Fast, Furious, and Natural Labor: My Birth Story

This post is written in collaboration with The Honest Company. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

At 12:00 A.M. I felt my first contraction. At 4:10 A.M. I was holding my child. I’m a first time mom, and I had a 4 hour natural labor. This is my story.

Let me preface this story by telling you that every labor is hard. Natural, epidural, cesarean section, fast, dreadfully long, hospital, home-birth, water-birth, and everything in between. It’s emotionally taxing, and it tests every physical part of you! Sometimes there is the assumption that fast is synonymous with easy. I can assure you that this is not the case.

So it begins.

Denver and I were expecting to have little Oliver on December 31st, 2016. As the new year came and went, I knew he had to be making his appearance soon. Being 40+ weeks pregnant is incredibly uncomfortable. We were SO beyond ready to meet our little boy and every hour past our due date felt like ages.

In the weeks leading up to his arrival, I had been walking 2 miles a day, climbing a set of 99 steps up and down, and I had been using an outdoor gym. Anything to spur on labor!

natural labor exercise

I used an exercise machine that my husband and I have now deemed “the contraction machine”. Essentially, it spreads your legs apart and you squeeze them together (no weights attached). On New Years day, I did rounds of the above listed exercises. That night came and went and I didn’t feel anything progressing.

Bummed out and getting impatient, I decided that the next night (January 2nd) Denver and I should have a date to distract ourselves and to celebrate our last days as a family of two. We grabbed a coffee and walked around town, went out to eat, and then decided to go to the theater. When Denver and I were at the movies I legitimately felt like I was sitting on Oliver’s head. Little did I know, I was in early labor as I was chowing down on popcorn. Oliver had been low for quite a while, despite not being dilated at all at my previous exam (which is not what you want to hear at 40 weeks).

We had so much fun on the date, and we ended up getting home at about 10:30 P.M. We had decided to watch Vine compilation videos on YouTube because we are still mourning the loss of Vine (R.I.P.), and at this point the night felt like any other. At 11:45 P.M. Oliver was kicking around as per usual, but I had a little bit of back cramping. I had back pain my whole pregnancy, so a little back cramping was pretty normal to me at this point. I grabbed a heating pad and we continued watching videos.

Midnight.

I started to notice that my dull back cramps were coming and going in waves. It hit me. This might be the start of something! I told Denver, “Hey, I might have him in a couple of days!”. I texted a few of my friends to tell them that labor could be starting in the days to come, and upon hearing my symptoms, they all agreed it might be possible!

About 10 minutes later the cramping got worse. I felt like I just needed to live on the toilet. But nothing was coming out. Denver and I had been to a birthing class so I knew that this was a sign of early labor. I informed Denver and he was excited and started to pack up our toiletries into the hospital bag. I told him to calm down and that it could be days before we go into active labor. Then I realized my cramps were coming in stronger waves. I texted my friend Kylie (a nurse and a recent first time mom), and she said, “Time those. They could be contractions.”

I felt excited.

Now, I knew I would have back labor. Every hormonal occurrence I have had leading up to labor has been carried in my back. What I didn’t know is that with back labor, you might not ever feel one single contraction in your stomach. I didn’t feel any tightening, but I started to feel a lot of pain.

While standing in the bathroom with my pants around my ankles, I tried to determine whether I wanted to sit on the toilet or walk around. Denver came in, and asked if I was okay. I said, “I need to braid my bangs back, I think things are happening!”. Denver threw off his house shoes and put his tennis shoes on. I told him to take them off because we wouldn’t even go to the hospital until the next day. He looked at my face and said “Okay, but I still think it’s going to be sooner.” Silly boy. Didn’t he remember our class? Our instructor had said that in many instances, early labor can last hours and hours or even days before it transitions into active labor!

Early labor was likely with my symptoms, and I knew it was time to put our birthing class knowledge into practice. Move, move, and keep moving. I grabbed a microwaveable corn bag so I could start walking around the house. I told Denver to grab the timer and I would tell him when I needed him to time the “contractions” I had felt.

At this point, I had only felt a few waves of pain. We timed my waves of back pain for about 15 minutes. Denver said “Babe, these are 3 minutes apart and lasting close to 1 minute long”. We were confused. In our class we had learned that a good time to go to the hospital was known as 4-1-1.

Contractions 4 minutes apart.

Contractions are lasting around 1 minute long.

You’ve had these consistently for 1 hour.

Well. I had contractions less than 4 minutes apart lasting 1 minute long, but I had only had them for 15 minutes. We were confused. Why did my contractions start out at the point you’re supposed to be heading to the hospital? Don’t you usually get to work up to this point? The pain was getting stronger with each contraction and I was practicing everything I had learned. I was breathing through them, moving around, squatting, leaning over the bed, swaying, and making low noises to push through it. While leaning over the bed, I felt a really horrible wave of back pain. I popped up and told Denver, “I think we need to go to the hospital, how many have I had?” To which Denver replies, “You’ve had 8 contractions”.

That’s when I felt fear.

Only 8 contractions had occurred and I already felt like I had been in a mild car accident. I have a high pain tolerance, so thinking we were probably in the earlier stages of labor was devastating to say the least. “How do people do this for 18+ hours?“, I wondered, not knowing I was already in active labor. I decided to try to labor for at least an hour at home so that it would be consistent with the 4-1-1 instructions. The pain started to get really intense, but I still never felt any tightening in my stomach or abdominal area. I hated this. Why was my labor so strange?

After an hour and a half had passed, I allowed myself to go to the hospital. Then I saw it. The car. How was I going to have a contraction in that thing. I found myself thinking, “Why do we have a Prius? It’s so small.” We got into the car and I felt a contraction coming on as soon as I got in. I pulled back the passenger seat and straightened my body out and took a big breath and groaned it out. Denver drove to the hospital and I had two contractions in the car and one in the hospital parking lot. We only live 7 minutes from the hospital (now so thankful for this), so I knew they were close together.

We walked into the hospital lobby at exactly 1:30 in the morning. The nurses politely asked me how long I had been in labor. When they learned that it had been just over an hour, they looked a little calmer and said we had time to get things together. I was breathing through the contractions but felt like I was going to vomit all over the lobby. I began pacing around and felt incredibly embarrassed knowing it could be a possibility that I came in too early. They wheeled me back to see how dilated I was.

I was terrified. What if I was barely dilated? I couldn’t imagine going back home.

When the first nurse came in to check me, she told me that she didn’t know how dilated I was because she couldn’t reach my cervix. I knew my cervix was far back because my doctor had told me the same thing in prenatal appointments. The nurse brought someone else in to try. I’ll never forget the pain as I looked up at the florescent lights in the little holding room while someone struggled to reach my cervix. This nurse couldn’t reach either. They said that Oliver’s head was in the way of checking.

I was freaked out. I’m a Type A personality! I like to know what’s going on.

The nurses came in and told me that they would check me in 30 minutes, and that I might not be far enough along for them to feel the dilation. I looked at Denver and I felt the panic in my heart. 30 minutes sounded like a lifetime. It felt almost impossible to breathe through the pain at this point. I hadn’t told them how much pain I was in, and I felt really alone. Why was this happening? Why could no one tell me how far along I was in the process? Denver sat there clutching my purse, and he and I exchanged silent glances of frustration.

After about 20 minutes had passed I had started grunting and holding the rail of the tiny bed I was on. When are they coming back? I told Denver someone needed to come in and check me, because I felt like I was going to poop him out! They sent in an entirely different nurse. She was tall, and strong, and she told me she wouldn’t leave until she knew how far along I was. As she was putting on her gloves, I felt a rush of warm fluid all over my legs. It was at this point that I realized my water had broken.

When this nurse checked to see if I was dilated, I screamed. It felt like it would never end. She took her glove off and got the other nurses. They started speedily wheeling me into the hallway and they told me that I was dilated to an 8 and progressing very quickly.

Two thoughts went through my mind almost simultaneously. Relief and fear. Relief that I was justified in my pain, and fear that I wouldn’t be able to get the epidural.

Going into labor, Denver and I had decided that we would listen to my body. I would like to try naturally, but if I felt like it was too much to bare, that I would get the epidural. In our birthing class, someone had asked how far along you have to be to not get the epidural. She told us that it was incredibly rare to be too late for an epidural your first time, and that you can even get it when you’re 10 cm dilated, so not to worry.

As they wheeled me into an actual labor and delivery room, I asked this question: “Am I able to get the epidural?”. They all looked at each other, and one sweet nurse looked at me and said “We’re going to try.” Did you hear that? Try. 

Every ounce of pain that I was feeling was in my back and my rear. It was excruciating.

The nurses quickly hooked me up to an I.V. and told me that they didn’t have time to move me to the nice delivery bed. That’s when I remembered, I wasn’t even admitted to the hospital yet! They started the I.V. drip, and I asked again about the epidural. The nurse looked at me and told me I had to get I.V. fluids for an hour before they could administer it.

An hour.

I looked at the clock and I felt defeated. I was clinging to the fact that it might happen and relief would be right around the corner. At this point I was starting to get light headed and I felt like I could simultaneously vomit and pass out. I wanted to push him out so bad. But all I saw was clip board after clip board of paperwork being handed to me. Signing agreements  in between frequent contractions was not my idea of a serene natural labor experience, but it’s exactly what was happening.

Although I had been breathing through contractions thus far, this is when I started screaming. I never thought I would scream! Why couldn’t I hold it together?

Denver looked at me and mouthed that I was doing well. I couldn’t even think about doing well, nor did I feel like I was doing well. I felt like I was screaming and was embarrassed to be doing so. The nurses told me that I was the only one in the wing and to let out whatever I wanted to. So I did.

I clung to the rail and laid on my side. My arms were shaking. I felt like I was on a ride and no one was letting me off. Denver moved over close to me for support. That’s when a labor and delivery nurse came in. This nurse would be my saving grace. She was confident, to the point, and supportive. She looked at me and told me that I had to breathe. That it wouldn’t get better until I could breathe.

I felt like my back was breaking.  I knew I would need to look into the eyes of the nurses and my husband, because  they were going to help me through this. The delivery nurse told me that it was time to push. I asked her about the epidural. “Can I please get the epidural now?”. She looked at me, and I knew. “Sweetheart”, she said. “You’re not getting the epidural”. I said, “Is there any way?”. That’s when she gave it to me straight. “If you sit up to get the epidural, your body will start pushing. He’s coming”.

I looked at Denver and I said “We got here too late.”

This is when I had to make a decision. I was either going to be strong, or I was going to crumble. As I grabbed my husband’s hand, he nodded at me in support. This made my decision easier. I chose to be strong.

Denver called my mom to tell her that we were close. They rolled my body over to push. I held my legs up to my chest, grabbed the back of my thighs, and listened to everything the nurse told me to do. Through pain and exhaustion, I asked the nurse a very important question. “Is he going to break me in half?” Although my husband and I laugh about this question now, at the time it seemed valid. She grabbed my feet and put them on her arms and assured me that he would not break me in half.

“He has dark hair.”, she said.

I could feel my eyes get big. That one statement made it all so real. I looked at the clock. It was 3:40 in the morning. I couldn’t believe it was all happening so fast. I had to grin and bare it. There was no turning back. I was going to have this baby with no epidural, and I was going to have him soon.

I began to push. It was the best feeling I had ever had. Pressure relief.  I pushed for a while and the nurse was assuring me that I was doing well. I kept asking the nurse how many more pushes she thought I had. She said that if I brought my legs up to my chest more he would come quicker. That’s when I got down to business. I was desperate to meet my son and wanted the agony to be over. I relate this feeling to the likings of pushing a watermelon out of a straw.

At about 4:00 A.M. she said it was time to go get the doctor. The doctor sat down in front of me and I began to push again. That’s when I felt it. I had heard about it.

They call it the ring of fire. That’s exactly what it is.

I could feel Oliver crowning. I remember in all that pain all I could say was, “Ow”. And that word felt so funny. I let out the tiniest laugh, the word “ow” had never held so much weight before. The doctor looked at me and Denver, and he told us that the baby had come so fast that I wasn’t stretched out enough.

This is where a fast labor has a downfall. I felt so blessed that I wasn’t worrying about him days on end or having contractions for hours and hours with slow progression. What people don’t often think about with this quick of labor is that your body goes from 0-60. The severe pain was coming from my body not having enough time to work up to it. And since every one of my contractions were in my back, my stomach and abs couldn’t help push him along.

The doctor told me that he never does these anymore, but that he suggested I get an episiotomy. I was surprised. Basically they wanted to make a small incision to help things along. He calmly looked at me and told me that I would rip badly, because of how quickly I progressed, but that the decision is totally up to us and to only do what we felt comfortable with. I looked at Denver and we agreed.

Let’s get him out.

I was scared. I didn’t have an epidural and I really didn’t want to get cut. How scary is that! He gave me a topical numbing shot and made the incision without me even noticing. There was too much pressure to feel a cut! He told me to push. I shut my eyes and pushed as hard as I could. I felt the worst burning and pain of my life, and I remember yelling, “I feel him”. That’s when I saw him cross over my knees and onto my chest.

He was here. If this moment doesn’t make you sing “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce, I don’t know what will!

We had done this. Denver stood over us and I felt blessed beyond belief. He had dark hair and I immediately knew that he looked just like my husband. They took him away to wipe him off and Denver went over to give our son a closer look. The doctor stitched me up and then I was handed my son once again. Being able to breast feed him right away was an unforgettable experience, and I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I was expecting to be bawling, and I was expecting my over-emotional husband to be bawling along with me.

What I felt was shock.

I had just been through a blur of the most unbearable physical pain, high adrenaline of my life, and then I had the emotional reality of holding my first child. I looked at Denver and said, “Well, you better text your family and tell them that he’s here.”

It had all happened so quickly and in the middle of the night, so we didn’t even have time to tell people we were at the hospital! We sent out our texts and pictures to family and friends and my mom came back to visit us.

The nurses came in and told me that it was an incredible delivery, and they hadn’t seen a first time mom deliver that quickly before. They also congratulated us because Oliver was the first baby of the new year born in our hospital! It was all so unbelievable.

I started to see light pour through our blinds. As I looked at my son, I said a prayer. A thank you to God for giving him life. A thank you for allowing me to be the vessel. He was my baby. He was my joy. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. I felt like I had just won a battle. My heart swelled with the greatest and rarest love I had ever known. I was holding the embodiment of the love between my husband and I.

I was holding family.

Tears are rolling down my face as I write these words in a coffee shop, because I still can’t believe God’s gift to me and Denver. A four hour labor from start to finish was never what I expected. But I love it because it’s our story. Be it genetics, all the working out leading up to it, or by chance, I still don’t know what I can attribute the fast delivery to. But believe me that I will go to the hospital right away with our next!

While Denver and I still can’t believe his epic travels to get here, our journey as a family is just beginning! At three months old, he has the sweetest personality and is a reflection of the love I have for my husband. To keep up with our adventures as a family, you can follow my personal Instagram at BethanyMPoteet and our blog Instagram at OakAndEarth (my co-writers have lovely adventures as well).

Thank you so much for reading my story. We feel so blessed for our healthy little one. Every story is unique and special. The Honest Company is sharing many birth stories to unite us all in this beautiful journey we call motherhood. You can view their video about it here! Go celebrate other moms!

Until next time,

Bethany

Natural Labor

An Open Letter to My Unborn Child

This is Bethany here, and I wrote this letter to my son, Oliver.

I start the third trimester of my pregnancy next week! My husband, Denver, and I (that’s our family above) are so excited for him to arrive. This is a sentiment close to my heart, and I welcome you to peek inside our little family.

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Oliver,

As I sit down to write this letter, I’m overwhelmed with the thought that you have been in my tummy for almost 7 months. Even though there are times when you knock the wind out of me, my heart swells with so many wonderful emotions. When I found out I was having you, I was so surprised and happy! Even though I was excited, I was also a little bit scared.

My mind was abuzz with thoughts. Had I taken care of myself when I didn’t know that you were inside of me? Would daddy and I have to move, make more money, and would we be able to shuffle our busy lives to make enough time for you? As I looked at the positive pregnancy test, I realized that all of these little questions could be wrapped up into one heavy one. Would daddy and I really make good parents?

With these questions looming, I still had to do one important thing — tell the love of my life that we made you!

When I told your daddy that we are having you, he hugged me and cried. He was so surprised and so beautifully happy! This is one of our favorite days. What a special memory you made for us, Oliver. We made an appointment to see the doctor. You know, the guy you’re always shy around! As the doctor was searching for you in my tummy, all of those scary questions started flooding back.

Then we saw you.

You were nothing but a white speck in a sea of black. As small as you were, we saw the flash of your precious heartbeat. Oh my son, I will never forget that moment. Do you know what I found out? You are a strong and perfectly healthy baby. This made me realize that the love we already have for you overshadows all the worry! God is so good to remind us of how blessed we are to have you in our lives.

I want you to know a few things about your daddy. As soon as he found out about you, he started praying for you every day. I am always so grateful for how much he does for us. Daddy and I work really hard so that we can have a happy home, but daddy works especially hard. Aren’t you proud of him? He brings us food when we are hungry, and he even eats ice cream before bed because he thinks it helps you! That’s your silly daddy. He kisses you goodnight, and he waits by my side to feel you kick and roll.

He held my hand so tight when we went to a big check up to see how you’re growing. On this day, God gave us peace about you. Your daddy lit up when he saw your face and features in 3D for the first time! You were just 22 weeks old! He thinks you have my nose, and when you wake up from a comfortable sleep, I think you scrunch up your forehead just like he does! We got your picture taken, and he took it to the office and showed all his coworkers. He’s already so proud of you.

Most of all, I want you to know how much your daddy and I love and respect each other. In fact, we love each other so much that we asked God to bring you into our lives! When God said yes, He let us learn so much about you.

This is what we know about you so far — You like to roll around my tummy at work and hide away when we visit the doctor. You love it when I rest, and when I sing and play my guitar. The only time I feel you take naps is when I exercise! I even know a few things you don’t like. You don’t like spicy food at all. Don’t worry, your daddy doesn’t like it either. You must not like it when I try and bend over to tie my shoes or paint my toenails, because you stick your little feet in my ribs when I try. It makes me grunt and laugh. You sure are a stinker. You’re so active, and I love it when you circle around my tummy and play.

Do you want to know my favorite thing about you? You’re so sweet and loving to us! When I am sad, you dance around. When I am tired, you kick me and remind me that you’re there for me. And when daddy and I are overwhelmed with how busy we are, we pull out the pictures of your face and you remind us to slow down and to count our blessings. Thank you for all of that, little one!

Although your room isn’t all the way put together yet, and we aren’t rolling in a big pile of money, all that really matters is the love and time we share together as a family. We have to wait a little bit longer to share this time together. You’re due to be here very soon after Christmas! Don’t worry little one. Whenever you decide to come, we will make your day so special. I know right now you think somersaults are fun, but you should see all of the wonderful and colorful things of the world! Your dad and I like to draw, play music, hike around, and see friends. Some people have told us that we can’t do these things when you get here. But we will find a way to make our own special and fun memories with you by our side. We can’t wait to share all of this with you!

Oliver, whenever this day arrives, I want you to know the world you’re coming into. Not everyone in this world has peace in their hearts, and this world can be a scary place. Despite all of that, know that God is always holding you in His hands. I have a few important promises I’m making to you. I want you to remember them when the world seems too much to bear.

I promise to show you love and understanding. I promise to guide you when you’re unsure of what to do, and I promise to listen to what you have to say. I can also promise you that I will make mistakes. Some days will be hard, and on those days you might not like me very much. So when those days come (and they will come), know I still love you because you are my son.

Do you know how I can promise you this? You have already helped us know a kind of love we never knew we could feel.

We still have so much to learn about you, but we can’t do this until we meet you face to face! All of your cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents are so excited to see you too! Some of your little cousins have been practicing your name. So be sure you answer to the name of “Obbaler” when you come out so that you don’t hurt their feelings.

Daddy and I are ready for the sleepless nights and for our world to be turned upside down. Because that means that you have arrived.

I can’t wait to meet you, son.

Mom

Thank you so much for reading! I enjoyed opening up my heart to my son, and to you as well. You can follow our family journey on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet.

-Bethany

Why "I love you" Isn't Always Enough

Hello, dear readers. It’s Bethany here on the blog today, and I am so excited to be writing again! I really enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my husband this weekend. He woke me up by bringing me donuts and a dozen beautiful roses. Donuts? Don’t mind if I do. We spent most of the day sitting over coffee and reminiscing on the six years we have shared together. What a special time!

With Valentine’s Day wrapping up, I found myself reflecting on the complexities of one of the most powerful feelings I have ever experienced—love. I mean think about how many things we say we love. I love Flaming Hot Cheetos, I love this song, I love Netflix. This feeling is so complex, that the Greek have several versions of the word reaching from sexual passion, to love for deep friendship, to longstanding love. I couldn’t find a Greek word for the love of Netflix, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

If love is so prevalent, why are marriages ending every day? Have you ever seen a marriage end and upon asking why, they say “love isn’t always enough.” You can love a person and your relationship or marriage can still end. Maybe it’s not love that keeps a marriage going, but instead, two people understanding and practicing the characteristics of love. If you’re happily married, single, in a long term relationship, divorced, widowed, or not even looking, don’t write this off as something to only be attributed to marriage. No matter what season of life you’re in, how to choose love is something to consider learning.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This is a highly referenced quote about what love really looks like when it’s broken down and put into practice. Whether you’re a follower of Christ, or not, these characteristics of love are undoubtedly admirable. I always end up feeling a little guilty after reading this scripture. We can agree to this all day long, but practicing this is so challenging.

We are humans, and when you tell me love “is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”, I can think of ten ways just this week that I have not kept that word, despite loving my husband more than words can express. When you argue in marriages, it’s easy to hurl wrongs at your spouse. Wrongs that you’ve supposedly forgiven them for. I feel like the words “you always” or “you never” tend to come out. It’s like you keep these phrases and record of wrongs just sitting in your pocket like ammunition. I know I’ve been there. In reality, it’s hard to choose to to keep no record of wrongs. In these types of situations, you have the choice to forgive, or to keep record of wrongs even after the behavior has changed. That’s why I believe that love is more than a feeling. Especially in marriage, it’s an action…a choice.

What does choosing love look like in a marriage?

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I am just one person in one marriage, and I want to grow as well. The only way to do that was to gather many opinions. What do other people consider the basis for a successful marriage? Did they believe in choosing love as well? After reading their responses, I believe they do. From friends, to family members, to acquaintances, I was blown away by the significance of what people shared with me when they were asked to complete the following task:

Choose one word that you believe allows a marriage to last “until death do us part.”

↔   C  O  M  M  I  T  T  M  E  N  T   ↔

“If you truly commit to forever than you stick to it. In times when you are in love you stay committed. In times when you don’t like each other you stay committed. There is no other choice than staying committed to your oath. And that commitment creates trust and love”. – Age 51, Married

↔   C   O   M   M   U   N   I   C   A   T   E   ↔

“The hard part about marriage is that we already have certain expectations in mind, but our spouse is not a mind reader. Communication allows you to express expectations and needs, set goals together, and discuss issues as they arise so they don’t grow and fester.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   S   E   L   F   L   E   S  S   N   E   S   S   ↔

“I could say communication or loyalty is most important, but it all really comes down to being selfless. Because within those character traits, the partner MUST be selfless. Must put the other first in every situation. If you’re doing that, and loving with all you have, you won’t fail”-Age 24, Married 1+ years

“If both people are completely selfless, considering the needs/desires of your partner before yours, then there will be no room for selfishness. Marriage breaks down because we start caring more about what we aren’t getting or what we want more than our spouse. Then we start linking for me instead of us and that is a slippery slope.” –Age 28, Married 7+ years

↔   S   A   C   R   I   F   I   C   E  ↔

“Dying to self every day is something he and I have to make a conscious choice to do. It’s putting each other’s needs in front of our own. Each choosing to give 100% daily, even on the hardest days. That’s why sacrifice is my word.”-Age 24, Married almost 4 years

↔   F   A   I   T   H   ↔

“Faith in Jesus that in good and bad times that He will bring you closer to each other and Him. Faith that God picked you two to support and love one another forever.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   P   A   T   I   E   N   C   E   ↔

“It’s something I’m not good with but I want to be! I heard a story one time about this little old couple who had been married for like 60 or 70 years, and when they asked how they made it work, the man wrote on a piece of paper front and back as many times as he could fit the word ‘patience’. I remember thinking when I heard that story- that is so true!”-Age 24, In a Relationship

↔   L   U   C   K   Y   ↔

“In my opinion, people want love so badly that they start to convince themselves that they’re in love, and often get married. Those marriages fail. It takes true love to stay devoted to someone for a lifetime. Those that find it are lucky.”-Age 27

↔   O   N   E   N   E   S   S   ↔

“Oneness isn’t two halves joining together; it’s two wholes morphing into one undivided being. You become an unbreakable force that nothing can stand between. When you give it all, you get it all. Focusing on what makes us a successful whole rather than two happy halves is important.” -Age 26, Engaged

↔   H   O   N   O   R   ↔

“To honor is to show the utmost respect to.”-Age 25

↔   L  A  U  G  H  T  E  R   ↔

“I always think that the amount of laughter in a relationship tells a lot about its state. Never stop finding reasons to laugh with one another. Laughter exudes joy, fun, understanding, and healing.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   C   H   R   I   S   T   ↔

“Always trying to keep Christ at the center of our relationship has only allowed us to love each other that much more. Because of this, I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time my wife and I fought, but I can tell you the last time we’ve laughed together – this morning.” – Age 26, Married 2+ years

“If two people are wholeheartedly serving Christ, serving each other will fall into place and they will progress in their marriage together after God’s own heart.” –Age 24, Married 2+ years

What I love most about asking others is how they’re all coming up with this word based upon different life experiences and backgrounds. Many of their answers can be related back to the actions expressed within the 1st Corinthians reference. Words are tools. Imagine what would happen if we put these words to work in everyday life. How many relationships would be benefited?

Consider the COMMITTMENT you have made when you start to question your oath. Choose to COMMUINICATE instead of icing one another out when conflict arises. Choose to SACRIFICE your own selfish ways. Choose to be SELFLESS when you know your spouse needs those small wins throughout the day. Choose to have FAITH that God can rebuild relationships even after great hardship. When you could easily let anger control you, choose to be PATIENT (speaking for myself here, that  means in the car too). When it gets hard to be patient, choose to remember that you are LUCKY and blessed to have one another. Choose to stand as ONE when you and your spouse are tested. In doing so, you show that you are choosing to HONOR and respect him/her. Choose to share in LAUGHTER when pain is too great to carry on alone in sadness. Choose CHRIST to be at the center. From there, all of these other choices become much easier, and even habitual.

Why is saying “I love you” not always enough? It is if you equip the word love with the weight it deserves. When both people commit to do love instead of just feel love, that’s when a marriage lasts.

Some people come from broken marriages, broken homes, or have experienced painful relationships. Whatever your season in life is, I encourage you to apply these choices in any way you can find. Apply them to your marriage, your future marriage, or use them as a way to understand a broken marriage so that you’re able to move forward. If you haven’t already, you should check out this short book HERE, to find your top love languages! Denver and I did this before we got married, and it has helped us understand how we each  communicate love. Even if you consider your marriage to be a successful and happy one as I do with mine, there is always work to be done. Let this be a wonderful reminder from the mouths of many!

I really enjoyed having others contribute to this project, so thank you so much for those who participated and for those reading this week. If you have an questions, comments, or suggestions, let’s keep the conversation going! Leave a comment below, or find me on social media @BethanyMPoteet. As always, you can hashtag your experiences with #OakAndEarthBlog. We are starting to blog more frequently, so look for some exciting updates in the future. Have a wonderful week!

Thank you, friends.

-Bethany

Mama’s Mocktail Party

Hello, it’s Tera again! This week I thought I would create a post that used more of my creative side. The girls and I brainstormed together, and we came up with the idea for me to create a few “mocktail” recipes, and I am really excited to share them with you!

This was inspired by remembering back to my pregnant days. The girls and I would go out to dinner, and they would order their cocktails, and I, my water. They would give me free smells of their fruity concoctions and some extra pretzel bread, but really, I just wanted someone to bring me a drink that tasted as good as a mojito or margarita without the alcohol in it! Thus, the idea was spurred.

Being a mom to a young one, this post is written especially with the mama’s (and mama’s to be) in mind, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a mom to enjoy these tasty treats. Sometimes we just need a ‘lil pick me up during the day, ya know? These drinks are perfect for summertime, and are surely as good as the real deal!

Let’s get to the fun part, shall we?

Naptime Blues Colada (for when you are berry ready for nap time, but baby is not.)

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First up, is my spin off a colada! I decided to forego the usual pineapple flavor, and created a combo of fruity and “coconutty” that I think is super refreshing and perfect for a late morning brunch with some friends! This drink is so yummy, you and your friends won’t miss the alcohol at all, not to mention the fact that it is super fast and easy to whip up!

To make this drink, you’ll need: (this makes about 2 servings, perfect for you and a friend, or multiply for larger groups, or seconds, or thirds, or…so on)

  • 1 Cup of blueberry pomegranate juice (I used Tropicana)
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • (about) ½ Cup of Cream of Coconut (sidenote: this is sweet, but you can add more or less depending on how coconutty you want it!)
  • 2 sliced strawberries
  • 2 drops of coconut extract

Start by mixing all ingredients into a blender, and add about a cup of ice (you can add more ice like we did to get a frozen drink). When you have mixed your desired texture, pour into some cute serving glasses, and garnish with a lime wedge! If you want to take it to the next level, sprinkle some local bee pollen on top as a pretty garnish and also fight those stubborn allergies at the same time! Refer back to Christiana’s post on bee pollen and all its perks here: Don’t BEE miserable during spring

We love how this “colada mocktail” turned out, and we hope you do too! If you wanted to add something to enjoy a real cocktail drink, we think some rum (to taste) would be a good addition!

Mama’s Front Porch Mojito

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This drink has got to be my new go-to summer refresher. It’s my take on a mojito, and I think it tastes just as good, or better! I was extra picky on this one, because mojitos are my favorite, and I really wanted the taste to remind me of one! I think we nailed it and it’s just the perfect summertime drink for parties, family picnics, or just sittin’ and sippin’ on the front porch.

For this drink you will need: (again, this will make a couple of servings, so multiply for desired number of servings)

  • 2 Cups of lemonade- tip: if you make a whole batch of lemonade, you can multiply other ingredients to match and make several more mojitos! I used this lemonade recipe, on a smaller scale: Pioneer Woman’s Lemonade
  • 1 Cup club soda
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 6 lime wedges, squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons sweetened lime juice
  • 2-3 sliced strawberries

You’ll have to begin this drink by making your lemonade. I chose a homemade recipe because I wanted to use as many fresh ingredients as I could, and I think the taste is so much better! A little humor and helpful tip: When making your own lemonade, it’s best to make sure you’re using sugar instead of salt. It definitely does not taste the same, and is beyond repair once its done.

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See above pic ^^ that’s salt, folks. Try to avoid this misstep, otherwise you’ll be set back a bit like we were, and there will be laughing at your expense. [Okay, Beth and Chris, it’s funny now] REMEMBER: tiny grains= salt, small grains (but not tiny)= sugar. Another helpful tip: use your teething babies to help you peel some lemon zest! *wink wink*

Re-routing back to the drink now. After your lemonade is done, the rest is pretty easy. Measure out the lemonade (remember, 2 cups for this serving size), and add the club soda, squeezed lime wedges, sweetened lime juice and fresh mint leaves (ours came straight from the garden, courtesy of Christiana). Top the serving dispenser with strawberry slices, and it’s ready to be served! (tip: it is helpful to let the mint leaves seep into the drink before serving, but not required) Pour into a glass, add some ice and garnish with a pretty strawberry slice! I will be making this drink all summer long. I just wish I had this recipe handy when I was pregnant! Perfect mojito mocktail that all the mama’s (and even the not-a-mama’s) will love.

(If you do want to include a little alcohol for a party with friends, try adding a little rum or some amaretto and grenadine to taste!)

Lazy Lavender Bedtime Tea

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This last drink isn’t really a mocktail, but we thought it would be fun to include a recipe that is perfect for when the kids are in bed, and you’re ready to kick back and relax for some “me” time, or maybe even enjoy a bubble bath for yourself. This is probably the most no-brainer recipe and has very few steps, so it requires little brainwork after yours has been fried from a day of a thousand “what’s that?”, “are we there yet?”, “mama, can I have this?” questions and the constant errand runs, cleaning, cooking, and working you’ve been doing!

For the Lazy Lavender, you’ll simply need:

  • Lavender honey tea bag (I used Yogi brand)
  • About 2 tablespoons (give or take a little) of Silk Coconut Almond Milk [unsweetened]
  • 1 teaspoon of agave (or fresh honey)
  • ½ tsp lemon zest, a small basil leaf, and orange slice for garnishing

Boil some water either over the stove top or in a microwave, add the tea bag and let it steep for about 5 minutes. Once the tea bag’s flavor is rich, add the milk (you can steam the milk or add it cold), the agave, lemon zest and basil. Garnish with a pretty orange slice, and enjoy a few quiet hours to yourself! I am usually not a big fan of hot tea, but I really liked the taste of this one, and could see myself drinking this for a little relaxation time!

These mocktail recipes are sure to be a big hit with your friends and family this summer, and they’re great pick-me-ups that will refresh you, rejuvenate you, and give you the energy for all of the fun summertime projects you’ve been meaning tackle all year! We hope you enjoy making them, and enjoy drinking them even more! Be sure to keep up with Oak and Earth weekly, as we have some really fun posts planned for the summer! Also keep up to date with me through my instagram feed @terapianalto, and hashtag your Oak and Earth pics  #OakandEarthblog!

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Live healthy, love hard, root deep! Cheers!

xo- Tera

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Local Flavor: Oak and Earth Does the Dogwood Festival

It’s Bethany comin’ at ya for this post!

Funnel cake, hot pavement, trees blooming, music, and a bunch of people you vaguely know but don’t want to talk to. Must be a small town festival! Holy festivals, Batman! I’ve experienced all kinds of festivals and fairs in my lifetime. My favorite is still claimed by none other than the Dogwood Festival. I feel like every town has an annual festival that they are super proud of, and this is ours. In this post you’ll find a video of me chatting it up with festival goers, you will discover OakandEarth’s Dogwood Festival musts, and share in Dogwood experiences that were new to me this year!

I felt compelled to write about the festival because this festival celebrates OakAndEarth’s common roots! Our tagline for our blog is Common Roots, Different Routes. Our common roots are planted in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Siloam Springs is a charming town of about 15,000 people. We have beautiful parks, a downtown with coffee shops and antiques, and dogwood trees (ahhh, now you’re getting it, right?). At a typical Dogwood Festival there are a ton of booths with handmade goodies, fair food, live bluegrass music, and an awesome kid section that I find myself mindlessly wandering into each year. (I wonder what this says about me).

When I wandered into the kid section this year, I found a ton of happy families. I’m throwing it back to the early 1990’s for a second. After my family’s first trip to the festival, my older brother left in tears. Sugary treats, warm weather, music, why was he crying?? Simply put, he thought the Dogwood Festival would have dogs. “There weren’t any dogs!!!”. A clear rookie mistake that could happen to anyone. Names are not always as literal as we wish them to be.

Denver and I spent Saturday being slightly creepy, and asking random festival goers what they enjoy the most. Let’s take a look at the festival this weekend and what people think about it!

OakandEarth Dogwood Favorites:

–CHRISTIANA–

We caught up with Christiana at the festival, and she said her festival musts are the Kettle Corn and the book sale at the local library! She also bought some honey and a few other treats that she will discuss next week!
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–BETHANY–

My favorite treat will forever and always be the Tigers Blood snow cone. I get one every year, and this year was no exception! Tigers Blood is a mixture of watermelon, strawberry, and coconut. Good for a hot day, and also good if you desire an obnoxiously red mouth.

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Something I had never noticed at the fair before was a food truck that sold roasted corn on the cob! Okay, readers. If you’re going to learn anything about me, it is that I have 3 loves (listed in no particular order)– stew, corn on the cob, and Denver (my husband). At the festival, I got two of those fixes! The third will be relieved in few hours when I make homemade stew. But I digress. This corn on the cob is one food item that could make me shout a curse word to the high heavens. Thankfully I have some restraint (in public). For now, just enjoy pictures of me in what can only be referred to as  corn heaven.

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 –TERA–

Tera was in Colorado this year! But she was with us in Dogwood spirit! She said her favorite part of the Dogwood is the atmosphere, and the Funnel Cake. Since she could not partake, Denver  stepped in a did the difficult task of consuming a funnel cake for her! Poor, Denver. *sarcasm*

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 –SHELBY–

I met up with Shelby and her boyfriend Jeff in the later part of the day. Shelby is fun to go with, because she hops along to each booth with great intention. She snagged some honey, beautiful succulents, and some food! Her favorite treats are the Kettle Corn and Lemonade! How southern are we?

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New to me!

While these are our  festival musts, I saw a few surprises this year! One being the corn booth (have I talked about corn enough?), another being a neat home made guitar booth! We also walked right up to a kids’ martial arts show in the midst of them breaking boards (see video for that goodness). As many years as I have gone, it’s neat to experience new booths.

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Although the Dogwood may be a stereotypical small town festival, I like to think that it’s special in it’s own right. And I will keep going as long as it comes around. I hope you enjoyed getting to know a small part of our Common Roots as we bring in the spring season! I have some great ideas for my next post, and I look forward to connecting with you all again. As always if you have any suggestions or questions for us, please feel free! Christiana has a pretty neat spring themed blog coming at you next week, so be sure to look for it!

Peace, love, and Rocketships,

Bethany

 

Becoming a Weekend Warrior

Hello!

My name is Bethany, and you can learn a little more about me in the “About” page of our blog. I’ll be making all different types of blog posts (adventures, cooking, how to’s, music, art, fashion, life battles, stresses and more).This first post explains a life transition I have made. I’m on the slow road to happier life, and it starts with the weekend! In the post below, I give a bit of info on my lifestyle change, why I chose this path, what I consider a “Weekend Warrior”, and 11 steps to becoming one. Enjoy.

Meet me ( Bethany):

Me and a Mocha. A divine relationship.

Meet the husband (Denver):

Denver. I call husband.

Meet our marriage. (The Poteets)

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My Lifestyle Change:

This is my marriage of nearly two years. We both have college degrees, bills, and day to day stresses. What we DON’T posses is the mundane desire to stay in one place and do the same thing every day. What we DO have is the itch and passion to do things differently. So, we do. What do I mean by differently?

For a while I was feeling depressed about living every day the same way: Wake up early, go to work, come home to make dinner, eat said dinner, watch Netflix, sleep (or try to ), and repeat. Occasionally there would be some Olive Garden thrown in the mix (crazy, I know), or some frisbee. Most week days were the same. Week days are busy and tiring, because the bills must be paid! So then what about the weeekends? I suppose we did typical married couple activities. The thing is, I  don’t think we’re particularly typical. One day I found myself asking,  why follow the pattern that society puts directly in front of you? This is when I learned that there is no right way to live your life. Life is not absolute.

The Pizza Theory

It’s like society tells you it’s time for dinner and the only thing to eat is plain pizza. What “the man” doesn’t tell you is that there are so many toppings that make life delicious! Better yet, you don’t have to eat pizza at all. In fact, you can eat dinner any time you want. So why do we always choose what society puts in front of us (plain pizza)? If it were so simple to live life on different trajectories, wouldn’t everybody? Living differently is not easy. You will face questions and hurdles. What you need to remember is that the life you live is what you create.

Why have I chosen a new path?

“20 Somethings”, as we are so often called, have a few different paths we tend follow. There is nothing wrong with any of these normal paths. I graduated college with a BA degree in Corporate Communication and a minor in Art in 2013. After college I went straight to work, and I had a great job. What I struggled with for years was feeling like my creativity was locked in a cage. I like to play music, paint, take pictures, hike, and write. My husband likes to do many of the same things, meaning I was not alone in this struggle. I felt as if I was not dedicating any time to my hobbies, let alone my passions. So why the change and how did it occur?

My husband and I moved states (a discussion for another post). The move was only about two hours away from where we were first located. With this transition I found it hard to find a job. I have had a lot of time to consider what makes up a life. I haven’t quite made the life I desire, but I am finally making steps toward it. My husband works full time, and we are often busy during the week. So why not take weekends and create steps toward a happier or more fulfilling life? A life full of many pizza toppings, if you will. For Denver and I, that meant dedicating time specifically for creative activities. Since this change, we have traveled, gone to concerts, hiked, biked, climbed, painted, made music, worked on video games, and made time for friends and family–we are becoming Weekend Warriors.

What does being a “Weekend Warrior” mean to me?

A Weekend Warrior breaks the mold of the average 20 Something individual. For me this means going the extra mile to achieve short term goals and to fulfill creative desires. It is not for those who tire easily. These steps are helping me get over repetition and mundane behavior. So if you’re looking to mix up your life and achieve some small goals, you might be able to realistically apply these to your weekend. While this phrase does have the word “weekend” in it, I am aware that some people do not have weekend off. If this is the case, apply the steps below to the time you do have off. If you prefer to chase bullet points, short cuts, and pictures, this next part is for you. These are my magic steps. 

11 STEPS TO BECOMING A WEEKEND WARRIOR

1) Stop accepting plain pizza. (Plain pizza theory explained above)

This first step starts by realizing what you want your life to be. We only have one. So what would you like  to improve on? What do you miss during the week that you really wish you had time for? If you want more out of life than what people typically accept, you’re already on the right path to become a Weekend Warrior.

2) Pick some rad activities, and practice your hobbies!

For my husband and I, we love to go outdoors. We love to do this because it feeds our creative bones. When I am writing music or painting, surrounding myself in nature is key. Nature is inspiring, and it keeps you thinking. We are also dedicating more time to practice our hobbies! This might mean a night of jamming on the guitar or painting. For Denver it usually means working on video game development. Whatever it might be, make sure you fit it into your weekend at least once.

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3) Get a partner(s) in crime.

Even if you do some of these activities by yourself, let someone you’re close to in on your change. They might want to come along with you. If they don’t, they might encourage you to keep going when you feel like slipping back into mundane life. Surrounding yourself with people who will support you in your endeavors is necessary.

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4) Kill your phone.

Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic. Something we have learned to do is to leave our phones on silent, stash them away, or don’t bring them at all. Sometimes I’ll turn my phone on airplane mode so it makes it impossible to get on the internet during my activities. When we hike we like to take pictures. So we will take our camera and phone and capture some amazing things we want to remember, and then we shut everything down. A moment of silence can go a long way. It can be easy for a phone or camera to ruin your experience. Don’t forget to be in the moment.

5) Be prepared to be exhausted. (Totally worth it)

So for many activities we start early and end late. Part of living the weekend to the fullest is being tired.  What helps is planning it out to have a day to recoup. Having a recoup day doesn’t always happen. If you can’t get this recoup time, you can’t complain. It’s a part of it.

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6) Make good Playlists.

Playlists can drive any weekend home. A really good playlist can put you in the mood to achieve great things. Trust me. (Future posts include some tunes I’ll recommend, and how they can amp up every day activities).

7) Be willing to drive…a lot.

We have gone from Arkansas to Colorado and back in one weekend (12 hours one way). We have also done this with Austin, Texas in one weekend  (9 hours one way). Both driving expeditions were to travel to see my favorite artist LIGHTS. They were both tiring but incredibly epic weekends. These endeavors are incredibly exhausting and induce a lot of driving, but it’s worth it to get to see something or do something you’ve always wanted to do. Sometimes we just have to work with the time given. These particular weekends were planned out, and the trip to Colorado required asking a half day off of work on Friday to kick it off. Life is too short to not go the distance. It helps that Denver and I enjoy driving.

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8) Be able to deviate from your original plan. (shiz-stuff happens)
Remember that you have to go the extra mile to obtain greatness. This is why being a Weekend Warrior is not for everybody. It’s not for people who require a lot of sleep, and it’s not for people who will break down if the plans don’t pan out perfectly (definitely guilty of that). When you’re doing multiple activities, the weather doesn’t always flow accordingly. When you get up and drive to see the sunrise and it rains so much you can’t see the sun, or when you’re hitting an ice storm on the way home from Austin, put in some awesome tunes and thank God for all the blessings in your life. Learn to laugh and go with the flow. Yes, these are real life occurrences during our adventures.

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 9) Face some fears.

Take this time to strive for something you have never done. Do something you’ve been too scared to do. Go places you’ve never been.

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10) Fulfill random thoughts.

You know when you have a thought like:
What if we got waffles right now?
What if we make a fort??
What if we leave said fort up for 2 months?
Want to sleep on the floor?
Do you want to go watch the sunrise in the morning?
Do you want to have a picnic?

DO THESE THINGS. My motto is–random thoughts are good thoughts.

12) End on the basics.
When my husband and I were choosing activities, we decided to go back to basics. What makes you inherently and uncontrollably happy? Forget what other people are doing. Live your life the way you desire, and take pride in being different. What makes you happy?

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I hope this helps you think outside the box a little. These steps can easily be adapted to different lifestyles. Get on the road to a happier and more creative you. I am open for questions, and I would love to get to know you!  If you end up doing anything different with your weekends, let me know! I would love to hear about your adventures. I’ll end with this quote from my favorite musician:

“You have to be uncomfortable in order to be successful, in some ways. Because if you stay in your comfort zone, you would never do the things that you need to do.” -LIGHTS

Peace, love, and rocketships.

-Bethany

Introducing… Oak and Earth!!!

C.S. Lewis once said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…’ “. True friendship is indeed a rare and splendid thing, and when you find it you should hold on tightly, for many are not lucky enough to know it. In our case, Christiana, Tera, and Bethany grew up in Siloam Springs where Shelby joined them in 10th grade. After graduating high school in 2009 and attending four different universities, they only grew closer in their friendship (Shelby went to Ouachita Baptist University, Christiana went to The University of Arkansas, Tera went to John Brown University, and Bethany went to Rogers State University). Since becoming friends, many things have changed; Tera and Bethany are both married, Tera has an adorable baby who just turned one, Christiana just returned from South Korea where she taught English, Shelby has traveled to 14 countries (and counting!) where she has studied, worked, and been a part of mission trips, and Bethany is working on her very own music!

Last summer there was a rather big change which, as with any change, has come with pros and cons. Tera’s husband Jeremy took a job as a worship pastor in Colorado Springs, which is a more permanent change than any of our past travels. Of course we are so excited for them and this incredible opportunity, but it makes the four of us getting together much more difficult. In a freak stroke of “luck”, due to our current collective unemployment, we were able to take advantage of lower gas prices and visit Tera for a whole week! This was a much needed trip for all of us and I think it is safe to say that our souls benefited from the balm of friendship. While Arkansas is known as the Natural State and houses many natural wonders, it was great to get out and see a part of the country the three of us weren’t used to. While traveling we used the hashtag #OakandEarthRoutes, so be sure to check out Instagram for some great shots of our trip. While there, we put together this blog as a way to stay connected and share our thoughts, projects, insights, recipes, reviews, and everything in between with the blogging universe. We are really excited about this (even if we are the only ones who ever read it) and hope that it serves to be our “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”; holding us together however far we may wander. We did a lot during our time in Colorado, including hiking at Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon, and Pikes Peak, exploring the funky and fun downtown Colorado Springs, eating (a lot), playing with Norah (insert oohs and aahs here), and visiting Tera and Jeremy’s church. The scenery was breathtaking, the conversation phenomenal, and did we mention the food yet? Our only regret is that it didn’t last longer. However, we feel incredibly blessed to have had the time we did. We hope you all enjoy keeping up with this blog and please feel free to get involved! Comment, make suggestions, let us know what you’d like to see more (or less) of! As previously stated, we are so excited to get started! Let the journey begin.

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Christiana, Shelby, Tera, and Bethany at Red Rock Canyon, Colorado Springs