Cassie’s view : life on the east side

so much life happens in such a short amount of time that if i don’t record it immediately an almanac worth of memories is swept away by the current flood of memories being made.

here’s my attempt at salvaging & sharing some of those in-the-blink-of-an-eye memories.

the sprouts were bridal escorts in a friend’s wedding which meant that they got to carry the train of the dress & ride in a limo! it also meant that they were at times the star of the show. but most disturbing for them was that it meant they got caught in a rainstorm of confetti. so being the tidy sprouts they are & taking their duties very seriously they tried to remove every piece of confetti from the bride’s dress, a tedious job for sure!

while jarod’s sister cassie was visiting (late april, early may) she had the privilege of seeing our {normal} life & we got to see our {normal} world through her eyes. here’s a glimpse of our familiar (accentuated by her artistic bent):
she also blessed us with some sweet maternity shots. baby sprout at 6 months gestation.

and some candid moments, like our walk to dinner. what the camera didn’t capture was that during dinner i insisted Sterling remove his helmet to eat which immediately resulted in him falling off his stool and hitting his head… & Liberty vomiting all over me. special memories for sure! (sometime we’ll also have to share Sterling’s “view” of our world!)

over a month later the sprouts are still talking about & missing “Aunt Cassie”.


baby sprout’s name…

recently i was looking back over our baby name list & reread our blog post announcing that our last “baby sprout” would be named liberty praise.
it was a fun way to be reminded of God’s faithfulness through the years!

& I figure it’s time to share the name of our most recent “sprout”.
but before I do, I wanted to share a little about our (primarily my) naming process.

i have a few criteria for names:

  • not too common, but also not unheard of
  • when heard people inherently know if the child is male or female
  • easy to spell
  • no nicknames!
  • we want the name to represent God’s character & his goodness
  • (& possibly the most irrational criteria) i’ve never met anyone with the name
  • I also like one syllable middle names
  • for some reason girl names were very difficult for us this time around. we have considered many, many girl names & though some of them we really liked, for one reason or another we’ve felt like we couldn’t use them.

    boy names were not so difficult to settle on. problem was we had two!

    one that i deemed our 2nd boy name from the same 1950’s baby book i chose sterling’s name from. oakley.

    as much as i loved it, jarod was a bit more reserved. you see, I liked that oakley has a strong meaning – grove of oaks. and in my mind’s eye, lends itself to beautiful imagery. i especially liked that it’s from the same era as sterling, unique but not unheard of. sterling & oakley – they’ve always seemed like perfect brother names to me. however, jarod thought everyone would automatically associate his name with the sunglasses brand, oakley. so, since jarod didn’t feel the same way as I did it was clearly not a “real” option.

    being that we only had two boy names to begin with, we agreed upon the second name, a bit more modern, and a recent addition to my name list. bonus: jarod loved… {LOVES}… it. and because he loved it, i prayed for wisdom & that we’d be unified.

    and we are.

    so when the ultrasound tech placed the wand on my tummy & immediately revealed the gender, we had only one name in mind…

    still affectionately referred to as “baby sprout” but clearly loved as our son, shepherd zane.

    as you now know, I take this naming business serious.

    understatement of the year.

    sterling creed = standard of purity & confession of faith
    liberty praise = freedom in Christ & he is worthy of all praise
    shepherd zane = may he love our Shepherd & serve God’s people for He is the God of gracious gifts

    great expectations!

    the day finally arrived! after 2 failed blood tests that would check for the overall health of baby sprout & reveal the gender, coupled with the delay of the routine 20 week check-up, i was feeling quite anxious about G-day (gender reveal day).

    the night before i couldn’t sleep.
    i felt just like a child the night before CHRISTmas – awaiting the big surprise!

    truth be told, i was also battling feelings of anxiety as i was desperate to know if baby sprout was indeed ok. the 2 failed blood tests (both “inconclusive”) along with the realities of friends losing babies while we were in the states & since returning created in my heart a deep desire for a report… even if the “report” concluded baby sprout wasn’t developing normally, i wanted to know.

    as a family we arrived at the special hospital that will accommodate foreigner’s desires to know the gender an hour & ½ before we were actually seen. even so, we all waited somewhat patiently. immediately upon entering the ultrasound room there was a hubbub of hushed voices as the technicians debated if they could/would tell us the gender. thankfully a nurse from a nearby hospital assisted us & convinced them to do it.

    we all got in position. i laid down on the “bed” with the big screen tv on the wall opposite my feet, liberty in the chair, sterling standing by my side & jarod (poor guy) responsible for wielding the camera phone, video camera & dslr – which was forgotten.

    ironically, as soon as the ultrasound tech placed the wand on my stomach the gender was revealed.

    immediately i started crying. sterling was concerned that i was in pain. sweet boy. thankfully everyone else in the room accurately surmised that i was happy. i never expected to be overwhelmed with emotion. but there i was, crying & laughing, simultaneously. such a wave of relief & joy as i saw baby sprout snuggled in his cramped quarters moving his hands & feet. he kept putting them in his mouth. yes, even his feet. he was one active little boy! and with all that activity along with the 4D images i experienced great comfort in knowing he was healthy & growing beautifully. in fact, i kinda felt sad for him, snug as he was with his “long legs.” made me feel better about the size of my baby belly. 😉

    as one might expect of 5 & 3 year olds, they each wanted baby sprout to be of their same gender. needless to say, sterling was thrilled with the outcome & gave me a high five while liberty, as usual, took it in stride. obviously not overly concerned that she didn’t get “her way.” so appreciate her ability to go with the flow.

    afterwards jarod confessed that he “knew” the gender all along. funny since he never let on to me… except now looking back he would only refer to baby sprout as “he” (when he wasn’t referring to him as “them!”) & he would never give an opinion about any of the girl name possibilities, though he did have opinions about boy names. sneeky guy.

    reality is, i had absolutely no idea! in a small way i guess i assumed baby sprout would be a girl, thinking the 50+ hair bows would all eventually be used. but knowing that it’s a boy thrills my heart too for many reasons but also because now all those boy toys – wooden train tracks & legos – will experience the joy of being recycled back into our family!

    sterling will be approximately a month shy of 6 & liberty 3 months shy of 4 when baby sprout makes his appearance. sterling’s already proven he’s got his big brother role down – eager to show him the ropes literally & liberty, well i’m positive she’ll be a sweet & helpful big sister.

    and us, we’ll be grateful the older two are potty trained & somewhat independent as we all welcome our newest – oh boy! – bundle of joy!

    God is so good, gracious & loving to bestow yet another mighty miracle upon us. We invite you to rejoice with us & pray for us as he continues to prepare our hearts for this next season of life.

    great expectations!

    baby sprout update: 2nd trimester musings & G-day

    18 weeks in & i look & feel a lot more like 35 weeks.


    how did that happen?

    i like to think that the baby is big, but a more likely culprit is the quantity of food i’ve been ingesting.

    thankfully i’ve heard many encouraging remarks like, “it’s okay, you’re eating for two.” (maybe they also think the baby is a full sized human being requiring adult portions!)

    but there are a couple who have questioned just how many baby sprouts there are.

    just for the record: we’ve only seen one on the initial ultrasound. so no reason to think otherwise.

    apart from the size of my ever-growing belly.

    along with increased belly size i’ve also gained the unnatural ability to produce heartburn after nearly every meal.

    with the extra weight and compressed diaphragm i’m also much slower these days.

    my typical speed walking pace has become a casual stroll and my newly acquired need to “take it easy” (read: do life the lazy way) has been made possible with the ingenious idea of a back pillow, making lounging bearable.

    needless to say, i’m not the fun, floor-time play mommy i used to be.

    but i am a happy, still totally surprised & excited mommy-to-be… again!


    and now for the big questions.

    do we want to know the gender? if so, when will we find out?


    & uhhhhh…

    we’ve been doing a little leg work looking for a place/doctor that’ll not only do an ultrasound for us (which in reality isn’t that difficult) but will also tell us the gender (which is quite a bit more difficult here).

    thankfully we have found a place & called to schedule our gender discovery day. now affectionately referred to as G-day!

    oh how i want to know!!!

    even though we don’t have a gender preference or any ideas what-so-ever if baby sprout is a boy or girl, knowing the gender will help us start narrowing down our name options.

    at last count i think i’ve scribbled 35 girl names.

    it’d be nice to know if this is even a name tree worth barking up.

    oh yes, i digress.

    we found a place that said they’d accommodate our “need” but they’re not available before my 20 week check-up so they’d like me to wait until 22 weeks so they can do a “more accurate” 4D ultrasound.

    initial reaction: “wait even longer!?! but, uh, sure.”

    now that we’ve scheduled G-day the question remains: what in the world is a 4D ultrasound?

    so in brief.

    the “traditional ultrasound,” aka. 2D (which i’m a fan of, by the way) is the black & white version usually associated with baby’s first picture.

    “3D scans are still pictures of your baby in three dimensions. 4D scans are moving 3D images of your baby, with time being the fourth dimension.” info courtesy of baby centre

    and the difference a couple of D’s make…

    hoping our designated G-day, april 24th, really does reveal baby sprout’s gender!


    highlights from our 2nd week!

    we began the week with a sweet time of connecting with family via skype. thankful for this amazing visual/verbal communication tool!sterling & liberty are thoroughly enjoying their time at pre-k. in fact, today when they were dropped off sterling had quite a fan club. thankful for local friends & good teachers. this month i began my first andy stanley study: christian. thankful for the abf class at dpfbc who’s growing in their faith & especially for the leaders who gifted me the participant’s guide.while liberty naps sterling happily studies the local language. thankful for naps, rosetta stone & his eagerness to learn! liberty noticed this brand sticker on our washing machine & is now thoroughly convinced it represents her & sterling. thankful for a sense of humor & joy in the little things!at the grocery store sterling i discovered tortillas. thankful for a taste of home, locally. as a small treat for their first day back to pre-k sterling scored a mini-lego set & liberty a puzzle. thankful for grateful hearts & growing minds.thankful that though liberty wasn’t thrilled with her treat, the sprouts found a way to enjoy the much loved space man – together!since returning to the east side liberty’s eczema has been quite intense. thankful for wisdom, which has allowed her to begin healing – beautifully!

    the sprouts have become very fond of our newest east side friend. thankful for people who love our sprouts!

    recently discovered a local friend, my same age, is also expecting! thankful for new life & dad’s sustaining grace!

    the sprouts were playing kitchen & sterling took a break to work on his “ipad”. thankful for their friendship.

    not adequately captured was the beautiful snow day. however, i was able to capture the excitement of lego play & liberty’s adoration. thankful for beautiful blankets of snow, clear air & the wonder that is sibling love.each day the sprouts return home from school they are mentally exhausted – both being in classes that are well beyond their current ability. thankful they are still eager to go! last week sterling {officially} began homeschooling. thankful for his love of learning, amazing perseverance & dad’s grace in this incredible, overwhelming, blessed endeavor! because we took a very long break from homeschool while we were in the states we’re needing to do a lot of review & i battle with feeling behind. thankful for the many reasons to rejoice in the many things he’s already accomplished, the gift of today & sweet reminders that this “task” is not the end goal!

    we’re thoroughly enjoying the gift of public transportation, more specifically, the subway system that stops right outside our door. thankful for the sweet opportunity to spend the evening with friends & convenient transportation which made it possible!

    our CHRISTmas day miracle…

    on CHRISTmas day we received the greatest surprise! at 3:30 in the morning i experienced my 1st ever positive on a home pregnancy test. at 7:45 jarod was clued in. at 9ish we surprised jarod’s parents with an impromptu gift bag filled with feminine hygiene items… & the announcement that we wouldn’t be needing them for a while. not the most direct way to share the news… but certainly memorable!

    it really is unfortunate that we didn’t capture their confused & eventually excited faces on video!

    later in the morning we took a family stroll & captured this family moment – it was (& is) surreal to realize that one more precious sprout, not obvious in this image, will soon be joining our miraculous family! (why miraculous? read our infertility story here… or search “infertility” in the sidebar for stories.)

    before leaving beautiful wimberley – where jarod’s parents treated all the kids & grandkids to a family CHRISTmas getaway – jarod’s sister, cassie, was gracious enough to capture just “us”.

    after returning to our stateside abode i coaxed jarod into a walk & a mini-photo shoot at the nearby golf course. seriously grateful that he surrendered complied!

    in the previous image sterling is waving one of the positive “sticks” while liberty’s clutching her gifted (pretend) thermometer tightly.

    eventually we were able to make a trade 😉 & the result… priceless!

    priceless… & precious. so much personality!

    a month later i’m still giddy…

    it’s still surreal…

    i’m still surprised…

    super excited…

    & feeling overwhelmingly blessed!

    at 9 weeks i’m also feeling nauseated, exhausted & cautiously optimistic. please pray with & for us – & baby sprout – as we anticipate all that God is doing in our hearts & lives.

    preparation & readiness {homeschool diaries}

    this post is part of a series that chronicles my experience into the world of being sterling’s 1st (& mind you, apprehensive & fearful) teacher. my hope is that this series will be both helpful & encouraging.

    thus far in the series we’ve touched on how i began homeschooling (hint: i never wanted to!), tools & resources that helped me through the scary introduction of being a homeschooling mommy/teacher & how flexibility saved my sanity… & ultimately caused me to love this new job.

    i also shared how sterling was ready, though i was falsely positive that i wasn’t. (see what i just did… i even confused myself! )

    with all that said, being a homeschooling mommy/teacher is that: a job.

    it requires serious intentionality. it’s work.

    but, unlike so many other endeavors in my life (ie. language learning – insert grunt, but not grumbling here!), it provides near instant, regular gratification… which can be oh so rewarding!

    please here me. homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. it’s not just a hobby or part time gig. though it may feel that way with shorter school days. here’s the crux of the homeschooling dilemma: along with the joy & flexibility of homeschooling your own children with their unique personalities & interests, it requires great discipline on your part. on my part.

    & quite frankly, that’s scary for someone like me. a recovering perfectionist who never got it perfect. ironic… yes, that’s me.

    one of the considerations of someone planning or expecting to homeschool should include prayerfully evaluating the educational expectations associated with being your child’s formal teacher.

    preparation & readiness – aka essential skills & knowledge – is the plan, the checks & balances that help us to know what to expect, allows us to be consistent & provides feedback as to where we and/or our sweet pupil(s) need to go, need help or intervention. in short, they provide the goals behind the tasks.

    being a native texan it’s natural for me to direct you to the texas education agency’s essential skills & knowledge website. if you ignore all the busyness of the page & simply scroll down near the bottom of the page you’ll see: texas essential knowledge and skills by grade level (elementary)

    an adobe document. perfect for printing & reading.

    be forewarned: it’s wordy. it’s lengthy. it’s most probably overwhelming.

    but it’s also helpful. a useful resource. a guide.

    remember i mentioned being easily overwhelmed? oh, yeah, if you didn’t read that between the lines, that’s also me. overwhelmed.

    & oh yeah, i’m also distracted.

    i have good news for this endeavor: grace.

    we are not to compare our children, ourselves, our situation to others.

    instead we are to: do everything with sincerity of heart & in reverence for the Lord. (Col. 3:22)

    i promise, if we serve our master with a heart of thankfulness & joy, even intentionality can be liberating.

    but that’s starting to sound too much like another blog post… & well, you’ve already done well to stick with me this long!