My Favorite, Non-Fancy Coffee

It’s an understatement, I know, but I really enjoy coffee. I love everything about it … the warmth, smell, and the taste. For me, I especially drink coffee because it’s what my family has always done and I love partaking in the same special routine I grew up doing and know my parents and siblings are probably doing at the same moment I am. We start in the morning with a few good cups before the day starts, enjoy an afternoon tea cup of joe, and then end the evening with one more cup while we visit or watch our favorite shows. It has always been this way and I love knowing that it’s something that, no matter the timezone or differing locations, we keep doing.

As much as I love coffee I love that I’m not that big of a coffee snob. Unless I’m at a coffee shop (when I’ll get a vanilla latte) I like my coffee fresh, hot, and black. Pretty simple, right? 😉

My current favorites are 8 O’Clocks original mild flavor and Starbuck’s Cinnamon Dolce. YUM. There’s nothing better than starting out the day with my Keurig humming in the background as I quietly open the blinds (so not wake Uriah) or brew a second cup when he and I sit down for a diaper change and reading books. 🙂

What is your favorite coffee or tea? Do you consider yourself a coffee snob or are you pretty easy going in the joe department? Comment below — I love to hear your thoughts! 

With love, blessings, and OF COURSE coffee,

Frannie

This Time Last Year: Learning About Hydrocephalus

September 8th, 2016 I drove to our high-risk specialist for a twenty-two week check up on Uriah. I remember feeling pretty good about our appointment; it had been at least four weeks since my last emergency room visit where I lost blood and thought, for the third or fourth time, I was miscarrying. Although, to be honest, we had had so many difficult issues in my pregnancy that getting an ultrasound always made me feel slightly uneasy — like, today might be the day I again learn something is wrong.

But we were doing okay; my subchorionic hematomas were disappearing, my misdiagnosed miscarriage was beginning to be a past memory, and we had a closet full of little girl dresses for our daughter. (Since we had been told it was a girl a few weeks prior).

I settled onto the little recliner and let the technician wave her ultrasound wand over my growing belly; we chatted but I could tell something was wrong. Small tears trickled down her face as she tried to remain professional. A sinking feeling settled in but we pushed through the exam. When I told her we we’re expecting a girl and asked for a confirmation I got to experience one of those funny moments when I’m told, “No, it’s a boy; see here?” I laughed to myself because, why shouldn’t the gender be wrong; it had already been a chaotic first pregnancy why not add a little comedy to it? I imagined naming him Isaac for laughter since it was too silly not to laugh.

She left and it took an abnormally long time for our doctor to appear. Again, the sinking feeling filled me. I had seen tears, hadn’t I? Eventually, the specialist arrived and, by the look of his face, I knew I could ask confidently, “Something’s wrong, isn’t it?” He asked me how knew and I commented on his very sweet but teary-eyed tech. He nodded, I asked to get off the recliner and sit in a real chair. Bad news shouldn’t be received while reclining.

Your little boy has a condition called Hydrocephalus. His brain is being compressed. His femurs and thigh bones are measuring short. This often goes hand-in-hand with trisomies. Like Down Syndrome? Yes, or Trisomy 13 or 18; both are incompatible with life. You’re son will need to be born in a specialized NICU by c-section; I recommended delivering early in a hospital in St. Louis. 

What do we do now?

There a number of tests we could take to rule out the possibilities of trisomies but I’ll be honest, they run a risk to the baby and premature labor. I won’t even offer a termination because I think you won’t accept one. You mean an abortion? No, we wouldn’t considerate that. We’ll need to do weekly ultrasounds to keep track of the baby’s head circumference and growth.

I’m not really sure what happened after that; I know I thanked him for his kindness and confidence in our God Who believed all life deserved to be born. I also told him to thank the teary-eyed tech for being so kind.

I scheduled the next appointment, walked to the car, unpeeled a banana and began to cry over that messy breakfast. I cried and I cried. I wanted to call Dalton but he was working and I hate giving him bad news over the phone. I wanted to call Mom but knew I wanted to talk to Dalton before anyone else. So, I called my wonderful friend and husband. The good news is that you’re having a son. The bad news is that there are some problems with his brain and bones. Maybe a Trisomy like Down Syndrome. Can you come home?

The day proceeded slowly; I cried while I drove home. Cried over how unfair it was to receive more bad news. Tears over the thought that my precious baby could be suffering that moment. Fear of the c-section and grief of losing the home birth we wanted. Tears because what did this mean for our little boy? What did a compressed brain mean for his future? What did a Trisomy mean? Could we really be one of those families who experience a child born incompatible with life?

The rest of the afternoon was spent at home with Dalton, who is an amazing comforter. I remember our land-lord showing up to do some painting in the house and Dalton asking him to come back later, we just got some bad news, he said. We chuckled over the gender mix up and ate ice cream, exhaustion filling our hearts.

I talked with our parents; telling them about the dubious medical diagnosis. Mom and Dad worked with some wonderful friends who had a precious daughter with the same diagnosis. They quickly called them and received the amazing love and understanding and practical advice you get from someone who has been in your shoes. Mom and Dad called back and told me about the connection and repeated the hope our friends had given.

And then I went to bed. The day had ended and we had survived. This precious baby boy with difficulties was still growing, still miraculous, and still ours. I’d spend the next few weeks re-writing my new birth plan to include a c-section and NICU two hours away; I’d google Hydrocephalus and then wish I hadn’t. I’d feel moments of pity and grief. I would write this blog post and we would begin to receive countless prayers and love from our friends and family. I would connect with a private Facebook group specifically for those with Hydrocephalus and I would be embraced by an amazing community. I would write this post 8 days after our ultrasound sharing all the blessings God was sending our way.

Little did I know my water would break in 10 days.

It’s amazing to be one year from this event; it feels like yesterday. Maybe that’s because our live’s went on a 9 month pause?

Yet, if given the chance, I would change none of it. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I still cringe when I think of the memories. And yes, I wish I could make easier on Uriah.

But look at this precious baby. Look at what God has done in his little life. Look at the joy, the fun, the sweetness, and the miracles he has given us. 

I imagine that this time next year the bad memories will hurt a little less and the new ones, the memories we make this year, will be closer to the surface. I want Uriah’s first library visit to be the memory I think of this time next year. I want to remember the friends we’ve grown closer too and the family too. I want to reflect on how adorable and healthy Uriah is and how blessed we are.

I hope my reflecting over the past isn’t turning into a broken record for you, sweet readers. I process life through words and writing and, to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the hurt broken dreams bring. So I’m sorry if my reflection bores you; but this is how I work through life’s experiences. This is how I ponder God’s hand and how I move on from the pain and rejoice in the midst of it. I admit I’m still learning to get over the hurts and difficulties  but I thank God for His perfect will and plan for our lives — including all of the pain He’s helped us walk through.

With love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

Small, Beautiful Dreams

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We’ve had a long season waiting out fall and winter. The last 6 months have been full of unknowns, fearful nights, and anxious possibilities; I almost feel like we’ve been soldiers, working through the hard days, with our backs to the plow. Simple joys have become sweeter than ever — cozy nights and early mornings with coffee in our own home are rare treasures.

I’m also four months postpartum and I think hormones are beginning to fluctuate into a new normal; my mind is less foggy and my body is feeling better than ever. I’m so thankful for the springtime that is outside and within my heart.

I was browsing Pinterest looking for spring-time decor ideas I could use for our home when it hit me … I’m dreaming again. I’m dreaming of being home with our family (#DuncanPartyOfThree). I dream of planting flowers on the porch with Uriah in a swing beside me. My mind’s eye plays over our upcoming nights — how fun it will be to welcome Dalton home and finish dinner while he plays with our darling son. I’m dreaming of resuming weekly coffee visits with my dear coffee-loving friend while Uriah plays or naps. I ache to snuggle with my family on the couch and read, talk, and play together. To make dinners in my creamy yellow kitchen with a baby in the house and a husband who loves to come home to us every day.

There’s something so refreshing and good about dreams. I used to think that dreams needed to be big and spiritual or else they were not worthy. But these last 6 months have taught me that even the smallest dreams, done with joy and love and for the Lord, are absolutely what we need in our homes and lives. We need mothers who dream of serving their families with love. We need men who desire to work hard for their families and yearn even more for times together. It’s okay to dream about planting gardens, keeping home, and visiting with friends and reaching out to community. These hopes are small but they’re life-giving.

The beautiful thing? I remember writing a post about dreams in 2011 (I was 21 and had yet to meet Dalton). In almost every way, God has met those dreams I shared. Isn’t that beautiful? To think that I have been so blessed renews my heart with so much praise. Thank You, God, for knowing and caring for your people so well!

So, here’s to dreaming. Here’s to waiting for better days and looking forward to living life fully with those around us. Tell me … what are you dreaming about these days? Are they large and glamorous? Or quiet and gentle? I would love to hear from you! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

One Month Ago Today: Hospital Anniversary

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It’s amazing to think that one month ago yesterday I spent the morning frantically changing my outfits not sure which would be best for our day out and our appointment with our midwife. I knew this wasn’t going to be the traditional check-up; we had recently gotten news of Uriah having Hydrocephalus and my midwife (being the awesome lady that she is!) had asked to continue seeing me (free of charge!) so that she could keep up with my health and be a soundboard for bad days or questions (as we’d be moving my care to a specialist).

Dalton and I drove the 30 minutes and had a hundred questions answered and someone willing to listen to our concerns. What do we do with finances? Which hospital would have the most experience? How could I best prepare for a c-section? The list was a mile long and the 20+ years of experience Susan had definitely came through. We left her home feeling hopeful and glad; we can do this. We can do this.

It was date day which means all sorts of fun in our home. We visited several Mennonite-run stores gawking at the low prices and great variety. Lunch included handmade sandwiches and trail-mix. Dalton had never been to these stops before so that always make the adventure fun. Our last stop was a shop with gorgeous pumpkins of all sizes. We were in the check-out line with a bag of brown rice and a lump of blue cheese when I had to find the restroom.

In that tiny room my water broke. I wobbled out, stood by Dalton as he finished the transaction, mentioned that I think something weird happened, and smiled when he still remembered to ask the cashier for three pumpkins. Before we hopped in the car I picked out the most adorable dwarf pumpkins and Dalton found a large, blue-ish-green specimen he loved.

One month ago yesterday, my water broke. Today is the one month anniversary of our being in the hospital. Thirty-one days of monitoring, pokes and prods, and the ever impersonal, funny question, “Have you had a bowel movement today?”

One month of unknowns, new diagnosis’, nurses, doctors, and getting to know the staff who bring me my meals and clean our room with smiling faces. One month of being more social than I have been in my life, feeling more loved by friends and family than I ever knew, and getting dressed earlier in the morning (quick, put the bra on before the nurses arrive!) than I knew routinely possible. (In normal life I get dressed after Dalton heads to work … at 9 am.) 😉

And we have been so blessed.

Since my water broke God has graciously given Uriah 32 more days to grow, thrive, and develop in my womb. Plus, with no major contractions, it looks like He may be giving us more!

Since my water broke we’ve had countless cards, goody baskets, surprise packages, promises of prayer, and financial support pour through the mail system and into our little room.

Since my water broke I’ve connected with families who have experience with Hydrocephalus and Holoprosensephaly. Amazing families who love their children without conditions or questions. People who give me hope and let me know that children with special needs are still children and worthy of every ounce of love we can give. People with children who defy doctor’s prognosis’ and expectations.

Since my water broke I’ve lived in two different hospital rooms; one for labor and delivery and the other for maternity. I’ve met so many people. Dr. Mohammed, Letensie from Eritrea, Africa, and Rita from India. Not to mention the nurses from more local areas. They all have a story to share; one had an arranged marriage which is 35 years strong and experience serving in her once war-torn country, one raises alpacas and rescues puppies she find on the street. Another invites me to the Christian church in Columbia when I’m able. Then there’s the sweetest housekeeper who raises horses and asks me questions about my Christian walk no one has ever asked before.

Since my water broke I’ve drank more water than ever before. In an hour I down 30 ounces or more. My complexion should be beaming before this is over! 😉

Since my water broke I’ve had more people see me in my jammies than I ever thought possible. But these are the people who stop by and pour their love on our family. These are the folk who take time out of their day to sit on an uncomfortable couch and ask about Uriah and his latest news.

Since my water broke Dalton has made this hospital his home. Our days have developed a routine. He heads to work early to beat the traffic and change into his uniform at home, works his 10 hour shift, drives home for a quick shower and picks up the mail and fresh laundry, then heads back to the hospital by 8 to 8:30. He pulls “Lawrence” close to my bed and we watch “Whose Line” reruns while we eat dinner. Then, he helps set up the monitoring equipment so we can hear Uriah’s heartbeat; most of the nurses are impressed with his ability to work the machinery and how much easier he makes their job. I’m just grateful because I like him snuggled so close to me. Afterwards, I get my heparin shot and we both fall asleep faster than I think possible for a bed rest patient and her easily-woken husband. He’s does this without complaint or grunt. Our weekends are full of quiet, relaxing times full of wheel chair rides outside, a special dinner, movies, and Minecraft.

Since my water broke I’ve gotten to lean closer to the Lord than ever before. Oh, I’ve had times where I’ve leaned into the Lord but there is something urgent, something necessary about drawing close to the Lord in the unknown. Since my water broke my God has taught me:

That He does, in fact, answer prayer. 

That His Word really can bring comfort and healing to the soul. 

That He is, indeed, very present. As in, He is in this room with me. 

That He cares about every need, the big and small, in our lives. 

That He does carry the pregnant woman and child like a Shepherd carries His sheep. 

That sometimes praising Him is the only way to defeat anxiety and fear. 

It’s been amazing how fast a month can pass by. When the doctor first recommended my staying here for 10 weeks I nearly choked. But time passes pleasantly, I am able to stay busy, and I’ve gotten the perfect time to bound with little Uriah before he even enters the world. Plus, this has taught me how to best be with people when I have nothing to offer them. And I’ve discovered, again, that my and Dalton’s marriage and friendship can run so much deeper; we just have to be purposeful.

Thank You, LORD, for this good month. Thank You for carrying us, like small, fragile sheep, through the wilderness. Thank You for being with us every step of the way. You are trustworthy, faithful, and full of mercy. “I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth will show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the LORD God …” (Ps. 71:14,16a)

God is so very good, my friends.

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Quiet, Summertime Changes: Currently Series

Currently Series with Authentic Virtue Blog

I am thankful for the seasons life brings us. It’s summertime and the days are passing by as quickly as July’s rainstorms roll in. Our vacation time is over, we’ve settled in our new rental, and the fears of my first trimester and the misdiagnosed miscarriage are beginning to look more like memories instead of terrifying, first-hand experiences.

Life is quieting down and I’m finding new ways to make the most of my given time. I will not be teaching this year which means I’m not scurrying around decorating a classroom or writing lesson plans. The timing of baby’s birth did not combine well with the year’s contract. So, now is a season of letting go and preparing for what’s to come. Change is always difficult for my personality so there were quite a few emotions as I cleaned out my desk and put away lesson plans and curriculum. I’m going to miss the routine of being a part-time teacher and all the benefits that come from being in the student’s lives; I am looking forward to substituting though.

Dalton gently reminded me to focus on baby and all the joy this new season brings. I was a bit embarrassed by that — of course I’m loving baby and all that pregnancy means. But his words also reminded me that change is good and should be embraced. Now isn’t the time to mourn over a part-time job or be sorry over my changing routine and schedule. Now is the time to begin planning, dreaming, and investing in the new life which will forever change ours

I’m so glad I have time to plan for our new family member. His/her bedroom is slowly turning from a guest room/library to a garden and Beatrix Potter themed nursery combined with the guest room. Baby clothes have been folded and set into different categories. Blankets are being washed.

In the kitchen I’m trying new recipes, looking at freezer meal recipes (in preparation for our busy, recovering time), and trying to discover the best ways to accomplish meal prep a head of time. (Since waking up – cheerfully – and making breakfast for my Darling Man is a bit difficult these days.) I think I need to take a second look at my morning routines for being successful. 😉

Our new home is becoming more nest-like and comfortable. I finally have enough energy to weed through closets, the motivation to toss what I no longer need, and the desire to find the best ways to decorate our home. I’m hoping with each change I make it becomes more peaceful and welcoming.

Most importantly, I’m endeavoring to bring more focus on the Lord into my heart and home. Hymns and worship music are filling the air, negative thought patterns are being weeded out, and Scripture themed prayers are becoming more common. We have loved ones who need God’s grace in their lives, relationships which need treasured and protected, and a little one to raise up for the Lord; these are all things which come from God and are accomplished through His good will. They’re also things I can ask for in confidence knowing my Heavenly Father hears my pleas and understands my heart.

AuthenticVirtue.com // Currently Series on homemaking, pregnancy, and the grace poured into every day life

What beautiful things have come your way this week? Are there any changes you’re trying to adjust to? I love your comments and growing together as friends. Let me know what you’re thinking! 🙂

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie