Counting My Blessings

I’ve been writing a lot of blog posts in my head lately. I’ve even occasionally sat down to start writing some of them, but those are all half finished. Our fall has been incredibly full, and on the days when we are home, it seems like there is always so much to do. Not the least of which is chase after the Three Musketeers, who never stop moving and never leave a room untouched by their loving gentle hands. I love these three so much, and they make my days so full. I want to remember these days when they are all grown and gone, and I’ll think to myself, what were those years really like? So I keep telling myself that I need to sit down (ha!) and record some of what’s been happening lately, so I don’t forget. And I am trying to make the time to do that.

There are seasons of my life when I don’t notice a lot of growth. Sure, I might be relearning  some good lessons, but it’s not a season of challenges that force me to become a better version of myself. This fall has not been one of those seasons. :)

There have been multiple things that have been stretching me lately. We tried out a new Bible Study this fall, and while I loved the study, the timing and location didn’t work out for us. Halfway through October I called it quits. For several years of my life (mostly teens) I would join things, not like the way they were going, and decide to quit. And then I realized that quitting was maybe not the most mature way to handle myself, and so in my twenties I really pushed myself to live up to my commitments, no matter how stressed or burnt out that made me. Now, in my thirties, I’m trying to find some balance. I need to honor my commitments, but I also need to be realistic when something is not working. And as long as it is not a rash, emotional decision, then it’s okay to say “this is not working for me, I need to step out.” I’m also learning to make A LOT fewer commitments. I have the type of personality where I am terrible about signing myself up for way more than I can actually handle in a sane way. So I am really trying to think, pray and talk to Lover before I jump into the next thing with no forethought.


I also started working on a couple of new sources of income this fall. I’m renting out our house on AirBnB, and I am reselling things on eBay. I’ve prayed for a couple of years that God would give me an opportunity to make a little money on the side without impacting my time at home with the kids. I love doing photography, but the scheduling and editing photos, etc doesn’t really work for me in this season of life. I still do shoots for friends, but that’s about it. What I love about eBay is that when I have the time I shop for things I can resell (and I can shop with the kids!) and then list them on eBay, and when we are having a busy week or a sick week or whatever, I leave it all alone and pick it up when I have time. You’d be amazed at the things people will pay good money for! And AirBnb, while it is a lot more work, and schedule dependent, has been great because while we are staying in a hotel my only responsibility is spending time with the kids. It’s been great for our family time.

God has also been teaching me so much lately. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s been an interesting mix of learning to be courageous while also learning more vulnerability. I have such a tendency to run from things that challenge me, and also to run from people or situations that require vulnerability. Basically my default is running. Not physically, mind you, because I think actual running is crazy pants, but mentally and emotionally.


Instead I am learning to open up, be honest about what I am thinking and feeling, and let people in. Having kids has been great for me, especially three kids, because I can no longer pretend that I have it all together and all under control. That’s simply a blatant lie. I forget things, my house is well loved and lived in, and my kids often look like scraggly ragamuffins. Oh and the days they dress themselves? Fuhgeddaboudit. That usually means snow boots in summer, black socks with sandals or even two unmatched shoes. Crazy hair sticking out in every direction, and probably some kind of marker or paint on their faces. I always swore I would not be the mom with the daughter with a crazy head of hair. And then I got the girl with the cloud of crazy curls who prefers the “natural” look and can only be coaxed into having it combed and tamed maybe once a week. I believe so strongly in raising my kids to be individuals, who are confidant and able to express themselves. And one of the ways they do that at these ages is through their clothes and hair, so I try my hardest to let them be themselves, no matter how much my inner control freak may be losing it. I did have to draw the line at black knee socks and sandals though. A girl can only be so flexible!


And I am finding that as I let go of the need to control every motion and expression that my kids make, I’m letting go of that need within myself. I’m finding it easier to talk about my shortcomings, and about the ways that God fills in those gaps. Because the amazing thing is, when I am honest about where I fall short, it’s easier to see how willing and eager my heavenly Father is to step in and lift me up.


So that’s where I am at right now. Learning to set boundaries, and to stand firm in my convictions. To open up to those around me, and let them in. To let go of my desire to be in control of all things and all people.  And learning that God does not judge me for my shortcomings, but in fact welcomes them because it gives Him a chance to extend his grace and his strength to me.

But enough about me. :0) What have you been learning?


Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment

Declan’s Birth Story

My due date had once again come and gone. All throughout Declan’s pregnancy my due date had fluctuated somewhere around 4th of July weekend. Somehow in my head I had decided that this baby wanted to come on the 4th of July, and have a parade and fireworks in his honor every year. Baby Kodanko, however, had other plans. So as the holiday weekend came and went without any baby activity, I got a little discouraged.

On Monday, my girlfriend offered to take Javi and Keilana for the night so that I could have a relaxing evening and night. I hesitated briefly, only because I get very anxious around the time I deliver and I wanted my kids close by. In the end though, the practicality of getting some rest and potentially a good night’s sleep won out over any anxiety I might have. So I drove the kids to Erin’s and headed back home to chill with Lover. We enjoyed a quiet evening and went to bed early.

Around 1am, I woke up from a sound sleep with an absolutely crippling contraction. It was so intense (and unexpected!) that when it finished I just lay there shaking for a minute, trying to collect myself. I layed in bed for the next hour or so, wide awake, and contractions came with some regularity. They weren’t anywhere near as painful as that first one though, so I was able to relax a bit and let Lover sleep. After about an hour and a half, the contractions were still regular and severe enough that I couldn’t sleep through them.

With this pregnancy I had tested positive for group B strep for the first time, and my midwife was very insistent that I be at the hospital as early in the process as possible so they would have time to administer the rounds of necessary antibiotics. So around 2:30am I woke Lover up and told him we needed to head into the hospital.

Driving through the sleepy streets of Denver was a fun experience. My hospital was about 20 minutes away, and the car ride was decently comfortable. We had to enter through the emergency entrance since everything else was closed. Lover offered to drop me off, but I emphatically declined. We walked into a quiet ER and the nurse kindly asked us what we needed. “Um, we need to have a baby?” They instructed us to follow the green line marked on the floor which would take us to the labor and delivery floor.

So we began our journey through the belly of the sleepy hospital. After what seemed like the longest walk ever, we arrived at the elevator, only to discover that this particular elevator was out of service! We backtracked until we found one that was in service, and finally made our way up to the fifth floor.

Once there, the nurses asked me why I was there. I will never understand why, when faced with an enormously pregnant woman in a hospital setting, people ask what the purpose of your visit it. I don’t know, maybe to HAVE A BABY??!?! *exhale*

Anyways, they took me into a room, hooked me up to those annoying monitor thingies, and left me there for a while. I tried to sleep for a bit while they tracked down a doctor to come check me. They probably had to wake her up, which was a bummer for her. She finally came in, checked me and then they got a hold of my midwife (also waking her up). Because I wasn’t far along and was still easing through the contractions,they gave me the choice to either go home, or spend an hour walking the halls to try to get things to advance more. I chose to walk. In retrospect, I wish I had gone home and gone back to bed! But I remembered how awful the car ride had been once I was further along in labor, and I dreaded dealing with that again. So we stayed. I was also still nervous about the antibiotics, so I wanted to be there to have them administered as soon as possible.

So we spent an hour walking big loops around the fifth floor. Most of the floor was quiet and dimly lit, and we held hands and talked a little bit and timed the contractions. Whenever I was able to walk throughout the contraction it intensified quite a bit, and the next one would be quite a bit stronger. But if I stopped to rest during the contractions then they stayed quite manageable. We walked those halls until I was sick of seeing them, making loops through the waiting room where oddly the Simpsons were playing on one of the TVs. At this point I was really uncomfortable, so I laid down on the floor and did some stretches to the annoying sounds of the Simpsons. Finally our hour was up, so we headed back to the room and settled back into bed. I gave the nurses the chocolate chip cookies I had baked the week before. In retrospect, they didn’t seem overjoyed to get them, and I really needed them later! But we’ll get to that.

They put those dumb monitors back on me (can you tell my actual feelings about the monitors?) and checked the baby. Everything was fine, but other than those regular, only slightly uncomfortable contractions, nothing had changed. So I tried to rest for a bit, and the next hour or so passed quietly. The hospital had wifi, so we streamed an Andrea Bocelli channel on Pandora and Luke got a little more sleep.

When they came in again to check on me, I asked about the antibiotics. They assured me they were on it, and not to worry about it. The contractions had started to get a bit painful and I was too tired to walk anymore, so the nurse suggested I just get in the shower and let the warm water relax me a bit. This helped quite a bit, but I remember just feeling so numb from exhaustion at that point. I was already out of pain coping mechanisms. I started to get really afraid of the pain I knew was coming, and I just didn’t feel up to the task mentally of dealing with it.

Throughout this whole labor I just felt an impatient anticipation. I wanted to just get through the annoying labor stuff, and get my baby! I didn’t want to wait around for hours, I didn’t want to have to work to keep things moving, I just wanted my healthy baby, in my arms, right then. Unfortunately for me, that’s just not how labor works! Babies won’t be rushed.

After the shower I rested for a while longer and then things started to move along. They started my first course of antibiotics, and it was nearly morning, so my midwife was headed in. I was immensely relieved to hear this, selfishly, all night I had just wanted her to come in and be there for me. So once Mary actually walked in the door, I felt so much more relaxed. She did her own examination, and asked how I was feeling. I was still managing the contractions okay, but I was just so stinking tired.

I wish I could remember the next batch of time, but it’s all just a blur. I think that’s when my contractions intensified, but it’s all pretty much a blank. I used all my coping mechanisms from the previous births, but I just felt exhausted and beat down. So when Mary came in to talk to me about pain management, I chose the epidural. It wasn’t really what I wanted, but I wasn’t brave enough to face the rest of the labor without drugs. So they put in the request for the epidural, and that was that.

With my previous two labors I was totally comfortable with my decision to get an epidural. But with this birth I wasn’t 100% sure about it, and that definitely affected me. This anesthesiologist had me sit in a position that was incredibly uncomfortable, and I just remember being overwhelmingly afraid throughout the entire process. When I sat up when they were finally done, I looked at the clock, and the hands on the clock spun round and round like I was in a fun house. It was the weirdest thing. The epidural took effect though and the pain of the contractions eased, so I was able to relax a bit. I was worried about it affecting the pace of my labor though, since things had been so weird up to that point. My contractions had never settled into a regular rhythm, and I was concerned that the epidural would further upset that. And in fact, after about half an hour, the contractions started tapering off and things started coming to a halt.

My nurse had a great suggestion though. Since I couldn’t get up and move around to get things moving again, she brought in a huge yellow foam peanut. I laid on my side and held the peanut between my knees. This adjusted my position enough that the baby kept moving and things kept progressing. We switched sides after a while and things kept moving along well.

Finally it was time to push. Apparently my boy children prefer to be sunny side up. This was annoying because my midwife had checked him at my last appointment and he was in the perfect position. I had actually told her before she examined me, here’s his head, here’s his butt, he’s in the perfect position! And somewhere in those next couple of days he decided to be a Spiderman baby instead. If you know how babies are supposed to be born, then you know that turning upside down makes it incredibly difficult (and painful!) to get them out. So that was fun. We had to try several different positions and none of them were without pain. I remember thinking that if I just wasn’t so exhausted, I would have the strength to get that baby out! But eventually we found the right position, I found some hidden reserve of strength and we got that little babe out.

I was immediately gripped with this overwhelming desire to hold my little baby. They checked him over quickly and wiped him down a little bit, and I had to restrain myself from just leaning down and grabbing him. I wanted to see him and hold him and kiss him! They finally (maybe 2 min later) put him up on my chest, and I just remember this flood of relief and happiness. It; the pregnancy, the delivery, all of it, was finally over, and he was here!

Declan Oliver Kodanko was born at 1:35PM. He weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and measured 20.5 inches. Our smallest baby! He was an incredibly calm and chill newborn. He was super happy to just snuggle with us and go right to sleep, waking occasionally for a quick snack.

As soon as I had finished delivery and everything was copacetic, I was STARVING. Like, ravenously hungry. I wanted to eat an entire Thanksgiving dinner. The hospital I delivered at had different departments for labor & delivery, and the recovery afterwards. So I asked the nurse how long it would be until I was transferred and could order a meal. She assured me that it would “not be long.” She was a dirty liar. She also told me I could help myself to the snacks in the fridge. These, however, were labor approved snacks, which meant crackers and Jell-O. That was not going to cut it. It was right around this time that I was seriously regretting giving away those cookies!

Finally, FINALLY, they transferred me to my permanent room. I quickly perused the meal menu, but I also noticed a takeout menu for Jimmy Johns. I decided this would be the perfect time to test out their promise of “quick delivery” and placed an order for a big sandwich. They were literally there 7 minutes later. It was awesome. I devoured the sandwich and then ordered a full meal from the hospital kitchen.

We spent the afternoon dozing and cuddling Declan. We had an awesome nurse named Denae that did her very best to make sure we were undisturbed so we could rest. Once her shift ended though, it was open season. It seemed like there was someone in the room every half hour. The pediatrician, the social security person, a masseuse, a photographer, people offering snacks… we discovered later, after our awesome nurse had returned, that there is a sign you can put on your door to prevent this free for all. We made note in case we ever needed that information for the future.



That next morning we called Erin and asked her to bring the kids down. They came a little later, with big eyes and big smiles, so excited to meet their little brother. They were a little shy, but were happy to hold him and talk to him, and also to get to see Mommy. After the kids left we started pushing to get released. It’s impossible to rest in a hospital, and we were ready to be home. The hospital was very against this, but finally relented with the condition that we would visit the pediatrician the next day to check Declan’s jaundice. And so we were out!

Our first week at home was quiet and relaxing for the most part. Of course having a newborn is always impossible, but it felt like Declan had just always been a part of the family. The big kids adjusted well and loved their new little Be’Decwan.



A little over a year later, we couldn’t imagine life without our silly, funny, easy going little Declan man. We are so happy to have him in our family!

Javi’s Birth Story

Keilana’s Birth Story

Posted in 2016, parenting | Leave a comment

Master Bedroom: What I’m Thinking

I owe you all a post showing all of the pictures I took of the finished living room. That’s right, it’s finished and I really, really like it! That post is hopefully coming next week. I’m also slowly finishing up the entryway; I got derailed a few months ago when a project went off the rails not once but twice, leaving me impressively frustrated. I had to take a break from that space for a bit, and now I’m back at it. It’s a tricky space to work on though, since anything I do there is in the way of everything. So I work on it when I can.

But, I finally have a really good direction for the master bedroom, and I’m super excited to get started. I’ve decided that this is an exception to my “only work on one space at a time” since our room is kind of our sanctuary. The kids (with very few exceptions) are not allowed in our room. And I really make an effort to keep this room under control, clutter free and relaxing. Luke also works from home a fair amount in this room too, so it’s nice for it to be a clean and relaxing space.

In two weeks we are having the shower in our bathroom finally fixed. I’m super, super jazzed about this. And knowing that the shower will be usable has sparked a bunch of other ideas for me – basically I’m an idea machine right now.

So I snapped a few pictures just now with my phone to show you where we are starting. Sorry that they are not the best quality, but I think you understand. And if you don’t, well, I blog like once every month or two, so I’m not gonna lie, I really don’t care. :)


Let me first address the glowing yellow walls to the left. NO, I did not paint the walls sunshine yellow in the hallway. It’s just the light from the bathroom. I did finally finish painting everything in the hall last spring, but it’s the same soft gray walls and bright white trim that’s everywhere else in the house. So – our bed. I LOVE our bed. Our mattress rests on a boxspring/storage unit from IKEA that is awesome. Primarily because it rests directly on the floor, which means that nothing can get swept under the bed! No stray socks, dust bunnies or chapsticks. I love it.

I painted the nightstands before Declan was born, and they’ve been working great. I still really like the little knobs I put on them with the Mr. and Mrs. But they’ve always been about two inches too wide. Basically, my nightstand is shoved right up against the trim, then the bed is shoved right up against the nightstand, and Lover’s nightstand is right next to that. And the door still can’t open all the way. It’s not a big deal, obviously, we’ve been dealing with it, but I’ve kept my eyes open for something a little smaller that I really, really liked.

And… I found them. They’re a slightly smaller footprint, they’re solid wood, and they have, count them, FIVE drawers. I LOVE drawers. Seriously. I nearly stole a tall storage unit out of my sister in laws garage just because it had like 20 little drawers. Anyways, these need a quick sanding, a little darker stain job and some poly and they will be all set. I’m undecided on whether or not I am keeping the pulls, I’ll probably try out a couple of different fun ones to see if it’s an improvement or not.

We also need a headboard and some matching lights on this wall. I’m trying to find some affordable sconces for this wall, I think the symmetry will look nice and it will free up the top of the nightstands. Allow me to show you a VERY rough sketch of what I am thinking.


I’m sorry. :) But it shows you basically what I am thinking. I’m gonna paint all the trim in this room blue like the walls. The trim is small anyways, and I think it will look better and draw the eye less this way. Then, bring in those nightstands, hang metal sconces above them (with some copper or gold leaf on the inside of the shades to make it super soft, flattering light) and build some kind of headboard. I’m not sure what exactly, but it’s gonna be awesome. :)

Next up is the big window wall. This is one of the walls we painted gray, but I’ve decided that I like the blue a lot, and I want this room to be super cozy. So I’m going to go ahead and paint the gray walls blue too. I think it will be awesome. I’m thinking I want to do something fun over the window or on the window – some kind of wooden valance, or cool stenciled pattern on the window itself… it will come to me I am sure. Next up, the dresser. I bought this tray at Goodwill a few months ago, and I really, really love the pattern on it.


I’m going to attempt to reproduce this pattern on the dresser itself. Basically painting those flowers on a slightly larger scale all over the dresser, with the swirly lines and dots. I’m also planning to switch out the hardware because … I have this thing with hardware. I really, really like it. And, I’m watching for a mirror to replace the humongous one that came with the dresser. I’m also considering moving the dresser to the wall opposite the bed but I am not sold on that. We will have to see.




So this wall, which will become blue, is where I am thinking the newly revamped dresser should go. Then I can move the kiss painting, that super cool lamp I found (Target but at Goodwill for less than half the price) and a cozy leather chair over into the corner. (Leather chair still to be found) Sadly, I think the turquoise curtains are not right for where I am going with the rest of the room. I loved them against white walls, but they’re just not quite right in here now. I’ll wait till after I’ve painted to really decide, but that’s where I’m leaning.


And lastly we have the closet wall. I painted the doors blue, and while I was sad to lose that super awesome vintage fabric that was on there, it was a huge improvement, wouldn’t you say? I like how the doors just blend in with the walls now. I feel like the walls in this room are super chopped up with doors and windows and such so whenever I can make things more cohesive I do. We took the ceiling fan down in here since it was super ugly and didn’t work well anyways. I actually want to take the chandelier from the bonus room and tweak it a bit and put it in here.


It needs a bit of help, a thorough cleaning and I think it will work really well. You just have to squint a bit to see how it will work. Trust me.


I keep going back to these two inspiration images I found on Pinterest. I love them both, a LOT. So I’m sticking to deep blue walls, warm wood tones and coppery metallic accents. In thinking about this space, I really want it to be clean and uncluttered, cozy and relaxing, and “grown up.” I’m hoping I can achieve that. I’m still undecided about curtains and bedspread, but I think I can find something that is either quiet and fades to the background, or makes itself the star. So what do you think? Do you have any thoughts and or advice? I’d love to hear it!



Posted in Amherst | Leave a comment