So, here are some of my and Seth’s favorite shots. A few of these were on Facebook already, but most of them are “never before seen¬†footage”. Haha!

PS–If you’re considering having your picture taken for a special event (wedding, senior, family lifestyle), I cannot recommend Marina Koslow enough. She’s based out of Bend, OR, but travels widely. She has a cool, vintage-inspired eye and, speaking of vintage, Marina is one of a growing number of photogs who are “bringing film back.” That’s right, she shoots primarily on a super nice film camera, which yields a richer, truer color result than digital.¬†Plus, her prices are incredibly reasonable and you will not find a sweeteer person. Check out her stuff at www.marinakoslowphotography.com or like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marinakoslowphotography.

With no further ado, here are some of the last photos of the Burke Family before William John arrives!

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Feeling the Love

Moving to a new town right before having your first child is not ideal. Those nesting instincts call for the comfort and security of familar places and faces. Yet here we find ourselves, called out to this adventure, with the challenge of creating a new home further away from family and friends.

But instead of feeling lonely and isolated out here (as I was afraid I might), I have been “feeling the love” from friends and family in a major way. Lately, my heart is just full of gratitude. So I need to list my gratefulness to the people who’ve kept my cup full recently:

  • To¬†the women who’ve lavished me with¬†support and practical gifts at my baby showers: THANK YOU for making me feel so loved and surrounded, you can’t possibly know how much it has meant to me.
  • To¬†those who’ve stayed in touch via Facebook, email, & comments on this blog: THANK YOU for asking how we’re doing, for adding your unique voice to the conversation in my life right now.
  • To¬†those who’ve sent gifts and expressions of love: THANK YOU for reaching out to hug us even from far away.
  • To¬†friends and family who’ve gone out of their way to come¬†visit: THANK YOU for making this house truly home by filling it with your sweet presence and new memories.
  • To new friends in Madras: THANK YOU for welcoming us into your lives and community,¬†your friendship makes me¬†excited for the days to come.

I could make this blog post¬†impossibly long by personally thanking each person who has reached out in love. But you know who you are, and so do I. I hope I’ve told you recently in person or in writing how much you mean to me, but I’m sure I’ve mistakenly let some things slide. Please know how much your actions and words bless¬†and strengthen me, especially during this time.

My heart is full. My nest is well-feathered with your generous contributions. Thank you so much.

~Jenni

Here are a few pics from the baby showers…

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