Sep 29, 2013

SHE is here!!!

It's our JOY to introduce you to our DAUGHTER
Zianne Eileen Russum
Born September 21st, 2013
8lb. 13oz. // 22 inches

{*Pronounced like Leanne, but with a Z*}

Here are some glimpses of our first week together...

Sep 22, 2013

25 Ways to Encourage New Moms

Hi Arizona Russums Readers!
My name is Ashley and I am the wife and mom behind Pencilled Daydream.

I love writing and sharing our life through my blog…where you can expect to find my perspective on life as a wife, the ups and downs of mommy-hood, the Christian life, and my fun daydreams. I started a blog after having my first son Elias and have had so much fun sharing our journey. Now that I've had my second son, Owen, I’m in full-fledged mommy mode. Because Jen is jumping into full-fledged mommy mode too, I thought it would be fun to share 25 ways to encourage new moms. So many of my friends graciously helped me after having both of my boys and I can testify that it can really make the adjustment so much smoother. I hope this encourages your friends too!

25 Ways To Encourage A New Mom
1. Take her a meal. 
2. Listen to her. 
3. Don’t compare her kids to others. 
4. Fold her laundry. 
5. Tell her what a great mom she is. 
6. Don’t act like she should have all of the answers. Remind her that where she is weak, Jesus is strong. 
7. Support her in following her husband’s leadership. Each man has different ways of leading his family. 
8. If you feel the need to ask about how much sleep she had last night… ask something like: “Did you get more than a minute of sleep last night?” This will make her feel better about the fact that she only got twenty minutes of sleep all night long. 
9. Babysit for her. Let her take a nap or have a few minutes to shower alone. 
10. Clean her house. Put the dishes away. Vacuum. etc.. 
11. Bring her a fun little surprise. Coffee, cupcakes, cookies, candy…what does she like? Bring it to her.
12. Promise her that she will be able to go to the movies again one day. 
13. Tell her how great she looks for having just had a baby. 
14. Leave when the baby goes down for a nap. She needs a nap too. 
15. Bring a gift for her and the baby. 
16. Promise her that she will get out of the house someday soon. 
17. Promise her that she will sleep again. 
18. Don’t tell your stories about how your baby was the perfect sleeper, never fussed, and always cuddled. 
19. Only visit when it is convenient for mama and baby. 
20. Send her a little card of encouragement. 
21. Call and ask if she needs anything from the store. 
22. Pray for her. 
23. Don’t expect her to fulfill her normal social obligations. She needs time to adjust to her new life with a baby.
24. Make yourself available for her to ask you questions. 
25. Tell her that she is the perfect mother for this baby! God has fully equipped her to care for this little one.

Thanks for reading!

Sep 19, 2013

Flowers Fade Friday: Fully Equipped

Have you ever wondered how the disciples transformed from a bunch of blubbering idiots arguing over who would be the greatest in heaven to the mighty men who preached the gospel in the face of enemies, started the early church, and were willing to be martyred for Jesus' name.

It's kind of weird, right?


On the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied knowing Christ three times. Over the next few years, he would basically start the church as we know it today and would boldly preach the risen Messiah to scores of Jews. Later, he would be martyred for his allegiance to the Lord.

James and John asked Jesus if they could sit in places of honor on his right and left when He came into his glorious kingdom {which they thought would be an earthly kingdom free of Roman power and influence}. They were full of pride and short-sighted when they imagined all that Jesus would do for the world. In the book of Acts, we learn that James was one of the first martyrs of the early church {Acts 12:2}. John would go on to be the last surviving apostle, writing five books of the New Testament, including the prophesy of Revelation, which he recorded when banished for his faith.

And these are the guys in Jesus' innermost circle, who had the most intimate view of Christ's deity {aka they watched the Transfiguration take place}. Imagine how confused the rest of the disciples must have been... like Thomas, who refused to believe Christ had risen unless he could actually touch his wounds. 

And I don't think you can make the claim that once they saw the risen Christ walking around, the disciples suddenly became talented preachers and fearless evangelists. Because they had already seen many amazing acts of God and were still confused. Think about it... they had watched Jesus walk on water and calm a storm. They had seen people healed of blindness, paralysis and leprosy. They had watched Lazarus be raised from the dead. In fact, they had even ventured out and performed miracles on their own. They were no strangers to the power of God through Christ.

So what made ten men who fled from Jesus when he was arrested in the garden that night {and one who followed at a timid distance} suddenly "get it" after Jesus ascended to heaven? I used to wonder this same thing. Was it just the grace of God? The work of the Holy Spirit? It didn't really make sense, but I guess it doesn't have to make "sense" in my mind for it to be true.

But one day I was finishing the book of Luke and a few verses jumped out from the page at me. And suddenly everything about the disciples' transition from confused, cowardly and self-consumed men to clear-minded, bold, servants of Christ made sense. The verses are easy to miss. I had apparently missed them for years.

In the middle of all the action at the end of Luke, after Christ has been brutally beaten and crucified, the temple curtain has been torn, he has been laid in the tomb, his tomb is found empty, he appears to the disciples and many others, and he finally ascends to the right hand of God in heaven, something else very important happens...

On the same day his tomb is found empty, Jesus greets two of his followers on the road. They don't recognize him. Instead they fill him in on all the turbulent happenings around the city and their disappointment that Jesus didn't turn out to be the ruler they thought he would be. Jesus responds with "“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" {Luke 24:25}. And then, "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" {v.27}. Talk about the Bible study of all Bible studies. Jesus, still unrecognized by these men, says "let me explain everything that has happened and why..." and then he recounts God's salvation story written throughout all of Scripture from the promise in Genesis that a son of Eve will crush Satan to the promise of the Psalms that an eternal king will come after David.

Later that night, Jesus appears to the eleven disciples at dinner. They are startled and think he is a ghost. But he says to them, "everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (v.44), and he goes on to open "their minds to understand the Scriptures" {v.45}. Only after the disciples truly understand the Word of God and how Jesus has fulfilled every promise and prophesy of Scripture are they able to preach "repentance and forgiveness of all nations" {v.47}.

The Word of God matters. We are never fully equipped to do ministry unless we know and understand and love and obey God's Word. 

No amount of prayer will do it. Our fellowship with other believers is not enough. No amount of works and miracles and faith will make us ready to share God's word and love His people. The disciples are the best evidence of this. They walked alongside Jesus for three years. They witnessed every miracle and even did some on their own. No one had a clearer example of Christ's heart for the world. And yet they still didn't get it... because they didn't really understand God's Word and how Christ was central to God's plan for salvation.

When Jesus was raised from the dead, he didn't rush out to do more miracles. He didn't put himself on display in the city in front of thousands. He didn't hold a huge prayer meeting or worship night. No. He preached God's Word to a few handfuls of men and sent them out into the world. And look at the result... look at the centuries of faithful men and women who love Christ and make up His Church.

So the next time you want to delve into some ministry or do something great for the Lord... before you host prayer nights and worship festivals and perform healings and plan service projects {these can all be good things, don't get me wrong}, stop and make sure you have your priorities straight. Are you filled up with the Word? Do you know God's character? Are you assured by His promises? Is your identity hidden in the Christ revealed in Scripture? Does your heart love and obey what God commands? Because if the answer is no, I urge you to spend time in the Bible. Dwell there. Meditate. Listen. Obey. And when God's Word saturates your heart and your life, then go...

...and do all those things God has prepared in advance for you to do.

You are never fully equipped to do God's works until you are transformed by His Word.

Sep 16, 2013

You Know You're REALLY Pregnant When...

Your professor ends class by saying "See you next week" and your classmates then line up on their way out the door to say they hope to NOT see you next week.

The most commonly used verb people use when talking to you is "pop."

"Ready" has suddenly become a four syllable word, as in "You look rrrrrrrrreeeeeaady."

You walk into a restaurant for brunch and you literally hear the silence as people halt their conversation to watch you waddle to your table.

You wear the same three outfits all the time.

And on the day you decide to really step it up and squeeze yourself into a fourth outfit that you haven't worn in weeks, you then proceed to spill your lunch. A piece of marinara pasta misses your mouth {which you've learned is a common third trimester symptom}, bounces off your bump and lands on your thigh, which then means you have to change your whole outfit... and you thought multiple clothing changes per day only happened after the baby arrives.

Your husband wakes up to your tossing, turning and bathroom traveling at least once a night and asks you if you are having contractions. The answer is always no. You are just trying to be a human being that sleeps during the night, and it's not going well for you.

You sometimes get so hot and uncomfortable in the middle of the night that you have to get up and sleep on the couch in the living room.

When you discuss this sleeping problem with the secretary at your work, she suddenly pulls a spare fan from under her desk and insists that you borrow it. You then walk around the nation's largest university in 100 degrees carrying a fan under your arm and a huge baby in your abdomen.

People ask if you can still drive. Uh... yes?

When the plumber comes to your house for the second repair of the summer, he is shocked and asks "You're still pregnant?!"

You got your pre-pregnancy highlights and pedicure and paid a housekeeper to scrub your house. You now have roots, need to trim your nails, and your bathrooms need to be cleaned.

As you limp out of your doctor's office due to extreme hip pain, she asks you, seriously, if you would like a walker or a wheelchair.

The cute little question "when are you due?" is now answered with "last week."

*All joking aside, I am very happy and thankful to be 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I always thought this baby would be "late" and I know overall my pregnancy has been so blessed and relatively easy. I am holding out on inducing until it's deemed medically necessary for safety reasons, and overall I am savoring my final days with Baby Russum in the womb. It's just that the comments and incidents that happen at 40+ weeks are hilarious and I had to share! :)

Sep 15, 2013

Finished for now... {peeks of our new home}

One of the biggest adventures of the summer was the fact that we bought our first house during my 28th week of pregnancy. Hello third trimester. Hello 115 degree days. Hello empty house. Hello boxes. Hello summer traveling plans. Let's just say life has been pretty crazy since we signed the zillion pages to buy our home on June 24th.

I think one of the main sources of my pregnancy insomnia these past six weeks or so was the anxiety I felt about living in an unfinished house. I know that's silly, but I imagined bringing the baby home to boxes upon boxes and tripping over the things in the messy nursery. Everyone tried to console me by saying "it would get done" and that I would "have so much time when the baby naps" during those first few weeks, but those assurances didn't help. Partially, because I just wanted to have everything done before the baby's arrival and also because I knew those promises were not true. Unlike most moms who stay at home full-time or at least get a maternity leave when their baby arrives, my life is just the opposite. I actually went back to work/school on the day I hit full term. Thankfully, I am teaching fully online and I am taking only one grad course {my last one EVER!}, but it's still a lot to handle during this huge transition. When I randomly go MIA for a week in September, my students have been instructed to just keep working the best they can and I will re-emerge to answer questions as soon as possible. When my baby is napping those first few weeks, I am going to be busy figuring out how one finishes a PhD and raises an infant at the same time.

So the past month and a half of my life {after the season where we just dumped all the boxes in our new place and then went on vacation for two weeks} has looked like... baby/school/students/house... baby/school/students/house... Every day I juggle the most random activities...buying a crib {we didn't even get ours until I was 35 weeks}, washing baby clothes, hanging pictures, organizing closets, writing a syllabus or two, setting up online classes, reading about ESL education, emailing students, installing car seats, and going to labor and breastfeeding classes. It's been crazy.

But we've made so much progress! I say "we" because Micah has helped here and there, as much as he can with a full time job {and our yard is a disaster, so that's one of his big projects right now}, and my parents have been life-savers this summer. They just moved to Phoenix from Seattle, and they have come over multiple times for "work days" where they just help me with projects around the house. My mom alphabetizes books and vacuums, while my dad sets up baby gear and hangs curtain rods, and I am forever grateful.

So I'm now at a happy place that I'm calling "finished for now." Our little house is becoming a home. And even though I have tons of projects I want to do in the future, I finally feel like it is just organized and decorated enough to be a comfortable haven for my newborn and me. I know we will spending a lot of time inside over the next few weeks, and, thankfully, the inside of my home has evolved into a place that feels welcoming and peaceful. Here are some glimpses of our new place..

Dining room || Gallery wall complete and curtains hung

Foyer || Refurbished entry table courtesy of a sweet girl on Craigslist who is better with chalk paint than I am!

White kitchen || I love you, but you sure do need a window treatment of some sort...

Living room || I've kept these plants alive for a month. Shout it from the rooftops!

Master bath || Mason jars from @thisandthatetc on Instagram. They only sell locally in the Phoenix area. Sorry!

Master bedroom || New upholstered headboard, new quilt, new throw pillows, new everything!

Master bedroom || Eventually that giant gold frame will hang on the wall next to a picture of our baby!

It feels good to be FINISHED FOR NOW...

|Linking up with W+P|

Sep 13, 2013

Flowers Fade Friday: BIRTHday

Yesterday was my birthday. It was also my baby's due date. And here I sit, at 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant, with a huge bump in front of me. This baby is quite comfy in the womb.

And you know what? That's perfectly fine with me.

As much as I would have loved to share a birthday with my child, I never expected it to happen. Both my mom and Micah's mom had all their babies "late" and I didn't expect my experience to be any different, especially since I've had no complications throughout my pregnancy and no signs that this baby wanted to arrive early.

A few years ago, one of my friends wrote a blog post, as she was awaiting the arrival of her firstborn. The question she was pondering... "can a baby really be born late?" At the time, I was a newlywed, not thinking about pregnancy at all {unless you count "gosh, I hope I don't get pregnant any time soon..."}, but the post settled in my mind and spoke to my heart. God ordains birthdays. He's known forever when Baby Russum would be born. And it will be in His perfect timing.

I find so much peace in that. Don't get me wrong. I am hoping this little baby comes naturally sometime in the next week. If I go into labor before next Friday, I can avoid all discussions and decisions about inducing, which is something I really want to avoid. Of course, I will do whatever is healthiest for our child, but if he or she wants to emerge before I even have to start praying about things and weighing the risks of inducing versus the health of my placenta, I would be very grateful.

But for now, I am content. Oh so content. I know God has a plan. He created this child. He has ordained its birthday. He knows if it is a little girl or a little boy. He knows all the ways this person will bring grace and goodness to our family. And He knows all the ways this child will bring glory to His name. I am so excited to see God's glory unfold in this new life. But until then I am savoring my last few days with my firstborn in my womb. This season is fleeting, and it has been so very sacred...

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16

Sep 10, 2013

Creating a Gender Neutral Nursery {and a sneak peek!}

{Update... the nursery is now finished with girly flair. See the final product HERE!}

One of the first things people ask me when they discover we did not find out Baby Russum's gender is how I shop for anything or what I've bought for the baby. These questions range from "What type of clothes did you buy?" "How are you decorating the nursery?" "How did people shop for your shower?" "What was your baby shower like?"

A few things to know... our baby does have clothes. I do not think he or she will have to go naked at any point after the initial emergence into the world, unless it's still 110 degrees outside and it's for reasons of comfort. Because sometimes our house gets really hot and we're all tempted to hang out naked around here. I did have quite a few baby showers and they were all beautiful despite the fact that they were not predominantly pink or blue themed. And we happen to need quite a few things for this baby - sheets, thermometers, diapers, play mats, bath tubs, bottles, pacifiers, etc. - as this is our first child, so it wasn't a huge concern that people weren't able to buy us lots of clothes. In fact, we intentionally didn't register for anything other than plain white onesies in newborn and 0-3 month sizes.

And the truth of the matter is... one of things I loved about not finding out the gender was not being able to shop. I'm sure if I would have known the baby's sex, I would have gone crazy and bought out half of Etsy by now. Not knowing has saved us money for sure. No doubt I will make some fun purchases once the mystery is revealed, but in the long run not knowing has been a fun and smart way to avoid over-consuming for our new little human.

However, the nursery was a little tough to envision without knowing if the baby is a boy or a girl. Although I can tolerate a duck towel and an elephant onesie, I'm not really big on "gender neutral" themes. I don't want my baby to live in yellow and green clothing, and I think jungle and safari themed things look boy-ish, even though we try to pretend they are neutral. If Baby Russum is a boy, he's going to be a manly-man all the way. The nursery will be blue and green with a focus on adventure and daring. I don't even know what this will include yet, but judging by his dad, I would guess surfing, flying, sports, lions and sharks, motorcycles, and guns might all be possibilities. Is it inappropriate to decorate your child's nursery with hunting paraphernalia? And if Baby Russum is a girl, she will wear pink... all the time. She might also mimic her mama's style by adding some gold, lace, and leopard print in the mix. And her nursery will be just the same... feminine and floral and pink and peach with all things girly-girl on every wall and shelf. Call me old-fashioned but that's just the way it's going to be.

But I couldn't feasibly not decorate the nursery at all as I wait to find out more details on our baby's anatomy, so instead of caving and decorating with yellow or green, I decided to create the most neutral base I could, using my favorite palette of white and gray. My plan is to splash the whole room with boy or girl accents when the time comes.

Here are the gender neutral details... All the furniture is white. The walls are light gray and there are darker gray accents throughout the room, including the stencil wall from hell that took me three weeks, two paint rollers and one scary tumble from a chair to complete. I got three sets of gray and white crib sheets, one with polka dots, one chevron, and one with a geometric design. I have white frames that will be hung on the walls at a later date. The books and toys are the most gender neutral items in the room, and I love seeing them out, waiting to be enjoyed by our child.

Here's a sneak peek of the room so far. Seriously, gray IS my favorite color...

This is the unfinished portion of the room. I have already ordered a new cushion for our glider from a shop on Etsy and I'm in her queue, but since it won't be made until we find out the gender, we can pick a masculine or feminine fabric when the time comes. Also, the smaller rocking chair in an antique, circa 1905, given to me by my great-grandmother. It's in good but not mint condition. I'm debating painting it white, but I know every antique lover out there would kill me if I did.

This is what I plan to buy in either blue/green tones or pink/peach tones after the baby arrives: window treatment, crib mobile, wall art, a blanket, a throw pillow for the gilder, a rug, and a changing pad cover.

I might regret it later when I'm shopping online in my sleep-deprived state, but I think this is a really fun way to build a nursery that is NOT gender neutral while still getting to be surprised by the baby's gender at delivery. I'll share more pictures after the nursery is finished in all it's boy or girl glory. {See finished room HERE!}

Wall stencil {also here}
Book shelf
Changing pad
Turtle night light
Diaper Pail

Sep 9, 2013

39 weeks

Although I doubted it would happen, I somehow found myself taking 39 week bump pictures. After waddling around all week in running shorts and a tank top, last Friday I put on a dress to compliment my freshly highlighted hair and busted out the camera. Although I'm expecting this little babe to come past its due date, I figured I might as well take photos at 39 weeks, just in case I don't make it to 40.

On this same day, I completely finished the nursery... for now. I realized I just don't need to deal with some things {such as adding random attachments to our stroller} until this baby actually arrives, so I sorted the final lingering piles into drawers, stuffed a few boxes in the closet, and I'm calling it done. Further decorating and sorting will take place when the baby is napping. I plan to show some sneak peaks of the baby's room later this week. But while I was in the nursery taking photos for the blog/baby book, I had some fun taking pictures of the 39 week bump, by messing around with the baby's mirror, natural light and a dark bedroom. Then I convinced myself to go outside in the 108 degree heat and snap a few more photos.

I don't know if a 39 week pregnant woman has ever felt more accomplished...

|Linking up with Baby Talk|
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