I'm typing with one hand because the other arm is filled with baby.   A narrow rivulet of milk runs from the corner of her lips, she softly sighs, and a sleep-smile flashes brief-- there-- just now.

She's beautiful.

Cadence Octavia arrived last Sunday evening, slipping swiftly into the world.  She is a marvel and an always-been, both at the same time.

6 pounds, 10 ounces
19 1/2 inches from top to toe
dark hair
smoky blue eyes
heart thief

Truncated Birth Story Without Even One Gory Bit! (*Okay, Maybe One)

We couldn't have asked for a better way to bring a baby into the world.
At least, that's true if you're talking to me; John might quibble a bit, as he was sweating bullets before the day was through.

Our gorgeous, spring Sunday went a little like this:
Steady contractions two to three minutes apart during church, and two hours later, a wave out the window and a hurried "hullo" to an old friend and her girls, then a quick duck into the gas station to buy food for the dumb mama-in-labor who had skipped breakfast that morning, followed minutes later by a crippled van streaming fluids onto the side of the road, seven children running barefoot in a field, a state policeman who was not a jerk (and since he was one of eight children himself, understood why seven children would run barefoot through a field),  many calls to find someone who would answer their phone and be able to pick us up; an hour after that, two vehicles to pick us up, a round of cleaning while we waited for the tow truck driver to bring John home, a speedy drive to the hospital, and then a walk around the block until enough doubled-over contractions made me want to be inside rather than out.

An hour (pain! more pain! ouch! GORE!*) later,

I bet everyone just skipped all the blabbering and scrolled straight to these pictures:

 (in the hospital)

And I don't blame you.  She is everything a baby could be.

It was a charmed day (except-- maybe-- for the nervous Papa).  When our friend Mary arrived with the first rescue-mobile to drive a batch of us home, Susannah came running over to say goodbye and gave me the biggest hug.  She was all dazzled over with excitement and said, "This has been SO FUN!  I think this is the best day of my WHOLE life!!!"  To her credit, I thought our day was pretty near the top, too.  Days later, I'm still brimming over with gratitude for everything about it.  An adventure on the ride home, the prayed-for gift of another natural VBAC without complications, and an evening that ended with her in our arms. Who could ask for more?

Post Bail After 24 Hours

The van was still in convalescence the next day, so my mom brought the girls down so they could meet Cadence while the boys stayed at home with John.

They approved of the new girl.

Millie's made a tradition of bringing me a plate of sweets.  The last two times, it's been coconut candies.  I ate seven of them that afternoon and five more at home the next day.  So much for losing the 48 pounds that are still hanging around a week later...

And this man most handsome, my partner in crime, who's been serving up meal after delicious meal for us the last week and whose company I love.

He's my favorite.

One Wish Granted

John and I weren't able to leave the hospital until 9:30 p.m., so everyone was asleep when we got home, and it wasn't until the next morning that Aidan learned that some dolls are actually alive.  He was utterly amazed by Cadence and kept making the softest noises of awe over and over again.

Over a week later, he still can't keep himself from stroking her head.

And Zeke?  Also smitten, though slightly less amazed, since he's understood all along that my big belly = a baby to come.

You Teewah!, Or, Party Van!

Zeke turned four on Sunday, and I present a funny sequence of pictures from his birthday breakfast.

1. Annika lights the candle.

2. The candle dies out while we sing.

3.  Annika relights the candle, but to no avail, because THE REST OF ZEKE'S LIFE IS RUINED BEYOND REPAIR.
    (And people say girls are dramatic.)

Don't worry; he perked up.  Strawberry pancakes with whipped cream and syrup will do that for you.  A side of sausage doesn't hurt, either.  (Credit to John for making breakfast while I snored upstairs.)

Zeke wanted another tractor cake this year, but after seeing Annika's birthday cake, he requested lots of dirt and "gummy worms stickin' up all over," also.

The tractor may look funny, but, by gum, I nailed the dirt and worms addition.

This picture is of terrible quality, but I love it.  Lucinda bought Zeke a vintage Fisher Price camera at a rummage sale, and she was very proud to give it to him.  It's one of his favorite gifts, and it's been a delight to watch her beam.

He even took a picture of his cake before we lit the candles.

Happy, happy birthday to our Little Boy Blue.  You are so dear to us, Ezekiel Walker.

Birthday Repose

After we got back from church, I called Zeke so I could tuck him in for a nap, but he came upstairs with his hands full.  John had turned his breakfast shake into a popsicle, so he finished it while standing on the bed and talking about his birthday.

He finished, I tucked him in, and when I came in to check on him after a while, he was sound asleep- snoring loudly, even- with his beloved new bubbles in hand (thanks, Janis!).

If you look closely, though, you can see through his not-at-all-convincing snores...

to the wide-awake giggles just below the surface.

Half an hour later, THIS is what sleep really looks like, and he wasn't even snoring this time around.


Sunday was also the day of Cadence's baptism.

God hold you close, little one.


Millie made Cadence a little headband for her baptism.  It looked so tiny when she finished, but it somehow grew by the time it reached Cadence's dainty head.

Frugal Fancy-Pants: Very, Very Pregnant Edition

Aha!  And you all thought I forgot about the 40-week-sausage-legs-leather-pants-FFP!

If you did, you'd be nearly right.  While contractions were growing increasingly more painful, John called to let me know that the tow truck driver would be bringing him home in 15 minutes.  I went upstairs to grab my hospital bag, and, behold, folded neatly on top of my hospital bag was a pair of leather maternity pants.  What a stroke of luck!

Because I am a servant of the people, I immediately prepared myself for a Frugal Fancy-pants post, even though my mother had to put my shoes on and lace them up for me (because there was no way I could bend over that far).

For the backstory, a few months ago a college friend of mine and John's sent me a package like a bolt out of the blue, containing a letter and a pair of leather maternity pants, with a slight hint that perhaps they would serve well as an FFP showcase.  It was one of the greatest things I've ever received via the USPS.  To my recollection, I have never worn a piece of leather clothing in my life before, except a vintage suede trench coat with a fur collar during college.

I tried them on, and I believe my first words were, "I feel like I'm wearing butter."  No, dear reader.  I did not say that I looked like I was made of butter, however true that may also be.  These pants were shockingly comfortable.  Silky smooth and, well, buttery.  Who knew?!

So, with thanks and a wave of the hand to Jamie, here I am, in labor and no more than 2 hours away from meeting our newest child, wearing leather maternity pants.  (And I don't know why my face looks like a beet.)

Exhibit A: 40+ Weeks

Wear this outfit for no more than five minutes before changing into a teeshirt and jeans in order to drive to the hospital and deliver a baby.

White lacy top: a gift (thanks, Sarah!)
Black necklace: hand-me-down
LEATHER MATERNITY PANTS: a gift (thanks, Jamie!)
Black Mary Poppins shoes: under a nickel from a rummage sale

Total: less than a nickel

Optional accessory: A pained expression as another contraction begins.  (Right after Millie took this picture, I told her to wait and then doubled over. Dedication!)


Exhibit B:  a couple of days into the babymoon

Wear this outfit to take your newborn for her first doctor's appointment.

Funny sweater: rummage sale, under a nickel
Bird earrings: hand-me-down
Black tank top: rummage sale, under a nickel
Too-short jeans, worn because one can't be choosy when one can only squeeze into the too-short jeans: rummage sale, under a nickel
Tan dress sneakers: hand-me-down

Total: Under fifteen cents

Necessary accessory: A sweet-smelling, dark-haired baby

Side-by-side comparison:

Now, this wasn't the most fair FFP because Exhibit B looks somewhat respectable, barring the too-short pants.

To even things out, here's a picture of me that one of the girls took the day after we got home.  Total cost of outfit was under a nickel, and optional accessories are a life well-lived in the foreground and a home well-loved in the background.