Sometimes When it Rains…

…it pours. And then that water seeps into your basement and makes for a really, really bad day.

I always want this blog to be a place that is uplifting and encouraging and hopeful…even in the midst of difficult circumstances. But I also want it to be a place that is honest…and sometimes honesty is not so pretty.

I put off writing this post for a few days for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, on Mother’s Day I wanted to focus on the happy things in my life…because there are a lot. I also thought it would be good to let my emotions kind of level out a bit…you know, the “hide your crazy” Miranda Lambert sings about.

During the last four weeks (and really the last six months) Kade and I have had some incredible highs and overwhelming lows on the emotional spectrum. And I can honestly say we have both really taken things in stride and kept ourselves, for the most part, pulled together. Until Saturday night…

Right before bed we got a call from home…our basement had flooded. Almost instantly, the resolve we’d worked so hard to maintain crumbled. As much as I wanted to, I could not stop the tears streaming down my cheeks as I though to myself… Why now?! Why does this have to happen in the middle of all the other stuff we are facing??  And the question I think many of us ask in difficult circumstances… God, why us??  This news was certainly not the worst we’ve received, and our basement is definitely not the biggest of our concerns right now. It just so happened that with everything else on our hearts, this was our breaking point.

So to back up a minute for a little context…in first few months of the year, we moved pretty much our entire living quarters to the basement. We live in an old, three-level farmhouse with an extremely steep staircase up to what used to be our master bedroom on the top level. Not all that practical for a growing mama-to-be or for two newborn babies who quickly grow into mobile toddlers. So we moved our bedroom all the way to the basement, as well as the girls’ nursery and my office. We had the walls all painted, the carpet cleaned and everything was perfectly in place for us to come home with our new little adventures. You know…

MakeGodLaugh

SO, our basement was flooded. We were in Chicago with no possibility of getting home to take care of it. Not a good situation. Insert dedicated, loyal, unbelievable friends and family who spent the entire night with shop-vacs trying to get out all of the remaining water to salvage our carpet. They sacrificed their sleep to save our sanity.

The next day we called in the pros, who said the carpet pad was unsalvageable, but the effort put into getting moisture out the night before quite possibly saved our dry wall. So the next step was moving everything out of the basement so the carpet could come up to remove the pad and start the drying process. Those of you who know anything about me know that the thought of all this happening while I am stuck in a hospital room nearly 100 miles away almost stopped my control-freak heart. Like, needed a phone call from dad to get my head on straight kind of freak-out.

Here are a few of the things he reminded me of… 1) Stuff is just that…stuff. Even if something gets broken or dinged or scratched, and even if it’s not done exactly how I would do it…life will go on. 2) There is literally nothing I can do about the situation. My only job right now is growing these little girls and keeping them and myself healthy…meaning no stressing. 3) How lucky are we that we have friends and family clamoring to help us…calling and texting to say, “Don’t worry about anything here, we’ve got it under control.” Seriously lucky.

The honesty part is this… We (and by we I mostly mean I) don’t always handle things with grace. Sometimes situations I don’t have control over make me ill-tempered and irrational and, occasionally, those things lead me to do that “ugly cry” thing girls do. My husband bears the brunt of those emotions, which is why God blessed me with a strong, forgiving man.

So a few from-the-bottom-of-my-heart “thanks yous”… To my husband who let me work through the not-so-pretty emotions I needed to feel and express in my moments of weakness. To my mama who just hugged me when I needed to cry and reminded me of what an incredible man I married. To my dad who continues to provide a steadfast example of humility and voice of reason. And, from Kade and I, THANK YOU to everyone who has pitched in not only with the basement, but with everything at the Hummel homestead the past four weeks. Taking care of the pigs/cats/chickens/dogs, mowing the yard, watering the plants, getting the mail, etc., etc. You have lifted such a weight off our shoulders knowing things are taken care of back home. We will never be able to repay you, but we love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know!

With Grace (or always trying),

Jen

One Month Down

Besides being my first Mother’s Day, today marks another milestone for us – it has been exactly one month since I was first admitted to the hospital in Champaign. Four long weeks have passed since we last stepped foot in our house, played with our pups or even drove our own vehicles. If we’d known that day before these things were coming…we would probably have done a lot of things different…you know, prepared a little bit. Unfortunately, these situations don’t really come with a “heads up.”

This week was not nearly as exciting as last week since all but one day we have been back in confinement. But keeping with the spirit of tradition, I thought I’d share some snapshots of Week 4…

This was our last day of freedom…in fact, it was just hours before we headed into the hospital for our last check-in of this pregnancy. We were stopped at a crosswalk and I thought it would be fun to get a "from where I stand" perspective. I am defintely round, but look…it's my feet!!

This was our last day of freedom…in fact, it was just hours before we headed back to the hospital for our last check-in of this pregnancy. We were stopped at a crosswalk and I thought it would be fun to get a “from where I stand” perspective. I am defintely round, but look…it’s my feet!!

 

We have been so fortunate to have extended "family" taking care of us during our time here. In this box was the BEST pizza I have ever had in my life…delivered right to our hospital room about three days into our stay. It was like a burger on top of a pizza. If you're ever in Chicagoland just trust me….hit up Roots Handmade Pizza. Thanks Leo!!!

We have been so fortunate to have extended “family” taking care of us during our time here. In this box was the BEST pizza I have ever had in my life…delivered right to our hospital room about three days into our stay. It was like a burger on top of a pizza. If you’re ever in Chicagoland, just trust me….hit up Roots Handmade Pizza. Thanks Leo!!!

 

My sister-in-law's mom stopped by on Friday and brought us several bags full of our favorite treats and fresh lilacs from her yard. Seriously, it's things like this that save our sanity and make us feel a little less "hospitalized." Love you Jan!

My sister-in-law’s mom stopped by on Friday and brought us several bags full of our favorite treats and fresh lilacs from her yard. Seriously, it’s things like this that save our sanity and make us feel a little less “hospitalized.” Love you Jan!

 

Late Friday night my mama flew in to spend the duration of the pregnancy with us. Today, we got to celebrate Mother's Day together for the first time with me as a mama. It was so special. My husband spoiled me with the beautiful flowers in the bottom left...and something shiny tied to a "Happy Mother's Day" balloon. My beautiful "twin ring" - one band of diamonds on either side for each of the girls. It will stack on top of my wedding band and forever be a reminder of this precious gift. We also tried to to spoil Nana a little bit with flowers and gift certificate for a manicure while she is here. We love you Nana!

Late Friday night my mama flew in to spend the duration of the pregnancy with us. Today, we got to celebrate Mother’s Day together for the first time with me as a mama. It was so special. My husband spoiled me with the beautiful flowers in the bottom left…and something shiny tied to a “Happy Mother’s Day” balloon. My beautiful “twin ring” – one band of diamonds on either side for each of the girls. It will stack on top of my wedding band and forever be a reminder of this precious gift. We also tried to to spoil Nana a little bit with flowers and gift certificate for a manicure while she is here. We love you Nana!

This week had a lot of ups and downs, but it was also filled with more blessings than we deserve. Thank you to everyone who continues to pour out love and support. Every message, comment, e-mail, text and phone call means so much to us.

With Grace,

Jen

 

Mothers Day – A New Perspective

Mother’s Day. My first with the honor of having the title of “mama” myself. Although we have not shared our “pre-pregnancy” story here, in short, this was not something doctors believed would come easily for me. We were truly shocked and overjoyed when, after less than a year and very little medical intervention, we saw those two pink lines. I’m telling you…complete shock. I actually didn’t allow myself to believe it in my heart…until I saw those two tiny heartbeats for the first time. That is the day that my life was forever changed.

We do not take this pregnancy for granted. We know there are people who try and struggle for years – even decades – to become parents. And we know there are parents out there who have lost their precious babies, either before they even had the chance to meet them or shortly after they were born. And we know, from our own situation, that nothing about bringing life into this world is in our control. We understand the pain of uncertainty. So to those mothers out there, my heart goes out to you. I pray that God gives you healing and hope and faith that His plan is perfect. I know how blessed I am, and I do not take that for granted.

But this Mother’s Day for me is a special one. Although spending it in the hospital is not ideal, I am with my own incredible mother and I have two precious baby girls dancing away in my tummy. For the first time, I am both a daughter and a mother. And that changes everything.

I have always loved my mother with all of my heart. I respect her, adore her and strive to be the kind of woman she is – an incredible mother, devoted wife, successful career woman, true friend and most of all, a faithful Christian. But this year, my appreciation for my mom has grown to a whole new level. Because for the first time…I understand the love of a mother. Even before holding my own daughters, I recognize what having a piece of your heart forever belong to someone else means. I have had my first glimpse at the sacrifice and the responsibility and the honor of bearing the title “mom.”

So to my beautiful mother – thank you. I pray that someday, my daughters view me with the same eyes I view you.

My beautiful mama and daughters. Photo taken by Wrenn Bird Photography.

My beautiful mama and daughters. Photo taken by Wrenn Bird Photography.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there. You are loved and appreciated more than you know! And to those of you still waiting, don’t lose heart. He is not done writing your story.

With Grace,

Jen

Cinco de Mayo – Northwestern Style

Northwestern the hospital, that is. If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know that last night, we were readmitted. That pesky placenta previa started acting up again, and the doctors are saying this time we’re most likely here for the long haul. We were admitted one night last week as well, so I’ve pretty much exhausted my “get out of jail free” cards.

We spent the day getting settled back in to our home sweet hospital room on the antepartum floor. Even though we are a little bummed to be back in confinement this early, we couldn’t let Cinco de Mayo pass without any celebration. So tonight, we picked the most culturally appropriate items on our in-house cafeteria menu… (yes, including the mac n’ cheese…if you know my husband at all you’ll understand!)

CincodeMayo

It’s certainly not glamorous living, but like most everything, it is what you make of it. So, we’ll celebrate our little girls – who, after all, have their own Hispanic heritage!

With Grace,

Jen

Week 3 “In Pictures”

It has been three weeks since we “relocated” to the Windy City. Some days it seems like we’ve been here for months. Kade and I are definitely missing home, and looking forward to when we get to do all those seemingly mundane things that, truthfully, we took for granted before all of this. Things like mowing the lawn, cooking real meals (including eating with real utensils!) and sleeping in our own bed. Honestly, I can’t wait to get home and spend just a few peaceful minutes on our porch swing taking in a summer sunset. But in the meantime, we are truly trying to make the most of our city living….knowing we’ll look back on this time some day and smile at the memories we made.

One of the things we are trying to do is take in as much of the “local” scene as we can – little places to eat, city events, etc. And to help us remember these things I am, of course, taking pictures of everything. So here’s a look back at Week 3 captured through the lens of my iPhone…

Celebrating 33 weeks with a pretty incredible brownie sundae at a little place called Timothy O'Tooles. Very, very yum.

Celebrating 33 weeks with a pretty incredible brownie sundae at a little place called Timothy O’Tooles. Very, very yum.

Thursday, we made our way to Grant Park to take in the festivities of the first day of the NFL draft. This event hasn't taken place in Chicago in…well…a really long time. The city was CRAZY! I guess there were like 200,000 people who attended over the course of the three-day event. And to think…we accounted for four of those!

Thursday, we made our way to Grant Park to take in the festivities of the first day of the NFL draft. This event hasn’t taken place in Chicago in…well…a really long time. The city was CRAZY! I guess there were like 200,000 people who attended over the course of the three-day event. And to think…we accounted for four of those!

One evening we went out to Navy Pier and just spent a little time walking along the water. It was finally warm enough to not be in coats, and we were sure as heck going to take advantage. I loved looking back at the city skyline.

One evening we went out to Navy Pier and just spent a little time walking along the water. It was finally warm enough to not be in coats, and we were sure as heck going to take advantage. I loved looking back at the city skyline.

We'd been eying Stan's Donuts for days. It is on a route that we walk quite a bit, and well…we are donut people. So yesterday morning, we walked through the revolving door that had been beckoning us. And we definitely don't regret it.

We’d been eying Stan’s Donuts for days. It is on a route that we walk quite a bit, and well…we are donut people. So yesterday morning, we walked through the revolving door that had been beckoning us. And we definitely don’t regret it.

Whether I like it or not (and really...I do) I am growing little Chicago sports fans in my belly. Daddy will make sure of that. So with gorgeous weather in the forecast and the Cubs closing out a home series against the Brewers, we ventured to Wrigley for an afternoon of brats and baseball. Best decision we've made in three weeks, hands-down.

Whether I like it or not (and really…I do) I am growing two little Chicago sports fans in my belly. Daddy will make sure of that. So with gorgeous weather in the forecast and the Cubs closing out a home series against the Brewers, we ventured to Wrigley for an afternoon of brats and baseball. Best decision we’ve made in three weeks.

And that’s pretty much a wrap! Of course, there are a lot of hours between these snapshots that are a lot more…ordinary. But, those moments are wonderful too. Because we’re here together, waiting on the two most precious little gifts. And they are busy teaching us the patience I’m only sure we’ll need during their teenage years…

With Grace,

Jen