25 Weeks: Portia Liberty

This past week someone who loves our baby inquired, "Do you know what size fruit Portia is this week?"

People around us glanced inquisitively between us, some of them thinking she was referencing our other daughter's middle name being a fruit, but I understood. She was referring to those phone applications that people use to track their progress. They'll say, "Today baby Nowak is the size of an asian pear!" or "Today baby Nowak is the size of a pomegranate!"

The answer flooded me, having nothing to do with Portia, or her sister, Charlotte Pear. I don't have one of those applications for Portia, but that didn't change my answer.


I know what size Portia is this week.

I know that her head barely fits in the palm of her dada's hand, and I know how her tiny fingers curl. I know how her mouth would open as you tilted her head back, pixie lips parting gently. She's about a foot long. She's around twenty ounces in weight.

I've held a Nowak baby at twenty-five weeks. I know what size she is.

I could never be upset by the unexpected reminder of my son. There was no pain in the memory, when the answer came to me. Twenty-five weeks will always be the week that I gave birth to a dead child, and I'm not angry to remember him. In fact, I'm thankful that he lived, even though he died.


Charlotte's Garden Party

Dada had trimmed our fir tree and put his years working at a Christmas Tree Lot to good use, making yards of garland for our baby's birthday to decorate our little home. I made wreaths with the other bits to finish the walls, and we spread the china across our table with candles, flowers, and fruit. She woke up late, and we surrounded her with birthday cards and white balloons and sprinkled love all over her before the rest of the family arrived. 

We're blessed to be surrounded well by both sides of our family and even had siblings come from states away to help us love our Charlotte Pear. We had appetizers to start and then shared the best creamy Thai carrot sweet potato soup, a fitting, fresh pear salad, and some veggies before we cut into my sister-in-law's moist raspberry almond cake. Charlotte unwrapped all the presents, shared all the giggles, and managed to cheese through a missed nap. Two years of this beautiful babe have gone in a flash, and we're nothing but grateful for this chance to learn deeper love.


Almost Two

More than the curve of her lips or her chubby cheeks, I want to remember bits of her. I want to document the brightness of our almost two year old. While I was writing Christmas tags, she was amusing herself with a black crayon and a her own tiny tag, when she called me over, "Look, Mama! I drew a "C'!" And there on the bitty white tag was a < . Not quite as round as a traditional C, but the most beautiful crayon marking that has ever been named a letter.

Every evening that we climb into the car (darkness setting in long before dinner time these days), she squeals, "Christmas lights!" Her passion doesn't peter out as we travel. Every new, festive house gets the same level of excitement.

She sings to herself, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there's just something about that name. Kings and kingdoms, will all pass away, but there's something about that name." In the car, she requests that Matt and I sing, "I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul..." Her favorite part of that song is the "joy like a fountain" verse and the end of the song when we all (her tiny voice included) repeat "In my SOOOOOOOUUUUUULLL."

She'd force me to read Inch by Inch, Shrewbettina's Birthday, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Madeline all day, every day if I were up for it.

When she doesn't know the answer, she'll repeat the question back at you.

She loves when you joke about stinky feet during diaper change: all the belly laughs.

She greets me with, "Hello, pretty lady!", something she learned from her daddy, and the sentence she says that I love best.

Lately, when we're getting her ready for bed she says, "I wake up! I wake up! I woke up! I'm awake!" with hopes of avoiding the pending sleep.

She stuffs "tiny baby" (pictured above) down her shirt from the top, normally leaving her head and arms poking out, and then refers to her as "tummy baby" or "Portia." We can't wait to see her as a sister, but we're also thankful for these last three months as a family of three.


December Mortgage Update

I eat up visual inspiration. When you show me the before and after pictures on Trim Healthy Mama, my brain says, "YES! She did it! It's possible! There's a plan that works! I can do it!"

The above image is a little before and after visual stimulation for you. In nine months, God has handed us $22,058.60 extra, and with a continuous side work hustle and an intentional focus, we've punched our mortgage in the face at the end of every month.

My goal for this year was to get below $60,000.00 due on our last debt, the mortgage, before the end of the year, and God did better than that for us. Our new goal for the year is two-fold:

  1. Finish coloring in the roof on our in home visual aid. That number is $54,692.00.
  2. Get to the 50% mark on the price we paid for our home. We purchased our home for $109,000.00, so halfway is $54.500.00.
Since these numbers are only a couple hundred apart, and we're only a couple of thousand dollars away, Matt and I both want to work extra hard in December to make those goals. 

Keeping in mind that we make about $40,000.00 a year, combined, putting $22,000.00 extra toward the mortgage in nine months is huge. In fact, with car repairs, maternity bills, and life expenses, it's impossible. God's doing this, and we're just running along with Him to keep pace. We'll see you at the finish line!


Thanksgiving 2017

Hampton Roads never quite bursts into fall, it slowly slides, with most trees skipping it all together, while others turn at various intervals, paying no attention to falling into schedule with the trees on either side of them. In an area like ours, trees like this one in my Grandparents' front yard are a treasure.

Matthew's name means "Gift of God", and he's spent every day of our marriage living up to that title. I know that most women aren't loved as hard as I am loved, and I'm thankful. When naming my treasures, my God given gifts, it would be neglect if I didn't mention how happy that girl makes me. Her sheer joy over tree climbing makes my insides ache. Cuddled up on a velvet couch at her Aunt Chris's house, when I asked Charlotte what she was going to say to Portia when she meets her, she replied, unprompted, "I love you, Portia!" and leaned in to kiss my ever growing baby bump.

Today I have spent a total of zero dollars and zero cents, and that's a Black Friday win. I feel like we have a pretty good handle on Christmas (entirely hand-made gifts for one side), and we're so blessed that I'm having trouble populating a Christmas list this year. I'm thank full.


Run Without Me

Thanksgiving snuck up this year. Someone on Instagram was advertising their Black Friday sale, and my reaction was, "Settle down. You're too early." Until I realized that it was NEXT WEEK (this week at this point), so I was the one who was late to the party, as opposed to her being early to it. 

When I think about what God has gifted us, His gifts are huge and abundant. I tend to complain, focusing on the one bad thing that happened today, when God has given us life and that more abundantly (John 10:10)!

The night before last, Charlotte went to bed without breastfeeding. We've been down to twice a day for quite awhile. Yes, she's almost two, and yes, I'd like to wean her before Portia comes, and, yes, I'd like her to wean herself before I have to cut her off, but the next morning she said, "I want some food from the fridge, please." Food from the fridge instead of mama. Maybe it's emotional, pregnant lady talk, but I felt unnecessary in my daughter's life and later that day, peeling squash for dinner, I cried. My husband loves me, and he whispered in Charlotte's ear all evening long, "Go tell mama you need her!" Charlotte kept running over with snuggles, face buried into me, "I need you, mama!" 

The goal of parenting is for your children to grow to be men and women who glorify God and love others, and I'll be the first to shout that that means babies have to become children, who become women, and there's no room for breastfeeding in that equation, long-term. How quickly I forget where we're headed. I want Charlotte to run without me, with God's words bound to her, following Him wherever He leads (Deuteronomy 6:8, Psalm 43:3), and though I'll miss this stage of dependence, I'm thankful for a daughter who has grown big enough to eat food from the fridge and run without me.


Gender Announcement: Baby Number Three

I remember the orientation of the shelf, the height of the book, and the light on your dada's face when we found the only thing we've ever bought specifically for you. It was sitting in an antique shop in Knoxville, just waiting to be found by a young, married couple with the dream of children.

When we visited Gone Away Lake together, your dada put your name down in writing then as one of our future baby names. We've loved the book and your name, Portia, together for years now.

Your middle name has been on my list since high school, when I adopted the life verse Galatians 5:1, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Welcome to the family Portia Liberty Nowak. We can't wait to welcome you home!