Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fleeting Moments

I’m obsessive. I obsess about pretty much everything in my day to day life. I obsess over how much I obsess. As I write this, I’m thinking I should probably have my head examined, but there’s no time for that- I’ve got too much else to do. I could probably be safely labeled as an extreme over-thinker. I can’t go to sleep at night without knowing all the doors have been locked, my lunch has been packed, Holly’s outfit is picked out, my outfit is picked out, all of the stuff is ready for the sitter, there’s no laundry in the machine, the dog’s been taken out…and the list goes on. I thrive on “doing”.  As far as I know, I’ve always been like this- it’s just gotten worse as the years go by. (We’re talking- I used to organize the groceries in the cart when shopping with my mama, what kid does that?) I can’t relax until I know everything’s been done- something that drives my poor husband crazy. My day to day is structured, timed, and routine. I like order. I like control. I am bossy and I am organized. I like it that way- most of the time. However, there are moments when I break free and my mind is allowed to rest. Tonight was one of those precious moments. After a trying day, I was putting my precious baby girl to bed. She was feeling especially cuddly tonight, and after we said our prayers, I just sat and rocked her longer than my normally timed-to-the-minute self would typically allow. She just kept touching my face with her sweet little hand and staring me right in the eyes. It was like she was saying to me, “Mama, I know you are stressed. I can see it. But, you’re doing alright. I love you. Relax.” (I sort of felt like I was in that Johnson & Johnson commercial where the baby “talks” to his mom) That sweet little five month old girl spoke more to my heart with her tiny hand and eyes than any words could ever do. She reminded me that life doesn’t have to be robotic, and that we need to savor all of our moments, good, bad, stressful, organized, and unorganized- soak them all in because before we know it, the moment will just pass us by. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Tomorrow is Friday…thank goodness. This seems like it has been the longest week. Today, I was so relieved to finally see some sunshine and feel some warmer temperatures! Tomorrow it is supposed to be just as sunny and warmer, and that trend continues into the weekend. Horray! To celebrate and fully enjoy this weekend I'm going to spend my time "unplugged". I have been feeling lately, that I have been way too connected to my devices. I find myself checking Instagram, Facebook, blogs, etc. mindlessly in my down time. So, I want to divorce my devices this weekend and enjoy time spent with my family. My husband is taking the day off on Saturday and we are just going to enjoy being with our daughter soaking up the warm spring weather. I am looking forward to being released from the distraction of social media so that I can better focus on life right in front of me.

I'm also excited to get to wear a springy outfit tomorrow. Loving the fact that I can break out these fun printed pants and a tee from Loft. I am currently obsessed with Loft's sunwashed tees; I've bought three so far and it's probably not stopping there.

For now, I'm signing off and unplugging, see you back next week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quick Post on a Quick DIY

Happy Tuesday! It has been snowing/icing/etc. off and on here for two days and we are so. over. it. I am ready for some spring weather. When it turned cold on Sunday, I decided to whip out some craft supplies and give my front door wreath a little makeover. I consulted good ole' Pinterest and landed on a simple wreath design that would use things I already had. So, today I'll share with you my quick DIY wreath.

For this project you'll need: scissors, a wreath form (in the tutorial I saw, they just bent a hanger into a circle), fabric cut into strips, and ribbon for hanging. Here's how it goes:

I started out with a bunch of leftover fabric from various projects. If you didn't have any, a lot of times, fabric stores have a scrap bin that you can grab good sizes scraps for about $1.

Cut the fabrics into strips. It doesn't have to be perfect or even the exact same size. Just eyeball it.

Simply tie the fabric on to your wreath form. One tie will suffice. This process actually goes much quicker than you would think. It took me about 20 minutes to do the whole wreath. 

The finished product!

The whole thing probably took me an hour including little breaks to make sure Holly had her paci and her toy hadn't fallen too far out of reach. It was super simple, which I like. And- nothing had to be exact - good for people like me who get tired of meticulously putting something together. Will I love this wreath forever? Nope. But, it is a nice change for now and it was free! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Following Up

Thank you to everyone for your kind words about our last post on our journey into parenthood! We pray that our story encourages you in whatever trials you may be facing. Up next, is a little something I wrote as a follow up to our story. It's a reflection, if you will, of how we've changed along this journey.

"And We Will Never be the Same"

Often times I reflect on how our lives have molded and have changed after loosing our first two babies. I think a lot about how I am just not the same person. With the loss of each of our first two children, a small piece of me seemed to fade away too. I think on how I used to be more care free, more energetic, and overall more joyful. Trying for so long to have a baby wears you down and you’re not so care free, instead you’re more regimented and seemingly bogged down. But- in and through that- I’ve learned that time is precious. Now, I try to never waste moments with our precious miracle baby. And, although, I do think I used to be more spirited and filled with more joy- it was different. Now, I know a very different type of joy. It’s an authentic joy that truly only stems from the Lord. It’s being joyful when all odds are against you because God is for you. It’s feeling deep, wordless joy when you look at the face of the child God gave you in an answer to your endless prayers. It’s joy in knowing that though there are trials and times get hard and you feel like you’re at the end of your rope- hanging on by only a thread, that you are not alone. You are known. He knows your coming and going. Your tears will be wiped away, and joy comes in the morning. God is faithful in that. No, I will never be the same- and for that, I am thankful.

“Oh, for the glory of it all You are here with redemption for us all, so we may live…We will never be the same.” –David Crowder

Monday, March 10, 2014

Our Story

Buckle up, this is a long one. This is our story into how we became parents to our sweet baby girl. It's been quite a journey and we invite you to see a snipet of where we've been.

“Our Story” 

I’m sitting here with my dog right now and my five week old baby girl is sleeping in the other room. At face value, these are just two seemingly simple facts. But- behind that lies a whole lot more. Behind these facts, lies our story.

I have felt for a long time that our story should be shared. Not because I need to be known or have a need to tell it, but because I know the Lord does not want us to waste this. It is because of His faithfulness to us that we have the story we do. We are by no means different than any other couple. We are not exclusively special and what we’ve been through many, many other people have also experienced. But, it’s when I read of these other people’s experiences, I felt comforted. To know someone else has been there too. So, I will share too. Now, with a cup of coffee in hand, my hound dog cuddled up, and baby girl sleeping peacefully (for now), I will tell our story.

My husband, Kenneth, and I have been together for nine years, married for four. In our second year of marriage, Kenneth and I decided that we were ready to start our family. So, we began our journey into trying to have a baby. Like most couples, it didn’t happen instantly. We tried for about three months before one November morning, we found out we were pregnant. A flood of excitement ran through us as we began to dream about our life with a little one on the way. Our excitement rose over the next two weeks as we planned out ways to tell our family, started looking at baby gear, began a list of potential names, and found out that two of our close couple friends would also be having babies around the same time. I began to feel some morning sickness, but was still hanging in there dreaming of my baby who would be here in June. Around week seven, we took a trip to Rockbridge- a Young Life camp in Goshen, VA. Kenneth was at camp with high school kids, and I came up mid-way through the weekend to visit. This was just another typical weekend for us. It was on the way home from Rockbridge that I began to feel ill. I didn’t think much of it, and continued on with my day, meeting some girls for a Bible study at Longwood and then heading home. When I arrived home, however, it was to my horror that I began to feel and notice that something was not right. I called for help and waited for Kenneth to get home, as he was riding back on the bus back kids. Once he was home, we went to the emergency room where we were informed that we were losing our precious baby. Our sweet, sweet baby who we had waited for months to conceive, who we dreamed and talked about day in and day out, was fighting for life. The doctor told us there was nothing we could do but wait it out. We stayed at the hospital a little longer and then were discharged to go home for the night. Later that night because of some further complications, we ended up needing to go to a larger, more equipped hospital about an hour away. It was there that we had an ultrasound and got to see our precious little one. That image is something we will hold on to forever. We will never forget seeing our baby for the first, and for the last time. At that point, the baby was still alive, but the heartbeat was dropping. From then, it was just a matter of time, and shortly after we left the hospital, our baby went to be with Jesus.

Kenneth and I were heart broken. For the first time in my life, I felt a deep, deep sadness that cut me to my core. We didn’t understand why our sweet baby had to pass away. The following days were filled with many tears, uncertainty, and questions, but they were also filled with a profound sense of peace. It was during this time, that I truly understood this verse from Philippians: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7) In the midst of confusion and sadness, we were able to feel at peace with what had happened. We knew that, even though our baby was only with us for seven weeks, that he or she was now with Jesus. We clung to that for the next few months. And- those next few months were hard. They were really, really hard. I changed a lot during those months. Yet, every day our hearts healed from our loss and we started to take steps forward.

After a long time of healing and prayer, we decided to try again. When we began trying to get pregnant again, we couldn’t. So, we began to explore our options for helping us have a baby. We walked a long road of multiple doctors, theories, and battles with insurance. It turned out that I had endometriosis- a condition that, in some women, can lead to difficulty having children bringing along with it, other hosts of complications. Most doctors that we saw wanted to fix this with different medications which really would only have masked the condition not cured it. After many hours of research and weighing our options, we knew that taking medicine to just mask the condition was not what we wanted. After further research and talking with others, we found a doctor at Duke who did surgeries to remove the endometriosis with a small reoccurrence rate afterward. We pursued this path. However, we hit a road block when my insurance would not pay anything toward this very expensive surgery because it would not be done at a “networked” hospital. We battled with the insurance company for many months, but in short, the surgery was no longer an option at that time. During this time is when I really saw the sacrificial love of my husband in a way I had never before. For months, he battled with the insurance company on my behalf, spending many, many hours on the phone with the company and hospitals. He did everything he could to try to make the surgery possible. In the end, we can now see that it just wasn’t the Lord’s plan for me to have the surgery then.

For the next year, we continued to try to get pregnant, but with no success. This year of our lives wore me down. I slipped into a gloominess that I couldn’t quite shake. I no longer enjoyed cooking, or being around people- things I really enjoyed before. I sometimes had to force myself to do things that I once loved. There were definitely moments of joy, don’t get me wrong. God provided times of laughter, and of happiness. I would say that I just wasn’t quite myself. But, during this year, our marriage grew stronger and our faith in the Lord deeper. And, for that I am so thankful. It was hard, but it was good. It was also during this year that we got our dog Tucker. Kenneth had wanted a dog for a while, and we were finally in a house where we could have a dog, so I gave in and along came Tucker. Looking back now, Tucker was a big part of my healing process. We didn’t get Tucker because we were lonely, or wanted to fill some “hole”. He was really sort-of a spontaneous decision, but Tucker gave me something else to focus on. He brought us joy and many laughs. I hated dogs, didn’t want one, but I am so thankful for Tucker. His presence during that year helped in many unexpected ways.

In August of 2012, we were fortunate enough to meet our current and amazing doctor. She had just started a practice in Richmond, one hour from us. To make a long story short, she performs the same surgery as the doctor at Duke and in October 2012 I was able to have the surgery. Through the Lord’s provision, the surgery was paid for and we were on our way to trying to have a baby again. And, we got pregnant again in January. We were so excited, but very nervous. I got the blood work done to confirm the pregnancy and it was then that we learned that my pregnancy levels were there, but low. Our hearts sunk as we waited the coming days until the next round of blood work where we would see if the levels had risen. We had scheduled to take a trip during this time, which we went ahead and did to help get our minds off of things (yeah right). I would have the blood work done when we returned. When we got home, I returned to work. That day, our second, precious baby also left us to be with Jesus. Our ray of hope, our sweet and dear baby left this life for Heaven. We were numb. How could this happen again? After all that we had been through? It didn’t seem fair. I truly can’t even put into words what we were feeling. It’s just a hard place to describe. However, as with our first loss, we were overwhelmed and comforted by the peace of the Lord, and we leaned on our close friends and family for support. We decided then that we would stop trying for a while and take a break.

Well, it was during said break that we got pregnant again. Truly, this was a miracle. It took months and months for us to get pregnant the first two times, and then when we were “breaking”, we got pregnant. Sure, I had made a few simple tweaks in medication/diet/etc., but nothing that I thought would lend itself to us conceiving. I guess what “they” say about not being so stressed about getting pregnant helps you to get pregnant is true. After some blood work, my doctor called me at 7:00 am one cold late February morning to let me know that pregnancy levels were there and they were high. Kenneth and I were ecstatic. We decided that we would go about this pregnancy with excitement and joy because that’s what this baby deserved- not worry and panic. It was a long, long nine months. I experienced about five months of straight morning sickness, many aches and pains, and an always present twinge of worry (it was hard not to!), but we made it! WE MADE IT. The Lord was (and is) faithful. He heard our prayers. Kenneth and I, along with our friends and family prayed every single day for this baby. There has never been a day in her life where she has not been prayed for. This verse from Samuel is forever written on my heart: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I have asked of Him.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

And, so parenthood has begun. We love this baby more than any amount of words could express. She is a constant joy- even when she’s screaming. I think because I waited so long for her, I am able to be more patient in the hard times. (I’m no saint, that’s for sure, I still get frustrated!) Every day Holly teaches me about the Lord. She has taught me what unconditional love looks like. She has taught me what unconditional forgiveness is and how the Lord has that for us. I don’t remember anything that she did, even an hour later, that made me mad. And- that is how God is for us. I never understood how He could be that way until Holly came. She teaches me every day how the Lord is faithful. And when I’m holding her close, I constantly thank Him for our two other babies, because without them, Holly would not be here. They helped us along our journey to get here.

And, that’s our story. It’s our story of the Lord’s faithfulness through a very long, sometimes dark time in our lives. We have made it through to the other side and we are thankful to the Lord for His past and continued faithfulness and unending love in our lives. If you’re out there reading this and you too are experiencing similar things, please know that you are loved and your heart is known. It’s hard to talk about, to share with others. It took me three years to let people know what we’ve been through. We have, with the exception of some friends and family, kept our story to ourselves. We are forever grateful for our family and for our friends that walked and are still walking on this road with us. There were many hard moments that these people helped us get through, so to you all, thank you. Now, it’s our time to share, to hopefully bring a little light to someone else. Take heart, the Lord is good.

To help us in our journey, we used the Creighton method and NaPro doctors. If you would like more information on this, I would love to share it with you and help in any way I can.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Favorites: Baby Products

Since having a little one, I have found some products that I absolutely love. Before I had my own baby I thought I'd never like some of these…I'm glad to find out that I was wrong. I'll give y'all a picture of my faves and a little tidbit on why I love them! These are products I have used newborn- 4 months and each are linked. I hope this post helps some of you new mamas and soon-to-be mamas!

The Fisher Price Rock-n-Play: Holly slept in this for the first 9 weeks and still takes her naps in it at 4 months. It is super easy to move around from room to room and its easy to rock. I recommend buying the platinum edition with the vibrate feature- it soothes baby. It's also pretty easy to travel with as it easily folds up.

This is both a book and a video.  I heard about it after Holly was born and so there was no chance I was going to read a book, so I downloaded the video from Amazon to watch while nursing. It is well worth the $10. He talks about the 5 S's of calming a baby and THEY WORK. Once we started using the techniques Harvey Karp teaches, we truly did have a much happier baby.

The Shush Baby Shush app is awesome for shushing- one of the 5 S's from Happiest Baby on the Block. This app is awesome. For a low .99 from i-Tunes store, you can get an app and set it to any of 8 white noises. We use the shush. It goes anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Holly almost always calms down when hearing the shush and falls asleep to it every night.
"Peanut" is one of Holly's favorite toys. It's a great interactive toy that you can grab and take anywhere. It has different textures and makes different sounds that babies love. She loved "Peanut" the day she met him- true story.

I admit it, the 4 Moms Infant Tub is something I thought was silly before we started using it. Now, I can't imagine bath time without it. Totally worth the $50. I promise. I love that it tells you the temperature of the water…I think Holly does too. She always has her perfect 99 degree bath, ha. What I love more, is that it filters out dirty water so the baby is always sitting in clean water. It also is super supportive of the baby and fits great over a double kitchen sink.

The Fisher Price bouncer seat is such a great little seat for older babies. A friend let us borrow theirs and we love it. This has been great for Holly because I can easily move it around and she can sit, play, and be entertained. It's also great for hooking Peanut to. I love that I can take it in the kitchen and she can play while I cook dinner! 

This isn't a baby product, but the song "Beautiful Girl" by Tyrone Wells (from beautiful world album) is played 1208394802 times a day at our house. This song almost always calms Holly when she's crying. She LOVES it. Thank you Tyrone, thank you.

So, those are just some of my current favorite baby products. I'm sure there will be many more editions of favorite baby products as my little girl keeps growing! Mamas- what are your favorites?

Stay tuned on Monday for a special edition post! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Starting Again

Hi! So, I have taken quite a sabbatical from blogging for a few years. Recently, I decided that I’d like to take another gander at it, and here I am! I have no better introduction than that, so there it is.

In this blog’s former life, it was mostly about cooking because, really, I used to have a ton of time to cook. It was my thing. Now, I still cook, but it’s really out of necessity most of the time and not just for the fun of it. Thus, the direction of my blog is changing! New name, new content. Awesome. We’ve moved, had a baby, and started new jobs providing for lots of new things to write about!

Today I’m starting off simple and sharing about my favorite room in our new place: the nursery! Right now, Holly’s nursery is pretty simplistic. This is mainly because we are living in an apartment right now as we save to buy a house. I didn’t do too, too much with her room because I wanted to wait until she has a more permanent dwelling! Nonetheless, it is still my favorite room here. Her room has the most sunlight and is just a happy place! So I’ll walk you through with some pictures below. Stay tuned for more updates about life with baby, memorable moments, and our journey to where we are now.

Here's Holly's crib. We have Pali nursery furniture which we love.  Beside her crib, to the left, is a large butterfly rocking toy. We bought this a long, long time ago and saved it for our first precious baby.

In front of Holly's crib is a fun hot pink/white chevron rug that her Grandma bought her 

This is my favorite corner of her room. This chair from Best Chairs is super comfy. Her nursery is "bird themed", so I love one of my snow day projects- the birds on a wire wall art.

"h" for Holly hanging on her door (Pottery Barn)

Detail added to a toy bin (bin-TJ Maxx)

I made these "puffs" for a corner of the room. A super simple tissue-paper craft.
On one wall, there is a frame  of as many of our friends I could fit (there are many more) who prayed for baby Holly on her way here!

A special little bird on the dresser

Lastly, a little bird detail on the curtain rod (Lowes)