EMK | One Month

Ellis is one month old today.  Hard to believe how quickly time has passed. Mama is feeling well and is even starting to run again. As of yesterday, Ellis is starting to loose the hair on the top of his head. He now resembles more of an old man than a newborn. One month in, and Ellis is still a pretty chill little dude. Some unofficial stats on EMK as of 7/4/2015:

Weight: 12 lbs (~3 lbs increase since birth)
Length: 23 inches (~2″ increase since birth)
Head circumference: 16 inches (~2″ increase since birth)
All stats put him in the 93 percentile or higher.
Likes: Being outside, listening to sister NRK read, babybjorn carrier
Dislikes: Being in a non-moving carseat, 8-9:30 pm, wet diapers
Current activities: Eating (breastfeeding going well), peeing/pooping, sleeping – repeat.

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Photo shoot attempt number one. Tired kid and poor lighting but still adorable.


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Second photo shoot. Much better; babe still adorable.


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Can’t wait until he can smile intentionally. I don’t think he’s too far off.

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We love you EMK!

EMK | Meeting Family

On Saturday, Grandma and Grandpa Wiley came for a visit and were able to meet Ellis. Here are some photos from the afternoon they spent with us.

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Current grandkid count: TWO!

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“Norah, give me your silliest face!”

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Three weeks in. Our first family photo of all four of us. Ellis is going to fit in just fine with our family.

We are looking forward to more visits from family in the coming weeks. Please come see us!

Ellis Marus | One Week

Ellis is a week old. How has a week passed so quickly?! I’m already dreading Monday when Marshall goes back to work. While we are tired and have our moments of frustration with (or at) each other, I have enjoyed spending the last seven days getting to know Ellis with Marshall. 

We had our appointment with our family doctor this morning. Ellis weighed in at 9 lbs, 11.6 oz. This is 8 oz more than his birth weight – a huge bragging point for a breastfeeding mama! He is healthy and well with no concerns at this point. He’ll go back at two months and will start his vaccination schedule. I’m reminded again to be thankful for our (PA-C) doctor. She’s absolutely wonderful.

We have been able to get some decent sleep the last couple of nights. I desperately needed it. For the most part, Ellis seems to have a calm demeanor. His only real “witching hour” right now is from about 11:30pm – 12:30am. But after we have been able to get him to sleep, we’ve had 2-3 two hour chunks of sleep. Last night, they increased to three hour periods of sleep. I’ll take it!

I’m feeling well. So well, that I think I overdid it a bit yesterday and am warding off some uterine pains with meds today. It’s hard to sit still when there are things I want to get done, but alas, today I’m forcing myself to lay low and watch a movie.

EMK – we love you so much already. This time at home with you is going to go so fast. I want to cherish every moment. 

Ellis Marus | Birth Story

Sarah had her weekly appointment with the midwives scheduled for Thursday, June 4 at 10:30am. I had not been going with her to those appointments recently, but we decided that I should be with her at this one since we assumed it would likely be the last check-up she had before Ellis was born. That decision turned out to be right one. 

As pregnant women do, Sarah had to go to the bathroom as soon as we got out of the car. We stopped at the first bathroom we found on our way into the midwives office. When she came out of the bathroom, Sarah looked at me sort of quizzically and said “I think my water just broke?” How serendipitous.

We walked to the office and checked in, telling them that we thought her water had literally just broken on our way in. The receptionist checked us in excitedly and got us back into the room where we’d have our appointment. Then we sat there for half and hour waiting for the midwife to see us. Pregnancy and delivery are both a lot like that: excitement, anticipation, but mostly just a lot of sitting around and waiting.

The midwife confirmed that Sarah’s water had indeed broken, but only in part. Sarah was four centimeters dilated. They put Sarah on the monitors to check her contractions and Ellis’ heartbeat. Everything was looking good. The midwife said “we’re having a baby today!” but then told us to go home. So we did. We fed the cats, packed our hospital bag, ate some food, and said a prayer together. Somewhere in all of that, I called Norah’s day camp and told her that we were probably going to have Ellis today and wouldn’t be picking her up. She requested “Lisa Chipps, please!” when I asked which of our friends she wanted to stay with while we were at the hospital. I’m fairly confident that her preference for the Chipps’ had something to do with the fact that they have a dog, a cat, a hedgehog, AND a seven year old daughter for Norah to play with. For her part, Lisa stepped up huge and went out of her way to make it so that Norah could appropriately take a back seat in our minds for the rest of the day. And if it hadn’t been her, we were lucky to have other friends who were fully prepared to do the same for us. Having good and selfless people in your lives matters a whole bunch, y’all.

Sarah and I arrived back to the hospital at around 2:30pm. We got checked in and settled into our delivery room. For the next couple of hours, we mostly just sat there. Ellis wasn’t doing much and Sarah’s contractions were relatively mild. The nurse and midwife thought that the labor process might be helped along if Sarah were to receive some IV fluids to increase her hydration levels. As is usually the case, the professionals were correct. 

The process started to really pick up around 5 or 5:30pm. Sarah’s contractions became stronger and she spent some time in the jacuzzi. After about 45 minutes in the water, she got out and walked a few laps around the delivery ward. She stopped with each contraction as it came and either squatted down or leaned over to help Ellis move into the necessary position. She cried a little. She said once or twice that she didn’t want to do what the midwife was telling her to do. But she kept going. 

Sometime around 6:45pm, Sarah said that she needed to stop walking and go back to the room. She said she thought we were close. 

Ellis was born at 7:16pm. The half hour between between 6:45pm and his announced birth time was predictably intense. I did what I could do to encourage and support her, but all credit and praise for how Ellis came into this world falls squarely on Sarah. She focused her mind, controlled her body, and pushed out a 9lb 2oz baby in just six minutes. She did it all without fear or apprehension, and most impressively without any medical intervention to mitigate the pain. 

Colloquially speaking, Sarah handled her shit like a boss. As with Norah, I cried when Ellis was born. But the tears were not so much tears of joy as they were tears of awe and pride at the work done by my wife. There will never be anything more impressive to me than what I saw her do to bring our children into this world.

Regarding the name:

Ellis means “the Lord is my God”. We hope it’s a name that gives him continual purpose and a commitment to the Truth in this life.

Marus (mare-us) is a family name that connects Ellis to the men who have come before him on my dad’s side of the family. 

Everyone is healthy and well.

For Norah

A public apology to NRK when she’s older and looking back at baby photos. EMK has already surpassed the number of newborn photos, I think. Two things we didn’t have at the time of your birth, Nor: iPhones and a really nice camera. But alas, we were so in love with you… And always will be.

This moment brought to you by technology – stealer of money and holder of memories.

Merry Christmas

Tonight we attempted a funny family photo. There was some yelling, swearing, and a bunch of blurry photos. So instead, here is this adorbs photo of Norah from Thanksgiving in Iowa and our Christmas letter.

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Friends and Family,

As this year draws to a close, it seems appropriate to appreciatively reflect upon our experiences. This has been a good year for us. It has been a year of growth in all areas of our lives, and we are fortunate to say that the challenges and struggles of the past year have been relatively mild.

We moved into a new apartment at the beginning of the year and have enjoyed the new space quite a bit. Our place is centrally located with fairly short commute times for work, and in one of the better school districts that Omaha has to offer. The school aspect has been important to us since Norah began kindergarten in August. That she is now a school-aged little girl is all at once surreal, terrifying, exciting, and awe-inspiring. There are days when we’d prefer that she stay young and dependent on us in the ways that she used to be. Then there are also the times when she sits down and does something like reading an entire book (including the big words) without any help, and all we can do is grin like proud idiots at the seemingly endless ways she manifests her unique potential.

While I can’t pinpoint the exact moment for certain, it’s likely that it was in one of those moments of parental pride, intoxicated by the reward of having an utterly awesome kindergartner, that we decided this year to try to have another kid. I’ll spare you the totally-sexy-and-high-five-worthy details of that process, but suffice to say that it worked and we are expecting our second child in June 2015. We’ll find out what we’re having in mid-January. As we did with Norah, we do not plan to share that information with the rest of the world until the kid is actually born. That’s just how we roll.

Aside from creating the miracle of life, one of the highlights of the past year was a trip that Sarah and I took in June to New Hampshire. It was our first time being back east since we moved to Omaha, and we took advantage of our Midwestern family to leave Norah in Iowa while we made the trip. Seeing so many friends who welcomed us back so warmly made for an amazing week. Lunches were purchased. A wedding occurred. Late night conversations were routine. Tattoos were marked in our skin. And I peed in the ocean while standing on a rocky outcropping being barraged by waves. For as much as I can say about the Midwest being our home and essential foundation, New Hampshire will always be a place of comfort and belonging for our family.

I continue to enjoy my work at Creighton University where I am responsible for holding students accountable for their behavioral misconduct. Sarah recently switched jobs at the University of Nebraska Omaha. She went from working as the office administrator in University Communications to now working as the assignments coordinator in University Housing. Having worked in residence life in New Hampshire, she was excited to get back into that type of work at UNO. She has only been in the new position for a few weeks at this point, but all signs point to the change being a good one for her and our family.

We look forward to the coming year and everything it has to offer. Whatever lies in store for our family – whether good or bad, comfortable or difficult – we trust that 2015 will be every bit the blessing that 2014 has been. We are privileged by our Creator and by our circumstances to have very little need, but we ask that you pray for us anyway as we will continue to pray and wish well for you, our brothers and sisters in this life.

Merry Christmas.

Stay Gold,

Marshall, Sarah, Norah, and the Fetus

Trip to the Orchard

During our budget challenge month, I bought a Living Social deal to Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard in Council Bluffs, IA.  This was our first trip to the orchard, and I was pleasantly surprised.  We could not have asked for better weather.

Sorry New England, this place has THE best apple cider donuts I have ever tasted. We each had two, and then bought some more on our way out for breakfast tomorrow.
I don’t drool over donuts, much, but these? YUM.

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We brought our nice camera, and I decided to practice some of the material I learned in my first photography class. NRK loved the corn box.

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imageTractor ride out to the pumpkin patch. We came away with two nice pumpkins.

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A woman with our pumpkin patch group insisted on taking a family picture of us.

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Ended our morning with a walk through the corn maze.

Ditmars was a wonderful place to visit. Thankful I bought that deal, the warm sunshine, spending time together as a family, and definitely those apple cider donuts.  Note to self: plan a trip to this place next year during apple season.

Budget Challenge | Over!

I would describe the last week of our challenge was meh. Did we end the way I would have liked us to? Not really. We spent money on some things that do not fit into the challenge. I purchased a Groupon to a local art museum, and by doing so, was able to purchase a discounted photography class for the month of October. Did I need buy those things? Nope. Am I really looking forward to taking a photography class? Heck yes! Marshall purchased half a recliner. The other portion was an early Christmas gift from his mom. Did we need that recliner? That depends on who you ask. I say no, MK would probably say absolutely. And I have to admit, it came in handy this weekend when NRK fell asleep in it while she was sick.

But there is good news! While we spent more money this month than the goal amount we had set for ourselves, I’m happy to say, I AM SCHOOL LOAN DEBT FREE! Feels so good to be able to say that. Marshall has one school loan left. We are in no rush to pay off this loan as it will be forgiven in a few years (as long as we maintain our payments). Happy dance.

Now, on to building our savings back up for a car. The joys of adulthood. But really, I do count the ability to pay off our student loans so quickly a very big blessing!

Budget Challenge | Week 3

Week three was much better than week two. We spent the most money on groceries, and we made a big improvement on limiting our eating out.

Here is how week three breaks down:

  • $8.80 on a pumpkin candle (Cartwheel), hand soap (clearance), and a lunch bag for NRK (clearance).
  • $10.20 on a Living Social deal – two adults, two kid activity wristbands, half-dozen donuts, and two apple cider slushies at a nearby orchard/vineyard (had a discount code).
  • $14.88 on eating out. 75% on Dunkin Donuts and one lunch for MK. A big thanks to my parents who took us out for lunch on Saturday.
  • $17.24 on a cat leash and a bag of treats (sale and Cartwheel). I have zero regrets about the $14.99 cat harness/leash. Ha!
  • $33.85 on gas.
  • $140.76* on groceries ($15.58 of this was spent on items for sundaes; the items purchased at Target were on sale and on Cartwheel**).
  • TOTAL: $225.33; GRAND TOTAL: $788.93, about 99% of our budget.

So, clearly we will be over our budget challenge goal of $800.  But I’m still feeling pretty decent about our first crack at this.  Writing this blog and having the budget tracker app on my phone has really helped to keep me accountable.

*I wanted to note we do utilize the fuel savor program at Hy-Vee. While it’s not always smart to buy everything on fuel saver, I do believe it has helped us to save money on gas by buying items we would normally buy anyways. If you shop at Hy-Vee, and you haven’t signed up for fuel saver, I highly encourage you to do so. This month, we have purchased all of our gas from Costco.

**I also wanted to note how much I love Cartwheel.  While I do get suckered into buying items I don’t always need, it does save us money on groceries/clothes that we would normally buy. This week I was able to buy a carton of organic eggs for almost under $2 (on sale, plus coupon, plus Cartwheel).  Worth checking out, too!

On to our last week for this budget challenge! Can’t wait to say goodbye to you, student loan!

Budget Challenge | Week 2 – Finally done!

Ouch.  Week two was more difficult than week one.  Rule number three of the budget challenge states that medical expenses will not be included.  Good thing(!) as we’ve had some unexpected fees.  Regardless, I think we are doing okay.  We ate out a lot more this week.  Hoping we got that itch out of our system, and we can make it through this week without any eating out excursions.  The weather also drastically changed, and we realized NRK had one pair of pants.  Whoops.  So we spent a good chuck of money stocking up on some warmer clothing for her and a pair of boots for me.

Here’s how the second week breaks down:

  • $3.92 on a pair of clearance earrings and a nail polish for NRK.
  • $9.99 on a box of kitty litter (even cheaper than I found last week).
  • $28.65 on gas.
  • $32.95 on a pair of boots and a scarf for me (clearance).
  • $33.77 on the barbershop for MK and some hair product for me. I miss the days of cutting MK’s hair for free.
  • $39.65 on trash bags (bulk), body soap (bulk), and a sheet for our bed (sale + coupon).
  • $52.07 on groceries.
  • $60.47 on clothes for NRK.
  • $65.22 on eating out. Gulp – our biggest expense for week two. What a waste.
  • TOTAL: $326.62; GRAND TOTAL: $563.60, about 70% of our budget

Hoping this is a no spend week so we can come close to our goal at the close of this month.  Here we go week three!

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