Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why our Elf on the Shelf *doesn't* Make Messes

I apologize in advance if I offend anyone because that is not my intention. I simply want to share why our Elf on the Shelf doesn't make messes.
If you come into my home during the month of December, you will find Buddy the Elf happily perched somewhere throughout our home. Audrey can quickly show you where he is because we have to find him first thing every morning.
You may find Buddy reading a book, or playing with one of Audrey's toys, but there are some things that you will never find him doing. He won't have rolled any room in my home with toilet paper or streamers. You won't find anyone's underwear hanging from the tree that Buddy placed there. There won't be snow angels in the flour or anything else that Mommy has to clean up. I just refuse. And it's not just because I don't want to clean it up. It's just not the message that I personally want to send to my children.
To me, it portrays a message that being mischievous and making messes in the house is cute and funny. You don't agree? Do you get onto your elf for making a mess? Does he have to immediately clean it up himself? Or do you laugh and joke about what that silly elf did?
I just can't be ok with sending the message to my children that it is ok and funny to make messes in the house and cause chaos.
Before you say anything, I'm not a party pooper. I have seen some ADORABLE things people have done with their elves that did not make a huge mess or cause mischief throughout. I've seen these elves reading books to other toys, or leaving the kids a note to say he missed them. I've seen the elf leave a picture of himself in a frame to go with the family pictures in the house. There are so many awesome things to do that are cute, fun, and send a good message.
I love some of the suggestions found HERE
What has your elf been up to this year?
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Friday, November 29, 2013

He Was Never Mine

We've had a wonderful time celebrating Thanksgiving with family. But of course, when a piece of your family is missing, the holidays never quite seem to be complete.
Barrett has been on my mind a lot the past week--even more than usual. I've wondered what the holidays would be like if al three of our babies were here--if we had a little boy running around too.
I've read and I've prayed. I've asked God why MY baby had to die. Why couldn't I have all three of my babies here with me?
And then one day, right after one of these prayers, I was scrolling through Facebook while nursing Cate and I saw this image:
And it was just what I needed to see, and it was no coincidence. So I pulled out my Bible and I began to read the verses in these images and I was overwhelmed by the faith of three men in a story that I am familiar with, but experienced in a different way this day.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were put to an incredible test of their faith--they put their lives on the line to stand up for the one true God. Even the threat of being burned alive could not shake their faith.
If their lives were spared, God is good. And if not, He is still good.
So I began to think about that. If God had allowed my son to live, God is good. But my son died, and God is STILL good. As the Lord began to work on me, I was overcome with a thankfulness for the time I had with my son and then it hit me: I didn't lose MY son. He was never MINE. He was God's from the start. The Lord entrusted me to care for him for eighteen weeks, but he was never really mine. He just went home.
My girls are not mine. They are the Lord's. I have been entrusted to care for them and to direct them to HIM but they are not mine. They always have and always will belong to the Lord. I am just incredibly blessed that He chose me to care for them.
And the same goes for Barrett. Barrett wasn't taken from me. He just went home a sooner than I would have liked. But my plans are fallible.
In God's perfect plan, Barrett was called back to heaven. He was called home. He was never mine. He has always belonged to the Lord. I just can't wait to hold that angel again.
Psalm 139:13-16  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.
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Capture Your Grief 2013 Day One

Capture Your Grief (Project Heal) is a photo project for the month of October that is put on by Carly Marie. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Capture Your Grief is a way to explore and express your grief through photography and words.

Day one is supposed to be a picture of the sunrise. In our busy school morning routine, I actually remembered to get the sunrise picture. However, I couldn't see the sunrise. It was too foggy. I took the picture anyway.

I thought the foggy morning was appropriate. The sunrise is supposed to signify the beginning of this month and the beginning of this project. Foggy is kind of where I'm at right now. A little over a year after losing my son, I'm not really sure where I'm at in my grief journey. I don't know what stage I'm in or whatever. I desperately miss him. Sometimes his birth and death seems like a dream. It couldn't be real because babies aren't supposed to die, right? 

But it wasn't a dream. I joyfully carried a baby boy. I painfully gave birth to him. I sorrowfully buried him. And I desperately grieved for him. I still desperately grieve for him. I miss him. I love him. I want him back.

Having his baby sister has been amazing. Something I couldn't ever describe. It brings a lot of that back though. She was born just over two weeks after his first birthday. I look at her and wonder what he would look like now one year later. I wonder if his personality would have been like hers or more like his older sister.

Some days, I look at his things and I'm overwhelmed by joy because of all that has been done because he lived. Other days, I'm selfish and I only want him back and here with me. 

Grief cannot be defined. It is different for everyone. It doesn't make sense. It has no rhyme or reason. Grief just is. 

Grief is a tough journey--a lot like making a journey through the fog. Sometimes you can't see where you're going. You push forward unsure of what is next. You trust God to get you through even though you can't see more than two steps in front of you. Because you can't see, you are surprised by obstacles in your path when you come upon them. Some obstacles are good, and some are just tough. Then, sometimes there is a light. You're not sure where it comes from, but it gives you something to walk towards. In grief, that light is hope. Hope that one day, we will see our babies again and a mother's heart can be whole again.

Monday, September 23, 2013

When the Rainbow Comes...

My sweet little baby is two weeks old today. Our rainbow baby has brought so much to our family. We are all head over heels in love with her.

Two weeks later, I am just now getting around to sharing her birth story. I have spent the last two weeks just taking her in and soaking up every moment with her. I have less than four weeks of maternity leave left and I am savoring every second of it. I love my job and will love being back, but I also know all too well that this stage in my precious baby's life will go by way too fast.

Cate's birth story:

We were scheduled for an induction to begin at 6 a.m. on September 9th. We were to check in to the hospital at 8 p.m. on that Sunday night before. I spent Saturday doing last minute things around the house and making sure our bags were completely ready so that I could spend Sunday resting before I spent all day Monday laboring.

Well, Cate had different plans on Sunday as I woke up at 2:30 a.m. with contractions. They continued all day, but they never stayed consistent with timing, so I breathed through them all day, and at 7:45 p.m., we checked into the hospital as planned. Though we didn't yet know it, we would never make it to that 6 a.m. induction.

At 11 p.m., I started having painful contractions. Brent had laid down and I decided to let him rest instead of waking him, because I figured that we would be up all day Monday laboring. At 1:30 a.m., while breathing through a contraction, I felt a "pop" and texted my mom to let her know that I thought my water might have broken. Sure enough, with the next contraction I got my confirmation that my water had indeed broken.

I paged the nurse and Brent shot up out of bed when his Daddy senses went off at the sound of "My water just broke". From 1:30 to 2:30 a.m., I breathed through constant, intense contractions until they finally showed up with that magical epidural. After that? I slept peacefully until 4:45 a.m. when I sent word to the nurses that I felt like I needed to push. Sure enough, Cate was ready and at 5:09 a.m. on September 9th, she made her debut into the world.

Cathleen Nora weighed in at a whopping 7lbs 15oz and 19 inches long.

I can't describe the feelings that you have when you give birth to a rainbow baby. Giving birth period is a beautiful and life changing experience. There are already no words. But, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that Cate's birth brought completely different feelings to me. After giving birth Barrett just over a year before, I was overwhelmed with emotion when I heard Cate cry. That painful silence wasn't present this time. Instead, I heard a loud and absolutely beautiful cry of a newborn.

I fought back tears as I watched them clean my baby and heard the nurse announce that she had red hair. I watched my husband taking her in as they checked her out and made sure she was 100% healthy. Holding her for the first time, I couldn't believe how perfect she was. I couldn't believe that her tiny little feet were the same ones that had been doing gymnastics on my ribs just hours before. 

To say I feel blessed is a gross understatement. I have three beautiful children; two gorgeous girls here with me, and a handsome son who is waiting for me in heaven. Not only that, but physically I had the best labor and delivery ever--quick, fast, and so much easier than my L&D with Audrey was.

We hit a few "bumps" in the road with recovery. Immediately after Cate was born, I developed a headache that progressively got worse until around lunch time I couldn't move my head without crying from pain. I had all of the symptoms of a spinal fluid leak, but the doctor was a little baffled because it usually takes 24 hours for the symptoms of that to set in. However, a few hours later the nurse came in and found me in tears from the pain and they decided to do a "blood patch" on me. Not the most comfortable thing in the world, but man was it better than that headache.

After that, I felt great and Cate was doing wonderfully too so they let us come home the next day--a whole day early! I was so happy. I was ready to see Audrey and be home with my family. That week went pretty smoothly. Cate is an awesome baby and I seemed to be recovering well until late Friday night. I started having severe abdominal pain and by Saturday it was so bad that Brent was having to actually lift me out of the bed--I couldn't sit up or stand up at all on my own and walking was extremely painful. 

We found ourselves in the E.R. in the early morning hours on Sunday and a few hours later after running some tests, I was admitted into the hospital and bawling at the thought of being away from my girls. Apparently there was still part of the placenta that hadn't been delivered that was causing my pain. They did a D&C and I had instant relief. Thankfully, I did well after the procedure and they let us go on home instead of keeping us for the night like they had originally told us.

Ever since, I have felt good as new and have just been enjoying time with my girls and taking in every second with Cate--all of her adorable facial expressions and bonding with her every single moment that I can.

Having a rainbow baby is an experience like no other. After such a hard year in 2012, I couldn't think of a better way to spend 2013 than with Audrey and our precious rainbow baby. For me she has truly been the bright and beautiful color in my life after the storm we endured with the loss of our son last year. She didn't "replace" him because no one could, but she is filling her own special place in our family. 

Transitioning from one kid to two in the house hasn't been as hard as I thought. It has actually come pretty naturally. Getting Audrey off to school in the morning is sometimes a challenge because Cate usually decides that is when she wants to eat, but we have managed. 

Audrey has been an amazing big sister. We have only had a handful of jealous moments, but they weren't bad at all and she adores her little sister. She loves helping by getting the baby's things for me and is constantly asking if she can give her a kiss. I adore watching them together.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support the last nine months as we awaited her arrival. I feel blessed to share my family with you!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

As My Daughters Grow Up

I did not watch the VMA's this week. In fact, I was sleeping while the rest of the world was being shocked by the performance of Miley Cyrus. I awoke the next morning to the constant chatter of it on social media. I finally broke down and watched the video, but I never could have prepared myself for what I would see.
This was not the Miley Cyrus that had, just years before, been a long haired beauty on the Disney Channel with her dad trying to hide the fact that she was Hannah Montana. This was not the girl that I watched little girls everywhere imitate and look up to.

The "girl" I saw on television this week was one who was desperate for any kind of attention she could get. Unfortunately, she is chasing after it in the wrong way and seeking the wrong attention. It made me sad--mostly because many people watching could see that, while she still can't. It's disappointing, and one has to wonder, what went wrong? What happened to Miley Cyrus?
As I watched the video of Miley's performance, I thought about my own daughters. I watched and I thought "This is only the beginning of the world my daughters are about to grow up in", and I feared for them. If anything, I hope that Miley has taught me something as a parent that I can pass on to my own girls.

This week, Miley Cyrus taught me how important it is to ensure that my daughters never feel like they have to use their bodies to get any kind of attention. I pray that my daughters grow up to be young women who are full of respect for themselves. I pray that they will be the type of women who see a young woman like Miley Cyrus and pray for her rather than turning to social media simply to berate her.
This whole "event" has drawn my focus onto how I will establish a foundation with my girls on which they can stand and know that acting in this way is not something they should ever stoop to. I want that foundation to be Jesus.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
—1 Corinthians 6:9-20 
They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
—Ephesians 4:19-24 
As my daughters grow up, I pray that they will cling to these truths. I pray that they grow into Godly young women who seek after Him first in everything. I pray that they never forget that they were bought with a price paid by our Savior--a price beyond anything we could ever fathom.

I look at my innocent little girl and her rose colored view of the world she still possesses and the thought of her losing that absolutely breaks my heart to the point of tears. I wish she didn't have to grow up, but she does, and Cate will too. They will grow up in a tarnished world that will only become more so with time. They will grow up in a world where performances like what the world was exposed to the other night will be considered the norm. In that world, I pray that my girls are the outcasts. I pray that they are different and that their differences allow them a platform to stand out and up for Christ.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Worst Day of my Life

One year ago today was the worst day of my life. I can't believe it's been a year. On August 22, 2012, I was told that my precious, and oh so wanted, baby boy no longer had a heartbeat. I was sent home to pack and come back to the hospital to be induced and spend the night in labor knowing I would never hear that precious newborn cry.
I've spent the last two weeks reflecting on this past year. It's amazing how much of an impact one year can have on a person and on the family unit. Because of events on this day in August one year ago, my family will never be the same. We will always be missing a huge piece, but at the same time I can't imagine how we could possibly be anymore whole than we are today.
Barrett has given and continues to give so much to my family and to people all over the world.
At this moment, I think back to where I was at this time last year. I was getting ready for the doctor appointment that would turn my entire world upside down. I think of the days that followed and the cloud of fog that surrounded me for so long in the days after his death.
And then I look at where I am today. I look at my belly that is almost 37 weeks along in pregnancy. I feel Barrett's little sister pushing on my ribs with her feet. She is our rainbow baby.
God sent the rainbow after the flood. It signifies a promise, and it signifies a hope. Cate has been every bit of that description to us. She has been our promise from God that He doesn't leave you even in the toughest times and that He is always faithful. She is our promise that good things can come from the darkest of storms. Cate is our hope of life to come and I thank God for her and Audrey every day. I love all three of my babies and I can think of no greater blessing in this life than to be a mom.
One year after our little boy passed away, Brent and I are on completely different paths than we were at that time. Different careers, a new house, and many new opportunities on the horizon. With the help of our Savior, we have moved forward as Believers, as a family, and as individuals. We have moved forward but we have not moved on. Barrett is still included as part of our family in everything we do and that's how it will continue to be.
I can't believe tomorrow will be his birthday already. Time really does fly. Thank you to all of you who have followed our journey here for the last year--I hope you stick with us to see where God and Barrett will take us next!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Love is in the Air

Those who read here frequently may have noticed that it's been quiet around here lately. That's because I've been busy with wedding festivities for a friend! My sweet friend, Amanda, is now MARRIED to her best friend and I was so honored to stand by her side on Saturday.
Congrats you two!!!
For her bachelorette trip, we went to Bellingrath Gardens. We were supposed to take a river cruise, but the boat was broke down that morning so we enjoyed the beauty of the gardens instead and spent the evening just relaxing away from it all.
Here are some pictures from Bellingrath and a few wedding snapshots!

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

34 Weeks {Bumpdate}

On Sunday I hit 34 weeks in this pregnancy. Only 6 weeks to go and I am READY! Well, physically I am ready. I still have some things to do before she gets here, so she definitely needs to hold on at least four more weeks!
Last week we got her car seat properly installed alongside Audrey's and this weekend I packed my hospital bag except for her clothes which I am washing to pack as well.
Having two car seats in my car and that hospital bag sitting there ready to go are making this even more real! I am so excited and admittedly, still nervous even though we have made it this far. Hopefully I can breathe once I am finally holding my precious rainbow baby.
At this point in my pregnancy, Cate loves to use my ribs as monkey bars. She puts her feet on my ribs and pushes (and boy is she strong). I think she does it because she knows it will make me squirm!
She has "dropped" and I can finally breathe again, although my bladder is now paying the consequences.
My cravings lately? Still milk. Other than that, I just eat whatever for the most part. I have craved grapes a few times though and I can pack them down!!!
Six more weeks--the countdown is on!
Due Date is Sept 15--get your guesses in now--when do you think she will be born?
Enter your guesses HERE using the game name "GuessesForCate"
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

{Guest Post} Melissa @ Home on Deranged

So excited to have a guest post from Melissa at  Home on Deranged today! Check out her post and then follow her blog and social networks!


5 Things You Probably Know About Parenthood

Some days, it doesn't pay to be a mother. Okay, it never pays to be a mother unless you've figured out the magical way to get paid for changing diapers, soothing crying babies, living through sleep deprivation for years, and so much more. If you have figured this out, please let me know ASAP.
There are plenty of books, videos, websites and friends and relatives to share their opinions and thoughts, but in the end, it all comes down to this: none of us have any idea what we are doing. Not even the experts, who want you to buy their stuff so they can make money off being a mother.
So having said that, I decided to create a list of 5 things you probably already know but hadn't really said out loud because you figure, hey! everybody already knows that. Let me know if you agree or disagree.
1. Some days, you won't enjoy being a mom. It's not that you won't love your kids or the fact that have taken over your life and home. But the days when it's so tiring, when no one will listen to your wise instructions, when they decide that after months of liking corn, they cannot stand the sight of it, when they fight over two Lego blocks, and you can't get your husband to stay with them for 10 minutes in order for you to have a shower, you'll have a fleeting thought of, "Why on earth did I do this?"
2. Some days, you'll wish you were so rich that you could have a full-time nanny. No mother likes to hear, "I love the babysitter more than you." It's the cuddles and hugs and smiles you get when you've been gone for a while and they rush into your arms because they are so gleeful to get to see you again that make the best memories. But, sometimes, you'll wish for a fantastically rich life where the nanny handles every single thing. A world where the diapers and feedings and baths and bedtime and cartoon wrestling is handled by someone else, and you can just come in, get some ridiculously awesome cuddles and then sleep in peaceful bliss for eight straight hours.
3. Some days, you'll realize that being an older mom doesn't necessarily make you a better mom. I thought for sure that I would be a calmer, more patient and relaxed mom at the age of 41. I thought for sure that I would have a better handle on my emotions and therefore be able to handle meltdowns in a more reasonable fashion than screaming. Turns out, those hormones will rage no matter what age you are, and the incessant questioning of your skills will continue to rocket around your brain until you are sitting on your bathroom floor, reduced to a crying heap.
4. Some days, the urge to have just one more baby will nag at you so hard, you will want to have sex with your husband for hours on end, just to get to the jackpot. You will be jealous of your friends and family and even strangers you see at the mall who have that big, round belly and glow of pregnancy. You will ask yourself why you didn't start sooner so you could have had three or four or more and live out your life on some farm. You will try to rationalize the extra expense, the toll on your body, the way a new baby will throw what little structure you have in your life completely out of whack. Then one day you will either stop using birth control or ask you husband to have a vasectomy. It just takes time to figure out which one it will be.
5. Some days, you will be terrified. Once in a while, you will allow yourself the freedom to agonize over all the things that could go wrong. If your child had landed just a little differently on that jump, she could have broken her neck. If baby boy had landed a little to the left, he would have gouged out his eye. If I had been one second later, she would have consumed the entire bottle of bleach. If I hadn't yelled at the top of my lungs, that weirdo in Walmart might have actually just walked off with my baby. If I don't go see a doctor soon, I may not make it to my daughter's graduation or my son's wedding. If our baby gets a terminal disease - or worse - I will not survive it.
Luckily, all these moments pass. Luckily, there is so much more room in your heart for love that you won't believe it. Luckily, you do get paid for being a mother, because you can't put a price on hearing, "I love you, Mommy."

About the Author
After a career as a newspaper reporter, Melissa Swedoski thought she was well informed on the chaos of everyday life. Now, “mumbling through the mayhem of marriage and motherhood,” she is a SAHM to two toddler girls, and is turning her investigative eye on the mishaps and misadventures of parenting and the marathon that is marriage, always with the emphasis on humor and love. You can find her at Home on Deranged or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Stephanie @ Mom's Gone Crazy {Guest Post}

Stephanie was the winner of our Ad Space Giveaway and today is *Her* day on the blog! Send her some love and go check out her blog!
Hi! My name is Stephanie, and I blog over at Mom's Gone Crazy - and she's loving (almost) every moment! 
I blog about parenting: the good, the bad, and everything in between! When I started blogging regularly,  there was a lot more crazy going on, but recently it's just been a whole lot of fun! It's so important to me that I have a space to share the true highs and lows that is life - and in doing so, I hope to connect with others who share similar (or even different) experiences. I also love to post recipes, discuss health and fitness, and share anything exciting that happens our family. Besides personal stories and adventures, you'll find me reviewing everything from beauty products to toys, and promoting family friendly giveaways! I hope you'll stop in to my little piece of the world wide web at Mom's Gone Crazy, and maybe even stay awhile!
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

*Husband Love*

Nothing like pregnancy to make you feel extra grateful for your husband. Seriously, he has been *amazing*.
I don't cook much anyway, but lately it's like not at all. My back hurts too much to even get up to get a drink some days and here is my lovely husband bringing it to me without a complaint. Not only does he cook, but a lot of times, he even fixes my plate so I don't have to get up. Yes, yes I am spoiled.
This pregnancy has not been easy on me emotionally or physically. Carrying a baby after loss is emotionally hard and physically I just don't have the same body I had five years ago when I was pregnant with Audrey.
The other day I caught myself complaining about one of my pregnancy pains and I remember telling him "I'm sorry if I whine all the time. I just hurt all over." and his words to me were "You are growing a human. That's not supposed to be easy." I could have squeezed him with the biggest hug ever (if my belly would have allowed it).
I couldn't ask for a more caring and understanding husband. He seriously goes above and beyond every single day to make it easier on me. I am so blessed that God sent me this man and not only do I love being his wife, but I love watching him as the father of my children.
*Love you*
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When Baby Comes: The Hospital Bag

As I am nearing the end of my pregnancy, one of my tasks next month will be to pack my hospital bag. Movies and television shows put so much emphasis on "The Bag" as frantic husband runs around looking for it all while his hurting, pregnant, and hormonal wife is screaming "The bag! Get the bag!". So, what is SO important about that bag.

Well, when you think about it, not only will you be living out of this bag for a few days in the hospital, but this bag will also contain items that will shape your memories of this time, such as the clothes you pack for yourself and baby that will always be in those scrapbook photos.
I have seen SO many hospital bag lists online. Some are bare necessities and some are very extravagant. I thought I would share what I find important to pack in THE BAG as a been there, done that mom.
First pack the important stuff: Insurance forms, any hospital forms, etc.
So if you plan on looking halfway decent during your stay at the hospital, I would suggest you definitely pack your basic toiletry necessities such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush & toothpaste, and a hairbrush. Even before I was allowed out of the bed after Audrey was born, I had my mom washing my hair in a bucket of water by the bed. No one wants nasty looking hair in their pictures and for guests that stop by. Makeup is totally up to you. With Audrey I didn't, but I probably will this times. That is something that will vary from person to person. I see where some people bring their own toilet paper because they don't like the hospital toilet paper. Eh. To each their own. I'm simply not that picky and I promise you, that at that point, it definitely will not be a priority for me. I consider taking your own toilet paper to be a little on the extravagant side and I will be crossing that off of my official list as a "do not need".

Ponytail holders. I know some women get their hair all dolled up before heading to the hospital-straighten it or curl it, whatever. That's fine, but most likely all of that care will go out the window once you get to the point of no return; you know, pushing. You are going to want that pesky hair out of your face and to make things easy on your husband, just have them handy so he doesn't have to listen to your yelling while he scrambles to find them in the bag. That is what those handy pockets or little toiletry bags are made for--easy access for husbands in a critical moment.
Chapstick. I don't know what it is about labor that dries your lips out, but you are going to want that Chapstick. Please, for your husband's sake, do not just throw it in the bag. Again, think easy access.
One thing I did not have during my labor with Audrey that I will be bringing this time is music. I will either use my iPad or borrow Audrey's iPod, but I will have that this time. When I was in labor the LAST thing I wanted to do was listen to ANYONE say ANYTHING unless they were telling me to push or bringing me that blessed epidural. This time I will be fully equipped with music and headphones to tune out the world and focus on the task at hand.
Some women bring their own hospital gown. I am bringing a gown, but for after. I don't see the point in wearing one during labor. FYI, it will most likely be ruined and you will never be able to wear it again. I'll let those gorgeous hospital gowns have that honor. However, I am bringing my own gown for after baby is born. Nursing with those hospital gowns was annoying. Buttons, ties, whatever they happen to have--drove me up the wall. I want an easy access gown. Plus, the buttons on my hospital gown had apparently been through quite a few patients and didn't like to stay closed very well--your guests might now want to see quite that much of you, although at that point, you probably won't even notice it anymore.
Some people consider this an "extravagance", but to me it is 100% necessary: Quarters & Snacks. Quarters for the vending machines. Snacks in case baby decides to come at a random time. I was not allowed to eat the entire time I was in labor and I was SO hungry. (FYI to husbands, lay off the snacks while your beautiful wife is in labor. If she can't eat, you can't eat. You do NOT want to go there) So, if baby decides to come at 11 p.m. and you are starving, you may be out of luck if the hospital doesn't serve breakfast until 7:30 a.m. You can send your lovely husband to get you something or already have snacks on hand. I am not very patient, so I prefer the instant gratitude of snacks on hand.
Bring some socks. Not just to keep your feet warm, but surely I'm not alone in hating the thought of walking on those hospital floors with my bare feet.
Alright moms, you are going to want to pack nursing bras if you are breastfeeding (even if you go without during your stay, you will need one to wear home) and regardless of whether you breastfeed or not, you will need nursing pads unless you consider big wet stains on the front of your shirt to be a fashion statement. This is definitely a necessity. Don't forget those. If you are not breastfeeding, I suggest bringing a sports bra.
You can bring your own panties, but be warned that they may never be the same again. Or you can sport the super stylish mesh ones from the hospital. Me? Eh. Nothing wrong with mesh. YOLO, right?
(Note to moms--those awesome ice packs they will give you in the hospital, ask for some to take home and take as many as they will give you. You will thank me for this later)
Some people pack books to read; I say No. You won't be reading while you are in labor, and afterwards when you are not staring at your newborn, the most gorgeous baby you have ever seen, you will be too tired to even think about a book.
For baby, I say go ahead and pack your diaper bag. The hospital will provide you with some diapers, formula (if you formula feed), etc, but pack it anyway. Baby diapers are unpredictable and you should be over prepared because when it comes to diapers on the side of the road, you do not want to be sorry.
Go ahead and pick out two or three outfits for baby to wear at the hospital for those adorable first pictures. And, of course, pick out the infamous going home outfit. Think about what the temperature will be when choosing these outfits. Also, make sure it is something you can easily fasten the carseat around. If you precious daughter is wearing a gown, you might want to pack some pants or leggings to put on under it to keep her legs warm on the ride home when you have to hike that gorgeous gown up to buckle her in. Bring a blanket for baby to have on the ride home. Oh, and that carseat? Very important. They will NOT let you leave the hospital with your baby unless it is properly installed.
Electronics. Bring your camera. Right now. Go ahead and put in your bag before you even finish reading. If you forget that, your husband will be immediately heading back to the house after you reach the hospital. Save him the trouble. Phones. You have to pack those so you can brag! And speaking of electronics, for every electronic you bring, pack the charger right beside it. They won't do you any good if they are dead.
Comfy clothes. Whatever you ride home in, needs to be comfortable. Oh and maternity clothes. Sorry, but those pre-pregnancy jeans won't fit just yet. My plan is yoga pants and a nursing top. Comfort is key.

Ladies, here is the number one rule: Do NOT let your husband pack the bag. Don't do it. There is no telling what you will be wearing home. (Oh, and make sure your darling husband packs his clothes and toiletries in a bag!)
There may be some other things you want to throw in, these are just my necessities. What is something you MUST have in your bag?
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Monday, July 1, 2013

Bridal Tea

My best friend is getting married in August (yay!!!) and I was thrilled to host her Bridal Tea this weekend. Here are some pictures (and all of the food pictures should let everyone know how pregnant I am!)

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Friday, June 28, 2013

3rd Trimester--the Final Stretch

Well I am 28 weeks 1 day now--3rd trimester is finally here! Yay! I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Being pregnant in the summer is definitely a different experience for me as Audrey and Barrett were both winter babies. I have never been this big in this Alabama heat--and I still have July and August to go!
With Audrey, I wore my wedding rings right up until I got the hospital to deliver her and had to take them off. This pregnancy? I took them off two days ago in exchange for a larger cheap pair. I am definitely swelling with this heat.
I have been spending a lot of this summer in the swimming pool--it is about the only way I can stand to be outside right now. Plus I love the weightless feeling of the pool--gives my poor feet a break!
This has been my hardest pregnancy so far. At least, I do not remember hurting and aching this much with Audrey. And did I mention I went to sleep at 6:30 last night? My second trimester energy is long gone.
At 28 weeks into my pregnancy, I have mastered the art of making it to the bathroom 5-6 times a night completely in the dark. (Now if my husband goes and moves something, he will mess me up!). There have also been a few nights I thought it would just be more practical to put a mattress in the bathroom. Joys of pregnancy!
Cate is getting very strong and I am loving her movements. I can tell she is starting to run out of room though because all of the flips and rolls have turned in to kicks and jabs. (My ribs are paying the prices!).
She loves to take her hand or foot (whichever way she is turned) and just push on my ribs. She enjoys it much more than I do!
Countdown is on--83 days; 12 weeks; a little over two months! Come on September!!!
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You Know You're Really Pregnant When...

You know you're really pregnant when...
1). The thing you look forward to most about summer is watermelon.
2). You're uncomfortable sleeping on your left side, but you have to debate a few minutes about whether it's worth all of that effort to flip to the right.
3). You need help getting off the couch.
4). You don't sit up out of bed--you roll out of bed.
5). You have to fight the urge to roll your eyes when non-pregnant people complain about the heat.
6). A ten minute shower wears you out.
7). You have to sit down to dry your hair.
8). If you could just lay down all day, most days you would; sitting isn't even comfortable anymore.
9). You've seriously contemplated bringing a pillow to church for your back when sitting in the pew.
10). You have eaten a bowl of pudding for supper and dared anyone to judge you.
11). You are no longer counting how far along you are, but how many weeks you have left.
12). You find that you are constantly reminding yourself: Only ___ more weeks. I think I can. I think I can.
13). One thing you look forward to after giving birth? Cookie dough and brownie batter.
14). If someone mentions any form of food, you need it. Immediately.
15). You are actually looking forward to labor and delivery because it means you will be done carrying this extra 30 pounds around.
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Don't Interrupt Me

I've posted about this subject on a different topic on the blog briefly when addressing my work in animal rescue (Read it HERE).
When you try to do something to make a difference, there will always be people who, whether intentionally or not, will try to bring you down. I've always had that attitude that, yes, one person can make a difference in the world and they do it all of the time. I hope and pray that the world never beats that out of me and that my children grow up cherishing that same belief.
I love this quote:
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them. Disagree with them. Glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world  are the ones who do."
-Apple, Inc.
I hear this all the time: "You can't save the world".
I 100% agree with that. One person cannot "save the world". My firm belief is that the only person who was able to do that was God in the flesh, Jesus Christ.
One person cannot save the world, but I have learned one important thing throughout my life: if you impact the life of just one person, you have made a difference and made the world better--even if you never see the fruit of it.
That's one risk you have to take in life--that you may never see the fruit of your efforts. I believe that when you do the right thing, you have to trust that God will push those efforts forward and make change.
Not only with animal rescue, but with running Barrett's Blankets, I have had people say to me "Are you still going to do that?", or "Do you really have time with school, work, and your family?". But here's the thing: Barrett is my family. I can't take him to the park. I can't watch him ride horses on Friday afternoon. I can't spend hours as his room mother in school. All I can do is make sure that his name lives on and that through his name, lives are touched. I don't consider running Barrett's Blankets to be work. I consider it to be spending time with my son, just like I do Audrey.
As far as those questions go, I can assure you that Barrett's Blankets will go on as long as I am breathing. Every time we have had a need, God has met it. I think that should be the answer to those questions right there. As long as God continues to provide, and people continue to say that it brought a smile to their face, I will push forward. I feel like God providing, is God's answer that Barrett's Blankets is meant to continue on.
That's my personal experience, but I want to encourage you today to "keep on keepin' on" with whatever it is you are doing to make a difference. While I think most people have our interests in mind, they may not realize what they are saying is discouraging and you just have to remember that and push forward anyway. Don't let negativity get in the way of your efforts to spread positivity in the world.
What are you doing to impact a life today?
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reflections {9 Months}

Last week was 9 months since Barrett was born--9 months since he left us way too soon.
I have spent some time since then reflecting on what nine months has done. They say "time heals all wounds", but "they" lie. Time doesn't heal wounds. I've said this before--Time is merely a Band-Aid on the wound that allows you to learn to live with it.

How does a mother learn to live without her child? I don't know. It just happens. You spend days or weeks crying and climbing inside of yourself when, one day, you realize that although your world seems to have stopped, life is going on around you. You realize that you have to be strong for those around you. You realize that you have to learn to live with the pain, and one day that happens. You don't realize it--not until long after it has happened.
Like that day you stop to think how many days it has been since they died, and you realize you stopped counting last month. Or the day you realize that you can't remember exactly when the last time you sat down and had a good cry was. There comes a day when you realize that you can hold another's baby without falling apart. It doesn't mean you are forgetting. We never forget. It means your strength is overcoming your pain a little bit at a time.
Sometimes, I will admit, that strength is scary. Sometimes I feel like, maybe I should still be counting days or crying at the site of a baby who is the age he would be. But I know Barrett wouldn't want me to live like that forever. I know that he knows how much he is loved, and though others may not know it, not a single day has gone by in the year since I found out he was on the way that I haven't thought about him. For over a year now he has been on my mind everyday just like my living daughters.
Sometimes I still cry when I'm alone, and I know that that's ok too--like right now as I am writing this and the emotions are flooding back. But at the same time I think of his sister growing inside my womb and part of me feels like Barrett has a special part in watching over his sister.
For the longest time I couldn't decide what to do with his clothes--but they will go to Cate. A friend is going to applique and monogram them to make them look girly. Though others may not realize it, he will be living on through her as she uses his things.
Cate is due right after Barrett's birthday and I don't think that's a coincidence. I believe that was all in God's perfect plan--that I would have her to hold on that day.
I feel like in 9 months I am a different person. I don't stress about things that would normally make me crazy, because I've come to have a better understanding of how precious life is. My family is not something I take for granted--our time with them is precious.
9 Months later, I miss my son even more. I struggle with the conflict of well if he was here, Cate wouldn't be, which is a hard concept to truly understand. It's hard to realize that that is not choosing one of your children over the other.
My reflections over the last month have taught me that while time doesn't heal all wounds, time does allow your strength to begin to overcome your pain.

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