maternity pictures.

Warning: This post contains a whole bunch of maternity shoot photos and may be a trigger for those still struggling with infertility. Proceed with caution or skip over entirely. And know I am sending you BIG HUGS.

A few weekends ago, my dear friend Gina Zeidler came over into our home and gifted us with a full morning of maternity photos taken. For Josh and I, it was an unbelievably surreal morning. Gina is simply the best and turned what felt like such foreign territory and made it so much fun. We laughed, we cried, and we celebrated. It was such a beautiful time together. We are so thankful to her talent and generosity to bless us with these precious moments forever captured.

We will spare you from sharing nearly 200 pics, but here are some of our faves from the morning!!

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“Hey Mom, what’s going on with this bump?”

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This sign was the first thing Josh bought for the babies after we found out I was pregnant.

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This book is SO special. And a reminder of where our blessings come from!

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We received these onesies as a gift when we first shared our pregnancy news, as did we these gorgeous blankets made by Josh’s Grandma. These will be forever keepsakes!

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“Now what’s happening again??”

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Baby Twin bump at 28+4

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Our friend Kaylynn got us these perfect onesies! Can’t wait to put the little nuggets in them. :)

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From the beginning our hearts have been filled with so much laughter – disbelief and joy!

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My sister-in-law surprised us with these onesies – TOO CUTE! Womb Mates for SURE!

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My precious family of 5.

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Cali kisses for the babies!

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Hi Babies! Mommy loves you!

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Josh recently built our family this kitchen table and we love that it will now become the gathering place for so many memories, laughs, tears, devotions and meals.

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Every morning we get up and walk into the nursery and say “Good Morning” to Cali’s baby brother and sister. She’s going to be such a good big sister. :)

These photos are so US. We love that they were captured in our home, in regular clothes, with bare feet and coffee, water, and Cali close at hand. We are so incredibly blessed and don’t take a single minute for granted. <3


“Let the Adventure Begin” sign custom designed and made with love by our friend Ashley from Graced and Co.
Maternity Dress from Shop Pink Blush.

sneak peek: nursery, playroom + bathroom.

Who is ready for a sneak peek of our nursery, playroom, and babies bathroom!? We are so elated that we have been able to take an upstairs den, my old library/office, and guest bathroom and turn them into spaces for our babies to grow up in. And while we still have a few final details to finish, we just can’t wait any longer to show you! (And truthfully, the final details are low on my priority list as my belly grows and my eyes have a greater desire to be shut then opened, hehe!)

So without further ado …

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Here’s a peek from the doorway! We went with a mint, navy, pink, white, and gold theme … how’s that for a variety!? Haha! But we love the way it turned out. We feel like it’s complementary to both genders but also a serene, peaceful place to sleep.

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(Photo by Gina Zeidler)

Cali is ready for her brother and sister to arrive! Every morning we walk into the nursery and say hello and good morning to the babies. She now stops at the door before we head downstairs if I forget.

(And YES, when they start climbing and moving, we will rearrange the cribs so that there isn’t any risk factors with the in-between space between the two.)

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Our glider also is a recliner which is HEAVENLY and I am certain will be used and appreciated for the long nights ahead. It’s sooo comfy!

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The bins at the bottom are SO useful as we are realizing BABIES HAVE SO MUCH STUFF.

IMG_2082Our dear friend Janell blessed our family with these gorgeous hand crocheted blankets + matching elephants. Both of these bring us so much joy and we couldn’t love her more for loving our kids as much. How cute are they!? (You can follow her work on Instagram at @littlevernfieldcompany)

IMG_2080Our friend Ashley Dumler from Graced and Co custom gifted and designed this gorgeous piece of art for our family and we couldn’t love it more. For so long, we were on the journey towards parenthood and now we are ready for the ADVENTURE of parenthood. You can be encouraged by her heart on Instagram at @ashleydumler or check out her website and shop at www.gracedandco.com.

Josh spotted these mobiles and they are perfect! As a hunter, he noticed immediately that our daughters mobile has does on it, with bows in their hair, and our sons mobile has bucks, with antlers on top. It’s a detail I never would have noticed but one that we both love. Also, they play the song that my teddy bear as a child played, which is a fun thing to pass on.

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I love how the lighting turned out in here. We are able to add a little gold glimmer to the ceiling and it’s so pretty when it’s on. We have it on a dimmer as well so we can control the brightness.

IMG_2083This wall is kind of boring, as it’s just our dresser and changing table! This is one spot that still needs a lot of organizing TLC because I just don’t know how to best organize all of it! I have to nestle our wipes warmer in somehow and rearrange some of the not-every-day items … I wanted something simple above it like a mirror because every baby I know loves seeing a glimpse of themselves!

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We replaced the boring white knobs with gold glass knobs and love how it finishes off the dresser!

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/ritchiematernityamenCali has definitely claimed this pouf as her own already haha. (Photo by Gina Zeidler) I really like having the pouf vs. a glider ottoman because with the chair gliding, it helps me control the amount of “swing” I have going on. It’s super light weight and can easily be moved to the side too when the recliner goes up.

A special thanks to my girl Lindsay over at frillsanddrills.com (Instagram @frills_and_drills) for helping us create a room mock up to try out different styles and colors … she made life so much easier!)

And now onto the playroom! This room is right off of our main living space and we are thankful we have a spot like this.

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When you walk into the play room, this storage space is to your right and houses everything from extra bankets to toys to books and other misc items! You can see the babies already have a few stuffed animals and trinkets to play with! :)

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A wall of storage … we love the natural light that comes in! I still want to find some art for the left hand side, as well as cover the top in foam with the fabric on top … on the list! :)

IMG_2069Josh and I put up these sticker wall decals to invite some friends to the party! :) We love how it turned out!

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As a book lover, having places to display their books was a must! We will routinely swap these out for new ones they have. Already I have read most of these out loud to Cali/Josh/the babies. They are all SO cute!

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We have a chair in the corner (that I need to recover) and this is the view from it.

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We found this changing area on clearance and have heard it’s super nice to have a changing station on the main floor as well. I need to finish organizing it and adding a spot for the wipes (a small shelf on the wall? Any other ideas?). The green basket next to it I plan to fill with some snacks for me to nibble on while breastfeeding/pumping.

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This is one special detail in our playroom that we love. Years ago I had seen a sign similar and sent it to my sister-in-law, who remembered and had one custom made for boy/girl twins. We LOVE it.

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This is another special item in our playroom. It’s a beautiful rocking bear made in Poland that my grandparents had set aside for many years for us. It’s incredibly unique. It’s sturdy and soft, made from a gorgeous wool, and we love the special touch it adds to the playroom!

And we are SO excited to share that our beautiful finished PRAYER PUZZLE that SO MANY OF YOU participated in, is now framed and ready to be hung above the changing table in the playroom. We absolutely love that you will all be a part of our daily life – your prayers have been instrumental in our miracle and we feel so incredibly blessed that each of these thousand pieces have had a sponsoring friend/family/stranger committing to praying for our babies. This is my favorite thing ever.

And last up, the kiddos bathroom!

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This room was pretty easy to transition as it was just adding some splashes of color.

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We know it will be a little while before bath toys are used, but we are ready! :) We just need to put their baby baths in this tub but know we have a little time!

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I am still trying to figure out what will be handy to have easy access too. Most of their bath items (washcloths, towels, etc) are organized under the sink.

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A few little fun details. This “For this Child…” sign comes from a gift I received. A friend, Jessica, nominated me to win this, and I won! A special thanks to @august.and.april for this beautiful gift! And the music box/snow globe was a special gift from my grandparents that we got the day we shared we were pregnant. So special!

Truly, every time we pass one of these rooms, we can’t help but pinch ourselves because our home FINALLY has rooms with real, live babies coming its way! It’s so surreal and we can’t say THANKS enough to everyone who has so generously helped us fill them with goodies, clothes, diapers, toys, and practical items for the kiddos. We are so grateful.


Nursery: Cribs, Dresser, and Recliner – Buy Buy Baby, Baby Bedding and Crib Skirts – Sweet Jo Jo Designs (available on Amazon), Pouf – The Land of Nod, Storage Unit – Ikea, Bins, Artwork and wall decor (other than custom sign), pillow, lamps and side table – Target, Chandelier – Cost Plus World Market, Dresser Knobs – Home Depot, Black out curtains – Pottery Barn Kids, Laundry basket and garbage can – Home Goods, Mirror – At Home.

Playroom: Changing table – Buy Buy Baby, Storage Unit and Book racks – Ikea, Bins and curtains – Target, Lamp shades – At Home, Playroom wall art – Home Goods, Wall Decals – Amazon.

Bathroom: Shower curtain and green rug – Ikea, Blue Rug – Target, 2 set of bathroom prints – Hobby Lobby. 

(surprise) baby shower #2.

I’m falling behind on my blogging! Eeeeek! Expect a few baby-related posts to come your way over the next few days as I play catch up. :) One exciting thing to celebrate – we are officially into our 29th week! YAHOO! Here’s a little pic of the baby bump from this afternoon.

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Side note – thank you all SO much for all of your prayers support, encouragement, and messages sent our way after sharing the news about our little girl’s IUGR. I am so pleased to share that our appointment last Thursday went awesome, and both her and her brother passed all of the tests with scores of 10/10. (Essentially they go through 5 different “tests”, each being a pass/fail worth 2 points. They each have to score 8/10 or above in order to go home as an “all good!”.)  Our next testing day is tomorrow (Friday) and we hope to have the same results!

Now, time to dig in and share about a SURPRISE Baby Shower we were thrown on March 12th by my sister! Josh and I always attend church at 2:00 pm on Sunday, and little did we know, while we were at church, my sister Courtney and her fiance Dave were over, turning our home into a celebration zone!

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Our sneaky decorators!

A surprise shower, you ask? Well, traveling hasn’t been possible for me this pregnancy, and Courtney wanted to give both my friends and family in Chicago (where I am from) and my online community throughout the US, a chance to celebrate with us, even though I couldn’t be with them all in person. She got a hold of my Christmas label list and sent my people this adorable, sweet card.

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So little did I know, so many of those we care about, were in cahoots with her, sending cards, books, and special presents to celebrate us. SO SPECIAL!

When we arrived home from church, our home was decorated, snacks were out, and both my parents and Courtney and Dave were ready and waiting to yell SURPRISE and jump into celebrating these twins. It was such a surprise and so incredibly special!

Here’s a few pictures!


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And both my mom and sister, in attempts to making it feel as shower-like as possible, took the time to WRAP all of the gifts in cute baby shower paper which just added such a personal and special element to the celebration.

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“is all this for me!?” -cali

 

It was so fun to open each card and read each note and see the names of those who really made a point to celebrating us. We read each note out loud and both Josh and I were just so blown away by the kindness and generosity of those who care about us and these babies. It also was SO fun to be able to have Josh there to go through each gift with me and have him help too, especially since most baby showers are mom-only. So he equally got to enjoy all of the special moments! We spent a lot of time giggling over the tiny little everything and passed gifts around, my parents and Courtney and Dave oooohing and ahhhhing over the softness of this swaddle, or that blanket, or laughing with us over a book title. It was so relaxed and laid back, really such a perfect way to spend an afternoon!

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We got such a kick out of this book “Fraturtles” that explains what fraternal twins are to a pair of twin turtles.

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Everything tiny, like these little robes….yes please!

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SO grateful to have gotten one of our car seats!

We were so blessed by each thoughtful item sent and knowing that so many are celebrating our miracles with us. THANK YOU to each of you who participated … we were so blessed by this beautiful display of love and generosity.

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Time to get out the selfie stick and capture this special day! Wish you all could have been here in person to celebrate! 

10 ways to keep your relationship thriving.

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When EmpowHer reached out to me to see if I was interested in writing a piece about how to keep your relationship thriving through infertility struggles, the answer was a resounding YES! Because I have seen time and time again how the stresses of infertility can impact a relationship. Add together all of the elements of the struggle, the emotional, financial, hormonal, physical, and spiritual stressors, and if you aren’t careful, you have so many ingredients for conflict.

So, I happily dove into writing a list, 10 ways to make your relationship thrive, which you can read by clicking this link below:

Trying For a Baby? 10 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Thriving

(And by clicking and reading, it always is a great way of letting them know you enjoy reading what I am writing, hence continued gigs, so thank you!)

But continue reading here… because there is a #1 that I wasn’t able to include in this list and it shouldn’t surprise you … the best way to make your relationship thrive through infertility or ANY struggle, is to make sure that it’s rooted in Christ.

Without Jesus as the center of your marriage, conflict will give the devil a foothold to sneak in and cause so much distress. We have to keep in mind who created marriage – God! Which means your relationship is a spiritual relationship that works best when the two of you are connected with Jesus, taking time to walk with Him, read His Word, pray together, and seeking His will for your lives. When we ignore putting Him first, we ultimately are ignoring the one who created marriage and knows how to best make it work.

So, as you go through and read my list, keep in mind that yes, all of those things will help you create a thriving relationship, but nothing will help you THRIVE and SURVIVE more than Jesus.

Josh and I find it crucial to get to church together every weekend, taking time to talk about the message and engage in worship together. We love serving together, volunteering in our church cafe and giving back to the church. We know how important small groups are and throughout our years, have participated in ones separately and together. Right now we are both in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), him doing the men’s only class and me in the women’s only class – both doing the same study, so we have a chance to talk about what we are learning. At night we take time to pray together. We certainly aren’t perfect by any means, but we truly try to make it a priority to keep Christ at the center of our relationship and in our choices. When you take the time to put God in the daily parts of your lives, it becomes easier to bring Him into the big stuff. It changes the way we talk to one another, the level of love and respect that we show each other, and keeps our goals in check with what we feel He wants for our family.

Not there with your spouse today? That’s okay! It’s as simple as a daily prayer, asking God to help become the center of your marriage. One book I have loved is Power of a Praying Wife, which has helped equip me on how to be praying for Josh daily. But there are so many great books out there for couples to read together! Like this one, this one, or this one.

Happy reading!


Photo taken by Gina Zeidler

baby shower #1.

This past Sunday, we got to celebrate a day that I never thought would arrive … my BABY SHOWER! *Cue all the tears, feels, emotions, and mush* I prayed for this day for so long. Like many of you, I’ve spent time in the bathroom at many baby showers collecting myself and wiping away a few tears, wondering if it would ever be my turn. Years passed and then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, last Sunday it was my turn and it was just as magical and special and miraculous as I ever imagined. It made the wait so worth it – the celebration on this end felt so rich and meaningful.

This first shower of ours was hosted and planned by my sister-in-law Monica, who did an amazing job from start to finish! (And I know she had a special helper in my mother-in-law Lori and my nieces!) I loved that I was able to be surprised with the details and felt so special and loved knowing how excited she was to plan this event. This shower was mainly Josh’s side of the family and family friends. It was so great to celebrate with those who have prayed for us for so long!

Here’s a peek at our invitations! The theme was “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.

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The morning started off with so many nerves! I didn’t anticipate to wake up with so many butterflies in my stomach. Was this real life? I struggled to anticipate what my emotions would be, as well as manage what I thought others would be expecting my emotions to be. I was nervous to be the center of attention for an event that was waited on for years. Thankfully after some prayers and deep breathing, the butterflies went away and the excitement was full-on!

One of my best friends Julie came by in the morning to curl my hair for me, which was so fun. It loved being able to process through my thoughts with her and seriously, she does the best job with my hair. It felt a little like a school dance moment, as I slipped on my dress, her and her family oohed and ahhed. It was so sweet and I am thankful for her offering to come celebrate with me the morning of!

Here’s a running-out-the-door bathroom selfie of my shower look! The dress is from Pink Blush Maternity and was so incredibly comfortable! The navy and pink colors were of course an ode to baby boy and boy girl. (PS – If you haven’t already shopped Pink Blush or Pink Blush Maternity, what are you waiting for!? They are my favorite online boutique!)

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Josh drove me to the shower and got to see all the fun festivities before sneaking off to play pickleball with his brother and dad. We got to walk in to a house full of gorgeous decorations and very eager family ready to celebrate! Here are some of the gorgeous touches!

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The shower was over the lunch hour and we ate an amazing spread of soups (tomato basil, beef barley, and duck wild rice) and sandwiches (ham, roast beef, and turkey with delicious condiments and gourmet cheeses). The spread was completed with homemade potato chips and a lovely fruit spread. It was catered by Lake Elmo Inn and SO DELICIOUS! Desserts were yummy cupcakes, turtle bar bites, and coconut macaroons. SWOON.

In the invitations, Monica invited guests to participate in a diaper raffle and we were so blessed to get so many boxes of diaper to start off our unending need! Guest began to arrive and were invited to fill out “I Wish…” cards for babies and also, grab a Bingo card to begin filling it out for the gift opening. Everyone was visiting, laughing, eating and talking about different gifts that could be included on the bingo card. I still couldn’t believe this day was about US!

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When we transitioned to the gift opening, Monica and my mother-in-law started with a little game where they asked me questions and saw how my answer compared to Josh’s. Monica asked me all the questions first and then surprised me by popping in a DVD to see how Josh responded. It’s so special to now have these answers on film! Here’s the questions and how we both answered them (edited versions):

  1. What is Chelsea’s favorite pregnancy food craving?

C: buffalo wild wings (parmesan garlic)

J: buffalo wild wings (parmesan garlic with blue cheese dressing)

  1. What is one word that would describe Chelsea’s mood while being pregnant?

C: happy

J: appreciative

  1. Do you think your baby girl will be born with a full head of hair? And your boy?

C: yes / yes

J: yes / yes

  1. How many diapers do you think the babies will go through in their first year?

C: 7,000

J: 7,300

  1. How many hours do newborns sleep each day?

C: 15 hours

J: I think they just sleep and eat, so I will say sleeping 18 hours a day.

  1. Which baby items have you registered for that you believe will be most helpful?

C: Some sort of rocker/swing, like a Rock’N’Play or a Mama Roo.

J: I’ve heard the Mama Roo is pretty awesome.

  1. What aspects of motherhood do you think Chelsea is most looking forward to?

C: EVERYTHING.

J: Just being able to cuddle with the babies.

  1. What traits of Chelsea do you hope the babies inherit and don’t inherit?

C: My empathy or compassion. Don’t inherit my stubbornness to admit when I am wrong.

J: Her love of other people and caring about other people. I hope they don’t inherit her habit of not putting lids back on any jars or containers.

  1. What traits of Josh do you hope the babies inherit and don’t inherit?

C: I hope they inherit his sense of humor and positivity. (forgot to reply to the don’t inherit part)

J: I hope they inherit the same work ethic that I inherited from my dad. I hope they don’t inherit my webbed toes.

  1. Which memory from growing up do you hope to recreate with your babies?

C: Making the little things an adventure, like going to the grocery store or cleaning up toys. My mom always made normal things extra special.

J:  Rough housing and playing with my dad. It was so fun to team up on dad and mess around with him.

  1. What are you most looking forward to about being a dad to a girl?

C: Having daddy/daughter moments.

J: Having daddy daughter times and making sure she knows how loved she is. I want to show her how loved she is and what it looks like for a man to care for her in her life.

  1. What are you most looking forward to about being a dad to a boy?

C: Having a little buddy to rough house with and hunt with.

J: Instill in him a solid faith and a strong work ethic, and what it means to be a real man. Not in the worlds definition, but what it means to be a man of God. And bow hunting. For both of them. And loving pizza.

  1. What aspect of being a parent are you most excited about in general?

C: Having the opportunity to raise kiddos to love Jesus.

J: It’s another way to experience love and to be able to love even deeper. It’s a different kind of love and I can’t wait to experience that.

As you can imagine, it was so special to hear Josh’s answers! I can’t wait to see him as a daddy to our human kiddos! (He’s such a great dad already to Cali!)

Next I opened gifts, and was so incredibly blessed with such special goodies! Monica asked guests to bring a book instead of a card, and I loved that we are able to get our kiddos library started off strong! (If you know me well, you know I LOVE books. Top  favorite things of all time. So these books are so treasured!). Our babies got such special practical and fun items. A huge thank you to everyone who blessed us so richly!

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Before I knew it, we were giving out hugs and saying our goodbyes! The afternoon flew by! Monica handed out lavender chamomile sugar scrubs stars as a parting favor, which is one of my favorite scents ever! It was such a lovely parting gift!

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It truly was such a wonderful day from start to finish! Josh came to pick me up and helped pack up the car. I smiled the rest of the night, so gratitude that we were able to celebrate this day, a day of God’s faithfulness! It was a dream come true in more ways than one.

When we got home, I finally remembered that I wanted a non-selfie picture of myself in my dress with my 25+4 baby bump, and of course by then, my hair had fallen, the sun went away, and I looked as tired as I felt, but still …. we had to capture the day and moment!

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Now, to my friends who are still waiting, hang in there. It’s h-a-r-d, I understand, but I’m believing that you’ll be the center of the party in the future and praying for that day to come soon for each of you. Keep the faith that your waiting will not be in vain. The wait will make the celebration even richer than you could ever imagine! And God will get so much glory!

Thank you to all who came out to celebrate. Our hearts are SO FULL. Thank you Jesus for the chance to celebrate these little lives!

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(left to right bottom) Colleen, Jeannie, Nancy, Meghan, Grandma Jones, Denise, Aunt Donna, Pam, Alicia, Emily, Katie, Gena, Diane, Lori, Kinsely, Scarlett, and Gabby. (left to right top) Patti Jo, Rachel, Lynn, Monica, Courtney, me, Mom, and Jeannie