Category Archives: emotions

His Grace is Sufficient

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

I know this is true, but today it sure doesn’t feeI like it.
The nice thing about doing dishes is that you can’t tell the difference between the teardrops and the water splashes.
KP is waking up every two hours.
The job with the shorter commute hasn’t led to earlier nights and the next quarter with less classes has led to more work because the class is harder.
I’m one marker on the furniture incident from complete meltdown.
Strength in weakness, weakness in strength.
His grace is sufficient.
Always sufficient.
Even when it doesn’t feel like it.


Don’t blink. Just like that you’re six years old, and you take a nap, and you wake up, and you’re twenty-five, and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife. Don’t blink. You just might miss your babies growing like mine did, turning into moms and dads, next thing you know your “better half” of fifty years is there in bed, and you’re praying God takes you instead. Trust me, friend, a hundred years goes faster than you think. So don’t blink. – “Don’t blink” by Kenny Chesney

It’s boiling hot. I am cursing these blasted sleeves. They are beautiful, flowing, but they trap in the August heat. My sister puts her hands on my face. Her hands are like ice. It’s wonderful.

Everyone makes their way downstairs. It’s almost time now. I follow my sister down the stairs. Dad is there to lend a hand while I navigate them in my dress.

The doors open to reveal the dakned sanctuary. I take a deep breath as we enter. I want to
remember every moment of this day.

I look down towards the front of the church. There he is, tears streaming down his face, just like I knew there would be. Dad and I walk towards

“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

“Her mother and I.”

Dad places our hands together and we walk up the stairs to the altar, together.


It’s been 8 years since the events above. I honestly don’t remember much of that day anymore. I remember the heat and the smiles and sweat and the people. I remember the kiss, knees buckling and heart racing.

I remember the promises we made, better or worse, richer or poorer. I remember that I had no idea what I was getting myself into, even though I thought I knew.

Today, 8 years and 2 kids later, we are still walking up to the altar together.

I know now, those promises ought to be “and”. Better and worse. Richer and poorer. Sometimes both at the same time.

I married my best friend that day, and he is still my best friend to this day.

Happy Anniversary, Jesse Michael Carrigan.

I love you.


FAQ: AJ’s Adjustment

"Hold it?" *put Kaylee on her lap* "Mama hold it?"

“Hold it?” *put Kaylee on her lap* “Mama hold it?”

How is AJ adjusting to the new baby?

That is the most frequent question we get asked since Kaylee has joined our family. (After the obligatory inquiry into my health which I usually deflect, because really, who wants to know the TMI details of post-partum? Ew.)

Honestly, it’s a hard one to answer, because she can’t really tell us how she’s feeling yet. So we have to observe behavior and guess a little bit.

First of all, she absolutely adores Kaylee. She asks to hold her, gives her kisses, and pets her hair. So that part seems to be going really well, and is heartbreakingly adorable.



AJ was with us at the Birthing Inn when Kaylee was born. She wasn’t able to be in the room with me, because it was nap time, and she wanted mama. Labor being what it is, mama wasn’t really in the mood for cuddles with a cranky toddler. She was the first person to come into the room to meet Kaylee. She understood right away that this was “ottew-baby,” and she wasn’t in my tummy anymore. Her whole face lit up when she saw her “sistew”. And mama’s heart asploded right then and there. There may or may not have been tears in mama’s eyes.

For the first week, things went fairly well. Granted, our routine was all wacky and there was family in and out, providing support and help. She also spent a lot of time with Gramma & Papa.

The first hiccough and sign that maybe all was not quite so well happened the Monday after the birth. My grandma came up to help us out and AJ didn’t want to have anything to do with her. She wouldn’t look at her, wouldn’t talk to her, or even play with her. It got to the point that I had to call Jesse to come back from the gym because I physically couldn’t do anything with her and she would not let Gigi help. Later that night, we went out to my parents’ house for dinner, and she wouldn’t kiss or hug Auntie Kari, who is one of her favorite people.

Over the course of the next week, her behavior continued to deteriorate. It was hard for me on many levels. I knew she was struggling with the transition, but Kaylee hasn’t been wanting to sleep unless she’s snuggled up with me, so I felt trapped having to choose between them. She’s only two, so she doesn’t understand that I can’t lift, carry, chase, or wrestle her. If I tell her I have an “owie”, she just wants to kiss it and make it better. We also experienced a slight speech regression, where she stopped asking for things and reverted to whining and screaming.

After some observation this last weekend, my mom came to the conclusion that she is “mama-sick” and suggested that I try to spend a few minutes here and there throughout the day with her (and without Kaylee).

If I survive this week without dying from the cute, it will be a miracle. #sisterlove

If I survive this week without dying from the cute, it will be a miracle. #sisterlove

Since AJ isn’t much of a cuddler, I hadn’t considered that she might resent having Kaylee attached to my person. So I started yesterday with some story time while Kaylee was napping (not on me, for once). Overall, yesterday seemed to go better. When I asked Jesse about it, he mentioned that he hadn’t had to put her in time out at all. Which is a big win, since we had been up to three or four per day.

Today is my first day home with both of them by myself. So far, they’ve been taking turns sleeping (except for right now, and they’re both sleeping !! ), so I’ve been able to give AJ the one-on-one time she’s been missing so much.

I had planned the timing of leaving my job, in order to give her a few months with just me. I wanted time to really bond, without so much time that she got accustomed to having me to herself. We did bond quite well, and she’s become my little buddy and helper. What I hadn’t realized was how much of a comfortable routine we had managed to build. Even though she’s not much of a cuddler, we did spend a lot of time together, and she had easy access to me throughout the day.

So, just how is AJ adjusting to having a new baby around?

About as well as you can expect from a two year old.

Kaylee’s Arrival: Part the Second

After spending the whole day Friday on the couch, I went to bed pretty discouraged. Jesse kept trying to encourage me, that he was proud of me for being patient. But I just wanted to be done.

I woke up at 3:00 with some pretty intense contractions. I drank some water & took a bath, trying to get them to calm down. They were pretty close together, so I woke Jesse up around 4 to help me time them. At 4:30, they were staying consistent at 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute. I called my mom, to get her out to the house to watch AJ, in case we ended up at the Birthing Inn.

At 5, we had been timing for an hour, so I called Neeva. She informed me that Susan was out of town for the weekend, but since I was going to have Neeva be the primary midwife, I wasn’t worried about it. After discussing where we were at, we decided to meet at the Birthing Inn at 6:30.

I called Kelley, who happened to be at another birth. Since the other mama wasn’t progressing, Kelley decided to come meet us anyway.

We rolled in and got set up, checked my cervix, which was still only at a 6. I started to feel discouraged again, because I had made it to a 7 with AJ before going in to the center. I was also worried that they might send me home again.

Neeva told me that they usually preferred to have their patients come when they’re actually in transition, which I was still a ways from, because it can be discouraging. However, she gave me the option to continue on at the center or to go home for a few more hours. I asked to stay partly because it would have been more discouraging to be sent home and because I knew Jesse would be distracted by all the projects that needed to be done at home. I knew that I was going to need his full attention to make it through.

The time line gets rather wibbly wobbly after that point. The rest of the morning is a haze of comings and goings, alternating between resting and walking, in the tub and out of the tub. At one point, we took a couple walks around the back lawn.

Somewhere around the afternoon, I moved into transition. I’m not sure anyone knows when it actually happened, I vaguely remember Neeva saying something about me reaching an 8 and nobody knew.

A few other stand out memories are of Neeva continuing to remark about how quiet I am in labor. A couple of times it made me laugh, which was both distracting and painful. But amusing nonetheless. I did try to warn her, but I understand not believing a woman who tells you that she sometimes can’t actually tell she’s having a contraction. It is true though.

I also have distinct memories of Kelley and Mom praying in the Spirit, which was absolutely beautiful and wonderful.

Music is one of the ways I deal with pain, so I had an all female play list prepared, which played during the entirety of the labor process. During which two songs came on that completely ushered in the presence of God.

Other than that, it’s a haze of pain and work. Towards the end, as she was crowning, I felt my blood sugar dropping and realized that I hadn’t had enough to eat that day. I knew that if I didn’t get her out soon, my body might not have enough energy to finish. It was at that time that I had a stern conversation with myself. I knew I wasn’t using the contractions to the full extent. I would get a couple of good pushes in, and then the pain would build in my back and break my concentration. So I told myself that I needed to just push through a couple of those, and she would come out, and it would be over.

After that I found my rhythm, and I think it was only a handful of contractions before her little head slipped out. I think I may have started crying then, because I knew the hard work was over and she was here.

When they pulled her out of the water, she started crying immediately. They put her on my chest and I looked up to see Jesse crying over my shoulder, just like he did with AJ. I am so grateful to have such a tender daddy for my girls.

Since none of us could remember the song that was playing when AJ was born, Jesse and I had talked about making sure we appointed someone to pay attention to that, but, of course, we forgot. Fortunately, Kelley remembered what it was.

So I will leave you with her song, and talk about the naming process later.

Kaylee’s Arrival: Part the First

In order to understand the full impact of Kaylee’s birth story, it will be necessary for you to know how things went with AJ. (For the morbidly curious, you may also wish to view the photos, Daddy’s version of the story, and Auntie Kari’s version.)

I find this birth story just as difficult to write about as the last. Which is odd, considering that things went completely differently and pretty much exactly as I wanted.

Let’s rewind to my 36 week check up… As I found myself approaching full-term, I became increasingly nervous about the stall-out from AJ’s labor. I talked to my midwife, Susan, and the student midwife, Neeva (who would be my primary delivering midwife), through the AJ’s birth story. We discussed exactly when the stall had happened and what the previous midwife had done. They reassured me that if a stall did occur, they would just tuck me into bed and have me get some more rest. I left that appointment much encouraged and relieved.

Up until the contractions started. On July 2nd. Two days before the date we were pretty sure she would be coming, and nine days before our due date. I decided to have them check my cervix (3cm at 50% effaced) at my 39 week appointment on the 3rd, and we talked about what they wanted me to do. I had been trying to alternatively walk (to keep the contractions going) and rest, since I didn’t want to wear myself out. They asked me to rest and be patient, true labor doesn’t stop when it decides to start. They told me that the location of my placenta was causing my uterus to be irritable, which basically means that anytime Otter moved around in there, it would kick up a round of contractions.

I went home and tried to rest as much as possible. When nothing really happened, we decided to go out to my parents’ house for the 4th. Around 730, the contractions picked back up again. I tried a few things to get them to slow down, but they continued to get stronger and closer together. I had Jesse call the midwife, since the contractions were getting to the point where I didn’t want to talk through them. We decided to meet them at the Birthing Inn to see where things were at. My doula, Kelley, met us there in case this was the real deal.

I had progressed slightly (to 4 cm) but definitely not in active labor as of yet. So home we went. Again. I cried myself to sleep that night. Friday (the 5th) I spent pretty much parked on the couch. I was so frustrated. I hadn’t wanted to do the three days of contracting again. I also found myself very untrustful of my body. If I couldn’t count on my contractions to tell me when I was in labor, how was I supposed to know? I cried quite a bit that day, as well as was just generally grumpy. Jesse and I went out for breakfast, since both of us were pretty grumpy. Not with each other, thankfully, but at life and the whole situation.

Five Minute Friday: Friend

From Lisa Jo:So, here’s the skinny: every Friday for over a year hundreds of people join a kind of writing flash mob over here.

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

It’s easy to join in, just:

  1. Check what the prompt is on my blog.
  2. Write a post in only five minutes on that topic on your blog.
  3. Link over here and invite friends to join in.
  4. Select the permalink to your post {so not your blog url but your post url }
  5. Using the linky tool at the bottom of my Five Minute Friday post enter your link.
  6. Your post will show up in our Five Minute Friday linky.
  7. Be sure and encourage the person who linked up before you!

Our most important requirement for participation: There’s really only one absolute, no ifs, ands or buts about it Five Minute Friday rule: you must visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.


Friend is a hard word for me to write about. In fact, I found myself wanting to duck out of this week’s prompt entirely. But the harder I tried to walk away, the more it pushed to be written about.

What is a friend? “One who sticks closer than a brother” is the typical answer.

In that case, I’ve never had one. And frankly, I’m tired.

I’m tired of pouring myself into seasonal relationships. I’m tired of pursuing and choosing and not being chosen.

I don’t even want to try any more, because, really, what’s the point? It’s not like the relationship is going to last beyond a few months or years. One of us will move, or the life circumstances will change, and then, we won’t be friends any more.

Just acquaintences. People you pass in church and cordially greet, but who aren’t intimately involved in each other’s lives. People you watch their kids grow up on Facebook, because you don’t actually get to be involved in the growing up process.


I did not want to write for this prompt. Like at all. Once I had cried and written it and cried some more, I didn’t want to post it. But I guess that’s part of the healing process.

Changing Seasons

Spring slips softly into the Pacific Northwest. Our long, dark, and rainy days give way to slightly longer, less dark, rainy days. Then you might start getting a few sunbreaks here and there, occasionally, if you’re lucky, even a few sunny days strung together.

Then one morning, you wake up and the cherry trees across the city have burst into bloom, seemingly overnight.

5. So good. Cherry blossoms in the spring. #fmsphotoaday

5. So good. Cherry blossoms in the spring. #fmsphotoaday

There is something poetic about life change taking place at the same time as the changing seasons. Changes that take place at the onset of spring have a particular feeling of hope.

#Easter #goldenhour Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen.

#Easter #goldenhour Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen.

As I have mentioned before, I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

But sometimes blessings are tinged with I had hoped or I just wish.

I just wish…

The Last Day

Yesterday was AJ’s last day at daycare. My sister made cupcakes & took a few pictures to commemorate.

The teachers at Altamese’s Academy of Angels have been absolutely fantastic. AJ is in love with all of them, and I know it’s going to be a hard day when she realizes that she’s not going back to see “Lar-lar”. We are incredibly grateful for the level of love and care that they have provided for her. It helped me through the transition to daycare tremendously.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to hang out with AJ every day, but we are both going to miss the AAA family greatly.

The Old Piano

Edit: I was trying to make video embedding more complicated than it actually is. (blush) Classic nerd mistake. Here’s the video!

We were given this antique piano, and, in case you can’t tell from her face, AJ loves it. She walks out of her room in the morning & puts her hands on the bench, “Up peas. Up peas.”

Upon being placed on the bench & the cover lifted, she plinks away at the keys & sings her heart out. I love that she loves music. I hope to continue to foster that love for a very long time.