Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Vacation...and some Tuna

Well Christmas vacation has been so good out here in California, spending time with my parents and brother and sister.  I sort of don't want to leave :)

I'm kind of into knitting now!  I'm like one of those moms now that knits and bakes and stuff.
So here is what I made for my family this Christmas:

"Handstitched with Love & Prayer by Bethany Hall"

I paired each scarf with a hand-written scroll with a prophetic word to each of them, and a feather that matched the color of the scarf! 
It was so fun picking the colors for each family member and praying for them and declaring over them as I knitted each stitch, knowing that they would wear these scarves (and promises) around their necks!


On a second note, Christmas at my Grandma's was very entertaining.
My sweet and hilarious Uncle Kev handed each of us "kids" a newspaper-wrapped gift (which is his trademark).
He chuckled as we opened them.
"Tuna?!" my sister exclaimed in confusion (for she was the first to open it).
Yep, we each got a can of tuna with a $20 bill attached to it!
And then my uncle says,
"I was thinking, why go to the store when I can just go to the pantry!"

Haha!  So funny.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!
We are getting ready to fly out to California this afternoon for Christmas with my side of the family!
I am completely elated and cannot wait to see everyone back "home"
and introduce Courage to the rest of the family!!
I have been looking forward to this for months!
And Preston and I get to celebrate our 2 year anniversary this New Years in one of my most favorite places on earth -- the place we fell in love and were married -- Redding, California!

Photography by Kimberly Groszhans

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Bread!

Today was my day off this week so I spent much of the afternoon baking!
Who knew baking is so much FUN?!
I love it - especially when I'm using all natural and organic ingredients.

Today I made vegan pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins!
The recipe called for eggs, but I decided to try the Ener-G Egg Replacer that I picked up at the store last week to substitute for the eggs.
So this batch is entirely dairy-free, and I literally used all organic and natural ingredients.
Also - I substituted 1/3 of the sugar for Truvia (a natural calorie-free sweetener), to make it a little healthier
I found a sugar/Truvia conversion chart HERE
I also used a whole pumpkin that I received from "my farm" this fall.
I hand-grated that bad boy into SIX cups!  And man are my arms sore!!

It all turned out delicious!

Hmm... now what else can I bake/cook?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another Creative Matchbox

Another candle and decorated matchbox gift

I included a little poem to go with this one:
"Here's a little candle dressed in lace
and some matches to help light up the place
as you gather around with family this year
to share in the joy of Christmas cheer!"


Here is a sweet gift I just received from some dear friends, Nate and Leah!
I'm so excited to use this to help prepare more healthy meals!

Preston and I have changed much of our diet to a mostly vegan diet. This has been both challenging and exciting, and I am loving this journey of learning new recipes and variations of things to make that are made up of mostly veggies that actually taste good!!! haha
Anyway, thank you Nate and Leah! <3

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Crafty Things

I love searching other creative blogs for fun crafty and beautiful ideas.
I got this idea from another blog to decorate a matchbox (2 for a $1 at the Dollar Store) and pair it with a candle.
Makes a super cute gift!

My friend from work is a crocheting QUEEN and she taught me how to crochet a simple square.
So I decided to crochet two squares and make it into a pot holder.
It can also be a pocket or fancy envelope for holding pictures or cards too!

Happy Christmas!!

Courage is almost 3 months now!  Look how big he looks in this baby seat! :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Merry Crafting!

I've been getting super excited for Christmas!!!
We set up our tree Thanksgiving night, even though we had a long day and we were exhausted.
Since then I haven't been able to stop creating little gifts and crafts!  I've been obsessed with mason jars and have been exploring different ways of utilizing them artistically.
So here are a few things that have kept me busy this Christmas season...
I decided to try to make my own natural laundry detergent.  It's super easy and cheap!  And this cool vintage mason jar I scored for 50 cents at a thrift store!
I used my own organic oatmeal soap for one of the ingredients, and I painted the lid of the jar with chalkboard paint so I can re-label

These make great gifts - homemade vanilla syrup and caramel syrup - also SUPER easy to make!  And they add great flavor to coffee or hot cocoa!

This was so easy to make too - and it looks so cute all dressed up in a recycled jar, cinnamon stick, hemp string, feather and a spoon!

This Coffee Exfoliating Scrub was fun to experiment with.  Also makes a great gift and smells good!
I like how I decorated the lid - with old piece of scrap music paper and a few coffee beans.
The other things I've been working on are Christmas gifts and I don't want to spoil the surprise, so I will probably end up posting those photos after the holiday :)

Happy Christmas Everyone!!!  Be Merry!! <3

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


For Courage's first Halloween we dressed up as a superhero family!
I looovvve dressing up!  I need to plan some more theme parties where friends can come together and dress in costumes!

I love our happy little superhero family!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Owl

I received this sweet Halloween Owl in the mail from my grandma, addressed to Courage Ruah.  It's from her very own owl collection!  Growing up, I always loved Grandma's owl collection (check out my "Welcome to Grandma's House" blog for a peak at her owl and key collection).  It's so special to me that she passed on this little black owl figurine to her very first great-grandchild!  
I can't wait for Courage to meet her this Christmas when we fly home to California for the holiday!

"Star of Mommy's Blog" bib -- (a gift)
Stylin' knitted 50-year-old booties/shoes -- (cool story about where these came from: Preston's grandma, so Courage's great-grandma on Preston's side, had these booties when she was pregnant over 50 years ago, but ended up having a girl - Preston's aunt - instead of a boy.  So these were saved and never worn all these years!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Real Little Boy!

It's amazing to think just a few weeks ago I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy.  And it's also amazing to think that he's already almost a month old!  By spending every day (and night) with Courage these last three and a half weeks, I'm becoming more accustomed to his cute mannerisms and personality as he grows.  It's like getting to know a real person!  I'm constantly reminded that he's a real little boy!
LOVE his expression! haha
Breastfeeding served to be quite the challenge the first couple weeks.  I cried most times as I tried to toughen through the pain, wondering if I could really do this every few hours, every single day for the next year!  I desperately asked several other moms for advice, suckered into buying a few pacifiers, tried pumping in place of nursing, and even supplemented a few times.  And then...one day it didn't hurt anymore.  I literally woke up one morning and breastfeeding was no longer a dreaded thought.
my little owl
My days consist of attempting to get Courage on a good feeding schedule, figuring out the best routine for cloth diapering, trying to pretty myself up for a visit to Starbucks, taking a ton of pictures of Courage to capture each outfit and and expression, planning Preston's lunch and dinner for the next day, and smothering my baby with a million kisses any chance I get. Sometimes I sneak in a nap, but thankfully he's been sleeping a lot throughout the nights, so I've been getting pretty good night sleep!  Yay Jesus!
Tie-Dye onesie - painted by my brother
Orange booties - made by my sister 

I have to admit it's been wonderful staying home all day with my son and getting used to life as a mom.  I can't help but create 'To Do' lists in my head, such as "make pumpkin bread this week," and "start scrapbooking my maternity photos," and "play piano," (none of which I have actually accomplished), among the other usual tasks of laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, paying bills...etc.  Nevertheless, I feel at peace and accomplished in my daily life, and I'm even looking forward to going back to work, as shocking as that may be!

As we approach November, I choose to cherish my last month as a "stay-at-home mom," and relish in watching my lion-heart boy grow into a two-month old.  I don't want to miss a thing.  So I praise God every morning and choose to live each day to its fullness!
Warrior Lion-Heart Courage

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Account of the Birth of Courage Ruah

With a loud ‘ROAR’ I birthed forth my lion-heart boy, Courage Ruah Hall, at the eleventh hour (11pm) on September 29th, 2011, Rosh Hoshana (the Jewish New Year).  7 pounds, 6 ounces, and 20 inches long.

I woke up that morning, late, and decided to beautify myself by soaking in the tub with some Burt’s Bees salts, shaving my legs, putting on lotion and makeup and curling my hair.  I even painted my nails.  As I was finishing up painting my nails, I started to feel some mild contractions.  I should say that I began feeling “menstrual cramps” the night before, which I easily slept through.  But around 10 or 11am while I was painting my nails, I noticed these “cramps” being very consistent.  So I decided to time them – every 2 minutes or so, and lasting 30 to 40 seconds.  Since they didn’t hurt too bad, I wondered if they were Braxton Hicks or just something different altogether.  I never expected going into labor that early (almost a week before his due date), especially since I had it in my mind that my mother would be there for the birth, and she wasn’t flying in until Sunday (3 days later).

I told Preston that I felt like I was having mild contractions, and he got excited.  But both of us assumed it wasn’t real LABOR.  So Preston went to work around noon and since I was feeling great, I decided to run to Starbucks and get a frappuccino!  I called my midwife and she thought it might just be early labor, and to call her if they got stronger so she could come and check my cervix.  At Starbucks I told the girls (my Starbucks partners) that I thought I may be having contractions but that I didn’t think he was coming anytime soon.  They got excited, made me my fabulous drink, and I headed back home.

Theresa Dedmon and a team from Bethel had just done a Prophetic Arts conference at Burning Hearts the night before, and I took some canvases home with the intention of painting something in the prayer room the next day.  I also had a scrapbook set out with my maternity photos, intending to work on that too.  Little did I know that instead of spending the day doing some creative art and scrapbooking projects, I would be going into labor!

My midwife came by early afternoon to check my cervix, and I was barely 2cm.  So she left and told me she’d come back around 6pm or 7pm, unless I called for her sooner.  So I began to worship and dance and sing through the contractions the next couple hours.  I even played the piano, (“Our Father”), and sang through the contractions.  It was so beautiful!  I put on “Nothing I Hold Onto” by United Pursuit Band and worshiped to that song.  

By 4pm I went to the bathroom and thought I had passed the mucus plug (the bloody show).  So I called Preston and asked him to come home from work.  At this point, I went and put on my Owl ring that my mom bought me.  It’s this cool ring with a big owl on it and then a little tiny owl next to it, and my mom said it reminded her of Courage and me.  When she bought it for me, I knew I wanted to wear it during the birth.   
Me and Courage at 3am, just 4 hours after he was born.
Still wearing my Mama Owl ring :)

With Preston there with me, it was comforting.  With each contraction about 5 minutes apart, I would do the spiral motion with my hips, sometimes on the yoga ball, sometimes just standing up.  They felt good!  But by 6pm I knew I wanted my midwife there.  I could sense the contractions were going to get stronger.  She arrived between 6:30pm and 7pm and checked me.  I was about 5cm.  At this point my contractions were getting stronger and I felt them in my lower back.  I remember at one point leaning over the crib and Molly (my midwife) putting pressure on my back.

Around 8pm my parents skyped in.  Of course I was completely focused on the process of labor that they pretty much just watched (mostly listened since it was pretty dark in the room).  It was nice to know they could “be there” in some way.

Preston started getting the Birth Pool ready to fill with water.  The next couple hours I just remember focusing on getting through the contractions and wondering when I could get into the pool.  The pool wasn’t ready until around 9pm, and I was so relieved to sit in there.  It felt much better on my back.  From the moment I was in the pool, Preston was right there with me, putting his hands on my lower back through each contraction (and even in between as they would start to go away).   Then he’d feed me my water.  Around this time, Molly’s assistant arrived, which was helpful to have another hand to help with refilling my drinking water, and the boiling water for the pool, as well as document the baby’s heartbeat, etc. 

Preston says that before I got into the pool, I was leaning mostly on the crib through the contractions, and that I was mostly singing and laughing through each contraction.  It was definitely not “light-hearted” singing or laughter, but I do remember focusing on trying to sing and laugh through the harder contractions.  When I got into the pool, I remember getting louder and louder through the contractions.  Preston was always there next to my ear, reminding me to smile through the contraction.  I remember hearing him laugh a little, which helped me feel better. 

After the birth and everything, the funniest thing was hearing Preston imitate how I sang “Holy!” through the contractions during the intense part of labor.  I laugh so hard thinking about it because I remember how I sounded -- Imagine a southern black gospel woman singing "Ho-oly! ... Ho-oly!" haha 

Several women have told me their favorite part of giving birth was when it was time to push, or when they got the urge to push.  I was looking forward to this, and I remember Molly asking me if I felt the urge to push yet.  I didn’t think I had.  But when I started pushing, I guess my contractions started to get further apart.  I was expecting the pushing part to be easier than it was.  I think it took almost an hour to push him out.  But that hour (between 10pm and 11pm) was the hour of my “roaring,” according to Preston. 

My water never broke.  In fact, as I was pushing Courage’s head out, the amniotic sac would bulge out first.  Molly had me reach down to feel it and to feel his head behind it.  That was cool.  Preston said later that when I was pushing him out, he saw the amniotic sac bulging out and thought to himself “oh wow that’s a small head…” and then all of a sudden this huge baby came out.  Haha I laughed so hard when he said that.

Every time I pushed, I wanted to keep pushing him so he’d be out of me, but Molly would remind me to stop pushing if the contraction stopped.  Finally, with a loud “Roar” (my poor neighbors who live above me were sure I was in labor by that point), I pushed Courage Ruah all the way out.  It was amazing once I saw his whole body.  The cord was very short and was wraped around his neck and body a couple times, so I had to stand up right away.  But he was perfectly colored and cried right away, and I was so relieved to hold him.  I remember looking at Preston and saying, “He’s here!” and “I did it!”  Preston says he remembers the look of “sheer excitement” on my face as I looked up at him at that moment.  It was so beautiful!  And Courage Ruah was born right at 11pm, on the dot, “the eleventh hour.” 

So since active labor started around 6pm, and Courage was born at 11pm, that's only 5 hours,  which is pretty awesome for the first baby!

The next challenge was having to birth the placenta.  I did not expect this to be difficult, but since my contractions had been more spaced out toward the end, it took longer to birth the placenta.  Molly gave me some herbs to help give me contractions.  I remember just wanting it all to be over, thinking, “I just birthed my son, why am I not done yet!”  Yes, the hardest part was over, but it took almost an hour to get the placenta out.  Preston showed off Courage to my parents through skype during this time. 

Then there was the after clean up, and finally I got to rest on the couch and try to nurse Courage.  Before I birthed the placenta, Molly had me try to breastfeed Courage, but it was just too difficult.  I wish I had been able to get that “first feeding” in, but it wasn’t until around 2am that I got to feed him. 

I love that I wore that Owl ring throughout the whole labor and birth, as well as my bracelet that I made this summer with “Courage” on it.  I also love that I had my nails painted, legs shaved, hair washed and curled, because it made me feel much more refreshed after everything. Haha. 

The whole thing was a very powerful and spiritual experience.  I distinctly remember that every time I would choose to smile through a contraction, I felt peace and the pain significantly subsided.  I love that my amazing husband was there with me reminding me to smile.  I even would force myself to laugh, even if was just saying “HEE HEE HA HA!”  And I would feel instant release!  When I was singing “Holy!” and praying in tongues, it helped a lot.  I never let myself get angry or frustrated at the pain, nor did I ever let myself think I can’t do it or I don’t want to do it anymore.  I just kept focusing on Peace and Joy and Worship.  In between contractions I would pray and praise God.  My midwife even joined in a little, which was so cool!

Although my experience was not a pain-free birth like I hoped for, I know my faith and my spirit were strengthened.  I will always contend for a pain-free birth, and I will never lower the standard of God’s will in earth as it is in heaven based on my experience, for we have been redeemed from the curse of the law through Christ, so there is always a higher standard to press in for.  My next birth (of Story) will most certainly be better than this one, as I continue to grow in faith.  I love that I had a homebirth, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  I love that I did it completely natural with no anesthesia or medication.  I love my beautiful healthy baby boy!

Preston and I both thought Courage would for sure be born the next week.  We assumed October 7th would be perfect because it is “The Day of Atonement.”  We never expected him to come early.  But we both think it’s so amazing that God brought him forth on the Jewish new year.  Bob Jones’ shepherd's rod prophecy says that 2011 is the year of the Lion.  We always knew that was significant, even before we knew it was Courage growing inside me.  What’s interesting is that Bob Jones’ prophecy goes by the Jewish calendar, which means Courage arrived just at the transitioning point from “The Year of the Lion” to “The Year of the Man.” 

Preston and I also decided to have Courage circumcised.  So we are having him circumcised on the eighth day (like they did in the Bible), which just so happens to be October 7th – the Day of Atonement.

I don’t know what all that means yet, but I know it’s prophetic and significant!  I’m just excited and thankful to God at how wonderful the birth went and how perfect my baby Courage is, with my nose and Preston’s eyes!  Thank you Jesus!

Our happy little family.  Day 1.

I'm in LOVE!

Monday, September 26, 2011

39 weeks!

Courage is due a week from THIS Wednesday!  I can hardly believe it's right around the corner.
I don't feel like I'll be going into labor early.  I haven't had any signs of labor, like Braxton Hicks or him dropping.  He is still sitting pretty nice and high :)
But he is head down, so that's great!
I am so thankful to God for having such a wonderful pregnancy with no complications, morning sickness, and no swelling!  I've officially gained about 30 pounds over the last 9 months, which is awesome.  I feel good about that.

We finally got our NEW crib the other day and I eagerly set it up all by myself!
(Well, Preston helped at the beginning before he went to work.  And me being...well me, i didn't want to wait for him to get off work so I just finished it all up!) 
It's very pretty and now the room is COMPLETE!

Preston also suggested I write scripture declarations on the birth pool.  Such a cool idea!  I love that I'll be laboring in that pool with those prophetic declarations of God's Word and Will surrounding me!

Mom flies in on Sunday, so I've been asking God and Courage to come sometime between next Monday and Friday! <3

I've been encouraging myself and building my faith for this birth by re-reading through Jackie Mize's book Supernatural Childbirth.  The amazing, positive testimonies of women giving birth with ease and confidence helps me surrender my fears and rest in God's peace!  It's all about renewing my mind and commanding my body to line up in perfect order - "in earth as it is in heaven" - and strengthening my spirit to lead me in Holy Spirit throughout this process.
I'm excited!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

38 Weeks! (More Photos)

38 weeks pregnant and I am feeling excited and healthy!
It's been rough working early (and I mean earrrrly) mornings these last couple weeks, but this week is my last week of 5am or 6am shifts at the good ol' Starbucks.
I am SO looking forward to sleeping in, being well rested, and having no agenda except soaking in God's Presence, in worship, prayer, and scripture, to help prepare my body, soul and spirit for the childbirth.
In just a couple weeks or so, my whole life will change -- I will forever be a mother.
What an incredible, eye-opening revelation!  No longer will I be just responsible for myself, or even for Preston.  No longer will I be merely a daughter of God, a wife, a woman...but also a mother - responsible for a child...for his entire life!!  Amazing!

(The following photos were taking at 34 weeks by Kimberly Groszhans)