hey, i haven’t blogged in a while, but that’s because i just had a baby…

…3 months ago. So sue me.

Henry Joseph Birkel was born on January 20, 2011 a 7:10am. He weighed 6 lbs 8 oz and was 20 inches long.

He was born gently at home and into his daddy’s hands.

Someday I will write his birth story.

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months already. I can’t imagine our family without him in it. He’s a very chill, laid-back, happy baby. He eats well and sleeps well. I wouldn’t trade Sam for all the tea in China but I’ll be honest — his babyhood was difficult for me, and so I am thankful that Henry is a little easier.

My midwife says, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” And it’s true.  So far, the adjustment to having 2 kids has been easier than I anticipated.

I will try to blog more. Maybe. In the meantime, here’s some pictures of my sweet Henry Joe at 4 weeks:


christmas letter 2010

How is it 2010, almost 2011? Shouldn’t we have flying cars by now? Or at least an iPhone. I’d settle for my own personal iPhone. But whatever, I digress.

It’s been a crazy, but good, year. I feel like most years are like that. Every year has its crazy and every year has crap and every year has happy, joyful things. So without further ado, I present to you the Life and Times of the Birkels in 2010:

Crazy: As far as crazy goes, let’s see here. The biggest thing is that we found out in May that we were pregnant again! We’re totally thrilled to be adding to our family, but if I am honest, this pregnancy has been rough. I (STILL) struggle with crazy insomnia and that’s been really hard trying to grow a human being from scratch, stay married, be mommy to a toddler, and work part-time.  That’s right — I interviewed and got a really awesome part-time job last spring. I am a breastfeeding peer counselor for Madison County WIC, which means basically that I get paid to help mommas and babies breastfeed. How cool is that?! Totally beats schlepping coffee or working retail or something, and it’s something I am passionate about and (so I’ve heard) I’m pretty good at it, too. It’s really a blessing to be able to help out financially while also helping moms and babies get off to a great start.  I am working up to when I go into labor (sometime around February 1st) and then, when I go back to work, I can take the baby (who is a boy, by the way) to work with me for a while, until he gets mobile and I can’t watch him and actually work.  Anyway, my job is great and I am blessed to have it. But it was an adjustment going back to work, even if it was just part-time, after not working for 18 months.

Crap: Like I said, the insomnia has sucked.  And my Grandmommy passed away in March and that sucked, too. We miss her. But I think that’s all the crap I can think of off the top of my head! So we’re thankful that we didn’t have any more crap than that.

Happy, Joyful Things:

Other than expecting another sweet baby again, we also have this amazing little boy named Sam who is without a doubt number one on our list of Happy, Joyful Things. He is 23 months old and just a delight. He’s talking up a storm and keeping us on our toes. He enjoys playing Tackle Football Game!! with Daddy, playing with his cars and trucks, and he’s recently been really into dinosaurs. He is all boy, that’s for sure. But he’s also very sweet and snuggly — he still likes bringing us books and being read to, and frequently asks for and gives hugs and kisses (“Mommy! Hug! More hug!”). He’s very excited about being a big brother — he asks to “talk to Baby” all the time, and gives my belly a kiss every night before bed. We are so excited to see how the connection these boys already seem to have will grow and develop once Baby is earthside (and he does have a name, by the way — but you’ll have to wait until he’s here to find it out, sorry!)

Other happy, joyful things: Tim and I are enjoying home ownership, and are finally starting to feel “settled” after 2 years in our house. We have painted quite a few rooms and re-did the master bath over the summer. We have big plans for the kitchen and the main bathroom as well, but right now our energies and budget are more focused on Baby Time. Our house feels very cozy and just right for our little (growing!) family, and we’re enjoying that.

Tim is still gainfully employed, and with the recession and all that, believe us when we say we are extremely thankful for that Happy, Joyful Thing. We are also blessed that he is able to work from home sometimes, so Sam gets to see quite a bit of his dad.  As I mentioned before under crazy, I am working, too — and that’s been a Crazy, but Happy, Joyful Thing.

And, as I mentioned several times: Baby! He’s a Happy, Joyful Thing, for sure. He seems a little more laid-back and mellow than Sam seemed in the womb — this kid definitely kicks and wiggles (like the left side of my ribcage, which I think might be bruised, seriously) but he just seems more chill. Either that, or I’m just more busy this pregnancy and don’t have time to sit around clutching my belly, waiting for kicks. Probably both are true to a certain extent. But we’re very excited to meet him come February. We’re planning a home birth with a midwife, and we’re excited about that, too.

My cinnamon rolls are almost done rising, so this will have to do for now — have a blessed and happy Christmas and may your 2011 have more Happy, Joyful Things than Crap — and may you feel God’s love, presence, and provision through whatever 2011 brings.


Tim, Alissa, Sam, and Baby Boy Birkel


blogging is lame.

So, what’s new.

The baby in my belly is a boy.

I can’t sleep right now.

Sam is awesome and I love him.

I am a fallen yet redeemed creature who mostly struggles to get through each day. I am grumpy, mean, irritable, sleepy, hungry, tired, exhausted, self-centered, and I don’t suffer well.

But there is grace. Grace enough for me.

God loves me, in spite of and in my failings and shortcomings.

He gives me good gifts,  like my family and food and Sam and kicky baby boys. Gifts that I do not deserve.

I am loved. I know it’s crazy — I can hardly believe it myself — but I am loved.


Last night my mom and dad watched Sam (THANK YOU) all night so I could get some rest. I had so much fun at Bob and Sarah’s wedding (Hi Sarah!), dancing and hanging out with old, dear friends and laughing and talking until the wee hours of the morning and going to church in the morning but I was pretty much wiped out yesterday. I probably got 2 hours of sleep. So my mom and dad watched Sam another night so I could get some uninterrupted sleep. I slept okay, but insomnia is still not my friend. I went to sleep around 10:45 and slept until 12:45 when I had to get up to pee and then I couldn’t fall back asleep so at 3:30 I got up and took a hot bath and read a little of Birthing from Within. Some part of it are sort of strange and I don’t really see the point (like there is an entire section of the book devoted to making birth art, which sounds kind of fun I guess, but I don’t really see how that’s supposed to help me in labor) but other parts of it are great. I think it takes a more primal and realistic look at labor and birth. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “Labor is hard work, it hurts alot, and you can do it.” I felt sort of unprepared with Sam’s birth for how painful and difficult labor was at times (especially pushing…relaxing through contractions wasn’t bad, but pushing was terrifying). I appreciate the honesty there. Labor is hard work, it will probably hurt a lot…but, you can do it. I would appreciate the same kind of honesty regarding breastfeeding, too. Some books say that it won’t hurt if you’re doing it “right” but you know what? Sometimes it just hurts, and the only remedy is just sticking it out until your nipples toughen up.  But there is something very empowering and strong about sticking with something even when it is hard.

Anyway, then I had some Greek yogurt and went back to bed. I am in love with Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt. One cup has 24 grams of protein! That’s a significant portion of the protein that I need to eat while following on the Brewer Diet. Plus it’s yummy. And it’s probiotic.

Today I have been putting pre-pregnancy clothes in storage and getting all my maternity clothes out. I can’t believe how much sooner I started showing this time around.

I have also been reading about placenta encapsulation…this thread on MDC is especially interesting. I don’t think I would eat it raw (sorry, just a little weird, and I realize that’s saying something) but if I get a food dehydrator for Christmas or my birthday (that would be nice…) I would probably cut it in strips and dry it and grind it up and take it in capsule form. I had PPD with Sam and low milk supply and I have heard that consuming your placenta supposedly can help both.

I realize I am totally, totally strange. I am okay with that.

I have a prenatal appointment this afternoon with my WONDERFUL midwives. I’ll post how it went once I get back. I can’t believe I’m in the second trimester already.

goodnight, goodnight til then.

A beloved deacon from our church, Larry,  suffered a severe stroke and passed away. I knew him from the church I grew up in, and then from our current church. He was a true servant of the church, and he will be missed.

Matthew Smith has a song on his forthcoming album that I feel is appropriate. We do not die in Christ, we merely expire. It’s still hard, but it’s not forever. So, goodnight, Larry.We will meet again.

Goodnight” by Matthew Smith

I journey forth rejoicing
From this dark vale of tears
To heavenly joy and freedom
From earthly bonds and fears
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit–
Goodnight, goodnight till then

Why thus so sadly weeping
Beloved ones of my heart?
The Lord is good and gracious
Though now He bids us part
Oft have we met in gladness
And we shall meet again
All sorrow left behind us–
Goodnight, goodnight till then

I go to see His glory
Whom we have loved below
I go, the blessed angels
The holy saints to know.
Our lovely ones departed
I go to find again
And wait for you to join us–
Goodnight, goodnight till then

I hear the Savior calling–
The joyful hour has come
The angel-guards are ready
To guide me to our home
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit–
Goodnight, goodnight till then

18 months.

I don’t like the mama I am recently.

I am tired constantly and grumpy.

Sam is going through…something. Teething, maybe? Molars? Sleep regression? I don’t really know. He’s been waking up 4-5 (or more) times a night and not going to sleep until 9 or 10 at night, but waking up around the same time as he always does. Plus he is going through some kind of language explosion and all of that combined makes for some rough days.

He’s whiny. He’s figured out how to defeat all our baby gates — all of them! — so I can’t keep him contained anymore. He gets into everything, and as much as I try to create a “yes” environment, I find that I am saying NO about 567 billion times a day and I just feel exasperated and like I am a failure as a mother. He hits and throws stuff and pinches when he gets mad or frustrated, and we have tried everything to get him to stop. I have resorted to just putting him in his crib if he does any of that stuff for a “time out” but I don’t know that he’s getting the picture. Spanking doesn’t work. Redirection doesn’t work. I don’t feel like anything works.

I’m exhausted and even when Sam does sleep, I have insomnia that nothing helps. I might fall asleep pretty quickly initially but if Sam wakes up or I need to get up to go pee, I’m pretty much just awake for the rest of the night, usually from about midnight or 1 on.

I’m not being the mama I want to be right now. I want to be kind and patient and fun and happy. I just don’t know how to handle my own kid and he’s 18 months old. What am I going to do when he’s 3? Five? Fourteen?

Deep breath. One day at a time.

Pray for me, please. And pray for Sam. I forget sometimes that I should pray for Sam to be able to listen and obey me.

I think if I had an uninterrupted, no-insomnia 8 hours of sleep my perspective would be different.

Good things about 18 months:

He says “thank you” pretty consistently now. We’re still working on “please.” But “thank you” is really cute. 🙂

We went to the zoo last Friday and he thought it was pretty cool. He enjoyed petting the sharks, I think.

He’s still nursing, and even though it’s uncomfortable for me right now, I am glad.

He likes to pretend he’s drumming when we’re listening to music.

We talked about big boy beds, and watched videos on youtube about getting a big boy bed. He seemed interested, but we’ve gotta wait until this sleep regression/teething madness ends.

God knows and loves my little boy more than I do, He promises to do right by him. I just have to trust….


“What an utter denial it is of the whole of the New Testament, this foolish suggestion that one service a Sunday is enough, one that takes place at nine o’clock in the morning, to get rid of it, as it were, in order that you can then really go and enjoy yourselves and have real happiness in looking at the television or in rushing to the seaside or in playing golf!

But what happens when people are baptized with the Holy Spirit — as you read throughout Acts — is that they want to keep together, to get together as often as they can — they continued daily, steadfastly, talking about these things, singing together, praising God together. This was the thing that was first above everything else.  Everything else came second; even their work was something they had to do.  It was right that they should do their work, of course, but this was the thing that meant life to them, joy and salvation.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable (Wheaton, 1984), page 102.  Italics original, emphasis mine.

(HT: Christ is deeper still)

I really, really miss that. I’m not convinced when anyone tries to tell me it’s a station of life thing — like, in college, that kind of fellowship was easy, because we were in college and had very little in terms of actual responsibility, but now — now that we have houses and kids and marriages, well, fellowship just gets pushed to the back burner and there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe that’s true to a certain extent — it is more complicated to make time for fellowship — but I’m not crazy for thinking something is not right about a lack of fellowship. I’m not. And surely there are others out there — I hope! — who desire that kind of community as much as we do. Please, Lord…please.

Maybe we should just move back to Muncie.