Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Usually on Thanksgiving Eve I post my thank you list. Well, this year is a bit different. Sure I could sit here and list out several things or people I'm thankful for this year (and if you're a facebook friend, you've seen my daily "Today I'm thankful for..." posts) but this year I'm basically thankful for one all-encompassing thing: God's faithfulness.

It was a little over a year ago when I started Beth Moore's study on Esther - and if you haven't done this study yet, PLEASE DO! It remains my all-time favorite of hers. Anyways, I remember watching Beth speak in one of her videos and feeling envious of how close she seems to God. Not that God is closer to some than he is others - the bible says he doesn't play favorites - but I believe Beth has asked God to be her everything, to walk so closely with her that without prayer, without the Word, her life would turn upside down. And I wanted that kind of relationship with God. I remember asking God to draw me so near to him that I could see him at work in my life, for real.

Let me tell you. He answered. Time and time again I've seen his hand at work. But it hasn't always been the way I thought he'd answer.

Its no secret that I'm a stay-at-home-mom. I love that I get to be home with our kids every day. But there are days I really wish I was the one getting up, going out into the world of adults with grown-up conversations and lunch dates and coming home to dinner and laundry done. (In Drew's defense, this totally happens on the semi-rare occasion I'm gone while he's home with the kids.) And I definitely wish I was getting a pay check when it comes time to review the good ol' budget. Finances have not been as great this year yet we continue to trust God with them by being faithful in our tithes and offerings. And time and time again God has met our every need. Not that checks have magically appeared in the mail (although that has happened before) He answered that prayer in other ways. When we were preparing for Anniston's arrival there was a "Mommy/Annie Wish List" posted on our fridge of items I just wanted to have before she was born. Things like some nursing tanks, a new breast pump, a moby wrap, new burp cloths, long-sleeve onesies, etc. God provided all of those things through random donations of many different people. A friend at church loaned me her pump, another friend loaned me some nursing tanks without even knowing I needed them, my sister-in-law was given a wrap she didn't plan on using and graciously gave it to me. My friends threw a surprise shower for me and had managed to sneak a peek at that list and got most of the items on it in addition to a huge diaper cake, some wipes and other necessities for our baby girl. Because of those donations we were able to still meet our needs financially  - because we weren't spending money on those items - and I still got to have some wants too. "He will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches..."

As you all know Anniston's birth did not come as routinely as we expected. And while I was in the hospital being monitored for my blood pressure I kept praying that God would keep her healthy and that she would do well in the delivery. He did answer my prayer, but it wasn't an "As you wish my child". She didn't do so hot, to be honest. All the nurses kept referring to her as "really sick" - which I hated - but at the time she was the baby who needed the most help in the special care nursery. But that doesn't mean God wasn't faithful. HELLO?! He made sure the hospital I delivered in, the hospital on the south side that had NO previous nicu capabilities at all, got a ventilator a mere 6 days before our baby was born because He knew she would need it. He arranged for Christ-following doctors to be the ones on call to take care of her during those first critical hours of her life, who made the decision to give her the surfactant and played a huge role in turning her breathing around. He was with her. He was with me. I knew people were praying for her and I knew they were praying for me because quite frankly, I wasn't freaking out. "Everyday Bethany" would have been freaking out in that situation. True story. I'm a worrier, I get it honestly and while I pray against it daily... it happens. But I physically felt those prayers while Annie was in the hospital and I was sending out specific prayer requests and one by one those were answered. God's glory was all over that Special Care Nursery. He is faithful.

Right after Annie came home I struggled a lot with some baby blues. I was hormonal, thats a given, but I was also dealing with grief over not having the birth experience I was prepared for and struggling to adjust to life with 3 kids. I was praying against post-partum depression and had a few of my closest friends praying with me. And each day got better but in the midst of this was my first MOPS meeting since Annie had been born. I had every excuse already to go as to why I wasn't going. First of all, it starts at 9am. To most of you, thats not a problem but since my kids don't wake up till 9 and I was just up at 6 with Anniston I was determined just to go back to sleep. But something told me to get my silly butt up and go. The speaker that day spoke right to my heart. Right now I can't even tell you what it was she said specifically but I just felt God speaking to me. And to think I almost missed out on it because I wanted to sleep! He's done that several times over the last few months.

I could go on and on but the bottom line is this. God is near. He's so near that He knows your every thought, He sees your fear, your worry, your tears. He is faithful. And when I say that I don't mean "He is faithful to make everything turn out the way you want it." What I mean is that He is faithful to show you His glory in the midst of those trials and will bring you safely to the other side. There may be heartache - but He will heal that broken heart and make you whole. There may be suffering - but He will be your strength.

I'm so thankful that as I look back on the last year I see God's hand all over our lives. In the big things, in the teeny tiny little mundane details of my everyday life. He is there. And He is faithful.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Anniston's birth story, Part 1

Last summer after hearing about some scary discoveries in a friend's delivery, another friend emailed me to let me know she would be praying for our baby and me through the duration of my pregnancy and that she hoped those stories hadn't frightened me. She assured me that God had already written our baby's birth story and it would be unique to her. Was she ever right... 

On Thursday, September 15th I went to the doctor for my 35 week visit. Everything was fine...initially. My blood pressure was a bit high but the nurse thought it could be that she just didn't get the cuff tight enough or something so she was going to have the doctor take it himself. Long story short, not only had I started dilating but my blood pressure was slightly elevated and there was protein in my urine indicating possible pre-eclampsia. After some lab work on Friday, I saw the doctor the following Monday where he confirmed that I did have pre-eclampsia, put me on bed rest and moved our c-section up 3 weeks to the following Monday, September 26th.  Drew and I were in a bit of shock! In our previous pregnancies we had never had any complications, Cash & Corrinne were both born full term: just one day shy of 40 weeks (Cash) and 39 weeks exactly (Corrinne). 

Tuesday morning (the 16th) I woke up with constant lower back pain and dull cramping in my lower abdomen. After having a nagging feeling about it all morning I decided to call the nurse just to let her know since my doctor had encouraged me to call if anything changed at all. The nurse told me to go into the hospital to be checked since my doctor didn't want me to go into labor with the pre-eclampsia. Turns out I wasn't dilating, but my blood pressure was high enough that he wanted to keep me overnight to monitor it and do another 24 hour urine catch to check my protein levels. The next afternoon (Wed. 9/21), just as I was about to be discharged - on strict bedrest with a brand new c-section date of Sunday, September 25th, (instead of Monday) my nurse decided to check my blood pressure one more time. Sure enough, it had spiked and I wasn't feeling so great. So guess who wasn't going home?! Me. 

I'm going to stop right here just to let you know how obvious it is to me that God was orchestrating this all along. So many opportunities for me to be sent home, or for me to have ignored some symptoms that could have drastically changed the outcome of our story. I'm so grateful to my doctor for having Godly wisdom (he loves the Lord -- woo hoo!) and to the Lord for being so sovereign even when I was desperately wanting to sleep in my own bed and may or may not have been a bit grouchy with my nurse when I was told I couldn't shower that second night because of my high blood pressure. ;) 

Ok, back on track. Thursday I fully expected to be sent home. My blood pressure had been down all night and nothing was really happening... until about 1:00 pm. My doctor was set to do rounds at "lunch time" which apparently is anywhere between noon and 4:00 in OB time.  Around 1:00 I randomly started contracting every 5-7 minutes for a good hour just before my doctor came in and sure enough, I had started dilating! Not only that but the protein levels in my urine had risen and while my blood pressure hadn't gone up, it hadn't really gone down either. So Dr. S. made the executive decision to go ahead and do the c-section, at 36 wks 4 days. (The goal all along had been to get the baby to 37 weeks).

I was a nervous wreck but everyone kept reassuring me that the baby would be fine, she hadn't shown any signs of distress throughout the whole hospital stay and was moving just as she should have been, etc. The only thing that didn't look good (and worried me to no end) was my placenta. The ultrasound tech had noticed some "old spots" that were probably linked to the pre-eclampsia. Knowing the placenta is the baby's source of nutrients, I didn't like that very much. 

After about an hour, I found myself in the Operating Room, numb from the belly down and waiting to meet my second daughter. After 15 minutes the felt like an eternity, I saw this beauty:

Annie started out really well! Her apgars were 8 and 9 and she was screaming! Girl's got some lungs! But after a few minutes the respiratory therapists noticed she was grunting a lot and breathing really fast. Way too fast, actually. They suspected she had some fluid in her lungs - not uncommon for a c-section baby and especially one born "pre-term". They told Drew they would be taking her into the nursery to do some x-rays to get a better look at her lungs, which is apparently protocol for preemies.

Being naive (or hopeful) I didn't expect Annie to be gone long. I thought they'd take her in, do the xrays, get her breathing slowed down and bring her back to us in our room. Well. Thats not exactly how it happened. Anniston needed a lot of help. She was breathing incredibly fast and couldn't calm down enough to slow it down. About an hour after my surgery the pediatrician came in to tell us she would be put on a CPap machine to help her breathe so she could stop breathing so quickly. And the good news - everything else looked great! She just needed help breathing essentially.  

A few hours later, Dr. K came back in and told us the CPap wasn't really working so well and she really felt like Anniston needed a break so she wanted to put her on the ventilator - the ventilator that wasn't even available at this hospital until just 6 days prior to Annie's birth. Thank you, God, for providing before we even knew we needed it.  If she needed to stay on the vent longer than 24 hrs, she would have to be transferred to another hospital nearby that has a higher level NICU. She also wanted to give Annie a dose of Surfactant - a synthetic form of the enzyme already in our lungs to keep the tiny air sacs open. She really felt like this would allow her to slow her breathing down so she didn't tire out and just stop trying to breathe altogether. This was when I realized she wouldn't be wheeled into our room anytime soon... 

I immediately sent an email out to our church's prayer list asking for specific prayer that she would slow her breathing and not need to ventilator longer than 24 hrs. I couldn't bear the thought of sending my baby to a hospital and being separated from her. 

I finally got to see Anniston at 5:30 the next morning. She was just as gorgeous as I had suspected! The tubes and ventilator didn't seem to phase me at the time. I was just in love. Looking back at those pictures now is rough. But we're so thankful we're beyond that. 

At noon, the director of the special care nursery came in to tell us Annie was a rock star and came off the ventilator. Her breathing had slowed down dramatically thanks to the surfactant  and she was just on a nasal canula and she didn't expect her to be on that very long -- not even until the end of her shift that afternoon! Thank you, church family, for praying. It works! 

 This picture is from 5:30 that evening, right before I held her for the first time. Her vent had come out - she just had a nasal canula running a constant flow of room air. Girlfriend was breathing on her own less than 24 hours later! Thank you, Lord, for providing doctors that were quick to act according to what was in the best interest of our baby. 

Even 24 hrs later, there is nothing like holding your baby for the first time. Instant love! 
See that bald spot on the side of her head? Yep, she rubbed that off in my belly! She was constantly hitting my hip bone on the right side and when I asked the nurses about her bald spot they said she must have been born with it and explained that sometimes babies rub hair off in the womb! Crazy!!!

Annie got a few feedings from her feeding tube that day (Friday) but that evening we got to try nursing, she was awesome! The doctors just kept marveling at how great she was doing and how quickly she turned around. We gave God the glory and continue to do so!

Unfortunately Annie didn't get to come home with us. On Sunday evening, I had to say goodbye to her and cried the entire walk out of the hospital. It felt so weird to leave without my baby. While I hated not having her in my hospital room while we there, I was just down the hall. I could go see her anytime I wanted, and I did. How was I going to balance being with Cash & Corrinne, who hadn't had their mom home in 5 days, and being with my newborn who I desperately wanted to bond with and care for? HOW?! It is so true when they say God's grace is sufficient. He gives you the grace and strength specific to your need. I don't know how we made it through that week without Annie home with us, but we did. And my only answer is that God was getting us through it. I knew she was being cared for and loved on... not in the "best way" because thats only by Drew and me. ;) But I felt confident those nurses love their job and truly love those babies. And that was so encouraging to me. 

Monday night, Drew and I got to give Anniston her first real bath. She was tube-free -- except for that darn feeding tube which she pulled out at least 5 times a day! 

Tuesday morning she got rid of her feeding tube and was on bottles (of expressed breastmilk) and nursing as often as I could get up to the hospital for feedings. Thank you, Lord, for awesome friends and family who volunteered to watch Cash & Coco for us so we could be at the hospital several times a day. 
Such a pretty girl. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Please Welcome...

Anniston Kate

September 22, 2011 5:30 P.M.
6 pounds, 18 1/4 inches long

I am so embarassed that its taken me so long to post about Annie (I promise, Annie, it has no reflection on how loved you are by your mommy!), but life with 3 kids is pretty busy!!! I am working on a post about her birth story because it is a doozy!

In meantime just know that I'm still here - most likely nursing, changing a diaper, doing laundry (she's a spitter!), and/or cooking and cleaning up a meal - all the while loving on our sweet family and thanking God for His faithfulness and sovereignty.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Family Photos

About a month ago, one of my good friends who happens to also be a fantastic photographer (along with full time nurse, wife, and mom. I know, she needs a cape.) came over one morning and took photos of our little family straight out of bed. Well... I may have put on a bit of bronzer and mascara.... and brushed my teeth and did my hair... but everyone else was fresh out of bed. ;) Sarah had the idea to do a lifestyle shoot - she just basically followed us around and took pictures of us being "us". It was one of the most relaxed photo sessions we've been a part of and the result was awesome! So awesome in fact that a big time photographer all the way out in Vegas noticed and featured the shoot on her blog, Evoking You.

I'm so thankful to have Sarah as my friend, for so many reasons that have nothing to do with photography or blogs, but especially for the gift she gave us in photographs that will be memories held dear to my heart for years to come. (Namely the photos of Cash snuggling his blankie, Corrinne's sleepy eyes with her paci, and the kids snuggling my growing belly.)

You can check out the photos along with some more of Sarah's work here.

Thank you, again, Sarah! We love you and are so proud of you!!!

PS. Be watching for Baby H's newborn photos here in about 6 weeks. AHHHH!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Its POTTY time!

Oh my Heavens.

Yes, that is a phrase that I've recently been using... several times a day, actually. And yes, I am really only 28 and not 78, as one would assume if they had just overheard that phrase come out of my mouth. Nonetheless, its become a favorite of mine for reasons even I am unaware of.

It beats some alternatives, I suppose.

Anyways, folks. We have survived! I know there have got to be some fellow moms out there that have laid down at night after an extra long day, or after returning home from a vacation with little children, or after a shopping trip alone with your kids, etc etc, and thought that exact phrase to themselves. Its really all about the little victories, if you ask me. And right now, I'm doing our victory dance because...

Cash is potty-trained!
(picture me raisin' the roof!) 

I'm not kidding when I say that this is one area of parenting I've literally been dreading since the day we had Cash. For some reason it just seemed like a very intimidating, daunting task that not only comes with frustration but messes to clean up! And more laundry to do. I mean, how do you really teach someone not to pee or poop whenever they want when thats all they've been doing for the first 2-3 years of their life? This explains why we waited much longer than other parents we know to try to potty-train Cash.

I had heard that if you try to push your child before he or she is ready, you're just asking for frustration and months and months of accidents. So we waited. We talked about the potty, we even bought a potty chair. But he just wasn't interested. So we waited some more.

Finally when he turned 3 we bought him some big boy underwear. He was all about wearing them, just not interested in pottying in the potty chair. At all. At that point I realized that just 4 short weeks after his 3rd birthday we were going to be driving 14 hrs for vacation and the thought of having to stop all the time to let him potty, and having it all thrown off by a different routine, location, etc was less and less appealing than just buying diapers for a few more weeks. So we settled on the idea of hunkering down and potty-training hardcore once we were home.

I'm so proud to tell you this boy was potty-trained in a matter of one week. The first few days were not fun and thats mostly my fault. I will be the first to admit I didn't do a ton of research on the different 'methods' of PT'ing. So I sat that kid on the potty every 20 minutes one day and sat in the bathroom reading books and singing songs to him with little success. Pretty dang exciting! After the second day of that we were both over it so I decided to just lay low and let him be the one to do it. Day 3 he actually pee'ed on the potty and from then on it was cake! Each day got a little better and by Day 6, boyfriend was wearing underwear all day long and keepin' them dry. (We realized that when he had a pull-up on he would just go in it. Underwear he would keep dry. In case you're in the throws of potty-training. Give it a whirl!)

We made him a chart and 7 days later, after staying dry all day he got to go buy some brand new underwear! He chose Thomas the Train undies and has been mighty proud of those things ever since. He even dropped trou' in the middle of Coco's 2 year Well Baby Visit to show his pediatrician what a big boy he is. Ha!

I realize every kid is different and we still have at least 2 more to potty-train. But at least I know its an attainable goal now. ;)

Way to go, Cashers! Mommy & Daddy are so proud of you!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Corrinne!

Corrinne & Mimi Ellen, the two August 4th birthday girls. :) 

Dear Corrinne, 

Today you are two years old! It doesn't seem possible that two years have passed since you came into our lives, yet we can't imagine life without you. You have grown so much over the last 12 months... most obviously is your hair! You should be so thankful that you no longer are sporting a mullet but usually have your hair in pigtails or a cute pony-tail (Daddy's favorite).

You are very spunky; always dancing, singing, joking around and giggling up a storm! My favorite phrases that you use all the time are: "No way!", "Look, Mom! Over dere!", "Dere's the hopsissal. Where babies are born...", "S'ok, Mom. I wuv you." , and "I want hamburger-burger". 

You can usually find you with at least one purse on your arm, a pair of my shoes on, and a baby doll in your arms. You love "dip doss" (lip gloss) and love to sing!  I'm pretty sure we're going to be attending a few show choir shows when you're in high school. 

You have the sweetest heart and such determination, your daddy and I are praying you use that to bring others to Christ. One thing is for sure, God's got a plan for your life, sweet girl. And I'm loving getting a front row seat at watching that unfold. 

Enjoy being two, my big girl! I love being your mommy! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

You Wouldn't Cry For Me

I've been thinking a lot about our baby in heaven the last few days. Tomorrow would have been my due date. Its crazy to think that so much time has already passed since we lost that baby, and yet I don't know that a day has gone by when I haven't thought of him or her.

Sometimes I wonder if its silly that I've mourned that loss so much. I wasn't very far along and know several women who have experienced a loss much greater than mine - have gotten farther along only to find out their baby had died. Mothers who have made it even to weeks within their due date to be told they would have to deliver a lifeless baby.

But in the very short amount of time that I knew about that baby, I had rearranged our lives to add him or her. I had figured out how old the baby would have been by Christmas, had started thinking about how old my kids would be when he or she was born. That baby was already a part of our lives, in my mind.

This evening I was reminded of a song Mandisa sang at Women of Faith last year. She told a story of a young woman at one of her concerts who was very pregnant with her first baby, a boy to be named Andrew, and when Mandisa met her she laid her hands on her belly and prayed a blessing over Andrew's life. A few weeks later she got a letter stating that Andrew didn't make it to his due date and instead of being welcomed into this world, he had been welcomed into heaven. Mandisa wrote a song for Andrew called You Wouldn't Cry and sang it for us last summer. Its beautiful and encouraging and heart-warming for anyone that has lost someone they love.

When I think of my baby in heaven, playing with other little babies, singing with the angels, and sitting on Jesus' lap. How in the world could I not be at peace? I grieve the loss of getting to know that baby, of getting to feel him or her kick and move inside me, getting to see it's face, kiss it's cheeks. But there will come a day when I get to spend eternity getting to know him or her. And thats the greatest reassurance anyone could ever have.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beautiful For Me

I remember the day we found out we were expecting Corrinne, as in the day we found out we were having a girl. I was thrilled! Over the moon, ecstatic. For a long time I had felt totally fine with the prospect of never having kids (I know, must have been in my weird independent late teen/early 20's years), then I went on to feel ok with never having a daughter. Only having sons.

After I had Cash I knew I did really want a daughter. Not because I didn't enjoy having a son. I love having a little boy. He is my sweetheart, my cuddler, my protector (already!), my little buddy, my mini-Drew. It was just this feeling that, "OK. I have my son. Now I want a girl."

Much to our surprise, we got one! Just a mere 15 months after having our son. The day of our ultrasound, I just felt confirmation of what I had already suspected - that we would be welcoming a little girl into our family. After the visions of hair bows, dresses, tights, and huge flowers on headbands dissipated I started remembering my "awkward phase", also known as Junior High. Then I remembered all those arguments with my mom where I vowed never to be like her and promised to move out the minute I turned 18. And then I got scared. I probably thought something along the lines of "Aw, crap".

I didn't want Corrinne to feel that way about me - that I had no clue what she was going through, that I am only out to keep her from having fun. And more importantly I didn't want her to struggle with the insecurities I dealt with, and still deal with from time to time.

Then came all the thoughts about boys and dating and keeping herself pure until she's married. Making sure she knows how precious the gift of her heart is, how treasured she is, how loved she is by Drew and me and mostly by her heavenly Father.

Of course, now I know my mom was only looking out for me, I do not hate her, I didn't move out until I was 21... but thats neither here nor there. The bottom line is, I have more anxiety over raising daughters than I do sons. Why? Probably because I know what its like to grow up as a girl. I know what its like to be teased for my glasses, or lack of a chest, or skinny legs. I know the pain of a broken heart and longing to fit in. 

Corrinne received a Veggie Tales DVD last Christmas, SweetPea Beauty. Its a very cute story that highlights the importance of keeping your heart beautiful instead of focusing on your outward appearance and that God created us beautiful just the way we are. The kids watched it on our 14 hr. trip to North Carolina and back (among about 12 other movies) and are hooked.  During the closing credits a Nichole Nordeman song plays called, "Beautiful For Me". I was folding laundry one morning as the song was playing watching Corrinne twirl and sing when the lyrics caught my attention: 

"Has anybody told you you're beautiful? 
You might agree if you could see what I see. 
Everything about you is incredible, 
you should have seen me smile the day that I made you
beautiful... for me" 

Its basically a love note from God written to my precious little girl! I teared up listening to those words because even at 28 years old I needed to be reminded of those words as well. I've been praying for Corrinne's heart since she was born but lately I've made it a point to pray that she would always know how beautiful she is... inside and out. And that she would find her value in her relationship with Christ and know who she is as a daughter of the Most High God. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Subtle Reminders

As I was sitting, indian-style, on the floor of our tiniest bathroom (the only one located on the first floor of our house, the half-bath) between two toddlers: the biggest on the toilet and the smallest on the potty chair for the 18th time yesterday, I began to wonder what my life had become.

Is this really it? Is this why God put me on this Earth?

When Cash was born I honestly felt like I had finally figured out what I was called to be in this life: a mom. I loved everything about motherhood. (Keep in mind this was in the very early stages of motherhood where all your baby does is eat, sleep, and poop.) I still love being a mom, maybe not every single aspect of it. But most of them.

I love that I'm the first person each of my kids wants when he or she gets hurt or scared. I love how Corrinne whispered, "I safe" when I picked her up once after the sound of our (incredibly loud) garage door startled her. I love when my kids randomly climb up onto my lap, just to be next to me, during the day. I love the way Cash says, "thank you, Mommy!" after I've cooked dinner for us. I love watching my kids learn, explore, laugh, and be silly together. I love seeing bits and pieces of my husband and me in our kids' appearance and personalities.

But as I sat there yesterday with dishes on the counter, laundry piling up in my room and kids whining for food every 30 minutes I thought, how boring. How lame! All I'm going to do today is clean up the kitchen 5 times, change a bajillion diapers, sit Cash on the potty every 20 minutes in hopes that he'll figure out potty training SOON, cook dinner,  clean up dinner, do some laundry, fold the laundry, intend to put the laundry away (somehow that one always escapes me for a few days). And then get up and do it all over again tomorrow. seriously? 

Thankfully with the new day came new perspective. Yes, I'm still doing laundry today and have cleaned up the kitchen twice already. I'm still in the throws of potty training my very stubborn 3 year old with minor success. I haven't showered, my bathrooms need cleaned, and my husband won't be home until long after the kiddies are in bed tonight.


I was able to help out a friend who needed someone to watch her little boys (who happen to be my kids' best friends) and hosted a play date with one of my other besties and her little girl. I laughed at Cash's made-up pee pee cheers and Corrinne's killer dance moves (that she obviously got from her momma!). I did brush my teeth and put some makeup on, so I'm not a total embarrassment to be seen with.  I played dress up with Corrinne and spoke encouraging words into my son's heart ensuring him that even though things may seem too hard to do now, I know he can do it.

There will be a day when no one needs help with sippy cups or dress up clothes. I'm pretty much banking on the fact that Cash won't always wear diapers, so someday I won't be potty training anyone. I won't be changing diapers, and praise the LORD someday... my kids will be doing their OWN laundry and emptying the dishwasher!

But today is not that day. And for now, I'm more than ok with that...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oh, Atlantic Beach! We're coming!!!

This time next week, this will be my view. To say I'm excited would be the understatement of the century. I'm looking forward to spending a week with my entire family (minus a sister and her hubby), making memories with our littles and my love, and soaking in the sun....

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Sweet It Is

I awoke yesterday morning to the sound of birds chirping outside my window, sunlight streaming in as the curtains billowed in the gentle breeze from our ceiling fan. I rolled over and watched my handsome husband breathe deeply as he slept, greeted by the tiny kicks from our littlest baby within. It was as if the angels were singing overhead...

...and without skipping a beat my 3 year old burst through our bedroom door, bouncing it off the wall behind him, and proudly exclaimed, "Mom! There's poop on my buns!"

There it is. Real life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Almost halfway there...

This is seriously a HORRIBLE picture of me. Just focus on the bump, ok?

How Far Along: 19 weeks 

Size of baby: 10 inches long now, since the baby is now measured head to toe, instead of crown to rump. Also comparable to the size of a mango. 

Total Weight Gain/Loss: I am officially up one pound! Which means, if this pregnancy is anything like the last 2, I'll be packing on about 40 lbs here in the next 20 weeks... 

Maternity Clothes: Some pants/capris. I can still get by with some non-maternity shirts and pants (using the rubber band trick) but since my sister loaned me some super cute, flattering GAP maternity jeans I've been utilizing them. :) 

Gender: Its a SURPRISE! :) The ultrasound is scheduled for June 1st and while I'm tempted to find out, Drew is holding strong to his desire to be surprised. We'll see what happens on the 1st... ;) 

Movement: YES! And I love it. :) 

Sleep: Sleeping great! And even though my kids sleep consistently until 8, I am wide awake at 7 EVERY morning... can't figure it out. 

What I miss: This is probably going to make some of you gasp, but I'd really love a nice chilled glass of Moscato right now.  I'm not even a huge wine person and hardly ever drink but for some reason when I'm pregnant I crave wine and margaritas.... Crazy! Don't worry, I'm not giving in. ;) 

Cravings: Nestle Crunch bars, turkey subs (thanks to some inspiration from my girl, Dena, we've been making some delicious homemade subs that can put any Subway sandwich to shame), mexican food even though I feel horrible for hours afterwards, and spicy foods -- jalepeno peppers, spicy brown mustard, banana peppers, etc. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Dear Cash,

Today you are three years old! You have been talking about your birthday and presents and being "fwee" for a long time now and you absolutely LOVED your birthday. It was so much fun to watch you lead us in  the Happy Birthday song about 15 times today, especially at your birthday dinner tonight with Nana & Pops and Mimi & Papaw.

You have grown up so much over the last year. You've graduated from speech therapy, are so much more outgoing, and your imagination is through the roof! You are 100% boy, and I love it!! But you also have such a sweet, tender side especially when someone gets hurt or is upset. You are quick to hug them or ask them what's wrong. You inherited your daddy's sense of humor and ability to memorize movie lines (or entire scenes) after seeing a movie just a few times. You're curious about everything, but cautious enough that I can trust you not to wander outside our yard or too far out of my sight. (Mommy likes that.)

Cash, I know I tell you this every day....several times a day, even. But I love you. I love with a love that you probably won't understand until you have a child of your own someday. I've loved you this much since I met you and nothing and no one could ever change that. There is no one else in this world like you. God made you so special, so unique, so fantastic that He could never duplicate it.

And I'm so glad He gave you to us. You are the joy of my life. Enjoy being three, little man.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Story of Cash's Arrival

Tonight I confessed to the facebook world that each year, on May 10th, I mentally relive my labor & delivery with Cash. I do it with Corrinne too, but since its Cash's birthday tomorrow, we'll let him have the limelight. Then it occurred to me that I never documented Cash's birth story since I didn't start this blog until he was about 6 months old. And since my memory is fading at a rapid rate these days I am going to take this opportunity to tell you a little tale about how Andrew Cash made his entrance into this world...

It was Saturday, May 10, 2008. I woke up completely disappointed that the contractions and spotting the previous night had led nowhere. I called my mom, cried hysterically when I told her I was still pregnant and then wished Drew a good day at work as he left later that morning. He would be working until late that night so I decided to just have a day to myself. I was scheduled to be induced the following Monday morning (my due date) so thinking that was probably my last Saturday to do whatever I wanted for awhile, I took advantage of it.

I visited with Drew's parents, who were in town for the arrival of our first baby, stopped by my parents' old house they were busy cleaning since they had just moved, and then hung out at my sister's house since she had our other sister's daughter for the weekend. I remember being in a very weird mood. I was very weepy and didn't want to be out in public but didn't want to be alone. I just felt off, emotionally.

Finally I decided to get dinner with a friend of mine. A friend who I had lived with previously so I knew she wouldn't be offended by my quietness. We chose Paradise Bakery and sat down to eat right at 8:00 PM. I remember this because that was when the first contraction came. So I sat my phone on the table and secretly timed each one during dinner. They were coming 5 minutes apart for the entire hour we were eating. I didn't tell Penny about the contractions until we were heading home and I was starting to get really uncomfortable. We stopped by Drew's work to see him and I didn't even tell Drew what was happening! Penny finally convinced me to call my doctor around 9:30 since I was starting to not be able to talk through my contractions. The doctor told me to head on in to the hospital so I started making the phone calls (first to Drew, then to our parents) and then got things together. Drew came home, showered and we were out the door by 10:30.

It took the nurses about 30 minutes to figure out I was in active labor and admit me. I was dilated to 3cm and contracting regularly, but I still felt like I was handling the contractions well. Our parents, along with 2 of my sisters showed up by midnight and we were all so excited!! Around 3:30 am the doctor on call (who happened to be the ONE doctor in the entire practice I DIDN'T want to deliver our baby) came in and broke my water, I was dilated to 5cm. Immediately after I was between 6-7cm. I was still feeling pretty good but the nurse thought the anesthesiologist would be unavailable for awhile so she encouraged me to go ahead and get my epidural. The last contraction I felt was super strong so I'm glad I listened to her!

The next 6 hours seemed to fly by as we waited.... and talked about who we thought we were meeting that day... and laughed... and as I watched everyone but me eat breakfast.

Finally around 9:30 the nurse said I just had a tiny rim of cervix left so she sent all my visitors out so I could rest before pushing. I had been up ALL night (dumb idea!) so I definitely needed it. I started pushing around 10:30 and after 45 minutes of pushing my hardest, not seeing any part of Cash's head and the doctor trying to physically turn Cash so he was facing down (worst pain of my LIFE. And I had an epidural!), the doctor told me my baby wasn't going to be born that way. He just wouldn't fit.

So off to the O.R. we went. And I was so excited!! We were finally going to meet our baby and find out whether it was Cash or Claire. At 12:07 P.M. I heard a faint little cry and then saw a bloody, purple, scrunched up little face over the curtain. It was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen! Then I heard the doctor say, "Ok, Dad. What do we have?" and after a few moments that felt like eternity Drew said, "Boy. BOY! We have A BOY!!!!" Words can't even describe what that moment felt like.

They cleaned Cash and wrapped him up then had Drew lay him face to face with me. My absolute favorite part was that when I said his name and talked to him, he instantly quieted down and was just so calm and peaceful. It was like we had known each other forever. I was instantly head over heels in love with that little man.

And oh, how our lives have never been the same...

The new Sheriff in town (so he thinks)

3 years ago today I woke up enormously pregnant and cried on the phone with my mom because I thought I was never going to have my baby. Later that evening we headed to the hospital...

This morning I woke up (pregnant, but not enormously) to my soon-to-be 3 year old with his blankie, pillow, and Sheriff Woody making their way into our bed. As soon as his little head hit the pillow next to mine he said, "Mommy. You need to close your eyes and go to sleep."

He's grown a bit bossy in his old age. ;)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reflections of the way life used to be

Hola! In honor of Cinco de Mayo I will write this post entirely in spanish...

yeah, right. ;)

Ahhh, the 5th of May. Every year when the weather starts turning warm, leaves appear on all the trees and flowers start sprouting, my thoughts turn back to that fateful May in 2008 when my world turned upside down, in a good way. The year I became a mom.

I actually remember exactly how I spent the 5th day of May that year. I was 39 weeks pregnant, wearing a white maternity shirt that probably looked like it didn't fit (because it most likely didn't) as I met my parents for lunch at El Rodeo - to celebrate the mexican holiday, of course. I had stopped working early because I was carrying a child that measured 2 weeks ahead consistently through my entire pregnancy and every doctor I saw told me I would never make it to my due date. So of course each day was spent wondering if I would meet my baby that day... and crying when I didn't.

Each year I get weepy and nostalgic thinking back to those long two weeks spent waiting and anticipating the day it would finally happen. As I've watched him transform into this blur of a boy running - "flying" in his mind - through our house complete with sound effects I've longed to snuggle the newborn Cash just one more time. Or squish the chubby cheeks of our 6 month old Cash. Sometimes I just stare at him while he's sleeping because you can still see a hint of his baby face left.

I just want my babies to stay young enough that they still want hugs and kisses heal their boo-boos.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Notes from the UnderBelly, Vol. 3
(Sorry for the lack of picture, look for one next time!)

How Far Along: 15 weeks 4 days 

Size of baby: an orange! mmm!! (Is it weird that I said, "mmm"?) 

Total Weight Gain/Loss:  I am down 5 lbs. I'm sure with the return of my appetite that will quickly change... 

Maternity Clothes: Nope. But I do use the rubber-band trick to fasten most of my jeans these days. 

Gender: Its a SURPRISE! :) 

Movement: Feeling more and more flutters every day. And I LOVE IT! 

Sleep: I am a HUGE fan of sleep. A few weeks ago I dealt with some very frustrating insomnia, but haven't had any trouble this week. Hoping to enjoy some good sleep between now and the 3rd trimester. 

What I miss: Productivity in the bathroom, in all honesty. (Sorry if thats TMI.) And I have to say, I miss my love for chocolate. Just like Corrinne's pregnancy, this one has taken away my desire for the chocolately goodness I've always enjoyed. Hopefully it returns soon. 

Cravings: Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers from Wendy's, water (thats definitely a new thing for this Mt. Dew lover), fruity candy, Cinnabon cinnamon rolls (also a new love). 

Hard to believe we're doing this... again... but we couldn't be happier! We will get to see our baby again via ultrasound around the end of May when I will be half-way through this pregnancy. Crazy how quickly time is flyin. October will be here before we know it! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lord, I'm Amazed by You

I haven't been a fan of the word amazing or its variations for some time now. Maybe its not so much the word itself that makes me cringe, but the way its over-used in today's society. One of the reasons I'm enjoying this particular season of The Bachelor is because I haven't heard "OMG, he's so amaaaaazing." about 80 bajillion times. (Please don't let my Bachelor reference discredit the true content of this post. Please.) I just feel like it should be reserved for things that are truly amazing; things that are so rare, so uncommon that they truly leave you in awe.

Over the last few weeks a line from a Philips, Craig & Dean song has been playing over and over in my mind. It says, "Lord, I'm amazed by You. Lord, I'm amazed by You. Lord, I'm amazed by You and how You love me."

You see, about 3 weeks ago a friend of mine went in to see her OB for a regular check-up on Friday. She was about to be 33 weeks on Monday and when her doctor had a hard time finding their baby girl's heart beat they sent her in to the hospital in a frenzy. Realizing the baby's heart rate was dangerously low they decided to deliver sweet little Delaney 8 weeks early. In the delivery they discovered her cord had gotten wrapped around her neck twice, between her legs and then back up and around her head and her amniotic fluid was almost 100% depleted. Had my friend not gone in for her appointment, if she had had to cancel for some reason or hadn't scheduled for that day in the first place, little Delaney would be in heaven right now. Not only was the realization that she needed to be born and the perfect timing of it all such a miracle, but aside from her tiny size - born at just over 3 pounds - you wouldn't know she had been born so early. She started breathing on her own less than 24 hours after delivery and now, 3 weeks later is up to almost 5 pounds and nursing from her mommy! I just keep thinking God knew she needed to be strong because she was going to be born earlier than expected. He gave her the lungs to breathe on her own much earlier than any NICU nurse or doctor would have predicted. She's quite the feisty little lady and such a fighter!

And then there's a friend of my husband's whose marriage was on its way to divorce. Unimaginable damage had been done and papers had been served. I know just in finding out about the separation Drew and I had started praying for this couple and are certain their families and friends were too. Just about 10 days ago the husband made public that he had given his will over to God and wants to spend the rest of his life proving to his wife she's worth fighting for! I don't know the details of where the 2 stand now, but I know this: God has already worked a miracle in changing the heart of this man!

And last Wednesday as I sat in an ultrasound room and saw our newest addition on the screen (which looked a lot like a kidney bean) I was amazed by it's heart. Even at just a little over 7 weeks gestation I could clearly see the different chambers of the heart working. I was truly amazed at the handiwork of God. By the way, you all will get to meet that little "kidney bean" in October.

God is the author and protecter of life. He can restore your marriage, your faith, and your family, and most importantly He loves you. He's always at work on your behalf.  It won't always be easy, but it'll always be worth it. Each of those stories I mentioned didn't come without some measure of fear, doubt and insecurity: Delaney's parents were terrified on the way to the hospital not sure of the outcome, our friends were heartbroken over the damaged relationship and marriage, and as you all know losing our  baby last fall was devastating to Drew and I. But God's always working.

"God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!" Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Can't Sesame Street just teach my kids?

Um  is there a FAFSA somewhere for preschool students?

Maybe I'm just naive but I didn't realize preschool was going to be another big ticket item in the budget. Cash, time to get a job, buddy. ;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice, Ice Baby

Right now we're in the middle of what some meteorologists are calling a "catastrophic" storm of the century! And chances are if you're reading this, you are experiencing some part of it as well since its affecting something like 30 of these United States. Where I am, we're getting a lovely mixture of ice and snow - expected to be so much that the whole city could very well be without power for 5-7 days. You have no idea how hard I'm praying that doesn't happen! I can handle being snowed in, but without power - no thanks!
However, its just plain silly not to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Especially when I have little ones involved. So the dishes are all clean, laundry is all done and we've got bottled water, blankets, flash lights (with fresh batteries), and some food to eat that won't need much prep.
But most importantly, Drew is home; I've just showered and put on clean comfy jammies and plan on snuggling up with the fam to watch TV/movies. Unless the power goes and then I have very exciting plans involving giving myself a homemade mani/pedi, finishing "Heaven is For Real", and doing this week's Beth Moore homework.
I'll see you on the other side...


Friday, January 28, 2011


Cash just asked me to kiss him in his mouth while opening up as wide as he could.

I'm sure this sounds a little inappropriate to you, and I'm giggling as I type it out. But he's got  a sore throat and just wants me to fix it the only way he knows how to get boo-boo's fixed - my kisses.

Sweet, and I did kiss his lips (because I figure I can still do that until he tells me to stop) but explained to him nicely that I was never going to kiss inside his mouth.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

As I pat myself on the back

Usually by the time we hit Saturday, which in our world is known as Wednesday since Drew works every Saturday and has every Wednesday off, I'm pretty much out of ideas for fun things to do with the kids at home. So we go out. Chick-fil-a is a popular hot spot since it has the play place and my beloved, Sweet Tea. But today I humored my Burger King lovin' kids and let them get "chicken n fries, the blue tind", as Cash calls it (the roof on every Burger King is blue). As I was buckling them into their car seats after filling their tummies with delicious (and not so nutritious) chicken tenders and fries, I suggested we go to Target and see if we could find some good deals! Cash had an interesting suggestion on the way there, "Maybe we can get Avatar and give it to Daddy!" I was as surprised as you are. Even though he's only seen maybe 20 minutes of the movie, he supposedly loves it and always asks to watch it. Hilarious what this kid comes up with these days.
Anyways, I walked into Target with a list in my head of items needed: toilet paper. And as usual, I walked out with several other items that were added to the list while I was in the store. ;) I ended up with 2 winter coats (one for each kid for next winter), a fleece for Cash and of course, toilet paper. (If I hadn't been on a strict 30 minute time limit, I would've bought more!) My total was $18 and the most expensive item purchased was the 12 pack of toilet paper. 

Oh, how I love Target's clearance! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

My New Years "resolution"

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a chicken. I blame my mother* mostly since she is the Queen of Worrying (along with Bargains, Pot Roast, and Home Decor). And after my mom, I blame my kids. You see before I added "mom" to my list of names, I had much less fear and worry in my life. Some could call it "ignorance" or "carelessness" but nonetheless, I wasn't nearly as fearful as I find myself these days.

(I should note that in order to get the full effect, you should use hand quotes anytime something is quoted in this post. ahem. thanks.)

Moving on, I don't like that I'm so fearful. For one, its a straight up commandment from God to "fear not"! (Ok, maybe don't use the hand quotes there. No disrespecting The Big Guy!) In Beth Moore's study on Esther she talked about how many times God commanded someone to "fear not!". I can't remember the exact number, but she just kept repeating those words, "Fear not! Fear not! FEAR NOT!". And secondly, its just annoying. I lose sleep because of it and can't enjoy nights away from the kids because I'm worried that something might happen to them and I'll spend the rest of my life feeling responsible for their deaths and blaming myself for being so selfish that I needed time away and look what it cost me. (Ok, seriously? This could be a direct quote from my mom. I really AM turning into her!)

I'm sure some of you are thinking, "get this girl some Lexapro!". I don't blame you.

But aside from fear, I find myself being so selfish and self-centered about things. And I'm done. I don't like those things about myself and when 12:01 am rolled around on January 1, 2011 I made a promise to myself to just LET GO.

I can't tell you how many times God has brought the scripture, "letting go of the sin that so easily entangles," to mind. And everything I've talked about this far is sin. I have nothing to fear for God is with me! I love Chris Tomlin's song, Our God, that asks, "and if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, than what could stand against?". Tell me, who? The victory is already won. Perfect love casts out fear. Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.

I want to let go of the petty things that bother me and keep me from becoming the wife God wants me to be, the friend I need to be, and the woman I'm called to be. I want to stop focusing on dirty dishes and messy rooms and spend more time on the floor with my kids who seem to be growing at rapid speed. (For real, Cash no longer refers to me as Mommy. I'm now Mom and even got an eye roll at nap time today. SLOW DOWN!) I want to stop letting my insecurities and doubts get in the way of making new friendships and strengthening the ones I've had for years. I want to sing with true abandon... in front of people... and worship the way I do when no one is watching. I want to let go of situations I have absolutely no control over with complete trust that God has it all in control.

I just want to let go. I want to be freed from all of this "sin that so easily entangles" me so I can press on for the greater goal of my life: to bring glory and honor to the One who rescued me from an eternity of misery.

*Mom, I don't really blame you. I love you! :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Please excuse my absence...

I know it seems like I haven't been blogging much lately. Probably because I haven't. The truth is, I'm not one of those bloggers that can just blog about anything... its gotta be something I feel I need to share. Much like how I can't sing a song unless I feel a certain calling about it. I have to feel it to sing it. Or write it, in this case. I'm sure some of you are probably remembering posts about dragging my kids out in the cold to get a mountain dew or some silly link-party... or whatever its called... about "Top 2 Tuesdays". And yes, I felt convicted to share that information with you. ;)

I do have a post in the works (in my brain, not in word form yet) that will have some type of substance to it.  But like the need for a "calling" I also have to be in the right mood... otherwise words get all jumbled and the whole thing just seems sort of awkward.

no wonder Cash is such a quirky kid. Check out his mom.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Years Resolution #1

At this point I'm pretty much banking on the hope that one day Cash will once again utilize nap time for its intended purpose instead of whining, playing with toys, and essentially disobeying me day after day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas 2010

It should come as no surprise to you that I'm so behind on posting pictures of Christmas... or blogging for that matter! As usual, our holiday season was full of fun and went by way too quickly. Here are a few pictures...

Corrinne at our church's Candlelight Christmas Eve service - one of the highlights of the season!

"Woody & Buzz"! Cash's fave celebrities! ;)

Wearing her new pearls to take her babies for a stroll. Just like her Mommy! ;) 

Our family, Christmas 2010

One of my favorites from the entire season!

Please stop growing up so quickly, sweet babies!