Thursday, March 29, 2018

This too shall pass

Towards the end of my pregnancy with Henry I had a hard time catching my breath. He was breech, and it felt like his head was crowding my lungs. I couldn't walk from one room to another without feeling like I needed to sit down. When I sat down he crowded my lungs even more, and I felt like I needed to lay down. I laid down, but that wasn't really comfortable either. Then he was born, and all of that was gone.

When we brought him home from the hospital I was a mess. I cried about everything. I was really sore due to my cesarean, and it was hard for me to stop and rest. When you try to jump out of bed every time your newborn baby makes a sound you realize that you apparently had more stomach muscles than you thought, and it hurts. A lot. Then the incision healed, and the pain was gone.

I will never forget when Henry started having severe gas problems and how he cried. My normally happy baby cried for three days straight. I rubbed his tummy and tried to burp him and bicycled his legs, but he still cried. I wanted so badly to fix it but felt like I was failing him, and I cried. He would cry so hard and scratch my chest with his little baby claws fingernails when I held him, and I would cry out of frustration and feelings of helplessness. Then we switched his formula, and the gas was gone.

We had several days where he would fight sleep until I thought I was going to lose my mind. Looking back now it doesn't seem quite as bad, but in the moment I knew he needed sleep. To this first time mama it was devastating. I felt like I had done something wrong. I would Google sleep questions and end up more frustrated than before. My baby didn't fit the mold, and I had apparently already ruined him. I felt like I spent the biggest part of my day trying to get him to sleep and the rest of it making sure I didn't wake him. I have cried more tears over this than maybe anything else in my life. Then FINALLY we were able to put him in his crib to fall asleep on his own, and that phase was gone.

Everyone has heard the old saying, "this too shall pass". It can be encouraging to remind us that every difficult thing in life is just a season, and seasons change. When I was losing my mind and feeling closed-off from the world fighting sleep battles day in and day out, this saying may have helped me through the rough moments. When he was a total meanie for what seemed like forever before getting his first teeth I told myself, this too shall pass. When he ended up in our bed every night and people warned me that he would be there until he was six years old I told myself, this too shall pass. He is now in his crib. Teeth have popped through. He eventually gets tired enough to fall asleep on his own. Those things have passed, and now I am wishing I wouldn't have been so focused on waiting for the hard things to end. I think I may have have forgotten to cherish some really sweet things during that time.

Seasons come and go without our permission, and this is never more obvious than when you become a parent. Just this week I realized that he doesn't rub his blanket on his nose nearly as much as he used to. He no longer needs me there to fall asleep, and we are done with bottles, swaddling, infant carriers, his baby swing, and a mile-long list of other things. Yesterday when he woke from his nap and buried his face in my neck I took full advantage, and we walked several laps around the kitchen like we did when he was a tiny baby. I will admit I may have stood there crying as I remembered how I would walk back and forth with him in the night trying to avoid the squeaky spots in the floor, and I needed that moment. I needed to stand there holding my baby and breathing him in and crying about how blessed I am to have him. Every parent is warned of how quickly the time passes and how fast things change, but you just can't fully understand until that time has already slipped through your fingers. You are left wondering where that chubby baby went, and you are sitting on the couch crying like the baby he isn't over a blog post while you watch him fall asleep on the monitor.

I don't consider myself wise enough to be giving advice to other parents, but I do know what my experiences have taught me thus far. The biggest lesson I think I have learned is to try and savor every moment, even when you want to pull your hair out. It won't come easily, and you will probably have to learn this lesson, like so many others, on your own...but it is a lesson worth learning. So when the baby is crying, your toddler is throwing a fit, or when you are picking up blocks for the 7,482 time...this too shall pass. But more importantly, when he runs to you for comfort, gives you the sloppiest kisses, or sweetly rubs the best corner of his blanket on your nose...this too shall pass.

Don't forget to soak in every second of it all.

Now excuse me while I go wash the tears and mascara off my face...


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Boy Mom: The Job I Never Knew I Wanted

I want to make it clear that I don't think one is any better than the other when it comes to having a boy or girl. 

I do, however, think having a boy is just right for me.

I feel like this is a safe place to share that long before I was pregnant with Henry I always thought I wanted a girl. Not only that, but I secretly thought if I found out I wasn't having a girl, I would be disappointed. I had nothing against boys, but I didn't know boy things. I am a crafty, cookie baking, home decorating girl, and I thought I wanted a little girl to share those things with. I wanted to paint flowers on her walls and put bows in her hair. I remember a friend of mine telling me once that she knew she wanted a boy from the start, and throughout her pregnancy she hated it when anyone discussed otherwise. I couldn't wrap my mind around that idea...and then Henry came along. 

I can honestly say that I sort of felt like I knew he was a boy from early in my pregnancy. I had dreams that I delivered a boy, and I only had a boy name picked out from the very start. I most definitely wasn't disappointed, but I had never held that baby in my arms. I didn't know how great it would be or how much I was capable of loving him. I could never have imagined the bond we share now. When the tech said we were having a boy it just confirmed what we already suspected, and we went and bought a baby ball cap just like his daddy's. My biggest concern at the time was decorating a boy room and figuring out how to deal with baby boy parts. I knew I loved him, but I could never in a million years have imagined how much.

Y'all, this boy...there could never be a more perfect boy for me. He is so sweet and rotten and smiley and stubborn. He has my short temper and the most contagious laugh. He loves to eat, runs everywhere, would live outside, and is a mama's boy in the very best way. He is my best buddy, and every single time he flashes those four little teeth at me I melt into a puddle. He is my shopping partner, laundry helper, and a stage-five clinger anytime I am in the kitchen. He is obsessed with books, loves our "kitty kitty", and has my whole entire heart.

There are not enough words in all the languages of the world to describe my love for him.

He is perfect for me (except maybe for that whole sleep-fighting thing), and I am so very thankful to be his mama. I get to stay home and spend my days with him, and even when those days are long that blessing is not lost on me. I wouldn't trade this time for anything, and if I could bottle it, I would. I am so thankful for a God who knows just what we need even when it is far from what we think we want. Girls are fun and precious, and someday I may have one, but I sure do love my sweet boy. 


P.S. And for any soon-to-be boy mamas, those baby boy parts really aren't as scary as they may seem.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Raising Outside Children: Guest Post

I recently asked a long-time friend of mine to share a few words about raising kids who play outside. It seems simple, but it is so different than when we were kids. I have known Whitney basically my whole life. I have shared a locker room with her. I have eaten at her (parents') table. I have seen her world turned upside down, and I have seen her somehow come out better for it. I love her people and where they come from, and I know every word of the following to be real and true.

When thinking about my childhood, I can remember watching only one movie specifically. We had bought a giant big-screen and had our closest family and friends over to watch Bruce Willis in Armageddon. I mean, sure there were shows that we watched as a family, Seinfeld in particular when we were older. I remember my dad having the O.J. Simpson Trial on tv during the height of that drama. I remember my mom cleaning house and having CMT's Top 20 Countdown on every Saturday. I am positive there were cartoons that I loved to watch just as much as my children love theirs'. I cannot remember them. For the life of me, I cannot remember watching any of them. I know I did, because the Rugrats theme song is still in my head. The Wild Thornberrys were family goals. But the actual sitting down and watching of a cartoon continues to escape me.

Things that I do remember vividly are all outside. Sleeping on our trampoline and being awestruck by the endless stars. Wading in the bayou catching tadpoles and crawdads. Knowing all the best swimming holes. Every time I rake a pile of leaves and set them on fire, I am right back at my childhood home making mud pies in our homemade club house with the Ninja Turtle mural my mom painted. I am positive I did not wear a shirt through the summer until I was 8 or 9. (Our family pictures prove this true). We were outside children. Our days were free and full of good things. We would spend a lot of our summer days with our closest neighbors, a family of four boys. They were neighbors in that they lived about a mile closer to the pavement than we did. My big brother and his friends would go fishing or take their hatchets to the woods and make forts. This is what boring looks like. Not a thing scheduled. Not a themed play date in sight. Just youth and good things.

My challenge as a mom is this: balance. It should not surprise me or make me angry that kids are so impressed with all the available gadgets and technologies. I could really disservice them by resenting tablets and Ipads in such a way that they are almost shameful-even though some days I want to. They are used as early as preschool in the school system. These technologies, are as much a part of the future as our children are. Finding that balance is an ongoing challenge for me. As I am sure the idea of cartoons on channels all day everyday through our DirecTV were a challenge to my mom and dad. Every generation has struggled to navigate through their children's best interests and modern advances. I am still struggling with these same ideas in the current setting. I love Facebook. I love seeing updates on mostly all of my friend's children. I love sharing my kids' lives with friends and family that would not get those insights otherwise. But it also sucks time in such huge chunks. For the most part, its just like those cartoons I watched as a child, lost. I could not make myself remember what I had looked at on Facebook last week if my life depended on it.

In life, there are countless good options. The ability to recognize and discern those good options compared to the best option is a life skill. Children need to be encouraged in the right direction in all things. Time management and priorities are no exception. My kids have a loose set of chores. But, more than schedule of to-dos, teaching them to be helpful and engaged in all things is the most important thing I can teach them. I'm seriously convicted in even writing this down, because there is so much more I could do with them. Teaching them to be happy doing nothing in particular and enjoying all God-made things is of the most importance. If they are not able to go outside on a beautiful day and be happy, I need to re-evaluate our set up.

I am sure the easiest option for my parents would have been to plant gardens without our help. To not take us camping in tents and also invite our friends. To just let us watch TV all day during the summer instead of pushing through our whines to not go outside. They would not have been bad parents had they done any of those things. They recognized the best option and did that. They chose to enjoy and engage us in everything. These are my most cherished childhood memories. They cost nothing except time and parental patience. I pray one day, my children can look back at their childhoods' and have the same amount of happiness in their hearts. For them to feel as cared about in all the most important ways as I still do from my memories alone, would be the ultimate feeling of a job well done.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Five Favorites Things

Do you ever find a product that you like so much you find yourself telling everyone you meet? I have found a few of those lately, so I thought it was only fair for me to share with you. I kept my post to five of my current favorites, but I think I will be sharing more favorites in this new series.

Henry has been a lover of books for as long as he has been able to hold them, but these are currently his favorite. He loves the flaps, and each book that we have has 45-60 different flaps to peek under. The book he is looking at in the photos has shapes on one page, and he actually matches the sets of shapes just from looking at this one book. That is the product of a smart baby and great learning tool. He makes farm animal sounds, we count ducks, talk colors, match shapes...he loves them, and I love seeing him learn from them. Win, win!

I love this thing so much. We have two (the elephant and a monkey), and I plan to buy another. Henry really prefers to feed himself, and this allows him to do so with no fear of the plate ending up on the floor since it won't scoot around on his tray. The dividers are great for a variety of foods, the sides are high to help him scoop, and it is dishwasher safe. I can't say enough good things about these!

Basically I am pretty obsessed with plants in general, but snake plants (also known as mother-in-law's tongue) are so tough! They are so low maintenance that I am sure anyone can keep them alive. I purchased my first two from my local grocery store, I have a couple from Ikea, and they should be available at any nursery or maybe your local floral shop. I also just saw some this last week at Home Depot. I think my first one went without water for the first three months of Henry's life, and it is still thriving. If you want some greenery to brighten up your space but don't want a high risk plant or the look of the fake stuff, get yourself a snake plant.

This stuff has been a lifesaver for much that I actually wrote an entire post about it. When I was pregnant with Henry I wanted to paint a dresser we bought at an auction for his room, and I was able to get it done thanks to this zero VOC chalk paint. I also painted his changing table and my kitchen island and cabinets before he arrived! Since then I have painted a yellow dress I purchased from an online garage sale and the record cabinet my dad built. They have fantastic color options and a variety of products for distressing, sealing, and creating custom finishes. It dries quickly and with little to no smell you can do it inside without worrying about awful fumes. I am hooked. 

5. Baskets from Target
I currently have seven of these baskets, three under my kitchen island and four (pictured) in my entryway. I use them for everything from potatoes and pasta to winter hats and even dvds. They have taken a beating from Henry pulling them off the shelf and digging in my potatoes, and that was really what convinced me to purchase more. They fit great in my Ikea shelf, but even if I change my mind and move that (which is very possible) I know I will have a use for these super versatile storage pieces.

What are some of your favorite products? Is there anything you are especially loving right now?


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Motherhood is...

 Motherhood is...

Motherhood is loving this little tiny version of yourself so much it hurts...and them being mad at you for it half the time.

Motherhood is pausing while making lasagna to sit down and read a book in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Motherhood is driving around in your minivan praying for the him to take a nap.

Motherhood is getting totally wrapped up and focused on your kids even when you thought you wouldn't.

Motherhood is going shopping and buying things for your kid instead of yourself. 

Motherhood is wanting him to go to sleep so badly...but then missing him when he does.

Motherhood is doing everything that requires focus after 8:00 p.m. when the baby is in bed.

Motherhood is having a long list of things to do but not wanting to put the baby down to do them.

Motherhood is sometimes cleaning up pee from the floor and poop out of the tub.

Motherhood is teaching your kid new tricks just so he can refuse to do them when you want to show others.

Motherhood is sneaking a snack in the kitchen and hoping your kid doesn't hear.

Motherhood is being exhausted at the end of the day and still needing to unload the dishwasher and pick up toys for the 478th time.

Motherhood is having a hard time getting things done with him on your hip but loving that he wants to be near you.

Motherhood is finding questionable substances dried on the floor...and your couch and clothes and toys and favorite blankets.

Motherhood is knowing your child is the most gorgeous child there ever was.

Motherhood is wanting him to stay little but loving every day filled with growth and learning.

Motherhood is praying and crying over him as he sleeps because he is the most beautiful, innocent and perfect thing you have ever seen.

Motherhood is spending your day reading picture books and tickling and scolding and laughing and crying and snuggling and wiping bottoms.

Motherhood is the most challenging thing you will ever do filled with the most indescribable love and joy you will ever know.

Motherhood cannot be summed up in any number of words, but it is a beautifully messy and precious thing.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Do What is Good and Right and True (Free Printable)

In a world that is divided and often dark and scary and sometimes lonely...

where people need encouraging and successes need celebrating and wrongs need to be forgotten...

may we all strive to do what is good and right and true.


It is hard, and we fail often.

But it is not the failures we should be recording nor should we dismiss the smallest successes. Sometimes it is enough just to try. Sometimes that is all someone else needs.

Be kind when you don't feel like it. Confess when you weren't. Encourage a friend. Send your coworker a card. Bake your neighbor cookies. Make your husband dinner. Read your toddler an extra story.

And thank God for grace and the hope we find in trying again tomorrow.

Just click the image below to download and print on your favorite card stock. You could frame it, stick it on your refrigerator, or use it as a gift...just because.
Don't forget to share how you use yours, either on Facebook or Instagram. I want to see!


Thursday, March 1, 2018

A unique gift for a really special guy

My guy is really good to us. He is always treating us and takes such good care of us. I always want to treat him, but it is so hard to surprise or really wow him...until recently when I was contacted by JORD about a collaboration featuring one of their unique wooden watches. This could not have been more perfect since I have been wanting to get him a nice watch for some time now, and I knew I couldn't go wrong with any of their gorgeous options.

I was already drooling over the JORD watches online, but when I opened the beautiful, wooden packaging...holy cow! The Dover series in zebrawood and dark sandalwood is seriously a piece of art. The unique wooden band is hand finished, pre-treated with tung oils, and splash proof...perfect for a dad on bath duty. His favorite part is that it is automatic and shows the inner-workings on the beautiful face piece. Let's just say I knocked his socks off with this unique and timeless piece. I loved seeing him so excited to wear it to work the next day!

Y'all, these JORD watches are gorgeous, and they have something for everyone. Their wooden women's pieces are just as unique and stunning as the men's, and they offer engraving to make your gift even more special. You will definitely want to look around their site and click HERE to enter to win a $100 credit to JORD! Everyone that enters will receive a 10% off code at the end of the giveaway, so really everyone is winning! 

 It is no secret that I think my guy is pretty great, so I am thrilled to have been able to gift him this incredible, unique watch. I know it will be a treasured piece, and I hope he thinks of us every time he looks at it.


*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by JORD. However, all opinions expressed are my own. I only recommend products &/or services I personally love & want to share with you.

Wooden Wrist Watch

Master Bathroom: Painted Floor Project

When we moved into our current home there was a long list of things I wanted to change. The disgusting carpet, the yellow-beige walls, and t...