so much to say...

I cannot wait to get to start writing about this little boy and his first few days with us. But until that time comes, I have been posting pictures on instagram @thegrovestead.  (Half of which I have already shared here!)

Alden has the sweetest temperament. He sleeps a lot, which is so thoughtful of him. He fills his pants and eats like a champ and he fits right into our family. We got a minivan on Monday and immediately locked four car seats into place and took a country drive. I love that we have such a full ride. Our hearts are so full!

it's a brother!!!

It is my great joy to introduce Alden Ananias Groves, born on Thursday, June 29th at 1:16 pm. Alden was 9 pounds and 3 ounces and 22 inches long. He is darling in every single way.

Alden means "old friend" and that is exactly how it feels to have him in our family. Like a favorite pal has been added to the fold and everyone is just so glad he is here.

Ananias is named after the brave man who the Lord told to go find a blinded Saul on Straight Street. Ananias could hear the voice of the Lord. And even with some hesitation, he is obedient to go right up to the man who was responsible for killing many Christians to tell him of Jesus. Paul went on to lead the church in mighty ways, but I love that there was a faithful, listening, courageous man who the Lord used in a quieter, but hugely important way.

Alden has joined our clan like a champ. I cannot wait to write about our first 48 hours home. It has been so full. The farm is in full swing and nothing has slowed down. He is entering the family like he has always been a part of our pack and I love it so much. Ivar is positively overwhelmed with love for him and the fact that he now has a brother. He told me, "Mom, you need to come see this! It's our first brother bunk bed."

we're still here!

I told my cousin Sarah that we must be a part of the Cozy Womb Club. She carried her babies past the due date as well. My Aunt Diane is in this club and my friend Katie and so are many others. And it is a sincere waiting game. Time is measured in days and nights, because each morning you think, "well this could be it!" And every night you think, "maybe we'll wake up and go to the hospital." Every 12 hours seems to be a new set of possibilities.

The truth is, as I told Rory today, there are so many friends I know who have begged God for one more week or one more day, hoping the baby could grow strong on the inside before it came. So we are fine. The baby is healthy and doing well and tomorrow will be 41 weeks officially. Today we go to the doctor to make a plan to induce. With my whole heart I hope things start naturally, but it will not be for a lack of effort on my part! I have walked stairs, our road, done many things to try to get things moving, but it turns out a mom doesn't have a lot of control over this sort of thing.

But I have heard nonstop stories of how others have gotten their labor started. And been told many things on what I should be doing. Some are well received and others make me feel like I am doing something wrong.

My very favorite though, was my neighbor's daughter who told me that when she was 3, her mom was due with her sister. They had taken the 3 year old to the cousins to play and then picked her up to wait for the baby back at their home. While opening the door for his wife, the dad misjudged her position and opened the door into her belly with enough force that it caused her water to break on the spot! So they turned around, took the 3 year old back to the cousins and went to the hospital.

Something about the slap stick of that moment makes me laugh so hard. What a riot.

So we'll wait and continue to get things done around the house. In a great twist, we have had some wonderful family time this week. Rory is still busy, but he's on baby-mode and has been so present. We have made lots of fun summer memories this week and for that I am so grateful.

And tomorrow we have 50 baby chicks arriving! We didn't see that coming when the due date was a week ago! But this is life, and it's full and it's good.

homeschool lite

(It's Thursday night...still pregnant. Doing squats and going for long walks. At the ultrasound yesterday the ultrasound tech said she hadn't seen a baby at 40 weeks so active. That it clearly has a lot of room still to wiggle. Rory later translated all of her comments to mean: your womb is basically an olympic sized pool and baby isn't feeling any squish to motivate it to get out...)

This summer we are going to try to continue some sort of home school routine on the days that have nothing planned. This is mostly because routine really does help shape a day and with little kids I do like having some sort of rhythm to our time. Even with the baby coming. I know it will have to be flexible, but believe me, this is flexible!

The kids each got a new math book as I have been told that math is most important thing to keep moving forward throughout the summer months, unless you want to review the old content for 2-3 months in the fall. I have so many friends who have commented that it only takes one summer to learn that lesson the hard way and then you decide to do some sort of math over the summer. So the kids each moved up a grade and are so excited about their new books. (staying with Critical Thinking Company for them...Kindergarten for Elsie and 1st Grade for Ivar.)

Then Ivar has to read us a story each day to keep up his reading words. And then we work on a letter in our handwriting books. And that's it. It's low key. It's fun and quick. But it sort of keeps my head in the game. Even if this happens twice a week it feels good. We are signed up for our bank's summer reading program and our library's summer bingo program. Both of those have fun and creative things to add into our days and I am grateful for the creative ideas from both of those programs (reading outside, asking a friend their favorite book and reading it, reading a book about your town...) I know there are some drawbacks to incentive programs, but I'm a fan. Incentive tends to be motivating!

And I still have to say my most enthused pupil is still Hattie who has her own workbook from the dollar tree that she works in diligently. Until she moves on to help her sister...

my thoughts on the gender

Today we are most definitely 40 weeks! After an appointment yesterday, my doctor wanted us to come in for an ultrasound to make sure baby had enough fluids. It was a great appointment, and everything checked out healthy and baby is doing fine.

As a bonus of the late ultrasound, we got to see our fully formed baby one last time in black and white before this baby comes out and is placed in our arms.

When I look at the picture above I want to weep. I love this child so much I could burst open. I cannot wait to hold it in my arms. I cannot wait to meet this life that God has chosen for our family.

Rory and I have chosen not to find out the gender of any of our kids until they are born. Rory was encouraged by his brother Troy to not find out and let that moment of birth hold the big surprise. My reasoning has more to do with stories I've picked up along the way with mom's finding out the gender at their 20 week ultrasound and then feeling some sort of disappointment. I had a friend tell me she was at a gender reveal party and when the "wrong" gender was revealed the mom ran to the bathroom and cried.

My problem with finding out the gender before the actual birth of the child is that every mom and dad has an opinion. Whether we admit it or not I believe we are gunning for one gender over the other. The even-steven part of me thinks another son would be great to round out the family: two boys and two girls. A brother would be so fun for Ivar. Another boy would give me the chance to get out Ivar's darling baby outfits.

But then I think about another daughter: three sisters in our family! A bff for Hattie. But most of all, that this would be the designed life that God has chosen for our family.

After I had Ivar I told everyone, "after surviving labor and delivery they could have announced, "it's a monkey!" and I would have been overjoyed because that monkey was mine. I carried that monkey for 9 months and was ready to love whoever they put on my chest." And it's so true! The gender is the very last thing you are thinking about when the baby finally arrives. Joy, elation, overwhelming love, big fat tears rolling down your cheeks...those things overwhelm your heart and mind when they lay that life on your chest. I just don't believe there is room to feel anything but gratitude in that moment.

And that's how I felt today, looking at the baby moving around inside of me. I want that baby. Boy or Girl. Even Monkey. I want that one. The one that I have been carrying for 40 weeks. And man, I want it so badly. Rory and I are so ready. Twiddling our thumbs, we are. And I just can't wait to meet the little one. Who are you, baby? It doesn't even matter. I adore you so, so much and love you already with my whole entire heart.