Swedish Midsummer Party

Thursday, August 26

 Our second Swedish Midsummer party is in the books! Being half Swedish, and having celebrated midsummer with my Swedish family IN Sweden, I felt it was high time to throw my own American Swedish midsummer party. So last summer I looked up what was needed for a proper midsummer and I patched together what we had to make it work haha! (You can see last year's party here). 

This year we seemed to have the odds against us in having this party. During late June, when Midsummer is actually celebrated, my kids had hand foot mouth, soooo we clearly had to push it back. Then, come August when we rescheduled,  our party got moved to indoors as the wildfires were raging here in Northern California (we ate inside, however snuck out for a bit to do the traditional dancing and take a few pictures...). Even though we had to eat inside, we still had so much fun dressing up and wearing the traditional Swedish flower crowns! And please check out how adorable my parents are in their Swedish clogs, hahah! 

I've memorized exactly one Swedish midsummer song (SmÃ¥ grodorna) about a little frog, complete with hand motions. I taught it to everyone last year, so we brushed up a bit on our Swedish and our hand motions, and danced around the pole a few times to the song haha! 

We at the traditional food of fish, potatoes, and the delicious strawberry cake! (If you need an amazing salmon recipe, this one is THE BEST, for reals!)  Kevin even made some elderflower mules for everyone which was a fun Swedish touch! I love my heritage and adore celebrating new traditions!! 

Do you have any traditions from your heritage? xoxo 













Charlie Joy Co. Baby Basket Give-Away

Friday, July 9

 

I LOVE watching friends go after their dreams!! My friend Anna has worked so hard to imagine and create and dream and come up with this incredible product of a sweet baby changing basket. You guys, it's so adorable and a perfect addition to any baby nursery. 

Changing Ollie in this basket is a joy.  The mat has a soft covering which unzips allowing you to take it off and wash it (it's also 100% organic cotton which is a total plus for me!). The outer part of the basket is a woven blend with white and black, and the cutest little fringe ever! I am a huge fan of texture, and this basket adds so much lovely texture to the room:) 

I'm giving away one of these baskets so you too can add a useful, sweet and non-toxic baby product to your home (or give one to a friend!!). Every nursery needs a changing table, so why not add a cute one to yours!! 

Here's what you need to do: 
1) If you're on IG, go and check out my post @hope_engaged for instructions
2) If you're not on IG, please leave a comment below with your favorite part about this basket, and make sure to start following the Charlie Joy Co Facebook page

That's it! The give-away will close Thursday July 15th at 11:59pm (PST). 
The winner will be drawn at random and announced Friday July 16th! 

Even if you don't win, please go and support my friend Anna and her dream of creating this basket! She's not part of any big company, she's just a regular gal who dreamed a dream and built a product!! For more info on Charlie Joy Co. check out here website here! 

Our sweet boy is here! A birth story:)

Thursday, May 6

We are SO excited to announce that our sweet son Oliver Hayes Cook (our "Ollie" boy) is here! He came into the world in the wee hours of April 6th at 2am, weighting a whopping 9 pounds 5 ounces, and measuring 21 inches! He surprised all of us with bright blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes. 

My due date was March 25th, but given that my other two kids were late...I suspected we would have another overdue baby! (even though I was secretly hoping he'd be on time, or gasp! even early maybe? haha) 

NOPE

I evidently have a very cosy womb because all my babies take their time:) 

On Monday April 5th (11 days past my due date) at around 1:30pm,  I was getting ready to go pick up my kiddos from a friend (who had kindly offered to watch them!) when my water broke! BUT...because I've always had the doctor break my water bag while in labor, I didn't know what it actually felt like to have it break on it's own. I legitimately thought I had peed my pants. HA! Slightly mortified at myself, I ran upstairs to change my clothes, and headed out the door. While walking up to my friends front door, it happened again. 

"Maybe it's not pee", I thought to myself. "Could it be that my water has broken?" I freaked out for a second! 

Fortunately my friend is a nurse, and when I relayed what happened she looked at me and said "Katie, your water broke! Call the doctor!"

I called my doctor, and he told me to come to the hospital in the next few hours. Since I wasn't having any contractions at all, there wasn't a huge hurry, so my mom came over and we walked around the block multiple times! I called Kevin and work and he immediately got in his car and headed home. 

I was so excited to have something happening after almost two weeks of "false starts"! 

We checked in at the hospital around 3:30pm, and the nurses checked how dilated I was...still at a 3! My mom and I started walking the halls. My mom and aunt are actually OB nurses at the hospital I was birthing at, so every one was just so excited and celebratory for me, as they knew my mama. It was super sweet:) 

My sweet doctor came in and discussed my options, as my water had broke and I was not contracting in the least. We decided to try Cytotec to see if that would induce me into labor. He gave it to me at 6pm, right when the final March Madness game was on TV. Great, we thought, we can watch basketball while I go into labor (Kevin is a HUGE basketball fan, as am I!!). 

The game ended, and still no contractions! Soooo....my doctor came in again, and we all decided it was time to start Pitocin. I was trying to avoid having to get Pitocin, as I had been induced with it for Avonlea's labor and it was just such a long and drawn out labor. 

BUT...because I was at a 3, my doctor really felt like labor would go a lot faster this time! So at 10:30pm, they started Pitocin, and two hours later at 12:30am I started contracting into active labor. 

All I wanted to do was sit on the edge of the hospital bed and just breathe through the contractions. Kevin held my hand and did deep breathing with me each round. My mom rubbed my back and cheered me on. As most of you know, labor is not for the faint of heart but I was so encouraged because every 10-15 minutes when the nurses checked me, I was progressing 2-3 cm. It was going SO fast, and I couldn't wait to push him out. I had decided to do it without an epidural as it was moving so fast, and there really wasn't time to get one! 

At the moment where I started screaming "I can't do this anymore!!!!"...it was almost time to push. A little before 2am I felt the weight of his head bearing down on me so hard, I knew it was time to sit in bed and push. 6 minutes later, out he came! I was screaming and pushing as hard as I could, and it was the most spectacular relief when his head finally popped out. 

That moment they put baby on my chest was euphoric...so heavenly. It goes from the most painful experience of my life, to the most incredibly profound and intimate of moments. I was meeting my Ollie boy. I started laughing that he had a shock of blonde hair on top his perfect little head. He cried a little, and then almost immediately latched and started nursing. He literally nursed for almost 2 hours after birth, it was amazing. I am someone who loves breastfeeding, so it felt so bonding and beautiful. 

(...and then you have to birth the placenta and get stitched up! No my favorite, but I was holding my precious boy....so I felt like I could face anything!) 

The main thing I always say about labor, is that it will never go the way you think...and this was no exception! He ended up having to spend 2 nights in the NICU because of a breathing issue, but that resolved and we were able to leave when planned! 

I had spent intentional time in prayer over his labor and delivery in the 9 months leading up to it. I prayed that Ollie's birth would bring glory to God, that it would be covered in peace and love and beauty. And you know what, it truly was all those things. 

The nights he was in the NICU, I had to go in every 2 hours to hand express colostrum. I ended up having the most amazing talks with the nurses in the NICU...chats about God and his awesomeness. One of my nurses shared her testimony of coming to know the Lord and everything it cost her, but how worthwhile it was. It ministered to me in such a beautiful way. When I'd crawl back to my recovery room at 2am, I was so filled up with the Lord's peace and comfort, it was unreal. 

I praise God for such an awe inspiring hospital birth. The labor nurse who took care of me later told my mom how honored she was to be in on such a beautiful birth. 

There was so much love, 

so much joy, 

so much elation. 

Thank you Lord for our Ollie boy! 

(And below is the sweetest moment of Avonlea holding Ollie for the first time. She was so priceless in her JOY of meeting him and holding him. These are the moments that are so dear and that I will hold in my heart forever!) 












Easter 2021

Friday, April 16


This Easter was so special for many reasons!

First, because of what it means to me as a Christian...that Jesus conquered the grave and came to bring us LIFE! I love waking up in the morning and shouting "HE IS RISEN" and having someone else echo back "HE IS RISEN INDEED!". What a savior we have in Jesus.

Secondly, it was Avonlea's 4th birthday. While we threw her a birthday party the day before, we have a family tradition of doing breakfast in bed on her actual birthday. She requested Lucky Charms (which she has never had before, but she saw them at the grocery store one day and asked for them. That was 2 months ago and they've been sitting in our cupboard ever since haha!). She got SOOO excited when we waltzed into her room singing happy birthday, and squealed with delight opening all her presents! I grew up with this tradition, and love passing it on to my kiddos!

Thirdly, this Easter was special because it marked the first time in a year when our entire family has been together for a holiday. All my siblings and their spouses, my aunts and uncles and grandparents were able to all come. It was sunny and gorgeous outside, so we were able to celebrate amidst the gorgeous Dogwood blooms of my parents trees!

The egg hunt was a total delight for my kiddos, they got so so excited to hunt for eggs! Don't kids just add an extra sparkle to holidays? I love it!

I hope your day was lovely and beautiful and redemptive! xoxo 











{kids LOVED the egg hunt so much! We kept taking eggs out of their basket without them seeing and re-hiding them! So it went on and on! haha} 






{my sister and her husband with our sweet girl!}