Monday, May 4, 2015

The One Thing That's Constant ... Change.

I'm feeling reflective tonight, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to update the 'ol blog! I'll start with an update about family. Penny is just a few days shy of 4 months old. She hit a stretch where she was sleeping up to 8 hours at night, but then the ever-fabulous 3 month growth spurt hit. I believe we're finally coming out of that phase, and it's about time to try for the crib. This week's goal is to get it assembled and moved into Ellie's room, officially making it The Girls' Room. Pray for that transition. :) We're hoping Ellie adjusts well to sharing the space. But then again she IS 3 1/2 and not always a huge fan of sharing ...
Penny has "found her voice" and is talking up a storm! It's so fun to watch her try and move her mouth to make the sounds she wants to make. Sometimes I find myself just watching her because she's growing and learning so fast. Life is so busy these days, I'm afraid I'll miss some of the precious moments that we were so careful to watch with Ellie. Penny is the happiest baby, though. I thought Ellie was a happy baby, but Penny will smile at anyone! And it's the kind of smile that uses her whole face. It just warms your heart.
(Penny & Ellie)
Rollin and I have been doing our best to spend quality time with Ellie now that Penny is here. We had great family fun over Spring Break going to the Chattanooga Aquarium and the Knoxville Zoo! But here recently, Ellie has attended her first UT game and ridden her first rides at Dollywood! (Disclaimer: When asked if River Rampage was a fun ride, she responded, "It was not fun for me," so it wasn't a total success.) :) At the end, though, she said she loved "Jollywood" and that it was "the best field trip ever!" We told her that it was a rule that you have to wear orange to the football games and she loved pointing out everyone who was "breaking the rules." It was so fun! #GBO
On the professional front, things are movin' and shakin' with Rollin and me! First, Knox County has announced the 6th cohort of Leadership Academy fellows! This group includes some pretty fabulous educators that I've had the privilege of working alongside. It's a little bittersweet for us, though, because it means this incredible experience is coming to an end. I absolutely love the people in cohort 5 and can't imagine how I would have gotten through this year without them. It really has hit us all that we've got 2 months left together and then we'll be splitting off and going different places. But we've already established that our GroupMe account MUST remain active and that no one is allowed to leave. That is vital to maintaining our sanity. :) I'll fully reflect on all that I've learned this year once the program officially comes to a close, but celebrating the next class of people has us all holding tight to these last few days. (Oh, and no, I don't know where I'll be next year - promise I'll tell you when I find out!)
As for Rollin, things are picking up quickly! His newly formed improv group, Full Disclosure, has their debut performance on May 14th. They are such a great group of people, and pretty dang funny, too. They're hoping to be able to perform regularly in Knoxville. If you're able, you should come check it out and show your support!
Now the best for last ... Rollin had mentioned to me awhile back that they submitted the play he has been in, "Princess Cut," to a festival in New York City and were waiting to hear if they made it in. (See the post "Countdown to Penny" for information about the play.) This festival just so happens to be the largest multi-arts festival in NORTH AMERICA with more than 200 companies performing for 16 days in over 20 venues. Thousands of groups submit work. It's called FringeNYC and, oh yeah, they got in. He will be going to New York City to perform and to continue to spread the message of awareness this play brings!!! To say that there is excitement in our house is an understatement!
I'll have a lot to blog about this summer and will definitely keep everyone updated, but I just wanted to take some time and jot a few of the latest happenings down. Lots of changes ... it's been awesome.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Penny's Birth Story

We've made it two weeks as a family of 4, which means I finally have a few seconds to write about how Penelope Katherine made her entrance into the world. (Translation: It's 9:00, I just finished dinner, both girls are currently sleeping, and so I'm going to do a blog entry.) :)
So, at 40 weeks and 5 days, I went to the doctor for my weekly visit. It was the visit we were all not-so-secretly hoping that I wouldn't make it to. We talked about my options because like I've mentioned previously, I was trying for a VBAC and so we didn't want little Penny to become BIG Penny, making that reality even harder. We ended up deciding that I would go in the next day to be induced and hopefully encourage Penny to make an appearance. So, it was scheduled that I would go to the hospital at 6:00 am on Tuesday, January 6th.
Ellie spent the night with Pa Pa and GiGi and we arrived much more prepared than we had been the first time around. We even brought some candy for nurses and visitors. Our philosophy? We want our nurses happy to see us! Chocolate will do that. Haha In fact, we had a fantastic nurse. Her name is Jenny Morris and she was amazing. She was so attentive to my needs, easy going and just overall great at her job. That really does make a HUGE difference.
Dr. Myers came and broke my water around 8:30 am. That led to the first of a few things that made me "special" that day ... Apparently I had an abundance of amniotic fluid - they guessed about 2 liters. Most women have somewhere around 1 liter of fluid. So I asked, "If my water had broken on its own, would it have been like something out of the movies?" And Jenny and Dr. Myers both confirmed that it definitely would have. Yikes! It wasn't quite polyhydramnios, but they said it was pretty close. In general, I was told it could lead to serious issues, but mine didn't, so I didn't need to worry. One issue it can cause, though, is for the baby to be wrapped in the umbilical cord because of the fluid draining. Is that what happened with Ellie? I feel pretty sure it is. Anyway, fluid drained for what seemed like an eternity, but labor progressed quite quickly after that. Jenny said that I was already having mild contractions when I came in, despite only being 3 cm dilated. They kept my pitocin at 6 mg to encourage my body to do most of the work. It definitely did! I progressed to 10 cm within about 6 hours, even with an epidural. (Fun fact: Rollin slept through my epidural. Neither of us had slept well the night before, and since this was "old hat" for us, I didn't mind. I needed him at his best later!)
Around 3:00, we decided it was time for me to start pushing! Everyone was really confident it would go quickly since my body had moved things along. I was feeling great about my chances of achieving a VBAC ............. fast forward 2 1/2 hours later ........ it didn't go as quickly as planned. Penny progressed very nicely, but it turns out that my "lopsided uterus" posed a bit of a problem. I found out about that with Ellie. When Dr. Cottam did my c-section, she had mentioned it was lopsided, but said that wasn't a bad thing, it just ... was. Well, it made pushing kind of difficult. I compared it to someone trying to parallel park that was doing a terrible job. She just kept coming in at a weird angle, and after every set of pushing, I'd get a nice kick in the ribs for my efforts. (Thanks again for that, Penny.) I do have to give a shout out to Rollin for being the perfect labor partner for me. He gave the right amount of support and didn't stress me out at all, but kept me confident I could do this. I get stressed quite easily when I'm trying to do something new, so this is a big accomplishment! At the 2 hour mark, Dr. Myers was in a meeting, so Dr. O'Kelley came to deliver Penny. He knew I was wanting a VBAC so he laid out several options, one of which being the use of the vacuum. I saw it as one more opportunity to make Penny's delivery like I wanted it to be, so Rollin and I decided to try it. Three rounds of contractions later and there she was! All 8 lbs and 7 oz! She was so close to coming on her own, but I was so weak from pushing so long, she just needed a little extra help to make that final turn. :)
"Look at those cheeks!" was the first thing I heard someone say. I was so overwhelmed that I just kept thinking, "I did it. I actually did it." There were ZERO complications due to my having a c-section. ZERO. I had been so worried about if I was making the right decision that this affirmation was wonderful. I got to be the first to hold Penny. I got to watch Rollin melt over another of his girls. I experienced it all. For those who have had a c-section, you know that part of this experience is taken because of the surgery. If a c-section was the route I was going to end up taking, I would have been okay with that, as it has provided me with a wonderful, healthy girl. But this was pretty nice. I did end up with a 2nd degree tear, but honestly, that has paled in comparison to recovery from my c-section. I have been amazed at all I can do this time around, from sitting, standing, walking, showering, and yes, even to using the restroom, it has all been so much easier. TMI? Sorry. I'm just pretty excited about the difference! :)
My parents came in to see Penny a little later that night and I did have a weird dizzy spell where my heart rate bottomed out and I passed out for a few seconds. That's the next "special" thing about me that happened that day. It baffled everyone, and we still aren't totally sure why it happened. I just all of a sudden felt like I was going to throw up and then passed out. It was weird because I thought I was asleep, so when I opened my eyes and saw Jenny and Rollin and they were asking me where I was, I was so confused. "Stephanie, do you know where you are??" "Yes. The hospital." Yeah, it scared everyone pretty good, but I was fine after that. Penny and I both had a little bit of a fever and a high heart rate, but we both ended up just fine. In fact, my fever broke after passing out. Luckily, that was the last weird thing that happened to me.
Ellie came to visit the next day, and she is such an adorable big sister. She was so proud to hold Penny and just beams anytime she talks about her. One funny thing that happened was when she got to the hospital, I was nursing Penny. We didn't even really think about "prepping" her for seeing that. She made the most hilarious face and just slowly crept around the hospital bed to see what was happening. Penny cried a little at one point and Ellie said, "She thinks your boobie is gross, Mommy. Here, I'll give her some fruit snacks." :) We laughed pretty hard at that one.
We left the hospital the next morning (which was another nice difference!) and despite it being crazy cold, we made it home warm and safe. It was slightly questionable, though, because our car had a flat tire. The valet workers were fabulous, though, and helped us find a pump to fix it. Another example of why we love Parkwest Hospital.
Penny has woken up, so I guess that is it for our story for now. :) Thank you to all the friends and family who have taken care of Ellie, visited us, brought us meals and gifts and prayed for us throughout this journey. We have felt very loved and appreciate you all so much!

Monday, January 5, 2015

'Twas the Night Before Penny

First of all, we were very lucky to have a fun and special Christmas this year. This was the first time that Ellie really "got it". We had several sweet conversations about Santa and Jesus - she's a pretty great kid!
We tried to stay active in the last two weeks, hoping it would encourage Penny to want to join in the fun! Jump Jam was one of Ellie's favorites. Unfortunately, we think Penny may have heard the conversations about the flu in Tennessee and was too nervous to join the world just yet. Can't really blame her.
She made it pretty apparent that December was NOT the month she wanted to be born in. :) At my 39 and 40 week appointments, I had just dilated 2cm and she was staying snuggled nice and high. (It must be pretty great in there!) I went to my 40+4 appointment today and she made the ever so slight move to 3cm. Although, she was a little less tucked away this time. I wonder if she'll be stubborn, shy or a mix of both ... At the appointment, Dr. Myers did the membrane sweep again, and I'm hopeful it will have an impact. If nothing else, hopefully it will speed up labor whenever it occurs! We ended up scheduling an induction for tomorrow morning since I am past my due date and we really want labor to be a possibility for me since I'm hoping to have a VBAC. (Here's some information about VBACs) Rollin and I decided we needed to have a meal with just the two of us since Ellie was at preschool. It seemed fitting to eat at Firehouse Subs just like we did the night before Ellie was born. It was very romantic. :)
It was so fun getting to tell Ellie that she will meet Penny tomorrow. She hugged me really tightly and said, "Really?! Thank you!!" I know she still has no idea what she's in for, but for now she is the most excited big sister ever.
For now, I'm going to finish my last minute cleaning, packing my bags and hoping Penny decides she's ready before 6 am tomorrow. Fingers crossed and check social media for updates hopefully soon!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Countdown to Penny ...

So, I was feeling nostalgic the other day and I searched for the picture Rollin took of me when we were headed to the hospital with Ellie. I was really surprised that I looked pretty similar to the way I look now since this pregnancy has been a little bit different. Really made me start to wonder what that might mean for Penny and Ellie. Then that got me thinking that I needed to blog about what was happening in our lives. I do it mostly for me, so that I can have those memories of what was going on and what I was thinking about, but I like sharing it with others, too. :)
Crazy how similar I look, huh? (Ellie is on the left and Penny is on the right.) We aren't sure when we'll get to meet Penny, as I'm hoping to avoid a c-section this time around, but her due date is quickly approaching. Rollin and I have begun to really let that reality sink in as we started our "Things To Do Before Penny" list today. I know, probably should have done that before now, but we've been a little busy and in full-on Christmas mode! One of the things that has kept us so busy is my work and coursework with the Leadership Academy. Our cohort clicked so quickly this summer and made it our unofficial mission to model choosing joy in a profession where it's been difficult lately. Training to be a school leader is a daunting privilege, but doing it alongside great people makes it easier. It's hard to believe that the year is halfway over! So much to do ...
I've been so lucky to be at Christenberry Elementary as an Assistant Principal while going through the Academy. For those who are unfamiliar with the Leadership Academy, it's like being a principal intern. (At least that's the best way I can think to describe it!) I'm getting to learn under the guidance of a fantastic mentor, Melissa Johnson, while attending classes through a partnership with Knox County Schools and the University of Tennessee. Talk about learning A LOT!! At the end of the year, I'll have my Education Specialist degree and a wealth of knowledge. I love my job and I love working with these fabulous ladies.
We are all meant to do something great with our lives, and that begins with having a passion for what you do every day. Rollin and I are firm believers in this, which is why he is still working with The WordPlayers and is currently rehearsing for a "homecoming show" with Oak Ridge Playhouse. (Yes, he made sure I was okay with this as rehearsals and performances will overlap with Penny's arrival!) Those who have seen Rollin perform know why the sacrifices of a "theatre widow" are more than worth it to me. Here's a picture from his last performance with Oak Ridge Playhouse, "1776".
God has blessed him with an amazing talent and I love to see him using it. He recently did an incredibly powerful play based on a true story with Yellow Rose Productions about sex trafficking in Knoxville. Yes, Knoxville, Tennessee. Please check out this upcoming group and the amazing work they did to spread awareness. Here's their website: Yellow Rose Productions
Alongside all of that has been the joys and frustrations of raising a 3 year-old! (Parents of toddlers, I know you feel us on this one!) It is so fun seeing Ellie's personality shine, and she is really starting to form some friendships. But wow, the mood swings and random acts of independence can make your head spin! So please, if you see her pitching a fit, offer up encouragement to us to keep "fighting the good fight," not judgmental looks. :) Here's our angel with one of her best buddies, Abigail.
That is a good quick update about the Prince family. I'm on maternity leave from now until about Valentine's Day and am hoping to write a little about the changes that come with our family of four. (We'll see, huh?) Until then, we hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the coming of our King!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge & Announcement

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy 2013!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and such a blessed Christmas.  It's so fun seeing Ellie become more and more aware of what is happening around her.  Can't wait for what's in store for the holidays next year!
Excited for Santa!
To update, I am still with Knoxville Beauty Hunters, whose website is up and running!  You can even check out my personal fitness "testimony" in The Hunted!  I've also started a year-long challenge with my friend Laura to do 200 reps a day = 73K Challenge!  We started this past weekend at our youth's winter retreat, Frostbite.  That is where we will finish in 2014.  It's amazing how much more motivation you have when you aren't alone as you work toward your goals.  I'm so proud of how far I've already come physically, and am excited about the future.

Laura, John Macready & me on Day 1 of the 73K!
He is the founder of the 73K & an Olympic gymnast!
**Quick Plug**  Seriously ... if you need motivation to get/stay healthy, you need to join up with the Knoxville Beauty Hunters!  You will feel a part of this group after Day 1, I promise!  No excuses here - it's all women, every age/size/fitness level, and it's FREE!  (Donations are gladly accepted if you are able and/or felt led to give!)  Please get in touch with me if you are thinking about it!  **Plug over**
Knoxville Beauty Hunters
My spiritual journey has been consistent.  It was rough shortly after Christmas, though, when a former intern and friend of mine, Ali Sharp, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  It gives me hope to know that she is safe and whole with Christ, but my heart aches for her family, especially her newborn daughter.  It's through situations like this that I am reminded to stay focused on my purpose on Earth - to make disciples and glorify Christ in all that I do with my short time here.  We are studying the Beatitudes at church, and it has given me a renewed focus on the attitudes Christ expects of us.  It led so well into this past weekend with the youth of our church.  We talked about sharing our personal story with others and how the boldness to do so comes from being confident in what has changed within us.  Like the blind man who received sight from Christ, we may not have all the answers, but this we do know - we once were blind, but now we see (John 9:25).  It's my prayer that God put people in my path who need to hear my story and that I be confident in what I know to be True.

iPad fun with Daddy!
As far as Ellie goes, she will be 1 1/2 in just a few days!  This really is a fun age, as we can interact with and almost talk with her!  She finally said "Momma" not too long ago, and it just made my heart smile.  She is a pro at giving kisses and hugs now, which I was hoping she would be!  She also has four more teeth coming in - they look like little shark teeth!  Unfortunately, she is still getting over her first big cold.  It started with a temperature of around 101, and has lasted about a week.  She is a trooper, though.  Even though she didn't have much of an appetite, had a runny nose and a nasty cough, she was still pretty pleasant.  (And getting some extra snuggles from her wasn't bad either!)  We are glad it's almost over, though.
Daddy Daughter Day 2012 with Lance and Claire
Rollin has almost entirely healed from his surgery and is working on regaining strength in his shoulder. He is most definitely thankful that 2012 is long-gone!  He is currently rehearsing for "Lift Every Voice," the educational touring show for The WordPlayers.  I'm excited to say that I got them booked at Rocky Hill on February 21st!  This is a great show that focuses on the music of Harlem - perfect for Black History Month.
I'm going to be an AUNT!  July 2013!
Keep us in your prayers as we are hoping for some new changes in 2013!  No, no more babies for us, but a baby IS on the way! :)  Ellie has a cousin coming!  We are still prayerfully hopeful that God has some opportunities for us coming up, though!  I hope to update about them soon!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Building the Plane in the Air ...

That is a quote that has been used often to describe my job.  Oh, I got a new job.  In fact ... it has been quite a while since I've written on here. (I never was good at keeping a journal ...)

Let me catch you up!  :)

I left off last with the reflection of wanting to better myself spiritually as well as physically.  I'm happy to report that the exercise group I have been a part of is continuing!  In fact, we're meeting tomorrow to see how to continue the pursuit of a nonprofit organization.  Knoxville Beauty Hunters is the new name (website coming soon!) and we would appreciate prayer for our group and for Sarah Van Sickle as she continues to search after God's plan for her life.
Join us!  We'd love to have you!

Spiritually, I'm still journeying through - my prayer life has stayed pretty constant, but discipline-wise, I need a renewed energy.  Part of that is due to the whirlwind that was August!  A little background first: Rollin and I were able to go to Sonburn (our senior high youth camp) at the end of July while Ellie Bean stayed with her Aunt Beth and Uncle Joe for the week!  (Ellie also got to be in their wedding this summer, too!)  That trip was an answer to prayer as God refreshed our minds and hearts, and I had no idea that it was partially in preparation for the battle ahead of me.
Fiesta night!  (Thanks, Tommy)
Ellie the Flower Girl with Aunt Beth
Our whole family with the newlyweds in Dyersburg, TN!
In August, while setting up my classroom, I got a call from the head of the Reading Department for Knox County asking me to take a job as a Literacy Coach.  I had been told about the job, but never applied because I LOVE my job as a teacher and couldn't imagine doing anything else.  Well, when you get a call from someone that important, you take that as a sign you must be doing something right and you should take the job!  Through a LOT of tears, I transitioned from my home at Brickey-McCloud Elementary to Rocky Hill Elementary.  Oh, I questioned the decision for weeks (still do occasionally), but I am convinced that God has me here for this time and for a reason.
We also got to celebrate Bean's first birthday!  She LOVED the cake!
I've been trying to figure out how to do this new role, and so have totally let things like this blog fall by the wayside.  "Building the plane in the air as I go" is how I feel most days, but trusting that God will provide often feels like that.  My faith is being refined to the point where I just shrug my shoulders sometimes and say, "I don't know why I'm here, but God's got it figured out!"  It's a good place to be, but one where I feel inadequate at times.  Please pray for the faith to persevere!
Big girl seat!
Ellie has been growing like a weed!  She has 12 teeth, walks and is starting to talk more and more!  Puppy, kitty, uh oh, Da Da, Oooh, bye bye, hi and night night are among the favorites.  In fact, for the first time last night, I was getting her crib ready and said night night to her.  She says it back, walks over to me and puckers her little lips for a kiss.  I have to say that is probably one of the best things that has happened to me yet as a Mommy.  She did it again tonight, so I'm hoping this quickly becomes the norm!
Rest for the weary ...
As for Rollin, he is on the fast track to recovery for a broken clavicle.  Yep, 30 has been rough on him! (Makes me worried about what next year has in store for me.  Yikes!)  He had a plate and screws put in and bounced back very quickly.  He is back in Daddy-mode and doing an amazing job.  We are so lucky that he gets to stay home with Ellie while still pursuing acting.  The WordPlayers are currently touring "The Case of the Missing Bodies" and they are doing a great job.  Rollin even did one performance days before his surgery.  The show must go on, right?!  Continue to pray for The WordPlayers and for opportunities Rollin has as Education Director for the children's wing.

That's the most condensed version of the last few months I can give.  Thanksgiving is coming soon, which means Christmas is close behind, so who knows when I'll update next?  Haha