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09 April 2018

Never Grow Up

It's no secret that I love planning parties. Everything about it is fun for me. Picking the perfect theme, making decorations or finding cute things for cheap, and planning food. I also know that many people think it is ridiculous to go all out for babies birthdays, and that is great for them. I am under no illusion that my kids are going to remember these parties from their first birthday, and that's OK. I think it is more for us as parents. A celebration of their sweet life of course, but also a celebration of surviving and somewhat thriving in that first year of their life because that certainly deserves a celebration.

I knew pretty early on that I wanted to do a "Never Grow Up" Peter Pan theme for Lincoln's first birthday. As my last baby, I am two-fists-tightly-gripping onto his baby-ness. I'm not wishing it away this time so "Never Grow Up" has been my motto for him since day one.

I love Peter Pan and the movie Finding Neverland is one of my all-time favorites and makes me sob all the ugly tears every time. I wanted to run with the theme but not in a traditional Peter Pan and Tinkerbell way. So, I just subtly went with feathers, arrows, moss and trees, teepee, pirates and treasure. We had chocolate gold coins and gummy tick-tock crocs for the kids to make goody bags out of as their party favor and black tape leading to the red "X" marks the spot on the front porch. Some "Lost boys rules" and a bunch of photos of our sweet boy through his first year completed it all.

We did a taco bar because tacos are always a good idea. I prayed the rain away (although it showered on us for a few minutes) and we enjoyed having an outdoor party with a bounce house. Lincoln was a pro at the cake smash which was hilarious and I was so glad we were outside for it as he started throwing cake on the ground after shoving his face.

I swear by these words "Little boys should never be sent to bed, they always wake up a day older and then before you know it, they're grown." To my little boy who just keeps growing, I love you.





















"Never Grow Up" print: Etsy {I asked the shop to format it to 18x24 poster size and did an engineering print at Staples}
felt star garland: made by me
felt leaf garland: Target
felt feather garland: Etsy
feather cupcake toppers: Etsy
tick-tock croc dummies: Amazon
chocolate gold coins: Target
"Lost boys rules" wood sign: made by me
"One" high chair banner: made by me
"1" gold balloon: Hobby Lobby
real feather garland on teepee: made by me
square photo prints: Parabo Press
"Never Grow Up" shirt: Etsy
Peter Pan felt hat: Etsy
fairy jars: made by me
invitations: Etsy












27 February 2018

anxiety


Sitting in bed with a newborn baby boy cuddled on my chest and tears flowing. I was blissfully happy, but something felt off. I remember Googling "postpartum anxiety" and as I read the signs and symptoms I kept saying "that's me" through tears. Can't quiet your mind. Can't settle down. Can't relax. That's me. Feel like you have to be doing something all of the time. That's me. You are worried, really worried, all of the time. That's me. You are afraid that this is your new reality and you have lost the old you forever. That's definitely me.

It was hard to feel this way. I had the baby I wanted so badly and I loved him, but I felt off. I pushed it down for months until family began to say things like "you aren't yourself." And I couldn't deny that I wasn't myself.

It took all the courage I had, but one morning while I was brushing my teeth I walked into our bedroom and trying to steady my voice and unsuccessfully keep the tears at bay, I told Taylor I needed help. I needed counseling. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Do it! Whatever you need."

I think there is such a wrong culture in the American church that going to counseling affirms that you aren't trusting in the Lord. And it's bull. Good Christian counseling can help you thwart the efforts of Satan to keep you stagnant and in a dark place. And that is what I needed. I found through counseling that, although I thought this was just a symptom of being postpartum, that there was a pattern of anxiety in my life through childhood into adulthood. Quitting things I felt not good at. Not trying things because I thought I would fail. Endless nights as a child sneaking into my parents room to sleep on their floor. Crippling fear when Taylor would travel and I was home alone with the kids. A pattern of Satan speaking lies into my heart and mind and me just believing them.

I loved my counselor and counseling. It helped tremendously. And then I got pregnant and had another baby. And my old enemy postpartum anxiety showed up again. I had the tools this time, but it doesn't mean I was always successful and I didn't struggle. I will always be fighting this battle.

I've always said I am a behind the scenes person when it comes to our church plant. Taylor is the upfront guy. But God. In a roundabout way I ended up leading a Bible study of young mamas from our church. And the study we are currently doing is called "Let's all be Brave." Through tears I told my group that I've never seen myself as worthy to lead in ministry. I counted myself out. I always count myself out. But God.

Our study was about Gideon (how appropriate) and how he counted himself out when approached. He was called "mighty warrior" by the Lord and yet he kept saying how he was the lowest of all, unworthy. But God saw him differently. Oh man, if only I looked at myself how God looked at me. Called myself how He called me. Anxiety would have no room to grow.

We've been singing a song at church recently and the first time they played it, I knew God was making this a resounding theme in my life right now.

I will not be anxious, Jesus, you are near
The peace of God surrounding me, and casting out all fears
The hand that holds the heavens, is the mighty hand that saves
The voice that calms the stormy seas
Is calling me by name

I'm singing in the victory, the victory of the cross
I'm resting in the shadow, or your redeeming love
I'm standing on the promise, the promise of new life
'Cause I am yours forever, and Jesus, you are mine
Oh Jesus, you are mine

What I've learned is it's ok. It's ok to admit you are not ok. It's ok to admit you need help. But, it's also necessary to call it what it is. The enemy. Screaming lies into our minds and shaming us into a place of lonely isolation. Don't stay there. Find your worth in the only place that matters; in the mighty hand that saves. 




13 December 2017

still.


I hope you are watching This Is Us. Talk about a show that depicts real life. Every week Taylor and I get to the end and can't move. We just look at each other, shake our heads, and one of us says, "it's too real." A few weeks ago, we came to the episode where Kate loses her baby. I knew it was coming, but I didn't know how the emotions in the show would bring my own emotions bubbling to the surface. I watched as tears silently slipped from the corners of my eyes. Too real.

It's been four years since the miscarriage where I was furthest along. While I have experienced so much since then and given birth to two beautiful and healthy boys, I still vividly remember every single thing about that day.

I still remember how all sound dimmed except a loud buzzing in my ears and everything in my line of sight went hazy as the doctor in the ER said the words I dreaded hearing. I thought those things only happened in movies, but it truly does happen in those moments where life stops.

I still remember hitting send on a text message to Taylor. "No heartbeat." I hated having to tell him that way, but I also knew my voice would fail if I tried to call. I did not want to say it out loud.

I remember the hospital admin who followed me to my car just to console me. It wasn't her job, but she saw my chart and worse my face. I needed her in that moment.

I remember when the contractions hit a week later. I so naively thought it was over, but at twelve weeks along your body has to labor and release it all before it's done. I found my leftover bottle of 800 mg Ibuprofen from Gideon's birth and kept taking them hoping for some relief, but it didn't touch the pain.

I still remember spending the day on my knees in the shower. There was so much blood and I didn't know what to do. I did not want to go back to the hospital so I stayed right there, begging God to let it be done.

I remember as my body expelled everything into the toilet and I remember panicking about what to do. And I remember as I flushed it and knew that my baby was gone.

I remember rocking Gideon in his room that evening as Taylor went to pick me up a steak. With that much blood loss I needed to get my iron up. The irony was not lost on me. New parents get a steak dinner in the hospital.

And each and every December 13, my heart hurts and breaks all over again.

When I'm old and gray and maybe don't know where I am or what day it is, I know that these memories will be iron clad in my mind. They are with me forever. Those moments that are fuzzy while you're in them yet crystal clear in hindsight.

As much as it all hurts, I also have peace knowing that my baby only knew the good parts of this life. My baby was safely tucked inside of me and for twelve weeks only knew the love and excitement that we had for him/her. And now that baby is tucked in the safest arms there are.


09 December 2017

it's the most wonderful time

I can't believe we are in the last few weeks of 2017. What a year. Almost a full year of our church plant, a new baby, and so much more. It is flying and I feel like I am simultaeneously flying with it and moving in slow motion trying to grasp each little thing and hold onto it before it's gone.

I've been pretty emotional lately and I can't pinpoint what is setting it off. As I rock Lincoln to sleep at night or watch him exploring the world around him I tear up knowing that this is the last of all the baby stages for us. While I know I never want to be pregnant again, it still carries with it a sadness of finality.

Having our Gideon turn five has also brought on the mama waterworks. I see him growing and thinking and speaking like a boy and not a baby or toddler. I struggle to pick him up and know that we are entering the year where he will start spending a large portion of his days away from me. My heart aches knowing they are all growing and growing up means growing away. I know it's what they are supposed to do, but dang it hurts.

Here is a few things about each of these wild things:


Gideon:
- FIVE! He's five, you guys. He opted for a Hornets game with dad and dinner and cupcakes with just us at home instead of a party this year. {You know it was killing me to not do a party, but I can't tell you the stress it took away. Something had to give this year!}
- He is thriving in school and learning so much.
- Gideon learned how to ride his bike without training wheels in October and has been riding like a crazy man ever since. He picked it up so quickly!
- I've never seen a friendlier kid. Everywhere we go, he comes back to us saying, "I made a new friend." He sees everyone as a potential friend and is not intimidated to enter a social situation where he doesn't know anyone. He will come out knowing everyone. I'm so jealous of this quality.


Nolan:
- This boy has become a little family entertainer. He is hilarious and he knows it. And when he is in trouble he gives me this goofy little smile that says "I know I'm cute and you can't stay mad." It works. Every time.
- Still obsessed with airplanes. I have no doubt in my mind that he will grow up to be a jet pilot. That is just the way he is.
- We call him our sour patch kid. As sweet as he is, right now at two he is often very sour.
- Nolan is our homebody and prefers to just be with us. While he does fine playing with others and has fun, he just isn't as social or party-animal as Gideon.


Lincoln:
- Eight months with this happy boy. I can't believe he's so big.
- He got four teeth in two weeks. They all just started coming out of nowhere and fast. I love his little smile with teeth.
- No crawling yet but so close. Right now, he sits on his bottom and scoots across the floor to get where he wants to be. It is too cute.
- Lincoln has the sweetest spirit and I wish everyone could experience a baby like this. He has redeemed my baby experience after Nolan {hey, he put me in counseling} and is a high note to end on.

04 December 2017

Savoring Christmas



I don't know about you, but this time of year my anxiety goes into hyper mode. Simple things like scrolling Instagram or walking into a store can bring on major feelings of inadequacy or that I am behind on the holiday hoopla. Seeing perfectly decorated homes or detailed planned activities for every day leading up to December 25th makes me feel like I'm dropping the ball for my family.

In order to combat these feelings and the negative side effects that come with, I approach the holiday season with an intentionality to savor the important things like spending time with my family and enjoy the season by picking just a couple of things I want to be a priority. This looks different for everyone. For me, relationships are where it is at and this is a time of year I like to check in with loved ones near and far. Christmas cards is the way I love to do this. A simple little something to send to everyone as a small update on us.

To go along with cards, we update family photos each year. I absolutely love doing this as much as my husband hates it. He goes along because he knows how happy they make me. It is incredible to look back at every year and see the differences. Once we get our photos back from our amazing photographer, it's time to pick a Christmas card.


Shutterfly makes this part a breeze. The hardest part is picking which card you want to use out of their hundreds of fabulous options. I usually scroll and favorite quite a few to personalize and try out before deciding. There are so many options with each card and you can be as detailed or minimal as you want. Want the envelope to shine? Add a liner. Don't want to address them yourself because, well, time? They will address them for you. Want multiple photos or a double-sided card? Check or check. The possibilities are endless.



This year I opted for a single photo card on the front and then the back has an updated photo of each of the boys. I love that it shows them as they are for this year. I also went with the pearl shimmer card stock which is so beautiful in person and a fun black and white buffalo check envelope liner to match the back of the card.

Once you decide on your options and upload your photo and wording, finalizing your fonts and all, you can preview your choices and checkout. Then you get to stalk your mail person and wait for your orange package. It's seriously that simple. And really fun. I tend to mock up several cards {maybe even five} and then make my husband pick his favorite.

Using Shutterfly for Christmas cards has really lessened my anxiety during a busy and full season. It's something I love to do and share with friends and family, but their simplistic approach to getting it done makes it an easy check on the to-do list so that I can spend my time enjoying the season.

Happy card making, friends! {Be sure to look at the promotions they are running before you checkout!}

*This post is in partnership with Shutterfly who provided the Christmas cards to me. I was not compensated for writing this post and the opinions expressed are my own genuine opinions.

01 October 2017

Confessions of a tired mama



+ A few weeks ago, I meal planned, made my grocery list, had all of the kids down for naps and as soon as Taylor walked in the door from church I ran out to grocery shop ALONE. I was feeling on fire for being so organized, until I parked at Walmart and discovered I had no purse. But, I had my reusable bags so that's something, right?

+ I never thought I would be that mom at my kid's sporting events, but since Gideon started soccer I have found that I am loud. Never mind that they are four and have never played before. Mama's yelling "steal the ball," "just take it." "Get out there and pay attention." All the while, G is doing ninja moves in la la land.

+ The iPad. Yes, the iPad has become a constant companion in the car. Ugh, I told myself we wouldn't use it for distraction unless we were on a long trip, but now with preschool pick-up right at Nolan's nap time, I use it to keep him awake until we get home. Car naps are the real murderers of all things good.

+ My favorite middle of the night-nursing activity is to fill online carts with things I want that I will never buy.

+ I use to hate when fall would come and it would get dark so early. As a mom, it's one of my favorite things. "Get in bed. IT'S DARK!" {Dreading when Gideon can actually tell time}.

+ I despise all things scary, horror, gross. Every person who posts anything related to that creepy IT movie on social media is getting blocked. Bye Felicia. No.

+ I don't drink coffee. I can feel your judgment through my computer.

25 September 2017

hello, fall.






Well, it is officially fall which makes my heart sing. Now if only it felt like fall here in the low country. I'm trying my best to wish it upon us with my booties and plaid.

It has been crazy around here which I realize is just life and won't change anytime soon. Gideon started preschool a few weeks ago which brings with it drop off and pick up five days a week. He's loving school and is learning so much. He's getting use to going every day, but we can definitely tell it's taking some time. He is so tired. He also started soccer which is two practices and two games EVERY week. Lord, be near. Are we seriously at the point in life where our kids schedules dictate ours? My four year old has more on his calendar than I do.

Two days after Gideon started preschool, Irma appeared to be making her trek straight at us, so we packed up, boarded up our house and left. We live on an island and the river is very close to our house, so we did not want to chance it and left before traffic got crazy. Being stuck on the interstate with a four year old, potty-training two year old, and a hungry, teething 5 month old was just not going to happen and luckily I didn't get stopped with them that much. We were spared when Irma went further west (although our sweet downtown still flooded when the outskirts of the storm hit at a king tide).

It ended up being a nice week retreat at my parent's house. And the weather actually felt like fall. My poor beach boys were "coldy" in the low 70 degree temps. We enjoyed my cousin's wedding, our niece's birthday party, visiting a friend's new church plant, and going to an actual mall. Despite a throw-up-in-the-bed incident and Nolan waking up in the night more than Lincoln, it was a great time.

In all of the chaos, I somehow got a freelance writing job for a local magazine. It's a fun story of how it came about, but I am excited to FINALLY be using my degree. (Look mom and dad!). I'll hopefully be sharing more about that as I get started.

I'm struggling to believe that it is already the end of September and am feeling the panic rise in my belly of Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. I don't know why I feel behind every year when we clearly still have time. My hope is to curb my anxiety and instead focus on soaking in the fun with my boys.









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