Saturday, September 12, 2015


Monday morning, I snuck out for a little alone time to enjoy a Chick-Fil-A biscuit and a pumpkin spice latte before we started our first Whole30 on Tuesday. As I was sitting at City Park, sipping on my coffee, it struck me how momentous the Tuesday after Labor Day has been in my life lately.

Eight years ago (well, eight years of Tuesdays-after-Labor-Day), marks the day I started at Southeastern Seminary. Fresh out of college, with a journalism degree and a summer job that was more "fun" than "fund," I got invited to come interview at SEBTS for a position that sounded right up my alley. When I arrived for my interview, the team quickly cut to the chase and challenged me to a game of SPIG, or Speed PIG, on the office basketball hoop. I won, and I was hooked. I worked there two months shy of four years.

Four years ago (four Tuesdays after Labor Day), I started working at a new job in a new state. It was my first day at Ashford, and though it was super short-lived (although 8 months was a lifetime there!), it marked a new chapter - life in Colorado.

This Tuesday after Labor Day, I began another new chapter in my life. It seemed only fitting that four years after Ashford, and eight years after Southeastern, I'd have another "career change" of sorts. I received word Monday afternoon that my photography site was (unwittingly) in violation of a trademarked name of another photographer here in Denver. And so has begun the process of taking down all of my photography-related sites and social media, and trying to come up with a new name.

Lately, I've been trying to figure out priorities and what I want to devote my time to. As I write this, I have two littles demanding my attention - one trying to bite his sister's toy and the sister trying to type on the computer with me. Obviously, being a good wife and mom is first priority. After that, how do I decide what to devote my time to? Essential oils, which I love and believe in and am passionate about? Photography, which I sometimes enjoy but doesn't feel like a perfect fit? Writing, which is my gifting and passion, but hasn't been a money-maker since I left Southeastern?

I've had several irons in the fire, and recently began writing a book, as if I needed another project. Is it possible to be good at several things, or should I focus only on one? These are the thoughts I've been wrestling with the last month. I've heard it takes 10,000 hours to become great at something. Who has that kind of time these days? Between kids, cooking, housework, church, do I decide where to invest my time and energy?

With that said, I've been trying to come up with a business name that is all-encompassing for this next chapter of life. Something that can grow as I grow - creatively, business-wise, etc. Any brilliant ideas? Due to the nature of A's job, I'd prefer to avoid using our last name. The Oily Lens, Soma Creatives, The Lavender Lens...all ideas I've had and trashed. Soooo - give me your best suggestions, and meanwhile, I would covet your prayers for direction in this new chapter of life!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Happy birthday, baby girl

I just put my baby girl to bed for the last time as a 1-year-old. In a little over an hour, the clock will turn, and suddenly, she'll be two. She won't know the change, won't feel it, probably won't notice anything is different (except that we're singing Happy Birthday a lot). But I know it, and since I'm a huge sap, I'll probably cry some more.

On my way to get groceries tonight, I began crying in the car over the fact that that giant unknown of parenthood has resulted in one of the sweetest, most generous, most dramatic, funniest kids I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Granted, I'm not really a kid or baby person so therefore don't know a ton. Also granted, I know every parent says the same thing about their kids. But when it comes to Selah - it's true.

Who knew that when I pushed for the last time, and felt those legs kicking inside me on their way out, that she'd soon be kicking a huge place in our hearts? Who could have told me what an impact this little girl would have on us?  How she'd challenge us with her generosity and desire for togetherness? How she'd (inadvertently) shame me by how fully she loves her little brother, who rocked HER world most of all? How she'd make us laugh just by uttering a simple little "yeah" at the most surprising of times? How she'd teach us to slow down and enjoy a butterfly, a rainstorm, a hard-earned hug? How she'd teach us to "zoom" in excitement over the smallest of things?

Selah brings such joy to our lives. She's like her mama AND her daddy - she has extreme highs and lows, especially where food is concerned. But her highs are more frequent than her lows, and her smiles more plentiful than her cries. She loves to include everyone in every activity, and gives kisses to all the people (and things) that are meaningful to her. She loves to help, to run (it's so stinking cute), to look at herself in the mirror and on our phones. She loves cheese. Selah loves Benny, and Isaiah, and Mama and Daddy. She loves her grandparents and her auntie, and her friends at church (Char...Hann...Zo). She loves our neighbor boys (Wy? Ti?).

This little girl is SO FULL of love, and she is a joy to us. Although I'm so sad to say goodbye to her 1-year-old self, I'm really excited to see how God grows and develops her over this next year of her life. Will her little ringlets remain? Will she keep her adventurous spirit? Will she still want cheese for every breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack, or will something else become her favorite? Who is this little lady God is growing? I'm so excited to have a front-row seat.

Selah at 23 months. It's safe to say she has outgrown the basket :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Isaiah's 2-month update

Isaiah turned 2 months old yesterday. What a crazy two months it has been, but also - so fast!

Don't judge me, but as I laid on the bed with him last night before putting him down, I got a little weepy. I know two months is still really young, but I feel like I am just coming out of the fog, and as I do, I'm realizing I missed his newborn phase.

Granted, he's way bigger than most newborns (12lbs, 5oz and 24.5" long today at his appointment), so that could contribute to that feeling like I just woke up having missed his "newborn" phase. He's also pretty awake and aware most of the time. He has reflux, so for a few weeks whenever he was awake, he was also crying. Now though, his medication has really kicked in and he's so chill and content after he eats and burps. Little dude just lays and stares and if you talk to him or he can stare at himself in the mirror, he smiles a lot. He has the best smiles. So unreserved, and such joy at being talked to and included in the goings-on. Is that because he's a second child and starved for attention? Gosh, I hope not. I hope he never feels left out and attention-needy. I hope he's just a really chill, sweet little guy who delights in his people. And I hope he always smiles as much as he does now!

Isaiah still doesn't love to be carried/worn, but if you catch him at a good moment, he's OK with it. He still pretty much hates the car seat if it's not moving. Strolling in it is fine - as long as he's moving. In the car is fine - as long as it's moving. Buckle him, unbuckle him, whatever - as long as he's moving. For as chill as he is about most things, he loses his mind when the movement stops and he's in the carseat. Isaiah has quite the temper at those moments, which is not something I love, but he makes up for it in smiles.

He's started sleeping through the night, and the last two nights, he hasn't even woken for his pacifier around 6 like he was doing. He goes to bed around 10:30, gets a dream feed at 12:30, and then eats around 9 or 9:30. What a blessing to us to have him settling into that rhythm! That's something I could definitely sustain.

He loves his sister, and she loves him. He gives her big smiles whenever she kisses him - which is a lot. His grip is strong, and his grip on our hearts is strong. I know I'm a sap, but I truly feel like this week I'm settling into a really good place, emotionally. I've struggled a lot since he was born - with guilt, with resentment, with feeling like a burden, with thankfulness, with anger...The list goes on. Maybe I'll write more about all that later, but for now, suffice it to say that God has been really good to me, to us. He's been gracious and loving toward me, and he's blessed us with such a sweet little fella. So, without further ado, enjoy Isaiah's 2-month photo with one of his killer smiles :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Introducing Isaiah

It's been more than three weeks since our little Isaiah entered the world, so I figured I should blog his birth story sooner rather than later, or else risk losing the memories to the chasm of sleep deprivation. Also, it's taken me 3+ attempts and the loss of most of what I had written, so here goes nothing.

When we found out we were pregnant and our general due date, I began hoping for a "fun" birth date for this little one. At least one that was easy to remember (5/10/15 or 5/15/15 sounded good!). When I hit 37 weeks, I began having prodromal labor (labor that mimics real labor and contractions, but never actually results in a baby). It kind of killed my dreams of a 5/10/15 or 5/15/15 birth date, but honestly, I was happy to think I wasn't going to be pregnant much longer. Between the weight gain, exhaustion, aches and pains and general inability to be the mom I wanted to be to Selah, I was done. SO DONE. However, pregnancy lasted nearly the full 40 weeks, with me waking up 5/14/15 - 2 days shy of my  due date - with legitimate contractions.

I got up at 7 and began putting the final touches on my hospital bag and trying to figure out if I should cancel the photo shoot Selah and I were going to do that morning. I was having contractions the whole time, but was so leery about saying "This is it," after the weeks of false labor. About 4 hours in to contractions, they were getting more painful and more regular, so I called the shoot and told Adrian we needed to plan to head to the hospital. First (priorities!) we needed food. I made the mistake last time of not eating before we checked into the hospital and so after a 19-hour labor and only liquids and one Greek yogurt - I was HANGRY. I wasn't going to make that mistake again! We (A, Selah, myself and A's mom who was in town to help) went to the Denver Biscuit Company and I stuffed myself on The Franklin. It's a biscuit, stuff with a fried chicken breast, bacon and cheese and covered in sausage gravy. Heart health was clearly one of my top concerns ;)

After lunch, I made A get me to the hospital as I sat crunched over with more painful contractions. I was so worried when we checked in I wouldn't be dilated enough for them to admit me, but about 2 pm, once I had changed into some more appropriate labor clothes, they found I was 5 cm dilated.

At that point, there was some concern over whether or not the baby had a hand or something up next to his/her head. There was a funny bulge next to the head, they said, but weren't too worried. We passed a few hours laboring in the tub, on the birthing ball and moseying around the room. By 6 pm, I was already getting tired and though I was at 8 cm, felt like I was going to need to rest for what I felt would be a much longer night. The anesthesiologist came in and gave me a much-needed epidural and for several hours, I "labored" in relative ease. I had my oils diffusing, was sniffing peppermint for nausea (that biscuit may have been a bad idea), and I was applying Clary Sage to keep my labor progressing. All the while, we were hanging out, watching The Office, eating ice chips (me) and talking to the nurses and doctors.

At some point, they began to get concerned over the fact that the baby's head wasn't really dropping and I wasn't progressing past 9cm. The "hand" they felt next to the baby's head could be the umbilical cord, putting him or her at risk if they were to descend any further. They began saying they wanted to either break my water and see if the cord was prolapsed or give me Pitocin to try and speed things up. I opposed both and requested to keep laboring, hopefully in a more upright position. The nurses and doctors kept lying me back and rolling me from side to side because the baby's heartbeat was decelerating and they wanted to get it stabilized.

All of a sudden, there was talk about an emergency c-section and the nurse anesthetist was in there and ready to wheel me out. Adrian and I talked and stalled and finally convinced them to not do a c-section but to break my water and see if we could put an internal heartbeat monitor on the baby. They broke my water, no cord prolapse, and put the heartbeat monitor on. The heartbeat stabilized for a little bit, and then they said there was meconium in the water - a sure sign of fetal distress. Amid (what felt like) a panic attack and so much crying and shivering and heart racing and freaking out, I told A we needed to go ahead and do the c-section. If there was meconium in the water, I knew (from having recently watched Jill Dillard's birth story) we needed to get baby out ASAP.

A few minutes later, I was wheeled into the OR, Adrian was beside me in scrubs and I was being prepped. I was still shivering and freaking out, but the doctor said, "Here we go," and literally seconds later - I heard the beautiful cry of my child. It was 12:01am on 5/15/15. Adrian told me it was a boy, the baby was held up over the curtain for just a second for me to see, and then he was carted away. Adrian alternately sat with me and checked on our son, who he said was really blue. I was so out of it I didn't really register his color or the fact that I didn't get to hold him right away, as I had requested.

Holding my son for the first time.
It wasn't until later in the recovery/transitional room, when they brought our son in, that I learned that there was umbilical cord wrapped around his neck four times. That's what caused his heart rate to decelerate. That's why he wouldn't drop. That's why he was so blue when they pulled him from me, and that's why there had been a very real danger of brain damage or death. Thankfully, his APGAR scores were normal, his hearing screen was great and he has been the greediest little eater.

We named him Isaiah Justice. Although I'm still in a fog and don't fully understand or remember everything that happened that night, I am so grateful that the Lord didn't exact his justice on our family, but rather, in His mercy, gave us a giant miracle baby. Isaiah was 8lbs and 13oz and 21" long. Although I hadn't wanted medical interventions and I resisted the c-section, I am so thankful for the work of the team of doctors and nurses who cared for me and Isaiah that night. Without their insistence on a c-section, this could be a very different birth story. We're so grateful it turned out the way it did.

One week old. Holding his head this way because it's how the cord had him wrapped in the womb.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Baby (VanderBean #2)

Dear Baby -

Today maaaay not be the best time to write to you, as I'm emotional and discouraged, but here goes nothing. On the other hand, maybe this was the last thing I needed to do before you arrive and now you'll come introduce yourself!

Your due date is this weekend and I have to say, you've shocked me with how stubbornly you're holding to that. I truly thought you would have joined us on the outside by now, but as I learned with your big sister, my mother's intuition apparently stinks. You've been consistently measuring 2 weeks ahead of schedule throughout this pregnancy. Today, you're measuring 2.5 weeks ahead. And yet you sit and wait, happily bouncing around inside me. Maybe you're built like your daddy, and that's why you're so long and gangly? You're sitting so close to the front of my belly that it's like watching a show many nights when you get to hopping. You like to roll, and punch, and stick little feet (or elbows or hands?) up and try and force my belly to stretch even more. Not happening, kiddo. I'm about as stretched as I care to be! Your active nature though is so reminiscent of your sister's that I worry you'll be as busy as she is. Where do you kids get your energy from?!

When I found out I was pregnant with you, it was a little surreal. Although I had been hoping for months, I was shocked when it actually happened. I went downstairs and told your daddy while he was getting ready for work, and we were both a little surprised. Very excited, but surprised! You traveled with us to Mexico a couple months in to celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary. Everyone at the resort was so excited to learn about you. They were mostly the first people we told! 

When the doctor did an ultrasound on you, there was a small abnormality that concerned her, so we got to see your face again in January when we did another ultrasound. You were/are just fine, but I was grateful to have looked at your sweet face again. And what a cute little potbelly you were rocking! In one of the ultrasounds, we saw you mimicking your big sis with your hands on the sides of your head.

Sweet baby, we love you. We have been anxiously awaiting your arrival and the chance to get to know you. You've been prayed for SO MUCH. Every night, we ask God to continue protecting you and providing for you. We ask him to draw you close to Himself so you may be spared the heartache of not walking with the Lord. We pray you know Jesus loves you and that you love him too. I pray you know that though you're our second child - you're not second-rate. As your mom, I've already fallen down on the job of trying to make things "equal" between you and your sister. Remember, equal isn't the goal. Knowing Jesus, mama and daddy love you is the goal! Your sister loves you too, so much. She often kisses my belly and hugs you and says "night night." She tries to share her milk and her toys with you. I know you'll fight, but we hope you love her and she loves you as much as Daddy and I love you both. We'll try not to compare you to her. Comparison is the thief of joy. You are uniquely you - fearfully and wonderfully made - and we love you because of who you are in Christ, not because of who you are in this family. 

We can't wait to meet you. Are you another little lady (surprise?)? Or are you a little boy, as Daddy and I have thought for two pregnancies now? Will you be a busy child or more sweet and snuggly? Who are you, little VanderBean? Come out and meet the world! We're so anxious to know you and embark on many adventures together! Until then, may you grow in grace and know you are loved by those of us out here.

Love, Mama

Monday, February 9, 2015


When I was in college, I remember driving to visit one of my best friends and watching her in a dance competition she was participating in. The dancing was beautiful, but what stuck out to me - and still does - is the song.

"This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held."

This song by Natalie Grant, Held, is what comes to mind when I think about the concept of keeping. Keeping is something you do to an object, a person, an idea that is dear to you. If you were to ask me, there are far too many things that are kept around our house. We tend to be pack-rats. Slightly. You know, boxes of memories on every floor of the house, that kind of pack rat. Why do we keep these things? Because they are dear to us.

In the same way, when I heard this song by Natalie Grant, I realized we are kept by God and held by God for the same reason we keep anything we do - because we are dear to Him. We are his beloved, so he keeps us. He keeps us in the palm of his hand to be protected and guided and comforted and challenged and disciplined and grown and LOVED. He holds us, through the good and bad. He keeps us.

Our life has seasons of abundance and little. It has its ups and downs and its ebbs and flows. It is so easy to realize we are kept, held, in the middle of the times of abundance when we can very much feel God's hands around us. However, it's the times when we are broken, ugly, worthless and needing to be "thrown out" that God keeps us.


**I'm going to start trying to participate in Five Minute Friday. This is a writing exercise where I am supposed to write for 5 minutes about the given topic. This is my first week, I'm already late since it's Monday, and I've been way distracted listening to my husband teach a theology class. So, please show me grace as I try to jog my writer's block !

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

The other night, I was looking for an old blog post on one of my old blogs. It was ASTONISHING to me to see how prolific my posting was at that stage of my life. Truly amazing. I had that much time? And that many thoughts of my own? And that much time?! It made me nostalgic for the days I was bursting with something to say that didn't revolve around nap schedules, or illnesses, or grumpiness about something in my life.

A friend recently told me she wants me to start posting more. I can't promise how frequently I'll find time to sit down and write, especially because of some changes over the last year that make me more circumspect in how much I share, but I'll try. I'll try to update more than once every few months.

So, in that spirit, here is a brief update on some of my goals I wanted to hit before I turned 30, as well as some highlights from the last few months.

1. Get my nose pierced. - Didn't happen because I didn't quite hit goal weight.
2. Lose 15 pounds. - I lost 13. I was within 2 pounds when I got pregnant.
3. Run a 5k. - Definitely did not. I walked 4+ miles once!
4. Have a fantastic 5-year anniversary trip. - Accomplished! We went to Puerto Vallarta, and it was wonderful.
5. Get pregnant. - Check :)
6. Go skiing at least 2x this season. - Fail. I still have yet to ski since becoming a Colorado resident.
7. Get our family healthier. - Check. One sick visit for Seh and none for Adrian or I. Thanks to the oils, we're able to manage most bugs at home and knock them out quickly.
8. Go to a concert at Red Rocks. - Did not :(
9. Get paid to take some pictures. - YES!! I shot 3 weddings this summer and officially launched my wedding photography business.
10. Decorate our bedroom and make it cozy. - Check. I painted this summer, got new bedding and got new nightstands.
11. Be a confident and frequent baby-wearer. - Notsomuch. I wore Seh a little, but just got a Mei Tei to start practicing with for #2.
12. Family beach trip. - Nope. Hoping for August/September 2015.
13. Buy a new computer. - Check. This was a must-have when my old Macbook crashed.
14. Read my Bible more diligently. - I suck at this.
15. Go to a Rockies game as a family. - We actually did a couple! First time was RIGHT behind the visitor's dugout. Fantastic seats, but a little nerve-wracking with a baby!
16. Cook 5 nights a week most weeks. - I'd say "check." We've been eating out less in the evenings.
17. Get a kitten or puppy :) - Many tears over this, but no. A says maybe this time next year.
18. Develop a weekly housecleaning schedule. - Check. I don't stick to it, but I have one!
19. Do some crafts I've been delaying (i.e., wall art for our bedroom). - Check. Now to HANG said wall art.
20. Find a couple of local beers I actually like. - Check. There was a pumpkin one I loved and I LOVED the smell of 43 Elbows at Rock Bottom. Now to try it when I'm not with child!
21. Go paddle boarding this summer. - Check! I tried at a river festival and it was really fun!
22. Eat at some of the local, legit Hispanic restaurants in our neighborhood. - Sadly, no.
23. Work up to walking to the zoo regularly to use my zoo pass. - I walked to the zoo once. So, check? I did go to the zoo a bunch.
24. Get a library card and use it. - Check! And we usually walk to the library.
25. Get my hair cut more than once this year. - Fail. I think I got it cut once.
26. Try a new restaurant during Restaurant Week. - Double fail since they did 2 restaurant weeks.
27. Have a veggie garden again this summer, and actually harvest and eat the produce. - Check. We ate peppers, basil, kale, and chives!
28. Go for a hike. - Check? We went up to Boulder Canyon, which was part hike/part stroller derby.
29. Eat at Civic Center Eats this summer. - Fail :(
30. Go to Jazz in the Park once. - Fail :(

So there ya go. Some accomplished, some not. The last few weeks have been full of a lot of wallowing (on my part) about turning 30, the holidays coming and going in ways I didn't expect and the passage of another year. However, as I look back over the goals I set for 2014, I'm pretty proud of where we ended up. The year started with so much uncertainty, but we did some big things along the way. A started a new career, I began staying at home and working on building two businesses, we hosted ALL of our family here over Christmas, our daughter is growing well and is a joy and delight, we have another baby on the way, we began paying on debts and we began to develop some structures and stability in our life.

Of course, 2015 will bring with it new challenges, new decisions for our family, new joys and new growth. I'd be lying if I said I was excited about all the new year has in store, but honestly, I'm a little trepidatious. So, for today, I'll snuggle in, enjoy the snow outside, continue listening to Christmas music, make some candies, snacks and dips, and try to truly live in the moment and enjoy this last day of 2014.

Merry Christmas, y'all, and happy new year!