Welcome Baby Drew!

Earlier this month, we welcomed our third child into our family. Drew Louis Longenecker made a very speedy entrance into this world. His first name is a derivative of the name Andrew, which runs in my family line. His middle name is the first name of one of his paternal great-grandfathers. 

He was born early in the morning on a Tuesday. The Saturday prior to his arrival, I woke up in the night feeling contractions that were about 3 minutes apart. So I woke up John, and we headed to the hospital, which is about 45 minutes from our home. The contractions weren’t super strong, but my contractions generally don’t get too intense until right before it’s time to push. When I went into labor with Brooke, I was already 7 centimeters when we arrived at the hospital, and the nurses were quite surprised since my contractions weren’t registering very strongly.

Well, as we drove to the hospital on Saturday night, the contractions didn’t seem to progress. If anything, they seemed to feel less strong the closer we got to the hospital. Once we arrived, I told John that I wanted to wait in the car to see if the contractions picked up. The contractions started getting further apart, so we headed home without ever stepping foot in the hospital.

Fast forward to Monday night – or really very, very early Tuesday morning. I woke up to Brooke singing in her room. When I woke up, my stomach hurt a little bit, and I figured my stomach was just upset. After a few minutes, I began to think that maybe my stomach pains were actually labor pains. I started timing the pains, and they were a minute and a half apart. Once again, I woke up John, and we headed to the hospital. There is a hospital only 15 minutes from our house, but it doesn’t have a maternity ward. Because of how close together my contractions were and because they were intensifying quickly, I told John I thought we should go to the emergency room at the closer hospital.

We arrived at the hospital by our house and my contractions quickly intensified. However, we could tell the ER doctor really did not want to deliver a baby. So he called for an ambulance to take us to the hospital with the labor and delivery facilities. It took the ambulance 20 minutes to arrive (not sure what took them so long). When we left in the ambulance, I felt like I could have the baby any minute, but I knew we were still a 20+ minute drive away from the second hospital. As we left, John overheard the ER doctor say to the hospital we were being sent to that they needed to be prepared to deliver our baby as soon as we arrived. And sure enough, within 10 minutes of us entering the doors at the second hospital, Drew was born.

It was a bit of a traumatic experience because I had zero pain medicine, and I could tell my body was ready to deliver our little guy while in the ambulance. Only an hour and half lapsed between when I woke up to Brooke’s singing and Drew’s birth, and it was probably the most intense hour and a half of my life.

When Drew was born and the nurse laid him on me, I didn’t even have the energy to look down at him. I couldn’t believe the pain was done and he was born. While his entrance into this world felt dramatic, he has proved to be a very low drama baby. He’s a great eater and a great sleeper. He cries only when he needs something (which is generally to eat). 

I was nervous about entering the newborn world again. The sleep deprivation aspect of newborn life is hard for me. I feel like it affects all aspects of my life in not the most positive way. A few weeks before Drew was born, I had the thought that God is the one who made babies to need to eat every few hours in the beginning of their lives. I know God is a loving God, and he didn’t make babies this way just to play a joke on new moms. It occurred to me that there must be something of value for me to learn or gain from the experience of having a newborn. There must be a God-given gift that comes from having a newborn and needing to wake every few hours to feed the baby. So when things have felt tough, I’ve reminded myself to look for the gift and to cherish this experience. I make sure I find time each day to do what I call “conscious cuddling,” meaning I take the time to cuddle Drew “just because” and soak in these moments that I know are fleeting. My heart is so full. I love Drew, and David, and Brooke, and John so much. I’m grateful for my family. They are my world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Halloween and Thanksgiving 2020

I’m playing catch-up here, so I’m doing a Halloween and Thanksgiving combo post.

Halloween 2020

David has been alive for four Halloweens but has yet to go real trick-or-treating. His first Halloween, he was only two weeks old. His second Halloween, he had just turned one and couldn’t walk. His third Halloween, there was a terrible thunderstorm. And this year there was a pandemic.

We still tried to make it a fun Halloween. The kids wore their costumes all day long. Brooke was a ghost and David was a train conductor. My brother/his fiancé (now wife), sister, and friend Keri brought candy to our house. David and Brooke rang our doorbell over and over. Each time, a different person opened the door and gave them candy.

After we put Brooke down to bed, we lit up our fire pit and roasted hot dogs and made s’mores. We let David stay up late and hang out with us. He made it to about 9 p.m. and then fell asleep sitting in John’s lap. It was a fun Halloween!

Thanksgiving 2020

We had a small but lovely Thanksgiving. Normally we like to head to Reston Town Center the night prior to Thanksgiving for dinner and to see all the Christmas decorations. Because of the pandemic, we decided to skip that tradition. Instead we drove to a rural Virginia gas station, where they sell Godfather’s Pizza (one of John’s favorite chains), and picked up a couple of pizza’s to go.

On Thanksgiving day, the weather was warmer than I expected. We spent the morning outside in the backyard with the kids. After we came back inside, John and I spent a good part of the day cooking. John ended up cooking more than I did, and I didn’t mind that one bit! After dinner, we made fleece tie blankets for children in need and then played virtual games with my family in Utah before indulging in pies.

One funny Thanksgiving note I mentioned in my last post… David thinks Thanksgiving is the turkey’s birthday. It was fun to ask him all day, “What’s today?” and he’d respond by saying, “Turkey’s birthday.”

Our Thanksgiving spread is above. John is a masterful turkey carver thanks to a YouTube video a colleague shared with him. It’s fun to watch him carve the turkey.

Quick Kid Update

I try to post at least once a month, but I realized I never posted in the month of November. I’m hoping to post pictures from Halloween and Thanksgiving shortly. Our new house has MUCH slower internet, and since John is working from home full-time during the pandemic, I try not to use up bandwidth during the day. In the evening, I like to spend time with him. So, my blogging has taken a back seat. We may have a new internet option come January. If it pans out, I’ll hopefully post a little more frequently.

It’s Sunday morning. John is already at church for a meeting he has before our church service begins. I need to get the kids up. I can hear Brooke making noises in her room. But I wanted to write a quick kid update first.

Here’s a picture of our family from earlier this year up in the Shenandoah Mountains.

David – I love his 3-year-old logic. For example, my brother Blake, who lives in Utah, drives a motorcycle. David has seen videos of Blake’s motorcycle on our family messaging app. The other day, someone drove a motorcycle into our neighborhood, and David looked out the window and said “Hi, Uncle Blake.” He thinks anyone on a motorcycle is his uncle. David also thought Thanksgiving was the turkey’s birthday. I’m not sure where he got that idea. I think maybe because his birthday was in October and we had a small party with family for that, and he knows Christmas is Jesus’ birthday and we’ll also have a party with family for that, he then extrapolated that our small family party on Thanksgiving must be because it’s the Turkey’s birthday ha!

Brooke – Brooke’s vocabulary is constantly increasing. Her first official phrase was “What happened?” Whenever she drops something, she says “Uh oh. What happened?” She is very good at saying thank you and please (which often sounds like “nease”). A couple days ago, she said “no thanks” for the first time, instead of just “no.” Side note: I think she hears David say “no thanks” a lot whenever I ask him if he needs to go to the restroom haha. For a couple weeks, she started waking up at night again and screaming. Thankfully she’s slept peacefully the last three nights. I’m hoping this continues.

Baby #3 – I’m getting more and more excited to welcome this baby boy! This pregnancy seems to have been physically more draining for me than my previous two. I’ve struggled with low iron (something that I didn’t have previously), which has caused fatigue, and I’ve had contractions every day for the last couple of months. With Brooke, I didn’t have any contractions until my labor actually started. With David, I didn’t have any contractions until after my water had broken and I was in the hospital. My hands are also super swollen. I can’t take my wedding ring off haha.

We’re so excited for this Christmas season, and it’s been especially fun to look at Christmas through our kids’ eyes. It’s brings back the magic!

David at Age Three

David is officially three years old. Since birth, he has had a happy, sweet demeanor. He gives the best hugs and kisses each night before bedtime. He’s quick to apologize when he realizes he’s made a poor choice (like taking a toy from Brooke). He’s generally a great listener. Below are fun facts about David at three.

  • He loves trains, firetrucks, tractors, and cars.
  • His favorite song to sing at bedtime is “Reverently, Quietly.”
  • His favorite shows are “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and “Sesame Street.”
  • He likes to eat cereal, nuts, and raisins for breakfast. Up until recently, the way he said raisins sounded like the word “citizens.”
  • He loves to listen to the “Mary Poppins Returns” soundtrack and the song “Peace in Christ.” A couple months ago, he always asked to listen to the “Newsies” soundtrack.
  • His favorite food is “Annie’s” white cheddar shells mac n’ cheese.
  • He currently does not like bath time…not sure why? He has always loved it.
  • He is fun to talk with. I can understand most everything he says.
  • He’s a pretty smart negotiator (or at least he thinks so haha). Sometimes when he doesn’t want to do something, he says, “David little” because we’ve told him in the past that Brooke is too little to do something (like kneel for prayer or clean up her dishes). He thinks if he tells us he’s “little” then he can get out of whatever we’ve asked him to do.
  • He officially stopped taking an afternoon nap. He now has “quiet time” every afternoon and plays with toys in his room for a couple of hours. He’s really good about staying in his room. We keep his “special” toys up there that he only plays with during “quiet time.” I am SO thankful he’s been such a good napper and now will play quietly by himself.

Enjoying the Process

We have a basket of outdoor items for kids that sits on our front porch. It includes things like sidewalk chalk, bouncy balls, and bubbles. We go through bubbles pretty fast in our household, because inevitably they get spilled.

Yesterday afternoon, Brooke and I were out on the porch. David was still napping, so it was just me and her. She picked up one of the empty canisters of bubbles from the basket, pulled out the wand, and started shaking the wand, just as one would do to create bubbles if the canister were full. However, the canister was empty, so no bubbles formed. But the lack of bubbles didn’t deter Brooke from having fun. She repeatedly would dip the bubble wand into the canister, pull it out, shake it, and exclaim “bubbles!” with glee.

I learned a lesson watching Brooke do this for nearly 15 minutes. Brooke’s enjoyment in playing with bubbles wasn’t only found in the finished product (the appearance of actual bubbles). She found enjoyment in the whole process. And even though the finished product maybe wasn’t what she expected, she didn’t give up on the process. Because she was having fun in the process.

This experience was a good reminderL to find joy in the process of life, rather than only in the results of our efforts.

This photo is from earlier in the summer. As you can see, Brooke also enjoys eating the bubble wand haha.

Brooke at 18 Months

Last month, Brooke hit her 18-month mark. She is a happy and fun girl! The first year of her life, she was a fairly sad/upset baby. But in the last few months she has totally changed. She is SO happy. She had tummy troubles when she was born, and I wonder if those challenges continued with her longer than I realized, and that’s why she was upset a lot.

Fun facts about Brooke:

  • She has become a very sweet cuddler.
  • She is obsessed with Elmo. She has a little rubber Elmo that she calls “La La.” She carries him all over the house with her.
  • She says “Oh no!” in the most dramatic (and cute) fashion.
  • She loves wearing her winter hat (no matter the weather). She thinks it’s funny to pull it over her eyes and walk around and bump into things.
  • She has the cutest curls in the back of her hair.
  • When she’s looking for John, she’ll say “Daddy, are you?” That was her first phrase.
  • She also says the phrase “I see you.”
  • She has the best belly laugh when tickled.
  • She is sneaky and fast. A couple weeks ago she climbed into David’s bathtub fully clothed (while also wearing her favorite winter hat).
  • She’s a great eater.
  • She loves to have her hair brushed. She still loves to pull out any bow or clip I put in her hair.
  • I recently started putting her hair in pigtails and ponytails. Her hair has grown so fast over the past few months.
  • She loves to explore and climb.
  • She’s adventurous. We were at the beach last month, and she walked right into the ocean with no fear.
  • She only drinks with a straw. She hasn’t seemed to figure out she needs to tilt her sippy cups.
  • She loves to sit on John’s lap while he mows the lawn.

We love Miss Brooke (Brookie, as David calls her), and we’re so happy she’s in our family!

Myrtle Beach 2020

We recently returned from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Because of COVID-19, we haven’t traveled at all in 2020. We are fortunate to have an aunt and uncle who live in a private beach community in Myrtle Beach. This made us feel comfortable (and excited) to head down there and soak in the sun, sand, and ocean.

Brooke loved the ocean. I spent a lot of time with her sitting on my lap letting the waves wash over our legs. She was so cute to watch. She thoroughly enjoyed getting in the water. David on the other hand did not like the ocean at all. The first day down at the beach, he got very upset any time any one of us got in the water. I could tell he was scared that something bad would happen to us. John ultimately took him back to the house for a nap that first day.

Each day David got a little more comfortable. It was a SLOW process. He never got super excited about the ocean, but he did like playing in the tide pools that would form as the tide went out. I finally figured out that he was much more comfortable if we told him we were going to “clean our feet” or “wash our hair” (depending on how far out we went in the ocean) before we went into the water.

One thing David did love was the golf cart my aunt and uncle have that we drove down to the beach each day. He loved riding the golf cart. We also took a couple golf cart drives through the neighborhood while we were there, and he was in heaven. Brooke liked “driving” the golf cart while sitting on John’s lap.

My aunt and uncle are great cooks and have lots of fun snacks for kids. We ate very well, and our kids LOVED eating frosted animal crackers, fruit snacks, and Oreos. They had never eaten frosted animal crackers, and I believe they may think those are the greatest cookies ever.

One of my favorite times at the beach was our last night there. After we put the kids down, John and I picked up dinner and drove the golf cart to the beach. We ate a delicious meal and then walked along the beach and talked as the sun went down. It was so fun to have time with just John (without a child around wanting attention haha). 

Another experience I enjoyed was on the first day when John took David back to the house for a nap. Brooke ended up taking a nap in my arms. Since we were in a private beach community, there were very few people around (my siblings also came down for the weekend, but they hadn’t arrived yet). As I held her and looked out over the ocean, my heart felt so much gratitude for God and for my family. I offered a silent prayer as I looked out over the ocean and the beautiful scenery that surrounded me that my heart would always be willing to do and accept His will in all things. Seeing the magnificence of the ocean, I was reminded that God is all powerful. He has a plan, and He is in the details of our lives.

I think everyone in our family had a great time. Even though David didn’t love the ocean, he spent a good part of the drive home letting us know that we needed to go back to Diana’s house. Even this past Friday, he asked if we could go to Diana’s house. 

Consecrated Mothering

A couple months ago, I felt weighed down by motherhood. The needs of a two-year-old and a one-year-old are constant. I’m also pregnant with our third, and during the first trimester, I was extremely tired. My one-year-old had started waking up at 6 a.m. and screaming each morning. I felt like I was constantly cleaning up after little kid messes. I felt tired and a little lost. I attribute some of these negative feelings to pregnancy hormones, as well as to being cooped up because of COVID-19. Regardless, of where the feelings came from, they felt heavy.

One Sunday afternoon I offered a silent prayer to God asking that I would find greater joy in motherhood. I’ve always wanted to be a mom, and I know my life is full of tremendous blessings. I wanted to focus more on joy and on my blessings than on the heaviness of motherhood/life.

After offering my prayer, the title of a talk that I had read while serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came into my mind. Elder Lawrence Corbridge gave this talk to the missionaries he presided over while serving as a mission president. The lesson I learned from studying this talk altered the way I served my mission and the way I sought to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It changed my life. What I hadn’t realized is that it would change the way I mother.

Elder Corbridge spoke of four types of missionaries. The first two types are missionaries who choose not to abide by mission rules and standards. The latter two types appear to be devoted, faithful missionaries from the outside. However, there is a significant difference between the “Third Missionary” and the “Fourth Missionary.” While the difference may not be perceptible from the outside, the “Fourth Missionary” experiences joy while the “Third Missionary” experiences frustration.

Elder Corbridge says, “The hard way is the way of the Third Missionary. He lives the gospel, and serves in the Church, with what I call the “bite-the-bullet” approach, the “grin-and-bear-it” or “gut-it-out” approach. He is obedient and he does what he is supposed to do. He does his duty. He gets through it and then, at long last, he gets about doing what he wants to do. That is the Third Missionary…

The Fourth Missionary is the only one who can lose himself in the work, because he forgets his own concerns, he lets go of what he wants. When he lets go, he then is free to think of others. He is the only one who does not count the cost. He doesn’t itemize and total all that he has left behind to serve a mission. He does not count the cost. He forgets about it. He forgets himself. He loses himself… 

Unlike the Third Missionary, the Fourth Missionary is content, happy, and from time to time, experiences profound joy. He is at peace with who he is and what he is doing. As in Psalms 40:8 he says:
“I delight to do thy will. O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” 

On that Sunday afternoon, after asking God to help me find greater joy in motherhood, I realized that I needed to become the “Fourth Mother.” Instead of focusing on the things I was sacrificing for my children – sacrificing sleep, sacrificing physical comfort (hello, pregnancy!), sacrificing “me time” – I needed to stop counting the cost and instead choose to be all in. In gospel terms, I needed to choose to be consecrated.

Elder Corbridge acknowledges that we may view consecration as the harder path, but it is not. It is the path to joy. I know this because I’ve felt it in my life. When I stopped counting the cost of what I was giving up to serve as a missionary or to serve Jesus Christ in any capacity, I found joy and peace. However, it wasn’t until that Sunday afternoon a couple months ago, that I realized this lesson applies to motherhood.

Now, I want to be clear that consecrated mothering doesn’t mean I don’t turn on a TV show for my kids so I can go take a nap. It doesn’t mean I never think, “You’re driving me crazy!” when my two-year-old spins in a circle while I’m trying to brush his teeth. It doesn’t mean I don’t wish my one-year-old would learn to sleep in until 8 a.m. like she used to. It doesn’t mean I love changing diapers. What it means is that I choose to not focus on what I’m giving up but to embrace my role as a mother with my whole heart. It means I can find joy.

I’ve felt increased joy over the last couple of months as I’ve sought to shift from being a mom who sacrifices for her kids to being a consecrated mother. The circumstances of my life haven’t dramatically changed – COVID-19 is still keeping us cooped up, my one-year-old wakes up early, I clean up a lot of messes every day, and pregnancy still makes me tired – but life doesn’t feel as heavy.

I wish I could more beautifully articulate how and why this is, but I know that for me the underlying reason for these feelings of greater joy is because of the heaven sent message I received a couple months ago that I needed to stop viewing myself as a mother who was sacrificing and rather as a mother who is consecrated. Merriam-Webster defines consecration as “dedicated to a sacred purpose.” I believe that true dedication means we don’t count the cost of what we’re giving up. We keep our whole focus on the sacred purpose. I don’t know of a more sacred purpose than motherhood.

Baby #3

We learned a couple months ago that our family will grow right after the new year. It’s so interesting how each pregnancy feels different. I was more tired during the first trimester this time than I recall being while I was pregnant with David or Brooke. I took a power nap 6 days a week. Part of the tiredness could also be attributed to taking care of an active two-year-old and one-year-old. Thankfully now that I’m out of the first trimester, the extreme fatigue has seemed to subside. We will learn the gender of the new baby at the end of August.

Summer Life

I just got back from going on a walk with the kids, and while there was a nice breeze, I am hot and Brooke’s cheeks are bright red.

Speaking of Brooke, she has blossomed so much in the last few weeks. Her language development is coming along nicely. She says hello, hi, out, shoe, hat, eat, and “mel” for milk (or any drink really). I think her first official word (aside from no) was milk, which is quite fitting since she has let us know from very, very early on when she is hungry. She is also a great walker. Once she learned to walk, she didn’t look back. Her demeanor has also changed over the last few weeks. She is consistently a bubbly and happy almost 17-month-old. At some point every day, John asks me, “Where did this happy girl come from?” Happy was not a word we often used to describe Brooke as a baby. But now we use it every day! Below is a (blurry) picture that captures her happy spirit.

David’s language skills are also expanding. I can understand most everything he says, and he’s starting to speak more in longer phrases/sentences. He loves to sing songs, count, and he has a great memory. He watches two TV shows every day – “Tigerhead” (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) and “Sunny Days” (Sesame Street).

Brooke and David like to make each other laugh (it’s adorable!), and they are starting to actually play together more and more. David also loves to tell Brooke what to do. He calls her “Brookie,” and I think the way he says it is so sweet.

Below are some snapshots of our summer 🙂

Father’s Day 2020 – Brooke and David are lucky to have John as their dad!
A double rainbow outside of Brooke’s bedroom window.
We took a drive last week in Shenandoah National Park. It had been shut down for a while, and we’re excited it’s back open. David didn’t want to smile at the camera.
We’ve played with a lot of bubbles and colored with a lot of chalk this summer.
Brooke loves playing in water.
We like going to Marker-Miller Orchards to get fresh produce. They have rocking chairs that David loves to sit on.