June 29, 2018

Dash's Birth Story

It's been a while since I've written on here thanks to a certain someone entering our world. While I've been able to do a little work here and there since Dash's birth, he and his sisters have taken up majority of my time thus putting blogging on the back burner. Which, I guess,  is just how it should be. :)

I got a couple hours to get away today to work so I'm sitting at a coffee shop sans kids (my husband is the best!) and thought I'd take the time to finally document Dash's story. Mostly, I'm doing this as keepsake for myself for later on because I don't want to forget the sweet details that brought him into our lives. 

A little back story leading up to his birth was figuring out when he was actually going to come. When I took the test at home I thought for a couple months that my due date would be mid March. But after my first ultrasound saying how far along I was, my mom and I realized my due date was actually coming a whole month earlier than I had in mind! From there, I had been given three different due dates since my first visit. The first due date was February 14th, based on my last period before I got pregnant. The second due date was February 20th, based on the second ultrasound I had at 6 months along. And the third and final one my midwife and I landed on was February 25th, based on the measurements from the very first ultrasound I had done at 12 weeks-- for whatever reason we couldn't get those results from the first clinic I visited for months, but once we had them we were able to have a more accurate due date.

Not having an exact due date for a while kind of made it feel easier not knowing. I remembered with Sage being three days past her due date felt like an eternity. So going into this birth seemed a little more freeing not having my head wrapped around a certain date for a while. I just knew it would happen when it was supposed to happen. 

A lot of this pregnancy felt different to me. I felt bigger, heavier, a little queasy to begin with and e v e r y t h i n g hurt down low! We didn't know what the gender would be until he was born so the whole time I wrote off the differences as it being my fifth baby and all the changes my body had gone through before. I kept telling myself over and over it was probably another girl. (This post shares a bit about why we chose to wait on finding out)

Two of the due dates I was given went by with no sign of baby on the way. A few days leading up to his birth I started feeling some slight contractions off and on, but nothing to make me think anything was going to happen. Days went by with more contractions off and on. I had my membranes stripped after I saw my midwife at 40 weeks. She said that if anything was going to happen then this would just kick things into gear, so I went for it. At this point I was ready for baby to be out!

Another day went by and nothing. The morning of February 25th I was stripped again and did a lot of walking aallll day long. Nothing started to roll until around dinner time that night. It still wasn't anything very painful and I kept thinking the contractions would just fade away, like it did the night before. We had dinner at Shane's parents house that night and all through the couple of hours we were there I had mild contractions off and on, so we headed home to get the girls to bed. 

On the way home I had a couple more contractions and remember saying very sternly to Shane to turn the heater down because it was too hot in the car. Again, I still didn't think anything was going to happen that night but apparently the tone in my voice made him think this was the night it was going to happen! haha

We got home around 7:30pm and decided to settle the girls down on the couch with a show before bed time while I rested through the contractions. While Shane and the girls sat on the couch, I decided to do some cat-cow yoga moves on my hands and knees to try and get the baby movin down. The contractions were light and I could still talk and move through them easily. I think I did about 3 or 4 cat-cows when suddenly something felt like it popped inside of me and a warm gush a water poured out (sorry if thats TMI!) I screamed and yelled "AH! I think my water just broke!" 

This feeling was new to me since I never felt it break with the girls until I was already well into hard labor. Shane shot up from the couch and told all the girls to get in bed because the baby was coming! I laughed and told him I think we still have a little bit of time. I quickly texted my midwife and doula friend to let them know what was happening. I waited out the contractions a little longer to see how close they would get. I wanted to labor at home as much as possible until I felt it was really time to go. We stayed another hour at home as I timed contractions and texted the rest of the family that it was baby time!

We got our things together, waited for my in laws to come to the house to be with the girls and gave them each hugs and kisses before we left. I told them that when they wake up they get to meet the new baby, which I think motivated them to get to sleep faster :) They couldn't wait!

We arrived at the hospital around 9 pm and at this point I couldn't talk or walk through contractions anymore. It felt like it took us forever to walk from the parking lot into triage! Triage was the worst part for me, filling out papers, getting poked and prodded all while having a baby push through me. I kept telling the nurses "its coming, I can't talk, I need to push"-- things like that. Every contractions felt like things were happening faster...and they were. It was evident I needed to get to a room quickly so they got me in a bed and rolled me into the nearest room, all while I hummed and breathed through more contractions.

We made it into the room around 9:45 and I wasn't feeling comfortable on my back anymore. I decided to move positions to keep things going and stood on the side of the bed, leaning onto a medicine ball for rest and support. Shane stood by me the whole time, holding my hand and rubbing my back through each contraction. My mother in law and all three of my sisters- in-law showed up at this point to come watch the show! My mom was face-timed in too from California. The whole gang was there, eager to see what this baby would be. 

My midwife soon showed up and was the best and letting me do things the way I wanted to do them and what made me feel most comfortable. As I was standing next to the bed, I felt like I needed to push more which made me feel more uncomfortable. She suggested I get back on the bed to a comfortable position. I tried the back again but couldn't do it, so I turned around for support on my hand and knees. Shane stood in front of me where I could see and hear him next to my ear, encouraging me through each push. I remember being so excited to know if this baby was a boy or a girl and just wanting it out already so I could see!

 After pushing for what felt like forever I remember yelling to my midwife " just get it ooout!!" I was over the waiting...and the pain. (No epidural here). I could feel the baby coming down and then going back up when the contraction was over. The next thing I yelled was "its stuck! its stuck!" My midwife assured me it wasn't stuck and to relax and breathe. She kept coaching me through and slipped in saying "SHE's almost here". Shane and I looked at each other like "What!?! did she just tell us it was a girl?!" She realized what she had said and told us over and over she didn't know, it was just her natural reaction to call it a "she". I remember thinking after that, that she must've known it was a girl and was only trying to cover it up, so my heart was set that we'd be adding another girl to our crew. 

Each push got harder and I knew it was getting closer, but still felt like this baby was never going to come. I think I pushed for about 30 minutes until I heard them saying they could see the head! I told them to just take it out the next time cuz I didn't want to go through the pain again. Another push was coming and I screamed again "get it out! get it out!" I felt my midwife help the baby come down and the shoulders slide out then instant relief that it was finally done.

The next and only words I could hear were Shane's next to my ear. "Its a boy!" over and over again "its a boy!" More voices shouted around us "its a boy!" Since I couldn't see anything just yet, I replied back "no its not, no its not!" I just couldn't believe it! I think I kept saying this to protect myself in case they were tricking me or something. But the way Shane said it and the look on his face told me it was true. Our prayers were answered and our BOY was finally in our arms. 

The tears flowed. The smiles lit up the room. And this beautiful boy was actually here, nuzzling on my chest. He was born at 11:21pm on Sunday February 25th making this the fastest labor and delivery I've had yet. I still get choked up looking at these pictures, thinking about that night, and holding him in my arms. He is the sweetest dreamiest little thing that I can't get over! 

If it's not obvious already, we are all pretty in love with him. Not a minute goes by in the day where one of the girls isn't asking to hold him or feed him. Watching them love their brother is the sweetest icing on the cake! I still can't believe it sometimes, that we get to parent a boy. Watching Shane be a dad is one of my favorite things on earth and words can't say how grateful I am to our God that I get to watch him raise this little guy! 

People keep asking me how the adjustment has been adding another baby into the family and I honestly can say that its been just what our hearts have longed for. Having Dash here feels like he's been here all along, like I always knew he was coming someday and now we finally get to live it out. I know when I say it out loud that we're a family of seven it sounds so big, and it is I know, but somehow it feels like we're still this little crew and there's a lot more room to grow! haha. Not sure what that means for our future of how many kids we'll end up having all together, but I know there still room in our hearts for more. 

So I guess that means we'll start praying for Dash to get a little brother ;) 

March 9, 2018

Little Kuyper Number Five!

I'm lost for words on how to even start this post. My eyes tear up from utter joy every time I think about this precious gift that entered our world a little over a week ago. 

Late Sunday evening, February 25th, our sweet baby BOY was born!! Yes, that's right...ITS A BOOOOYYY!!!!! I still get chills saying it out loud, thinking how can this even be real. I'm in awe and amazement at how sweet our God is. That he would allow our simple prayers in wanting a boy to be answered this way. 

Dash Thomas Kuyper came quickly in the middle of the night, already living up to his name by making it my fastest labor yet. I am going to save the whole birth story for a later post to share and for now just say how thankful we are for the joy these last couple weeks have brought. I still tear up looking at him, and have to check myself whenever I refer to "him" or "he" in reference to my child...I'm still getting used to that! haha. So far he has been the sweetest baby, making an easy and perfect transition into our family of now SEVEN! whew! And it probably goes without saying that the girls are more than smitten with him (as you can see from the picture below). The biggest struggle is just sharing holding time with him around here (which is not really a struggle at all, but the sweetest thing for this mama heart to watch). 

We are in love in love in love with our cutie little guy. My heart bursts with excitement at all the boy things we'll get to experience together in our family, especially getting to watch a new side of Shane flourish in this way with his SON! 

Thank you so much for those of you who have prayed with us, visited, brought us meals, and sent encouragement and excitement from afar. We have felt it from you for sure and have been so blessed by the sweetness that surrounds us. Now I'm off to cuddle some more with my little BOY!!! (gosh I can't say that without smiling big) 

Baby's First Year Milestone Cards via my Etsy Shop
Softest swaddle blanket via KB Cute Design

February 24, 2018

Waiting on Baby Five

Here we are waiting on baby 5 to arrive any minute...and by every minute I mean that it feels like a year has gone by with each passing hour...needless to say, WE'RE READY! These sweet pictures were taken back in the summer by our friend Charissa Magno, a San Diego based photographer. We were staying with her and her husband for the weekend when she offered to take pics of our family after we had announced to them we just found out about baby 5 arriving. As you can tell, her talent is undeniable and now that we'll be a party of seven any day now, I'm so grateful for this gift she gave us!

We decided to wait to find out about the gender on our little one until it's born, as we have with all of our girls. Some have asked why we've waited and we get a lot of reactions saying "I could never do that, how could you not know!?" So I thought I'd share a little more behind the decision and process for me this time around.

With our first, I always knew I wanted to wait to find out because I thought there was something so special in finding out the gender once our baby was finally here. Shane agreed that waiting to find out felt more fun and so the decision for us was easy. We loved the surprise at birth so much we just kept the tradition going with each of our other girls. 

When we started talking about when we would have another one I thought for sure I'd want to find out early on what it was for the sake of my heart being set on wanting a little boy. I thought that by finding out if it was a girl early on, then somehow I'd ease in to knowing the news once "she" was here. But the more I thought about that logic, the more I didn't feel right about that either. I didn't ever want to feel "disappointed" by whoever they were and created to be or feel like I needed time to be okay with it. I wanted to be in a place where just the privilege and gift of having another one was more than ok and enough. I sat it in for a while going back and forth on wanting to find out and wanting to keep it a surprise. All along the way we have, of course, hoped to bring a little boy into the world, but every time we saw each of them for the first time all I could feel was joy (and relief) from them just finally being in our arms. It didn't matter whether they were a boy or girl, it just mattered that they were here and healthy and ours. 

I wanted that same feeling for this new one and for every baby we bring into this world. And ultimately I wanted to be able to trust God with the decision of who He has created specifically for our family. The decision to wait was a bit of a process for me, I think because a deeper reason I want a little boy is to watch Shane get to father a son and knowing how incredible that relationship will be. 

In saying all of this I am not at all trying to imply that others deciding to find out is an act of not trusting God or that its wrong by any means. I hope you can read through this already knowing that. I think its just as exciting and fun for others when they find out early on too. I am simply just sharing a small part of the journey I've been on, knowing fully that each person's decision is different and special.

With each day I have prayed for this baby, I know that God has placed in our hands the perfect little one He has entrusted us to raise. So I am putting my trust right back into His hands. Trusting that He will bring my heart full joy when we see him or her for the first time. Trusting that the family He has given us will be for His honor and glory...and gosh I really can't wait to see all that he or she will bring to our little tribe. 

February 13, 2018

Boho Inspired Wedding Invitation Suite

Creating wedding invitations are some of my favorite projects. A couple months ago I created this suite for my brother and sister-in- law's wedding and I loved every bit of it. They're outdoor wedding had a laid back feeling with boho elements which made this really fun to dream up and create. Something I love to do when coming up with a fully custom suite is putting in simple details that are personal to the bride and groom. On the back of the invitation I added the illustration of a little picnic seating with their initials etched into the vases. Since they're wedding was outside and had picnic seating during the reception, the illustration gave a sense of what to expect from the wedding and tied in with the whole theme. Almost every part of this suite was hand painted and lettered, giving it a unique and organic look. We printed it on a creamy card stock and added the mossy green envelope to it to tie everything together. I loved designing every part of this from start to finish and loved even more that I got to create it for some of the people I love most! 

I listed this suite in my Etsy shop, making it available for any of you planning a wedding in the near future. You can click here to take a look, along with other pieces I have added to the shop for your sweet day. 

January 17, 2018

Favorite Memories of 2017

I found myself browsing through a year's worth of photos the other day thinking how on earth did another one fly by. I can get lost in the memories of looking at our pictures from over the months and smiling at all that happened through them. I decided to document some of my favorite moments of the year here that I may have not shared on this space along the way. Though these are just a teensy snippet of memories that happened, there's so much more behind the photos that make my heart so grateful, even through the hard messy stuff that we all know happens behind the pretty pictures. 

We started the year continuing our house renovation/addition that we began the fall prior. We added on about 400 square feet to our house, extending our living room into our old carport, enclosing the rest of the house to have an indoor laundry room (HEAVEN!!) and adding on a small office space to the back of the house, which is where I work from now. Living through your house being turned upside down and 4 toddlers running around is no easy task. But during our Thanksgiving when we shared what we were thankful for, I just kept thinking of how grateful I was for this little house of ours. For all the hard work my husband put into making it happen for us. For him letting me dream and design things that were fun for me. For the gift that we were given to be able to do this project. Of course it wasn't that fun in the midst of it, but I'm so thankful this is where we are getting to raise our kids and make sweet memories. (And yes, I plan on doing a house tour of before and after shots soon!)

Shane and I both turned the big three-oh in 2017 (which still feels so weird for me to say out loud)! One of my favorite memories of the year was pulling off a huge surprise party for him that I had started planning in my head a whole year before. For months I was scheming and planning and I had never been so nervous for that long in my life! ha! I told him afterward that I actually didn't enjoy the planning of it as much because of all the hiding I was doing from him to keep it a secret. But in the end, the finale was worth it and he was totally surprised. A month after his big day I said goodbye to my twenties too, spending it with our little family doing all the toddler things with my girls. Funny how your desires and interests change so much when you have kids--anything they wanted to do sounded more fun to me than doing something by myself or away from them. It was the best way to enter into new decade!

It was my second year into doing local handmade markets around the Phoenix area and every bit of it was SO FUN...exhausting always, but SO FUN! We even got to travel twice this year to California to set up shop in LA and San Diego with Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market. It was a year of growing in business, talent, and community. Through these events I've gotten to meet so many fun people and work on so many fun things! It even lead me to start selling my work outside of just my Etsy and these markets and into local brick and mortar stores. My hope for 2018 is that this will be an even bigger year in these areas for me. Lots of dreams and hopes as I try to keep my hands held open, enjoying every opportunity I get to call this my work! 

Of course, a huge highlight of the year was looking back on all the projects I had the chance to do. From collaborating with other small businesses I love, to working with brides to create art for their special day, to making giant murals all around town--each one was a blast to work on. Something I learned a lot this year was how to say no to the things that I don't get joy or excitement from so I could say yes to things that were more worth the time spent for me. I have struggled with this so much in the past, wanting to say yes to every project that comes my way. Sometimes because I wanted to just make the extra buck, and other times because I didn't want to let the person down. But I've learned (in hard ways) how to not spread myself so thin so I can give the best of myself to my work and the things that excite me the most. I know I still struggle with this a bit, but hopefully 2018 will be another year of growth in this area for me and I'll be looking back at the end of it feeling proud of where its lead me. 

This miiiiight be my TOP highlight of the year and probably the best surprise I've gotten to date (aside from when Shane proposed, but its reeeeally close). Anyone that knows me well, or even not so well, knows my love for music and especially John Mayer. A week before our 6th anniversary Shane took me on a date downtown for dinner, then nonchalantly lead me to the concert of my dreams. My first time ever seeing him perform live and I got to do it with my best friend! What makes it even sweeter is that spending an evening at a concert is one of the last things Shane would choose for himself, yet he planned this surprise months in advance knowing how much it would mean to me. He chose to love me. He chose to do what I love for a night because of his love for me. I might not ever be able to explain it fully and it might sound a bit silly, but this moment right here, with tears filling my eyes, was one of the top moments I knew and felt his love for me. I can't believe we've its been 6 years already. The BEST, most fun, adventurous, growing, challenging, and sweetest years of my life. Being married to this man is everything I dreamed of and MORE. There's not a day that goes by that I'm not deeply thankful that I'm the one he chose and get to be the one standing next to him in all of life's craziness. I love this man more than words can say. 

One thing we knew when we started having kids is that we would be intentional about carving out time for family trips. We took lots of little trips here and there throughout the year that were sweet and memorable. From our first little family trip to Vegas, to traveling to Southern California beaches a few times, DISNEYLAND, and spending time together just the 6 of us in northern Arizona. There's something so refreshing for me when we get to travel. And, yes, it's not always smooth sailing when we have 4 littles in tow, but there's something in the chaos of it all that brings out the beauty and crazy fun. New inspiration comes, deeper bonds are created through laughter and play, and most of all the best memories are made. A big reason traveling is so important to us is because we want to give our kids experiences that open their eyes to the world around them. Experiences that allow them to grow up seeing things outside of their own perspective and little bubble. I hope that these little experiences we're giving them now are allowing for those things to happen in them already. 

Probably our most exciting memory of the year is finding out about baby five! I found out on Father's day that I was pregnant so it was the sweetest gift to "give" Shane that day. The girls have been talking non stop about the baby in my tummy and how its a boy or girl and what they will call it (it changes every day!). It's crazy to think its been 2 years since we last experienced baby stage so getting back into the swing of it will be interesting. I'm about a month away from my due date and I mostly can't wait to see how the girls will be loving on their new sibling!

Our Christmas season felt like it flew by so fast! I remember last season feeling a little more "in the moment" with it all, so I'm not quite sure what the difference was for this past one. It's a hard balance when the holidays roll around and I feel the need to rest and relax, yet its usually my busiest season for business and projects. Hopefully this year I'll get more of balance and grip on things to not make it feel so rushed and busy when this year's season comes. With the girls getting older each year is more and more fun with them, listening to the things they take in and can remember. Since Raleigh was a newborn, each year we've taken a trip to the local tree farm to walk around together picking our our tree, drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas tunes. I've loved that we've taken this picture in front of the trees every time we've done it to document each season. It's a reminder for me to see how far we've come and see how much our little family has grown. Forming new traditions each year is my favorite part of it all, especially when they just happen without planning it. I love the memory traditions bring reminding us of the sweetness we experience each time we do it.

There are a handful of more memories throughout 2017 that I could post here, but these really are the ones that stick out the most. Looking back on another year gone by only excites me for the next year ahead. Lots of goals and dreams and plans ahead that we are hoping and praying for and I can't wait to see what the year will bring. 

Thanks so much for following along on this little space and supporting my art and being so encouraging through it all. I love that I've been able to share little parts of how we do life and seeing more and more faces join. I pray your year ahead is full of newness and growth and exciting adventures too!