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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Friday, May 24, 2013

Caterpillars to Butterlies

I've always wanted to try one of the "Caterpillar to Butterfly" kits with Audrey and I felt like this year she was finally old enough to really get something out of it and understand what was going on.

So I ordered the kit about a month ago and they came in about a week later. As I read the instructions, I was surprised at easy it looked like it would be. The 6 caterpillars came in a container full of everything they would need as caterpillars. Basically, you don't have to do anything but watch them until they build their chrysalis. 

We started out with 6 caterpillars. They guarantee at least 50% to become butterflies. About 8 days after the caterpillars came in the mail, the first two built their chrysalis within a matter of hours. I had no clue they did it that fast. At 8:30 a.m. they were hanging from the top getting ready, and at 1:00 p.m. when I got home, they were already done! 

Out of the four caterpillars left, I began to feel like one of them wasn't going to make it. The other five had doubled in size, and he was still a tiny thing. Two days later the other three big caterpillars built their chrysalis and the smaller caterpillar was no longer with us. I was excited that we had 5/6.

Once the last caterpillar had built its chrysalis, I moved all of them to the butterfly house by hanging the entire lid of the container on the side of the netting with the hook that was attached. I did this very carefully and managed to move them without dropping one.

I had to mist the caterpillars with room temperature water once a day. Once morning (8 days after the first two built their chrysalis) I sprayed them like I usually do. Then, just a few minutes later on my way out the door, I noticed we had a butterfly! That little stinker waited until we weren't looking. By the end of the day, we had two butterflies. Three days later, we had all five butterflies, but one of them passed away for unknown reasons.

Yesterday, we released the butterflies in my moms garden and they took off across the yard. This was such a fun experience for both Audrey and myself and I loved seeing how excited she was throughout each step. Seriously. I got constant caterpillar updates. But she had a blast and it was educational too!





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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Banana Cat

We expanded our family about a week and a half ago. Audrey's kitten Sparkles was in a freak accident and passed away. SO she wanted a new kitten.
 
We took her to animal control and let her pick one. She was bound and determined to get a "girl" cat but she ended up picking an orange striped (as Brent say, Garfield) very much a boy kitten.
 
After getting the kitten, Audrey was sitting in the car going over names. Possibilities included: Milkshake and Butter. But then she declares that he has a name and it is: Banana Cat (I guess she had food on the brain).
 
So Banana Cat it was and is.
 
Audrey is learning some responsibility with Banana Cat as she is in charge of his food and water and I think that has been good for her. (Yes I double check behind her ALL the time).
 
The huskies are not sure about Banana Cat. They want to play with him so bad, but considering he is the size of their paws, that isn't happening. Their whining at him is a solid reminder to me that they just don't think it's fair that they can't play with that new orange toy.
 
Banana Cat LOVES to eat and he knows exactly when it is time for him to be fed twice a day. If you walk by him first thing in the morning or about five in the evening, he begins talking to you to let you know he is hungry. Any other time he is sleeping or climbing. The cat has a built in clock.
 
Another unique thing about Banana Cat is his tail. It's like a "half bob tail". It's not completely gone, but it's only like half as long as a normal cat tail. It's kind of cute though.
 
Hope you enjoy the kitten cuteness!
 
 
 
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Monday, May 20, 2013

10 Things I Love about Being Pregnant

So many times I hear people complaining about pregnancy (and that's ok sometimes--we're growing a human here!), and while I am miserable at moments, there are some things I absolutely love about being pregnant.
 
1). My husband doesn't question my cravings. For example: Yesterday I wanted Sour Punch Straw SO bad, like right then. He doesn't question it. I later find myself enjoying that sour goodness. But when I throw out a random craving like that when I'm not pregnant, I just get weird looks and no special trips to the store.
 
2). Lots of naps. So I figure, I can complain because I'm tired all the time or be thankful for the fact that I am able to take frequent naps. I pretty much take a nap every chance I get. While I don't love being tired all of the time, I love the naps.
 
3). Gaining weight is a good thing. I'm not a number watcher anyway--I'm still blessed to have my metabolism. But any woman knows it's nice to rejoice in a snug waistline versus freaking out because you have an entire closet full of those size pants and CANNOT outgrow them.
 
4). Baby Kicks. While baby can be quite invasive with a swift kick to the bladder or ribs, I cherish each one. Every roll and kick brings a smile to my face--even the ones where she quite literally takes my breath away.
 
5). Foot rubs. Okay, maybe not everyone's husband is as awesome as mine, but my he has been pampering my poor feet this pregnancy. They have been throbbing and he will sit down and give me 30 minutes or more of the most amazing massages ever for my not happy feet. Seriously. Best Ever.
 
6). The anticipation. I love wondering what it will be like to add one more to our family. A lot of time is spent wondering if she will be like Audrey or quite the opposite. Will she even have time to talk with Audrey as her big sister? What will she like? Will she drag us to softball while Audrey drags us to ride horses?
 
7). Baby Shopping. Shopping for baby makes for fun times. I especially love shopping for a little girl--making sure we get a good mix of frills, tutu's, football, and fishing.
 
8). Bonding with Baby. I love the point at pregnancy I am at now. Cate can hear my voice and I can feel her movements. From now until September, I get some quality bonding time with her all to myself. That is something special that only mommies get.
 
9). New Friends. I have had the privilege of meeting some awesome ladies also due in September. I've made some great new friends and I love keeping up with them. It's amazing how each of my children have brought wonderful people into my life through different ways.
 
10). Experiencing a Miracle. Okay, so maybe this one seems a bit corny, but have you ever really stopped to think about the miracle of new life? I mean really stopped to think about it? It's incredible. I can't thank God enough for blessing me with this experience for the third time now.
 
 
 
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Friday, May 17, 2013

FunFetti Cake Batter Dip

Believe it or not, I have completed ANOTHER Pinterest find! This one was so easy though--seriously took five minutes.

If you want a quick snack for you or the kids or need a last minute snack for a shower or party, this is PERFECT!

All you will need is:
3 Tablespoons of Funfetti Cake Mix
2 Tablespoons of Original or Vanilla Yogurt
1 Tablespoon of Cool Whip or Whip Cream (I used Cool Whip)

The above is for one snack serving so adjust your quantities depending on how much you need (One box of mix, one tub of Cool Whip, and one 16 oz Yogurt will go a LONG way!).

Mix the Cake Mix and Yogurt until smooth. Fold Cool Whip or Whip Cream into mixture. That's it. You are DONE. How easy is that?!?

You can now dip Graham Crackers, fruit, animal crackers, or whatever (a friend suggested Oreos!). Super easy delicious snack. Being pregnant I can't eat the cake batter off the bowl anymore so this is an awesome substitute for us pregnant moms who can't have those raw eggs in real cake batter. I dipped graham crackers earlier, but can't wait to try some grapes and strawberries in it!

If you're watching what you eat, the above single portion is only 3 Weight Watchers points!

This is definitely a new favorite of mine and will be making it often to accompany my fruit and satisfy my pregnant sweet tooth!

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Heart was Touched

For those of you who are new to the blog, you may not know that I run a charity organization in memory of my son, Barrett. (Barrett's Blankets). There is a separate blog for it that can be found in the page "Barrett's Blankets" at the top of the home page.
 
Barrett's Blankets donates handmade babies to different NICU's and also to different hospitals for parents who are suffering through miscarriage, still birth, infant loss, or child loss, and send blankets to parents of angels.
 
For the NICU families we hope they provide a sense of comfort that they are in the thoughts and prayers of someone else. For the families experiencing loss, we hope the blanket serves as a memory of their angel for them.
 
The appreciation I feel for my volunteers is not something that I can describe. Most of the time I make the blankets myself which is a lot of work because it's a lot of blankets. So when someone takes the time to make and send us blankets it truly blesses my heart because we are able to reach out to more families.
 
My volunteers are truly a blessing from God and I do my best to recognize each volunteer and blanket individually. I hope you all know how much you are appreciated!
 
Yesterday I received a donation of six blankets from a very sweet lady in Mississippi and I was truly moved to tears. Barrett's Blankets has never had a need that God hasn't met. A few days ago I posted that we needed blankets for New Orlean's Children's Hospital and then yesterday I received the blankets from Betty and another volunteer said she had sent one my way. I also received emails from two other people wanting to start volunteering.
 
Anytime we have had a need, God has filled it through some amazing, caring people, and my volunteers who I cannot praise enough! Thank you so much!
 
To learn more about Barrett's Blankets, visit the Facebook Page or Website. If you are interested in helping, email me at barrettsblankets@yahoo.com.  
 
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mother's Day Recap

We had the most beautiful weather we could have hoped for to light up the grill on Mother's Day. After church, we went to my mom's and hung out by the pool while grilling hamburgers. It was warm enough that I dipped my legs in the pool and Audrey dipped her entire body in the pool (I was not that brave--water was a little cool!).
 

Another angel mom lit a candle in memory of Barrett and also sent me a Mother's Day card that most definitely moved me to tears. It meant so much to know that I wasn't the only one thinking about my sweet boy on Mother's Day.
 
I hope all of you Moms and Mommies-to-be had a great day and I would love to hear how you spent your day! 
 
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Monday, May 13, 2013

How my Child Saved my Life {Guest Blog}

Heather contacted me last week and wanted to share her story with all of you. I am very excited that Heather wanted to share her story and I hope you will read more from Heather HERE.
 
How my Child Saved my Life


Treating and living with cancer is a painful and traumatic experience. More than anything else, it is a time of fear as you wait to see if you will live or die. For me, the one thing I could not imagine was leaving my daughter. Three months before I was diagnosed, my first child was born. At the time, I never imagined I would be lucky enough to see her reach the age of seven.


When Lily was born, I was 35 years old. My husband Cameron and I had chosen to wait seven years after our marriage before having her. I was worried about the risks of having children at an older age and if my daughter would be healthy. While I was pregnant, I rubbed my belly and thought about the child growing within me. Would I be a good mother? What would my daughter be like? Just like most mothers, above everything else I wanted to love her and be the best mother I could be.


After an emergency C-section, my daughter was placed in my arms. She was a healthy, beautiful baby and all I wanted to do was hold her close. I was overwhelmed with the desire to keep her safe and protect her from all harm. At this moment in time, all Cameron and I could think about is the gorgeous bundle of joy that was coming home with us.



Three and a half months later, my new life came crashing down. I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. I was told I had 15 months to live if I did not begin immediate treatment. Even with treatment, 95 percent of people who are diagnosed end up succumbing to the disease. As I sat overwhelmed by shock, my husband told the doctor we would do the most drastic form of treatment possible.


Drastic treatment meant an extrapleural pnuemonectomy in Boston. This required the removal of my left lung as well as the lining of my diaphragm and heart. The trauma of the surgery meant that I had to stay at the hospital for 18 days afterwards and then two more weeks at an outpatient facility. Since my daughter was with my parents in South Dakota, I spent the sixth month of her life away from her.


After the first month of recovery was complete, I went to my parents in South Dakota for another two months. The recuperation process ended and I went back home to Minnesota for a barrage of radiation and chemotherapy. For anyone who has never experienced these treatments, they are painful and difficult to undergo. The one thing that kept me strong was the thought of my daughter. It is because of her that I stayed strong through everything and the reason I am alive today.
 
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Adopted!

A few weeks ago I posted a few pictures of our adorable foster puppy, Bella.
 
Well Bella, now Belle, went home to her new mommy last Friday. It is so hard to let them go but when I get pictures of them happy in their new homes it makes it all worth it. I'm so glad Belle is loving life with her new mommy and has a lifetime of spoiling ahead of her!
 

 
 
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cate's Closet

Let's face it: Babies are fun to shop for. Personally, I think baby girls are especially fun to shop for when it comes to clothes.
 
Cate's closet is already filling up and I wanted to share with you a few specific additions to her closet. I mentioned Too Cute -Children's Clothes & Accessories on in a previous blog post.
 
These are a few outfits from her in Cate's (and Audrey's) closet:
 
 
 
 

 
The Toomer's outfit was obviously for her Daddy (don't worry, Bama outfits coming soon--Roll Tide!).
 
Here are some more of my favorites that she has created for other customers:
 

 
You can see more by visiting her Facebook page HERE
 
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

International Bereaved Mother's Day

Today is International Bereaved Mother's Day. This time last year, I was blissfully unaware that this day existed. Mother's Day is normally a joyous occasion, but for mother who has lost a child it is a day where you are once again forced to face and accept a painful truth. That you are a mother, but your child has gone on before you.

I have Audrey and Cate to spend Mother's Day with, but the painful truth that Barrett won't be here is still heavy on my heart. Today, while most have gone about their Sunday business, the Baby Loss Community has been joining together to remember our angels. As mothers we do this every day, but on a day like today we join together and remember each others angels as well. It is a sisterhood no one wants to join, but if you find yourself in it, you will find yourself among some of the strongest and most beautiful women I have ever met.

God has brought some incredible people into my life through Barrett. While I hate the grief we have in common, I am so thankful for these people. You all know who you are and you have been a source of strength for me since August that I will never be able to adequately describe to you. You inspire and encourage me each and every day.

I am thinking of all of you and your angels today and you are in my prayers always!

For more about International Bereaved Mother's Day, visit the Facebook page HERE

and check out this video by CarlyMarie



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Friday, May 3, 2013

20 Week Bumpdate

On Thursday, I hit 20 weeks. Most people say this is the halfway point, but since I will most likely be induced due to my seizures, I consider it past halfway. I can't believe we have made it this far already.
 
I feel as if my baby bump is growing at rapid speeds. I am supposed to be gaining a pound a week and I'm right on track with that!
 
Baby Cate is moving up a storm and I feel her movements the most when I am sitting in my office at work and at night when I get in the bed. I treasure every single kick and roll.
 
Cate's big development lately is that she should now be able to hear pretty well. I'm sure she is getting very used to her family's voices already--Audrey stops to give my belly a kiss often.
 
My biggest craving has been pizza. I want pizza or cheesy breadsticks all the time! Brent will also tell you I drink a gallon of milk about every two days.
 
This pregnancy has been a breeze compared to Audrey and I pray that things continue to go smoothly--we're almost there!
 
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Preparing For A Little One: {Bringing Baby Home}




Preparing For A Little One
Wifessionals is hosting a mini series on pre-baby and post-baby topics. This week's topic is: Bringing Home Baby/ Surviving the First Few Weeks.
 

For a new mom, this can be stressful--you may not know what to expect and if you're not prepared it can be overwhelming.
 

Here is one thing I learned: it's ok to say no and it won't hurt people's feelings.
 
When I got home from the hospital with Audrey, all I wanted to do was rest and spend time with her. I most definitely was not up for entertaining guests. My mom took a picture of Audrey and posted it on our door with a cute little poem basically saying that we very much appreciated all visitors, but mommy and baby are really tired--we would love to see you again in two weeks.
 
We only had family visitors those first two weeks and we will probably do the same thing again.
 

Another thing I learned the hard way--it's ok if baby cries a little. I was that mom who wouldn't even take a shower because I couldn't stand to even hear her whimper. I would wait until Brent got home and honestly one day I ended up in tears over it because I just wanted to get up and take a shower (it's ok for you to cry too--it's a big adjustment!). So, finally I learned that they will survive the ten minutes I am in the shower. I compromised by putting her in her bouncy seat right outside the shower where I could peek at her from behind the curtain. She did fine and I felt much better.
 

It's ok to ask for help. No one will judge you for it. If you are not sure about something or want advice on how to handle something, find a seasoned mom and ask! It doesn't make you a "bad mom" if you need help!
 
Lastly, enjoy your baby. It truly goes faster than you could ever imagine.








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Maternity Wear on a Budget

I know I have readers who are expecting a little one right along with me and I love hearing updates from you on your little beans!
 
If you are expecting, have had a child in the last few years, or even paid attention to maternity clothes at all, you know they are downright expensive. Pregnant women end up spending an astronomical amount of money if they are like I was when I was pregnant with Audrey and think you have to buy actual maternity clothes.
 
Well, you live and you learn. Early to mid pregnancy you can usually find "regular" tops that are just loose fitting. Combine this with a belly band that allows you to wear your regular pants and you will save a ton of money during the stage of pregnancy where you aren't quite big enough for maternity clothes, but your pre-pregnancy clothes are way too snug.
 
(A lot of people have asked me where I got my belly band since a lot of Motherhood Maternity stores have been closing. You can order them from their website, but I found them half price on eBay for brand new with tags!)
 
I am all about saving a dollar anywhere I can. I think right now especially, most people are. Maternity wear on a budget becomes harder the further into pregnancy you get. So, here is my tip for you Momma's who are wearing your larger bellies loud and proud--short dresses make great maternity shirts.
 
I saved a ton of money by going this route. I went to Ross and was able to find a ton of cute "short dresses" for around $8 each (talk about a bargain!). Wear them with pants and combined with our growing bellies those dresses instantly turn into cute tops. That's $8 per shirt versus $30+ for actual maternity shirts.
 
I like to pair them with some "skinny" pants and flats (I am way to clumsy for heels during pregnancy). It's comfy, it's cute, and it satisfies my budget.
 
My "dress as a top" outfit from yesterday--(excuse the humidity hair!):
 
 
 
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Still Yelling Roll Tide!

I had an incredible opportunity placed in my path recently to become a college student AGAIN!
 
So many emotions--excited, nervous, but mostly EXCITED! I love school and I'm excited to learn something new and dive back in again.
 
This will be one of very few times you see Auburn on my blog, but here it is: I am officially an online student at Auburn University. Roll Tide!!!
 
I have gone from Elementary Education to Paralegal and I am so happy with it--I think I missed my calling the first go around. Law school in the future? Maybe. We'll see where the good Lord leads.
 
I love learning new things and I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to expand my knowledge and grow my current career.
 
I am so blessed and cannot say "Thank you!" enough!
 
College Graduation 1 1/2 years ago--I'm getting old!
 
 
 
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A New Look

If you're new here, you may not notice the new look. For those of you who have been around awhile, I hope you've noticed the makeover on the blog and I hope you are loving it as much as I am!
 
Jessica at Diamond Doll Designs did an amazing job working on it.
 
I enjoyed working with her and I am super pleased with how it all turned out. I didn't give her much to work with because I had no idea what I wanted. So with absolutely nothing from me to go on, she created a design that I absolutely love!!!
 
I was very impressed not only with the design, but with how quickly it was up and going! I highly recommend Jessica if you are looking for a new look on your blog!
 
Check her out: Diamond Doll Designs 
 
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So {Happy} Together

Last month (can't believe it's May!), Brent and I celebrated the anniversary of our marriage. I can remember being a kid and never understanding the true meaning of the phrase "Where does time go?". As a child you feel like time is dragging even though it's actually flying by--you just won't realize it until years later.
 
Now, I truly understand it. Another year has come and gone and all I can think is "Where in the world does the time go?".
 
Brent and I spent the weekend after our anniversary taking pictures together and enjoying a sit down dinner just the two of us (which you parents know doesn't happen unless you make special plans for it!). This time last year, it was just Brent, Audrey, and myself. Barrett hadn't made his presence known.
 
Now, a year later, we are expecting our third child. (We don't waste any time!). Seriously though, I can't imagine being any happier. Even on my worst days where I am overwhelmed with missing my little boy, I am still incredibly happy and thankful. I know he is watching down on his little sister, and even though he can't be a big brother to her here, he is still doing his job as big brother.
 
A couple of weeks after we celebrated another year together, Brent was able to feel Cate kick--something he was never able to do with Barrett. My heart melted as I saw how happy he was to feel her little movements that I am now able to treasure on a daily basis.
 
Another year--it wasn't an easy one. We went through some of the lowest of lows between losing Barrett, my Paw Paw, and Landon. But looking back, the thought that overwhelms me is how incredibly blessed we have been. Even through the loss of our son we have been blessed--by God's goodness to us, the kindness of strangers, and the friends Barrett has brought into our lives.
 
There is no one else I would rather walk through the ups and downs of this life with than my husband. He is my rock and my better half. I love you!
 
Thank you Chelsea Busby Photography for doing such a great job with our pictures!









 
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